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Let the Voters Decide

Erick Erickson - November 15, 2019

Impeachment is not a coup. Republicans have seized on the stupidest talking point to come out of the stupidest age in American politics. Impeachment is a constitutional process the Democrats have every right to start. But the Senate Republicans have every right to reject this as partisan gamesmanship, too. Impeachment is not a coup. It is political. Republicans are right to treat it as such.

You will have to excuse me if I am not in favor of throwing the President out of office over a phone call that amounted to nothing. A year ago, I would have taken this more seriously. But the nation is less than a year from the election. Democrats are not making an effort to persuade. They are making a political show, coordinated with a whistleblower and egged on by an American media that has been demanding impeachment since the President's inauguration.

I have a hard time trusting the media to give fair analysis on this subject. As a nation, we have collectively watched respected journalists lose their minds over the past three years because President Donald Trump broke them. Firing James Comey would end him. Robert Mueller would end him. The Cabinet would exercise the 25th amendment. The GOP would stand up to him. Joe Walsh would beat him. Every wet spaghetti noodle of an accusation has been hurled at the White House wall to see what might stick to take out Orange Man Bad.

Democrat holdovers from the Obama administration have ruthlessly leaked to try to undermine the President's agenda. The Supreme Court has continually had to stop federal judges appointed by Barack Obama from overstepping their authority to undermine the President's agenda. Democrats have convinced themselves Russia stole the election and the President is illegitimate; therefore, anything to stop him is fair game.

What Impeachment Is Really About

Tucker Carlson & Neil Patel - November 15, 2019

This week, nearly two months after beginning impeachment proceedings, the Democrats finally held their first public hearings. If nothing else, the hearings made clear that the Democrats have no master plan for impeachment. They clearly haven't thought it through. They're making it up as they go along. In the end, impeachment will almost certainly hurt them. The whole premise is too absurd for it not to.

In the meantime, we did solve at least one nagging mystery after the first day of hearings: President Donald Trump's crime. We've had a lot of debate about the propriety of Trump's call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, but it's never been clear what exactly Democrats believe is the impeachable offense. Now we know.

During the campaign in August 2016, Trump dared to say this: "Wouldn't it actually be wonderful if we could get along with Russia? Wouldn't that be nice?"

Voters, it turns out, shared Trump's view. They elected him president just three months later. But permanent Washington was appalled. To them, getting along with Russia isn't simply an alternative view; it's a crime.

The Trump Manchurian Candidate Theory Will Never Die

David Harsanyi - November 15, 2019

One of the most durable conspiracy theories of our times finds Vladimir Putin recruiting a billionaire media personality named Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency. In some iterations of the tale, Trump is willingly serving his Kremlin comrades; in others, he is merely the victim of kompromat. In every version, he is an asset of a hostile government.

Putin, who is apparently blessed with seer-like abilities, knew in the late 1970s that Trump, whose political positions would wildly fluctuate over 40 years, was presidential material, and that now, after decades of patiently waiting, the duo's nefarious plan to cut taxes and place originalists onto the federal bench has finally come to fruition.

In a sprawling July 2018 New York piece headlined, "Will Trump Be Meeting with His Counterpart -- Or His Handler? A plausible theory of mind-boggling collusion," Jonathan Chait offered a fully realized rendering of Trump's potential sedition. Cobbling together every interaction the real estate developer ever had with Russians, Chait posits that Trump might have become a Kremlin asset in 1987 when visited Moscow.

Recently CNBC's John Harwood resuscitated this conspiracy, claiming that while "conservative media dismissed as ridiculous the idea that Russia might have cultivated Trump for decades, Fiona Hill, a leading US govt Russia expert, now makes clear it's not ridiculous in the slightest."

When Did Ukraine Become a 'Critical Ally'?

Patrick Buchanan - November 15, 2019

On hearing the State Department's George Kent and William Taylor describe President Donald Trump's withholding of military aid to Ukraine, The New York Times summarized and solemnly endorsed their testimony:

"What clearly concerned both witnesses wasn't simply the abuse of power by the President, but the harm it inflicted on Ukraine, a critical ally, under constant assault by Russian forces."

