The One Thing Government’s Getting Right These Days? Immigration

Call it an invisible (policy) fence, if you will, but it’s startlingly effective. A Washington Post report from yesterday details some of the successes of the Trump administration on immigration: actually enforcing existing laws, strengthening border security, and stemming the tide of low-skill immigrants entering the United States—all this without yet building a physical border wall.

“Arrests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement are up more than 40 percent this year, and the agency wants to more than double its staff by 2023, according to a federal contracting notice published this month. ICE is calling for a major increase in workplace raids and has signed more than two dozen agreements with state and local governments that want to help arrest and detain undocumented residents . . . ”

“Trump’s tough talk alone appears to be one of the administration’s best bulwarks: Illegal crossings along the border with Mexico have plunged to their lowest level in 45 years, and U.S. agents are catching a far greater share of those attempting to sneak in.”

That’s news that Americans can be thankful for this year.

Of course, the Post report doesn’t quite get it right. Twice it claims that the Trump administration and the immigration hawks who support him are really only motivated by prejudice (“some of Trump’s most fervent supporters see curbing immigration as a way to turn back the United States’ rapid racial and ethnic transformation”), rather than being concerned about crime, illegal drugs, and strengthening the workforce for American citizens. But if the American people come out ahead under these policies, the liberal elite can hem and haw all they like.

Less Waste!

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Dems Threaten Shutdown Over Dreamers

Democrats are threatening a government shutdown, Politico and The Hill report. They demand the funding bill include legal protections or a path to citizenship for Dreamers. Conservative Republicans say the immigration fix should be addressed next year instead of being tacked onto a budget bill.

“House conservatives have warned Speaker Paul Ryan against lumping a fix for undocumented immigrants who came to the country as minors into a year-end spending deal. They want him to keep the two issues separate and delay immigration negotiations into 2018 to increase their leverage — which both Ryan and the White House consider reasonable,” according to the Politico report.

“But many liberal Democrats have already vowed to withhold votes from the spending bill should it not address Dreamers, putting Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer in an awkward spot if they don’t go along.”

Democrats have been threatening a shutdown since September if the DACA fix isn’t included in the spending bill. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and several Democratic senators have already publicly said they will not support any federal spending measure that does not in their view adequately protect Dreamers from deportation.

But Republicans are sure to share some of the blame for intra-party fighting, along with Congress’ typical inability to take hard stances, if a shutdown comes to pass.

Pensler Announces for US Senate, Becomes Instant Front Runner

Detroit businessman Sandy Pensler just announced his candidacy for US Senate. A new face in the race for the GOP nomination is a big relief for many Republicans. A true outsider candidate with an extensive business background and the ability to pour millions of his own money into his campaign is exactly what the GOP is in need of.

His opponents, John James and Bob Young announced months ago, but have failed to gain much traction. Neither seem to have what it takes to defeat Debbie Stabenow, who’s held the seat since 2001. And although they’ve both attempted to position themselves as “outsiders,” voters don’t seem to be buying it, and it is Pensler who’s beginning to look like the best fit for that description.

Pensler was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. He is the founder and president of Pensler Capital, and owns and operates four manufacturing plants that make dishwasher detergent and household cleaning supplies. Korex is the most well-known company owned by Pensler Capital. Korex has a plant in Wixom, MI which provides over 100 jobs to Michiganders. It was built when Pensler purchased several failing companies and completely turned them around. All Korex companies are profitable now with no net financial debt and substantial surplus net cash on hand.

Pensler is now looking to translate his success in the business world to his senate campaign, with the slogan, “Michigan First.”

His website states, “Implementing an agenda that puts Michigan First will make sure that Michigan becomes on track to be 1st. Michigan wasn’t just 1st in the country, we were 1st in the world.

We were the automobile capital. We were the manufacturing epicenter of the globe. We led in cars, chemicals, retailing, cereal, and helped win a world war. Michigan has made great strides in the past eight years because of the leadership at our state level, but the help from our Senators hasn’t been there. Debbie Stabenow cares more about what Chuck Schumer thinks than how struggling Michiganders live. Things are going to change. We are going to implement policies at the federal level that put Michigan First, and that is going to make Michigan 1st in the statistics that matter.

That means 1st in job creation. That means 1st in wages. That means 1st in education. That means 1st in entrepreneurship. We can create the future in mobility, healthcare, and manufacturing.”

Pensler’s real-world business experience elevates this to more than just rhetoric. Voters can be confident in his ability to see it through if elected. He told Crain’s Detroit Business, “I think small business manufacturing in particular, and small businesses in general, are big drivers of economic growth and employment and I would want to fight to make sure they’re treated well.”

