Comment of the Day: “An Ethics Mystery: Why Can’t Democrats Be Honest Or Responsible Regarding The Syrian Refugees?”

No risk too small...

No risk too small…

I asked for a single reasonable, rational explanation of Democratic/progressive enthusiasm for allowing Syrian refugees, including an unknown number of potential terrorists, to enter and reside in the United States. I cited the pathetic attempts at such arguments made by various officials, candidates for President, and journalists. What has come in from comments so far does not meet my standard of reasonable or persuasive, and frankly deepens the mystery of why liberal leanings force people to take such positions. One of the most revealing articles of the liberal mindset came from extreme-left journalist Kevin Drum, writing on the web site of the “by any means necessary” leftist publication Mother Jones. He wrote:

“Here’s the thing: to the average person, it seems perfectly reasonable to be suspicious of admitting Syrian refugees to the country. We know that ISIS would like to attack the US. We know that ISIS probably has the wherewithal to infiltrate a few of its people into the flood of refugees. And most voters have no idea how easy it is to get past US screening. They probably figure it’s pretty easy.

So to them it doesn’t seem xenophobic or crazy to call for an end to accepting Syrian refugees. It seems like simple common sense. After all, things changed after Paris.

Mocking Republicans over this—as liberals spent much of yesterday doing on my Twitter stream—seems absurdly out of touch to a lot of people. Not just wingnut tea partiers, either, but plenty of ordinary centrists too. It makes them wonder if Democrats seriously see no problem here. Do they care at all about national security? Are they really that detached from reality?

The liberal response to this should be far more measured. We should support tight screening. Never mind that screening is already pretty tight. We should highlight the fact that we’re accepting a pretty modest number of refugees. In general, we should act like this is a legitimate thing to be concerned about and then work from there….”

How damning and obnoxious. Drum never actually explains why the concern aren’t legitimate; he just condescendingly assumes that his compatriots understand they just are, because…why? Obama, who has been wrong about just about everything, says so, I suppose. Or because progressives are just enlightened. Maybe because Democrats believe open borders are a great thing, because the minority migrants, legal or illegal, mean more votes. I have no idea why he is so smugly superior, but he gives only one substantive argument: “Never mind that screening is already pretty tight.”

Oh is it now? From that far-right conservative, Republican wacko xenophobic newspaper, the Washington Post:

While they say U.S. security measures are much better than in the past, vetting Syrian refugees poses a quandary: How do you screen people from a war-torn country that has few criminal and terrorist databases to check?

The United States has resettled more than 3 million refugees since the mid-1970s, and the screening system in the post-9/11 era includes multiple background checks, screenings against FBI and other databases and an in-person interview. Debate over the program has intensified since the deadly terrorist strikes in Paris blamed on the Islamic State, though each attacker identified so far whose nationality has been confirmed has been found to be a European national, not part of the wave of refugees from Syria.

“I don’t, obviously, put it past the likes of ISIL to infiltrate operatives among these refugees, so that’s a huge concern of ours,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said at a security industry conference in September, using another name for the Islamic State. He added that the government has “a pretty aggressive program” for screening refugees but that he is less confident about European nations.

FBI Director James Comey added in congressional testimony last month that “a number of people who were of serious concern” slipped through the screening of Iraq War refugees, including two arrested on terrorism-related charges. “There’s no doubt that was the product of a less than excellent vetting,” he said.

Although Comey said the process has since “improved dramatically,” Syrian refugees will be even harder to check because, unlike in Iraq, U.S. soldiers have not been on the ground collecting information on the local population. “If we don’t know much about somebody, there won’t be anything in our data,” he said. “I can’t sit here and offer anybody an absolute assurance that there’s no risk associated with this.”

Then the story follows with an extensive description of what screening is supposed to be, an was with Iraqi refugees—none of which appears to be relevant to the reality of screening the Syrian. The story concludes:

But one of the senior administration officials at Tuesday’s briefing acknowledged the limitations inherent in screening refugees from Syria, where it’s very difficult to determine something as basic as an applicant’s criminal history.

“We do the best with what we have,” the official said. “We talk to people about what their criminal histories are, and we hear about that. That’s pretty much where we are.”

Talk to people about what their criminal histories are. Yup, nothing to worry about. Only xenophobes and racists would see any deficiencies or risks here. Let’s just pretend to respect what they say; they can’t stop it anyway.

Here is Beth’s Comment of the Day on the post, An Ethics Mystery: Why Can’t Democrats Be Honest Or Responsible Regarding The Syrian Refugees??

Yes, I’ll be back at the end.

And still ticked off.

But we make trade-offs every day. Every time we let out an inmate, we know that is 50% likely that he/she will end up in jail — perhaps for a violent crime. But we do it. We know that criminals breed more criminals, but we don’t sterilize them, because that violates our belief system. We also don’t sterilize (at least not anymore) the indigent, the mentally ill, children with Down’s, and young girls who are promiscuous. We don’t do this because — even though it’s statistically more likely that many of these children will become a drain on society and/or commit violent crimes –because it violates our values. We allow in legal immigrants from Russia and Italy even though it is statistically more likely that they will join Russian and Italian mobs over the general population. We legally let in Latino immigrants even though it is more likely that their male children will join MS-13 over the general population. We allow gun sales and have not gutted the Second Amendment even though it is likely that that there will be a certain number of gun deaths every day.

This is not emotion — this is fact. Hell, it wouldn’t be hard for a programmer to create an algorithim to tell us exactly what to predict. It is possible that we actually did intern actual or would-be Japanese spies during WWII.

But that is the risk that we take to live in a country that has served as a melting pot for immigrants for its entire existence. We judge people at the individual level — not the group level. For each wave of immigrants and/or refugees that have come into our country, we first responded with fear (“Irish need not apply.” Hell, Georgia was a penal colony!) Then they assimilated and became American citizens. Why do we keep repeating past mistakes?

I like this comment because Beth makes about the only semi-rational, as opposed to reflex, mindless, and partisan, argument available as well as the argument can be made. The argument is that we accept similar risks routinely and also accept the consequences of them, and this one is no different.

Obviously, I think it is different. Prisoners serve their time and must be released, though we know a certain number of them are still anti-social and dangerous. They are citizens, however; we don’t have pre-crime statutes, and the Constitution gives us no choice but to hold our breath and give them a chance. Any immigrant poses a risk, but we do vet and screen legal immigrants to minimize the risk. Many of Beth’s compatriots would gut the Second Amendment, and argue that it would be a fair trade off to take gun rights away from all Americans if it saved the life of, as the President once said, “a single child.”

This was not her strongest point.

