Week 5: February 19–25

Read of the Week

That Very Strange Press Conference

I think everyone who was there wishes they could just block out the entire thing. The press conference is worse than anything even George W. Bush managed to put together. This is like Reagan without a Nancy to keep him on track.

Here’s a take on this from Bernstein, who always manages to stay clearheaded. And some brave soul managed to recap this:

Immigration: Muslim Ban

The Republican Administration seems to be regrouping after its stinging defeats in court, and will issue an new Executive Order with fewer obnoxious and illegal provisions.
The people running the show here may think they can pull some “Art of the Deal” nonsense and sneak through half of what they want, instead of all, but so far indications are that the new Executive Order will just get caught up in the same court battles as the previous one was.

This hasn’t stopped the administration from going ahead with the Extreme Vetting part of the Muslim ban. Examples include:

  1. Muslim Travelers Entering the U.S. Are Having Their Global Entry Cards Revoked, this includes U.S. Citizens (obviously).
  2. A British National (not a dual citizen) was refused entry because he is a Muslim.
  3. Muslim asylum seekers are actually fleeing U.S. Border Patrols and escaping to Canada.
  4. The U.S. is pushing for a new law in Canada that would expand the role of pre-screening officials. This is hard to analyze but troubling in that Muslims from Canada may be subject to searches and other intensive vetting actions when attempting to enter the U.S.

And more quotes from the Third World Dictator’s Guide to Media Relations:

Immigration: Mexican Ban

The Administration is also expanding its deportment actions including increased ICE raids throughout the country.
This includes reports of ICE roadblocks, arrests happening outside schools and churches, and door to door canvassing for undocumented immigrants.
Apparently scammers are already taking advantage of the situation in New York by claiming to be ICE agents and extorting money from people.

A good timeline on this issue is available from this very cool web blog.

Overall, this is a very troubling trend as it shows more expansion of Federal activity than has been seen in decades. The only other issue that has been Federalized to this extent is the Drug War, which of course disproportionally affects Black minorities, just as this is affecting Latinos.

I expect a scathing response from the Tea Party crowd on “encroaching Federal power” any day now…

The Voter Fraud BS Continues

The Administration’s latest round of claims seems to involve people being bussed into New Hampshire to fraudulently vote and hand the state to Clinton. This is on top of their continued claim that the Republican President’s loss in the popular vote was due to millions of illegal votes.

The Washington Post is not having any of this nonsense. And neither are members of the Federal Election Commission:

I can’t remember any politician even talking about the election a month after the fact, let alone three months later, and I lived through Bush v. Gore. I know there are people who want to see this as some kind of 12-dimensional chess move, but there is a stain of illegitimacy about this administration, and the way they carried the election, that isn’t going away. And these attacks on the media, legitimate protesters, and even the voters themselves stem from this insecurity.

Is This Washington Infighting—or Administration Incompetence?

So we have an Administration plan to review intelligence agencies by an allied corporate group. Apparently, they’re obsessed with leaks coming from various agencies, which is a symptom of how unpopular their policies are as well as a lack of communication, in my opinion.

The Administration also fired a National Security Council staffer for making “disparaging” remarks about some of the President’s advisors and was forced to quietly fire 6 staffers from an already understaffed White House, including the Chief Digital Officer, because they failed to pass their FBI Background checks.
This could be a warning shot from the FBI not to start investigating them, or just the fact that the Administration doesn’t have enough legitimate contacts to staff an organisation and they are forced to bring in flunkies.

Overall, a troubling trend for this Republican Administration that had to withdraw its nominee for Labor Secretary, had a few issues finding a replacement for Flynn, and which has only filled 14 of the 549 key positions it needs Senate Confirmation on. This is way behind a normal Presidency and will leave them unable to carry out much of their agenda. Hopefully, they won’t decide to bring in a few hundred recess appointments over the Summer or something.

DoJ Investigation of Comey Continues

It’s kind of surprising the guy has kept his job this long since no one really likes him that much in either party. But I suppose he has allies in the Administration since he helped hand them the election.

Typical Republican B.S.

So there’s plans to remove the Endangered Species Act, moves to allow drilling for oil in National Parks, another Executive Order to rollback Wall Street regulations put in place after the Great Recession, and changes in Title IX to remove protection for Transgender students in Education. All of which are bad news, and are kind of a sideshow compared to the complete meltdown going on.

The White House Mole

By Andrew Sullivan

Another good reflection on the past week by Andrew Sullivan. It’s impossible to overstate how deeply weird and dysfunctional this administration is, even in the first month, and we’re still creeping towards the end.