Day: December 26, 2017

How Trump Dominated Mueller and Tricked Democrats


Consider the central puzzle to Trump’s presidency: why did his own people give NeverTrumps a special counsel?

The most common explanation is that Trump is a bumbling fool.  First, he colluded with Russia.  Then he appointed Sessions, not knowing that Sessions would recuse himself.  Finally, he appointed Rosenstein and was blindsided by the initiation of Mueller’s probe.

The problem with this idea is that Trump has been a successful person for decades, building an empire in the cutthroat world of New York real estate.  Maybe it’s possible to argue that Trump isn’t a Harvard bookworm, but there is an enormous gulf between not being the second coming of Henry David Thoreau and being what Trump’s opponents say he is.  His record simply does not countenance a serious conclusion in accord with his haters.  At worst, he is merely competent, smart, and wily.

One of Trump’s favorite quotes is “A leader has the right to be beaten, but never the right to be surprised.”  The idea that two independent Trump nominations to the most important parts of his administration immediately acted in tandem to undermine his presidency is not believable.

Some Trump-supporters have a different theory: that Mueller is actually on Trump’s side, a “converted spy,” as Imperator_Rex would write.  Mueller is a Marine veteran who wants to support the American people but was forced into being Obama and Hillary’s agent.  Trump knows that Mueller will do what is right when given the chance.  The investigation will boomerang back against Democrats.

Though this is a thought-provoking theory that accepts the premise that Trump is fundamentally a competent actor, it also fails.  Mueller’s character was definitively established when, as FBI director, he oversaw the Anthrax Letters investigation to find out who mailed anthrax, weeks after 9/11, to prominent political American figures with letters saying, “Death to America, Death to Israel, Allah is great.”

Mueller’s FBI quickly exonerated al-Qaeda, stating there was no direct evidence of guilt.  The FBI then persecuted two different American scientists, who had worked for the Army, without any direct evidence.  FBI tactics against their “people of interest” included spying; wiretapping; house raids; leaking identities in public ways with the help of Mueller’s colleagues in the Department of Justice; bribing family members; and “bumper-locking,” a delightful tactic where the FBI trailed their American suspect so closely that they ran over his foot.

In the swamp, Mueller is one of the King Alligators.  There is no path from his known conduct in the FBI to a point where he follows the Trump investigation wherever it may take him, even if that means taking Democrats down.

Fortunately, though the two most common theories fail, there is an alternate theory that is consistent with all known facts.  Mueller is bent on harming Trump for unstated crimes of which there is no evidence.  And Trump wants Mueller doing exactly that.

Trump is facing the Salem witch trials.  Democrats are a runaway mob and want his blood.

Many Trump supporters are desperate for Trump to get in front of this mob and explain how he is innocent, that he is a nationalist who is strengthening the military, modernizing the nuclear forces, protecting America against an EMP attack, selling weapons to Ukraine, and increasing oil production, so quite clearly, he is not Putin’s agent, and they should all please stop their nonsensical protesting and turn around.

But Trump never made a serious effort to logically reason this out with his enemies.  It isn’t his style.

Trump has a fondness for Sun Tzu.  Here is a quote is I am sure he approves of: “Hold out baits to entice the enemy.  Feign disorder, and crush him.”  This is the hidden strategy.

Not only did Trump not stop Democrats’ attack on him, but he actually forced them to prosecute it.  He gathered Democrat swamp monsters into a single group, under his control, pointed them in a direction, and off they went.  From this perspective, the more anti-Trump the investigators are, the better.

The Democrats are well into their attack, ranting, chasing, running through the mountain pass.  But they are looking at a mirage.  Trump isn’t there.  They still haven’t noticed that Trump is president; Trump and his team are on top of the overlooks on either side. 

The ambush against Democrats is well underway.  The truth about Mueller’s investigation is coming out, and it his highly damaging, be it about Mueller team members Peter Strzok and Lisa Page exchanging texts calling Trump a “loathsome human,” Andrew McCabe testifying about a meeting in his office where FBI agents said they “can’t take that risk” of Trump becoming president, or Mueller obtaining thousands of Trump transition team emails in an improper manner. 

Democrats are not prepared for these developments.  The mainstream media are forced to black it out.  Eric Holder and James Comey post juvenile tweets. 

This is how Trump wants it.  Remember: during the campaign, Trump emphasized how he wouldn’t tell America’s enemies what his plans were.  Sun Tzu says, “These military devices, leading to victory, must not be divulged beforehand.”  Part of the reason the situation is confusing is that Trump wants it to be confusing.

After the ambush comes the counterattack.  Trump’s troops have been positioned.  The preparations are being completed.  The enemy is placed in a vulnerable spot. 

The Justice Department’s inspector general report will come out soon, ostensibly with highly damaging information on Democrat operatives.  Congressmen are getting increasingly fed up with prevarication by Deep State bureaucrats.  Congress is practically begging Trump to pursue Democrat corruption more aggressively. 

Simple explanations are always best.  It must be admitted: the idea that Trump is pulling a sophisticated and long-term caper can be hard to believe.  However, there is no other explanation that is simpler and makes sense.  Thus, we must accept the simplest explanation consistent with facts, which, in this case, is not all that simple.

Trump will probably never bother to explain this (though a tell-all autobiography would be the best book ever).  Bottom line, it’s impossible to know for sure what is going on in the murky swamp waters, but it appears that Trump is well in control of the situation.

Consider the central puzzle to Trump’s presidency: why did his own people give NeverTrumps a special counsel?

The most common explanation is that Trump is a bumbling fool.  First, he colluded with Russia.  Then he appointed Sessions, not knowing that Sessions would recuse himself.  Finally, he appointed Rosenstein and was blindsided by the initiation of Mueller’s probe.

The problem with this idea is that Trump has been a successful person for decades, building an empire in the cutthroat world of New York real estate.  Maybe it’s possible to argue that Trump isn’t a Harvard bookworm, but there is an enormous gulf between not being the second coming of Henry David Thoreau and being what Trump’s opponents say he is.  His record simply does not countenance a serious conclusion in accord with his haters.  At worst, he is merely competent, smart, and wily.

One of Trump’s favorite quotes is “A leader has the right to be beaten, but never the right to be surprised.”  The idea that two independent Trump nominations to the most important parts of his administration immediately acted in tandem to undermine his presidency is not believable.

Some Trump-supporters have a different theory: that Mueller is actually on Trump’s side, a “converted spy,” as Imperator_Rex would write.  Mueller is a Marine veteran who wants to support the American people but was forced into being Obama and Hillary’s agent.  Trump knows that Mueller will do what is right when given the chance.  The investigation will boomerang back against Democrats.

Though this is a thought-provoking theory that accepts the premise that Trump is fundamentally a competent actor, it also fails.  Mueller’s character was definitively established when, as FBI director, he oversaw the Anthrax Letters investigation to find out who mailed anthrax, weeks after 9/11, to prominent political American figures with letters saying, “Death to America, Death to Israel, Allah is great.”