Pensler is hoping Republicans will rally behind the “Michigan First” mentality, and give him the nod to take on Stabenow in 2018. There’s certainly an opening with poor performances by James and Young thus far.

Kid Rock made waves this summer when he said he would be running for the Senate seat, but ultimately decided against it.

And Lena Epstein led both James and Young in the polls until dropping out of the race to run for Congress instead.

That left many expecting Congressman Fred Upton to take advantage of the relatively weak Republican field. Upton was widely speculated to be running for Senate until last week when he confirmed he’d be running for reelection instead.

A poll was conducted by Strategic National from November 14-15, just prior to Upton dropping out. The survey of likely Republican voters had 26% of respondents supporting Upton, 7% supporting James, 6% supporting Young, and 61% undecided.

Young and James both appear to be stuck in neutral, unable to appeal to a large percentage of GOP voters. That’s a big problem heading into 2018, taking on an incumbent Democratic Senator who will surely spend a significant amount of money in her reelection bid.

Bob Young announced his run for US Senate over the summer. It got off to a very rocky start with a disastrous campaign rollout. He appeared weak, vulnerable, and many questioned his ability to take on Stabenow.

Third quarter FEC numbers was just further evidence he doesn’t have what it takes to win the General Election. He raised $156,054.87 and had just $102,014.57 cash on hand.

John James was rumored to be having success in fundraising, but that turned out to be false when he badly under-performed expectations with only $216,204.26 cash on hand.

Both have a long way to go to match the $5 million of his own money Pensler says he will be using to fund his primary campaign. Pensler will also likely enjoy a boost financially from his business connections in southeast Michigan and across the country.

A well-funded campaign will give Pensler a major leg up on his GOP opponents. Stabenow had close to $7 million cash on hand at the end of September.

And it’s already clear Pensler isn’t going to let his substantial war chest get in the way of connecting with conservatives and grassroots activists. He’s making an effort to reach out to potential supporters by making it clear he is 100% pro-life. 

Michigan Republicans are tired of losing US Senate elections. They know they need a candidate with a winning message, and the financial strength to be able to get it out.

Pensler exhibits both those qualities, and on day one of his campaign already looks like the most promising GOP candidate to defeat Debbie Stabenow.

Pensler Describes Conversion to Pro-Life Many Years Ago

Sandy Pensler announced his candidacy for US Senate Monday morning. He’s being viewed as an outsider candidate with an extensive business background that could aid in Michigan’s economic comeback.

Vowing to fund his campaign with millions of his own money is making him look like the GOP’s best option to take on Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow.

But Pensler isn’t letting his money get in the way of reaching out to conservatives and grassroots activists across the state. On day one of his campaign, he’s making an effort to reach out to potential supporters, and clarify his position on an important issue.

Pensler ran for Congress 25 years ago back in 1992 and declared himself pro-choice in that election.  It was a three-way race between Margaret O’Connor, Dick Chrysler, and Sandy Pensler.  Right to Life of Michigan endorsed O’Connor in that race, and Dick Chrysler ended up winning the nomination and serving in Congress.

A few individuals tied to his opponent’s campaigns are trying to portray Pensler as still pro-choice.

However, Pensler is describing a change of heart he’s had on the issue since the younger version of himself that ran in 1992.

“My wife and I think abortion is a bad thing and wrong, consider ourselves pro-life, and strongly believe that Roe v Wade was a terrible decision. We should defund planned parenthood and put in place judges that do not legislate from the bench,” Pensler said.  “My position on the issue has evolved from when I ran 25 years ago influenced by having had and raised my own family.”

It’s smart to see Pensler so openly describe his conversion to pro-life.  One of the tenants of pro-life activists is to accept converts with open arms because a majority of the country will be needed to win this important fight.

Pensler joins President Trump and other key Republican leaders who have become more pro-life in the past 25 years.

He is in a position to bring spark and attention to a senate race that has stalled out as of late now that Kid Rock, Lena Epstein, and Fred Upton decided not to run.

Both of his announced opponents John James and Bob Young seem to be stuck in neutral. They’ve been running for months, but have been unable to garner much support from Republicans across the state.

Third quarter fundraising numbers were further evidence of this. James raised $309,154.13 and had $216,204.26 cash on hand.  Young’s numbers were even worse, raising $156,054.87 with just $102,014.57 cash on hand.

They’re not raising nearly enough to come even close to competing with Debbie Stabenow in the General Election. Stabenow had close to $7 million in the bank last quarter, and will have a lot of help from establishment Democrats in her reelection bid.

Not only will Pensler be putting up enough of his own money to compete, but should also enjoy a boost from his many business connections in southeast Michigan and across the country.

Pensler has instantly become the candidate to watch in Michigan.

