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Don't tell Sarah Palin they weren't really made out of plastic.


People react to tragedy in so many different ways. Some rise to the occasion, bravely refusing to be cowed by circumstance, like the Parisians who opened their homes to strangers and the cab drivers who gave people free rides home. Others try to comfort the victims by sending help, or at least good thoughts. Others ... well, others just turn into assholes. Yup, you know which of those reactions this roundup will focus on.

Who Are These Syrian Refugees, Anyway?

Let's start with a quick note on the 10,000 Syrian refugees the U.S. is planning to accept, who are causing the entire Republican Party to freak out.

Fact One to throw back at your wingnut coworkers and your crazy rightwing uncle at Thanksgiving: The refugees being considered for admission to the U.S. aren't the folks who've been taking rickety boats across the Mediterranean and piling into Europe by the tens of thousands. Virtually all will come from refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon.

Fact Two: They face a TWO-YEAR screening process, which starts with a recommendation for each refugee by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees. Since we're the U.S. of A, we get to pick the very best refugees, not that xenophobes will be comforted by the insanely high degree of security screening we're subjecting refugees to. Out of an approximately 4 million Syrian refugees, we're committed to taking in a piddling 10,000, yet even that shamefully small number is terrifying to Republicans.

If ISIS wants to send operatives here, they're far more likely to buy them an airline ticket, the way the 9/11 hijackers arrived, or perhaps have them hike across the Canadian border. We don't screen airline travelers with anything like the scrutiny we give refugees.

How Is Congress Freaking Out?

Rep. Bradley Byrne, a nothingburger Republican from Alabama, called on President Obama Monday to halt the entry of Syrian refugees. In a panic-stricken letter, Byrne fretted that because one of the Paris attackers is reported to have entered Europe with the recent wave of refugees, America simply can't risk letting any Syrian victims of ISIS into our country. Rep. Byrne, see Facts One and Two above, and chill the fuck out.

A House Republican with more clout, Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul, from Texas, wrote a letter to President Obama Monday calling for a suspension of all Syrian refugees, because he thinks the extensive screening process for refugees needs reviewing. It's the same pile of "what if a terrorist sneaks in" bullshit that we've heard from other Republicans. McCaul wrote:

You have proposed resettling at least 10,000 Syrian refugees -- currently residing outside the Syria conflict zone in refugee camps -- to the United States this fiscal year, in addition to more than 1,800 already resettled since 2011.

We remain concerned that these resettlements are taking place without appropriate regard for the safety of the American people.

A bit higher on the food chain, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama is threatening to add a requirement to a necessary government funding bill, to be voted on in December, that Congress must approve (or not approve) the president's plan for Syrian refugee resettlement. As BuzzFeed puts it, he's "essentially raising the threat of a government shutdown in an effort to block the Obama administration’s efforts to accept more Syrian refugees." That seems like a smart thing to do: threaten to shut down the government for the sake of denying assistance to people who've already been through hell. Oh, but some of his pals in the House have an even better idea! They're threatening to cut all funding for resettling Syrian refugees until the administration can prove to Republicans' satisfaction that no refugee will so much as jaywalk, unto the fourth generation.

[contextly_sidebar id="d6eLIce9OaiyIPb7WK0RvshICWHjdbND"]And then there's the reigning Dark Lord of supreme dickishness to refugees, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who's already insisted that we don't need to assist Iraqis who worked with U.S. armed forces, since we "won" in Iraq. Sen. Paul introduced a bill Monday that would exclude not only Syrian refugees, but refugees from any countries with terrorism problems and even put a 30-day hold on visas for French visitors. But Sen. Paul isn't altogether heartless; he encourages Americans to give to the charity of their choice that might provide aid to Syrians in camps that are far away from America.

And finally, there's Sen. Ted Cruz, who backed up his manly Crusader talk about admitting only Syrian Christians as refugees by promising to introduce a bill that would formally ban Muslim refugees from Syria, while accepting Christians. That should put to rest those crazy ISIS and al Qaeda recruiting claims that the U.S. is at war with Islam.

How Are The States Freaking Out?

[contextly_sidebar id="MHa7KJCEJ5KN37DIqacwGqua4FKc5HuI"]As we reported Monday, the hottest trend among Republican governors -- even more instantly popular than refusing Obamacare, investigating Planned Parenthood, or allowing open carry for toddlers -- is telling the federal government their states will not accept any Syrian refugees, no way. By the end of the day Monday, a whopping 27 governors were either refusing to accept Syrian refugees or calling for a Syrian refugee freeze. Of the paranoid lot, only one, New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan, is a Democrat.

Just one small problem for the governors busy drawing lines in the sand: Governors don't have any authority to refuse refugees. Thanks to the Constitution of the United States, which every state's oath of office requires a governor to swear to support and defend, immigration is wholly a federal matter. States have no say over whether the federal government resettles refugees within their borders, or whether refugees initially resettled in one state move to another. It's this whole "freedom" thing the founders were big on.