Mueller’s FBI quickly exonerated al-Qaeda, stating there was no direct evidence of guilt.  The FBI then persecuted two different American scientists, who had worked for the Army, without any direct evidence.  FBI tactics against their “people of interest” included spying; wiretapping; house raids; leaking identities in public ways with the help of Mueller’s colleagues in the Department of Justice; bribing family members; and “bumper-locking,” a delightful tactic where the FBI trailed their American suspect so closely that they ran over his foot.

In the swamp, Mueller is one of the King Alligators.  There is no path from his known conduct in the FBI to a point where he follows the Trump investigation wherever it may take him, even if that means taking Democrats down.

Fortunately, though the two most common theories fail, there is an alternate theory that is consistent with all known facts.  Mueller is bent on harming Trump for unstated crimes of which there is no evidence.  And Trump wants Mueller doing exactly that.

Trump is facing the Salem witch trials.  Democrats are a runaway mob and want his blood.

Many Trump supporters are desperate for Trump to get in front of this mob and explain how he is innocent, that he is a nationalist who is strengthening the military, modernizing the nuclear forces, protecting America against an EMP attack, selling weapons to Ukraine, and increasing oil production, so quite clearly, he is not Putin’s agent, and they should all please stop their nonsensical protesting and turn around.

But Trump never made a serious effort to logically reason this out with his enemies.  It isn’t his style.

Trump has a fondness for Sun Tzu.  Here is a quote is I am sure he approves of: “Hold out baits to entice the enemy.  Feign disorder, and crush him.”  This is the hidden strategy.

Not only did Trump not stop Democrats’ attack on him, but he actually forced them to prosecute it.  He gathered Democrat swamp monsters into a single group, under his control, pointed them in a direction, and off they went.  From this perspective, the more anti-Trump the investigators are, the better.

The Democrats are well into their attack, ranting, chasing, running through the mountain pass.  But they are looking at a mirage.  Trump isn’t there.  They still haven’t noticed that Trump is president; Trump and his team are on top of the overlooks on either side. 

The ambush against Democrats is well underway.  The truth about Mueller’s investigation is coming out, and it his highly damaging, be it about Mueller team members Peter Strzok and Lisa Page exchanging texts calling Trump a “loathsome human,” Andrew McCabe testifying about a meeting in his office where FBI agents said they “can’t take that risk” of Trump becoming president, or Mueller obtaining thousands of Trump transition team emails in an improper manner. 

Democrats are not prepared for these developments.  The mainstream media are forced to black it out.  Eric Holder and James Comey post juvenile tweets. 

This is how Trump wants it.  Remember: during the campaign, Trump emphasized how he wouldn’t tell America’s enemies what his plans were.  Sun Tzu says, “These military devices, leading to victory, must not be divulged beforehand.”  Part of the reason the situation is confusing is that Trump wants it to be confusing.

After the ambush comes the counterattack.  Trump’s troops have been positioned.  The preparations are being completed.  The enemy is placed in a vulnerable spot. 

The Justice Department’s inspector general report will come out soon, ostensibly with highly damaging information on Democrat operatives.  Congressmen are getting increasingly fed up with prevarication by Deep State bureaucrats.  Congress is practically begging Trump to pursue Democrat corruption more aggressively. 

Simple explanations are always best.  It must be admitted: the idea that Trump is pulling a sophisticated and long-term caper can be hard to believe.  However, there is no other explanation that is simpler and makes sense.  Thus, we must accept the simplest explanation consistent with facts, which, in this case, is not all that simple.

Trump will probably never bother to explain this (though a tell-all autobiography would be the best book ever).  Bottom line, it’s impossible to know for sure what is going on in the murky swamp waters, but it appears that Trump is well in control of the situation.



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Trump Colludes with Russia by Arming Ukraine


Memo to Sen. Mark Warner, D.-Va. and Rep. Adam Schiff, D- Ca. — if  President Trump is colluding with Russia he has an odd way of showing it. He unleashed America’s energy resources, most recently in Alaska’s ANWR, which puts downward pressure on oil prices, which is the only thing Putin’s Russia has to sell. Then he revives missile defense including a pledge to Poland to deploy missile defenses there.

Now he has announced plans to reverse the policy of the Obama administration, which stood silently when Putin’s Russia annexed Crimea and attacked Ukraine, and sell the Ukrainians lethal defensive weaponry, including anti-tank missiles designed to destroy Putin’s Russian tanks in the hands of separatist rebels:

President Donald Trump is expected to announce his approval of a plan to sell anti-tank missiles to the Ukrainian government, a move that would mark a significant escalation in lethal U.S. military support for Ukrainian forces battling Russian-aligned forces in the border region, four State Department sources tell ABC News…


The sale of anti-tank missiles, which could possibly include the U.S.-made Javelin system, provoked a strong reaction from Russia on Saturday, saying it “crossed the line,” and could threaten to derail Trump’s calls for better relations with Moscow.

This hardly fits the narrative of a Trump Administration in thrall to the Kremlin and once again begs the question of why Putin would have wanted Trump to win over Hillary. Hillary would never have sold anti-tank weapons to Ukraine though she was quite willing to sell Russia 20 percent of our uranium.

President Trump, unlike President Obama, is well aware that it is Russian President Vladimir Putin’s expressed view that the demise of the Soviet Union was one of the greatest disasters of modern times. His actions in Ukraine in conjunction with massive Russian rearmament show his desire to reassemble the old Soviet Union.

In his annual address to parliament in 2005, old KGB boss emeritus Putin made the grotesque claim that the “demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest political catastrophe of the century,” demonstrating a nostalgia for what he considers the good old days.

Back in 2012 when Romney put Russia at the top of the geopolitical threat list, President Obama gave a mocking response more worthy of a former community organizer rather than the leader of the free world. As Investor’s Business Daily noted:

“You said Russia. Not al-Qaida. You said Russia,” Obama rebuked him regarding our biggest threats. “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because… the Cold War’s been over for 20 years,” said the president who promised the Russians more flexibility as he disarmed the United States.


If the Cold War was over, somebody forgot to tell Moscow, for their belligerence towards Ukraine is straight out of the playbook of Nikita Khrushchev and Leonid Brezhnev. They ruthlessly repressed with Soviet armor the 1956 Hungary rebellion and the 1968 Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia.

Putin’s approach is perhaps more subtle, arming so-called “separatists” rather than sending in Soviet armored columns, but it is a distinction without a difference. Grave concerns and sternly worded letters carry no weight with Putin, whose stated ambitions are clear. President Obama did less than nothing, sending only supplies worthy of a Boy Scout Jamboree rather than a sovereign nation resisting Russian aggression. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in 2015 warned Congress that Russian actions in the Ukraine were the start of a new Cold War and that President Obama’s actions were inadequate:

On Thursday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko gave a 40-minute speech to a rare joint session of Congress alerting lawmakers to the plight of his country under Russia’s creeping “Anschluss.”


