The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Remember the American tourism industry?

Travel site Frommer's reports that foreign travel to the U.S. has plummeted since the inauguration, for obvious reasons:

[T]he prestigious Travel Weekly magazine (as close to an “official” travel publication as they come) has set the decline in foreign tourism at 6.8%. And the fall-off is not limited to Muslim travelers, but also extends to all incoming foreign tourists. Apparently, an attack on one group of tourists is regarded as an assault on all.

As far as travel by distinct religious groups, flight passengers from the seven Muslim-majority nations named by Trump were down by 80% in the last week of January and first week of February, according to Forward Keys, a well-known firm of travel statisticians. On the web, flight searches for trips heading to the U.S. out of all international locations was recently down by 17%.

A drop of that magnitude, if continued, would reduce the value of foreign travel within the U.S. by billions of dollars. And the number of jobs supported by foreign tourists and their expenditures in the United States—and thus lost—would easily exceed hundreds of thousands of workers in hotels, restaurants, transportation, stores, tour operations, travel agencies, and the like.

Wow, didn't see that one coming. But hey, with the euro at $1.05 and Sterling at $1.24, maybe it's time to check airfares?

Stand by your man

Five U.S. representatives out of Illinois' 20-member Congressional delegation are trying real hard to support President Trump's ban on Muslims entering the U.S. and still sound like Americans. Peter Roskam (R-6th), Mike Bost (R-12th), Rodney Davis (R-13th), and John Shimkus (R-15th) have all made statements NPR says "support" the ban; Adam Kinzinger (R-16th) is "unclear." All but Roskam represent large rural districts where you can probably count the Muslims on one hand. Roskam, who represents the northwest and western suburbs of Chicago, is in the "support" column despite making no sense when he said, "By being provocative and by provoking action he’s stirred up a lot of things. But here’s what we know, the country is safer this morning than it was 72 hours ago."

All of our Democratic representatives and both Democratic Senators clearly opposed the ban.

In fact, nationally, every Representative and Senator in favor of the ban—154 in all—is Republican; every Democrat save 3 is opposed, with one making no statement and two being "unclear." Fully 112 Republicans whiffed on the question.

So there you have it: a deeply unpopular president signs a deeply unpopular executive order and we get a little more partisan as a country. Which, if I understand the administration correctly now, was entirely the point.

Wonder why this strategy hasn't been tried before

The fallout from Friday's executive order halting some immigration continues to rain down on Washington, and no one has emerged unscathed. Medium still thinks it's the beginning of an executive-branch coup against the rest of the U.S. government, and that Bannon on the NSC is the real news. They have some good points, but for now I'm going to go with Brian Beutler's analysis: it's incompetence, not (entirely) malice:

The early days of Trump’s presidency, and the humiliating rollout of the anti-refugee order in particular, show Trump internalized none of [Obama's advice].

A great deal of reporting backs up the claim that the most ideologically extreme members of the administration cobbled the order together without external input, but the scapegoating is an effective admission that Trump signs whatever is put in front of him, without reading or understanding it. The incentive for ambitious operators within the administration is thus to do whatever’s necessary to get unvetted orders and choices before the president by any possible means, so they become national policy before sensible people can intervene.

Heeding Obama’s advice might have helped Trump avoid making an obvious and monumental error, but Trump either lacks the capacity to run the government in an orderly fashion or intentionally discarded Obama’s recommendations, or both. When reality quickly asserted itself, as Obama promised it would, Trump claimed (out of ignorance or malicious dishonesty) that he was merely reprising “ what President Obama did in 2011 when he banned visas for refugees from Iraq for six months”—a “ban” that quite literally never happened.

Meanwhile, Trump firing acting Attorney General Sally Yates surprised no one, least of all Yates. And her action, while well within her authority as AG, was at the same time a deliberate finger in President Trump's eye. But the White House statement announcing her departure still managed to break another norm of government and simultaneously diminish both the President and his office another notch.

This is only Day 11. In just a few hours, the President will announce his first supreme court nominee with all the pizzazz of a reality show. It'll make him happy, for a moment. And then the nominee will reach the Senate. Should be fun.

Yes, I really did pay money for this

I'm in the Ancestral Homeland on a my last-ditch effort to maintain American Airlines Platinum status for 2016. If that sounds bizarre and pointless to you, then you have some empathy for the UK Border Force agent who interviewed me for fifteen minutes this morning.

Usually my UK entry interviews are about ninety seconds. I'm here four times a year, I always go home, and...well, that's basically all they've ever been concerned about. Until today, for the 23 years I've been visiting the UK, I have never had any trouble entering the country.

Today, however, we went several rounds on the theme "wait, you paid money to come here for one day?" Yes. I really did. I needed 6,149 elite-qualifying miles to keep my status, and the round-trip from Chicago to London is 7,906. Plus, it's London, a city I love dearly and would live in if circumstances and HM Customs and Immigration allowed.

So, I'm in, and I have a new note in my Border Force dossier now that includes things like, I have £99 in my pocket, and no official reason to be in the UK other than tourism. This may have an impact on my Registered Traveler application, which may now be rejected. The Border Force website says tourism is a totally valid reason for Registered Traveler status; but the agent in booth 34 this morning disagrees.

It's sad, really, because so far for the last 25 years all I've ever done in the UK is spend money and return home a few days later. Of course, I'll still visit, but who likes being rejected?