• Can Trump Make a Deal with the Democrats on Infrastructure?
• NRA Is Running Ads Against Democratic Senators
• Privacy Vote Not Going over Well
• Majority of Americans Believe Traditional Media Outlets Publish Fake News
• Large Majority of Republicans Think Trump Was Wiretapped
• How Long Can Spicer Last?
The collapse of the AHCA managed to push some of Donald Trump's other setbacks off the front pages, but now one of them is back. When v2.0 of the Muslim travel ban was announced, it was suspended temporarily by US District Court Judge Derrick Watson of Hawaii. Now, at the request of the plaintiffs, the temporary ban has been made indefinite. The injunction will remain in place until the case is resolved or a higher court overrules Watson.
At this point, the ball is in the court of the Justice Dept. They already have an appeal pending in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Now they can appeal Watson's decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, or they can wait for things to play out in the Fourth Circuit. The problem is that Trump really does not want another high-profile defeat, and federal judges aren't stupid—they know a Muslim ban when they see one. In Watson's ruling on Wednesday, he took note of Trump's promises and declarations during the campaign, and wrote, "The Court will not crawl into a corner, pull the shutters closed, and pretend it has not seen what it has seen." While the Fourth Circuit is not as left-leaning as the Ninth, their justices are probably not going to see things much differently. Certainly, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has his work cut out for him if he's going to make this stick. (Z)
Donald Trump seems to have had it with the House Freedom Caucus and is desperate for a victory of some kind, so he is considering making a deal with the Democrats on infrastructure. How likely is that? Not very, according to a piece in the Washington Post. To start with, apparently The Donald never read a book ghostwritten in his name, The Art of the Deal. The book clearly states "the worst thing you can possibly do in a deal is seem desperate to make it." That aside, Democrats now know Trump can't count on getting a majority in the House on anything, which gives them more incentive to hold out for what they consider a good deal. On infrastructure, what they want is for the federal government to pay for upgrading the national infrastructure, with priority given to the most important projects.
In contrast, Trump's plan is to give private companies tax breaks for upgrading infrastructure or building new facilities and then charging users for them, for example, toll roads and bridges. Of course, private companies would only be interested in projects with a high potential for a good payout, regardless of the need. Upgrading LaGuardia Airport might rank high on the list, since a fee could easily be tacked onto the tickets of passengers departing from the airport, but fixing a leaky dam in rural Alabama that is endangering poor people downstream probably wouldn't stand a chance.
While Trump could probably get a deal with the Democrats, it would have to be entirely on the Democrats' terms, meaning that most of the Republicans in Congress would vote against it. If he did this, his base would see him as a traitor, so the idea is probably a nonstarter. As a consequence, infrastructure probably won't be as easy to pass as Trump may think. (V)
The National Rifle Association is already spending millions of dollars to run ads against red-state Democratic senators up for reelection in 2018, pressuring them to vote to confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. The NRA is confident that Gorsuch will be an ally on Second Amendment issues. The ad buy focused on senators Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Jon Tester (D-MT). One Democrat who is not being targeted is Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), in part because Manchin is actually quite pro-gun, but also because he is probably perceived as very tough to knock off since he is so popular in West Virginia.
Even if Donnelly, McCaskill, Heitkamp, Tester, and Manchin vote for cloture, the Republicans would need three more votes to break the expected Democratic filibuster. If the cloture vote falls short, then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will have to count noses to see if he has the votes to change the Senate rules, and if he does, he will have to decide whether to do it or not.
The Hill has compiled a whip list showing that 32 Democratic senators who will definitely vote against Gorsuch with 17 undecided. If nine of those 17 decide to vote against cloture, the cloture motion will fail and McConnell will have to change the rules to get Gorsuch confirmed. (V)
Earlier this week, both houses of Congress voted to strip Americans of the privacy protections they have while they surf the Internet. Under the new rules, which have not yet gone into effect, Internet service providers would be free to collect data on their users and sell it to the highest bidder.
It's only been about 48 hours, but the response has been fierce. The New York Times has blasted the move, as has Breitbart, which may very well make this the only issue those two outlets can agree upon. Privacy advocates are also up in arms, as are consumer advocates, and the tech sector, and the ACLU. There's even a crowdfunding effort to raise money to buy Internet usage data for the members of Congress.
Thus far, President Trump has not signed the measure. Though the White House has signaled support for the new rules, there is also veto pressure from many Trump supporters, who insist that he live up to his campaign promise to stand up for the little guy. If he does sign, then a court challenge or ten are surely coming. Further, if grassroots activists turn up the pressure on their representatives, as with the AHCA, it's possible Congress might think better of their decision. Point is, this isn't over yet. (Z)
A new Monmouth University poll shows that 60% of Americans believe at least some of the news stories published by traditional news outlets are fake, and 40% said they published fake news to push an agenda. Seventeen percent said the fake news was due to inadequate fact checking. Only one-third believe that traditional news outlets do not report fake news.
The partisan breakdown is dramatic, with 55% of Republicans saying traditional media sources reported fake news intentionally to support their agenda. Among independents, 44% believed this. Among Democrats only 24% believed the media ran fake news stories. Republicans were far more likely to trust Trump over ABC and MSNBC, but they trusted Trump and Fox News equally.