Poroshenko once again pled for meaningful aid, including an affiliation with NATO, and warned that a new Iron Curtain may soon descend as Vladimir Putin tries to reassemble the Soviet Union whose demise he has publicly mourned….


In March, Ukraine asked for arms and ammunition, intelligence support, aviation fuel and night vision goggles. The Pentagon agreed only to provide the Ukrainians with supplies of U.S. military rations known as Meals Ready To Eat, or MREs.


This time Ukraine did not get much more than that — just some peripheral gear such as night-vision goggles and helmets. But once again it received no lethal aid that Poroshenko’s country desperately needs, such as requested anti-tank weaponry.

Just as Obama failed to aid Iran’s “Green Revolution” in Iran in 2009 when it might have brought the mullahs to their knees and nipped Iran’s nuclear threat in the bud, Obama allowed Putin and Russia to take the first steps toward rebooting the old “evil empire” President Ronald Reagan worked so hard to defeat. Thanks to President Trump Ukraine’s long-desired anti-tank weaponry is on its way.

Merry Christmas, Vladimir Putin, from President Donald Trump.

Daniel John Sobieski is a freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.  

Memo to Sen. Mark Warner, D.-Va. and Rep. Adam Schiff, D- Ca. — if  President Trump is colluding with Russia he has an odd way of showing it. He unleashed America’s energy resources, most recently in Alaska’s ANWR, which puts downward pressure on oil prices, which is the only thing Putin’s Russia has to sell. Then he revives missile defense including a pledge to Poland to deploy missile defenses there.

Now he has announced plans to reverse the policy of the Obama administration, which stood silently when Putin’s Russia annexed Crimea and attacked Ukraine, and sell the Ukrainians lethal defensive weaponry, including anti-tank missiles designed to destroy Putin’s Russian tanks in the hands of separatist rebels:

President Donald Trump is expected to announce his approval of a plan to sell anti-tank missiles to the Ukrainian government, a move that would mark a significant escalation in lethal U.S. military support for Ukrainian forces battling Russian-aligned forces in the border region, four State Department sources tell ABC News…


The sale of anti-tank missiles, which could possibly include the U.S.-made Javelin system, provoked a strong reaction from Russia on Saturday, saying it “crossed the line,” and could threaten to derail Trump’s calls for better relations with Moscow.

This hardly fits the narrative of a Trump Administration in thrall to the Kremlin and once again begs the question of why Putin would have wanted Trump to win over Hillary. Hillary would never have sold anti-tank weapons to Ukraine though she was quite willing to sell Russia 20 percent of our uranium.

President Trump, unlike President Obama, is well aware that it is Russian President Vladimir Putin’s expressed view that the demise of the Soviet Union was one of the greatest disasters of modern times. His actions in Ukraine in conjunction with massive Russian rearmament show his desire to reassemble the old Soviet Union.

In his annual address to parliament in 2005, old KGB boss emeritus Putin made the grotesque claim that the “demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest political catastrophe of the century,” demonstrating a nostalgia for what he considers the good old days.

Back in 2012 when Romney put Russia at the top of the geopolitical threat list, President Obama gave a mocking response more worthy of a former community organizer rather than the leader of the free world. As Investor’s Business Daily noted:

“You said Russia. Not al-Qaida. You said Russia,” Obama rebuked him regarding our biggest threats. “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because… the Cold War’s been over for 20 years,” said the president who promised the Russians more flexibility as he disarmed the United States.


If the Cold War was over, somebody forgot to tell Moscow, for their belligerence towards Ukraine is straight out of the playbook of Nikita Khrushchev and Leonid Brezhnev. They ruthlessly repressed with Soviet armor the 1956 Hungary rebellion and the 1968 Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia.

Putin’s approach is perhaps more subtle, arming so-called “separatists” rather than sending in Soviet armored columns, but it is a distinction without a difference. Grave concerns and sternly worded letters carry no weight with Putin, whose stated ambitions are clear. President Obama did less than nothing, sending only supplies worthy of a Boy Scout Jamboree rather than a sovereign nation resisting Russian aggression. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in 2015 warned Congress that Russian actions in the Ukraine were the start of a new Cold War and that President Obama’s actions were inadequate:

On Thursday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko gave a 40-minute speech to a rare joint session of Congress alerting lawmakers to the plight of his country under Russia’s creeping “Anschluss.”


Poroshenko once again pled for meaningful aid, including an affiliation with NATO, and warned that a new Iron Curtain may soon descend as Vladimir Putin tries to reassemble the Soviet Union whose demise he has publicly mourned….


In March, Ukraine asked for arms and ammunition, intelligence support, aviation fuel and night vision goggles. The Pentagon agreed only to provide the Ukrainians with supplies of U.S. military rations known as Meals Ready To Eat, or MREs.


This time Ukraine did not get much more than that — just some peripheral gear such as night-vision goggles and helmets. But once again it received no lethal aid that Poroshenko’s country desperately needs, such as requested anti-tank weaponry.

Just as Obama failed to aid Iran’s “Green Revolution” in Iran in 2009 when it might have brought the mullahs to their knees and nipped Iran’s nuclear threat in the bud, Obama allowed Putin and Russia to take the first steps toward rebooting the old “evil empire” President Ronald Reagan worked so hard to defeat. Thanks to President Trump Ukraine’s long-desired anti-tank weaponry is on its way.

Merry Christmas, Vladimir Putin, from President Donald Trump.

Daniel John Sobieski is a freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.  



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Gentlemen, Start Your Engines for 2018 Midterms


Democrats seem to be over the moon about their 2018 midterm prospects. They seem to think that they will clear the tables and get themselves a Trump impeachment. And maybe they are right.

There is another possibility. By November the Mueller investigation may be even more compromised than it is now by the counternarrative of an administration interfering with the opposition party’s campaign in a way that makes Watergate look like amateur hour. Oh, and the economy will be reaching into turbo mode from the tax cuts. And what will the Democrats do then, poor things?

The economic problem the Democrats are facing is illustrated by a “yes, but” piece in the Atlantic, where Good Little Girl Annie Lowrey quotes center-left think tanks to show that the corporations will spend their ill-gotten tax cut gains on stock buybacks: nothing to see here but corporate tricksters. What Trump shoulda done, she writes, is

to construct a tax plan that would have both cut the corporate income tax and ensured that workers earned more. Pairing the former with an increase in the federal minimum wage and mandatory paid leave for parents would have done so, for instance. Instead, Congress is leaving it up to businesses to benefit workers as they see fit.