Report: Border Patrol Agent Killed by Rock-Wielding Illegal Immigrants

“Illegal immigrants reportedly assaulted two U.S. Border Patrol agents with rocks, killing one and seriously injuring another Sunday near the southern border with Mexico,” according to Fox News this morning.

Agent Rogelio Martinez died of his injuries yesterday morning. His partner, not named in the report, was injured. The two agents were at the Big Bend Sector of the Texas-Mexico border when the incident took place.

“Details around the attack remained murky Monday, however, an FBI spokesperson said Rogelio Martinez and his partner were not shot and a National Border Patrol Council official told KTSM the assailants were ‘undocumented immigrants’ who used likely used rocks to bash the agents.”

President Trump was quick to take to Twitter to renew his calls for stronger border protections, including a border wall.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz issued a formal statement of condolence for the family and friends of Martinez, also stating, “This is a stark reminder of the ongoing threat that an unsecure border poses to the safety of our communities and those charged with defending them.”

Martinez was 36 years old, and had been a border agent since 2013.

The GOP Needs A Win

The Briefing, Vol. V, Issue 48 – This week:

  • Tax reform or bust
  • Republicans headed for loss of Ala. Senate seat
  • Menendez corruption mistrial delays any pain for Dems

A happy Thanksgiving to all of our readers.

Outlook

Ever since President Trump’s surprise election victory, Republicans have had complete control of the federal government. And they’ve done precious little with it.

To be sure, President Trump’s deregulatory agenda has seen some big successes. Using the Congressional Review Act, Congress has passed and President Trump signed several regulatory repeal bills that not only halt Obama-era regulations, but will actually prevent future Democratic administrations from bringing them back.

But as far the legislative accomplishments that Trump promised, he simply hasn’t been able to get them through a fractious and difficult congressional Republican caucus.

Health care failed. The wall still hasn’t been funded. And now, tax reform, which easily passed the House, is running into roadblocks in the Senate. Even now, with their party’s total failure to govern looming as a potential threat to everyone’s re-election, a number of senators (generally not those facing re-election in 2018) are raising various objections and demanding various additions to the tax reform plan that Republicans have had more than a year now to prepare for passage.

The Republican Party may not be able to survive as the governing party if it experiences another failure like the health care reform debacle. There is very little margin for error in tax reform, and even less because  of what’ happening now in Alabama.

Senate 2017

Alabama: As of last week, the polls finally came into agreement with both the conventional wisdom and President Trump’s assessment during the primaries: Thanks to Roy Moore’s nomination, Republicans are on track to give away a Senate seat next month that they could have easily retained.

Apparently, Moore’s habit of dating teenaged girls when he was a thirtysomething seems to have caught up with him — and that’s assuming if you disbelieve the more serious allegations of sexual assault against minor girls.

There is a

 

 temptation among Republicans to compare this case to that of Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., who was credibly accused of very extreme sexual harassment and assault during a 2006 USO tour, two years before the longtime comedian ran for the Senate. It may be that Franken deserves to be turned out of office or even expelled from the Senate for what he did, but the most obvious differences are that (1) Franken, unlike Moore, has not evidently lied about what happened; and (2) his accuser has offered him public forgiveness after his public apology. Moore, on the other hand, has offered unsatisfactory explanations that have not even made believers of Steve Bannon and Sean Hannity.

Moore has, of course, sought to defuse this controversy by changing the subject, and it’s abundantly clear that he won’t be dropping out of the race. His rhetoric continues along the same lines as during the primary, as if this race could still be a referendum on himself versus the GOP establishment, and not his alleged predilection for teenaged girls. When Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tells Moore to step down as the nominee, Moore retorts that McConnell is the one who ought to step down, because he has “failed conservatives.”

But Moore’s problem goes far beyond that. No, the alleged sexual assaults against minors

have not been proven. But he has offered too many equivocations about his alleged habit of dating teenagers when he was in his 30s for even erstwhile allies to find him credible. Things need to have gotten pretty bad for Moore to poll behind a Democrat in Alabama — and indeed, bad they have gotten. Meanwhile, nearly any other Republican would win this race in a walk.

At this point, McConnell and other Republicans have essentially given up on any of the gimmicks that might save the seat. Their best hope was for Trump to intervene, but he declined to do so. Their best hope now is for voters to choose Moore on the understanding that he will be expelled and a new election will occur. This possibility is pretty remote, although not impossible.

As matters stand, Democrats are now likely to win this race and hold an Alabama Senate seat (for the first time in 20 years) through 2020. This will diminish Republicans’ already slim majority and throw a new wrench into any further attempts by President Trump to move anything on his agenda.