"'Even as we sit here today, the Russians are attacking Ukrainian soldiers in their own country, and have been for four years,' Taylor said. 'I saw this on the front line last week; the day I was there a Ukrainian soldier was killed and four more wounded.'"

Kent compared Ukrainian resistance to Russia's intervention on the side of the Donbass secessionists to "our own Minutemen in 1776."

A Late-Starting Presidential Campaign May Not Be Hopeless

Michael Barone - November 15, 2019

Michael Bloomberg has delivered his latest delicious hint about running for president. Former Attorney General Eric Holder is fresh from taking credit for the new Democratic legislative majorities in Virginia, making it known he might be interested. And former Gov. Deval Patrick joined the presidential race after reportedly discerning a demand for another presidential candidate from Massachusetts. At this point, it might be helpful to note some patterns in former Democratic presidential nomination contests that might help late entrants.

The first is that opinion sometimes flows very rapidly and sweeps everything in its path, like lava down a volcano, like mud after the collapse of a dam, like the tide ebbing in the Bay of Fundy.

One example goes back to 1984 when Democrat Walter Mondale won 49% in a field of (only!) eight candidates in the Iowa caucuses. A fine performance, but all the attention went to Gary Hart, who, with his "new Democrat ideas," ran second with 17%. Hart swept New Hampshire 37 to 28% and won states like Florida and Massachusetts. Only Mondale's appeal to blue-collar whites -- a splinter group among today's Democrats -- helped him recover in Michigan, Illinois and New York and win the nomination.

Opinion flowed even more inexorably 20 years later. Anti-Iraq War Vermont Gov. Howard Dean attracted huge crowds and led polls in 2003, and on primary eve, Des Moines, Iowa, was swarming with Deaniacs in characteristic orange knit caps. But opinion was flowing away from Dean to the long-lagging John Kerry, who beat Dean 38 to 32%. After that, opinion just kept flowing. Kerry lost Vermont, the Carolinas and Oklahoma and won the rest of the states.

What Is the American Idea?

Mona Charen - November 15, 2019

If I were addressing a young audience today, I would face an uphill battle to explain why conservatism so inspired me during my own impressionable years. Today, what has been dubbed "Conservatism, Inc" has become so cynical, so nasty, so truth-challenged, and so dumbed-down that it repels all but one-quarter of people between 18-29. The Republican Party, now a training ground for Fox News, has shed dignity and principle like a Siberian Husky blowing its coat.

Even among conservative intellectuals, this era has provoked a shocking departure from ideas and identities that had been brilliantly conceived and painstakingly argued for decades. It is now even fashionable in some right-wing quarters to question American exceptionalism -- which had enjoyed nearly universal acclaim less than a decade ago. Today, we are invited to believe that America is just a nation like any other, and that American nationalism -- based upon language, history and geography -- has the truest claim on our hearts.

Journalist, historian and longtime National Review senior editor Richard Brookhiser has kept his footing. He has published a defense of what he calls "America's Exceptional Idea," and it's a tonic. In "Give Me Liberty," Brookhiser presents an elegant and lyrical case not for the argument that "America is an idea" but for the ideal that has shaped America: liberty. He writes: "This is the most confused historical moment I have lived in. Between a haggard establishment, a perverse intelligentsia, and an inchoate populist pushback, America's national essence is being ignored, trampled, or distorted. ... We have always been a free country; our advances are fulfillments of old promises, not lunges in the direction of new ones."

Through 13 documents, spanning 1607 to 1987, Brookhiser recounts the tropism toward liberty that has animated the American nation for centuries.

The Impeachment Antics Are All Smoke and Mirrors

Adriana Cohen - November 15, 2019

While Democrats pretend to care about stopping foreign interference into our elections to preserve the integrity of our democracy, they conveniently turn a blind eye to their own election meddling. The rest of us can see with our own eyes.

First, it was the #RussiaHoax manufactured by a cabal of anti-Trump foes: former FBI Director James Comey, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, Andrew McCabe, John Brennan and others who took Democrat-funded opposition research -- sourced from Russia and an ex-British spy -- and used the "unverified and salacious" dossier to trigger multiple criminal investigations into Donald Trump and his associates to stop him from getting elected.