Liberals really do live on another planet. The corporate tax cut was not intended as some cheap way to win votes or to benefit employees and voters in the here and now. It is simply an effort to lower the tax rate on corporate income down to generally accepted international levels approved by all card-carrying globalists. (Did they lose your application, Annie?) When corporations buy back their stock as they did in the Obama years they are simply saying that, what with all the taxes and regulations and head-winds from liberal sue-and-settle shenanigans, they have nothing better to do with their profits than buy back their stock.

But that was in the bad old days of a 35 percent corporate tax rate.

The Trumpists are betting that a 21 percent tax rate and expensing of capital expenditures will radically change the behavior of corporations and revive their animal spirits in ways incomprehensible to Good Little Girl liberal journalists weaned on the baby food of center-left think tanks.

So here we are, after a year of Trump, with an astonishing record of reversed regulations, abandoned climate accords, and Surgeon Pruitt busy lancing the boil at the Environmental Protection Agency. And now a major tax cat.

Really, you couldn’t choose a better setup for the 2018 midterms. The Democrats get to wail about Russia collusion and Republicans stealing the silver and #MeToo and gay wedding cakes. Republicans get to talk about middle-class tax cuts and 4 percent growth. Remember the days when Dick Morris taught Bill Clinton to strike terror into Republican hearts with their centrist triangulation between left and right. Today’s Democrats don’t know nothin’ about such pranks.

On the one hand the Republicans are moving away from the dry desert purity of lower tax rates and free trade to the sunlit uplands of a tax cut that benefits the broad middle class and immigration policy that would slow the pressure on wages for the average American worker; on the other hand, the Democrats are playing to the identity politics fringes with moral urgency of metrosexual gender experimentation and an immigration policy that only a global internationalist could like.

And there is the question of what happens when the voters discover in February that they really are getting a tax cut and not the tax increase that the Democrats and the fake news media has taught them to expect.

So the American people get to choose. A lot of people think the 2016 election was a fluke; in 2018 we may get to find out if the American voters really meant it. Gentlemen, start your engines.

Okay, so the gutless Republicans failed to repeal and replace ObamaCare — which would have enraged the Democratic party faithful — while passing a tax cut aimed straight at the middle-class family with children. But the business tax cut that Lowrey brushes off has struck terror into the Europeans and the end of the Individual Mandate has opened a vein in ObamaCare that may end with Democrats crawling on their knees over broken glass begging President Trump to save them.

Again and again, in the last year, I have felt that despite all the sound and fury about President Trump’s tweets, there are sure signs that someone with a strategic mind has been directing Trump administration policy, on matters large and small. I wonder who it is?

I couldn’t be President Trump; why he’s just a second-rate casino owner and reality show host.

Christopher Chantrill @chrischantrill runs the go-to site on US government finances, usgovernmentspending.com. Also get his American Manifesto and his Road to the Middle Class.

Democrats seem to be over the moon about their 2018 midterm prospects. They seem to think that they will clear the tables and get themselves a Trump impeachment. And maybe they are right.

There is another possibility. By November the Mueller investigation may be even more compromised than it is now by the counternarrative of an administration interfering with the opposition party’s campaign in a way that makes Watergate look like amateur hour. Oh, and the economy will be reaching into turbo mode from the tax cuts. And what will the Democrats do then, poor things?

The economic problem the Democrats are facing is illustrated by a “yes, but” piece in the Atlantic, where Good Little Girl Annie Lowrey quotes center-left think tanks to show that the corporations will spend their ill-gotten tax cut gains on stock buybacks: nothing to see here but corporate tricksters. What Trump shoulda done, she writes, is

to construct a tax plan that would have both cut the corporate income tax and ensured that workers earned more. Pairing the former with an increase in the federal minimum wage and mandatory paid leave for parents would have done so, for instance. Instead, Congress is leaving it up to businesses to benefit workers as they see fit.

Liberals really do live on another planet. The corporate tax cut was not intended as some cheap way to win votes or to benefit employees and voters in the here and now. It is simply an effort to lower the tax rate on corporate income down to generally accepted international levels approved by all card-carrying globalists. (Did they lose your application, Annie?) When corporations buy back their stock as they did in the Obama years they are simply saying that, what with all the taxes and regulations and head-winds from liberal sue-and-settle shenanigans, they have nothing better to do with their profits than buy back their stock.

But that was in the bad old days of a 35 percent corporate tax rate.

The Trumpists are betting that a 21 percent tax rate and expensing of capital expenditures will radically change the behavior of corporations and revive their animal spirits in ways incomprehensible to Good Little Girl liberal journalists weaned on the baby food of center-left think tanks.

So here we are, after a year of Trump, with an astonishing record of reversed regulations, abandoned climate accords, and Surgeon Pruitt busy lancing the boil at the Environmental Protection Agency. And now a major tax cat.

Really, you couldn’t choose a better setup for the 2018 midterms. The Democrats get to wail about Russia collusion and Republicans stealing the silver and #MeToo and gay wedding cakes. Republicans get to talk about middle-class tax cuts and 4 percent growth. Remember the days when Dick Morris taught Bill Clinton to strike terror into Republican hearts with their centrist triangulation between left and right. Today’s Democrats don’t know nothin’ about such pranks.

On the one hand the Republicans are moving away from the dry desert purity of lower tax rates and free trade to the sunlit uplands of a tax cut that benefits the broad middle class and immigration policy that would slow the pressure on wages for the average American worker; on the other hand, the Democrats are playing to the identity politics fringes with moral urgency of metrosexual gender experimentation and an immigration policy that only a global internationalist could like.

And there is the question of what happens when the voters discover in February that they really are getting a tax cut and not the tax increase that the Democrats and the fake news media has taught them to expect.

So the American people get to choose. A lot of people think the 2016 election was a fluke; in 2018 we may get to find out if the American voters really meant it. Gentlemen, start your engines.

Okay, so the gutless Republicans failed to repeal and replace ObamaCare — which would have enraged the Democratic party faithful — while passing a tax cut aimed straight at the middle-class family with children. But the business tax cut that Lowrey brushes off has struck terror into the Europeans and the end of the Individual Mandate has opened a vein in ObamaCare that may end with Democrats crawling on their knees over broken glass begging President Trump to save them.

Again and again, in the last year, I have felt that despite all the sound and fury about President Trump’s tweets, there are sure signs that someone with a strategic mind has been directing Trump administration policy, on matters large and small. I wonder who it is?

I couldn’t be President Trump; why he’s just a second-rate casino owner and reality show host.

Christopher Chantrill @chrischantrill runs the go-to site on US government finances, usgovernmentspending.com. Also get his American Manifesto and his Road to the Middle Class.



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Have Republicans finally found their groove?


After almost a year of shooting blanks, Republicans, specifically Congress, finally have a major legislative achievement under their belts. Senate Republicans, unified and in a party line vote, passed a major tax overhaul. In the House, the bill passed easily. A few House Republicans voted against the bill, virtually all from high property tax deduction states, voting to represent their constituents, knowing the bill would still pass without their votes.

