Stephen Lynch and Bill Keating Join Craven Republican Effort to Demonize Refugees

Compare the unfortunate stances of Reps. Lynch and Keating with the outstanding example of Rep. Moulton in the last couple of days, and we can see the stark choices the Democratic party faces. - promoted by david

A few hours ago, the House passed the Republicans’ bill that would halt any acceptance of refugees from Syria and create additional layers of bureaucratic hoops for refugees to pass through, effectively making it impossible for them.

The refugee screening process is already very restrictive, and Republicans likely already know that. When the New York Times pressed Republicans yesterday to point out what they actually thought were the weaknesses in the process, they got no response—well, except for a poll.

When pressed, most Republicans could not specify which aspects of the rigorous refugee vetting program that they found inadequate. Mr. Ryan’s staff members cited a Bloomberg poll of 1,002 adults released on Wednesday, conducted by Selzer & Company, that found that 53 percent of those surveyed said the resettlement program should be halted.

The racist and xenophobic bill is disingenuously named American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act. Security is not the purpose of the bill: its purpose is fear-mongering and catering to the basest sentiments of the population. If anything, it risks making the country less safe. In a speech the other day, the President remarked, “I cannot think of a more potent recruitment tool for Isil [Isis] than some of the rhetoric that’s been coming out of here during the course of this debate.” Counterterrorism expert Harleen Gambhir explained this further in the Washington Post, “The Islamic State’s strategy is to polarize Western society — to “destroy the grayzone,” as it says in its publications. The group hopes frequent, devastating attacks in its name will provoke overreactions by European governments against innocent Muslims, thereby alienating and radicalizing Muslim communities throughout the continent.” French authorities believe that the planting of a fake Syrian passport was done exactly to provoke such a backlash against refugees and the Muslim population in general.

Republicans are doing exactly what ISIS wants Western leaders to do. And although President Obama, our three Democratic presidential candidates, and senators like Elizabeth Warren have eloquently spoken about why we should continue to accept refugees (at a higher level than our embarrassingly low number), many Democrats are simply craven. And we saw that today.

The Republican bill passed easily, 289 to 137. 47 Democrats joined the GOP in voting for it, and 2 Republicans voted against it. From what I know of the two Republicans, they are just as hateful as their colleagues, if not more so–perhaps they found the bill wasn’t cruel enough.

Two members of the MA delegation—Stephen Lynch (MA-08) and Bill Keating (MA-09)—joined the GOP in this craven effort.

When we look back at history and see how the US turned away countless Jewish refugees from Germany and Eastern Europe in the late 1930s and early 1940s, we often wonder how people could have been so heartless and think it would never be the case were the same situation to happen today. But as they say, history often repeats itself.

(Condensed from a piece on the Daily Kos)

Secretary Clinton declares war on ISIS...

An impressive presentation that makes the Republican candidates look like ignorant children by comparison. Read the text or watch the video here. - promoted by Bob_Neer

by laying out a comprehensive military / economic / diplomatic strategy to hunt them down and defeat them.

She just addressed the Council on Foreign Relations in New York and she was brilliant and strong.

Watch out ISIS —  murdering bastards — we’re coming after you fascist terrorists.  Justice will be done.


Fred Rich LaRiccia

Fight Bigotry with Charity

To add to this: NuDay Syria actually takes physical stuff and ships it to Syria - everything from blankets to food. - promoted by charley-on-the-mta

Others have covered the reaction to the Syrian refugee crisis, and the bigotry it has sadly unleashed, even in Massachusetts.

This is a link to proven charities working to help Syrian refugees in Syria or in refugee camps. This is the official UN program that provides them with food aid in a dignified way. A great program covered by 60 minutes for those interested.

Here are three groups I am more directly familiar with that are working to help refugees resettle in the US.

Catholic Charities and the Jesuit Relief Services. Both groups have received special collections at my parish, as has this Methodist group at my father in law to be’s parish. All of these programs resettle everyone without a sectarian or religious test, and are part of the 9 officially vetted agencies that work with the US State Department, which include a variety of religious and non-religious affiliated organizations.

