Why Trump’s Refugee Ban is Stupid

Alternative Facts 5In short, it’s stupid because refugees are the safest of all immigrants to the country and it creates animosity where relationships most need development. Once again, Trump is building walls where he should be building bridges.

Trump’s Executive Order

During the election, Donald Trump made all sorts of promises that appealed to a certain constituency. They had had a fear of Muslims whipped into them, and were left feeling desperately unsafe. Now he’s keeping those promises.

To be fair, it’s a good thing when a politician keeps their campaign promises.

The problem is, some of those promises are misguided and based on false premises and outright lies. In addition, some of the executive orders he’s making to keep those promises are unconstitutional. The most egregious example so far was late Friday afternoon US time. The order, among others things, bans all refugees for four months and indefinitely bans all Syrian refugees. (Full text here.)

The countries affected are Syria, Yemen, Iran, Sudan, Iraq, Libya, and Somalia.

False Premise

Section 1 of the executive order includes the following sentences:

The visa-issuance process plays a crucial role in detecting individuals with terrorist ties and stopping them from entering the United States. Perhaps in no instance was that more apparent than the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, when State Department policy prevented consular officers from properly scrutinizing the visa applications of several of the 19 foreign nationals who went on to murder nearly 3,000 Americans. …

Numerous foreign-born individuals have been convicted or implicated in terrorism-related crimes since September 11, 2001, including foreign nationals who entered the United States after receiving visitor, student, or employment visas, or who entered through the United States refugee resettlement program.

This makes it clear that it is previous terrorist attacks, especially 9/11, that are the basis for the order. The problem is, the countries those terrorists came from are not the ones the order bans. Most terrorists are US citizens that were radicalized at home. The others come from countries others than the seven in question.

Origin of US Terrorists

An analysis of the worst terrorists illustrates this point:

The 9/11 attackers came from Saudi Arabia (19), the United Arab Emirates (2), Egypt (1), and Lebanon (1). The Boston bombers (the Tsarnaev brothers) were born in Russia and brought up in the United States; their parents were not refugees but asylum seekers. The Florida nightclub shooter, Omar Mateen, was born in New York, the son of immigrants from Afghanistan. The couple who perpetrated the San Bernardino terrorist massacre were also not refugees. The husband was a USian born in Chicago (his parents were immigrants from Pakistan) and his wife was born in Pakistan though lived most of her life with her wealthy family in Saudi Arabia. She was admitted to the US as the wife of a citizen. Major Nidal Hasan, who killed thirteen fellow soldiers at Fort Hood was born in Arlington County, Virginia, the son of Palestinian immigrants.

Not a refugee in sight, and no mention of the countries Trump has targeted.

Muslim Ban?

During the election campaign Trump famously announced that he was going to ban all Muslims from the country. He also spoke of plans for a Muslim registry.

There’s been some backing away from those positions, at least in public. Defenders of this latest move point to the fact there are dozens of other Muslim-majority countries with no ban-order as proof it’s not about Muslims.

However, although Trump is insisting it’s not a Muslim ban, Ana Navarro (CNN political commentator) says former KKK leader David Duke is celebrating this move as a Muslim ban.

Islamist Extremists are Laughing at Trump

More importantly, Muslims think it’s a Muslim ban. Worse, Joby Warrick of the Washington Post reports ‘Jihadist groups hail Trump’s travel ban as a victory‘. He writes:

Jihadist groups on Sunday celebrated the Trump administration’s ban on travel from seven Muslim-majority countries, saying the new policy validates their claim that the United States is at war with Islam.

Comments posted to pro-Islamic State social media accounts predicted that President Trump’s executive order would persuade American Muslims to side with the extremists. One posting hailed the U.S. president as “the best caller to Islam,” while others predicted that Trump would soon launch a new war in the Middle East.

“[Islamic State leader Abu Bakr] al-Baghdadi has the right to come out and inform Trump that banning Muslims from entering America is a ‘blessed ban,’” said one posting to a pro-Islamic State channel on Telegram, a social-media platform. The writer compared the executive order to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, which Islamic militant leaders at the time hailed as a “blessed invasion” that ignited anti-Western fervor across the Islamic world.

Warrick gives many other examples in his article.

And as recently as last week Trump was indicating that favouring Christians was part of the plan.

