• Trump Denounces Anti-Semitism, Sort Of
• Trump and McMaster Don't See Eye to Eye on Key Issues
• McMaster Will Require Senate Confirmation
• Trump's Streak of Falsehoods Has Lasted 33 Days
• Town Halls Becoming a Real Hornet's Nest
• Yiannopoulos Resigns from Breitbart News
• Protest Trump by Withholding Taxes?
President Donald Trump is starting to carry through on his plan to deport millions of undocumented immigrants. The Dept. of Homeland Security issued instructions to immigration officers yesterday to put teeth in Trump's plans. The bottom line is that any undocumented immigrant who has been convicted of a crime will now be deported (if they can be located), rather than only those who had committed a serious crime. In addition, legal immigrants who have committed a crime or who have even committed acts that might be viewed as criminal can be deported. One particular act that will be targeted is driving without a license. Many undocumented immigrants drive even though they don't have drivers' licenses. If one is stopped for a traffic infraction, deportation could follow. To enforce the new rules, the DHS will hire 10,000 new immigration officers.
Mexico is already fuming at the new guidance and will no doubt tell this to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, who are arriving there today for talks. One of the topics will no doubt be how the deportations will happen. During President Eisenhower's "Operation Wetback," U.S. immigration officials drove buses full of undocumented immigrants into the middle of the Mexican desert, pushed them out of the bus, and drove home. That won't fly any more, so Mexico's cooperation is needed to make the process work. Another topic of discussion is what to do about people who are citizens of some Central American country, traveled by land to the U.S., snuck over the border, and got caught in the act. Mexico is very unlikely to be willing to accept them since they are not Mexican citizens. Tillerson and Kelly will have their work cut out for them.
It is likely that the Democrats will scream at the expansion of the deportations, but it is equally likely that Trump's base will cheer him on for actually fulfilling a key campaign promise. Undoubtedly there will be lawsuits, but they may not get traction because undocumented immigrants don't have a lot of rights to start with, and those who have committed crimes have even fewer. Even legal immigrants who have been convicted of crimes are in a very weak position as the government can probably withdraw their visas and order them to leave immediately.
On one aspect of the deportation policy, Trump has the country on his side. A new Harris/Harvard poll shows that 80% of voters oppose sanctuary cities. These people believe that when the police have arrested someone for whatever reason and discover that the arrestee is an undocumented immigrant, they should be required to turn that person over to federal authorities for deportation. Trump has said that cities that don't comply will lose federal funding. (V)
President Trump has had many opportunities to denounce the wave of anti-Semitic acts that have swept the country since his election. He's danced around those opportunities, however, up to and including issuing a Holocaust Remembrance Day proclamation that made no reference to the Jewish people. Finally, on Tuesday, while visiting the National African American Museum, he read a prepared statement that concluded thusly:
The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are painful and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil.
In some quarters, Trump's statement was well received. However, most observers were underwhelmed, seeing the statement as too little and too late. For example, Steven Goldstein, executive director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, was not feeling much mutual respect for the President, and posted an acerbic statement to Facebook:
His statement today is a pathetic asterisk of condescension after weeks in which he and his staff have committed grotesque acts and omissions reflecting Antisemitism, yet day after day have refused to apologize and correct the record. Make no mistake: The Antisemitism coming out of this Administration is the worst we have ever seen from any Administration.
In the end, the fact of the matter is that nearly everyone has decided where Trump stands vis-a-vis anti-Semitism, and nothing he says or does is likely to change too many minds on this subject. (Z)
Donald Trump's new national security adviser, Lt. Gen. Herbert McMaster, is known for his sharp intellect and willingness to speak truth to power. On several major issues, McMaster holds views contrary to Trump's, so some conflict is inevitable. First comes the issue of Islamic militancy. Trump's view is that Islam is the source of terrorism. He has also promised to bomb ISIS into oblivion. McMaster's views are much more nuanced. He understands the difference between Sunnis and Shiites and doesn't believe that the religion of Islam is the fundamental problem. He is also not a fan of using military force unless it is really needed.
A second area in which he and Trump are not on the same page is Russia. Trump sees Russia as a friend; McMaster sees it as an adversary. In particular, McMaster sees Russia's annexation of Crimea and support for Ukrainian rebels as an attempt to destabilize the world and make it easier for Russia to operate as it pleases. It is unlikely that he will support dropping sanctions on Russia, for example, which could put him on a collision course with Trump. (V)
Typically, the National Security Advisor does not require Senate consent. Michael Flynn, for example, was simply installed in the job by Donald Trump, and did not have to withstand any scrutiny. Whether or not the administration was served by not having him go through a vetting process is open to discussion.