If you want to help particular families, feel free to get in touch with my friend Nicholas Lund-Molfese who is the Director at Trinity Hills, a Catholic Worker cooperative that has started taking in Syrian families. He has been doing a great job telling his neighbors in rural Missouri that these families are just that, families, they are not terrorists. They have to wait 2 years to be vetted before they can come over here, and if we want to help our friends in Europe out, we should use our greater capacity to vet and also to resettle to take in even more than the 10,000 we are committed to.

Charlie Baker is now the Victim

Moulten for Governor (or Healey!). The sooner we get a leader in that office, the better for the Commonwealth. Baker is essentially a good looking bureaucrat who beat a weak rival to win his current position. - promoted by Bob_Neer

Channeling his inner Scott Brown, Charlie Baker is now the victim on his statements opposing the entry of Syrian refugees.

No, I’m not interested in accepting refugees from Syria

Baker was called out by Seth Moulton:

To further his embarrassment and incompetence which has been detailed here at BMG, Baker threw a hissy fit like an upset teenager.

Baker said, “First of all, I doubt that Congressman Moulton actually heard my whole statement because if he did I can’t believe that’s what he would have said.”

Twitter translation. OMG Seth!

It gets better (or worse), now Baker casts himself as the victim:

Baker added: “And secondly, I think it’s unfortunate that a serious guy like that went straight to the partisan talking points, with respect to how he responded on that, instead of engaging in the serious conversation that I believe we should all be having, about if the United States chooses to increase by five times in one year the number of people who come here on a refugee resettlement program from Syria…three days after we find out that one of the bombers did in fact use a Syrian passport and traveled through several refugee camps on his way to France.”

Crissakes Charlie, are you kidding me?

Mouton’s response?

What I Learned about MA’s Public Records Laws from the Olympics

We the people. - promoted by Bob_Neer

The saying goes that sunlight is the best disinfectant. And we saw this clearly with Boston’s bid for the 2024 Olympics.

When decision-making is happening behind closed doors, public records requests offer citizens a way to pry open the door. By submitting public records requests (and having dogged follow-up), we were able to bring to light the conflicts of interest, double-talk, and misinformation in how the bid was being presented and sold to the public, and the ways in which public and private were increasingly becoming intertwined.

During this process, however, I learned almost as much about how broken our public records law is as I did about the Olympic bid.

Here are a few problems I regularly encountered in my quest to pry open this door:

Cost: Public officials have the discretion to decide whether or not to charge for public records requests, and how much to charge if they do. Sometimes, they do waive the fees, but when they don’t, the costs can be prohibitive.

We amassed about $4,000 in fees from various public records requests over just a few months. Raising such funds takes time and energy, and it drags out the period between when a request is made and when documents are finally received. And these fees often apply whether or not a record is provided. If an agency decides to withhold certain records, they can still charge you for them. I’ve had requests where over half of the relevant records were withheld.

Citizen journalism is an important complement to the work of the press, but your average citizen doesn’t have as deep of pockets as a newspaper. Finding out what is going on behind closed doors shouldn’t be a luxury good.

Accessibility: We’re a decade and a half into the twenty-first century, but you wouldn’t know that from how some departments/agencies handle public records. When MassDOT finally turned over documents for one of my requests, they sent it in hard copy—all 191 pages. Thankfully, MuckRock was able to scan the documents and convert them into a pdf, but that burden shouldn’t fall on the requestor.

In response to my requests, the Boston Redevelopment Authority, unlike MassDOT, did actually provide documents in electronic form…but they sent them in .mbox form, constructing another time-consuming barrier to access.

This information is public information, and it should come in forms that the public can easily access.

Baker's Incompetent Response

(There's a weird glitch in WP right now -- this post is in fact by Sean Roche, not me -- Charley.) Gutless. Incompetent. They go together. - promoted by charley-on-the-mta

Yes, Governor Baker’s post-Paris position on Syrian refugees shows a galling lack of compassion and courage. But, it also demonstrates a shocking level of incompetence.