Back in the real world, fact checkers have shown that Trump lies over and over. To the extent that his method is to get his supporters to the point that they don't believe any news unless it comes from him or Fox, it has basically succeeded. (V)
A new CBS News poll confirms the above story: Republicans believe whatever Trump tells them, even if it has no basis in fact. In this case, 74% of Republicans believe it is "very" or "somewhat" likely that Trump Tower was wiretapped during election, despite Trump's presenting no evidence of his claim and FBI Director James Comey and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper refuting it. By the same margin, Democrats rejected Trump's claim. We have now clearly arrived at a situation in which Democrats and Republicans have completely contradictory "facts," with little agreement on (or regard for) the truth. (V)
Sean Spicer had a(nother) bad day on Tuesday. American Urban Radio Networks reporter April Ryan asked a question about the Trump-Russia connection, and Spicer began peddling his usual collection of "alternative facts":
No, no. I get it. But I've said it from the day that I got here until whenever that there's not a connection. You've got Russia. If the president puts Russian salad dressing on his salad tonight, somehow that's a Russian connection. I appreciate your agenda here. At some point, report the facts.
Ryan wasn't buying what Spicer was selling, and started shaking her head. So, Spicer ordered her to stop it. Inasmuch as Ryan is both a woman and black, many in the room felt Spicer's response was demeaning, as well as racist and/or sexist.
White House Press Secretaries rarely last four years, so the odds that Spicer hangs around for Donald Trump's entire term are low. And given his performance so far, the odds aren't looking too good that he makes it a whole year, or even that he makes it to the end of June. The White House Press Corps, outside of the occasional Breitbart or Fox News, is disdainful, which limits his effectiveness. Further, Spicer clearly doesn't believe the lies he tells, which means that—unlike his boss—he can't sell the party line effectively. Finally, he's clearly on edge much of the time—what makes Melissa McCarthy's devastating impersonation so effective is that she captures the feeling that Spicer seems almost perpetually on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Add it all up, and he sure looks like a short-timer. (Z)Email a link to a friend or share:
---The Votemaster and Zenger
Mar29 Border Wall Funding Will Be Put on Hold
Mar29 Nelson Will Filibuster Gorsuch
Mar29 "Trump Bump" Turning into "Trump Slump"
Mar29 Manafort May Have Laundered Money in New York Real Estate
Mar29 Congress Wipes Out Internet Privacy
Mar29 Perez Cleans House at DNC
Mar29 Cohn: Clinton Did Not Lose Due to Poor Turnout
Mar29 Trump Won't Throw Out First Pitch of MLB Season
Mar28 Republicans May Be Forced to Scrap Tax Reform and Just Cut Rates
Mar28 Trump Wants to Do Tax Reform and Infrastructure at the Same Time
Mar28 Executive Order on Environment Coming Today
Mar28 Sessions Will Withhold Grants from Sanctuary Cities
Mar28 Trump Requests $1 Billion for Wall
Mar28 Republicans Have an Easy Way to Kill the Affordable Care Act
Mar28 Jon Ossoff Has Raised $3 Million for Georgia Special Election
Mar28 Kushner to Lead "American Innovation" Office
Mar28 Kushner Met with Executives of Russian Bank in December
Mar28 Trump Hits New Low in Gallup Poll
Mar27 Republicans Are Turning on Each Other
Mar27 Victory Has a Thousand Fathers but Defeat Is an Orphan
Mar27 Roger Stone Denies Colluding with the Russians
Mar27 Majority of Americans Want Independent Trump-Russia Investigation
Mar27 Trump Sons Will Give Him Financial Reports
Mar27 Trump Opponents Don't Know What to Do With All Their Money
Mar27 Trump Approves Keystone XL Pipeline
Mar27 Netanyahu-Trump Bromance is Over
Mar27 Kasich Says He's "Out" in 2020
Mar27 Mister Rogers Haunts Trump from Beyond the Grave
Mar26 AHCA Fallout Continues
Mar26 Ryan Is Badly Damaged
Mar26 Path Forward for Trump Will Be Strewn with Big Rocks
Mar26 Will the Affordable Care Act Explode?
Mar26 Flynn May Have Turned Against Trump
Mar26 Deputy Attorney General Nomination Will Move Forward
Mar26 Mnuchin Gives Interesting Interview
Mar25 Who Knew Governing Was so Hard? Obamacare Repeal Fails
Mar25 Trump: I Should Have Done Tax Reform First
Mar25 Investigation of Manafort Now Extends to Cyprus
Mar25 Poll: Americans Don't Want to Deport Undocumented Immigrants
Mar25 Senate Votes to Kill Internet Privacy
Mar25 Canada's Largest School District Will End Trips to U.S.
Mar24 Healthcare Bill Vote Is Canceled Because the Votes Aren't There
Mar24 What Happens Next?
Mar24 Congressional Budget Office Scores the New Healthcare Bill
Mar24 The Koch Brothers Are Trying to Buy "No" Votes on Healthcare Bill
Mar24 Voters Overwhelmingly Oppose AHCA
Mar24 Could This Be the End of the Line for Ryan?
Mar24 Schumer Plans to Filibuster Gorsuch
Mar24 Nunes Really Stepped in It