Nancy Pelosi Says Deal Linking Wall And DACA Will Be DOA

Once-and-future Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has fired a shot across the bow of the Trump Administration on immigration. The California Democrat, popularly known as “San Fran Nan,” is preemptively signaling that Democrats won’t sign onto a deal that ties President Trump’s wall funding to a permanent fix for the DACA program.

In comments to reporters on Thursday as the House and Senate approved an extension of spending that will fund the government until Dec. 21, Pelosi rejected the idea of a compromise that would link the president’s wall project to making Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program permanent.

“They’re two different subjects,” Pelosi told the Associated Press.

It is extremely doubtful that House Democrats could be persuaded to fund the wall as part of a standalone bill. Pelosi added that many Democrats consider the wall to be “immoral, ineffective and expensive.” Even if Mexico paid for the wall as Donald Trump promised in the election, she said, “It’s immoral still.” So far, Mexico has shown no sign of being willing to fund the wall either.

Earlier this year, Democrats refused to budge on similar proposals to legalize DACA participants. A Trump Administration proposal from January would have represented a major victory for Democrats in exchange for a $25 billion commitment to the wall. That deal was scuttled by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Democrats. Afterward, President Trump said that there would be “NO MORE DACA DEAL.”

In reality, neither side wants a comprehensive immigration deal. Republicans have long opposed comprehensive immigration reform, preferring instead to insist that border security must come first. For more than a decade, any Republican who has supported a comprehensive fix for the immigration system has been accused of supporting “amnesty” and “open borders” and is reviled by the Republican base. A significant number of Republicans opposed President Trump’s DACA deal because they thought it would benefit Democrats.

For their part, Democrats seem to prefer that the issue be kept open to provide them with a wedge that makes Republicans appear bigoted and xenophobic. As the two parties battle over the Hispanic demographic, Democrats cannot afford to let a Republican president claim credit for fixing the popular DACA program. Likewise, giving President Trump a victory on the wall, his signature issue, would boost Trump’s reelection chances and energize his base. Democrats cannot allow that.

Ironically both parties risk alienating voters with their hardline positions on immigration. Exit polls from 2018 showed that minorities are fleeing the Republican Party, but the downside may be even greater for Democrats. There were pro-DACA protests against the Democratic Party in March after the implosion of the DACA deal. If pro-immigration voters decide that Democrats are stringing them along, they may give Republicans a try.

The reality is that neither side has the numbers to enact its own unilateral immigration bill. That will be especially true when Democrats take control of the House next year, but even over the past two years, minority Democrats in the Senate were able to kill Republican bills with the filibuster.

Until the two sides decide to work together (or until one side controls both houses of Congress and the presidency and eliminates the filibuster), there will be no fix for our broken immigration system. Until that day, the border will stay open and illegal immigrants will remain in legal limbo.

Reporters Are Addicts. Trump Is Their Drug.

Reporters are the addicts stealing money from their mom’s purse for a hit of their drug. It is an exotic one called Trump. Yesterday, as the nation came together to honor President Bush, reporters were fixated on President Trump. They were fixated on his reactions during the funeral, the responses of others to him, and even how he took a limo to Blair House, oblivious to the fact Barack Obama had once done the same thing.

With reporters desperate for a fix of Trump, history is all new. Things long done are treated as new events. They obsess over Trump. Stories not about Trump are turned into Trump. The Trump angle must be explored and exploited.

There are tons of stories out there that are not about Trump that must be turned into stories about Trump. There are stories where Trump is only tangentially related that suddenly revolve around Trump. He lives rent free in the heads of the national press corps.

Yes, he is President of the United States. But not everything is about Trump. He only has to overshadow everything if the press makes him. They do just that. They do it for clicks. They do it for ratings. They do it because they exist in a sick co-dependent symbiotic relationship with the President and in the sick BDSM arrangement, Trump is the master. They are the slaves.

They need a twelve step program, but I fear the fix is too strong. And like meth addicts, even their faces are changing as they pick at their skin and more permanently scowl. This is unhealthy.