What happened in Paris that requires rethinking the risk of Syrian refugees? Nothing.

We already know that a small group with explosives can kill and seriously injure huge numbers. See, Boston Marathon bombing. We already know that automatic weapons easily obtained in this country can be used to slaughter innocents trapped in a theater. See, Aurora, Colorado, shooting. We’ve known of the risk that ISIS will bring the battle to the US and Europe and that may involve ISIS (and other) terrorists posing as Syrian refugees. See, the federal screening process for potential terrorists among Syrian refugees, which has choked the intake of refugees to an inhumane trickle.

As horrific as they were, the Paris attacks were hardly surprising. There isn’t a single element of the events that shouldn’t have been accounted for in our much-less-than-worse-case planning. The Paris attacks do nothing but confirm well-grounded, but well-known, concerns.

Governor Baker’s (and all the other governors’) knee-jerk, no-Syrian-refugees-in-my-state response to the Paris attacks — to the extent that it relies on safety as justification — is a declaration that he hasn’t been preparing properly. It’s a declaration that he hasn’t been doing an adequate job protecting the safety of the Commonwealth.

Further, he didn’t do the modest amount of inquiry to find out if there’s anything a governor can even do to stop refugees. There isn’t. And, publicly declaring that we’re going to reject Syrian refugees is unnecessary attention to the state that increases the likelihood that we’ll be a target, particularly for sympathetic radicals already here. Fortunately, Governor Baker can take comfort that Massachusetts is but one of 23 states with ill-advised governors, all but one of which is Republican. (Say it ain’t so, Maggie.)

Yes, Governor Baker was not as extreme and strident in his statement as someone like Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal. It’s cold comfort. Any statement other than “We will not let events in Paris deter us from providing safe haven to those displaced by the very same actors” is extreme enough.

A real failure of the kind of executive leadership Governor Baker promised.

Obama: "It needs to stop".

This is dignity. This is leadership. This is savvy. And some sick burn thrown in for good measure:

We are not well served when, in response to a terrorist attack, we descend into fear and panic.

We don’t make good decisions if it’s based on hysteria or an exaggeration of risks.

When individuals say we should have a religious test and that only Christians, proven Christians should be admitted, that’s offensive.

I cannot think of a more potent recruitment tool for Isil [Isis] than some of the rhetoric that’s been coming out of here during the course of this debate.

Isil seeks to exploit the idea that there’s war between Islam and the West, and when you see individuals in positions of responsibility suggesting Christians are more worthy of protection than Muslims are in a war-torn land, that feeds the Isil narrative.

It’s counter-productive. And it needs to stop.

And I would add, these are the same folks who suggested they’re so tough that just ‘talk to Putin’ or staring down Isil [will work] … but they are scared of widows and orphans coming into the United States of America as part of our tradition of compassion.

At first they were too scared of the press being too tough on them in the debates. Now they are scared of three-year-old orphans. That doesn’t seem so tough to me.

Hey Governor, he’s talking to you too.

Bob DeLeo, Charlie Baker's Right-Hand Man

This is pretty scuzzy business, isn't it? - promoted by charley-on-the-mta

Yesterday, the Globe ran a piece about Charlie Baker’s attempt to weaken state ethics law so that his revenue commissioner would still be able to make $300,000 by serving on two corporate boards:

Governor Charlie Baker has sought a change in state law that would allow his revenue commissioner to be paid $300,000 a year to sit on two major corporate boards, a move that has alarmed ethics specialists who say such a policy change would undermine the tax agency’s integrity.

The governor wanted the Legislature to change a statutory restriction so that Commissioner Mark E. Nunnelly, a wealthy venture capitalist who has worked without a state salary since his appointment in March, could keep his positions on the boards of Dunkin’ Donuts and Genpact Limited, a Bermuda-based information technology services firm.

State law prohibits the commissioner from engaging in any outside business for profit, as a way to prevent private financial interests from influencing public decision-making.