When that failed, Trump-hating FBI agent Strzok texted his lover Page about the "insurance policy" that high-powered officials in the FBI and deep state put in place in case of the unlikely scenario Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election.

That was the first known example of domestic election meddling -- in a major U.S. presidential election, no less -- by those on the left who first tried to block Trump from getting elected in 2016 by concocting a phony "Russian collusion" conspiracy narrative. When that collapsed, Democrats called for a special counsel investigation as a plan B maneuver to oust our duly elected president from office.

What Happened to California Republicans?

Victor Davis Hanson - November 14, 2019

From 1967 to 2019, Republicans controlled the California governorship for 31 of 52 years. So why is there currently not a single statewide Republican officeholder? California also has a Democratic governor and Democratic supermajorities in both houses of the state legislature. Only seven of California's 53 congressional seats are held by Republicans.

In 1994, then-Gov. Pete Wilson backed Proposition 187, which denied state social services to undocumented immigrants. The spin goes that it backfired, alienated the Hispanic community and thus marked the road to Republican perdition.

Not quite.

Prop 187 passed with 59 percent support. Wilson's endorsement of the bill helped its passage, and his support of it aided his landslide 1994 re-election. Among minority voters, 52 percent of Asian and African American voters supported Proposition 187. Some 27 percent of Latinos voted for it.

How Crazy Is Warren's Health Care Plan?

Larry Elder - November 14, 2019

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., wants "Medicare for All," as does Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., her self-described "Democratic socialist" rival. Unlike Sanders, however, Warren claims she can finance her plan by raising taxes only on the superrich. The middle class, Warren insists, will see their health care costs go down and their taxes will not go up.

Some of her nearly equally left-wing rivals demanded specifics. Who pays? And how much? After a Democratic debate, one rival, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, said Warren was "more specific and forthcoming about the number of selfies she's taken" than about her plan.

Buttigieg said: "Not only is it important to have 'yes-or-no' answers to 'yes-or-no' questions at a time when people are so frustrated with Washington-speak, but also there's still been no explanation for a multitrillion-dollar hole in this plan."

Not that Democrats and their media sympathizers truly care about costs or whether promises about costs are even kept. President Barack Obama made numerous unrealized promises about his health care plan. He insisted Obamacare would save the average family $2,500 a year, that it would "bend the cost curve" downward and that people could keep their health care plan if they wanted to. PolitiFact pronounced Obama's "if you like your health care plan, you can keep it" promise 2013's "Lie of the Year."

Bloomberg, Billionaires and Boobery

Froma Harrop - November 14, 2019

I'd like to personally bop over the head the next Democrat who says that Michael Bloomberg shouldn't be running for president because he's a billionaire. Let's give thanks that a simple-minded dismissal of rich candidates didn't sink FDR's chances.

Billionaires are not the enemy. If you believe that those raking in astronomical incomes should be paying higher taxes -- and Warren Buffet and I do -- that is a job for our elected representatives who write the tax code.

Bernie Sanders is currently rattling his tongue about striking fear in the hearts of the "billionaire class." (It was millionaires until he became one.) The news that Bloomberg may vie for the Democratic nomination has displeased him. "You ain't gonna buy this election," he thundered.

Lost in the tussle over Elizabeth Warren's proposed wealth tax are assertions by several billionaire critics that, actually, they wouldn't mind paying higher taxes. They don't like how her proposal is being portrayed as a kind of punitive measure to control bad people, rather than a means to raise revenues.

The Impact of Voter Second Choices as 2020 Dems Drop Out

Brett Parker - November 14, 2019

As the Democratic field for president thins out, most supporters of the dropouts will pick another candidate. That prospect raises the question of whether these newly available voters will flock to the front-runners or boost the chances of one of the also-rans. To gain insight into this question, the latest YouGov polls asked respondents likely to vote in Democratic primaries to name both their first and second choices for the nomination. In the most recent survey, Joe Biden leads on first-choice ballots, followed by Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg and Kamala Harris. So what happens to the horse race when we add in the second choices of potential voters? 

The short answer is that Joe Biden hemorrhages support, as the table below shows.