Now, it would be possible for states to use stupid budgetary tricks to make resettlement more difficult for refugees, if they were really determined to be assholes about it, so we can probably look forward to a lot of bullshit moves involving driver's licenses and access to health clinics, all in the bullshit name of "fighting terrorism."

In one rather rare exception to the "Absolutely No Syrians Allowed" stance most Republican governors took, Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter wrote a whiny letter to President Obama calling on him to halt all refugee resettlement, but at least acknowledging that the federal government sets immigration policy, and trying to sound like a Big Brave Republican:

I recognize that my authority is limited on this issue, but I will use any legal means available to me to protect the citizens I serve.

[contextly_sidebar id="SduchhqH8K0MDtBx4Y13KiygzSqfdWfh"]Yeah, Otter saw the asshole militia dudes who want to shut down a refugee center. And he knows those armed idiots are his people.

Finally, a tip of the Wonkette Leather Kitten Headgear to the governors of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Missouri, Montana, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, Utah, and Washington, who said that OF COURSE they welcome refugees. All but one of those states have Democratic governors; congratulations to Utah's Gary Herbert for bucking the trend. Nice to see some people know what's right.

How Are Our Presidential Candidates Freaking Out?

[contextly_sidebar id="N6N1wqujpxa9uGQSJ8PA6vy6Wdyf3AfR"]As we already know, Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz are publicly calling, in the middle of a humanitarian crisis, for a religious test on whether to accept refugees.

Update 12:24: Let's add Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton to the list of non-pants-wetting governors; he announced Monday that he's fine with Syrian refugees in Minnesota since he's been assured they'll be rigorously screened. Also, too, while Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said he's "not interested in accepting refugees from Syria," Boston Mayor Marty Walsh loves America enough to sound like an American, announcing, "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.”

[contextly_sidebar id="uW1qKPTuRxrnKkHGScIhgpQzWJjuGD6j"]Donald Trump said back in October that Syrians are far too scary for him, and even promised to expel the fewer than 2000 who have been resettled in the USA. Monday, he took the anti-refugee rhetoric straight to Pants-On-Fire territory, claiming that Barack Obama seeks to bring in "hundreds of thousands" of Syrians, and that the refugees "seem like so many men ... And they're so strong -- they're strong looking guys ... Why aren't they back fighting for their country?" It's a popular notion for the fearmongers, never mind that among Syrian refugees, women outnumber men, and 38.5 percent are children under 11.

Ben Carson tried to stick to his area of professional expertise. (No, not grifting. Brains!) He said Sunday that it's obvious Syrian refugees must be kept out of the USA:

"Bringing people into this country from that area of the world, I think, is a huge mistake," Carson opined to Fox News host Chris Wallace. "Because why wouldn't [ISIS] infiltrate [the refugees] with people who are ideologically opposed to us? It would be foolish for them not to do that" [...] "But to bring them here under these circumstances is a suspension of intellect."

"You know that the human brain has these big frontal lobes, as opposed to other animals, because we can engage in rational thought processing."

Yes, he actually suggested that only a malfunctioning (or underdeveloped) human brain could possibly disagree with his mighty lobes.

[contextly_sidebar id="omordjt6OVGiDLQhYei5EpbqSCnRqQ3a"]Loathsome sack of spleen-squeezings Mike Huckabee, who has in the past warned that Syrian refugees only want to come to the USA to get cable TV, suggested that if newly elected House Speaker Paul Ryan doesn't stop relocation of all Middle Eastern refugees to the United States, then Ryan "needs to step down today & let someone else lead." Huckabee, who frequently reminds voters that he is a follower of Jesus of Nazareth, might do well to remind himself of Matthew 25:42-45:

Just a thought, you monstrous hypocrite. It would be interesting, as a discussion question, to see if Cruz and Bush would allow any refugees in who were so wholly ignorant of one of the most basic of Christ's teachings.

Did You Notice The President Isn't Freaking Out?

Seriously, he's not, not one bit. Good for him. It's almost as if he had read the Official Wonkette Editorial Policy on Syrian Refugees:

Of course U.S. America should take in refugees. It’s our fucking job. The alternative is to leave them stuck in hell, where they will either die or become radicalized against the United States. Or else we might as well replace the plaque on that nice welcoming statue in New York Harbor with one that reads, “Sucks to be you.” The lesson of World War II was supposed to be “Never Again,” not “leave ’em to die because they’re scary foreigners with the wrong religion.”

[Vox / TPM / The Hill / Buzzfeed / Foreign Policy / WaPo The Hill again / CNN / ThinkProgress / CBS News / Factcheck.org / Crooks & Liars / TPM Update: KSTP / Boston.com]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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