Better late to the party than not at all, but why did it take until the end of the year for Republicans to finally get their act together? To realize they are the majority party. To understand that they were elected, along with President Trump, to further a conservative agenda. Building a wall. Repealing Obamacare. Cutting taxes. And more.

The president and congressional colleagues were giddy with excitement after the final vote at the White House celebrating the bill’s passage. Senator Orrin Hatch gave a heartfelt and emotional tribute to the president’s leadership, joined by colleagues also praising the president.

Gone was the criticism of President Trump over his tweets and demeanor. NeverTrumpers in Congress have dropped their “Resist we much” mantra, to borrow a phrase from Al Sharpton. Mitch McConnell acknowledged, “Regarding the president’s tweeting habits, I haven’t been a fan until this week.” 

Are they finally realizing that perhaps there is method to the president’s seeming madness? Are the tweets simply brain farts between the dozen Diet Cokes the New York Times asserts the president drinks every day? Or are the tweets strategic, deliberate, and highly effective? Propelling Trump from a candidate riding down the Trump Tower escalator to sitting in the Oval Office.

Why the change in heart? Why couldn’t they have passed a tax bill last spring or summer? Why wait until now? Several reasons.

First, winning is more fun than losing. Certainly, for congressional leaders, driving legislation across the finish line, especially for tax cuts, is a core Republican issue. After the Obamacare repeal nothingburgers, Congressional Republicans finally have something to crow about, good news to bring back to their districts for the Christmas recess. Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, subjects of derision for their lack of accomplishment, are at least for this week, heroes.

Second, next year’s congressional midterms. Realizing that legislative ineptitude is not a winning formula, Republicans have an issue to run on next fall. If they failed to pass the tax bill, GOP voters would have rightly asked, “Why vote Republican?” and stayed home on election day, realizing that it didn’t matter.

Regardless of their personal feelings toward Trump, members of Congress do want to be reelected, maintaining their perks and power. Presidents come and go but senators and congressmen live forever, serving far longer than any president. Can’t do that without being reelected. Repeatedly. Ask John Conyers who has been in Congress since the Beatles had their first hit songs.

Third, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia collusion investigation is going nowhere. It’s becoming more apparent that the “Muh Russia” story is a hoax, a scheme concocted as “insurance” to prevent Trump from winning the election, using a weaponized FBI and DOJ. Pushing the collusion narrative to cover their conspiratorial tracks as Conservative Treehouse and Doug Ross have carefully detailed.

The Trump dossier, serving as a basis for the entire story, is bogus. Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe told House investigators that the only piece of the dossier that could be verified is that, “Trump campaign adviser Carter Page had traveled to Moscow.” That’s it. Except the part about Trump once pouring Russian dressing on his salad.

The collusion investigation is a big boomerang, heading back to chop heads off the deep state operatives in the FBI and DOJ. Rather than Trump going to jail or being impeached, many prominent Democrats and deep staters may be the ones on the hot seat.

Congressional Republicans, reading only the Washington Post and watching CNN, may have believed the entire story. Fearing that they would go down with Trump, they kept their distance. Out of political expediency, similar to the Democrats distancing themselves from Al Franken and the aforementioned John Conyers. Watching the collusion story crumble as Congressional committees peel back the layers of the onion, fair weather Republicans are realizing that it’s safe to get back in the water.

Finally, Republicans have finally realized that Trump is a winning horse. Reagan, not Nixon. Or either of the Bushes. He had a great first year, accomplishing much despite an overwhelming and unrelenting assault from the media and their Democrat allies. Those opposing Trump have been steamrolled. Why would Congressional Republicans want to suffer the same fate when hopping on the Trump train is far easier and politically expedient?

Regardless of reason, Congressional Republicans have finally found their groove. The question is will they keep it up or fall back to old ways in the new year? If they can remain unified with the President and each other, think of how much they can accomplish. And maintain their Congressional majorities for a decade or more. Let’s hope this new-found unity is an overdue awakening rather than a flash in the pan.

Brian C. Joondeph, MD, MPS, a Denver-based physician and writer. Follow him on Facebook,  LinkedIn and Twitter.

 

After almost a year of shooting blanks, Republicans, specifically Congress, finally have a major legislative achievement under their belts. Senate Republicans, unified and in a party line vote, passed a major tax overhaul. In the House, the bill passed easily. A few House Republicans voted against the bill, virtually all from high property tax deduction states, voting to represent their constituents, knowing the bill would still pass without their votes.

Better late to the party than not at all, but why did it take until the end of the year for Republicans to finally get their act together? To realize they are the majority party. To understand that they were elected, along with President Trump, to further a conservative agenda. Building a wall. Repealing Obamacare. Cutting taxes. And more.

The president and congressional colleagues were giddy with excitement after the final vote at the White House celebrating the bill’s passage. Senator Orrin Hatch gave a heartfelt and emotional tribute to the president’s leadership, joined by colleagues also praising the president.

Gone was the criticism of President Trump over his tweets and demeanor. NeverTrumpers in Congress have dropped their “Resist we much” mantra, to borrow a phrase from Al Sharpton. Mitch McConnell acknowledged, “Regarding the president’s tweeting habits, I haven’t been a fan until this week.” 

Are they finally realizing that perhaps there is method to the president’s seeming madness? Are the tweets simply brain farts between the dozen Diet Cokes the New York Times asserts the president drinks every day? Or are the tweets strategic, deliberate, and highly effective? Propelling Trump from a candidate riding down the Trump Tower escalator to sitting in the Oval Office.

Why the change in heart? Why couldn’t they have passed a tax bill last spring or summer? Why wait until now? Several reasons.

First, winning is more fun than losing. Certainly, for congressional leaders, driving legislation across the finish line, especially for tax cuts, is a core Republican issue. After the Obamacare repeal nothingburgers, Congressional Republicans finally have something to crow about, good news to bring back to their districts for the Christmas recess. Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, subjects of derision for their lack of accomplishment, are at least for this week, heroes.

Second, next year’s congressional midterms. Realizing that legislative ineptitude is not a winning formula, Republicans have an issue to run on next fall. If they failed to pass the tax bill, GOP voters would have rightly asked, “Why vote Republican?” and stayed home on election day, realizing that it didn’t matter.

Regardless of their personal feelings toward Trump, members of Congress do want to be reelected, maintaining their perks and power. Presidents come and go but senators and congressmen live forever, serving far longer than any president. Can’t do that without being reelected. Repeatedly. Ask John Conyers who has been in Congress since the Beatles had their first hit songs.

Third, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia collusion investigation is going nowhere. It’s becoming more apparent that the “Muh Russia” story is a hoax, a scheme concocted as “insurance” to prevent Trump from winning the election, using a weaponized FBI and DOJ. Pushing the collusion narrative to cover their conspiratorial tracks as Conservative Treehouse and Doug Ross have carefully detailed.