The reason past practices can’t be used to work out this problem is that mass terrorism is a new threat, and only became a consideration after 3000  innocent U.S. citizens died on September 11, 2001. All of a sudden, a century of reasonable trade-offs no longer made sense or were tolerable. We decided long ago that it was more important to allow citizens open access to their elected officials’ offices, and to their government, than to prevent a rare tragedy with maximize security. I once was able to walk up to the door of my Congressman and knock. Suddenly, after the Twin Towers fell, you couldn’t even drive by the White House, and today every government building is blocked by concrete pillars. I get frisked, wanded and gated before I can  teach legal ethics in the Ronald Reagan Building.

The President has some gall mocking Republicans who are genuinely concerned about ISIS, which has been on a rampage, by saying that they are afraid of widows and orphans. His TSA manhandles, wands and searches little children and octogenarians in wheel chairs before they can get on an airplane, on the infinitesimal chance that they will try to bring it down. Yesterday, a TSA agent took a Buzz Lightyear toy, a souvenir from Disneyland, from a five -year-old boy and destroyed it as a possible threat.

Fourteen years ago, a fool tried to blow up a plane using his shoe. Since then, I and millions of other travelers have had to take off our shoes, wander in stocking feet through security, and put them on again, all to prevent any possibility of this (unsuccessful) terrorist attack from occurring again. American citizens are being inconvenienced and humiliated to eliminate this imperceptible risk, and others.

These are the standards of the Obama administration, the standards that we have had hammered into our consciousness as responsible and necessary, standards that we are instructed to accept and cooperate with completely, or risk criminal penalties. Why is the trade-off of our personal liberties and  the dignity of American citizens deemed justified to avert the vanishing-point level risk of a shoe-bombing or a child-smuggled weapon, yet Americans insisting on the same thorough vetting and screening for higher risk refugees as other refugees have been subjected to are mocked as cowardly, hysterical, and xenophobic?

Meanwhile, every official and Democratic advocate for the Syrians says in public that there must be effective screening procedures, and assure us that there will be, while behind the scenes officials admit that “We talk to people about what their criminal histories are, and we hear about that. That’s pretty much where we are.”

There is no honesty, transparency or consistency in the pro-Syrian arguments, from either those we have to trust to implement the alleged safeguards, nor their apparently blind supporters. There is no reason to trust their judgments about what trade-offs are reasonable.

153 thoughts on “Comment of the Day: “An Ethics Mystery: Why Can’t Democrats Be Honest Or Responsible Regarding The Syrian Refugees?”

  1. (I have this little daydream of the Egyptian goddess Isis, in her full panoply as goddess of magic and healing, have some stern words with the people taking her trademark… maybe turning them into scarabs)

    And yeah, this vetting for guns, air travel, pristine records, and politically correct/non-bullying/green behaviors should be less for citizens. not more. That really boils this down into the the crux. I know immigrants always had to face scrutiny, and some were sent back. People who rant about how many immigrants came in don’t like to remember that it wasn’t a straight shot like they think it was. There always has been vetting and preferably personally known sponsors.

    • Well, one thing that people continue to muddy is discussing “refugees” in terms of immigration. I think in most cases it is just derived from no one giving any deep thought to the *nearly unique* problem facing us with this, though in some cases I think people are intentionally conflating the two.

      I plan on discussing more tonight, but I have to sift through and peruse some colossally long comments that have already set off my alarms with some of the commentary.

      But initially, people need to recognize that we are discussing “refugees” here…not immigrants (though at some point refugees can become immigrants). To highlight a key difference here, a “refugee” by connotation, is someone we ought to see as seeking a temporary haven until things “back home” calm down, while intending fully to return (whether they do or not is matter of several factors of course).

      Though refugees may be a special type of “immigrant”, they are different enough that those using the language and solutions of normal immigration are being somewhat un-nuanced.

      Pie in the sky claims of “stricter screening” by saying “we’ve been screening successfully so far” somewhat ignores the scope of the problem and pretends that this group of refugees is just like any group in the past (it isn’t).

      Of course, I am not fully comfortable with the notion of telling entire families of defenseless people they have to go back to probable death either – regardless of how complicit the culture they espouse is in regards to said carnage. In that comment of course is hidden one aspect of a partial solution to this problem (they aren’t ALL defenseless).

      I think this discussion is being viewed by the Left as if any disagreement with their “open arms” policy (and it is “open arms” in practice no matter how often they say “stricter screening”) is tantamount to automatically claiming the only solution is to drive the people back into the meat grinder whence they came. This is a typically Leftist tactic to vilify disagreement. It is asinine. There are several options available to alleviate this problem (though no doubt many of them are automatically stopped for consideration by the Left because they involve actions that the Left will also denounce). It’s much more nuanced than the Left will willingly recognize.

      Hopefully, given time and a cooperative 1 and 3 year old, I can weigh in.

  2. Jack, I appreciate that you characterized my response as semi-rational. I will return the favor – your response is semi-rational as well. Your reasoning for denying basic shelter to these refugees seems to rest on two premises: 1) they aren’t American citizens; and 2) this time the risk is greater. My answer to that is you are wrong. You are a student of history, as am I. You seemed to focus on Presidents and leaders, I was particularly fascinated with immigration. Each time a wave of immigrants came to this country (and in many instances the term “refugee” is more appropriate as they were fleeing famine, political unrest, and/or religious persecution), the American response was ALWAYS the same – “this time our fear is justified in keeping them out because of X.” The Irish, the Chinese, the Italians, the Polish, etc. Each time, the backlash against them was hysterical and unfounded. This time is no different. I don’t see how rational people do not recognize that.

    As for your second point – that we stopped committing atrocities against certain classes because they were Americans — I disagree with you in part and you are partly wrong. Not all of these classes were American citizens, they often were immigrants lacking any legal status whatsoever. So in that regard, you are wrong. Here is where I disagree with you, and I’ll use sterilization as the example. There certainly are legal arguments that it is unconstitutional to sterilize an individual, but I don’t believe – and I don’t think you do either — that we stopped the practice because of a legal technicality, we stopped doing it because it violated basic human decency and core American values. I don’t think any rational person would argue that we can shoot a non-citizen in the head without the benefit of a trial for committing a crime here. No, we give them a trial and put them in jail just like we do American citizens. We don’t turn up our noses at foreign conflicts if they don’t involve Americans, we send our troops and our resources because it is the right thing to do. Now, taking in a small number of refugees (as has the majority of our allies) is simply the right thing to do.

    One more observation – most criminals come here on planes – and it’s really simply to do. But do you know what’s hard? Posing as a refugee. I can see it now, “Achmed, you have a choice. We can dress you in rags, give you no food and water, and have you cross the Mediterranean in winter on a poorly constructed boat run by smugglers. There is an 80% (I made this up) chance you’ll make it. Most likely, you will land somewhere in Greece. Once in Greece, you will have to travel overland (try and avoid Hungary) to get to Germany or perhaps Denmark. Once there, try and make contacts within your refugee camp to be placed in America. Hopefully that will happen. You will have to survive the scrutiny process and it may take a year or two. Eventually, your goal is to join this terrorist cell – please memorize the address Achmed! – in Arlington, VA. This will be extra-hard, as you will be under special status in the United States and will be subject to additional oversight. OR, you can take these papers, travel to Turkey, and take an international flight to Dulles International. That flight leaves on Saturday. Make sure you don’t bring any fruits or vegetables – they hate that at immigration. Achmed, which of these options sounds more appealing to you? It is your choice.”