We often hear about how Charlie is a “moderate,” but this effort shows very clearly whom Charlie Baker works for. And it shows what his vision of “good governance” and “sound management” really entails.

Thankfully, Karen Spilka, Senate Ways & Means chair, recently blocked the measure, noting that Nunnelly should “devote his professional efforts full time to the Commonwealth as we expect of other commissioners.”

But how did it even get to the Senate in the first place?

Bob DeLeo, of course, as the Globe explains today:

Governor Charlie Baker’s attempt to clear the way for his revenue commissioner to sit on corporate boards was quietly embedded in a House budget bill, with no notice to nearly anyone on Speaker Robert A. DeLeo’s leadership team, including the chairman of the committee overseeing the state’s tax code and its enforcement.

The House chairman of the Legislature’s revenue committee, which oversees tax issues and revenue department practices, said he did not know Baker’s proposal to lift the ban on outside business activities was approved in the House budget bill. He said he was never consulted on the matter.

“I didn’t know about it until I read the story,’’ said state Representative Jay Kaufman, a Lexington Democrat. “I was surprised and happy that the Senate caught it, even though we didn’t.”

Asked Monday at a State House press availability why nearly none of his leadership team or members knew of the language, DeLeo said he approved the change because he was assured that Baker had received approval from the State Ethics Commission.

He said his Ways and Means Committee chairman, Brian Dempsey, was either “told or he checked it out, and all ethics questions had been clarified and this was approved.’’

Asked why it was never discussed, DeLeo said only that he raised it with Dempsey. House sources confirmed that the proposed change in state law was never discussed at leadership sessions. Dempsey’s office did not return a call seeking confirmation.

Gov. Baker shrinks.

Sometimes an elected official is confronted with a genuine political challenge, a real gut check, where your principles actually matter.

In the face of a big challenge, Charlie Baker has shrunk. He made himself small, to the point of taking out his political discomfort on perhaps the most vulnerable people in the world right now.

Baker’s remarks — a departure from September when he signaled support for the refugees — earned swift rebuke from immigrant advocates. Lawyers said under the Refugee Act of 1980, governors cannot legally block refugees.

He can’t block refugees from coming to MA. Of course he can’t — it’s a federal responsibility. The only thing that he or any other governor can do is to make life difficult for refugees when they’re here — refusing or discouraging services and so forth.

Well there’s a big man for you.

Compare this to the immense political courage and leadership shown by President Obama. Appreciate the man:

“The people who are fleeing Syria are the most harmed by terrorism. They are the most vulnerable as a consequence of civil war and strife. They are parents. They are children. They are orphans and it is very important … that we do not close our hearts to these victims of such violence and somehow start equating the issue of refugees with the issue of terrorism.”

Add this to resisting the media’s drumbeat for more war, more quagmire. You can argue with the particulars but — like the Iraq War — he has thought it through a lot more thoroughly than most of his critics. Gut check — passed, with flying colors.

Now … is Baker not aware of the US vetting process for refugees? If not, why not? That’s his problem and duty, isn’t it? It would have been awkward if he had said, “Well, we’re going to have to check the rule book, and I’ll get back to you” — but at least it would have been honest.

The US refugee vetting process is excruciatingly slow and very thorough — 2,000 refugees in four years. That’s stingy. Click the link to the Vox article — it’s amazing what they have to prove.

The Paris attack’s masterminds came from Belgium, apparently radicalized as adults. ISIS Daesh makes recruits via social media, even among nominally Christian white kids.

This is hard. But refusing help to people who need it is not the answer. Find some guts, Governor.

Statement from Mayor Walsh on refugees

Via email:


“As a city and as a country it is not our custom to turn our backs on people who are in need and who are innocent. We have yet to receive guidelines from the federal or state government on how they will move forward, however should we be told that Boston is accepting refugees, we will work with our partners at the federal, state and local levels to ensure the safety of Boston residents.”

So did the guidance change since Friday?