The Trump dossier, serving as a basis for the entire story, is bogus. Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe told House investigators that the only piece of the dossier that could be verified is that, “Trump campaign adviser Carter Page had traveled to Moscow.” That’s it. Except the part about Trump once pouring Russian dressing on his salad.

The collusion investigation is a big boomerang, heading back to chop heads off the deep state operatives in the FBI and DOJ. Rather than Trump going to jail or being impeached, many prominent Democrats and deep staters may be the ones on the hot seat.

Congressional Republicans, reading only the Washington Post and watching CNN, may have believed the entire story. Fearing that they would go down with Trump, they kept their distance. Out of political expediency, similar to the Democrats distancing themselves from Al Franken and the aforementioned John Conyers. Watching the collusion story crumble as Congressional committees peel back the layers of the onion, fair weather Republicans are realizing that it’s safe to get back in the water.

Finally, Republicans have finally realized that Trump is a winning horse. Reagan, not Nixon. Or either of the Bushes. He had a great first year, accomplishing much despite an overwhelming and unrelenting assault from the media and their Democrat allies. Those opposing Trump have been steamrolled. Why would Congressional Republicans want to suffer the same fate when hopping on the Trump train is far easier and politically expedient?

Regardless of reason, Congressional Republicans have finally found their groove. The question is will they keep it up or fall back to old ways in the new year? If they can remain unified with the President and each other, think of how much they can accomplish. And maintain their Congressional majorities for a decade or more. Let’s hope this new-found unity is an overdue awakening rather than a flash in the pan.

Brian C. Joondeph, MD, MPS, a Denver-based physician and writer. Follow him on Facebook,  LinkedIn and Twitter.

 



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The Case Against Mahmoud Abbas


There’s been plenty of rancor since President Trump declared Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel.  Some are saying his remarks have brought the peace process to a halt.

To such accusations I say, “what peace process?”

I submit that if anyone is guilty of why there is no peace process, it is none other than Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Unless you are spelling it p-i-e-c-e. The record shows that rather than p-e-a-c-e- with Israel, he wants to take it apart piece by piece until it doesn’t exist anymore. In order to present the case, I will lay out the evidence to the court of public opinion.

  • Exhibit 1- Munich Olympics

Who will ever forget the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre where 11 Israeli athletes were held hostage by Arab terrorists and lost their lives.  The financier of the operation was Mahmoud Abbas.

  • Exhibit 2- Holocaust Denial 

In 1982, he wrote his PhD thesis entitled: “The Other Side: The Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism.” The topic was denial of the Holocaust. Such views are associated with anti-Semitism. Aside from Israel, 21 countries have made Holocaust denial a crime. The United States does not criminalize it.

In January 2005, he was elected to a four-year term as president of the Palestinian Authority. Here’s a short list of what’s taken place during his never-ending four-year term:

  • Exhibit 3- Rejects Recognition of Jewish State

While several Israeli prime ministers, including Benjamin Netanyahu have acknowledged acceptance of a ‘Palestinian’ state, Abbas has repeatedly said he will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state.  Demanding recognition of a Palestinian state while rejecting Israel’s right to exist proves he is not serious about peace. Moreover, he has no business talking about a “just solution. Most recently Abbas challenged Israel’s right to be recognized as a state by the international community saying it is “invalid.”

  • Exhibit 4- Right of Return

Abbas demands the “right of return,” for so-called “refugees” from the 1948 and 1967 wars, along with their descendants. Their numbers vary, but suffice to say this would eliminate the Jewish majority in Israel. Thus the only homeland the Jewish people have would cease to exist as such, and become the Middle East’s 23rd Muslim Arab-dominated country while the Jews would have none.

  • Exhibit 5- No Jews Allowed in Future Palestinian State

There are well over 1 million Arabs who live in Israel with full benefits of citizenship. They vote, own businesses, own property, are doctors, lawyers, professors, etc. They are elected to the Knesset and have even been members of the Supreme Court. They also have complete freedom of worship. There are mosques throughout Israel. Yet Abbas says not one Israeli [Jew], civilian or soldier will be tolerated in any future Palestinian state. Ironically, he’s accused Israel of being an ‘apartheid state.’

  • Exhibit 6- Fatah Constitution

He is head of the Fatah Party. Their constitution calls for the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state.

For example-
Article 9: “liberating Palestine and protecting its holy places is an Arab, religious and human obligation.
Article 12:complete liberation of Palestine, and eradication of Zionist economic, military, political and cultural existence.”

Can you imagine if Israel had similar statements regarding Arab Palestinians in its constitution? Where are the demands from world leaders and organizations for Fatah’s constitution to remove these statements?

  • Exhibit 7- Terrorist Glorification

Abbas routinely praises terrorists who murdered Israeli civilians. Moreover, he names parks, schools and even children’s summer camps after them. By honoring these murderers they become elevated to ‘role model’ status.

  • Exhibit 8- Murderers Earn Big Salaries

He provides large salaries for jailed terrorists who murdered Israeli Jews. The more heinous the crime, the larger the salary is. More than $1 billion dollars has been paid out to jailed terrorists over the past 4 years. Some get paid more than 5 times what the average Palestinian earns. Much of the money comes from U.S. taxpayers. He goes so far to say he will never stop paying them, thus rejecting a direct request by President Trump.

He claims Jerusalem as a Muslim city and says every drop of spilled Muslim blood is holy. He also says any Palestinian state must have ‘east’ Jerusalem as its capital, and rejects any Jewish historical connection to Jerusalem. By this, he is saying the Bible and documented history is incorrect.

  • Exhibit 10- Israel Slapped in the Face at U.N.

On Nov. 29, 2012, Abbas spoke at the United Nations when “Palestine” was admitted as a ‘non-member observer.’ It’s interesting to note the date of his speech (Nov. 29) is the very same date the U.N. voted to approve resolution 181 in 1947, which partitioned two states, one Arab, one Jewish, resulting in the birth of modern Israel. I believe this event was specifically orchestrated as a slap in the face to Israel. Abbas, a glorifier of murderers, a Holocaust denier whose party’s own constitution calls for the destruction of Israel (a full U.N. member), received thunderous applause which included standing ovations.

  • Exhibit 11- ‘Educating’ the Next Generation

If you believe the future may bring hope for peace don’t hold your breath. The next generation is being fully trained to take up the banner of destroying Israel.

In ‘Palestinian’ schools children are taught:

  • Jews stole their land
  • Jerusalem is theirs
  • Haifa, Acre, Jaffa, Tiberius and other Israeli cities belong to them
  • They must engage in armed jihad to kill the Jews, destroy Israel and take back ‘their’ land

Here’s a video about ‘Palestinian’ schools.

  • Exhibit 12- Fatah Party Emblem

Finally, lest there be any doubt the goal of Abbas’s Fatah Party is to destroy Israel and replace it with a single Muslim state take a look at the party’s official emblem . Where are two states? There is no Israel. There is just one state called “Palestine” which covers the entire land area of Israel. Note the weaponry? If there is any doubt that their goal is the destruction of Israel through war, this emblem makes it perfectly clear.

