Cut, Cut: President Trump Wants to Stop Federal Funding for the Arts

Author: Mary Grace Donaldson, Current Events/Politics

As I’ve said before…I’ve tried to remain unbiased.

I’ve even tried to give President Trump the respect of the office of the Presidency. I’ve thought about “giving him a chance.” And don’t get me wrong…if he proves me wrong in my low expectations of his ability to lead us, I’ll give credit where credit is due.

But as I felt when President Trump instituted his first controversial Muslim Ban, I cannot just sit by and pretend to be “okay” with the fact that President Trump is proposing to end federal funding for arts –- specifically public broadcasting, which includes the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the parent company of NPR and PBS.

Additionally, President Trump is calling for the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts as well as the National Endowment for the Humanities as part of his first federal budget plan.

While this issue could be controversial for many millennials, it is highly personal for me. I’ve been an “arts kid” since I was young –- it comes with being highly sensitive, and as I mentioned in my post on what it’s like to be an only child, I discussed how singing and acting far outweighed sports in my personal scale of importance.

Although my own theatrical and musical pursuits won’t necessarily be hindered by the potential lack of funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, it’s the first step toward the already low regard for the arts across the country. During my high school years, sports often took precedents even over academics –- forget about the arts. The arts afforded me a medium in which to flourish. It’s not necessarily about this lack of funding at the present but what it represents, and what it will represent going forward. It’s a sure-fire gateway to “if President Trump says the arts aren’t important, he must be right.”

And on the combined topic of PBS and NPR…who in our millennial generation didn’t watch Mister Rogers? Who didn’t love hearing the adventures of Daniel Striped Tiger and King Friday? Thank goodness Sesame Street has moved to HBO…they beat the rush out of town. Insert eye-roll emoji here.

As far as NPR, we’d lose an educational resource that holds a legacy since its establishment in 1971. And you don’t need to purchase Sirius/XM to have access to it. Regardless of your opinion of the apparent political leanings of NPR, we would still experience the loss of a resource.

I’ll admit, I’m not a budget person (I very much use our finance cheat sheet to help with my own money). I don’t profess to have the answers to the questions surrounding federal budget plans –- written by President Trump or those before him.

But…there has to be another place in the plan where funding can be cut and President Trump and his band of “advisors” can find more money. Maybe they could have used all of that money they have wasted on racial profiling through the Muslim Ban? Just a thought.

 

Disclaimer: The political views presented in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Not Another Millennial Blog. 

Michael Flynn

Flynn Flies the Coop

Author: Mary Grace Donaldson, Current Events/Politics

Here we are again, millennials!

We’re waking up to more news out of the Trump Administration. We saw it from the State Department Senior Staff. We had boycotts prior to the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary, and an uproar following President Trump’s controversial travel ban.

And now, we’re getting more news. President Trump’s White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn announced his resignation on Monday evening.

According to CNN, Flynn’s “departure came just after reports surfaced that the Justice Department warned the Trump administration last month that Flynn misled administration officials regarding his communications with the Russian ambassador to the United States and was potentially vulnerable to blackmail by the Russians.”

The New York Times also reported that Flynn provided “incomplete information” to Vice President Pence “regarding a telephone call he had with the ambassador in late December about American sanctions against Russia, weeks before President Trump’s inauguration.”

Unlike the aforementioned resignations, boycotts and other news out of the White House in recent weeks, Flynn’s resignation is not out of protest to President Trump’s policies. Resignation certainly seems to be the best course of action when a National Security Adviser is a threat to, um, national security…

Flynn has supported President Trump and his policies even prior to his inauguration, but, of course…the judgement of our President is in question once again (as it was upon his naming of a number of his Cabinet picks).

Especially since…according to the New York Times, “the Army has been investigating whether Mr. Flynn received money from the Russian government during a trip he took to Moscow in 2015, according to two defense officials.” If this accusation proves true, it violates the “Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which prohibits former military officers from receiving money from a foreign government without consent from Congress.”

So…if Flynn is either a) a threat to national security or b) even potentially has ties to a known enemy of the United States…why was he a pick in the first place?

We’ll leave that to you to think about.

 

Disclaimer: The political views presented in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Not Another Millennial Blog.

Betsy DeVos Confirmed, But Voices Still Heard

Author: Mary Grace Donaldson, Current Events/Politics

This story is not for or against Betsy DeVos and will not discuss her politics – we have already discussed all of the Trump Cabinet nominees.

Rather, we’ll discuss the fact that what makes the DeVos appointment confirmation different is what has led up to it.