For Lt. Gen. Herbert McMaster, however, the situation is a little different. Unlike Flynn, he is still on active duty. Further, he holds three-star rank. Military rules dictate that anytime an officer of three-star or higher rank changes posts, the Senate must approve the transfer. This leaves McMaster with three options. The first is to request permission to assume his new post. Barring unexpected surprises, the vetting will likely be fairly minimal, and he will get broad bipartisan support. The alternatives are to request a reduction in rank or to retire from active duty. The former would mean less pay and prestige; the latter would mean ending a career that McMaster clearly does not want to conclude yet. So, Senate approval it is. (Z)
One of baseball's most sacred records is Joe DiMaggio's streak of getting a hit in 56 consecutive games. Donald Trump is also on a streak of sorts now: He has told a falsehood on 33 consecutive days. In 3 weeks, his streak could pass DiMaggio's. The data come from a terrific new project of the Washington Post's fact checker, Glenn Kessler. During his streak, Trump has made 132 false statements, for an average of four a day. Nearly two-thirds of his claims were rated with Four Pinocchios, meaning "pants on fire lies."
Will these falsehoods hurt Trump? Probably not. A recent Fox News poll showed that 45% of the people have more trust in his administration than in the media, whereas 42% trust the media more. The large amount of distrust of the media, coupled with Trump's active attempts to discredit them, probably means that people who like him will continue to believe him and people who don't like him will continue to believe he lies constantly. (V)
Republican members of Congress who hold town halls these days invariably find themselves accosted by a swarm of angry anti-Trump constituents who want answers on the repeal of Obamacare, travel bans, and the like. Just this week, Sens. Joni Ernst (R-IA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Reps. Steve Womack (R-AR) and Dave Brat (R-VA) all got the treatment. Meanwhile, representatives from Colorado, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Maryland all pushed the eject button on town halls at the last minute when they saw the audiences they would have to face.
Donald Trump, who does not seem to have met any expression of democracy that he actually likes, has lashed out about these incidents, taking to Twitter to declare, "The so-called angry crowds in home districts of some Republicans are actually, in numerous cases, planned out by liberal activists. Sad!" Trump has no evidence for this, of course. Further, this kind of central organizing would be expensive and difficult to execute—if just one Trump loyalist were to be recruited for such efforts, they would run to Breitbart or some other outlet. Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) was particularly critical of Trump's "thesis," using Twitter to retort: "They are our fellow Americans with legitimate concerns. We need to stop acting so fragile. I'm proud to defend liberty and the Constitution."
In any event, as The Hill's Scott Wong and Christa Marcos point out, the protests are creating a real dilemma for members who face a re-election campaign in 2018. If they spend hours in front of a hostile crowd, there is significant risk of making a major misstep and becoming the next YouTube sensation. Todd "legitimate rape" Akin and George "macaca" Allen are among those who made career-ending errors at town hall-style events, and they both did it before everyone and their mother was carrying a smartphone with a video camera. The alternative to facing hostile crowds is to avoid holding town halls, perhaps replacing them with online events, or small panels, or the like. The problems with this are twofold: (1) it deprives members of an important tool for engaging constituents and rallying voter support, and (2) it opens them up to charges that they are cowards, afraid to face the people. Even Rich Lowry, the editor of the conservative National Review, is warning Republicans that the ongoing protests look like a mirror image of the tea party protests of 2009, which ended badly for the Democrats when the Republicans swept Congress a year later. Lowry is telling Republicans to pay attention and address their concerns, such as agreeing on an alternative to the ACA that won't lead to millions of people losing their health insurance.
The good news for the 468 members of Congress (435 representatives, 33 senators) who may decide to run for re-election in 2018 is that there's still time. If Trump's approval among Democrats starts to rise, or his approval among Republicans starts to sink, then they will at least know whether to run an "I'm with Trump" campaign, or a "Don't blame me" campaign. (Z)
White nationalist and anti-Semite Milo Yiannopoulos has resigned his position as senior editor of Breitbart News following the revelation that he once supported pedophilia. However, he also said that he is not changing his tune, it's just that he won't be spewing his hate under the Breitbart banner going forward. He is looking for another outlet. In addition, when his publisher dropped plans to publish his book Dangerous, he said he will publish it some other way. In short, Yiannopoulos is not raising a white flag at all. He is simply looking for new ways to get his message across. (V)
Donald Trump has, without question, triggered more protest activity than any other first-month president. Now, some anti-Trump folks think they have come up with a particularly excellent way to fight back: Stop paying taxes. It's a win-win, right? Fight back against Trump and keep all that extra money (or donate it to a more worthy cause). Andrew Newman, who is among those thinking along those lines, explains:
My tax money will be going towards putting up a wall on the Mexican border instead of helping sick people. It will contribute to the destruction of the environment and maybe more nuclear weapons. I think there will be a redistribution of wealth from the middle class to the wealthy elite and Trump's campaign for the working man and woman was an absolute fraud. If you pay taxes you are implicated in the system.