    • This time the risk IS greater, a special category of risk altogether, and that is Islam, and the fact that these people will be coming from an epicenter of ISIS activity. Class from 4:30-6:30, then a commute, and hopefully I can make some time to elaborate. Should be able to before bedtime.

      • Inevitably, the premises involved in this one, like most of the discussions these days, will reveal just how far off the reservation the Left has flown. It will ultimately reveal further just how irreconcilable the gap between the modern Left and rational American values has become. It’s kind of scary wondering who will win the coming upheaval.

    • People who blow themselves up arent overly concerned with hardships or odds, I’d wager. I’m sure 1 out of 10 would be a success in their book.

      • Yes, Beth underestimates severely the devotion that ISIS engenders amongst it’s followers.

        I’d submit there’s a greater likelihood of infiltration success hidden among 10,000 people, than as a solo flier.

          • +1.

            Or walk across that huge unprotected border we have up north. Or the one in the south. Or since so many actually seem to be European nationals, besides flying over, they just take a nice cruise. It’s difficult to see why anyone would choose the uncertainty and length of time that is applying for refugee status to the US, rather than taking any of the other options.

        • Given the choice, I’d join the mob. Jack’s quote of FBI director James Comey pretty much cinches it. Any other means or route of conveyance, and you might get pinched, simply for either being Syrian (crossing the border), or not having the appropriate papers. As a refugee, it’s understood that you’re coming directly from Syria, and the only assurance that you’re not a terrorist is that you haven’t self-detonated yet.

    • I don’t think any rational person would argue that we can shoot a non-citizen in the head without the benefit of a trial for committing a crime here. No, we give them a trial and put them in jail just like we do American citizens.

      “… you have to ask yourself, which is greater: life, or due process?” TN GOP Caucus Head Casada said.

      “You can’t be too careful.”

      By suspending a kid for pretending to use a bow and arrow for example. Because next time it might be real, right?

      Isis Books & Gifts on South Broadway has been in business for 35 years, but lately it has been threatened and targeted by vandals associating it with the terrorist group commonly referred to as ISIS.

      This weekend, someone threw a brick through an “Isis Book & Gifts” sign outside the business. The incident took place just days after the ISIS terrorist group claimed responsibility for attacks in Paris.

      Charboneau-Harrison said it is the fourth time the business has been vandalized in just the past few months. She said they had to replace their front door after someone shattered the glass. Someone also threw pink paint across the front of the store, and the same sign has already been broken once before.

      “You can’t be too careful… what about if it was a bookstore for terrorists? This time the risk IS greater, a special category of risk altogether…”

      There is starting to be a good argument for not giving asylum to Syrian refugees, or anyone for that matter of vaguely asian or arab appearance. That is, they may not be safe in the US.

      The Kent Hindu Temple attracts about 200 people to Sunday services and is located in Kent, about 20 miles south of Seattle. Whether the damage was the work of one vandal or several people is unknown, said Jugal Thakor, president of the temple’s board. He said he did not want to speculate on the motivation for the vandalism.

      In the Bothell incident, a swastika and “Muslims get out” were spray-painted on the side of a public junior high school near the temple. Police say the person who targeted the junior high school may have been the same one who vandalized the Hindu temple.

    • Besides, didn’t the Mics bring the Great Potato famine, and didn’t the Chinese bring yellow fever? We know that the WOPs brought the mob, and the Poles brought pierogies and Pollock joks.

  3. Beth wanders the corridors of history, pulling out obscure incidents, coloring them with a leftist interpretation and presenting them as being relevant against our natural inclination not to import beheading, self-exploding, baby killing aliens into our neighborhoods. And then, just to prove that we’re not “racist”, we’re all to be tasked with their upkeep while they build their mosques/bomb factories next door. We already need to be in the business of exporting these wild-eyed fanatics OUT of America, not importing tens of thousands more to add to their ranks.

  4. I have an idea. Why don’t we take a limited number of actual orphans to call Obama’s bluff and resettle them with American citizen muslims who want kids and have no ties to ISIS or other groups that support terrorism. That way we could be humanitarian and not accept any adults of military age.

  5. I have a question for Beth, and I’m going to be as sincere as I can be,

    What if you’re wrong?

    What happens if after we’ve accepted these refugees (and I fully believe we will), unvetted, as they have to be without adequate process, and some of them blow up a stadium? What are you going to say? Not just to me, and the people here, but to the families of the dead? Are you going to come in here and write “Ok guys, you were right, my bad.” and then go home and sleep it off?

    If by some miracle there isn’t some kind of extremist attack borne from the refugee diaspora that we’re taking in, it will be pure, unadulterated moral luck.

    • I don’t have to say anything. Just like I don’t have to say anything when a released criminal commits a new murder, or a gun man rushes into a Colorado theater and shoots 100 people. We live in America. In America, we do not condemn people because of group identity — we treat them as individuals. I can’t even believe this number, but there are an estimated 9 million (can that even be right?) refugees fleeing Syria. Millions Humble — millions of men, women, children with no food, water, shelter, or medical treatment. How many of them are you willing to let die because of a possible fear of the unknown? I think it is our American duty and our moral duty to help them. If you want increased monitoring that’s fine, but we have to help.

      • Have you ever heard of the concept of an “independent nation”, Beth? It is the first obligation of a nation to support its own citizens. If it can’t, then it’s the responsibility of those citizens to take action… in their own land. For better or worse, it’s their country. Not ours. You also (and continually) ignore the common culture of these people and their hostility toward any Christian-based culture. The various jihadist movements- to include ISIS- see this as a way of exporting their war with the aid of the very people they seek to destroy. It’s working, too. It must not work in America. Our first responsibility is to our own people.

        • I’m willing to wager that you don’t have any Muslim friends. I do. They don’t hate Christians. They like me, and I’m even worse than a Christian — I’m an atheist. Some of them don’t drink, but other than that — no difference between you and me.

          Do you also support shutting down mosques in American and prohibiting the exercise of Islam? If not, what is the difference between a Muslim fleeing ISIS for a safer place and a Muslim already living in America or another westernized country?

          • Selection bias… Muslims who are willing to be friends with an atheist are by definition not the ones who are religious bigots. Also, your friends aren’t among the Muslims who currently live in the middle east, which is where most of the anti-Christian bigotry is to be found. It varies by region, but you might want to consider what the polling actually shows. Although I suspect that sight may has probably selected for the worst polls, it’s fairly clear that support for terrorism is relatively common. It may be in the minority most places, but it’s not a tiny one.