Biden, who has a narrow lead over Warren on first-choice ballots, does not draw as many second choices as Warren and falls almost five percentage points behind after combining the first two columns. Sanders also leads Biden on the second-choice ballot, 10.3% to 8.5%, which brings Sanders to within 10 points of Biden (though still more than 14 points behind Warren).

Buttigieg, with 7.5% total on both ballots, reaches 15% , while Kamala Harris is just below him, at 12.7%. Significantly, no one in the rest of the field reaches even 4% across the two ballots (note that the “total” column adds up to more than 100% because we are essentially “double counting” each voter — a person gets to vote once for their top candidate and a second time for their backup).

Ex-Massachusetts Gov. Patrick Announces Presidential Bid

Steve Peoples - November 14, 2019

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is making a late entry into the Democratic presidential race.

Patrick announced his bid Thursday in an online video, saying, “I am today announcing my candidacy for president of the United States.”

Patrick made history as the first black governor of Massachusetts and has close ties to former President Barack Obama and his network of political advisers. But he faces significant fundraising and organizational hurdles less than three months before voting begins.

Patrick’s announcement comes as some Democrats worry about the strength of the party’s current field of contenders. Another Democrat — former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg — is also weighing a last-minute bid for the party’s nomination.

Impeachment; Voters' Second Choices; Casals' Return

Carl M. Cannon - November 14, 2019

Good morning, it’s Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019. Today’s morning newspapers and television broadcasts are full of impeachment coverage, which will be the case for a while. Fifty-eight ago on this date, though, a U.S. president awoke to glowing news coverage about his activities at the White House.

The night before President Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline, had hosted a dinner honoring Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Muñoz Marin. It was followed by a salute to the arts highlighted by famed cellist Pablo Casals’ live performance; in attendance was an impressive array of music-world luminaries including Leonard Bernstein, Eugene Ormandy, and Aaron Copeland.

“The East Room,” wrote influential Washington Post music critic Paul Hume, “has never before seen such a gathering of prominent musicians.” As for Casals’ performance, Hume gushed over the 84-year-old Spaniard’s “incredibly persuasive fluency and power.”

It was a rare phenomenon, Casals performing in Washington, and it had positive consequences for the Kennedys, as I’ll explain in a moment.

Yovanovitch's Moment: Will Her Testimony Help Dems or the GOP?

Susan Crabtree - November 14, 2019

Former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, a key figure at the center of the Democrats’ impeachment investigation, is either a victim of Rudy Giuliani’s misplaced smear campaign or the epitome of an Obama administration holdover deep-state apparatchik working to undermine President Trump. The depiction that makes the most sense depends on which side of Washington’s split-screen partisan views one subscribes to.

The real answer may lie in the more nuanced gray area -- how a senior diplomat carefully navigated her rise up the State Department food chain over the course of three decades and formed ties to key establishment Washington foreign-policy figures who were working to undermine Trump and his America-first agenda.

One thing is clear: Republicans have their work cut out for them in their second go at grilling the three-time ambassador, who was appointed to two of those posts by two GOP presidents, including Trump himself.

Trump’s decision to recall Yovanovitch from her post earlier this year after angry complaints from Giuliani that she was stymying his efforts to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden’s roles in Ukraine has spurred deep resentment in Democrat-dominant foreign service circles and at Foggy Bottom.  

Democrats' Latest (Alternate) Reality Show Is Another Flop

Liz Harrington - November 14, 2019

The stage is set for a “high stakes hearing.” Washington braces for “dramatic testimony.” Local bars are opening early with happy-hour specials for “blockbuster congressional hearings.” 

If this all sounds familiar, it should. It’s sweeps for the swamp. Think your favorite reality show, just with lower ratings. It’s the same formula to maximize drama, but with “new characters and plot twists,” as NPR recently headlined the Democrats’ latest impeachment ploy. 

For Democrats, it is always narrative over substance. Instead of facts, we get poorly written scripts from wannabe screenwriters who couldn’t make it in Hollywood, trying their best to bring their (alternate) reality series to Washington. Democrats’ first star was Robert Mueller, until he and his team of anti-Trump attorneys and FBI agents came up empty.  

“The Mueller report renders thousands of T-shirts irrelevant,” lamented after the Mueller operation against President Trump ended in a bust. If only we could get our 22 months and $32 million back. 

