McMaster is a hopeful replacement for Flynn

 

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Michael Flynn before resignation. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo (EPA)

After Michael Flynn’s resignation, the nation eagerly waited on who Donald Trump would pick as the next National Security Advisor. And with much surprise, the new pick may be of some importance for the Trump administration. Army Lieutenant General H.R McMaster is a man whose experience in the armed forces has given him a different perspective on the “war on Islam”—rhetoric chief strategy advisor Steve Bannon so eagerly chooses to use.

For the new pick, there are two major takeaways that the American people should be aware of: McMaster’s experience and how that molds his potential world views, and his take on Russia-American relations.

Middle East:

McMaster’s experience in the Middle East during deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan as a Commander of the Army shape the way he views Islam as a whole. In 2005, in an attempt to retake the city of Tal Afar which bordered Iraq and Syria, McMaster had his troops dress in traditional Arab clothing to blend in to the environment. He also taught his soldiers how to walk into a home and determine if the residents were Sunni or Shiite Muslims. McMaster is also on record for commanding his troops not to refer to locals as “hajjis”, a racial slur used to identify Muslims who take pilgrim to Mecca, showing his respect to the people and culture.

This firsthand understanding, respect and strategy McMaster has displayed in his deployment shows the kind of mind he has: one that will not plague an entire religion for the fault of few, an issue a lot of members of Trump’s cabinet cannot seem to distinguish. Furthermore, McMaster does not have a political mind. He is military. And that experience gives this administration a head who can actually speak on behalf of terrorism from a personal level and one that isn’t convoluted by an unrealistic vision of the enemy we are fighting. McMaster understands and fundamentally believes that plaguing an entire religion on the faults of a few can actually be detrimental to foreign relations. McMaster is on record for stating that Trump’s rhetoric regarding “bombing Islam into oblivion” only fuels fire for terrorism. This rhetoric also further divides the American people from understanding the culture and religion of these people.

For the future on combatting terrorism, McMaster will act as the middle ground for a lot of key issues, socially and strategically.

Russia:

Unlike President Trump and Flynn, McMaster is a Russia skeptic, noting the country is not an ally of the United States but an adversary. Last May, at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, McMaster cited Russia’s annexation of Crimea and support for rebels in eastern Ukraine as evidence of a broader effort “to collapse the post-World War Two, certainly the post-Cold War, security, economic, and political order in Europe and replace that order with something that is more sympathetic to Russian interests.” His skepticism on Russia is very outspoken, and reflective of a more “realism” world view of international relations. McMaster’s military experience probably has something to do with his cynical view of the world, and for the United States, this might be the best man for the job in an administration clouded with Russian influence.

Conclusion (opinion):

I actually like this pick by the Trump administration. McMaster is a man of integrity, respect, mutual understanding, and of course his military experience allows for a more realistic approach on how to combat Islamic terrorism (hopefully). I don’t know him personally, so although it is hard for me to speak on his personal traits, on the surface level, he seems to have a lot of credible ideas and philosophy. His respect and understanding of the culture abroad, to me, gives him a lot of credibility. More so, he knows HOW the Middle East operates—culturally and in terms of terrorism.

For Russia, I am on the boat that our Western neighbor deserves more punishment for their actions in Crimea. Naturally, my bias against Russia, which has been stated in previous posts, draws me to McMaster’s words and skepticism. I do not think Russia is an ally. Nor is the country’s involvement in our political system something that should go without notice or action in the future.

Everything I’ve read on McMaster has actually made me more relaxed about the administration’s inner-circle, as I hope he can be the voice against the ideology of President Trump and Stephen Bannon. Let us not forget how Bannon has stated that “every President needs his war.” This rhetoric is inherently dangerous considering the amount of turmoil in the international world, and I hope McMaster’s military experience will help level this thinking.

 

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McMaster and Trump. Photo: CNN

Whether McMaster becomes a puppet for Trump will come in time, but let us not forget Flynn was part of the inner-circle of decision making in the early weeks of administration. I just hope McMaster will also be part of that tight-knit group in order to help moderate some of the discussion happening inside the Oval Office.

I am hopeful, for once.

Best,

-Exsar Misael

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Morning briefing: Immigration Ban has been lifted

After over 48 hours of patiently waiting, the world finally has an answer to the recent controversy surrounding President Trump’s immigration ban. On Feb. 9, the 9th circuit court of the United States refused to reinstate President Trump’s Immigration ban, marking the president’s first big legal loss since taking office.