Voter Fraud May Have Thrown This North Carolina Congressional Election

Voter fraud may have changed the outcome of a congressional election in North Carolina. For a change, the fraud allegations are against the Republicans and, rather than centering on a voter ID issue, the problem deals with absentee ballots, a weak link in the electoral systems of many states.

The race in North Carolina’s ninth district was called for Mark Harris, a Republican running to succeed Robert Pittenger, the Republican incumbent who was defeated in the primary. Harris, a Charlotte pastor, led Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes on Election night and McCready conceded the next day. Over the next few weeks, irregularities in the election have caused the North Carolina Board of Elections to delay certifying the election. On Nov. 26, the board, which is made up of four Republicans, four Democrats and one nonpartisan, voted unanimously to delay until an investigation had been completed. The race is still officially undecided.

The investigation centers on absentee ballots in Bladen and Robeson Counties, two of the most rural counties of the district, and a staffer for the Harris campaign staffer who allegedly ran an operation that submitted hundreds of illegal ballots. Sworn affidavits and news reports allege that Leslie McCrae Dowless and other campaign workers would go to visit voters and have them fill out requests for absentee ballots. Mr. Dowless and others allegedly returned later to pick up the absentee ballots, which were sometimes unsealed, with the promise of submitting them.

Datesha Montgomery, a 27-year-old woman from Elizabethtown, N.C., said in sworn affidavit cited by ABC News that a woman “came by and asked for my absentee ballot” in early October.

“She states that [the woman] was collecting peoples [sic] ballots in the area. She had just come from another ladies [sic] house. I filled out two names on the ballot, Hakeem Brown for Sheriff and Vice Rozier for board of education. She stated the others were not important. I gave her the ballot and she said she would finish it herself. I signed the ballot and she left. It was not sealed up at any time,” Montgomery said in the affidavit.

Under North Carolina law, only the voter, the voter’s close relatives or legal guardian are allowed to drop off absentee ballots. Despite the law, at least five voters in addition to Montgomery have signed affidavits that present similar stories.

The case for fraud goes beyond voter testimony. There is also statistical evidence. The ninth district is made up of parts of eight counties. Michael Blitzer, a political science professor at Catawba College, analyzed the absentee voting and found that Bladen County had a much higher share of absentee ballots than the other counties in the district. Seven percent of Bladen’s registered voters asked for absentee ballots compared with about three percent statewide.

Even though Bladen County Republicans requested only 19 percent of absentee ballots, Harris received 61 percent of the absentee mail vote there. What’s more, Bladen County was the only county in the district where Harris won the absentee mail vote. FiveThirtyEight noticed the same discrepancies in the Bladen returns.

Blitzer also pointed out that Bladen County had an abnormally high rate of unreturned ballots. Forty percent of absentee ballots mailed out were never returned. The next highest ghosting rate was only 27 percent. This could indicate that some of the ballots that were picked up were discarded rather than turned in.

If that weren’t enough, WSOC, a local television station, interviewed Ginger Eason, whose name appears as a witness on 28 absentee ballots. Eason said that Dowless paid her $75 to $100 per week to pick up absentee ballots. This would have been a violation of the law if the voters were not Eason’s relatives. WSOC also listed seven other people who were listed as witnesses on an unusual number of absentee ballots.

Leslie McCrae Dowless, who goes by his middle name, is a longtime political operative in Bladen County who has a criminal history. Dowless, who turned in 592 of the 1,341 absentee ballots in Bladen, was convicted of insurance fraud in 1992. He was also accused of tampering with absentee ballots in 2016. That year two voters accused his workers of paying them to request absentee ballots. In one case, the requested absentee ballots were never delivered and the voter tried to vote in person, only to be told that ballots for her and her family had already been turned in. In another case, a get-out-the-vote activist working for Dowless was accused of telling the voter who she had to vote for.

Candidates supported by Dowless typically do very well in Bladen County, especially with absentee ballots. The Charlotte Observer pointed out that Todd Johnson, who Dowless worked for in the 2016 Republican primary, won 98 percent of Bladen’s absentee vote despite finishing third overall. In this year’s primary, Harris did nearly as well with 96 percent. Harris defeated Pittenger by only 828 votes in the primary so it is possible that absentee ballot fraud may have affected the outcome of that election as well.

