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TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  Green-Card Holders Refused Readmission to the U.S.
      •  Fallout from Trump's Order Is Swift
      •  Jews Speak Out Against Trump
      •  Trump Signs Three More Executive Orders
      •  Trump's Approval Rating is Sinking
      •  Trump Apparently Uses Unsecured Phone

Green-Card Holders Refused Readmission to the U.S.

President Trump's order not to allow people from seven majority-Muslim countries to enter the U.S. is being applied to holders of U.S. "green cards" who were temporarily abroad and are now trying to return to the U.S. These people are permanent residents of the U.S. and have a legal right to enter the country. The first lawsuit has already been filed and many more will follow.

Some travelers were told they could not board U.S.-bound flights and others who were in the air when the order was signed were refused entrance by immigration officials when their planes landed. Numerous tech companies have loudly complained that the ban affects some of their employees who were away on business. Apple CEO Tim Cook, for example, blasted Trump and quoted Martin Luther King, Jr., saying: "We may have all come on different ships, but we are in the same boat now."

A year ago, Vice President Mike Pence called Trump's proposed ban on Muslims "offensive and unconstitutional." Of course, that was before Trump picked Pence as his running mate and long before he was elected vice president. But when Trump announced the ban on Friday, Pence stood behind him and clapped. Although they didn't clap when Trump announced the ban, neither Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) nor Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have criticized it. Other Republicans, including Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), said that the order overreached and undermines the Constitution.

Trump has asserted that a 1952 law gives him the authority to "suspend the entry of any class of aliens" that the president finds detrimental to the interest of the United States. However, in 1965, Congress passed a law taking this power away from the president, plainly stating that no person could be "discriminated against in the issuance of an immigrant visa because of the person's race, sex, nationality, place of birth, or place of residence." In a New York Times op-ed Friday, David Bier of the Cato Institute, an expert on immigration law, said that Trump's ban is clearly in violation of the 1965 law.

In addition, green-card holders clearly have a legal right to live in the United States. That's what a green card means: permission to live in the United States. Needless to say, Trump's executive order is going to reach the Supreme Court sooner or later, probably sooner. While it is obviously speculative at this point, there is a real possibility that the Supreme Court will declare the ban illegal and a real possibility that Trump will defy the Court and say he has no intention of backing down. That's where it gets dicey. Would the House impeach him? Would the Senate convict? If the answer to either of those is no, is the rule of law dead? Stay tuned. (V)

Fallout from Trump's Order Is Swift

After announcing his order denying travelers from seven countries entry into the U.S., Donald Trump insisted that his administration was "totally prepared" to implement the order, and that all was well. These would appear to be examples of "alternative facts," since it is hard to imagine how things could have gone worse.

To start with, officials from the Department of Homeland Security have already made clear that they opposed the ban, and that Trump issued his order over their explicit objections. Once it became official, confusion reigned, as staffers tried to figure out what countries were covered, and at what point the order took effect. For example, did the ban cover people already in the air when Trump made his announcement, or was it only those who departed afterward? DHS officials noted, curtly, that Trump did not take time to consult with the Office of Legal Counsel, the Justice Department office that gives the White House advice on the legality of its actions.

Meanwhile, for someone who is very much aware of the value of headlines and photo-ops, Trump got very unlucky in terms of the first individuals to be subjected to the order. His ideal situation would have been for the first few detainees to be wild-eyed young men, ideally with long beards and dark skin and maybe turbans. Instead, it was a pair of Iraqis who risked their lives to help the U.S. Army topple Saddam Hussein, and were granted refugee status. Oops. Not long thereafter, a family of Syrian Christians, who fled their home country in fear of their lives, was nabbed. They were given the choice of being held by authorities or leaving the country. With a poor understanding of English, and thus of their options, they chose the latter before an attorney could come to their rescue. As of late Saturday night, they were on a flight to Doha, Qatar. Double oops. Needless to say, these various individuals are not who Trump was hoping for as the "face" of the supposedly dangerous hordes he was protecting America against.