Trump Interview with Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN)

Watch this interview (below) with CBN’s David Brody. It starts with Trump announcing, “I’ve always felt the need to pray,” among other equally unbelievable statements, and also includes Trump talking about refugees.

(Note: Originally this was a YouTube clip of just the relevant part of the Brody interview. That YouTube account was later taken down. On 12 February I therefore changed it to this much longer video, which is the full interview from CBN.)


Partial Transcript

The portion on refugees includes this exchange:

Brody: … do you see them [persecuted Christians] as kind of a priority here?

Trump: Yes.

Brody: You do?

Trump: Yes, yes. They’ve been horribly treated. You know, if you were a Christian in Syria, it was impossible, very, very, at least very, very tough to get into the United States. If you were a Muslim you could come in, but if you were a Christian it was almost impossible. And the reason that was so unfair is that the, everybody was persecuted in all fairness, but they were chopping off the heads of everybody, but more so the Christians, and I thought it was very, very unfair. So we are going to help them. 

As is so often the case, Trump’s facts are “alternative”. It is not easier to get into the United States as a Muslim refugee. It appears that actually religion makes absolutely no difference to whether someone receives refugee status. (Of course, that’s the way it should be.)

According to the Pew Research Center, there were more Muslim than Christian refugees admitted to the US in 2016, but not by much. There were 38,901 (46%) Muslim refugees while 37,521 (44%) of the refugees admitted were Christians. 2016 was the first year since 2006 that there were more Muslim refugees than Christians; there was an influx of Muslims back then from Somalia.

(Quelle horreur! Obama admitted more Christian refugees than Muslim ones!)

Refugees by Religion to 2016

(Click graph to go to source.)


Lack of Consultation

This executive order is a pretty major move which has far-reaching consequences. However, there was no consultation with the State Department (US equivalent of Ministry of Foreign Affairs) or Homeland Security before its drafting. Even the Trump appointee at Homeland Security, General Kelly, was apparently not spoken to. Further, they weren’t even informed about it until a few hours before it was implemented.

In addition, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of National Intelligence are no longer Trump’s National Security Council. Their replacement is Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon. (See here.) That seems to me to be not just ill-advised, but outright dangerous.

Farah Pandith, Expert on US-Muslim Relations

Farah Pandith is a former State Department official for both President GW Bush and Obama. She is now a senior fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations. Pandith was the first ever Special Representative to Muslim Communities for the US State Department.

On CNN‘s ‘State of the Union’ this week she made several important points including that Trump’s …

… strategy is flawed and doesn’t have any intellectual rigour. You have to get to the actual meat of the issue, which is ideas matter. Their ideas have no borders and you can’t build an “idea wall”. You can’t ban all the countries in the world in which the bad ideas are sprouting. So when you look at what is actually taking place and you think about what this is going to do, it really takes away from the goal that he has set out for himself. [To abolish Islamist extremism.] It doesn’t have the rationale that we need it to.

And it is very important to understand that both in the Bush administration and in the Obama administration we understood that the power to stop recruitment came from civil society. You can’t set up an “Us vs Them”. We need to have Muslims around the world working with us to stop recruitment. And the way to do that is to engage them. If you don’t have trust with a government you can’t engage them, you can’t galvanize the movement that we need, and I’m afraid what has happened here is that it has stoked the idea of a “Us and Them”, it has given power to the extremists, and it will not get us where we need to go.

Why Refugees to the US aren’t Dangerous

US politicians constantly conflate the two very different issues of refuges in Europe and the USA. In Europe, refugees can be dangerous. They come directly into Europe and the potential for terrorists to infiltrate them is high.

On 20 September, Trump’s eldest son sent out the famous “Skittles” tweet. The image on it is no longer available because of complaints from the makers of Skittles, but here’s what he said:


I prefer this version:

Immigration 8


Either way, the analogy is flawed. A report from the Cato Institute in mid-September found, according to Vox:

… an American’s chances of being killed by a refugee in a terrorist attack in any given year are 1 in 3.64 billion. America’s murder rate — at 4.5 per 100,000 capita — is about 163,800 times higher.

As the Washington Post’s Philip Bump points out, adhering to Trump’s analogy, a bowl with three deadly Skittles (refugees) in it would need to contain 10.93 billion Skittles.