We’ve heard on and off for weeks about a barrage of names, from former Breitbart Executive Chair Steve Bannon to Jeff Sessions to Neil Gorsuch. And while they’ve all had their fair amount of press and opinions from both sides related to their respective nominations, none have had the press that the DeVos nomination and today’s subsequent confirmation has.

But aside from the press and the storm of social media posts calling for congress to not, in fact, confirm DeVos, we witnessed a number of Washington notables raise their voices against the nomination.

It’s worth noting that this incident was not the first time that Washington notables raised their voices during President Trump’s term (which is, of course, only a little over two weeks old). But instead of a walkout as was staged in the State Department, they went with a filibuster.

Monday, Senate Democrats pledged to stay up all night and hold the floor in protest of the DeVos confirmation. While, according to The Washington Post, they would not be able to prevent the confirmation that would come the next day, the protest shows the type of dedication to a cause and to beliefs that can be admired by millennials and all age groups

While many of us have not been pleased with President Trump’s decisions thus far – we’ve also witnessed a number of movements that showcase both citizens and politicians standing up for what they believe is right (case in point: the Women’s March). I hope that we can continue that trend into the future, and that millennials will continue to make their voices heard — as they did all throughout election season.

Today, Vice President Pence broke the tie with his Senate vote, making the final numbers 51-50 in favor of DeVos. We’re not here to tell you to be in favor or not in favor of that decision. But we are here to tell you that if you were not in favor, don’t get discouraged. Don’t give up the fight for what you believe is right. With enough voices, you can effect change.

 

Disclaimer: The political views presented in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Not Another Millennial Blog.

Refugees Welcome

What is the Global Refugee Crisis?

Author: Gauri Bhatia, Current Events/Politics

Millennials, unless you have been living under a very large soundproof rock on a remote island in the Pacific, you have heard at least some news on the “global refugee crisis.” But you might have been a bit confused on the details. Here are eight questions that you might have, and the answers so you can have the information you need to be well-informed on the topic.

Wait…what did President Trump say about the refugees?
“We don’t want them here,” President Trump said on Friday, just before signing the executive order on immigrants and refugees. “We want to make sure we are not admitting into our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas.”

Who is President Trump banning from American shores in this controversial move?

In writing, the executive order bans immigrants (and visa holders) from seven countries — Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Sudan and Somalia — from entering the United States for 90 days. These countries are known as “Muslim-majority” countries. It also bans all refugee admissions for 120 days, halts Syrian refugees indefinitely, and prioritizes Christian and other religious minority refugees.

In actuality, the ban will affect refugees fleeing from the Middle Eastern conflicts in Syria, Yemen and Iraq (of course), but also refugees from conflicts far removed — places like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Honduras, El Salvador and Myanmar.

 

What exactly is a refugee?
The United Nations defines a refugee as “someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war, or violence.” The UN also states, “a refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. Most likely, they cannot return home or are afraid to do so. War and ethnic, tribal and religious violence are leading causes of refugees fleeing their countries.”

According to the UNHCR (in the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 expansion), refugees eligible for resettlement largely fall into seven categories: Legal and/or Physical Protection Needs; Survivors of Torture and/or Violence; Medical Needs; Women and Girls at Risk; Family Reunification; Children and Adolescents at Risk; and those who Lack Foreseeable Alternative Durable Solutions. Trump’s “Ban on Muslims” makes no distinction between these categories.

 

So… just how many people are we talking here?
The United Nations estimates 65.3 million people were displaced in 2015. That’s approximately the population of France! This figures included 21.3 million refugees living outside their country of origin, and 40.8 million internally displaced (meaning they are in their country of origin, but have been forced to flee their homes for another region). 51% of refugees are children. And just 1% of all refugees will ever be resettled.

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How many refugees has the U.S. taken in so far?
The Obama Administration set a target of 110,000 refugee admissions for fiscal 2017. In the Executive Order last week, President Trump slashed the 2017 number of refugees the U.S. will accept down to 50,000.  According to the Pew Research Center (which uses data from the State Department’s Refugee Processing Center), the U.S. has already taken in 26,000 under the Obama Administration’s rule. That doesn’t leave a lot of room, especially after the seven-country ban by President Trump.

In 2016, by contrast, the U.S. accepted 85,000 refugees total. The increased number of displaced people fleeing conflicts around the globe led to the Obama administration’s heightened ceiling. 2016’s numbers included 12,857 resettled Syrian refugees, along with large numbers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq and Somalia. More than 50% of those refugees were settled across just ten states: Arizona, California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington.

