Geoff Lichy

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Category: Politics (page 1 of 2)

How Trump’s Immigration Ban Has Democratic Roots

(Disclaimer: I denounce a pure immigration ban. Trump’s executive order is flawed, and it is rightfully being criticized. This post is for informational purposes only.)

Some people have been asking why Trump’s recent “Muslim ban” only includes certain countries. A fair question. Other people, like David Frum at The Atlantic, pointed how if this is meant to deter radial Islamic terrorism, then it’s a highly ineffective ban. Why did the Trump administration choose these 7 countries?

The countries in question, for reference: Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen.

If you’ve paid really close attention to the news over the past couple of years, and have a good memory, you’ll recognize that those countries have been grouped together before. The Obama administration singled them out for travel restrictions.

So if you’re asking why Trump picked those 7 countries for his ban: Trump didn’t pick them. A Democrat-led government did. All Trump did was take an already-existing list and expand on the restrictions. If the recent immigration ban ends up as a court case, you can bet that the Trump administration will try to cite Obama’s actions as precedent.

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The USA Isn’t Really One Country (And Some Post-Election Thoughts)

Of course the USA is one country from a technical perspective. Yet from a geographic-based ideological perspective, it’s hard to come to that same conclusion.

The results of the 2016 presidential election have only reinforced regional differences. It’s not so much a liberal-conservative divide but an urban-rural one. Judging from the attitudes of Washington insiders, things aren’t a simple Democrat-Republican divide. Prominent politicians of both parties often have similar ideals and goals.

What’s troubling is the lack of communication and understanding between urban and rural voters. It’s led to continuous anger at The Other Side.

Many liberals, confined to their “coastal citadels,” don’t venture outside of their bubbles. The same is true of many conservatives. For example, you won’t see many farmers or coal miners on a liberal arts college campus. What does an upper middle class Millennial college student from Los Angeles have in common with a 55-year-old lumberjack from West Virginia who saw a neighbor die of a heroin overdose last week? Not much, and neither group seems interested in talking to the other. The city-dwellers call the rural people “backwards rednecks.” The countryside-dwellers call the urban people “entitled smug idiots.” If you don’t interact with certain groups, they can become stereotypes – instead of individuals with unique hopes and fears.

It might seem strange that each area (neighborhood, county, state, etc.) has its own culture, but therein lies the rub: many people don’t realize the sheer diversity of the United States. Talk to people in 10 different states; they’ll give different answers about their concerns. (Even if this doesn’t seem strange to you, it’s not something which often comes to mind.)

Ideologically, the United States of America isn’t really one country. This idea is implied in the name: The United States. It’s a conglomerate of distinct states which have united under a central federal government.

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Senate Passes Legislation Giving U.S. Government More Power To Develop Propaganda

tl;dr

A new piece of U.S. legislation wants $10 million in taxpayer dollars to create government-sponsored propaganda campaigns. The House and Senate have passed it: the “Portman-Murphy Counter-Propaganda Bill.”

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Should We Do Away With The Electoral College?

In the wake of 2016’s U.S. presidential election, some people are claiming that the Electoral College is obsolete and unfair. There are a couple of petitions circulating, along with miscellaneous talk on social media, about doing away with the Electoral College. Some people now believe that only the popular vote should matter.

Most don’t know what the Electoral College even is, or why it might be important. Many complaints are reactionary in nature. Not understanding how elections work has left a large number of people confused, scared, and/or angry. I don’t blame them, simply because of the education system here in the United States. A lot of facts aren’t being taught. For example: Only 36 percent of Americans can name the three branches of government. The United States also isn’t a pure democracy. It’s categorized as a democratic republic, federal republic, or constitutional republic with a representative democracy.

Here’s a 5-minute explainer on the Electoral College. In short, Americans vote for a vote; the system has good and bad aspects, but viable alternatives haven’t been seriously discussed on a national level. A short video from Praeger University says the Electoral College accomplishes three major things: it protects against mob rule, encourages coalition-building, and helps protect against voter fraud.

The most obvious folly to only electing the President by popular vote is this: candidates would just campaign where the most people are. A large portion of the United States would be ignored, forgotten, and without a voice. The most sparsely-populated areas wouldn’t matter at all to politicians. (Maybe local ones.)