Dowless has not responded to calls from new organizations but did deny any wrongdoing to the Charlotte Observer.

At this point, a resolution to the Bladen County absentee scandal is uncertain. The US Attorney is conducting an investigation and the Board of Elections will hold a hearing on or before Dec. 21. The board could call for a new election with the same candidates, including Libertarian Jeff Scott, who won just under two percent of the vote. If the state certifies the original election results, the House may also refuse to seat Harris. In that case, an entirely new election with new primaries would be held.

While this one congressional district won’t decide the fate of the House, it underscores the depth of the blue wave that Republicans would probably have lost another seat in a district that hasn’t gone Democrat since 1963 if a shady staffer hadn’t harvested hundreds of illegal votes. It is very possible that when the dust clears the Democrats will have added another Republican scalp to their midterm trophies.

The Bladen County scandal also undercuts the Republican message about ballot security and voter ID laws. The fact that Republicans appear to have paid for absentee votes and possibly discarded ballots containing votes for the Democratic candidate makes a mockery of the party’s planks calling for election security and voter verification. Republican efforts have concentrated on voter ID laws, but absentee ballots typically don’t require verification of identity.

Here’s What We Know About Mike Flynn Cooperating With Mueller

Michael Flynn, the President’s former National Security Advisor, really, really cooperated with Robert Mueller’s investigators. He sat for 19 interviews and, because of his cooperation and military service, Mueller says he should not go to jail or, potentially, even pay any fines. In fact, some of what Flynn provided is still being investigated by Mueller and it appears part of it could be directly related to a criminal investigation of President Trump.

According to court documents filed by the Mueller investigators, Flynn admitted to lying about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador prior to the inauguration and also lying to the FBI. Flynn also lied to the Vice President.

Mueller’s team claims that Flynn’s cooperation also “likely affected the decisions of related firsthand witnesses to be forthcoming.”

What is new in the document is Mueller revealing there is a previously unknown criminal investigation that may or may not implicate the President directly. Flynn also testified about the transition team’s conversations with the Russians in the run up to the inauguration, though that seems likely not to be criminal.

We do know that Mueller is investigating whether the President tried to obstruct justice related to an investigation into Mike Flynn.

I do have to say that I think any conversations the President’s transition team had with Russia are legal and legitimate as part of the transition, but I’ve also long suspected the President’s team would get hung up on the President’s private dealing with Russia. If the President really has a weakness in all this, I do not think it is collusion to steal an election, but using the Trump Organization as a pass through entity for Russian money.

Time will tell on all fronts.

Oops! Trump’s Claims Of China Trade Deal Were Premature

President Trump’s much-ballyhooed trade agreement with China is looking less like a done deal and more like a work in process. Statements by Chinese officials indicate that Trump’s announcement of a deal was premature and there are concerns that the president’s jumping the gun may endanger the entire agreement.

In a series of tweets on Dec. 2, Trump said that China had agreed to “reduce and remove” their 40 percent tariff on American auto imports and start purchasing American agricultural products “immediately.” Before the trade war, Chinese tariffs on foreign autos were 25 percent. Since the trade dispute began, China has increased tariffs on American cars to 40 percent while reducing imports from other countries to 15 percent.

The lack of confirmation from the Chinese combined with Trump’s history of prematurely claiming success in international deals led many observers to be skeptical about Trump’s claims. Those doubts fueled an 800-point drop in the stock market on Tuesday after a 600-point rally on Monday.

Now statements by Chinese officials are confirming that the deal with the Trump Administration was merely an agreement to start negotiations. The Wall Street Journal reported this morning that China’s Commerce Ministry confirmed in a statement that the nation has agreed to a 90-day negotiating period in which both sides will stop increasing tariffs. The statement said that the negotiations had a “clear timeline and road map” and confirmed that “the Chinese side will start implementing the specific items both sides have agreed on, and the sooner the better.”

How much is already agreed upon was left unclear, but the Journal notes that Chinese government agencies and the nation’s supreme court announced tough penalties for violation of intellectual property rights. Infringement on intellectual property has been a major complaint of the Trump Administration. The new rules were dated Nov. 21, but were only made public yesterday.

