Author: Editorial Board

Trump wants new ‘extreme vetting’ for immigrants. That might be a waste of time.

By Editorial Board, NO ONE is certain how President-elect Donald Trump intends to stiffen restrictions on immigrants and visitors to the United States, or what he means by “extreme vetting,” though there is little doubt he will try to tighten screening for many applying from Muslim countries. What is clear is that beefed-up federal laws, rules, systems, programs and technology have added substantial layers of scrutiny for virtually every foreigner who has entered the country in recent years. Americans deserve to know that those entering the country have been screened carefully, but it will be difficult for Mr. Trump to fashion an even more muscular inspection and monitoring regimen without subjecting visitors and immigrants to outright religious profiling. The advances in federal capabilities were highlighted last week when the Obama administration officially dismantled one post-Sept. 11 screening program, which seemed tough when it was enacted, because it had become obsolete. The program, known as the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, was in use for nine years before being suspended in 2011, largely because other, newer systems had proved more effective at tracking and monitoring foreign travelers before and after they entered the country. While it was in use, NSEERS entailed registering some 180,000 teenage boys and men from 25 countries, most of them Muslim — subjecting them to fingerprinting, interrogations and, in some cases, periodic visits from federal agents....

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Fake guns are getting people killed

By Editorial Board, “WE’RE TALKING about this 26 years later, and I’m not sure anything has really changed except that tragic occurrences continue to happen.” So commented Chuck Wexler of the Police Executive Research Forum about fatal police shootings involving people with toy, air and replica guns. That Mr. Wexler’s comments were made to reporters undertaking what amounts to the first real study of this issue in decades speaks volumes about the lack of progress in coming up with solutions to this problem. And that underscores the need to break the stranglehold the national gun lobby has managed to place on scientific research into gun violence. As part of its ongoing examination of fatal shootings by police started in 2015, The Post examined what police across the country say are increasing faceoffs against people with toy or replica guns that are so realistic they look identical to real weapons. At least 86 people over the past two years were killed in these encounters, according to the “Fatal Force” report, the first accounting since a study in 1990, when Congress last addressed the issue. Other revelations from the Post report: Mental illness was a common theme, white men were the majority of victims, and the calls included domestic disturbances, robberies and neighborhood patrols. Some cases were heartbreaking, such as the mentally distraught 52-year-old killed in front of his family and...

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Metro isn’t just broken. It’s also broke.

By Editorial Board, FOR ALL intents and purposes, Metro is broke. Every few months, it revises upward its projected deficits in operating cash and capital needs, each time to heights dizzyingly beyond the political and fiscal wherewithal of its funding partners, the District, Maryland and Virginia. At each juncture, the partners’ response is a variation on a familiar theme whose essence is: No can do. This is what a “death spiral” — the now numbingly familiar term first applied to Metro more than a decade ago — looks like. To resemble anything like a fully functional 21st-century transit system, Metro’s needs exceed its forecast revenue by hundreds of millions of dollars over the next three budget years, cumulatively. Band-Aids may be found in the next couple of years. But the problem balloons violently in the fiscal year starting in fall 2019, when each jurisdiction will be asked to pony up tens of millions of dollars more for Metro than previously advertised (a little more for the District; slightly less for Maryland and Virginia). Those jumps would likely exceed the entire annual increase in sales tax revenue collected by Maryland, or by Virginia, or by the District. That might be plausible, barely, if none of Metro’s funding partners had other priorities, such as public schools, police, parks and pensions. In the real world, an annual, ongoing funding jump of tens...

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The new OMB’s director’s first order of business? Standing up to Trump.

By Editorial Board, AS THE federal government has grown, so has the power and responsibility of the White House-based agency charged with keeping tabs on spending, revenue and regulation. The director of that agency, the Office of Management and Budget, is much more than the president’s bean-counter; he or she is a key player on policy, as well as, traditionally, the voice of fiscal responsibility both within the executive branch and in the public arena. OMB director looks to be an especially challenging post under Donald Trump, because the president-elect has sent highly mixed fiscal signals. Specifically, he has promised large tax cuts and a 10-year, $1 trillion infrastructure program, while also pledging to leave Medicare and Social Security untouched. That leaves very little in the way of credible options to keep yet another promise: curbing the national debt. Is Mr. Trump’s choice for the OMB up to the job? Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) is certainly outspoken about fiscal discipline, having joined fellow members of the tea party and the House Freedom Caucus in repeatedly warning against deficits — and in using the federal debt ceiling as a bargaining chip over the issue during the Obama administration. This struggle, which included the 16-day partial government shutdown in 2013, might not have been necessary if Mr. Mulvaney and company had conceded that achieving fiscal stability necessarily involves increased revenue as opposed to...

