Another view of Trump's Executive Action, and the reactions to it, from James Kirchick:
The problem with crying wolf about a supposed “Muslim ban” is that, should an actual prohibition on Muslims entering the United States ever be proposed, people will be less inclined to heed the protests against it. A more accurate label for Trump’s executive action is “temporary refugee ban,” or, more specifically, “Syrian refugee ban,” as it’s only Syrian refugees whose entry into America has been suspended for an indefinite period of time. This is really not that much less shameful than an outright ban on Muslims, and Trump’s critics only play into the crafty hands of his Rasputin, Stephen Bannon, by turning what should be a discrete debate over refugee policy into a broader one about Muslim immigration. The way things are developing, soi-disant Leninist Bannon will cynically frame the controversy as a presidential administration committed to tougher vetting procedures pitted against a raft of ACLU lawyers and crowds shouting, “No borders, no nations, fuck deportations!” Guess who wins that fight.
That Trump happened to sign this measure on Holocaust Memorial Day only added to the frenzy. Countless comparisons were made to the plight of Anne Frank, whose family was also denied entry to the United States. In the self-congratulatory bubbles of social media, the JFK arrivals terminal, and The New York Times op-ed page, the stakes of moral validation are continually being raised such that the tweeting glitterati must outdo one other in expressing their righteous indignation. As there is no greater moral currency than the plight of Jews during the Holocaust, it was naturally the historical analogy upon which everyone settled.
Never mind the evident flaws in equating Jews forced to flee Nazi extermination to Syrians voluntarily leaving United Nations-administered refugee camps in Turkey. More galling was the sudden rush for Holocaust analogies from people who in 2015 turned over the Middle East to a Holocaust-denying regime. It has been quite a sight to behold, Obama administration alumni and their sycophants, who, having upended four decades of American foreign policy by emboldening Iran and laying the groundwork for Russia’s return to the region as a military power, guilt-trip the rest of us into seeing Trump—barely a week in office—as being somehow responsible for the upheavals of the Middle East....
This long piece by David Frum is worth reading in full - How to Build an Autocracy. A couple of snippets:
Outside the Islamic world, the 21st century is not an era of ideology. The grand utopian visions of the 19th century have passed out of fashion. The nightmare totalitarian projects of the 20th have been overthrown or have disintegrated, leaving behind only outdated remnants: North Korea, Cuba. What is spreading today is repressive kleptocracy, led by rulers motivated by greed rather than by the deranged idealism of Hitler or Stalin or Mao. Such rulers rely less on terror and more on rule-twisting, the manipulation of information, and the co-optation of elites.
The United States is of course a very robust democracy. Yet no human contrivance is tamper-proof, a constitutional democracy least of all. Some features of the American system hugely inhibit the abuse of office: the separation of powers within the federal government; the division of responsibilities between the federal government and the states. Federal agencies pride themselves on their independence; the court system is huge, complex, and resistant to improper influence.
Yet the American system is also perforated by vulnerabilities no less dangerous for being so familiar. Supreme among those vulnerabilities is reliance on the personal qualities of the man or woman who wields the awesome powers of the presidency. A British prime minister can lose power in minutes if he or she forfeits the confidence of the majority in Parliament. The president of the United States, on the other hand, is restrained first and foremost by his own ethics and public spirit. What happens if somebody comes to the high office lacking those qualities?
Over the past generation, we have seen ominous indicators of a breakdown of the American political system: the willingness of congressional Republicans to push the United States to the brink of a default on its national obligations in 2013 in order to score a point in budget negotiations; Barack Obama’s assertion of a unilateral executive power to confer legal status upon millions of people illegally present in the United States—despite his own prior acknowledgment that no such power existed.
Donald Trump, however, represents something much more radical. A president who plausibly owes his office at least in part to a clandestine intervention by a hostile foreign intelligence service? Who uses the bully pulpit to target individual critics? Who creates blind trusts that are not blind, invites his children to commingle private and public business, and somehow gets the unhappy members of his own political party either to endorse his choices or shrug them off? If this were happening in Honduras, we’d know what to call it. It’s happening here instead, and so we are baffled.
And here's Liel Leibovitz, with more on Trump's disgraceful immigrant ban:
The events of this past weekend have made it clear that Trump and his aides have no interest in governing. Had that been the case, they might’ve taken the trouble to explain the order and its purpose. They could’ve reassured millions of anxious Americans that Green Card holders needn’t worry. They would’ve allowed sufficient time to make sure we don’t cruelly and needlessly afflict those—like the Iraqi translator who had served with American forces in Iraq, say, or the brilliant Sudanese-born who is a resident at one of our best medical institutions—who merit an obvious exception to the ban.
They did none of that. In fact, they did the opposite, with senior Trump aide Steve Bannon overriding, according to some reports, orders by the Department of Homeland Security insisted that lawful permanent residents—men and women like myself, here legally—should be targeted as well, separated from their families for no other reason but the unhappy accident of their particular place of birth.