            • “Selection bias… Muslims who are willing to be friends with an atheist are by definition not the ones who are religious bigots.”

              Exactly. And might I add: Duh. It will never cease to amaze me how people are so able to stop thinking once they reach the conclusion they want, when if they just rubbed that neuron a little bit harder they’d start to see troubles.

              It’s things like this that are exactly why the Democratic party does not get to tout itself as the ‘party of science’. ‘Science’ requires a theory and opposition, democratic group think is in opposition to opposition.

              • Look — I’m not the one painting with a broad brush here. You’re willing to condemn 9 million Syrians to exposure and death because 1 percent of 1 percent of them might be radicalized. Talk about bias!

                • Woah, cut that nonsense out with a quickness.

                  You’re willing to let several million die because not that many have left dangerous lands and many more are still stuck in Syria because you only will allow 10,000 in and you and you ilk refuse to have the fortitude to do what must be done IN places like Syria to actually have a good impact.

                  • Don’t confuse the argument Tex. We’re talking about refugees — if it makes it clearer for you, you can add the hundreds of thousands coming from Africa where we are not at war.

                    • Nope Beth. Nice try though. You don’t get to pretend like HT is consigning millions to death because he wants to refuse 10,000 since you are consigning millions to death while accepting 10,000.

                      The scale of difference blows your moral high horse out from under you.

                    • I think we should take in as many refugees as we can Tex — regardless of country of origin. But feel free to think you’ve got a gotcha here.

                    • Let’s say for the sake of argument that 10 or less manage to strap on explosives or spray bullets into a black friday Wal-Mart crowd. How much does it cost to feed, house, and provide medical care for your tens of thousands, and how many will actually create jobs rather than just more competition for the few available jobs?

                    • It means this: “I don’t know if we should take in 10 refugees or 100,000 refugees, but I think it is our moral and political duty to share this burden with other allies.”

                    • I wonder if there are some key defining differences between the “ISIS sympathizers” mentioned by Phlinn and the “people who don’t see Daesh as a threat” mentioned by you that could make the similar percentages meaningless for whatever point you were trying to make?

                    • It’s 13% of Syrian refugees who explicitly approve of ISIS, and 31% who oppose the campaign to get rid of them. Explicitly approve isn’t remotely similar to ‘don’t see as a threat’, although 15% of syrian refugees don’t see them as a threat so it wouldn’t be too far off. Not a lot of people in the “not a threat to home country, but think they are a negative influence” except for Egypt.

                      Of course, unless Beth disputes the characterization of “supports ISIS” as radicalized, her 1% of 1% was still way off Perhaps she was only thinking of the ones directly participating in the violence.

                    • Then there is the legitimate question of whether a terrorist is smart enough not to tell a pollster, “I approve of terrorism.” 1% may be stupid terrorists, but that’s about all such a poll is worth.

                • 9 Million? Where does that number come from? Canada has decided to take in 25,000 and America will end up taking something between 10 and 65,000. Now I know you’re a liberal, and so naturally bad at math, but 25,000 + 65,000 does not equal 9,000,000.

                  • To be fair, Beth is properly applying Kantian ethics: if it is ethical for us to reject 10,000, then applying the Rule of Universality, we must agree that everyone should reject ALL 9,000,000.

                    This is a problem for utilitarian balancing, however.

                    • Yeah, but let’s add one more factor to the mix: ISIS isn’t waging war against the world, it’s waging war against majority Christian nations. There are places they could go where even if terrorists were in the diaspora, they wouldn’t be at odds with the government. Of the Muslim majority nations: Turkey and Pakistan have taken 1.5 million people each, Lebanon took 1.1 million, and Iran has taken almost a million, The Sudans have taken about half a million, and Yemen has taken about a quarter million. But what about Indonesia? Bangladesh? Nigeria? Algeria? Morocco? Malaysia? Why is it America’s moral duty to take in people that actively want to blow them up when the people they don’t want to blow up, who have a culture more similar to theirs won’t have them either?

                    • Yeah…. Perhaps I don’t struggle with it as much as I should. They are people, the vast majority are probably even good people, and we’re sending them away. I just find myself OK with that. It’s unfortunate that the minority is so violent I find the risk on balance too severe to move on this. I don’t want the large scale terror attacks to happen here, I don’t want something like the Pakistani rape gangs to happen here, I don’t want the honor killings to happen here, I don’t want the acid face washes to happen here, and most importantly (to myself): I don’t want to be thrown off a tall building. These people are fleeing war, but they tolerated a society that was shit even before the extremists took over the show, and there isn’t any way to tell if those extremists aren’t present.

                    • Actually, ISIS also really hates the Shiites, making them enemies with Baghdad and Tehran, and they also rather detest the US-allied Gulf States. Turkey itself is seemingly a foe to every side in the Syrian civil war, and we all know the war going on between ISIS and the Kurds. Indonesia and Malaysia are US allies themselves (with the former having suffered its own internationally reported spate of attacks, including on mosques frequented by police), and Nigeria is fighting its own war against ISIS-affiliated Boko Haram (and FYI, almost half of Nigeria’s population is actually Christian). Remember, as much as much of the Islamic world may hate us, they also hate each other pretty strongly; Yemen’s own civil war is being fought between two factions who both yell “Death to America/Israel”, but in practice would much rather shoot each other.

                    • Nope, but I do think Humble’s assumption that the Muslim world doesn’t also hate itself was a large enough error of fact to need correction. I mean, I don’t think I was reducing myself to P.M. Lawrence levels of quibbling.

                    • My fault, Julian…I just get the comments in Chronological sequence and for some reason yours wasn’t pegged as a reply to anyone. Now that I know the context, it was worth making. Apologies.

                    • You know, Julian, I was thinking about that when I wrote my comment, I’m just wasn’t sure how much play it should get. We in the West are by and large secularly faithful, even those of us who profess to be faithful only do so to the extent they go to Church on Sunday and profess certain beliefs. No one sacrifices goats anymore, no one follows the food laws, and no one metes out capital punishment as laid out in Leviticus, and so it’s easy enough to fall under the impression that 1) religion is generally benign, and 2) other people are faithful like us. Well, the first is arguable, but the second isn`t; Muslims, especially from that area of the world, aren’t. They DO sacrifice goats, they DO eat halal, and they DO kill people for their religion. Not all of them, obviously, but enough of them that some of these things are codified in law. You take all that mutual animosity the Sunnis, Shias and Kurds have from their disparate ideas on their shared religion, and the take that logic one step further, to realize that those differences are greater between Islam and Christianity. If you think that the religious barrier these nations face should be taken into account, it is unreasonable not to take it into account for us, and to weigh it heavier.

