Colin Powell Speaks With The Washington Ideas Forum

Atlantic Live

Former Secretary of State (for George W. Bush) Colin Powell spoke with the president and CEO of The Aspen Institute Walter Isaacson as part of the Washington Ideas Forum, co-hosted by the Institute and the Atlantic.

He discussed the Iran deal, Syria, ISIS, The Iraq War, immigration, and other things.

Powell generally agreed with the structure of the Iran deal, and said the U.S. should work within its parameters.  When discussing immigration, Powell said, “I think the American people have to understand we’re an immigrant nation,” he said, adding, “it is our history, it is our tradition…we have been built on the backs of immigrants.”

Powell also implored those in the audience to consider the positive impact of immigrant workers.


Ad Contrasts Reagan’s Views On Immigration With That Of Current Republicans

Forum Action Fund

This website has always maintained that Ronald Reagan wasn’t quite what current politicians think he was.   First off, with the exception of some battleship shelling targeted against Lebanon, he never attacked the Middle East.  He also supported gun control (the Brady Bill, enacted during Bill Clinton’s presidency).  As governor of California, he legalized abortion under some circumstances, and the list goes on…

The New York Times states that a pro-immigration group will run a television ad showing Ronald Reagan’s upbeat tone in regards to immigration with the words of current Republican party candidates.

The ad is from the National Immigration Forum Action Fund and will cost  about three-quarters of a million dollars, according to a news release from the group.  It will run primarily on CNN, which is hosting the presidential debate on Wednesday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California, but also on Fox News and MSNBC.

The ad’s cost demonstrates a renewed effort to show voters the language used by a number of the Republican presidential candidates, write The New York Times. It primarily shows Donald J. Trump, the leader in the polls, who has been criticized for his opening campaign speech in which he suggested that Mexican immigrants coming across the border are “rapists.”

The advertisement contrasts current candidates with Mr. Reagan, who is frequently invoked as the most revered figure among Republicans.

The ad features clips of Mr. Reagan referring to his view of the country as a “city on a hill.”

(Updated article)

Why Is Eritrea In The News?

Eritrea is near the horn of Africa, on the Red Sea. It is situated across the Red Sea from the Gulf States, such as Saudi Arabia.

Many people are currently fleeing Eritrea, and many are trying to get to Europe aboard “smuggling boats.” The U.N. is looking into the matter.

“The number fleeing such a small country – estimated at 5,000 people each month – is forcing the outside world to take notice,” Mike Smith, Chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea, told the 29th session of the U.N. Human Rights Council, which is meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

“Eritrea’s dire human rights situation can no longer be ignored,” Mr. Smith said. “Imagine the impact of this uncertainty on young Eritreans who lose all control over their own futures. Is it any wonder that Eritreans – most of them young people – are the second largest nationality after Syrians to resort to seaborne smugglers to cross the Mediterranean to Europe?”

5,000 people per month is a huge percentage of the population.  According to, about 6.4 million people live in Eritrea.  The population increased from 3.2 million to 6.4 million between 1990 and 2014, and there are a lot of young people. The birth rate is 4.7 children.

Eritrean society is heterogeneous, and there are nine recognized ethnic groups according to the government of Eritrea, writes Wikipedia.

The number of Eritreans fleeing their country reached more than 400,000, and has nearly doubled over the past six years, according to the UN refugee agency.

A U.N. commission report said that “systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations have been and are being committed in Eritrea under the authority of the Government. Some of these violations may constitute crimes against humanity.”

Mr. Smith told the Council that after more than two decades of independence, the dream of a democratic Eritrea now seems more distant than ever.

“Instead of a country ruled by law and good governance, the Eritrea we see today is marked by repression and fear,” Smith said. “Since independence, ultimate power in Eritrea has remained largely in the hands of one man and one party. Those in control often rule arbitrarily and act with impunity… The Eritrean people have no say in governance and little control over many aspects of their own lives.”

