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Politics & Prejudices: Donald Trump, ISIS recruiter



Years ago, this column occasionally also ran on a website called The Smirking Chimp, whose motto was "in dishonor of the worst president in history."

Not surprisingly, the Chimp, born during the reign of George W. Bush, has dropped those words from its home page. Donald Trump clearly surpassed the Shrub as the nation's most terrible president after less than a week in office.

Nobody can predict how he will disgrace us next, and that has a certain inhibiting factor on this column, which is written several days before it appears. For example, I am tempted to say that Trump has yet to waste as many lives in an unjust war.

But while those words are true as I write them, there's no guarantee that they, or anything else, will be the case by the time you read them. After all, eight days into his presidency, Trump signed an order that removed the nation's top military and intelligence advisers as regular attendees of the National Security Council's Principals' Committee, the interagency forum that deals with policy issues affecting national security.

Know who will attend in their place? Trump's chief political strategist, the media thug Steve Bannon.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of National Intelligence will be allowed only "where issues pertaining to their responsibilities and expertise are to be discussed."

That should scare the living piss out of all of us. Bush, by the way, would never have let Karl Rove into those meetings.

But Donald Trump has no more respect for tradition, the separation of powers, or foreign nations than he does for any other human being not named Donald Trump.

Everything he does shows that he has no idea whatever what he is doing, or its effect on people's lives, with one exception: He knows how to get attention.

Hitler, Mussolini, and a long succession of circus clowns did too. What we don't know yet is how we will remember this showboating menace, if we still have a country afterwards.

Most clowns know that they can mug shamelessly for the camera, but while they might pretend, they can't light matches around the crates marked DANGER! HIGHLY EXPLOSIVE!!

However, the Donald has no such qualms.

Suddenly, without warning, he signed an executive order a week after he took office banning people from seven mostly Muslim nations (Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Syria) from traveling to the United States, regardless of their visa or green card status. "It's working out very nicely," Trump said, even as traumatized people all over the globe found themselves separated from their wives, husbands and children.

People got on airplanes before the order was signed, only to be detained when they landed. One West Bloomfield immigration attorney went to dinner at her in-laws home in Canada Friday night, and then found herself detained when she and her husband tried to get home.

International students and their families panicked. Eventually, a federal judge overturned Trump's fiat. Naturally, he couldn't care less about messing with people.

Why should he? He is Donald J. Trump.

Well, there's a politician in Michigan who doesn't have nearly the power, fame or money of Carnival Barker Don.

But when it comes to policy dealing with terrorists, I'd put my money on State Senator Dave Knezek (D-Dearborn Heights.) You see, Knezek knows something about fighting them. He dropped out of college after a couple of years, and ended up doing two tours of duty in Iraq. That was hard duty.

There are things he won't talk about. He had no idea how many medals he had earned (it was 25) till I asked him to count. But he knows what it means to be responsible for young men's lives. The morning after Trump's ban, Knezek read about a man named Hameed Darweesh, who had risked his own life more than once to help American military forces.

That was back after we had invaded and occupied Iraq. Darweesh had served as an interpreter for a decade, something that almost cost him his life. He was eventually granted a special immigrant visa, and was in the air when Trump scrawled his name on his outrageous order.

When he landed, Darweesh was detained for hours, unable to even call a lawyer until two congressmen got him out.

That story brought tears to David Knezek's eyes – and a flashback to when his own life was saved by such a man.

The future politician left college and "boarded a plane to Iraq when I was 21. I was full of piss and vinegar and eager to serve my country ... and improve the lives of the Iraqi people."

Soon he found what life there was really like. Eventually, he was sent to Fallujah, and told to go find a base of operations for a sniper team. He found a perfectly suited abandoned house.

Or so he thought. The mission was just getting started when another Iraqi interpreter brought urgent advice: Call it off. In Iraq, the interpreters were the only ones who could move effortlessly between the worlds.

This one had learned something. The next day, an infantry platoon inspected the house. A thin, almost invisible strand of trip wire was across the entrance, attached to an explosive device on a drum of oil. Had it not been for the interpreter, Knezek would have been blown to pieces if he was lucky. Otherwise he would have been burned to death.

"My entire team could have been killed. But I wasn't, and we weren't, because of an Iraqi interpreter."

A man, that is, who Trump wouldn't allow into this country today. That was nearly a decade ago. David Knezek is now a college graduate and a legislator.

What does he think about Trump's order banning people? "This makes America less safe," he said without hesitation.

"I look at this through a lens of national security. This will inevitably be a recruiting tool for ISIS. They tell people we hate them, and that America can't be trusted. We promised those who helped us we'd give them asylum if needed."

He knows Trump is claiming this is all in the interest of national security. "But he isn't extending the ban to any of the nations where any of the September 11 terrorists was born."

No, this is more clown show. Look for the eventual price of admission to be high indeed.

Tamping down your taxes

Were you aware that tampons and sanitary napkins are seen as a luxury item, not a necessity? Believe it or not, that's the case under Michigan law.

Tampons, unlike pure necessities like erectile dysfunction drugs, are therefore subject to both a luxury ("use") tax as well as the Michigan sales tax. "Guess there weren't a lot of women sitting around the table when they decided that," State Rep. Winnie Brinks, (D-Grand Rapids), told me dryly.

Now, in the interest of fairness, Brinks and Knezek have introduced identical bills to repeal this tax.

"This may not be a big savings, but it could mean several thousand dollars to me and my daughters over the 30 to 40 years we need these products," she told me.

The two lawmakers estimate the total cost to the state at $5 million a year, which shouldn't make a noticeable dent in the state's nearly $10 billion general fund. The question is whether enough GOP lawmakers will agree to do the right thing.

Hard to believe they wouldn't. But any of them who think the luxury tax is justified might suggest that women who don't want to pay it use some old rags or dried leaves instead.

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