                    • Jack, is there any way you can configure it to not block replies once you get to a certain level of nesting? I have seen other sites where it will still do replies, and show who they are responding too, even if it ceases indenting and nesting. I have no idea what wordpress can or can’t do. As it is, it gets confusing.

                    • This is WEIRD. I was reading back through this conversation, and thinking that I might be insane, because I wasn’t making much sense in context, but then I realized that the comment I made at 11:36 seems to have ben swapped with the comment I made at 11:45. The time stamps are still right though.

              • ” ‘Science’ requires a theory and opposition, democratic group think is in opposition to opposition.” Which is baffling, because isn’t Carl Popper a left-wing hero?

          • I’ve got muslim friends, and have had quite a few over the years, whom I’ve considered dear to me. I’ve gone to the point of putting my life in jeopardy for 2, in fact, and still would. As much as I care for them, I can’t ignore the true nature of islam itself, and what that nature means under various circumstances. It’s far, far more than just a religion. The differences between it and ANY other actual faith are as different as night and day. Among many other things, ALL muslims either believe in, or are expected to believe in, a coming world-wide caliphate, and all are called upon to wage or support jihad towards this end, by any and all means. Muslims are encouraged to deceive kafirs, feigning friendship and secularity, until they begin to have a numerical advantage. With increasing numerical superiority comes increasing hostility, demands, and ultimately, subjugation. They will attempt to do this primarily by breeding, interbreeding, and essentially what you’re seeing in Europe today. Their words, not mine. Right from the mouths of the Imams, and the pages of the qur’an. Your friends and mine, under these circumstances, will either reveal their true nature, or their nature will change once Islam “calls them home” under these conditions. People from places that have seen muslim population explosions will tell you about how dismayed they were to find out all of the above. It’s foreign to us, because even the most religious of us can’t begin to understand how all-encompassing Islam is in the life of a muslim. An example, a friend of ours from Pakistan, a very kind and gentle woman who doesn’t seem to be very religious, when asked what would happen if one of her sisters became an apostate; “we would disown her. You don’t leave Islam. We would never see her again”. It’s sad, because I really, really want to see the best in people, and I will always give my friends the benefit of a doubt until they prove unworthy, but I’m not foolish enough to believe that my friendship could ever be a match for that kind of zeal and commitment.

          • You’re WORSE than a bloodthirsty Christian? Is that even possible, Beth?? BTW: We have a couple of Republican precinct chairmen here in Houston who are Moslem. And I know others. I’m AWARE that not all of them support jihad. But I’m also aware that they have to ignore tenets of the Koran to do so. That’s increasingly hard to do these days. The unpleasant truth is that to be a “good” Moslem, you’d have to support pretty much the same things that ISIS and Al Qaeda do. Sooner or later, those Moslems who don’t are going to have to make a major choice between being Moslems and being Americans.

            • That was exactly my point in an earlier post. When population concentration of muslims goes up, pressure to adhere to all islamic teachings and practices will increase markedly.

              • We saw that happen in Iran right after the fall of the Shah. All of a sudden, all those friendly neighbors of Americans living in the country turned into Christian hating mujahadeen. Overnight.

      • Try thinking of it on a smaller scale. Would you take even one of these people into your own home to live with your family under the current conditions? Given the same amount and quality of vetting that the authorities are most likely able to produce. How about a young Syrian man between the ages of 16 and 25 who has no record that anyone can check? Do you think Hillary will accept one into her home? How about Bernie? Or Obama, do you think the Secret Service would allow it even if he was foolish enough to do so?
        Do you think it’s a good idea to force anyone else to do what you yourself are smart enough not to do?

        • Why does he have to be in my home? I don’t even like my in-laws to stay for more than two weeks. (joke)

          But I would contribute money to housing. We have plenty of empty housing in the US, space is not our problem.

          • I love this! “Help them!” ok here, we’ll bring them over to live with you “Not me. Someone ELSE help them.” Why NOT you Beth? How eagerly you push to have the nation saddled with not only refugees but terrorists, so long as it’s not in your back yard.

              • No no no, I didn’t say a thing about Muslims, or your one Muslim friend that makes you a moral authority. I’m talking about the refugees. I’m asking if you’re comfortable living with them.

                All of them, because I think that your thought process is that you’re playing the odds, and even if you accept that a dozen of those ten thousand are radicals, the one of two in your back yard won’t be. But that’s not a useful measure, it doesn’t matter if YOUR house explodes or not, it matters if A house explodes or not. And unless we have a better way than happy thoughts, hopes and dreams to make sure that doesn’t happen, then I feel it’s wrong to expect anyone to take that risk for anyone else.

                • I’m not sure you’re capable of critical thought — and I’m sorry if that sounds nasty but I’m beginning to believe that is true.

                  I never said I was a moral authority on Muslims, I said I knew some. And, for the record, they were not born here (with the exception of one). They came to the US later in life and speak with thick, scary, accents and have scary brown skin. They aren’t refugees, but they also didn’t migrate here because life was awesome for them in the Middle East. One is a single adult male who lives alone and likes to mow his lawn in combat fatigues. Hmmm …. maybe I should call the police because it sounds like I should be terrified!

                  I don’t care if they are refugees or legal immigrants — they are welcome to live in my neighborhood.

                  • “They came to the US later in life and speak with thick, scary, accents and have scary brown skin”. So, can it be inferred from this that you attribute the objections to importing these people to xenophobia?

                    • Of course she does. She’s a left winger. Accusations of racism and xenophobia are the tried and true go to well poisoning technique.

                      It is almost 100% predictable.

                    • Riiiiiiight. I am the one who is being predictable on this thread — even though, as each comment peels back the onion more and more, it comes down to what is really bothering everybody — “Islam is scary in any form — whether an American Muslim or a foreign-born Muslim.” At least Trump is being upfront about it.

                    • Terrorists are scary in any form, the current terror threat arises out of Islam, and the duty of a government is to protect its own citizens first. The question I suggested and that nobody has addressed is whether you would take the same position with a similar sized refugee group with undetectable members carrying an infectious, undetectable and incurably fatal plague. Would you still say, under such circumstances, “I don’t know if we should take in 10 refugees or 100,000 refugees, but I think it is our moral and political duty to share this burden with other allies.”

                      If so, I submit that is bats, and it matters not whether the group is Irish, Islamic, Mexican or Inuit. If not, then you are currently putting logic aside for emotion and denial.

                    • “Islam is scary in any form”. Yes it is, but more so when it’s coning from places like Syria. Call it what you want; I call it common sense.

                    • And, in case it’s not perfectly clear, it’s not the ” scary brown skins and accents”. Hell, it’s not even every single faction of Islam. I could be much more easily convinced to take in the Kurds, for example.