On the other hand, the statement by the Commerce Ministry did not mention purchases of agricultural products or reducing auto tariffs. Some Chinese officials did suggest that their country may increase purchases of products such as soybeans and natural gas, which are in high demand in China. They did not specify amounts, however, and there was no indication of whether the tariffs would be reduced.

On Monday, President Trump even seemed to back off from his declarations of a trade victory. In a series of tweets, the president claimed that negotiations were already underway to see “whether or not a REAL deal with China is actually possible.” Trump added that China was “supposed to start buying Agricultural product and more immediately” and said that “it probably will.”

Trump closed his tweetstorm with the proviso, “ But if not remember [that] I am a Tariff Man.” The Trump Administration has said that if talks fail it will follow through with plans to raise tariffs on Chinese imports from 10 percent to 25 percent. The increase was originally scheduled for Jan. 1.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>….I am a Tariff Man. When people or countries come in to raid the great wealth of our Nation, I want them to pay for the privilege of doing so. It will always be the best way to max out our economic power. We are right now taking in $billions in Tariffs. MAKE AMERICA RICH AGAIN</p>&mdash; Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) <a href=”https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1069970500535902208?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>December 4, 2018</a></blockquote>
https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

There is also confusion over the beginning of the 90-day period. Trump claimed that the truce period began on “the date of our wonderful and very warm dinner with President Xi in Argentina” on Dec. 1. Chinese officials have not confirmed this understanding of the timeline.

Many Chinese observers believe that Trump is deliberately trying to confuse the issue in order to trick Beijing into making concessions. “China should prepare but not rush to make concessions,” Yu Yongding, a researcher with government think tank Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and former adviser to China’s central bank, told the Journal. “This is a competition of endurance to see who breaks first.”

Some American experts agree. “It’s funny how far the administration has gotten on bravado and uncertainty — the ‘crazy uncle’ strategy with almost no organization, no whole-of-government approach, insufficient preparation and no talking points,” Scott Kennedy, a China expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said in the Washington Post. “The strategy has thrown the fear of Marx into the Chinese. They have been knocked off their seats.”

Others point out that there are inherent risks in Trump’s approach. Michael Pillsbury, a former Pentagon official who Trump called “probably the leading authority on China,” told Axios that he was “getting warnings from knowledgeable Chinese about the American claims of concessions” that were never agreed upon by the Chinese. These include Trump’s claims about the immediate purchase of American agricultural products and Chinese tariff reductions.

“I have advised the president’s team that for the past 40 years the American side avoids disclosing Chinese concessions before the final agreed written statement is released,” Pillsbury said.

The Trump Administration’s brash China policy may have brought the two countries to the brink of a trade deal, but it is still possible that the president’s undisciplined tweets and claims may prevent a final agreement. There are signs that China is prepared to make concessions on some American priorities such as intellectual property rights, but at this point, a reversion to the pre-trade war status quo would be a victory for American businesses and consumers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Phil Anschutz and Media DC Are About to Make a Big Mistake

It is, of course, none of my business. But word is coming that Phil Anschutz’s Media DC is more likely than not about to wind down the Weekly Standard because of the publication’s perceived anti-Trump bent. Frankly, I think this reputation has more to do with Bill Kristol, including his opposition to Brett Kavanaugh, than to anything at the Standard.

Under Steve Hayes’s leadership as editor, the Weekly Standard has generated original reporting, solid profiles of candidates, become a must follow site related to polling trends, developed some podcasts that have attracted large followings, and otherwise distinguished itself as a Trump skeptical right-of-center publication at a time that this very conversation is about to become the most important conversation in America. On top of that, Hayes has fought off the pixel pirates who want to crap up sites with banner ads, pop up ads, and garbage placements of unrelated things. The Weekly Standard’s redesign was a great success.

Anschutz has that conversation generator right now and, while I am sure the Washington Examiner will be able to capture the conversation to an extent given its awesome team, the Weekly Standard owns this conversation.

