“Shithole” Is Not The Problem

Building An Immigration Policy Around Trump’s Thought Is

Forget about the President using that word. We all know Trump’s potty-mouthed.

What seemed to be tremendous and swift progress on a bipartisan immigration bill put together by compromise-minded Senators on both sides, came to a screeching halt when several of them were summoned to Trump’s office and subject to the tirade that referred to immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations (where people tend not to be white), as being from “shithole countries”. And if that didn’t dig Trump deep enough into some-kind-of-hole of his own making, he went on to suggest the U.S. consider admitting more people from countries like Norway (where people tend to be white). The story was first reported by the Washington Post.

Trump has made similar statements in the past, which the White House has simply denied.


This time, White House spokesperson Raj Shah did not deny what Trump said, saying instead: “Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people”.

By the evening, Trump seemed to stiffen further into a very non-bipartisan stance:

What changed? Access. When the “bipartisan team” got to Trump’s office they found two of Congress’ staunchest immigration hardliners already sitting there: Representative Bob Goodlatte and Senator Tom Cotton. And Trump, who seems to adopt the position of whomever he most recently talked to. Much like a 5-year old we know whose favorite movie is always whatever he’s seen most recently.

The Post says Trump adviser Stephen Miller was the one who made sure the hardliners were in the room, and had gotten to Trump first. Since Chief of Staff John Kelly controls the Oval Office, we also have to think he’s not a huge fan of a bipartisan compromise either. Not a surprise given the great zeal and ability with which he embraced apprehension and deportation as Director of Homeland Security, which really impressed Trump.

CNN’s Jim Acosta, wrestling with the use of the “S” word, offered the most cogent breakdown we saw of why the President’s choice of words was so disturbing, even by Trump’s standards.


The bipartisan compromise was somewhat complicated but gave Trump a downpayment on his wall, and a 50% cut in the green card lottery, mostly in exchange for allowing undocumented immigrants who have enjoyed various types of protected status in the U.S. for decades to stay.

According to Politico, Senator Cotton, who increasingly appears to be Trump’s heir apparent, called the deal “a joke”. To which one of the deal-makers, and fellow Republican Senator Lindsey Graham shot back “I’m not negotiating with Sen. Cotton and let me know when Sen. Cotton has a proposal that gets a Democrat. I’m dying to look at it.”

Also worth remembering: at any time either side could decide to drop their efforts and play hardball: risking a government shutdown they might be blamed for in exchange for increasing the chances of tipping the issue their way. As we said yesterday (but it’s easy for us to say) we think it’s worth taking the risk at this point.



Requiring People Who Get Medicaid To Work Is Not The Problem, Messing With Medicaid Is

The Kaiser Family Foundation points out:

  1. Most people on Medicaid who can work, do work. Already.
  2. Most people support the policy that people on Medicaid should work if they can. (About 70%)

And even though that’s all the Trump Administration is allowing for now (and on a state-by-state basis), it’s not all the Republican party wants. And not all they’ll go after now that they’ve got this. Kaiser suggests things that might come next, in declining order of popularity, from drug tests to determine Medicaid eligibility, to time limits on Medicaid, to cutting funding to Medicaid, to capping funding of Medicaid coverage for seniors and disabled people.


Source: Kaiser Family Foundation



Corporations Fall Into Line Behind Trump Because It’s Capitalism, Folks!

Walmart says because Trump gave them more money to spend, because of corporate tax cuts, they’re going to raise their minimum wage to $11 an hour, and for the first time offer things like paid parental leave for hourly workers. So what’s bad about that? Nothing. It’s great.

Except corporations do not suddenly become generous out of the goodness of their own hearts. They’re pursuing policies like this to pay tribute to Trump by making their employees (and people who hear about it) just happy enough to continue supporting him.

That’s what capitalism is all about. And we’re all for it. We just want to pay attention to why corporations do what they do, not just what they do.


From Walmart’s perspective, it’s a small price to pay if it helps keep someone in office who’s likely to keep showering them with gifts and keep regulatory pressure off. Vs. an unknown Democrat who’d probably demand even more for workers and try to claw back some corporate welfare.

And for Walmart in particular, it’s doubly important: so much of what they sell is cheap stuff made in places like China. So far Trump’s done nothing to light the fuse on the trade war he promised repeatedly during the campaign. So the move is also calculated to keep Trump “just happy enough” to keep supporting Walmart.

At the same time, Walmart is closing 63 of its Sam’s Club stores which employ thousands of workers, part of a move to retreat from competing head-to-head with Costco (it lost that one), and into battle against Amazon (good luck!)

Separately, Chrysler, which could be slammed if Trump ends NAFTA announced a billion dollar investment in Michigan. Which regardless of why they’re doing it, does make Trump look good, which he was all too happy to note in a Tweet.



FISA Reauthroization Passes House By Large Margin, After Befuddling Trump Tweets

The House passed the bill by a vote of 256-164, not at all along party lines (a rarity these days!)

That’s the post 9/11 bill that allows the U.S. to spy on communication by foreign nationals in the U.S. without getting a warrant. Most controversially, if those foreign nationals are communicating with U.S. citizens, it picks them up too, and then there’s a process by which they can be “unmasked”. If this sounds familiar, it’s because some of the Russia investigation started here.

Politicians on the Far Left and Far Right both opposed it as unbridled invasion of privacy.

Even though the White House had already said it was fully in support of the bill, Trump Tweeted questioning it, and then, shortly after, supporting it. Apparently, he was initially confused by a report on Fox & Friends. The White House says that’s just “ridiculous”.



Trump’s Latest Puzzling Kim Jong-un Comment

In a far ranging interview (which we can’t link to because it’s behind a paywall), Trump told the Wall Street Journal that he and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un “probably have a very good relationship”. It’s hard to know what the hell that means. Have they talked? Trump wouldn’t say: ”I don’t want to comment on it. I’m not saying I have or haven’t. I just don’t want to comment”.


The only reason there might be some remote possibility there’s something to it, is a report from a South Korean news agency that a top-level South Korean diplomat is in Washington right now to help develop North Korea-U.S. ties. That follows the first round of face-to-face negotiations between North and South Korea in 2 years, which took place in the DMZ earlier this week.



President Confirms He’s Cancelling Long-Anticipated U.K. Trip, And His Reason Is A Doozy

So it’s Obama’s fault you can’t have tea with the Queen?

Here’s what the new embassy looks like BTW:

New U.S. Embassy, London (the one Trump hates because, Obama)



Election News Round-Up


Reports that Darryl Issa is retiring from Congress may have been premature: The Hill says just because the California Representative said he won’t run again in his district, doesn’t mean he won’t run the next district over. That seat, in a much more strongly Conservative area, is currently held by fellow Republican Duncan Hunter, but he’s embroiled in scandal. Said Hunter: “If I blow up, yes. Why wouldn’t he run for my seat if I was to blow up in the air?”


Rep. Darrell Issa (R) California


North Dakota Republican Kevin Cramer will run for reelection in the House of Representatives, but not for Senator, as Trump has urged him to do. He was seen as the front-runner in a challenge to Democratic incumbent Heidi Heitkamp.

And electionlawblog expects the Supreme Court will take up Texas’ gerrymandered election districts today, one of the last days the court can schedule arguments for a case to be ruled on in the current session.