                    • I haven’t answered your query because the analogy is faulty. First, we shouldn’t assume that there are ANY ISIS refugees because it defies logic that refugee status is the way they would try and infiltrate the United States. Second, ideas are not diseases. The reason that anyone — whether home grown or a foreign-national — becomes radicalized is because they are not integrated into the population, lack hope for the future, and the believe the lies being pored into their heads. The best way to create more radicals is to isolate them and let them listen to the vitriol coming from certain segments of society who are not accepting. (France should take a lesson from the US in that regard because we excel at integrating foreign populations.)

                      Your disease comparison also doesn’t work because no such diseases (ones that can’t be easily detected) are left in this world, even in the shit holes that are third-world countries. The best you can come up with is Ebola, and even that has a short window for detection. HIV/AIDS could be added to that list — and I just checked. As of 2013, you can get a Green card with that disease. So yes, we should still admit the population under your hypothetical.

                      (And, I can’t help noting the irony in your example. The last time your disease scenario happened was with the European migration to the Americas. Almost 90% of the native population was wiped out by disease, not war. The United States wouldn’t be the great nation that it is today without letting in immigrants with possible fatal diseases.)

                    • Wow. THAT was lame. I’m disappointed.

                      First, we shouldn’t assume that there are ANY ISIS refugees because it defies logic that refugee status is the way they would try and infiltrate the United States.

                      That is beyond desperate. Nobody’s saying it’s the only way. It’s a way. We need fewer ways, not more, and may I add, DUH. It’s an open door. Christ.

                      Second, ideas are not diseases.

                      What? Who’s worried about ideas? Terrorists are serial killers. If I don’t want Ted Bundy moving next door, you think I’m concerned about IDEAS? Good lord. You really are off the rails.

                      “Your disease comparison also doesn’t work because no such diseases (ones that can’t be easily detected) are left in this world,”

                      You’ve been out of law school too long. The purpose in such analogies is to construct a situation that matches the one under examination. Reality is completely irrelevant to the hypothetical example. A terrorist is exactly like an infected refugee. He is potentially deadly on a large scale once he has free movement in the population. He’s actually WORSE than someone infected, because he is trying to kill people.

                      “you can get a Green card with that disease.”

                      Arrgh. You can get a green card because the disease doesn’t fit my description. When the Haitians immigrants were the issue, HIV was a big problem—but it’s still not a a highly communicable disease.

                      Your last paragraph makes no sense at all. Yes, if native Americans knew that the Europeans were carrying diseases that would wipe them off the map, they should have done everything in their power to keep them out, even the orphans and widows, longing to be free.

                      But you’ve convinced me. The pro-refugee side has no arguments at all, and are being fueled 100% by emotion and cant. If you can’t do any better that this, there’s no other conclusion.

                      Wow.

                    • ‘First, we shouldn’t assume that there are ANY ISIS refugees because it defies logic that refugee status is the way they would try and infiltrate the United States.’

                      You are an idiot. That is exactly how some of the Paris Bombers entered France. Why do you think they would use that measure for France, but not America?

                    • But those Paris bombers defied logic. That’s probably why they’re dead. You simpy don’t get away with that shit!

                    • “Reality is completely irrelevant to the hypothetical example.”

                      I agree. It is not based in reality and is not deserving of serious discussion. It is right up there with: “If 1% of M&Ms will kill you, will you continue to eat M&Ms?”

                      The reality is that 9 million refugees are fleeing terror and require assistance. Other countries are stepping up to the plate so should the US.

                    • “The reality is that 9 million refugees are fleeing terror and require assistance.”

                      Assistance is an awfully broad term, certainly easy for us all to agree on. Too bad agreement with that doesn’t default us to “open the floodgate” as a specific.

                    • It should be noted that Moslems come in all colors, just as Christians do. In fact, Al Qaeda was making an active attempt to recruit Moslems from the Balkans so they would be less noticeable before committing acts of terror. Murderous lunacy is not a racial issue. It’s a cultural one. Mohammedism is a culture that is likewise insane at its basis.

                  • “I never said I was a moral authority on Muslims, I said I knew some.”

                    Right. Now parse yourself for a moment. What possible reason could there be for you to specifically say that you have a Muslim friend, outside of trying to build credentials as knowing more about Muslims than people who aren’t so blessed? Now, I won’t hold you to it, if you want to back pedal, I just never want to hear about your Muslim friend (Or Charles’ black wife) ever again. It isn’t relevant.

                    ‘They came to the US later in life and speak with thick, scary, accents and have scary brown skin.’

                    Foul. You attempting to make this a racial conversation is a symptom of being unable to look at a situation from the paradigm of the people you are talking to. I believe that you see this as racial. I think you think this is about ‘scary’ skin and ‘scary’ accents I want to assure you that it isn`t. At worst, it could be nationalist. I don`t know that all of those refugees are brown, I don`t know their age, gender or sexual orientation, to be completely frank, I don`t know if they`re all Muslims. I do know that they come from a hotbed of Terrorism, that is currently trying desperately to get into America.

                    I don’t care if they are refugees or legal immigrants — they are welcome to live in my neighborhood.`

                    Well, at least you arrived at a consistent position. I still disagree with you, and when something inevitably blows up, and they find a Syrian refugee responsible, I want you to know: You, Beth, are specifically, explicitly, part of the mindset that allowed it to happen. You, not me, not Tex, not Jack, YOU bear some amount of responsibility.

                    • http://time.com/4114167/paris-attacks-suspects/

                      Ahmad al-Mohammad, 24 or 25. Syrian citizen, born in Idlib in 1990. One of the suicide bombers who blew himself up at France’s national stadium, the Stade de France, on the northeast edge of Paris, during a France-Germany soccer match. He was carrying a Syrian passport. On Monday Paris prosecutor François Molins said that the passport was authentic, and that the attacker’s fingerprints matched that of a man whom Greek officials say they registered, when he landed on Leros island on Oct. 3, on a smuggler’s boat, amid the huge influx of refugees into Europe.

                      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/
                      Second suicide bomber ‘registered in Greece’
                      A second suicide bomber at the Stade de France has been “formally identified” as having registered his fingerprints in Greece on October 3, the Paris prosecutor has confirmed.
                      That means that two of the three who blew themselves outside the football stadium last Friday apparently masqueraded as refugees, Henry Samuel reports. A second, who was found with a Syrian passport by his side, also registered his fingerprints in Greece on October 3. They were controlled at the same time.

                      And as for Abaaoud:
                      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abdelhamid_Abaaoud#Paris_attacks_and_death
                      According to a BBC report on 19 November 2015, after Abaaoud’s death (see below), France’s Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told reporters that he had received intelligence that Abaaoud had passed through Greece on his return from Syria. It is unclear whether the Belgian had concealed himself among the thousands of migrants arriving in Greece before heading for other EU nations. Greek officials subsequently insisted that there was no evidence that Abaaoud had been in that country. Confirming that Abaaoud had left for Syria last year, Mr Cazeneuve said no EU states had signalled his return.