Today I want to focus on two key aspects of the discussion:

  1. What did the court decide and what was the legal question at stake? What comes next after the decision?
  2. Where did Trump go wrong? (Opinion)

The United States is split into 13 circuit courts. Each circuit has a few states that belong to its jurisdiction.  More importantly, if a state in a particular circuit rules in a specific fashion, then all the other states in the circuit must follow the precedent of that state. Confusing? Let me break it down.

For example, the 5th circuit court of the United States comprises of Texas, Alabama and Mississippi. If the circuit court of Texas decided to rule against state funded abortions, then the other two states in the circuit will follow suit.

The 9th circuit court includes the states of California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Idaho Montana, Arizona, Hawaii, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. Simply put, the decision from the 9th circuit court is not a surprise by any stretch of the imagination. The states represented in the 9th circuit are by in large, liberal. Interesting enough, the three judges who ruled on the immigration policy all ruled unanimously against the ban, 3-0. A 29-page concurring opinion basically stated that the immigration ban was a violation of fundamental American constitutional values. The Washington Post reported that the 9th circuit court ruled that the executive order harms international business as it prevents students, faculty, and overseas employees of American companies from traveling abroad in fear of being stranded in another country.

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So what is the legal question being asked? Well, we don’t necessarily know. The court has stated that it goes against American constitutional values, and that’s about it.

During the first week of the executive order, green card and Visa holders were restricted from entering the United States, which is illegal. However, the Trump administration has since reversed that rule, one again permitting these people to enter.

Since the Supreme Court usually deals with pressing issues of national security, it is highly probable that the constitutionality of this order will be taken to the highest court in the nation. But until then, we patiently wait. As of now, the immigration ban has been halted in compliance with the decision of the 9th circuit court.

Furthermore, I feel this executive order was doomed from the start not because of its intent but because of the execution.

Like I stated in my last post, I am in no way against immigration bans that are done correctly. Unfortunately for the president, this executive action was amateur at best in its execution.

First, the president is on the record for stating he wanted a ban on Muslims from entering the United States during the campaign season. This was his first mistake. Although the executive order claims it to be an “immigration ban” it is hard not to see past the lines of those words considering the rhetoric. The United States is a country founded by people seeking religious freedom. This is a nation of diversity and something I deeply take pride in. The president’s words are not only contradictory to what makes this country great, but ultimately disrespect fundamental American values—such values which are written in the doctrine of our founding, the constitution.

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Photo by Alyssa Schukar, The New York Times  

The next mistake came with the actual signing of the executive order. Countless stories have surfaced the internet of constant confusion from different government agencies on how to properly execute the ban. During the first couple of days, the Department of Homeland Security was not properly informed on who exactly was allowed into the country, causing major confusion at airports around the world. People who legally had the right to enter the United States were being detained for extended periods of time without any explanation to why they couldn’t enter. For lack of a better word, the execution of the ban was messy.

So now we wait. This case is far from over and will most likely be presented to the Supreme Court very soon. As of now, the Supreme Court is split evenly 4/4. This is important because if the court cannot come to a consensus and the vote is evenly split, then the decision made by the 9th circuit court WILL STAND AS LAW marking the president’s first major defeat in office. Obviously that may be jumping the gun a little, but it is interesting to think about all outcomes of the situation.

Regardless of how you feel about the ban, this case could set precedent to how the judiciary reacts to Trump’s executive decisions. Only time will tell….

These past two weeks have been quite hectic, but I hope I can help out with any questions anyone may have.

Until next time, stay engaged!

-Exsar Misael

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Back to blogging: my future as a writer

Well, the election season is officially over, and I took a break from writing. But after biting the lip these past couple of months I’ve decided this is a great time to pick back up again. Being a journalism student, this is the one of the worst and best times to be in the industry, a paradox that makes my head spin ultimately questioning the worthiness of a future as a reporter.

Donald Trump is the President of the United States, and although I can sit in this coffee shop for hours on end writing and dissecting his policy over the past few weeks, I’ll save my audience the headache for today.

Today is a day for a philosophical discussion about my life and future as a journalist. Some politics, but mostly philosophy.

For those that know me, I try to stay very objective with my line of thought. Naturally as an aspiring journalist, I try my best to not let political bias control or hinder the quality of my writing.

So without any more hesitation, let us begin.

Today, I want to discuss the first amendment, particularly the freedom of speech and the press. I want to discuss the importance of this and dig into some philosophical context to allow my audience to understand why I am hesitant about my future as a writer, predominantly in regards to our newly elected President.

As James Madison once said, if people we angels, then the function of government wouldn’t be necessary. But isn’t that what makes our world so beautiful and fascinating at the same time? Political discrepancy is only a natural part of our political system. Understanding each other’s viewpoints and decision making is how democracy flourishes and thrives. After all, in order to fix an issue, you must know what is wrong in the first place. I will always preach political moderation—equilibrium if you will. I firmly believe that Democracy fails when there is a lack of understanding from both sides of the political spectrum. Political or not, I try everyday to understand people’s needs and ideas, regardless of what I may personally believe.