Baker, Walsh Side With Fear Over Freedom & Compassion

promoted by charley-on-the-mta

Gov. Charlie Baker, who we are continually told is a Massachusetts moderate, today is standing with five other Republican governors in punishing Syrian refugees for the Paris terror attacks:

In the wake of the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker joined several American governors in announcing Monday they will not allow any Syrian refugees to move to their states.

“I would say no as of right now,” Baker told reporters at a State House event Monday. “No, I’m not interested in accepting refugees from Syria.”

“My view on this is the safety and security of the people of the Commonwealth of Mass. is my highest priority,” he added. “So I would set the bar very high on this.”

Baker said he wanted more information from federal officials. “I think at this point in time we’d have to be very cautious about accepting folks without knowing a lot more about what the federal government’s plan looks like and how it’s going to be actually implemented and executed,” he said.

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh agreed that he wants to find out more about the federal government’s plan for reviewing incoming refugees. “We have to see the vetting process and what’s happening with the vetting process,” he said.

It’s part of a trend as in recent years, America has begun turning our backs on refugees. It doesn’t do America’s image any favors to bomb countries like Syria, but not be willing to help the civilians displaced. Hamilton Nolan writes in Gawker today that this kind of fearful, shut-the-windows-and-bar-the-doors response is exactly what terrorists are hoping for:


Apropos the disgusting Rubio comment below, and newly-inflamed and utterly counterproductive Islamophobia. I would add to this list the Islamic Society of Boston, who called the attacks "horrific and heartbreaking", and urged people to come to yesterday's solidarity demonstration:
“Our hearts and prayers are with those in Paris. May God shower His mercy on those who passed, heal those who are wounded and bring his justice to the perpetrators of this horrific act,” the group said on Saturday in a statement.
- promoted by charley-on-the-mta

If you think Muslims aren’t condemning ISIS, it’s not because Muslims aren’t condemning ISIS. It’s because you’re not listening to Muslims.

-Hend Amry

A few points to remember about the ISIS attacks in Paris:

  1. The vast majority of victims of ISIS have been Muslims. In fact, 45 people just died in Beruit from a bombing by ISIS including three residents of Dearborn, Michigan.
  2. Many of the Syrian refugees are fleeing ISIS
  3. There are 1.6 billion Muslims in this world of which approximately 31,500 are part of ISIS. (0.0019%).
  4. As one Muslim put it, “Asking me to condemn the obviously condemnable presumes my basic moral code is in question.”
  5. A significant share of Muslims are Shiite and ISIS has made its intention to murder Shiites quite clear by terrorist attacks in Iraq and elsewhere.

The world’s largest Muslim country is Indonesia and its President has condemned the attacks. Other Muslim nations as well: Saudi King Salman, top Sunni scholars in Saudi Arabia (“Terrorists are not sanctioned by Islam and these acts are contrary to values of mercy it brought to the world.”)

Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan of the UAE:

President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has reaffirmed the UAE’s full solidarity with France, a friend and strategic partner, at this difficult time in the face of the heinous crimes on Friday that claimed the lives of large numbers of innocent civilians.

He also expressed the UAE’s sympathy and solidarity with the French Government and the friendly people of France in these hard times, extending his heartfelt sympathy and condolences to the victims’ families.

Qatar’s Foreign Minister:

Attacks in Paris that killed more than 100 people violate all human and moral values, Qatar’s foreign minister said in a statement.

“The state of Qatar, through its foreign minister, strongly condemns these heinous attacks that have struck the French capital causing so many victims,” Khaled al-Attiyah said in a statement sent to Reuters by the embassy in Paris.

“These acts, which target stability and security in France are against all human and moral values,” he added.

Kuwait’s Emir:

HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah on Friday night sent a cable of condolence to French President Francois Hollande following the attacks in Paris. The Amir strongly condemned “these criminal acts of terrorism which run counter to all teachings of holy faith and humanitarian values”, and expressed sincere condolences over the large number of victims.

He reaffirmed Kuwait’s solidarity with the French people and government, saying Kuwait supports all measures France might take to protect its security against terrorist acts. He also renewed Kuwait’s commitment to the international campaign against all forms of terrorism.