The Danger of Refugees

Chuck Todd presented this report on ‘Meet the Press’ back in November 2015, but it’s still relevant.



However, even he makes it seem easier than it is to get into the US – like there was just one interview and they could be on their way. The reality though is very different. Like New Zealand, Australia, and Canada, the US get their refugees via the UNHCR process. That process takes around 18 months to two years and involves multiple interviews by multiple agencies, all while living in a UN refugee camp.

The Refugee Screening Process

All refugees are already undergo what any reasonable person would consider “extreme vetting”.

There is an extensive registration process for all refugees in UN camps. Those who want to go to a new country rather than return to their home register with the UNHCR. That registration includes in-depth interviews, reference checks, health screening and more. They even get iris scans for identification. Anyone who has been in the military is not eligible. Only a very small number get through this process.

This all takes several months. The few who have got this far then go through additional screening by the country they wish to enter. This is also carried out in the refugee camp.

Refugees that want to go to the USA

According to Time:

 Our government performs its own intensive screening, a process that includes consultation from nine different government agencies. They meet weekly to review a refugee’s case file and, if appropriate, determine where in the U.S. the individual should be placed. When choosing where to place a refugee, officials consider factors such as existing family in the U.S., employment possibilities and special factors like access to needed medical treatment.

Every refugee goes through an intensive vetting process, but the precautions are increased for Syrians. Multiple law enforcement, intelligence and security agencies perform “the most rigorous screening of any traveler to the U.S.,” says a senior administration official. Among the agencies involved are the State Department, the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center, the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security. A DHS officer conducts in-person interviews with every applicant. Biometric information such as fingerprints are collected and matched against criminal databases. Biographical information such as past visa applications are scrutinized to ensure the applicant’s story coheres.

As is the case with several of Trump’s executive orders this week, it’s all about window dressing. This time though, the reality is going to have the opposite effect to what he wants to achieve. It is making the country, and the world, more dangerous not less.

Trump’s Summary

“It’s working out very nicely. You see it at the airports, you see it all over. It’s working out very nicely.”

Trump Tweet Ban

(Click graphic to go to bottom tweet.)


Of course, it’s not working out nicely. There are protests all over the country and the world. Lawyers are providing help pro bono. Judges in multiple jurisdictions have issued stays to prevent parts of the order being enacted.



We can only hope that no one dies because of this latest stupidity.



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64 Responses to “Why Trump’s Refugee Ban is Stupid”

  1. Ken says:

    Good synopsis, Heather. No good will come of this. It is very possible people will die as a result. By providing terrorists yet another recruiting tool, Trump will increase the likelihood of more terror attacks in the US rather than lessen the risk.

    The worst part is that he may even know this is the case. It is terrible to contemplate, but he wouldn’t be the first to engineer the conditions that provide cover for further authoritarian measures to be put on the public.

  2. E.A. Blair says:

    Consortium News reports that excluding Saudi Arabia from Trump’s ban may be misguided:

    Robert Parry writes:”Exclusive: By leaving Saudi Arabia and other key terrorism sponsors off his “Muslim ban,” President Trump shows the same cowardice and dishonesty that infected the Bush and Obama administrations.”

    • Exactly. And given the main countries Saudi Arabia export their extremist brand of Islam to are Pakistan and Afghanistan, they should be included.

      We all know that’s not going to happen.

      • nicky says:

        They should be included if such a ban would make any sense. Your critical analysis shows it doesn’t. So it does not reaĺly matter either way, only shows the different US admins’ grovelling at the feet of the House of Saud’s despots.
        It would be better to do something about these Wahabist-Salafist madrassas they are sponsoring the world over.

        On a side note, are asylumseekers not refugees?
        Second side note, taqiyya -although typically associated with Shia- is also accepted by Sunna, but only if directed at infidels.

        • No. Asylum seekers go through a different process. They typically escape a country, often on fake passports that they flush as soon as they arrive, and claim they can’t go back because their life is at risk, often from the government. There are specific legal procedures in place relating to asylum seekers. Their stories are much more difficult to check and often include lies, but often there’s an argument they’re too scared to tell the whole truth. Either way, it’s easier to fool officials as an asylum seeker, and with some people they give refugees a bad name because of the confusion.