It is clear that Donald Trump (and whoever else was advising him) clearly did not think through all the implications of the order. And as events unfolded on Sunday, other significant issues became evident. As noted above, people with green cards have a legal right to enter the United States. It does not seem that Trump realized exactly how many people would be affected by that part of the order, but now the math has been done: Over 500,000 people traveling abroad would not be able to return. Similarly, there is the sticky issue of people with dual citizenship. As the order currently stands, a British national who also happens to hold, say, Syrian citizenship would be banned. A smaller problem, but one likely to be a source of great annoyance to Trump, is that Oscar nominee Asghar Farhadi, an Iranian, is covered by the ban, and so could be unable to attend the Academy Awards ceremony next month. At this point, whether Farhadi is there or not, we can be 100% certain that the subject will come up during the ceremony, which reaches hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Given how unhappy Trump was with the verbiage at the Golden Globes, a far less consequential event, he is likely to blow a gasket on February 26.

The international response to Trump's actions was predictably rapid. Human rights organizations around the world denounced the move, as did leaders around the globe, including the leaders of most of the affected countries. Iran, for its part, has already responded with a ban on American entry into their country. While that move may please Trump and some Republicans in the short term, heightened tensions with Iran cannot be good in the medium or long term. If the President is hoping to improve on Barack Obama's deal with the country, it will be considerably harder (or impossible) if Iran's leadership is openly hostile to The Donald.

The domestic response to Trump's order was also fierce. Democratic politicians took to Twitter and other platforms to register their outrage. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) tweeted: "To my colleagues: don't ever again lecture me on American moral leadership if you chose to be silent today," while House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) declared that, "This administration has mistaken cruelty for strength and prejudice for strategy." Meanwhile, thousands of protesters descended on the nation's airports to express their opposition to the ban. That makes two weekends in a row that Sunday papers will be filled with pictures of anti-Trump crowds. In addition, concerned members of the professoriate launched a petition excoriating Trump. Within 24 hours, they had collected signatures from nearly 5,000 academics, including more than two dozen Nobel laureates.

At the same time, quite a few observers began to ask uncomfortable questions about the order. For example, "How, exactly, is this making America safer?" In response to this query, a senior Trump administration official used the example of the San Bernardino shootings to illustrate the type of violence the President intended to put a stop to. The problem is that the perpetrators of that incident would not have been covered by the new executive order. In fact, all of the perpetrators of domestic Muslim terrorism in the United States have been American citizens or legal residents. And, on top of that, none of them were Syrian. This leads to another uncomfortable question: "Why those seven countries?" If one is trying to make a list of countries where hostility to America runs high among Muslims, one might begin with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Lebanon. Those are the home nations of the 9/11 attackers. Turkey is another nation with significant pockets of anti-American sentiment. So why were those nations spared? Well, it may be related to the fact that Trump has ongoing real estate projects in four of the five countries (all but Lebanon).

Finally, the cherry on top of the sundae came late Saturday, when a federal judge granted a stay of portions of Trump's order, instructing the DHS to grant admission to anyone already in the United States, and anyone in transit. DHS officials announced that they will be happy to abide by the judge's order.

Again, it is hard to see how this could have gone worse for Trump. In 24 hours, he's been sharply rebuked by the courts, the American people, the international community, the Democratic opposition, the professoriate, the commentariat, the federal bureaucracy, and the cultural elite. Even if his supporters are gratified to see this list of critics—many of them are groups they love to hate—it will be hard to them to avoid noticing that the rollout of the ban was sloppy and amateurish. The newspapers, websites, blogs, Sunday morning talk shows, etc. are going to be disastrous. Meanwhile, somewhere (presumably in Palm Springs), Barack Obama is smiling and saying, "I told you so." (Z)

Jews Speak Out Against Trump

In addition to all the groups that slammed Donald Trump on Saturday, America's Jewish community singled him out for special criticism. First of all, they were not happy that he issued his ban on refugees on Holocaust Remembrance Day, recalling the Jewish refugees who were turned away from U.S. shores in World War II. In that case, denial of entry proved to be a death sentence.