Bill Kristol may be perceived as anti-Trump, and I think that is a fair characterization, but under Hayes’s leadership, the Weekly Standard has captured a plethora of voices across the center-right. There are pro-Trump voices, anti-Trump voices, and pro-Trump policy voices who are not fans of Trump even if they have or might now vote for him. They all exist in that publication and through its web presences.

Over the next two years, the GOP is going to have some serious conversations about the future of the party while the conservative movement has the same discussions about the future of the movement. I hope to engage in those conversations here. But the Weekly Standard probably even more so than National Review really owns this space. In particular, its most prominent voices are people who never gave into Trumpism, but have fairly applauded much of what the White House has done. That is a large segment of the Republican base and they value the honest brokerage that is the Weekly Standard.

There will probably be at least two well funded challengers to the President in 2020. I would expect the Weekly Standard would view them as skeptically as Trump, but would be willing to fully explore the contours of the current GOP and where it goes beyond Trump. It has established itself as such an honest broker that it is even a Facebook partner in dealing with fake news, much to the chagrin of the left.

And Phil Anschutz has this property. Perhaps Media DC should do a better job of distancing the Weekly Standard from Bill Kristol, but it is quite simply inarguable that Steve Hayes has steered the ship in the right direction for prime influence in 2020 and Anschutz would be nuts to scuttle that.

Full disclosure: I really like Bill Kristol, but I really disagree with the direction he has taken on Trump even if I’m not a fan of Trump’s myself, and I do think Bill’s hostility to all things Trump has hurt the Weekly Standard. The staff has a tremendous amount of loyalty to Bill and would never want to distance themselves from him because he was an outstanding and loyal boss.

Elizabeth Warren is Dead Wrong About Eastern European Success With Free Markets

The Massachusetts senator blames the U.S. for spreading “cutthroat capitalism” to the former Eastern Bloc.

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is not only mulling a run for president in 2020, she’s trying to market-splain to formerly Soviet-occupied Eastern European countries why shouldn’t have embraced “cutthroat capitalism” after regaining independence.

“Champions of cutthroat capitalism pushed former Soviet states to privatize as quickly as possible despite the enormous risk of corruption,” Warren said in remarks at American University on foreign policy. Watch her full remarks below:

Her statement is tone deaf and would be rightly laughed at by nations like the Baltic Republics of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania (the latter of which is my ancestral homeland).

They are enjoying free enterprise very much and succeeding at it. Per Heritage Foundation’s Economic Freedom Index, Estonia is the 7th most economically free country in the world. Lithuania is down to the 19th spot, while Latvia is the 28th most economically free country in the world, in this year’s world rankings. They all have free market institutes.

Here’s a good recap of why the three Baltics were quick to embrace free enterprise after their regained independence:

The recessions of the early 1990s overwhelmed Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia. A few years earlier the Soviet Union had collapsed, and with it the economic system that the occupying communist regime had enforced in the Baltic nations. In the span of only two years– from 1991 to 1993 – Estonia’s GDP dropped by 35 percent, while the economic output in Latvia and Lithuania fell by around 50 percent. In response, the three countries introduced an ambitious plan to reform and open up their markets. Flat income tax systems at low rates were put in place; general business-friendly regulations were established; governmental influence on the labour market was minimised.

Many economists viewed these changes as a gigantic gamble. The result was a resounding success. The average inflation adjusted growth rate* in the Baltics states from 1995 to 2014 was, as shown in the image below, over 5 per cent, or nearly four times the EU-28 average. No other European country matched this strong performance, driven in part by catch-up and growth-oriented economic policies. But it wasn’t all smooth sailing. In 2008 and 2009, the Baltic states were again hit hard by economic crises. The three nations were particularly sensitive to the global recession, since they had made the decision to maintain fixed exchange rates. Another factor was that foreign investment had contributed strongly to the rapid growth.When the global financial crisis hit, the flow of capital was reversed, deepening the crisis.

Do people really believe that countries occupied by tyrannical, socialist regimes would dip into that experiment again or allow that to transpire again after the bloodshed that ensued in 1939?