What the Entry of Patrick and Bloomberg May Mean for Biden

Sean Trende - November 14, 2019

For one brief moment, it appeared that the Democratic presidential primary would finally have fewer candidates than the 2016 Republican field at its peak. No longer. With the potential entry of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the actual entry of former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick into the race, we are essentially back to 16 “serious” candidates (18 if you are willing to count former Rep. Joe Sestak and Miramar, Fla., Mayor Wayne Messam).

What is going on?  I think we have to look at three issues separately: Mayor Bloomberg, Governor Patrick, and the possibility of a brokered convention. When all is said and done, this is mostly about Joe Biden’s troubles in the race, as well as elite heartburn about the potential for Sen. Elizabeth Warren or Sen. Bernie Sanders winning the Democratic nomination.

1. Michael Bloomberg. I think Bloomberg’s possible entry offers little real insight into elite perceptions about the state of the Democratic race. Bloomberg is possessed of a massive ego, and his links to the Democratic establishment are tenuous, to say the least (he was elected mayor of New York first as a Republican and later as an independent).

To the extent his candidacy would be at all remarkable, it is because it makes some degree of sense.  I don’t think Bloomberg is going to be the nominee, but I think he’s more likely than  Julian Castro or even Cory Booker to become the standard-bearer. Bloomberg has a nearly bottomless well of money from which to fund his campaign. He is probably the one candidate who could skip the early four primaries, as he intends to do, and nevertheless scoop up delegates on Super Tuesday.  In other words, Bloomberg is doing this because he perceives Joe Biden as weak, and sees the possibility of a brokered convention. That is important, but not as important as the implications of Patrick’s entry.

It's Time for the Senate to Expose Schiff's Ruse

David Avella - November 13, 2019

It is time for Sen. Lindsey Graham to launch an investigation into Ukraine. Ignoring California Congressman Adam Schiff's manipulation of the public and the intelligence community is an insult to the U.S. Constitution and quite frankly an affront to the public Schiff thinks he can dupe. 

We may well learn that the only reason House Speaker Nancy Pelosi even contemplated impeachment in the first place is based on what we are finding out is a maliciously contrived ruse. A Senate-led investigation would answer key questions and shed light on what motivated the CIA agent/whistleblower to pull the fire alarm when there was no smoke. We would learn the lengths to which Schiff, House Democratic staff, and their cohorts outside government went to manipulate the process. Also, we would discover what instructions Schiff gave to his CIA accomplice prior to filing the complaint. And, we might just learn if Democrats are hiding anything about Obama administration intervention in Ukraine.  

It is understandable why some see partisanship, not patriotism, as what motivates those coming forward to participate in Schiff’s scheme. We know the whistleblower’s attorney is motivated by his own politics, not defending his client. As early as January 2017, Mark Zaid tweeted that the “coup has started” and “impeachment will follow.” Zaid is an ideal pawn to help provide Schiff the catalyst he needed to pressure Pelosi into an impeachment inquiry.

Any president, even Donald Trump, is entitled to have an administration that will support his policies. Instead, this president faces agencies filled with philosophical opponents who put their own judgment ahead of that of officials whose policies they are required to carry out. He also faces a willing media that yearns to vilify any Republican, anytime and anywhere.

'Us' vs. 'Them': Media's Pronouns Have Changed Post-Mueller

Kalev Leetaru - November 13, 2019

The media increasingly lament a “divided” and ever-more “partisan” nation, with television news mentions of such words surging since the election of Donald Trump. Yet beneath these overt references to a national divide lies a less obvious indicator of how far our divisions have come: the use of “us” and “them” pronouns. Do media outlets consistently use words like “us” and “we,” grouping the audience in with themselves? Or do they favor “they” and “them” to refer to “others”? It turns out President Obama’s second term marked a turning point in this regard, while the Mueller report was the moment that truly fractured the press into distinct partisan camps. The “Mueller moment” is visible even on Twitter.

Are we a more “divided” nation? The timeline below shows the percentage of airtime on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News by year since 2009 mentioning “divisive” or “divisions” or “divided” using data from the Internet Archive’s Television News Archive processed by the GDELT Project. (Click on the graph to enlarge.)

