Extreme vetting needed

You have to give Donald Trump credit for follow through.

He railed against immigrants throughout his campaign, and at one point called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.”

Late on Friday, he issued an executive order that threw the country’s immigration policies into a state of crisis. He banned indefinitely admission of Syrian refugees, imposed a four-month suspension of admission of any refugees, and suspended for 90 days all immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries.

Trump insists now that he is not imposing a Muslim ban, though his order gives a preference to Christian immigrants over Muslims. The administration pointed out that some 40 Muslim-majority countries were not singled out by the action. That, however, is only drawing questions about why a place like Saudi Arabia, where most of the 9/11 hijackers came from, was not included, if the goal is to thwart terrorist threats to the US.

Of course, many things about the actions don’t make sense. Syrian refugees are already subjected to extensive vetting, and none admitted to the country have been connected to any terrorist act to date. Neither has anyone admitted from any of the seven countries singled out by the ban.

Meanwhile, the actions set off huge protests across the country. Returning research scientists, students, and a man who served as an Iraqi interpreter for the US Army were among those who faced detention over the weekend.

The administration zigzagged back and forth on the question of whether the ban applied to those with permanent resident status in the US, finally declaring that those with green cards would be admitted, unless there was reason to hold them.

Meanwhile, lawyers set out to fight the order. The Globe chronicles the frenzied efforts of Boston immigration attorneys that resulted in a 2 a.m. federal court order imposing a 7-day restraining order against several parts of the executive order.

Apart from the substance of the executive action, the chaotic rollout of the plan seemed to capture everything you need to know about how the new administration will be operating. The New York Times reports that the newly-installed secretary of homeland security, Gen. John Kelly — someone who might have been expected to be a chief architect of such a plan — was being briefed on the executive order as Trump was signing it. James Mattis, the secretary of defense, only saw the final version of the order on Friday morning, hours before it was signed, and was not giving any opportunity to provide input on it.

Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican from Ohio, may have captured best the irony of a new administration desperate to project a mien of sober leadership but which thrives on poorly planned, slapdash moves that only seem to feed its leader’s thirst for sowing discord and chaos. Portman called the administration’s executive action “an extreme vetting proposal that didn’t get the vetting it should have had.”

Tennessee Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander also picked up on the irony. “This vetting proposal itself needed more vetting,” said Alexander. “While not explicitly a religious test, it comes close to one which is inconsistent with our American character.”

Lost in the chaotic clamor over the immigration orders was a development many view as more ominous because it points to the wholesale shift of foreign policy control to Trump’s inner circle of extremist hardliners. On Saturday night, with the frenzy over the immigration orders in full force, Trump issued another executive order, this one giving top White House adviser Stephen Bannon a seat on the “principals’ committee” of the National Security Council, while downgrading the role on the council of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and director of national intelligence. Bannon oversaw the drafting of Friday’s executive order.

Putting someone who is the president’s chief political strategist in the middle of the country’s top national intelligence meetings, say officials of past Democratic and Republican administrations, is a bad idea.

“The last place you want to put somebody who worries about politics is in a room where they’re talking about national security,” Leon Panetta, a former White House chief of staff, defense secretary, and CIA director in two Democratic administrations told the Times.  Josh Bolten, President George W. Bush’s last chief of staff, barred Karl Rove, the White House political svengali, from NSC meetings. Susan Rice, the last national security adviser under President Barack Obama, tweeted over the weekend that the decision to put Bannon on the council and lower the role of the Joint Chiefs chairman and director of national intelligence  was “stone cold crazy.”

For an administration that seems to thrive off chaos and inciting the opposition, that may only be music to their ears.




Massachusetts Republicans launch digital ads targeting freshmen lawmakers who voted for a big pay raise. (MassLive) The Herald’s Matt Stout points out what a faux sacrifice it is for legislative leaders to include in their big pay raise a ban on the House Speaker and Senate president earning outside income, as the two Beacon Hill bosses have earned, apart from the state pay, nothing (Senate President Stan Rosenberg) or next to nothing (House Speaker Robert DeLeo) over the last couple of years.