This should come as no surprise to anyone following this administration. Whatever else might be true about its aims, this much is absolutely clear: Trump and his people do not care about this nation in any form that I, and millions of others, recognize or cherish. They don’t care about its institutions or its traditions or its higher calling. They see the world as only terrified toddlers do, as an endless battlefield between those who stand with us and those who stand against us, a contest that could be decided only by means of domination, subjugation, and humiliation. And their enemies aren’t the terrorists lurking on some foreign shore; they’re millions of Americans whose hopes and ideas and convictions have made them the enemies of their own state. This is why Bannon has propelled himself to the National Security Council, why he gleefully went on the record and told the free press to keep its mouth shut, and why he advocated for the travel ban to be as painful as possible. A self-described Leninist, he knows all about the old Bolshevik’s favorite tactic, that of heightening the contradictions: do something outrageous, wait for your opponents to come out in full force, then rally the faithful with hysterical talk of impending peril. Czeslaw Milos captured this dynamic neatly: “I predict the house will burn; then I pour gasoline over the stove. The house burns; my prediction is fulfilled.”
The gravest danger of the Trump Administration, then, isn’t that its actions are objectionable to many Americans. It’s that they’re carefully designed to tear this nation apart, and to goad its citizens into a state of permanent conflict and unending mistrust. And that’s a crisis that calls out for more than political solutions. It demands moral outrage.
There is, of course, this. From Robert Kuttner:
Trump has been trying to govern by impulse, on whim, for personal retribution, for profit, by decree ― as if he had been elected dictator. It doesn’t work, and the wheels are coming off the bus. After a week!
Impeachment is gaining ground because it is the only way to get him out, and because Republicans are already deserting this president in droves, and because the man is psychiatrically incapable of checking whether something is legal before he does it.
Not sure "psychiatrically" is quite the word here, but we get the point.
Impeachment is gaining ground because it’s so horribly clear that Trump is unfit for office. The grownups around Trump, even the most slavishly loyal ones, spend half their time trying to rein him in, but it can’t be done....
It is one thing to live in your own reality when you are a candidate and it’s just words. You can fool enough of the people enough of the time maybe even to get elected. But when you try to govern that way, there is a reality to reality—and reality pushes back.
One by one, Trump has decreed impulsive orders, un-vetted by legal, policy, or political staff, much less by serious planning. Almost immediately he is forced to walk them back by a combination of political and legal pressure—and by reality.
Unlike in the various dictatorships Trump admires, the complex skein of constitutional legal and political checks on tyranny in the United States are holding—just barely at times, but they are holding. And the more reckless Trump’s behavior, the stronger become the checks.
Only with his lunatic effort to selectively ban refugees (but not from terrorist-sending countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt where Trump has business interests) has Trump discovered that the American system has courts. It has courts. Imagine that....
Given the sheer danger to the Republic as well as to the Republicans, Trump’s impeachment will happen. The only question is how grave a catastrophe America faces first.
The problem is that, should Trump indeed be impeached - which doesn't seem at all far-fetched at this point - it'll simply exacerbate the grievance against the "liberal elite" that Trump likes to play on. Hey, we've been screwed again.
Good points from Sam Harris - A Few Thoughts on the “Muslim Ban”:
2. I think Trump’s “Muslim ban” is a terrible policy. Not only is it unethical with respect to the plight of refugees, it is bound to be ineffective in stopping the spread of Islamism. As many have pointed out, it is also internally inconsistent: It doesn’t include Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, or Lebanon, any of which has been a more fertile source of jihadist terrorism than several of the countries Trump named.
3. However, most of what is being said in opposition to Trump’s order is thoroughly contaminated by identity politics and liberal delusion. The Left seems determined to empower the Right by continuing to lie about the problem of Islamism. As David Frum recently wrote, “When liberals insist that only fascists will defend borders, then voters will hire fascists to do the job liberals won’t do.” I have been saying as much for more than a decade—and am vilified by my fellow liberals whenever I do.
4. It is perfectly possible—and increasingly necessary—to speak about the ideological roots of Islamism and jihadism, and even about the unique need for reform within mainstream Islam itself, without lapsing into bigotry or disregarding the suffering of refugees. Indeed, when one understands the problem for what it is, one realizes that secular Muslims, liberal Muslims, and former Muslims are among the most desirable allies to have in the West—and, indeed, such people are the primary victims of Islamist intolerance and jihadist terror in Muslim-majority countries.
5. If liberals who refuse to speak honestly on these topics continue to march with Islamists, denigrate free speech, and oppose the work of the real reformers in the Muslim community, they will only further provoke and empower Trump. And Trump, in turn, will empower Islamists the world over by threatening the civil liberties of all Muslims within his reach.
6. The next acts of jihadist terrorism to take place on American soil will most likely be met with terrifyingly blunt (and even illegal) countermeasures by the Trump administration. If all that liberals can do in response is continue to lie about the causes of terrorism and lock arms with Islamists, we have some very rough times ahead.
7. If you are listening to obscurantists like Linda Sarsour, Dalia Mogahed, Reza Aslan, and representatives of CAIR, and denigrating true secularists and reformers like Maajid Nawaz, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Raheel Raza, and Sarah Haider, you are part of the problem.