Month: February 2017

H.R. 39 “TALENT Act of 2017”

Talents are everywhere and some of us are REALLY good at harnessing them. For the record, I’m still at the level of fumbling around in a closet looking for the light switch. I’m not sure I even know what a harness looks like. Either way, I have seen creative genius in many of my friends and a few of them have been able to truly stand out in their field. Is this you? Well the TALENT Act of 2017 created an organizational standard for the now permanent Presidential Innovation Fellows Program.

 

The organization part is fairly standard and boring. There is a director, application process, and even a board to oversee the program (except the selection of fellows oddly enough). The interesting part is the discovery of this program itself. It was started in 2012, regularly identifies needs within the government, and then seeks to employ innovators in each field selected for needing such vision.

Fellows relocate to Washington D.C. for their term of service and receive a hefty $128k yearly salary. Fellows have gone on to serve in high government positions and, if nothing else, it looks great on a resume! This legislation may not be all that new but it sure is good news for some fantastic go-getters. Don’t be shy if you feel like you have something to contribute! Not all of the fellows are in the tech field. Application deadlines are each Spring and Fall. Click here  to apply.

Where the Ban Went Wrong

I’m not going to lie… if I turn on the news and “ban” is the first word I hear one more time… a temper tantrum will be happening. Part of my frustration with this is that most of what you hear about President Trump’s executive order is the same, day in and day out. Naturally, that leaves me with questions, so I went looking. First, how does a travel ban from seven countries affect my family and friends? Second, what are the arguments between the states and executive branch? Third, what sort of protection does a travel ban actually give us anyway?

Within the court filings, you will find some really good arguments from the states. After reading them, I can’t see how the Trump administration can really win this one, folks. The states of Washington and Minnesota cite the companies affected by the ban with an interruption in travel, recruiting efforts (although I am sure that makes a segment of the population happy), and lost revenue of the companies resulting in loss of state tax revenue. I suppose that if you aren’t from these two states, you may still feel as though you aren’t affected but I would venture to say that there are companies in each state who have suffered similar losses during the brief enforcement of the executive order.

Perhaps a little closer to home is the loss, interruption, or delayed return travel of hundreds of university faculty and staff who were engaged in international travel for research and studies. Do I know any of these people personally? No, but I can imagine the fear and panic that they and their families experienced. As many Americans, I assumed that the travel ban only affected refugees not yet vetted, or people trying to get approval to immigrate. That is true, but you have to take out the “only” in the statement and include many other groups of people who already live here or have been approved to live here. As a mom, the implications make my heart break.

Remember how I said it wasn’t looking good for the Trump administration? A rather quick review of the response to the Trump administration’s request to block the block on the travel ban (so many blocks, right?) shows that the arguments given by the administration don’t seems to hold a lot of weight. The states argue that a TRO (temporary restraining order, which this is) is not appealable. The TRO only lasts until a judge decides on whether to grant a preliminary injunction. If that happens, the administration can appeal the injunction. The states also declare that Trump cannot prove “irreparable harm” greater than that of what the states have already shown on their side. Truly, can you prove that kind of harm if you only begin again a process that has been (arguably) working for several years? These points are a very basic overview of their argument, but they seem very convincing. Throw in the fact that the states used the phrase “unleash chaos” to refer to the implementation of the plan and you have a great formula of logic and emotion.

When I considered the idea of protection, I was drawn back to the claim of the states that they have university faculty and students who have been prevented from returning to the United States because of Section 3 ( c ) of the executive order. Unless you are coming to the United States under certain diplomatic conditions, persons from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen cannot return or come here using the visa that was acceptable just minutes before the order was signed. This seems like an unjust stipulation. I could possibly get behind postponing further visa approvals, but refusing to honor existing visas blanketed by category… that is just wrong. Terrorist organizations have a reach across the globe and money to back it up. If we block one country, they will just activate a recruit from another. I can’t stop thinking about the Iraqi citizens who helped the U.S. military… their category of visa is not included in the exceptions to the rule. Wow.

Most of the executive order seems like a fantastic idea. However, President Trump hurt his own agenda when he chose to prevent readmission to our country for those who have already called it home for some time and to turn away those who had already been approved to travel here. These people didn’t see this coming. Had they known, I am sure they would have cancelled their plans to travel abroad. I know I would have! I also looked at the FBI’s Terrorist Most Wanted list. Only four of the terrorists listed had citizenship in a banned country. That is the same amount of them that are listed as American citizens. That doesn’t really bode well for an argument of safety. This unfortunate pattern is only exaggerated when you look at the terrorist plots that were interrupted. Many of them were radicalized Americans or naturalized citizens. Perhaps as well-intentioned as a review of current processes may be, it would serve the American people better to focus on soil we live on instead of just trying to keep people off of it.

Terrorists are called such because they wish to incite fear and terror. Fear causes mistakes. Mistakes cost lives. We can’t operate our lives by fear.

Welcome to Capitol Hill and a Mom!

I have heard it said that these are perilous times. Perhaps you feel that our future is in jeopardy as well. I prefer to react to these thoughts by keeping hope and the things that mean the most to me close and doing my research on the rest.

So what does this have to do with a political blog? After graduating from Auburn University (WAR EAGLE!), I found myself with job offers in broadcast journalism that I was unable to accept for personal reasons. Being a reporter has been my dream for nearly 20 years. Be qualified, desired, and yet unable to fulfill that dream was difficult to accept at first. I have been considering this blog as an outlet for my passion since the day I received my bachelors degree. Three years later, my idealistic view of classic journalism hasn’t faded and neither has my desire to be part of it in some form.

And why should you listen to my thoughts anyway? As I follow, research, and weigh the actions within the governing body of our nation, I invite you to engage with me. Share other ideas and valuable information, express your concerns, and help me make up my mind too! That’s RIGHT! I am not trying to convince anyone of anything. I am just starting a conversation free of gatekeepers above me who could have interest in tailoring content to their liking. I am a mom. I am a wife. I am a Veteran. I am an American. And… thanks to this page…  I am apparently a blogger now too!

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