          People escaping North Korea, for example, are asylum seekers. Asylum seekers can be and are sent back if their story doesn’t check out. They’re also detained and often imprisoned until their story can be checked.

          • nicky says:

            Thanks for that, but I still find it a difficult distinction (probably my early Alzheimer’s). So -if I understand correctly- asylum seekers can be considered a sub-group of refugees, often not ‘real’ refugees (although I’d have a tendency to consider those fleeing North Korea very real; and likewise any woman fleeing an Islamic country).
            I’m also not clear whether Ayaan would have been an asylum seeker when she fled to the Netherlands.

  3. Excellent post Heather 🙂 I have already shared it on twitter, facebook and by ‘pressing’ a link to my own blog,, and that link has already been reblogged once.

  4. Elphy Calvert says:

    Heather, I’m horrified by your post. At long last The United States (and the Western World in general) can see a glimmer of hope on the horizon. P.l.e.a.s.e – at least familiarise yourself with Islamic taqqya and learn something of the horrors that we all face. Remember too, that many of the ‘refugees’ after being approved for welfare, are travelling back to their homeland (from which they ‘fled in fear of their lives’) for pleasant holidays with the families which they left behind.
    Long Live Trump!!!!!

    • I am familiar with taqqiya. It’s a Shi’ite doctrine, not a Muslim one.

      And of course, all people lie whatever their religion or lack thereof.

      A normal immigrant who has one or two interviews with an official may be able to fool them. A family that is going through a rigorous, minimum 18 month process including dozens of interviews, not so much. Refugees are by far the safest of all new entrants to a country. None have committed an act of terrorism on US soil since 9/11. That’s more than you can say for your own citizens.

      All it’s done is upset people and make recruitment to extremist groups easier. It’s reduced any goodwill with foreign governments, including allies like Canada who don’t want to be seen associated with such policies as it puts their own people at risk.

      • BigBillK says:

        Well said, Heather. I tried to figure out a way to respond to this post without being extremely derogatory and offensive (I do not suffer fools easily), but couldn’t come up with a way. Thank you for handling it so well.

    • I have now watched your link. The video in this clip is almost all related to Europe, which, as I pointed out in my post, is completely different to the situation in the US. Did you actually read what I wrote? ALL refugees to your country (and mine) go through an extensive vetting process that takes around 18 months – 2 years from the time they apply. All vetting is carried out in refugee camps BEFORE they get into the country. Only a fraction make it through the process. Go to the ‘Time’ link – it also talks about the make up of the refugees and how few of them are young single men.

      The only clip relating to the US appears to be of the twin Towers. The 9/11 bombers were not refugees.

      Sometimes asylum seekers fool the system. An asylum seeker goes through a different process to a refugee.

      My hope was that once people who were opposed to refugees had the facts they would change their minds about refugees. It appears that irrational fear is too deep with you.

      • nicky says:

        Yes, it is very different in Europe, ‘spot on’ as they say. Most Muslims in Europe are (descendants of) imported labour, not refugees or asylum seekers.
        I would guess that most refugees from Islamic countries would not be very enthusiastic about Islam. For imported labour there is no such presupposition.

  5. rickflick says:

    Trump’s order restricting immigration came with the rational that it was similar to Obama’s action. This morning in the WP, “Trump’s facile claim that his refugee policy is similar to Obama’s in 2011”, clarifies the Obama case as having been based on an immediate threat. Trump gets Two Pinocchios.

  6. Yakaru says:

    Excellent summing up and analysis, Heather.

    I can’t help but look at the broader picture here. Trump is not opposed to Muslims or even terrorists. They pose no threat to him. His enemies within the US are any state institutions who fail to submit to his will, the press, and any US citizens who do anything to oppose him.

    It will get far worse from here. He has started dismantling the state, set about destroying the free press by various means, and will start using lethal force against US citizens at the earliest possible opportunity.

    I am surprised that mainstream media outlets haven’t quite realized this yet, and are still reporting it as if it will get better soon. They still seem to hope that state institutions will somehow survive this onslaught. They won’t. Only the military would be capable of stopping Trump now, and there is no way the US military will act against their own democratically elected government.

    It does take a while to install a violent, repressive state apparatus, but history shows it can happen much quicker than anyone wants to believe, once it takes root.