There are additional exhibits points about Abbas, however this list provides more than enough evidence that Israel is not the reason why there is no peace agreement, or even a peace process. Mahmoud Abbas is fully committed to the elimination of the State of Israel. Whether its demise is economic, demographic, political or through force is irrelevant. Israel stands in the way of his goal which is a single Muslim state of Palestine. To that end he is fully committed. He alone is guilty of there being no peace process.

The end of the “peace process” begins with Mahmoud Abbas.

Ladies and gentlemen, the prosecution rests its case.

Dan Calic is a writer, history student and speaker. For more of his articles visit https://www.facebook.com/heartlandofthehomeland/

 

 

 

There’s been plenty of rancor since President Trump declared Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel.  Some are saying his remarks have brought the peace process to a halt.

To such accusations I say, “what peace process?”

I submit that if anyone is guilty of why there is no peace process, it is none other than Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Unless you are spelling it p-i-e-c-e. The record shows that rather than p-e-a-c-e- with Israel, he wants to take it apart piece by piece until it doesn’t exist anymore. In order to present the case, I will lay out the evidence to the court of public opinion.

  • Exhibit 1- Munich Olympics

Who will ever forget the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre where 11 Israeli athletes were held hostage by Arab terrorists and lost their lives.  The financier of the operation was Mahmoud Abbas.

  • Exhibit 2- Holocaust Denial 

In 1982, he wrote his PhD thesis entitled: “The Other Side: The Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism.” The topic was denial of the Holocaust. Such views are associated with anti-Semitism. Aside from Israel, 21 countries have made Holocaust denial a crime. The United States does not criminalize it.

In January 2005, he was elected to a four-year term as president of the Palestinian Authority. Here’s a short list of what’s taken place during his never-ending four-year term:

  • Exhibit 3- Rejects Recognition of Jewish State

While several Israeli prime ministers, including Benjamin Netanyahu have acknowledged acceptance of a ‘Palestinian’ state, Abbas has repeatedly said he will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state.  Demanding recognition of a Palestinian state while rejecting Israel’s right to exist proves he is not serious about peace. Moreover, he has no business talking about a “just solution. Most recently Abbas challenged Israel’s right to be recognized as a state by the international community saying it is “invalid.”

  • Exhibit 4- Right of Return

Abbas demands the “right of return,” for so-called “refugees” from the 1948 and 1967 wars, along with their descendants. Their numbers vary, but suffice to say this would eliminate the Jewish majority in Israel. Thus the only homeland the Jewish people have would cease to exist as such, and become the Middle East’s 23rd Muslim Arab-dominated country while the Jews would have none.

  • Exhibit 5- No Jews Allowed in Future Palestinian State

There are well over 1 million Arabs who live in Israel with full benefits of citizenship. They vote, own businesses, own property, are doctors, lawyers, professors, etc. They are elected to the Knesset and have even been members of the Supreme Court. They also have complete freedom of worship. There are mosques throughout Israel. Yet Abbas says not one Israeli [Jew], civilian or soldier will be tolerated in any future Palestinian state. Ironically, he’s accused Israel of being an ‘apartheid state.’

  • Exhibit 6- Fatah Constitution

He is head of the Fatah Party. Their constitution calls for the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state.

For example-
Article 9: “liberating Palestine and protecting its holy places is an Arab, religious and human obligation.
Article 12:complete liberation of Palestine, and eradication of Zionist economic, military, political and cultural existence.”

Can you imagine if Israel had similar statements regarding Arab Palestinians in its constitution? Where are the demands from world leaders and organizations for Fatah’s constitution to remove these statements?

  • Exhibit 7- Terrorist Glorification

Abbas routinely praises terrorists who murdered Israeli civilians. Moreover, he names parks, schools and even children’s summer camps after them. By honoring these murderers they become elevated to ‘role model’ status.

  • Exhibit 8- Murderers Earn Big Salaries

He provides large salaries for jailed terrorists who murdered Israeli Jews. The more heinous the crime, the larger the salary is. More than $1 billion dollars has been paid out to jailed terrorists over the past 4 years. Some get paid more than 5 times what the average Palestinian earns. Much of the money comes from U.S. taxpayers. He goes so far to say he will never stop paying them, thus rejecting a direct request by President Trump.

He claims Jerusalem as a Muslim city and says every drop of spilled Muslim blood is holy. He also says any Palestinian state must have ‘east’ Jerusalem as its capital, and rejects any Jewish historical connection to Jerusalem. By this, he is saying the Bible and documented history is incorrect.

  • Exhibit 10- Israel Slapped in the Face at U.N.

On Nov. 29, 2012, Abbas spoke at the United Nations when “Palestine” was admitted as a ‘non-member observer.’ It’s interesting to note the date of his speech (Nov. 29) is the very same date the U.N. voted to approve resolution 181 in 1947, which partitioned two states, one Arab, one Jewish, resulting in the birth of modern Israel. I believe this event was specifically orchestrated as a slap in the face to Israel. Abbas, a glorifier of murderers, a Holocaust denier whose party’s own constitution calls for the destruction of Israel (a full U.N. member), received thunderous applause which included standing ovations.

  • Exhibit 11- ‘Educating’ the Next Generation

If you believe the future may bring hope for peace don’t hold your breath. The next generation is being fully trained to take up the banner of destroying Israel.

In ‘Palestinian’ schools children are taught:

  • Jews stole their land
  • Jerusalem is theirs
  • Haifa, Acre, Jaffa, Tiberius and other Israeli cities belong to them
  • They must engage in armed jihad to kill the Jews, destroy Israel and take back ‘their’ land

Here’s a video about ‘Palestinian’ schools.

  • Exhibit 12- Fatah Party Emblem

Finally, lest there be any doubt the goal of Abbas’s Fatah Party is to destroy Israel and replace it with a single Muslim state take a look at the party’s official emblem . Where are two states? There is no Israel. There is just one state called “Palestine” which covers the entire land area of Israel. Note the weaponry? If there is any doubt that their goal is the destruction of Israel through war, this emblem makes it perfectly clear.

There are additional exhibits points about Abbas, however this list provides more than enough evidence that Israel is not the reason why there is no peace agreement, or even a peace process. Mahmoud Abbas is fully committed to the elimination of the State of Israel. Whether its demise is economic, demographic, political or through force is irrelevant. Israel stands in the way of his goal which is a single Muslim state of Palestine. To that end he is fully committed. He alone is guilty of there being no peace process.

The end of the “peace process” begins with Mahmoud Abbas.

Ladies and gentlemen, the prosecution rests its case.