                      The fact that he was Belgian was irrelevant, he was one of the world’s most wanted terrorists, he couldn’t have flashed his passport at the border and got through. It’s suspected that he came in through the camps with fake ID. We don’t know that…. But the fact that he was Belgian does not mean that he could not have entered as a refugee.

                    • I replied to this, but it was link heavy. Long story short: Two of the bombers have been confirmed to have been refugees, and Abaaoud being Belgian does not mean he wasn’t also a refugee, Abaaoud was confirmed to have been in Syria, and as one of the world’s most wanted terrorists, he could not have entered the EU using his Belgian credentials, although we do not know that he was a refugee, French intelligence says he was, and we don’t know how he would have entered the EU otherwise. Once Jack OK’s the comment, you’ll have citations, but I need you to stop pretending like this didn’t, and can’t happen, it makes you look foolish.

      • First off: Nice duck. I can say that the reason we release criminals back into the population is because, as citizens, they have rights. Those rights are what make societies like ours better than the shitholes these people made for themselves.

        9 Million people? from a country of 22 Million? Possible, I suppose. Without food, water, shelter or medical treatment? That’s awful. It’s almost a a third of a whole percentage point of the people in third world that live in those conditions on a daily basis, every day of their life. Why is THIS our moral duty to fix? And why does our moral duty to help them require us to drag them halfway across the world and put them up in our back yard?

        • Why is THIS our moral duty to fix? And why does our moral duty to help them require us to drag them halfway across the world and put them up in our back yard?

          Because of a certain statue in New York harbor.

          Take it down if you don’t like it. You volunteered – you can un-volunteer. Ship it back to France.

              • “Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
                With silent lips. “Give me your violent, your armed,
                Your screaming masses yearning to breathe fire,
                The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
                Send these, the exploding, terror-aimed to me,
                I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”‘

                • See, it’s like that hack awful second verse in America the Beautiful that everyone skips…

                  O beautiful for pilgrim feet
                  Whose stern impassioned stress
                  A thoroughfare of freedom beat
                  Across the wilderness!
                  America! America!
                  God mend thine every flaw,
                  Confirm thy soul in self-control,
                  Thy liberty in law!

                  I know I could never get past the first line without giggling, and when the first two lines of any verse of a poem or song make no sense until you have heard the third, you have a dud. “O beautiful for pilgrim feet
                  Whose stern impassioned stress” What??

                  Authentic frontier gibberish!

                    • Now, having written hundreds of lyrics, I do know that basic competent lyric-writing demands that a complete comprehensible thoughT be completed before a musical pause. Classic botcheS include the attempted Tv musical remake of Peter Pan, in which Mia Farrow, as Peter, sang the replacement for “I won’t grow up” that included the lines…”Growing up is throwing up—PAUSE–a ball…

                      The verse of Oh Beautiful is technically worse, as it violates the rule twice in three lines..”Oh beautiful, for Pilgrim’s feet…WHAT?…whose stern impassioned stress…stressed feet? The whose also modifies feet rather than Pilgrims. Ugh, awful.

                • In fact, even with the strict immigration laws of the early 20th Century and late 19th Century, we still found ourselves burdened with foreign anarchists, socialists, revolutionaries and quaint groups like La Cosa Nostra.

          • The words on the base of the Statue of Liberty came from a 19th Century poem, Zoe. And even then, there was a place called Ellis Island (within sight) where immigrants to America WERE vetted in accordance with strict laws. Things have changed dramatically since those days.

  6. http://www.tennessean.com/story/news/politics/2015/11/18/tn-gop-leader-civil-disobedience-needed-against-syrian-refugees/76005176/

    “I am calling for civil disobedience, in order to protect the lives and property of Tennesseans. And that has consequences,” Casada said.

    “And you have to ask yourself, which is greater: life, or due process?” Casada said.

    Casada said the National Guard should “gather” up Syrian refugees and “politely politely take them back to the ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) center.”

  7. “There always has been vetting and preferably personally known sponsors.”

    I think Marie may have hit upon an answer to placing the debate on more pragmatic ground, if not solving the problem itself.

    Resolved, a revised version of Special Immigrant Status as outlined in Form I-350: the United States shall adopt a policy of One-Citizen-One-Refugee (aka No Syrian Left Behind). The thorough vetting will be done on any adult US-born citizen over the age of 30 (never trust anyone under…) who wishes to sponsor a refugee and who is not currently a student, who is currently domiciled in the United States and will remain so for the duration of sponsorship, and who meets “all of the financial requirements of a sponsor pursuant to INA 213A.”

    The vetting will require [#1] open and voluntary access to all aspects of the sponsor’s life (which will necessarily involve investigation of family members, co-workers, friends and organizations, past and present, by government officials, local to federal level;

    [#2] a qualified Affidavit of Support per the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) sections 212(a)(4) and 213A “as codified in Title 8 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 8 CFR 213,” with alterations to be determined (such as proof of non-relationship, and twenty years of responsibility to replace the current closer-the-better relationship and ten-year oversight period);

    [#3] provision for English language education and civics lessons (the latter in which the sponsor will participate until he or she has qualified to the minimum standards of acquiring U.S. citizenship) until such time as the sponsored person is professionally qualified to teach that subject to fourth graders.

    [#4] agreement that sponsor may be liable for prosecution should the refugee be found to be or have been a member of any known terrorrist organization or convicted for any crime, up to and including terrorist acts; and

    [#5] that the said refugee will have waived his or her rights to the current Special Immigrant status under Form 1-360.

    Since this contract violates the Constitution of the United States in several particulars, it is understood that it requires either full legislative confirmation as an emergency exception and may be subject to judicial review … or an executive fiat.
    ———————————————————————————–
    U.S. Sponsorship of Syrian Refugees: my version of Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” presented herewith for Saving the Syrian Refugees Whilst Preventing Them From Becoming a Danger to the U.S.A., and for Making Them Beneficial to the American Publick. (rough draft #14).

    • In line with Texagg04’s delineation between refugees and immigrants, and appreciating the distinction, as far as the Proposal goes, they are to be considered one and the same. The incoming refugees are considered Special Syrian Immigrants up to the point where they (and their sponsors) have carried out the necessary duties under that status, at which point the refugee if he or she so desires becomes eligible for citizenship as an immigrant.

        • Can you certify that this will always and without exception prevent any terrorist, terrorist sympathiser, or anyone with any connection to terrorism from entering the country?

          If not – it’s not enough according to the law recently passed by a veto-proof majority in the US Congress.

          • I can make as much of a certification as Jonathan Swift could have in proposing his satirical solution to Ireland’s complex social, political, and economic problems in 1729.

  8. http://www.vox.com/explainers/2015/11/16/9745318/syrian-refugees-us-isis

    Republican opponents of letting Syrian refugees into the US have seized on comments by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson this fall, in which he essentially admitted that the US couldn’t know everything about a Syrian refugee when he or she first applied. “It is true that we are not going to know a whole lot about a lot of the Syrians that come forth in this process, just given the nature of the situation,” Johnson said.