From 2011 to 2014 the terms surged in usage on MSNBC, while CNN and Fox News saw little change other than a slight increase in 2012. All three news channels sharply increased their mentions of divisions in 2016 with the campaign season and election of Donald Trump, though mentions on MSNBC were not that much higher than they were in 2012 and 2013.

Similarly, mentions of “partisan” or “partisanship” are much higher on MSNBC during Obama’s second term compared with CNN and Fox. However, while “divisive” peaked in 2016, that actually marked the lowest number of mentions of “partisanship” on the three news outlets. Instead, it was the following three years, after Trump became president, that mentions reached their highest levels.

Are Conservative Immigration Restrictionists Racist?

Ben Shapiro - November 13, 2019

This week, The Atlantic released its newest issue, provocatively titled "How to Stop a Civil War." Leading its collection of essays is a fascinating piece by Yoni Applebaum. In it, Applebaum posits that at the crux of America's vitriolic politics lies demographic change: "The United States is undergoing a transition perhaps no rich and stable democracy has ever experienced: Its historically dominant group is on its way to becoming a political minority -- and its minority groups are asserting their co-equal rights and interests." This, he suggests, has led to an impasse for the center-right, which refuses to adapt to changing demographics, instead doubling down on President Donald Trump's white, working-class base. Applebaum explains, "When a group that has traditionally exercised power comes to believe that its eclipse is inevitable, and that the destruction of all it holds dear will follow, it will fight to preserve what it has -- whatever the cost."

But Applebaum's thesis doesn't explain why, in his view, conservatives have abandoned the attempt to persuade new populations. Applebaum himself acknowledges that a "conservatism defined by ideas can hold its own against progressivism, winning converts to its principles and evolving with each generation." Why, then, have conservatives supposedly given up?

The answer lies in a simple truth: Conservatives haven't despaired of winning over new converts. While a slight majority of Republicans believe that immigration should be reduced, pluralities or majorities of Republicans in the majority of polls believe that immigration is good for the country; a heavy majority of Republicans favor a "merit-based" immigration approach.

Conservative opposition to increased immigration isn't driven by fears of demographic change. It's driven by fear of ideological change. And that fear of ideological change is actually driven by Democrats' radicalism -- and their overt suggestion that demographic change will provide the fodder for that radicalism. Applebaum rightly states, "The United States possesses a strong radical tradition, but its most successful social movements have generally adopted the language of conservatism, framing their calls for change as an expression of America's founding ideals rather than as a rejection of them." But today's successful social movements -- the movements of the Democratic left -- no longer bother with such niceties. Instead, they declare that America was, has been and always will be a racist place, riven by hierarchies of power, a corrupt structure to be overturned by that emerging demographic majority. These movements overtly call for curbing essential American freedoms -- freedom of speech, freedom to bear arms, freedom of religion -- in order to overthrow the corrupt power structure. The Democratic left then insists that immigration levels be increased both legally and illegally and suggests that its opponents are driven by unbridled racism.

Meet the 'American Students Last' Lobby

Michelle Malkin - November 13, 2019

Who is funding the militant illegal immigrant youth army of thousands of entitled "Dreamers" that marched to Washington, D.C., for the Supreme Court hearing this week on President Barack Obama's unconstitutional amnesty program?

Follow the money; find the truth. I've got the "Open Borders Inc." breakdown for you of so-called DACA financiers and enablers on both sides of the political spectrum. Call them what they are: the "American Students Last" lobby.

Let's start with Charles Koch. The libertarian billionaire has thrown his weight and fortune behind an amnesty brigade called the LIBRE Initiative. While the establishment right purports to oppose identity politics, LIBRE wraps itself in the mantle of "empowering Hispanics" to "advance liberty" and "prosperity." Koch has poured more than $10 million into the ethnocentric group since 2011 under the slogan "Limited Government. Unlimited Opportunity."

Translation: driver's licenses for illegal immigrants, in-state tuition discounts for illegal immigrant students and securing a Congressional deal to codify the Obama administration's blanket deportation shields and work permits for 800,000 illegal immigrant students if the Supreme Court strikes the deal down.