    The US is sunk, and will take large parts of the world down with it.

    • j.a.m. says:

      @Y: I gather you’re going with the evil genius theory, as opposed to the celebrity blowhard theory.

      • Yakaru says:


        It’s human psychology. Once people start lining up behind a wannabe dictator, whether he’s clueless or not, anything can happen. Look at how fascist states have been set up in the past, and way people have behaved; and then look at the way Bannon is approaching all this.

        I am very open to be proven wrong on this, believe me. Trump’s stupidity and ignorance may just bring about his downfall, but people have been predicting that for a rather long time.

      • Ken says:

        It’s not like they’re mutually exclusive.

    • Thanks Yakaru. 🙂

      I’ve noticed CNN in particular, who have been a target of Trump’s, talking about the way he is attempting to discredit the media. The others must have noticed it. I think the reason they’re not talking about it is to maintain their access to Trump.

      It would be good to see the media stick together on points of principle, but of course, outlets like Breitbart are never going to take the principled stance.

  7. DDearborn says:


    Regardless of one’s position in this dogfight, 2 points are clear: First, the President is well within his authority and the law to institute these actions. And second, his actions have improved, at least in the short term our immigration Security.

    It seems obvious that his original order needs a little fine tuning. But overall, while perhaps a little extreme, if nothing else, it has drawn international attention to overly lax immigration procedures that have been in place for the last 8 years which clearly have jeopardized our defense against terrorism.

    And the hypocrisy on display by the left is almost off the charts. Consider that the all out war on Islam first introduced by Bush Jr. in the run up to the now totally discredited Iraq war was fully embraced and supported by the overwhelming majority of the Democrats. Furthermore, the US Media which is now nothing more than a propaganda arm for the left, has been unrelenting in its attacks on Islam since 9-11. And it has been Hollywood that has put a happy face on the rampant racism, bigotry and hatred for anything and everything connected to the Muslim world today. Again, this multi-media onslaught, which was designed from day one to justify the US wars against Israel’s enemies,which is still supported by the left, remains in place today.

    The hypocrisy of the left and the Media:
    US border wall (legal) inside our own country to stop 3-5 Million illegals crossing every year – is called racist, hate filled by the left. Israeli walls OUTSIDE Israel (illegal) to harass, terrorize, subjugate, and segregate the Palestinian people in their own country is good, and necessary according to the left/right.

    The US has admitted more immigrants legal and illegal over the last 30 years than any other country in the world. And that is good and somehow does not hurt American workers or US National Security according to the left/right. Donald Trump merely puts a partial moratorium on that unregulated onslaught and that is bad, racist and evil according to the left. Israel has by far the strictest, most racist, bigoted evil immigration policy in the world today:If you are not born of a Jewish mother- you can’t come in. And that is OK by the Left/right and the Media.

    The fact that the left fails to see all this is far more terrifying to me than anything Trump has done thus far. My underlying point here is that Zionism is the real threat to US National Security and Sovereignty not Islam.

    • The US has not admitted more immigrants than any other country. If you take population into account, the US is further down the list. However, I don’t see the relevance of the comment anyway. What has the number of refugees or immigrants the US has taken got to do with the validity of Trump’s executive order, or the safety of the programme?

      Countries like yours and mine need immigrants. Basically, we aren’t giving birth to enough young people to support retiring baby boomers. Just yesterday, a report was released yesterday that noted the significant economic contribution migrants make to our GDP. I think it was about 300 times that of someone born here.

      Stopping Islamist extremism requires reform within Islam, which is happening but too slowly for the sake of the safety of those who oppose them. That mostly means other Muslims. We need to show that democracy and Enlightenment values are better than Sharia. The US mostly succeeds at that, which is why it has a low number of Islamist terrorist attacks on its own soil.

      This action by Trump has created friction between different groups of people. It makes the US look bad. It is the sort of thing that makes an extremist type want to commit an act of violence. But who knows – maybe that’s what Trump wants. Then in his twisted logic and shallow thinking he will believe he’s doing the right thing.

  8. BigBillK says:

    As you pointed out, the really dangerous countries that export anti-western hatred and violence are not included in the travel ban. That’s because he has business interests in those and doesn’t have any business interests in the countries that he put on the list. Already his self-serving conflicts of interest are hurting the US. Fasten your seatbelts – it’s going to be a long, bumpy ride.