Dan Calic is a writer, history student and speaker. For more of his articles visit https://www.facebook.com/heartlandofthehomeland/

 

 

 



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SHOWDOWN: Hoping to get around federal law, illegal immigrants seek governors' pardons to block deportation…


The two Cambodian refugees living in Northern California had been convicted of crimes years ago and, under the Trump administration’s more aggressive immigration enforcement policies, those offenses had placed them on a path toward deportation.

But on Saturday, Gov. Jerry Brown announced the pardons of both men — Mony Neth of Modesto and Rottanak Kong of Davis — saying they had paid their debts to society and now lived honest and upright lives.

Immigration is a federal, not state, responsibility, but attorneys for the men hope the pardons will eliminate the rationale for deporting them. Across the country, immigration attorneys are doing the same: seeking gubernatorial pardons in last-ditch attempts to forestall deportations or allow the deported to return to the U.S.

Targeting convicted criminals for deportation isn’t a new idea; it was a priority under President Obama, who deported more people than any of his predecessors. But during the Obama administration, only those with serious crimes on their records were targeted for removal. President Trump has cast a much wider net.

Shortly after his inauguration, Trump signed an executive order directing the Department of Homeland Security to prioritize the removal of people in the U.S. illegally who have criminal convictions. In addition to speeding up the deportation of convicts, Trump’s orders also called for quick removal of people in the country illegally who are charged with crimes and waiting for adjudication.

And federal officials began to act swiftly.

In June, immigration authorities in Michigan rounded up more than 100 Iraqi nationals with criminal backgrounds. A month later, about 40 of them asked Republican Gov. Rick Snyder for pardons.

Among those seeking a reprieve was Usama Hamama, 54, who co-owns a market in the Detroit area. Hamama, who came to the United States as a refugee when he was 11, was convicted of felony assault and carrying a gun in a vehicle in 1988. He was sentenced to two years in prison. Since 1992, he has faced the threat of deportation, but that hadn’t been a real possibility until the Trump administration.

Hamama’s attorney, Bill Swor, who works closely with the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, described his client’s crime as a low-level road rage incident. Since then, he said, Hamama has raised a family and opened his small business.

“A pardon would wipe clean this offense and his record,” Swor said of Hamama, who is being held in a federal immigration detention facility in Michigan. “He was in the country legally when the offense occurred, so a pardon takes us back to that status.”

Last month, Hamama’s 12-year-old daughter, Lindsey, wrote a letter to a federal judge overseeing her father’s case. She also sent a copy to the governor.

“All I want for Christmas,” she wrote, “is my dad home and nothing else.”

The governor’s office has not made a decision on a pardon.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, a Republican, received a similar plea — this one from an Army veteran with a felony drug conviction. Miguel Perez Jr., 39, joined the military in 2001 as a legal permanent resident and served two tours in Afghanistan.

In 2008, he was convicted of distributing less than 100 grams of cocaine. Perez, a native of Mexico, served half of his 15-year prison sentence but had his residency revoked as a result of the conviction and is being held in a detention center in Wisconsin.

Rauner hasn’t decided whether he’ll grant the pardon.

Gubernatorial pardons don’t guarantee an immigrant facing deportation could remain in the U.S., but they might have an effect, said Jason Cade, an associate professor of law at the University of Georgia, who characterized it as a case-by-case issue.

For example, Cade said, if an immigrant has a drug conviction that makes them subject to deportation and that conviction is pardoned, then deportation should no longer be an option.

“The bottom line is that full and unconditional pardons should absolutely be effective as a defense against deportation in cases where the conviction triggers certain removal categories — specifically those targeting aggravated felonies … or multiple criminal convictions,” said Cade, who has written extensively on immigration law.

Though the federal government may still have grounds to deport someone, Cade said, a pardon might lead authorities “to exercise favorable discretion.”

But that hasn’t always happened.

This year, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, pardoned Liliana Cruz Mendez, a mother of two who lived in the suburbs outside Washington. Cruz Mendez, who was in the country illegally from El Salvador, was stopped for a minor traffic infraction in 2014; her car had a blown-out headlight.

George Escobar, senior director at CASA — an immigrant rights group in the Washington area — called McAuliffe’s pardon “a show of solidarity for her cause and the belief she should not have to leave this country.”

“We had hoped that it would sway” Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said Escobar, who had worked to secure her pardon. “Unfortunately that was not the case.”

Federal immigration officials deported Cruz Mendez this summer.

But for others, especially people with green cards or other legal status, pardons have helped. Another common thread: living in a state with a Democratic governor who perhaps is looking to push back against the Trump administration.

In May, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, pardoned Rene Lima-Marin, who in 2008 was mistakenly released early from prison, where he was serving time for a robbery conviction. Lima-Marin, who had fled Cuba in the 1980s, got married, had a son and started working. Six years later, in 2014, Colorado officials realized the mistake and took him back into custody.

This year, days after a judge released Lima-Marin, Hickenlooper pardoned him. Even so, Lima-Marin sits in an immigration detention center, though his attorneys are hopeful he will be released.

“In terms of rehabilitation, he demonstrated an ability to contribute to the fabric of his community and Colorado,” Hickenlooper said during a news conference around the time of the pardon. “He rebuilt his life. He’s become a law-abiding, productive member of his community.”

But in a different case this fall, Hickenlooper denied a pardon request from Ingrid Encalada Latorre, who has found sanctuary in churches throughout Colorado for much of the last year. Latorre, a native of Peru, has been living in the United States illegally for 15 years.

“We carefully look at each case and take a holistic approach when considering an application,” Hickenlooper said in an email. “Clemency is not the solution to our country’s broken immigration system.”

In California, Brown, a Democrat, has issued pardons that touched the lives of those facing deportation as well as those already removed from the country.

In 2015, Brown pardoned Eddy Zheng, an immigrant fighting deportation after spending more than two decades in prison for a robbery conviction. Zheng and his family immigrated to the U.S. in the 1980s from China. He remains in the U.S. and became a naturalized citizen in this year.

The pardons announced Saturday were granted to Neth, who was convicted on a felony weapons charge in 1995, and Kong, who was convicted on felony joyriding in 2003. In his pardon message, among several dozen issued, Brown said that since Neth and Kong left prison, both had gone on to become “law-abiding citizens.”

Of Kong, he added, “Indeed, several individuals wrote in support of Mr. Kong, describing him as kind and generous, and as a role model to those who face insurmountable challenges in their lives.”

Last spring, Brown pardoned two former Marines, Erasmo Apodaca Mendizabal and Marco Antonio Chavez, as well as former soldier Hector Barajas Varela. All three had received honorable discharges from the military but later were convicted of crimes and eventually deported.

An immigration judge reinstated Chavez’s green card in November after Brown’s pardon. On Thursday, after 15 years in Mexico, Chavez returned to the U.S.

Moments after walking across the border near San Diego, he told reporters that he could hardly believe that this year his Christmas morning would begin with a hug from his relatives.

kurtis.lee@latimes.com

Twitter: @kurtisalee



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