Jewish folks were also less-than-thrilled with the text of the White House's official statement on Remembrance Day:

It is with a heavy heart and somber mind that we remember and honor the victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust. It is impossible to fully fathom the depravity and horror inflicted on innocent people by Nazi terror.

Yet, we know that in the darkest hours of humanity, light shines the brightest. As we remember those who died, we are deeply grateful to those who risked their lives to save the innocent.

In the name of the perished, I pledge to do everything in my power throughout my Presidency, and my life, to ensure that the forces of evil never again defeat the powers of good. Together, we will make love and tolerance prevalent throughout the world.

Reading it over, one might notice something is missing: Any actual mention of the Jewish people. A White House spokesman claimed that the omission was deliberate, so that the President could recognize all the different groups that were persecuted during the Holocaust without playing favorites. It's possible that Soviet POWs, Serbs, the Romani, Freemasons, Slovenes, Jehovah's Witnesses, twins, and Spanish Republicans are important American constituencies whose story has gone unrecognized too long. Or it's possible that White House adviser Steve Bannon, who has been accused of anti-Semitism more than once, had a hand in crafting the statement and made a point of keeping the Jews out of it. We report, you decide. (Z)

Trump Signs Three More Executive Orders

Yesterday, Donald Trump signed three more executive orders. The first one relates to a plan to reorganize the National Security Council. The second one forbids administration officials from becoming lobbyists for 5 years after leaving government service. It does not ban them from becoming consultants or managers at firms that do lobbying. The third one orders the military to come up with a plan within 30 days for defeating ISIS. After signing the orders, Trump said: "Have a good weekend." It is not likely to be very good for the military officers who have to come up with a plan within 30 days. After all, they have been actively trying to defeat ISIS for years. (V)

Trump's Approval Rating is Sinking

Yesterday, we guessed that the 36% approval rating for Donald Trump reported by Quinnipiac was a bit low, and the 55% approval rating reported by Rasmussen was a bit high. Now, with several additional polls, the picture is becoming clearer. Here are the six results we have:

Reuters/Ipsos: Approve 43, Disapprove 45
Economist/YouGov: Approve 43, Disapprove 39
PPP: Approve 44, Disapprove 44
Quinnipiac: Approve 36, Disapprove 44
Rasmussen Reports: Approve 55, Disapprove 45
Gallup: Approve 42, Disapprove 50
Average: Approve 44, Disapprove 45

The real number, then, appears to be in the mid-40s, and Trump is underwater, at least slightly. Particularly worrisome for him and his administration is that Gallup had him at 45% approval, 45% disapproval on the day he was inaugurated. This means that, in that particular poll, he has lost a net total of 8 points in one week. Not good for the so-called "honeymoon" period, particularly one in which Trump dominated the headlines with bold actions. By way of comparison, Barack Obama's approval rating was in the high 50s at this point in his administration, while his final Gallup numbers last week were 58% approval, 38% disapproval. (Z)

Trump Apparently Uses Unsecured Phone

Acting on an offhand note in a New York Times profile of the new administration, WIRED magazine investigated the phone that Donald Trump is using, and found that it is apparently the same, consumer-grade Android he's carried throughout the campaign. As a practical matter, this is not good. WIRED explains:

All it takes is clicking on one malicious link or opening one untoward attachment—either of which can appear as though it were sent from a trusted source—to compromise the device. From there, the phone could be infected with malware that spies on the network the device is connected to, logs keystrokes, takes over the camera and microphone for surreptitious recording, and more.

The attack may not even be so direct. Many apps request permission to track a phone's location for legitimate purposes, and a hacker could compromise one of these accounts to determine where the phone, and potentially Trump himself, is at any given time.