    This has been taken as evidence that the US is letting Syrians enter America without knowing anything about them. What it really is, instead, is an explanation for why it takes two years for US officials to approve a refugee’s application.

    Once the UN refers a refugee to American officials (or the refugee has applied through an embassy, which very few, if any, Syrian refugees have), there are multiple consecutive stages of the application that he or she has to pass through:

    An approval of the refugee’s written application, or “file,” ensuring that the refugee meets the requirements for admission into the US
    A security background check
    A face-to-face interview with refugee officials, to independently confirm the refugee’s identity and the details of his or her account of persecution

    The entire process typically takes 18 months to two years. With Syrians, it’s been closer to the latter. And most of the holdup has been with the security check — which imposes a standard for involvement with terrorism that is often, in practice, impossible to meet.


    In theory, the US has pledged to take in 10,000 Syrian refugees in fiscal year 2016 (which began this month). But it’s incredibly unlikely the government will reach that goal — given that the US has taken in barely 2,000 Syrian refugees in a period of more than four years.

    Furthermore, it’s only recently that the US has started processing many Syrian refugees at all. From 2011 to 2014, the US took in barely 200 refugees from Syria. It’s only in the past year or so — and specifically in the past six months — that the US has picked up the pace. Even so, the US took in only 187 Syrian refugees in October 2015. At that rate, it would take 53 months — four and a half years — to reach this year’s goal.

  9. Beth, I’d take women and children under 10 under certain conditions regarding their background. (if, BIG IF it could be adequately vetted) My criteria for who would be allowed to come until it’s safe to return to their own homes would exclude young adult males, because I’m not stupid and I have family who are my first concern as they should be.
    Pennigin your plan sounds the most workable and would help those who really need and want help. I could be persuaded by a similar plan, but I’ll bet anything you want to bet progressives will NOT be persuaded.

    • As you saw, Wyo, the sponsoring idea was set forth as a deterrent to progressive fantasies, a mirror to reflect the same cloud of let-’em-all-in policy but anchored in an imagined reality that fits the safety requirements … better. Given the working out of the legalities, politics, ethics, economics and un-democratic nature of the plan (whooosh! there goes that pig doing loop-de-loops in the sky again), there wouldn’t be much of a rise in the Syrian demographic in the U.S. at all. Considering everyone of your acquaintance, how many to you know who would take on a responsibility to a stranger even greater than that to their own family?

  10. The best compromise I can come up with – if we absolutely MUST take them in, which we absolutely should not do, and probably will – is to give them the task of policing themselves. Make it known that they have two year’s time where we do our best to vet them, and that in that time, they must find ways of policing themselves. Once allowed into country, we’ll ensure that we know where they all are at all times – surely the NSA’s phonetapping abilities and such could actually help us for once – and if there’s even a whiff of violence from any of them, they’re all out, down to the most doe-eyed, teddy bear toting orphan of the lot. And then actually do it should it become necessary.

  11. I have Muslim friends, an entire extended family. They’re very nice. They’re also a little different in any number of respects. They’re also extremely wealthy. I have no idea where their sympathies lie. I have no idea where they send money. But I do know the Muslim guy, an Imam or whatever, at a federal prison, who gave a big, nasty, angry, rambling, discomfort generating speech at the wedding reception of one of the sons attended by over a thousand, was a very scary guy and no one seemed to have a problem with anything he shouted. So, I have Muslim friends, but unlike Beth, I have absolutely no idea what to make of them.

  12. We spent $500 million dollars to try to find ‘moderate’ Syrian fighters to give weapons to in Syrian and only found 4 or 5. How is it that more screening was put into giving Syrians weapons in their own country than we are willing to do to allow them to purchase weapons in ours? Why would we be more strict in arming them in Syria than we will be in allowing them to arm themselves here?

  13. When questioned how his bill would strengthen the vetting process which already takes 18 months to two years, North Carolina Rep. Richard Hudson, one of the sponsor’s of the bill told reporters: “We’ve got to put some infrastructure in place before we can do a background check, and we’ve got to figure out how to do that. Maybe we deal with folks who have relatives in the country who we know something about, but I don’t think Congress ought to tell the FBI how to do that. But there’s got to be a process in place and today there isn’t. Today we’re bringing 10,000 people in without vetting them properly.”

    “What we do now to vet them — my understanding is — we look at all the databases of all the federal agencies in our country and if they aren’t in there and if there’s no information that they’re a threat, we let them in,” Hudson. “That’s not good enough.”

    Currently, the U.S. refugee screening program takes, on average, 18 to 24 months for a potential refugee to clear. So far, fewer than 2,000 have been accepted. The process involves multiple security checks, a biometric screening, a medical screening, and an interview with the Department of Homeland Security. Some of the checks only remain current for a period of time (for example, most security checks expire after 15 months) — but to be accepted, a refugee must have all checks cleared concurrently.

    Still, top administration officials have identified a “challenge” in screening Syrian refugees, because “if the person has never crossed our radar screen, there won’t be anything to query against.”

    http://www.buzzfeed.com/tariniparti/gop-and-many-democrats-expected-to-vote-for-pausing-syrian-r?bftwnews&utm_term=.uqMNpYM3d#.jn9qeKZ9x

    That’s 2000 total managing to pass in the last 5 years. The “10,000 goal” this financial year was always fantasy, at peak rates it would take 5 years to reach this total.

    • You’re absolutely right, and that reporter from Buzzfeed got it right. I think I threw up a little in my mouth saying that, but he did.

      The thing is… It’s only fantasy if the administration plays by the rules. If we think that 10,000 isn’t just unrealistic, but at 25 times more than the current rate it’s a fantasy, what do we think about 65,000? And why are these numbers being thrown around?

      Here’s the thing. I trust Obama. I trust him to be completely perfectly predictable. I trust him to ignore laws he finds inconvenient, and I trust him to do damn near anything to save face. Now that we’ve agreed that there isn’t a way to vet 10,000 refugees in a year, when he tries to get that number pushed through in a year anyway. and I would be pleasantly surprised if that didn’t happen. Will you support that?

  14. Phlinn says:

    “Jack, is there any way you can configure it to not block replies once you get to a certain level of nesting? I have seen other sites where it will still do replies, and show who they are responding too, even if it ceases indenting and nesting. I have no idea what wordpress can or can’t do. As it is, it gets confusing.”

    WordPress did not anticipate the level of depth of discussions capable on this particular genre.

    I find it best, though I don’t even do this practice, that once you hit nesting limit, to copy paste the entire post you are responding to, include it as the opening paragraph of your reply, then post it and your reply at the very bottom of the page to start a new series of nests.

    Then link that reply up to the original for a reference.

    A little bit of work is why I don’t do it often, yet it seems the best option.

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