A 2013 article from Business Insider detailed how “half of the United States population is clustered in just the 146 biggest counties out of over 3000.” Take a look at their map:

[map of USA 50 percent]

Those shaded-in-purple counties are where half of the United States lives. The urban-rural divide will likely increase over time, too. The Electoral College ensures that every state has a say in who gets to be President. It wouldn’t be fair if only 3 states controlled who governs all 50 states. If you’re campaigning for election, you should bring together people from all walks of life – not just metropolitan areas. Removing the electoral college would give major cities more power while taking away power from people who don’t live in cities.

One of the biggest problems with the American voting system is Americans themselves. In the past 100 years (1916-2016) the voter turnout never went above 64 percent.

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Erdogan’s Purge

After the attempted coup in Turkey, beginning late on July 15th, president Recep Erdogan has begun purging the system. Over 50,000 people have been fired, suspended, or detained. While the purge is guaranteed to continue due to Erdogan’s religious and political motivations, it’s not clear when he’ll stop. The BBC doesn’t believe there will be martial law, curfews, or some other potential actions. Political scientist Soner Cagaptay writes that Turkey “will be less free and less democratic” following the coup attempt. He, along with others, felt a coup was coming. Turkey has a history of coup attempts, some successful.

A rough running list of Turkish institutional casualties for 2016:

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2016’s Final Super Tuesday

The tl;dr

Sanders wins 2 states for 283 delegates (total of 1804). Clinton wins 4 states for 372 delegates (total of 2184).

Trump wins all 5 states for 297 delegates. He now has 1536 of the 1237 delegates needed to become the Republican nominee.

This post is current as of 8 June 2016.

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The US Political Race Is Almost Over

tl;dr

Trump running unopposed. Clinton and Sanders still fighting for their nomination.

What happened?

This week, Ted Cruz dropped out of the race. (May 3rd) The very next day, John Kasich suspended his campaign in a last-minute decision. (May 4th) Both were disappointed by the results coming out of Indiana’s primary. Neither had any mathematical chance of securing enough delegates to become the Republican nominee.

This leaves Donald Trump as the last man standing on the Republican side. Originally given a 1% chance at securing the nomination, he somehow defeated 16 other Republicans and now has a 99% chance of being the nominee. After all, he’s running unopposed. Who’s going to beat him?

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are both a ways off from securing the Democrat nomination.

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Super Tuesday #4

Some people are calling it a “mini Super Tuesday.” Others aren’t calling it anything in particular.

Regardless, it’s a Tuesday, and people in multiple states headed to polling locations.

tl;dr

  • Trump winning 5 out of 5 in a landslide
  • Clinton projected to win 4 or 5 out of the 5
  • Sanders projected to win 1 or 2 out of the 5

Results as of 9:30 EST on 26 April 2016:

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NY’s ridiculous process to change your political party

In today’s news people are laughing about how “Trump’s kids aren’t able to vote for him.” I don’t think many people know how strange New York’s laws can be.

I’m registered to vote in NY as an independent. A few months ago I mailed in paperwork to the board of elections to change my party enrollment. (Only Democrats and Republicans can vote in the New York primaries.) The website says “Application must be postmarked no later than March 25th and received by a board of elections no later than March 30th to be eligible to vote in the Presidential Primary.” Sounds good, right? Well…

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Apple vs the FBI: the end?

Yesterday the FBI withdrew from their fight.

“The U.S. Department of Justice said Monday that investigators were able to use a new technique to hack into an iPhone that was used by San Bernardino gunman Syed Farook. As a result, the government ‘no longer requires the assistance from Apple’ to break into the phone — and is dropping its efforts to compel Apple to crack its own iPhone encryption against its will.” (Mashable)

Edward Snowden sums it up:

https://twitter.com/Snowden/status/714580910448971776 (“Journalists: please remember that government argued for months that this was impossible, despite expert consensus.”)

The FBI’s entire argument was that they couldn’t break into the iPhone. They argued that Apple had to be forced to write unique code to open their own product. From what I saw, few experts believed the government.

The skeptics were right all along.

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