  9. rickflick says:

    “his actions have improved, at least in the short term our immigration Security.”

    In a narrow sense, this may be true, but overall security may have been damaged. Islamists will gain considerable leverage from this, for recruiting new members.

    Vetting was already very good, so not really much of an increase is possible.

  10. Pliny the in Between says:

    As a second generation of a once despised class of immigrant I thank you for this well written piece.

    You also inspired this bit:

  11. BigBillK says:

    It has occurred to me that this is more in the realm of political theater – just like the wall nonsense. None of it has anything to do with making the country safer – it’s merely red meat for his rabid followers. I think the same is true for his Attacks on abortion (some enacted and more to come) as well as other reproductive rights. That is his nod to the fundagelical hypocrites who supported him in droves. I don’t think he cares one whit about abortion and the other stuff. He’s just doing what Pence tells him will win him the lasting adoration of that segment of his followers. All of this does two things – 1. Keep his supporters rabidly in his thrall, to have the threat of their rebellion should anyone try to thwart his plans; 2. to provide misdirection from his REAL agenda – namely using his position to seriously enrich himself. He doesn’t care about anything or anybody else, nor any destruction in his wake. He is the poster child for sociopath (in addition to narcissist).

    • I agree. Almost every one of his policies so far has been window dressing. They will not “Make America Great Again”. In fact, in many cases, like this one, they will have the opposite effect. He’s destroying the country for the sake of maintaining the adoration of his core supporters.

      Still, if he carries on like this it won’t be long before his own party impeaches him. As I’ve said before though, while a Mike Pence presidency would probably increase international stability, it means a Dominionist in the White House and that’s bad for the country domestically.

  12. nicky says:

    Personally I find the worst that this ban includes local translators and guides to the US armed forces. These people put their lives (and that of their family) on the block.
    They should not only not be denied entry, but awarded at least a Silver Star, if not a Medal of Honor, for gallantry in action.

    • nicky says:

      If we could convince Trump about this? If he makes an EO letting them in, and honouring them, we -his opposition- will refrain for three months criticising his ban, and refrain for six months ridiculing his Wall? Could something like that not work? ?

  13. j.a.m. says:

    Trump temporarily inconvenienced a handful of people from a handful of countries. Madeleine Albright called the deaths of Muslim children “worth it.˝ Trump is a monster!

    • If it’s only such a small number being inconvenienced, and no problems are being found, why not carry on with the current system until the new one is sorted? We know that no one from those countries has killed a USian on US soil for at least 40 years, and we know a refugee never has. Wouldn’t it have been much better not to upset the world with his high-handed and ill-advised actions?

      As far as I can work out, there isn’t even anyone working on what the new process will be in (now) less than three months. As I’ve said elsewhere (not sure if here), it’s already looking like he’ll have to lengthen the suspension.

      • j.a.m. says:

        The cited article criticizes the order. But it also points out the specific hypocrisy of certain individuals (e.g. Clinton, Albright), as well as the general hypocrisy of out-of-control Trump Derangement Syndrome.


          I can’t read the article j.a.m. linked to. Once I get past the first few lines it tries to get me to open software which my security software says is dangerous.

        • Ken says:

          So jam, finally, after two years of my referring to such examples, you climb on board with the fact that the US has committed atrocities in the ME. I would give a hallelujah, except that you’re only doing it now to provide cover for the current Republican so-called president. Which is also why conveniently not mentioned by you or the article referenced is that George Bush is every bit in the same atrocity camp as the Clintons and Albright. It’s an indefensible crime when either side does it. You’re just playing the same partisan politics as ever.

          But you are correct, even if not sincere. Trump has done nothing yet that’s as bad as any recent president, though he’s off to a good start with a drone attack that killed an 8 year old girl. But he’s only been president for 2 1/2 weeks. He needs a fair chance to show he’s the killer he’s promised to be. And I expect you’ll make excuses for him when he does, assuming you even bother to acknowledge it for what it is.

          • j.a.m. says:

            Needless to say, I don’t endorse everything in that piece. But it makes a couple of acute and useful points about hypocrisy, and about the left’s vicious spiral of ever-escalating denunciations. If everybody’s Hitler, then nobody’s Hitler. And if everybody’s Hitler, then Hitler’s just a regular guy.