This sounds great in theory, but in practice, it's nonsense. If the IRS actually allowed such protests, they would soon discover that approximately 100% of the Americans who pay taxes had found something to protest. If Newman (or anyone else) actually follows through, they will either be sent to prison (less likely) or have the missing taxes garnished from their wages, with penalties and interest added (much more likely).
Of considerably more interest is an idea being bandied about in California: Organized non-compliance orchestrated by the state government. Gov. Jerry Brown (D), et. al., foresee a day where federal funding for various programs is cut as a penalty for shielding undocumented immigrants or for other behaviors. They are studying ways to fight back and stop the flow of money from California to D.C., which could include telling citizens not to pay their federal taxes. This would actually be a net gain for the Golden State, fiscally, since they are one of the biggest "giver" states—for every $1.00 they send to the federal government, they get back about 80 cents in benefits.
It is impossible to say how serious such talk is, or to predict what would happen if California (or other blue states) tried to pull this stunt. There's no doubt that it would be illegal (the Civil War settled that question), but how would Trump force California back into compliance? He would have already cut off funding, so that's off the table. Would he be willing to use armed force? And, if so, how would he use it—sending solders door to door to force people to fill out tax returns? Would California fight back? In any event, it's not a great sign for the republic that Trump is barely into his second month, and there's already talk of open rebellion. (Z)Email a link to a friend or share:
---The Votemaster and Zenger
Feb21 New Travel Ban is Coming
Feb21 Milo Yiannopoulos Disinvited from CPAC Conference
Feb21 More on the Election Results
Feb21 Republicans Lose Some Top-Tier Senate Candidates
Feb21 Kansas State Legislature Rolls Back Income Tax Cuts
Feb21 Britons Don't Want Trump
Feb21 Trump Golfs, Tries to Hide It
Feb20 Trump Administration Plans to Speed Deportations
Feb20 Another Day, Another Non-Existent Terrorist Attack
Feb20 Trump Searching for New National Security Advisor
Feb20 Trump about to Discover that Dealing with China Isn't So Easy
Feb20 Could Trump Jail Reporters Who Publish Leaks?
Feb20 Why Should America Trust You?
Feb20 Impeach President Bannon Signs Appear around the Country
Feb19 Trump Continues to Ignore the Grown-Ups in His Cabinet
Feb19 Priebus Is All In on Trump
Feb19 Keep an Eye on Mike Pence
Feb19 Trump Retreats from Governing, Goes Back to Campaigning
Feb19 Trump Travel Costs Skyrocketing
Feb19 Trump's Pick for Navy Secretary Reportedly About to Withdraw
Feb19 Milo Yiannopoulos Will Be Keynote Speaker at CPAC Conference
Feb18 Senate Confirms Pruitt
Feb18 Business and Politics Keep Colliding
Feb18 Ryan's Tax Plan Is Running into Trouble
Feb18 Veteran John McCain is Back at War--with Donald Trump
Feb18 Russian Headache Getting Worse for Trump
Feb18 Could Mark Sanford Tell Trump to Take a Hike?
Feb18 Score Settling Continues as Trump Administration Staffs Up
Feb17 Trump Holds a Chaotic News Conference
Feb17 Harward Says, No Thanks
Feb17 Trump Names Alexander Acosta to be Secretary of Labor
Feb17 Mike Dubke Chosen as Communications Director
Feb17 Publications Are Offering Ways to Provide Tips Anonymously
Feb17 Chaffetz Gets to Work
Feb17 Current Wall is Full of Holes
Feb16 Puzder Withdraws Nomination
Feb16 Trump Picks Harward for NSA
Feb16 Who Told Flynn to Talk to the Russians?
Feb16 What Is Pence's Role Now and Going Forward?
Feb16 Trump Says Palestinian State Not Needed
Feb16 Trump Rambles in Press Conference
Feb16 Bannon v. Breitbart
Feb16 Anyone's a Candidate for Office These Days. Anyone.
Feb15 What Did the President Know and When Did He Know It?
Feb15 More Russian Headaches for Trump
Feb15 Perez Claims to Have 180 of the 224 Votes Needed to Be Elected DNC Chairman
Feb15 Hillary 2020?
Feb15 House Freedom Caucus Throws Up a Roadblock to Repealing the ACA
Feb15 Puzder Told Ex-Wife: I Will See You in the Gutter