Though Trump has claimed great expertise in cybersecurity, the available evidence suggests he really has no idea what he's talking about. And so, it is not terribly surprising that he does not know, or does not care, about these issues.

Meanwhile, as a political matter, one cannot help remembering how the Republicans in general, and Trump in particular, railed against Hillary Clinton for her use of an unsecured e-mail server. The news about Donald Trump's phone almost makes it seem like their concern had less to do with the security of the United States, and more to do with smearing Clinton. Perhaps a reporter should check with Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), who wanted to impeach the Secretary due to her e-mail server, and ask if he is preparing charges against Trump.

It should be noted that Trump has been provided with a properly secured device by government officials, but that he is generally unwilling to use it. No doubt he is frustrated by the additional passwords or other annoyances that drag out his thought-to-tweet time. Barack Obama was similarly frustrated by the hassle of using a secure phone, but adapted. As to Trump, the Constitution makes absolutely no mention of cellular phones (and to think that they call the Founding Fathers "visionary"). So, if he wants to use an unsecured phone, nobody can stop him. All the Secret Service, CIA, FBI, etc. can do is cross their fingers and hope for the best. (Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Jan28 Trump Meets Theresa May
Jan28 Trump Issues More Executive Orders
Jan28 Trump's Approval Rating is 36%...Unless it's 55%
Jan28 How Might Mexico Respond to the Wall?
Jan28 Wall Construction 101
Jan28 McCain Will Fight Trump on Lifting Russian Sanctions
Jan28 McConnell: We Are Not Going to Change the Senate Rules
Jan28 What Are Senate Democrats Doing?
Jan27 Fight with Mexico Heats Up
Jan27 Theresa May Meets Donald Today
Jan27 Trump's Staff and Family Registered to Vote in Two States
Jan27 Dow Hits 20,000
Jan27 DeVos Might Be in Trouble
Jan27 Why Does Trump Ask His Staff to Lie?
Jan27 Is Donald Trump Just Plain Crazy?
Jan27 Mar-a-Lago Raises Prices
Jan26 Trump Signs Two Executive Orders
Jan26 Trump Is Preparing More Executive Orders
Jan26 Trump Wants to Investigate Voter Fraud
Jan26 Congressional Republicans to Trump: Get with the Program
Jan26 Trump Says He Wants to Expand Gitmo, Resume Torture
Jan26 Trump's Inaugural Speech Was Well Received
Jan26 Another Path to Trump's Tax Returns
Jan26 Gillibrand 2020?
Jan26 The Clocks Are Striking Thirteen
Jan25 Three Candidates Emerge as Top Contenders for Scalia's Seat
Jan25 Trump Doubles Down on Voter Fraud
Jan25 Trump Administration Continues to Fall into Place
Jan25 Flynn May Not Last
Jan25 Secret Service Agent Wouldn't Take a Bullet for Trump
Jan25 Opponent of Net Neutrality Named FCC Chairman
Jan25 Oil Pipelines Are Back On, Maybe
Jan25 Jerry Brown Declares War on Donald Trump
Jan24 Trump Offers Red Meat to Three Key Constituencies
Jan24 Trump's Actions So Far Are Largely Symbolic
Jan24 McCain, Graham, and Rubio Will Back Tillerson
Jan24 Pompeo is Confirmed
Jan24 CIA Reactions to Trump's Visit are Mixed
Jan24 Trump Harps on Voter Fraud Again
Jan24 Media Are Starting to Call Out Trump on His Lies
Jan24 Did Obama Keep His Promises?
Jan23 Alternative Facts Are the New Normal
Jan23 Trump Aides Find First Weekend Worrisome
Jan23 Trump Temporarily Silences Park Service
Jan23 Trump Invites Netanyahu to the White House
Jan23 Donald Trump, Defendant-in-Chief
Jan23 Conway: No Tax Returns, Ever
Jan23 Zuckerberg 2020?
Jan23 Women's Marches in Pictures
Jan22 Massive Protests All over the Country