The Crown Prince of of Bahrain:

His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Prime Minister, today sent a cable to the French President Francois Hollande in which he offered profound condolences and consolation over the victims of the terror attacks that targeted Paris on Friday, and left many innocent people dead or injured.

HRH Crown Prince reiterated his strong condemnation of such terror attacks targeting innocent civilians, wishing the wounded speedy recovery.

Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations:

we are revolted by this heinous and despicable attack on civilian populations.”

He says the Islamic State group, which claimed responsibility for the attacks that killed at least 129, “does not represent Muslims.

His fuller statement can be found on YouTube. Furthermore, Think Progress reports

CAIR is also part of a broad coalition of Muslim groups scheduled to hold a press conference noon Saturday to collectively condemn the attacks. The group is said to include representatives from CAIR, American Muslims for Palestine, Islamic Circle of North America, Muslim Alliance in North America, Muslim American Society, Muslim Legal Fund of America, Muslim Ummah of North America, and the Mosque Cares.

The U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations:

The US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), a coalition of leading national and local Muslim organizations, strongly condemns the abhorrent terror attacks that took place yesterday in Paris and left over 150 innocent people dead and scores injured. USCMO stands consistent with its position against all forms of violence against innocent people anywhere in Turkey, Beirut, Syria, Paris, and on our soil irrespective of the perpetrators, targets, or reasons. These repugnant acts of violence defy the sanctity of every innocent human live and shall always be condemned and rejected.

The US Council of Muslim Organizations sends its heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and to the people of France and stands in solidarity with them against terrorism and violent extremism. We ask the American Muslim community around the nation to hold candle light vigils in memory of the victims and in support of their families.

The Muslim Council of Britain:

The attacks once again in Paris are horrific and abhorrent, and we condemn this violence in the strongest possible terms. My thoughts and prayers for the families of those killed and injured and for the people of France, our neighbours.

This attack is being claimed by the group calling themselves ‘Islamic State’. There is nothing Islamic about such people and their actions are evil, and outside the boundaries set by our faith.

This week we have once again witnessed outrageous attacks be that in Beirut earlier in the week or Paris today – there is no justification for such carnage whatsoever. We hope the remaining people responsible are brought to justice and face the full force of the law.

The imam of the mosque in Al-Azhar, one of the oldest Sunni institutions in Egypt also condemned the attack:

Le grand imam de la mosquée Al-Azhar, prestigieuse institution de l’islam sunnite, a condamné samedi les attaques à Paris qui ont fait au moins 128 morts les qualifiant d’”odieuses” et a appelé “le monde entier à s’unir pour faire face à ce monstre”

« Nous condamnons cette attaque odieuse », a affirmé cheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb à l’ouverture d’une conférence au Caire, soulignant que « le temps est venu pour que le monde entier s’unisse afin de faire face à ce monstre »

As reported in USA Today:

Fateh Kimouche, 38, founder of the prominent French Muslim blog Al Kanz, said it was important for the whole country to put up a ”united front against terrorists.” But he also expressed concern about a backlash against Muslims following this “atrocious act.”

Kimouche said that ”Muslims suffer a double punishment: massively victims in the Middle East and around the world,” as well as being the targets of Islamophobia. ”The Muslim community is in mourning like the rest of the French, but also in the anxiety of retaliation,” he said.

Final thought:

Attacks like the ones tonight in Paris are committed to purposely trigger an Islamophobic backlash. That backlash is not an unintended consequence of such attacks, it is part of their logic. ISIS types want an Islamophobic backlash because it lends credence to their narrative that there is a war between the West and Islam. By strengthening and emboldening the xenophobic right-wing in Europe, they strengthen their own worldview as well. And the most tragic irony is that that backlash may target refugees who themselves had been fleeing ISIS’ reign of terror.

Thoughts with everyone in Paris tonight. May the forces who wish to beget an apocalyptic “war of civilizations” be defeated.