A one-seat Senate majority not only makes the 2018 election less promising for the GOP, but it also effectively gives moderate senators like Susan Collins power over the entire senate. As in the early days of the Bush administration, moderate Republicans would have effective veto power over every proposal. That’s surely enough to keep Trump awake at night.

Senate 2018

Florida: Just to add to the perpetually smouldering wreck that has been Florida’s Democratic Party for about two decades, state chairman Stephen Bittel is being forced to step down due to — you guessed it — sexual harassment allegations.

Florida’s Democratic Party is already one of America’s least effective. It has been shut out

FL Gov. Rick Scott

of power in every statewide office (except one term by former state CFO Alex Sink, D) and both houses of the state legislature for the entire Millennium so far, despite how close Florida iss politically between the two parties.

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.,who had previously supported Bittel but joined the call for his ouster, likely faces a brutal challenge from current Gov. Rick Scott next fall.

New Jersey: When the jury in Sen. Robert Menendez’s corruption trial deadlocked,

Robert Menendez
(Photo by Glyn Lowe)

Democrats were spared the embarrassing inconvenience of having to keep him in the Senate until Chris Christie was no longer governor. However, they have only delayed the political pain.

If Menendez runs for re-election as an incumbent, it will not be easy (although it won’t be impossible) for any Democrat to take the nomination away from him, given that he was not convicted. But because he was not exonerated, only let off in a mistrial, he is no longer a shoo-in in a general election.

Yes, it’s a longshot for Republicans, who haven’t won a Senate race in the Garden State in 45 years. But so far 2018 is looking like an election cycle where Republicans only rarely if ever catch a break. They are going to need to take their chances wherever they find them, and it’s possible New Jersey will look like an attractive target at some point in the next year.

Governor 2018

Ohio: The resignation of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director Richard Cordray has conservative interests within the financial sector looking at ways of undoing his legacy. The agency’s constitutional status was already a problem — now it will have to survive having a Trump nominee as its head.

But in the meantime, his widely expected run for governor poses a challenge to the once-again-dominant state Republican Party. Cordray’s brand of consumer-advocacy-populism is one potential model for restoring Democrats to their prized status as the party of the working class. Republicans need to be careful of this — after Trump’s win, there was all too much talk about the idea that so many voters’ switch from Obama to Trump was permanent. Under the right situation, the Trump Republicans can be made to vote Democratic once again. Cordray is counting on it.

The Race for Tax Reform!

Wait for it…

Keep waiting…

They’re moving…

Reform is coming…

They promise!

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Pat loves drawing, America, and the Big Man upstairs. His work aims to combine these three elements into a petri dish and see what happens. We hope you will find his work thought-provoking, insightful, profound, and maybe, just maybe, a bit humorous.

We encourage you to visit his website and like his Facebook page!

Tax Reform: Where It Stands before Thanksgiving Recess

Tax reform in Santa’s goodie bag this year? Say it’s so! Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed “the most sweeping tax overhaul in three decades,” per the New York Times. The bill passed 227 to 205.

“Republicans are under intense pressure to get legislation to Mr. Trump’s desk by Christmas, especially after failing in their attempt to dismantle the Affordable Care Act this year. Lawmakers also want to push the bill through quickly to avoid giving lobbyists and Democrats time to mobilize, a strategy that seemed to be validated with the House approval, which came with little drama or consternation.”

Indeed, reports of an almost “eerie” lack of fuss and fracas came out prior to the House vote. The vote signals a Congress in rare get-it-done mode, as does the 14-12 vote in the Senate Finance Committee—on the very same day—to push the bill to the Senate floor for a full vote.

“When the Senate returns after Thanksgiving, I will bring this must-pass legislation to the floor for further debate and open consideration,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in a statement.

Of tax reform, Treasury Secretary Mcnuchin said this morning, “We have every reason to think it will get to the president’s desk before Christmas for him to sign.”

Clinton: Uranium Probe “Like Some Dictatorship, Like Some Authoritarian Regime”

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is lashing out at Attorney General Jeff Sessions over the Justice Department’s probe of her and her husband’s charitable foundation and its ties to Russian nuclear officials. In an interview with the left-leaning Mother Jones, Clinton claimed any such investigation would be “a disastrous step to politicizing the justice system”

She inferred that the Trump administration and its Justice Department, by seeking to investigate the presence of any wrongdoing, would acting as if to “send a signal that we’re going to be like some dictatorship, like some authoritarian regime, where political opponents are going to be unfairly, fraudulently investigated, that rips at the fabric of the contract we have, that we can trust our justice system.”

Secretary Clinton again denied any illicit behavior on her part or on the part of the Clinton Foundation. She claimed Session’s probe would only be meant to distract from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of President Trump’s 2016 campaign.