We have seen a barrage of articles praising and chastising Trump for his recent executive order effectively banning people from 7 mainly-Muslim countries from visiting the United States. There have been countless protests at airports against this executive order. Political leaders have made their opinions against Trump’s executive order known, and other societal leaders have also spoken out against Trump’s order.
In response to all the protests, conservatives have been making statements that liberals are hypocrites, because they did not accuse Obama of being a bigot or anti-Muslim when Obama supposedly “did the same thing” and “banned Muslims.”
I saw the following video claiming these conservative viewpoints posted on various social media boards within the past 24 hours:
The video was promoted by Infowars.com, which was founded by radio host Alex Jones, who is noted as the leading conspiracy theorist in the nation, according to the New York Magazine.
Infowars.com has an obvious conservative slant, which already makes me suspicious of anything they post. Furthermore, the news headlines used in the video were predominately also published on pro-conservative and anti-liberal sites, including Fox News.
In case you’re unfamiliar with which news sources are slanted, the following graphic provides a rather clear guide:
Going Beyond the Anger and into the Debate
When I saw the Infowars.com video, I admit at first I was angry, because I am more liberal than not. After I got over the anger, I started wondering about Obama and these allegations, since I’m a critical thinker and thinking is what I do. I could not say whether or not the video was completely wrong, because I simply did not know the facts.
When I saw this video, it was in the middle of my work day, and I really didn’t have the time to do the research right then and there. I told myself I would check into it later.
At some point I did take a break from my day to read “Trump has fired the acting attorney general who ordered Justice Dept. not to defend president’s travel ban,” which was written by Matt Zapotosky, Sari Horwitz and Mark Berman, and posted in The Washington Post on January 30, 2017.
The information in this article is impressive, and there are some major quotes in it that truly struck a chord with me. I shared this article on my Facebook feed, citing the following quote and my response to it:
“She has to be asked to resign immediately,” Terwilliger said. “Look, the executive branch of our government is unitary. There’s only one boss, and that boss has spoken. If some subordinate official thinks that his direction is illegal, than the choice is to resign.”—This quote implies a dictatorship, not a democracy. WTF!
Some of my conservative associates and family members – yes liberals have these connections – made some disparaging comments about the article I had shared. To continue the discussion with them, I would have to make the time to do the research, which is what I did this morning.
My mostly liberal friends and associates have urged me to turn my multiple responses into one, easily shareable post, which I now give all of you to review, share, and discuss.
As to claims about Obama’s executive order doing the same thing, I believe this comparison is faulty.
Obama did not unilaterally ban Muslims. Obama’s ban was in direct response to Iraqi terrorists who were living in Kentucky. These terrorists had lied about their past terrorist connections, and it was found that they were directly involved in bombings, as proven with fingerprint evidence.
In response to that, Obama banned visas for Iraqi refugees for a period of six months. During that period, however, there were still Iraqi refugees being allowed into the country, but due to what happened in Kentucky, the visa process became far more in-depth as a means of national security.
In comparison, whereas Obama’s executive order was direct and specific as a response to an immediate threat, Trump’s order is broad, vague, and neither he nor his supporters have yet to show any evidence as to why they are completely banning individuals from entering the country who have not been directly connected with acts of terror.
Trump has stated that he is simply continuing with the policies from the previous presidency, namely Obama’s. This is a gross overgeneralization on Trump’s part.
According to Trump’s executive order, the countries listed in his executive order are “countries designated pursuant to Division O, Title II, Section 203 of the 2016 consolidated Appropriations Act.” This references the policies of the Obama administration.
Prior to Obama’s policy, citizens from a designated 38 countries, (including the 7 Trump has listed), were permitted to enter the United States without a visa for a limited period of about three months. After Obama’s act, and after the Kentucky incident, citizens from these 38 designated countries who had ALSO recently traveled into Iraq were not allowed the luxury of being able to travel into the U.S. without completing the visa process.
Therefore, due to suspicion of proven terrorism, those traveling in and out of certain countries had to go through the proper channels. This is not the same as completely banning them and stopping them from entering the country, as is happening with Trump’s executive order. Obama’s administration merely made the process of entering the country take longer to verify that those entering the country were not doing so under false pretenses or with connections to terrorists.