 

What is the vetting process for refugees coming to the U.S.?
Refugees are subjected to perhaps the most comprehensive screening of any traveler entering the United States. The vetting process for resettlement to the United States can take up to two years of interviews and security checks.

This includes: registration and interviews with the United Nations, “refugee status” and a referral for resettlement being granted by the UN, then interviews with State Department contractors, multiple background checks, several fingerprint screenings and photos, one or more case reviews by United States Immigration, in-person interviews with Homeland Security, health screenings by the Center for Disease Control, cultural orientation classes, and matching with an American resettlement agency – all before even dreaming of boarding a plane for the United States!

There is then a multi-agency security before leaving for the United States (since a long time passes between the initial screening and departure) and a final security check at an American airport.

Why can’t the refugees just wait 120 days?
As you can tell from the answer above, the process for resettlement is a long one. And that process often comes after years, or decades, of waiting for a chance to come to the United States. In addition, the nature of security clearances, especially in the U.S., requires that the clearances be used in a certain amount of time. If a refugee waits for the ban to expire, their security and medical clearances may expire, meaning that they will have to go through the two-year process again from the beginning. It’s like trying to slip through a closing door only to have it slam in your face.

 

Are the refugees as dangerous as President Trump says?

In short, no.

Immigrants, especially refugees, are statistically among the least likely people in American society to commit any sort of crimes. In addition, the aforementioned vetting process is extremely thorough.

In addition, none of the terrorists named as perpetrators in the major U.S. attacks of the last 15 years have come from the seven countries named by President Trump’s ban.

 

What’s next?
Great question. Short answer –I don’t know….I don’t think President Trump knows and if you know, I would love to hear about it. Feel free to express your thoughts to me through #NAMB’s email, Facebook or Twitter!

I hope that this article helped clear up some of the confusion about the “global refugee crisis” and President Trump’s ban on Muslims. It’s a difficult and ongoing topic, which will have far-reaching consequences for years, decades and generations to come. The United States has always been the hallowed halls for immigration (including my own parents) and we will hopefully be able to retain that image in the future.

 

Disclaimer: The political views presented in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Not Another Millennial Blog.

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Compassion for Immigrants and Refugees

Author: Mary Grace Donaldson, Current Events/Politics

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

– Emma Lazarus

If you haven’t heard already, President Trump, after his first few days in office — making extensive changes such as the Executive Order to build a wall at the U.S./Mexico Border as well as a required media blackout by the EPA — President Trump has ordered the suspension of all refugees and immigrants, from nations “including Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, Iran, Iraq, and Libya for a time period of 90 days.” It “also calls for the complete suspension of Syrian refugees for an indefinite period of time.”

I’ve tried to be factual. I’ve tried to remain objective. But this particular issue is not one I can only deliver the facts on –- because the above are the only facts you need to know, and I cannot look at the photographs of Syrian refugees without feeling anything short of heartbreak. I cannot think about those who have started their lives in America, looking for opportunity, being subject to these rules — like this Ph.D. student who was taken off her flight on Saturday, all because her passport is registered in Sudan.

I don’t dispute that changes need to be made to our immigration system. I’m not saying that reform is not necessary. I’ve always said that good, law-abiding citizens have to pay the price for those who don’t do the right thing. But I’ve made that statement about trivial rules and laws that seem so irrelevant and selfish when looking at them in the big picture. That statement doesn’t even do this situation justice, but it’s the best I can do.

Those who are leaving a bad, violent, life-threatening situation to come to the land of opportunity where they will seemingly find safety, and those who are already living in the U.S. due to the opportunities it affords, should not be penalized due to the actions of terrorists who also happen to come from their home country. Period.

As a human being I am appalled. As a Catholic I am appalled, as President Trump professes to possess Christian values –- when the Sisters of Mercy (yes, real nuns) released a statement calling for pushback against “President Trump’s announcement on immigration and the U.S.-Mexico border that would tear families apart.” And while that’s not directly related to the action Twitter called the #MuslimBan, it relates to a more compassionate philosophy regarding immigration surrounding all countries.

In the midst of all of the upsetting news, we’ve seen more citizens fighting for what they believe is right and making their voices heard. Thousands gathered at New York’s JFK Airport in protest of the new orders. And politicians are speaking out, too — Federal Judge Ann M. Donnelly issued a Stay agains the “Muslim Ban,” “temporarily allowing people who have landed in the United States to return.”

As we saw with the Women’s March, many people coming together in defense of what they believe is right can make a huge impact. And those who truly have the courage of their convictions will not rest until they see change.

 

Disclaimer: The political views presented in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Not Another Millennial Blog.