The constitution is the law of the land and the foundational doctrine that governs our decision making as a united people. Regardless of your political identification, this document in particular must be the foundation of our decision making. Whether or not you believe in original intent or original understanding, the Constitution of this country is still the foundation—the starting point of our lawmaking, ethics, and social structure.

After all, good laws must satisfy three common factors: equality, eradicate pre-established notions, and form a social contract.

Equality: Law must be clear, precise and treat every citizen of equal standard no matter the authority.

Pre-established: No law that is made today can punish an action that was committed yesterday, before it existed.

Social contract: Bad laws can have a chilling effect on speech, limiting people’s access to an equilibrium of ideas and thoughts. Good law is well tailored, and applies to all individuals without hindering freedom.

The pinnacle of American ethics and law, the first amendment does exactly what law should do. It gives people the freedom of expression, an idea that was not the standard of practice around the world when it was written. At only 45 words, the first amendment is the source of our freedom.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

So how does this apply to my life as a writer? Well, under the first amendment I am granted the freedom of speech, and the press. There are 16 words that allow me to sit here and write about whatever the hell I want, guaranteeing that I will not be punished for the content I produce, regardless of what you think (as long as I don’t violate libel or slander). 16 words. 16 words gives me the freedom to express myself in the fashion I feel fits suit. Yet within those 16 words, are a billion ideas of what that freedom can mean. There are over 200 years of debate circulating on what those 16 words mean by definition, yet our morale code as a people help govern what those freedoms entail. The words are on paper, but we define by our philosophy what those words mean. Beautiful isn’t it?

The media is here to stay. It is a source for people to gather information and learn about the world around us. Historically, the media has played a huge role in the progression of our country. Providing people with information about British taxation, spreading ideas of revolution and freedom, informing individuals about government policy and war; some form of media is what keeps people in the loop at all times.

This is where I have issues. It pains me and ultimately hurts to see our President say journalist are “among the most dishonest people on Earth,” while stating he is at war with the media.

The President has also restricted certain publications from entering national briefings, an unprecedented restriction that according the historical interpretation to those 16 words, is unconstitutional. Yet the President has chosen to allow a specific handful of publications to report inside the walls of the White House, particularly those who write content supporting the rhetoric and policy of President Trump. This unfair treatment of the press has only fueled his support to follow in his rhetoric, as trust with the media has dwindled.

This is inherently dangerous to those who consume news on a daily basis. Just like our government, the media is not ran by angels. Both biases MUST be shown in the news. It allows educated individuals the opportunity to dissect and absorb all angles in politics. Democracy requires the most attentiveness of its people compared to other forms of government, relying on political attentiveness to move the country forward. Voting is just a small engagement that people must have. Consuming news is part of our democracy, and more importantly the foundation of how people base their political identification.

The President’s suppression and negative rhetoric of the press is not only inherently dangerous to our democracy, but it also moves our nation into a state where media is controlled.

I just came back from Nicaragua, and during my visit I was told I could not write about the politics of the country based on the law. The media, for the most part, is controlled and funded by the government. This allows the majority of the population to only consume news that benefits the impression of the government. Without criticism, the government can continue to influence what people think, often hindering progress and freedom of thought.

No, the United States is most likely not heading into this direction, but it does make me wonder how the suppression of the press by this administration is comparable to other nations that control the media.

It is, constitutionally speaking on behalf of those 16 words, un-American to control what media is allowed to report on the President’s behalf. It not only violates the first amendment, but the fundamental values that makes America so great to begin with.

If you are mad with the media, then as consumer, you should absorb more news from multiple sources, not engage yourself in what makes you happy.

Remember, democracy requires the most attentiveness from its people to thrive, and that includes the consumption of news. Equilibrium. Open your mind, and hear both sides of the argument in order to formulate an objective opinion. Never stop engaging and reading.

So although the words of the President do make me hesitant in my future as a writer, I will allows hold dear those 16 words that help make this country the greatest place on the planet. I will continue to write no matter the circumstance. I will always be critical, no matter who is in power. It is my job to do so. And although I do have my own political opinions, I will always try my best to stay objective. I’m sure there will be things President Trump does that I will agree with, and I’ll write when that opportunity comes. Positive or negative, I will continue to write until the day I die.

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Thank you for reading everyone! I will try my best to post twice a week from here on out.

Until next time, stay engaged.

God bless,

Exsar Misael