Two state lawmakers have filed separate bills to restrict sheriffs from sending inmates out of state, a response to Bristol Sheriff Thomas Hodgson’s offer of inmate labor to build President Trump’s proposed border wall. (State House News Service)

A Herald editorial decries a bill filed that would strip away the state’s MCAS graduation requirement and ban using student performance as a basis for evaluating teachers.


With both the Stoughton police and fire departments short-staffed and waiting new hires, records show the town paid out more than $1.2 million in overtime last year. (The Enterprise)

A survey by the MetroWest Daily News finds nearly all towns in its region do not post restaurant inspections online, forcing customers who want to find out about inspections to go to town hall or, in some communities, to file a Public Records request.

Dartmouth officials will vote on whether to exercise the town’s right of first refusal to purchase the Allendale Country Club with the goal to operate it as a municipal golf course. (Standard-Times)


The American Civil Liberties Union receives $24 million in donations over the weekend, six times what it normally takes in during the course of a year. (Time)

Some Republicans begin to break with President Trump on his executive order banning immigration from select countries. (Time) State attorneys general, all Democrats from 15 states and the District of Columbia, say they will challenge Trump’s executive order banning immigration from select countries. Maura Healey is one of the AGs. (Politico)

US Rep. Joseph Kennedy said Democrats need to pick and choose their battles with Trump and the GOP, though the interview was recorded before all hell broke loose over the weekend. (Keller@Large)

Six people are dead in an attack on a mosque in Quebec City, Canada. (Reuters)


Jay Gonzalez, a Democrat who served as budget chief under Gov. Deval Patrick, throws his hat in the ring as the first declared candidate for governor in the 2018 contest. (Boston Globe)


A Lawrence venture fund is giving loans to unbanked, largely immigrant entrepreneurs. (CommonWealth)

Five companies are vying for state funds to provide last-mile broadband service in the Berkshires (Berkshire Eagle)


Opioid overdose deaths rose 16 percent in the state last year over the prior year. (Boston Globe)

Gail Spector slams the NFL’s position opposing medical marijuana, and in particular its suspension of players who use pot to relieve pain. (WBUR)

Holistic practitioners are set to become regulated as Massachusetts became the 22nd state in the country to license naturopathic healers. (Cape Cod Times)


The MBTA made little progress in 2016 reducing absenteeism at the transit authority, in part because of what officials are calling a whack-a-mole problem. (CommonWealth)

A city-state task force will hold a hearing tonight on a proposed Boston helipad, with South Boston residents and pols already gearing up to fight the idea. (Boston Herald)


The state’s population of black bears is growing and moving east. (Telegram & Gazette)

Kathryn R. Eiseman says the governor can influence whether new gas pipelines get built in Massachusetts and the region. (CommonWealth)

Electricity sales pitches indicate renewable energy is not cheap. (CommonWealth)

Marine biologists say a fatal shark attack on Cape Cod is inevitable as the population of great whites grows, attracted by the explosion in the number of seals in the area. (Cape Cod Times)


Putting yourself on a banned list at Foxwoods because you have a gambling addiction problem doesn’t really get you banned, the Globe’s Sean Murphy reports. (Boston Globe)


Trump tweets he’s made up his mind on a Supreme Court nominee and will announce it Tuesday night. Reports are saying Judge Neil Gorusch, a solid conservative in the 10th US Court of Appeals, is at the top of the list. (U.S. News & World Report)


Longtime editorial page editor Rick Holmes pens his farewell column in the MetroWest Daily News as he heads off to retirement (though he’ll now write a weekly column for the paper).

The Dallas Morning News lays off 25 newsroom employees as it reorients from print to digital. (Poynter)

Buzzfeed, which Trump has labeled a “failing pile of garbage,” is apparently doing well enough to hire a former Wall Street Journal reporter to cover the president’s relationship with the media as a full time beat. (Politico)

Got to love Tweety24’s response to Meredith Goldstein’s Love Letters column in the Globe. Goldstein was responding to a man who was continuously getting dumped when his online dates learned he was a thirtysomething virgin. Goldstein advised avoiding such disclosures, but Tweety24 suggested a more hands-on solution: “Me thinks that Meredith should take one for the team.”