          • Ken says:

            Yes, hypocrisy, that’s what I was talking about too.

          • j.a.m. says:

            Good — we’re in perfect accord, then.

          • Ken says:

            Only in your world of alternative facts.

          • j.a.m. says:

            I’m old enough to remember when being open to alternative facts was called liberal.

            Anyway, let’s be pals.

  14. E.A. Blair says:

    j.a.m.: do you know the difference between a fact and an opinion? Being open to “alternative facts” isn’t – and never has been – part of being liberal. Being open to alternative facts is like being open to debate on an alternative value for pi. Opinions, on the other hand, are open to debate, but the debate is only valid if it’s a well-informed opinion, i.e., based on facts that can be demonstrated as true.

    • j.a.m. says:

      Nobody is in possession of all the facts. Not all facts are of equal importance. Facts are subject to interpretation and analysis. There are two or more sides to every story. A wise and liberal person is indeed open to alternative facts that she has not considered.

      • There’s no such thing as Alternative Facts. As others have said here and indeed throughout history, you can have your own opinion but you can’t have your own facts. There are facts, and there are lies. It doesn’t matter how many times Trump says otherwise, Obama’s crowd was bigger (as was the crowd at the Women’s March), Clinton won the popular vote, and the murder rate is not the highest it’s been in 47 years.

        a L t e r n a t I v E f a c t S

        There are also things you may believe to be fact that are unproven. Some will be proven or disproven in the future. Others we will never know. Either way, we shouldn’t pretend otherwise.

        • Ken says:

          Jam knows all this, of course. He just has no shame.

        • j.a.m. says:

          I don’t get the objection. Anyone making an argument selects a set of putative facts that support their case. There is an alternative set of putative facts that either do not support the case, or are simply unknown at the time.

          It’s true I feel no shame for merely remarking that a wise and liberal person is one who is open-minded regarding facts not previously considered.

    • Ken says:

      Jam is a practiced bullshitter, E.A. You’ll get used to it.

      • E.A. Blair says:

        I realized that. He doesn’t seem to understand the meanings of “fact” “opinion” and “alternative”.

        “Everybody has opinions: I have them, you have them. And we are all told from the moment we open our eyes, that everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. Well, that’s horsepuckey, of course. We are not entitled to our opinions; we are entitled to our informed opinions. Without research, without background, without understanding, it’s nothing. It’s just bibble-babble. It’s like a fart in a wind tunnel, folks.”
        — Harlan Ellison

      • Yakaru says:

        So you really think that Ken and Heather think “alternative facts” means “facts not previously considered”?

        This is the way basic insincerity poisons debate.

    • j.a.m. says:

      Most Americans approve of the executive orders. The judicial system is perfectly capable of adjudicating any bona fide controversies (and dismissing frivolous ones) in accordance with the rule of law and in the normal course of business. The Constitution is in better shape than it was three and a half weeks ago, and in far better shape than it would have been under a third Democrat term. The more the Democrats push to appease their unhinged, angry extremist base, the farther they will be from the mainstream electorate.

      • Most USians disapprove of Trump’s performance. You need to look at stats from reliable polling organisations rather than just asking your friends.

        • j.a.m. says:

          The linked article cites a Politico poll — which nobody would say is Trump-friendly. The IBD/TIPP poll had similar results.

          Men approve of Trump’s job performance, though it’s true that a majority of the fairer sex do not approve just yet. But the article makes the point that Trump’s policies are more popular than he is, and people generally expect those policies to be good for growth. When that materializes, his personal popularity inevitably would improve, and Democrats would find themselves in an even deeper quandary.

          • His popularity will improve if his policies bear fruit, I agree. However, I’ve already written posts about why I think that’s unlikely.

            Also, approval of some policies is based on ignorance by some people. For example, they genuinely believe the immigration/refugee suspension EO makes the country safer, that it’s possible to bring back coal jobs, that fossil fuels are cheaper long-term, that tax cuts for the rich will create jobs etc.

            Parts of his infrastructure policy is very good. I wonder whether 1. Congress will give him the money and 2. When it works they’ll acknowledge it’s the same thing Obama wanted to do years ago and Congress wouldn’t let him.

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