Not all the other formerly occupied republics share the same success, especially as Ukraine constantly struggles to ward off aggression from Russia. However, other countries that were coerced into communism – like Poland, Czech Republic, and Hungary— have also embraced a more market based system following the physical collapse of the U.S.S.R. and succeeded.

As an American of immediate Lithuanian descent, I’m grateful that my parents’ homeland is rejecting global socialism and succeeding economically. In fact, both Estonia and Lithuania are more market-friendly than the U.S. in its current standing.

Senator Warren need not shame Eastern European countries for embracing free enterprise. Perhaps she could learn a thing or two from them about sound economic policies.

h/t Daily Wire’s Emily Zanotti

Two Country Music Stars Endorse Universal Background Checks

Dierks Bentley and Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line have jumped on board’s Toms’ #EndGunViolence campaign.

Is Nashville becoming too much like Hollywood? It seems to be the case with a slew of major country singers and alleged country singers embracing gun control. In this instance, unlike Erick Church blaming the NRA for the Las Vegas shooting, singers Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line and Dierks Bentley have endorsed Toms’ #EndGunViolenceTogether campaign. It’s being put on by Blake Mycoskie of TOMS Shoes.

The former posted two posts on his Instagram urging fellow country singers to jump on board this campaign. Not surprisingly, he turned off comments for both posts.

From Billboard:

On Nov. 29, Hubbard delivered an impassioned endorsement of the TOMS CEO’s new initiative. In a solemn video, he referred to the staggering statistics regarding the 307 mass shootings that took place over the last 311 days in the United States and said that he believes that “we can all come together and all agree that something has to change” by contacting congress and demanding stricter gun laws.

That statistic is highly suspect, as gun control groups label all shootings – with four or more people shot – as mass shootings.

Here’s Bentley’s more general call for action, without explaining why he supports it:

Last month, the “woke” shoe company donated $5 million to support gun control affiliated groups. Here’s what the campaign entails, with respect to promoting universal background checks (UBC):

The Toms funds will go to organizations working to end gun violence in the U.S. by addressing issues such as urban crime, domestic violence, mental health and suicide. Campaign partners include: Moms Demand Action, The Black and Brown Gun Violence Prevention Consortium, March for Our Lives and Giffords: Courage to Fight Gun Violence.

The aforementioned “gun safety” groups aren’t for gun rights nor offer remedies for true gun safety measures. They are outfits to elect and support pro-gun control members of Congress.

For supposed gun owners, Hubbard and Bentley need to read up on universal background checks.

John Lott explained in New York Times why this policy does nothing to deter crime:

The background check measures before Congress aim to improve enforcement of existing law and increase such reporting by imposing financial penalties on government officials whose agencies fail to provide required information. That’s a good goal, but any proposal should also fix another major problem with the background check system: false positives that stop law-abiding people from getting weapons that they might need to protect themselves and their families.

The background check system confuses the names of law-abiding individuals with those of criminals, resulting in thousands of “false positives” every year. Relying on phonetically similar names along with birth dates just doesn’t allow for much accuracy.

Even more people would face such problems if background checks were made “universal,” meaning to include the private sale or transfer of firearms, which are exempt from checks in most states. Many people consider this a common-sense policy, but there would be a cost: Background checks involve fees that drive up the price of guns in private sales and make it harder for poor people to defend themselves.

Donald J. Mihalek, executive vice president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, argued in a CNN column that fixing the NICS system to make it more robust would be more effective than universal background checks:

The system should be as robust and include the types of identifying, warning, cross checking and criminal and mental history information as the National Criminal Information Center (NCIC). NCIC is the repository of all local and state information related to arrests, criminal history, criminal activity like stolen cars and permits law enforcement to input danger, warning or safety notifications.

If NICS doesn’t have that same type of robust information, it may never be able to do what Americans demand — block prohibited people from legally obtaining firearms. Until it is, we may continue to see people who should be prohibited from owning a weapon turn a tool of protection into a tool of terror.

Also, when universal background type laws are implemented, they don’t work to deter crime—just look at Colorado and Washington State.

Hubbard and Bentley will likely alienate their fan base, especially with the former not having real country bonafides to speak for. Learn from Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood: don’t get political.