You can verify the facts for these above statements by checking out Linda Qiu’s article, “Why comparing Trump’s and Obama’s immigration restrictions is flawed,” or Eugene Kiely’s article, “Trump’s Faulty Refugee Policy Comparison.”
My comment on dictatorship was in direct response to the quote by Terwilliger that was from the original Zapotosky, Horwitz, and Berman article listed above.
Let me say that it is not the job of the U.S. President to make all the decisions and all of us to say yes to those decisions. The president has a lot of authority to make executive orders, amongst other powers he or she possesses. Nevertheless, the Senate and Congress, on behalf of the citizens of the country, have the right to oppose, argue, and debate whether the laws or executive orders set by the president are in the best interest of the country and whether they uphold the principles for which this country stands.
For Terwilliger to say “(t)here’s only one boss, and that boss has spoken. If some subordinate official thinks that his direction is illegal, than the choice is to resign,” implies that there is no due process, that checks and balances do not matter, and that whatever the “boss” says is the only thing that will happen. That is NOT what this country is built on. Also, the Attorney General is the HEAD of the DOJ, and not some “subordinate official.”
As to comments about the Attorney General (AG) not doing her job, and analogies about what would happen if, for example, a nurse did not administer meds ordered, because he or she had a difference in opinion about those meds, well, frankly, analogies like these are unfair, as they do not reflect the reality of the situation or adequately compare job duties fairly.
According to WhiteHouse.gov, the AG is part of the executive branch and is head of the Department of Justice. Per their information,
“(t)he mission of the Department of Justice (DOJ) is to enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States according to the law; to ensure public safety against threats foreign and domestic; to provide federal leadership in preventing and controlling crime; to seek just punishment for those guilty of unlawful behavior; and to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.”
Therefore, as head of the DOJ, the AG’s job is to make sure that any laws created by the president or by Congress stay consistent with current policies, that they are lawful, that they do not in and of themselves commit crimes, and that these laws maintain safety. The AG’s job is to act as a system of checks and balances and verify that his/her superiors are acting in accordance with policies, laws, and that they are meeting the standards of the country.
The AG is quality and consistency control.
In contrast, a nurse’s job is to follow the orders of his/her superiors, although if those orders were immediately life-threatening, a nurse would have the right to say something and not administer the medication/treatment.
Likewise, if the laws created by Congress or by any order of the president were threatening to the legal system or to the standards of the country, the AG is REQUIRED to point that out.
Sally Yates’ decision to order the lawyers within the DOJ not to defend or support Trump’s executive order was because the broad nature of the executive order did not meet the criteria for being completely lawful, as per the policies of the DOJ. In addition, the lack of evidence that would have provided reasons for targeting individuals from those countries has not been fully provided.
In other words, she was doing her job.
It seems rather clear that the Trump administration’s continual use of the label “a leftover of the Obama administration” in reference to Yates blatantly dismisses and ignores the fact that she was doing her job. Instead of acknowledging that fact, it is my opinion that they used it as an excuse to expedite her removal from the DOJ.
Furthermore, as explained in this article posted in The Washington Post, an executive order “is not the president creating new law or appropriating new money from the U.S. Treasury — both things that are the domain of Congress.” Thus, any of the orders or memorandums the president creates are what the president wants the country to do and what the president believes need to be the top priority. It is still the job of Congress, especially the DOJ, to verify if these orders are valid, lawful, worth pursuing, worth discussing, etc.
Lastly, let’s address comments about the number of executive orders, and how conservatives believe that Obama made the most orders of all presidents.
The “American Presidency Project,” funded and operated by UC Santa Barbara, provides an excellent table that clearly shows the number of executive orders given by each president.
As you can see from this link, the president who made the most executive orders was actually Franklin D. Roosevelt, with a total of 3,721. Here is a listing of presidents between 1981 and 2016 with the total of executive orders they made during their single or double term presidencies:
- Ronald Reagan = 381
- George Bush Sr. = 166
- William “Bill” Clinton = 364
- George W. Bush = 291
- Barack Obama = 276
By these numbers, conservative presidents over the past 35 years have created 838 executive orders, and liberal presidents have created 640.
I have not found a confirmed number for the amount of orders signed by Trump as of January 31, 2017, as most places only update these numbers on a monthly basis, and Trump has only been president for 11 days.