The report notes that Eritrea has never held free elections, has no independent judiciary, arbitrary arrest is common – often ordered by anyone with de facto authority, with tens of thousands of Eritreans being imprisoned, often without charge and for indeterminate periods, writes

In addition, the Government has subjected much of the population to open-ended national service, either in the army or through the civil service, often for years in harsh and inhumane conditions.

Denied access to Eritrea, U.N. Commission members conducted interviews with some 550 witnesses in eight countries and received 160 written submissions. On 9 June, the Eritrean Foreign Ministry issued a statement describing the Commission’s findings as “an attack, not so much on the Government, but on a civilized people and society who cherish human values and dignity.”

In response to that charge, Mr. Smith said: “With respect, we The Commission are recording the voices of real Eritrean people as articulated in the 550 testimonies and 160 submissions received. We also reflect the silenced voice of the majority of Eritreans who have never been able to elect their own representatives in national, free, fair and democratic elections…”

Soft-ball Fox News Piece On GOP Hispanic Outreach

How important is the Hispanic/Latino vote for Republicans?  Fox News recently did a segment on “Hispanic outreach.” Some left-wing media outlets have called it a “fluff piece.”

How committed are the right-wing presidential candidates to Hispanic voters?  Will their policies address Hispanics’ concerns?  Does it behoove Republicans to focus on anti-immigration policies?  Will those with anti-immigration policies be able to attract Hispanic voters?

Court Won’t Lift Ban On Obama Immigration Action

On Tuesday, a federal appeals court refused to lift a temporary hold on President Barack Obama’s executive action that would prevent as many as 5 million immigrants illegally living in the U.S. from being deported, according to the AP. The hold allows the deportations to continue.

The U.S. Justice Department had asked the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse a Texas judge who agreed to temporarily block the president’s plan in February, after 26 states filed a lawsuit alleging Obama’s action was unconstitutional. However, on a two-one vote, a panel of the court denied it, writes the AP.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans made the decision that the executive action must be delayed until the lawsuit is resolved.

It wasn’t clear if the government would appeal, either to the full appeals court in New Orleans or to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The states suing to block the plan argue that Obama acted outside his authority and that the changes would force them to invest more in law enforcement, health care and education.

The White House has said the president acted within his powers to fix a “broken immigration system.”

Texas Judge Blocks The President’s Immigration Executive Order


A Texas Judge has blocked the president’s immigration order.

Does the president have the right to issue executive orders on immigration?

According to HowStuffWorks, “Executive orders have been used by every American president since George Washington to lead the nation through times of war, to respond to natural disasters and economic crises, to encourage or discourage regulation by federal agencies, to promote civil rights, or in the case of the Japanese internment camps, to revoke civil rights.”

According to the New Republic, Presidents Reagan and H.W. Bush took executive action on immigration.  Reagan and Bush made executive actions to stop the deportation of children and spouses of newly-legalized immigrants. In fact, Bush’s executive action was called the “family fairness” program.

USA Today claims the younger George W. Bush also “…issued a number of small-bore executive orders — to expedite citizenship for immigrants in the military, or to defer deportation for students affected by Hurricane Katrina…”

Talking Points Memo states that the president has ordered fewer executive orders than any president since prior to World War II.  TPM states it comes out to less than 0.1 for every day he’s been in office. “FDR, by comparison, was cranking out close to one per day as he faced the Great Depression and World War II.”  TPM does state that the simple totals “cannot account for the scope and tangible impact of individual executive orders or incorporate other elements of executive power,” which is understandable.

The question is:  what are the grounds for a lawsuit, impeachment, or the claims of lawlessness?

The only possibility is that the executive orders have possibly been too broad in scope.

According to the New York Times, “(m)ost of the major elements of the president’s plan are based on longstanding legal precedents that give the executive branch the right to exercise ‘prosecutorial discretion’ in how it enforces the laws. That was the basis of a 2012 decision to protect from deportation the so-called Dreamers, who came to the United States as young children. The new announcement will be based on a similar legal theory, officials said.” [The New York Times,11/13/14]