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Satellite photos are worth more than a thousand unreliable words from China

By Editorial Board, IN THE White House Rose Garden on Sept. 25, 2015, President Xi Jinping stood with President Obama and pledged that “China does not intend to pursue militarization” on outcroppings in the disputed waters of the South China Sea. Other top Chinese officials echoed this promise over the past year, even as airstrips were paved and military exercises carried out offshore. The Asian Maritime Transparency Initiative of the Center for Strategic and International Studies has just published satellite photography showing that China is, contrary to Mr. Xi’s pledge, militarizing the Paracel and Spratly islands. It has installed point-defense structures for large anti-aircraft guns and close-in weapons systems to defend against cruise missiles. The images reveal identical hexagon-shaped structures constructed this year, which could be supplemented at any time by mobile surface-to-air missile systems if, as expected, the islands are turned into operational air bases. China claims the weapons are defensive; it described the emplacements as a “slingshot” to ward off a “cocky and swaggering” stranger “at the door of your home.” The message was clearly aimed at the United States. Whether defensive or offensive, the deployments reveal Mr. Xi’s public promises to a U.S. president to be worthless — something that may be more disturbing and dangerous than the arms themselves. The weapons are just the latest step in China’s drive to take military command of vital...

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Tweets are a dangerous way to deal with China

By Editorial Board, FULLY SEVEN weeks before he is due to take office, President-elect Donald Trump launched what looked like an offensive against China beginning last week. First came a precedent-breaking phone call with the president of Taiwan; then came a series of tweets assailing China’s trade and currency policies and its buildup in the South China Sea. Mr. Trump’s rhetoric was not new, and his apparent strategy of pushback against the regime of Xi Jinping has some merit. What’s worrying is the evident lack of preparation and diplomatic care in the initiative, as well as the unintended consequences it may produce. On Friday, in a move that was reportedly planned, Mr. Trump took a congratulatory phone call from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, breaking with decades of U.S. policy. When the United States formally opened diplomatic relations with China in 1979, Taiwan was relegated to nondiplomatic status, which has meant arms sales and support but not phone calls or meetings at the highest level. China views Taiwan as a breakaway province and has always been hypersensitive to any quiver in its standing in the world, and especially its ties to the United States. The phone call predictably raised alarms in Beijing. By itself, a courtesy call does not seem so earthshaking to us, given that Taiwan is a thriving democracy with a vibrant civil society and is an important...

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Virginia’s would-be deporter-in-chief

By Editorial Board, “IF YOU’RE an illegal alien in Prince William County, I’d get out,” Corey Stewart, the top local official there, recommended after the victory of Donald Trump. Once Mr. Trump takes office, added Mr. Stewart, who was Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman in Virginia until shortly before the election, “we’re going to find out where each and every one of these guys is, and we’re going to hunt them down and we’re going to deport them.” Notwithstanding Mr. Stewart’s unbridled enthusiasm for transforming Prince William, a suburban jurisdiction of nearly 450,000, into a game reserve whose quarry is undocumented immigrants, his incendiary rhetoric is unlikely to curry much favor with voters around the state. That may matter to him, since he is in active pursuit of Virginia’s Republican gubernatorial nomination ahead of next year’s elections. Mr. Stewart, a xenophobe with a disdain for facts, was chosen as Mr. Trump’s state chairman late last year, but proved too radioactive even for the campaign, which dumped him a few weeks before the election. In the end, Virginia was one of the few states where Mr. Trump fared worse than Mitt Romney in 2012. Having proven itself inhospitable ground for Mr. Trump’s nativist campaign rhetoric, Virginia may take no more kindly to Mr. Stewart’s. Throughout his political career in Prince William, he has evinced a fondness for pressing bombast, often on the theme of...

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Mr. Trump, let journalists do their job

By Editorial Board, When Turkish editor Can Dündar was thrown into solitary confinement last year for publishing news that embarrassed the government, he discovered that not only cellphones and laptops but even flowers and colored pens were forbidden. Now Mr. Dündar is in exile, but scores of his compatriots are still locked up — Turkey is “the world’s biggest prison for journalists,” he noted last week — and Turkey is hardly alone. “Virtually every corner of the Earth is now threatened by the rise of nationalist, authoritarian factions that seek to destroy diversity and replace it with a gray, concrete cell.” Mr. Dündar was honored by the Committee to Protect Journalists in a ceremony in Manhattan last week that was more warning than celebration. Around the world, journalists are being killed, imprisoned and threatened for doing their jobs — and while they pay the most direct price for their courage, people everywhere suffer when their governments can no longer be held to account. As another honoree, Malini Subramaniam, told us during a recent visit to The Post, “The government would rather keep it all quiet.” Ms. Subramaniam was referring to the conflict she has sought to illuminate in the east-central Indian state of Chhattisgarh. When she wrote about sexual assaults and unjustified shootings by security forces, she found herself and her daughter under threat and forced to flee. So,...

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