From the AP:

The Trump administration is considering a proposal to mobilize as many as 100,000 National Guard troops to round up unauthorized immigrants, including millions living nowhere near the Mexico border, according to a draft memo obtained by The Associated Press.

The 11-page document calls for the unprecedented militarization of immigration enforcement as far north as Portland, Oregon, and as far east as New Orleans, Louisiana....Governors in the 11 states would have a choice whether to have their guard troops participate, according to the memo, written by U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general.

....Requests to the White House and the Department of Homeland Security for comment and a status report on the proposal were not answered.

The White House may not have commented when the AP called them, but now that the story has been published they're suddenly outraged:

Hmmm. This is not true. But has it ever been true? Perhaps we wouldn't need to parse the verb tense so closely if it were any other press secretary, but I think we should with Sean Spicer. And if it's not true, what's up with the memo? Is it a forgery? Was it written by one of those scurrilous "Obama holdovers" who infest the federal government and are trying to make Trump look bad at every turn? Inquiring minds want to know.

The New York Times explains why President Trump decided to hold a press conference today:

For days, a frustrated and simmering president fumed inside the West Wing residence about what aides said he saw as his staff’s inadequate defense and the ineffectiveness of his own tweets....“I turn on the T.V., open the newspapers and I see stories of chaos,” Mr. Trump said as he attempted — with little discipline — to read from prepared remarks listing his accomplishments since being inaugurated one month ago. “Chaos. Yet it is the exact opposite. This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine.

....It all made the brooding boss feel better, people close to Mr. Trump said. The news conference, they said, was Mr. Trump’s best effort at spitting the bit out of his mouth and escaping the bridle of the West Wing, where he views his only way to communicate his side of any argument is his 140-character limited Twitter feed.

The weird thing is that I suspect Trump believes this. Within his little bubble, everything really does seem to be running smoothly. He signs executive orders, holds "listening sessions," meets with foreign leaders, and issues directives to his staff. He's doing what he imagines a president should do, and figures that should produce presidential results. If the press says otherwise, then that's prima facie evidence that the press is dishonest and has it out for him.

In other news, a judge has ordered EPA nominee Scott Pruitt to release thousands of emails he exchanged with fossil fuel interests while he was attorney general of Oklahoma. But he has until Tuesday to release them, and Pruitt's confirmation vote is Friday:

Senate Democrats have latched onto the court case in a last-ditch attempt to delay Friday afternoon’s expected vote. “Sometime — a week from now, maybe days from now — my fear is that a number of members, especially on the other side, will have been put in a very bad position and asked to vote for a nominee that they otherwise may not have supported had they known,” Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) said on Thursday.

On the immigration front, it turns out that Trump is getting cold feet about ending DACA, the Obama program that protects illegal immigrants who were brought to the US as children. He thinks of himself as a guy with a heart, and hates the idea of doing something that will make him look callous. His staff, however, has no such qualms. The LA Times reports that they've come up with a couple of ways to end DACA without Trump himself doing anything:

Trump aides [are considering] new legal guidance that details who is a priority for deportation. If the Justice Department determines that DACA is not legal or is no longer a responsible use of prosecutorial discretion, the Department of Homeland Security would be instructed to stop awarding and renewing work permits.

Another possible path involves the courts. A handful of governors are considering a challenge patterned on the 2014 lawsuit filed by several conservative state officials against the Obama administration’s expansion of deportation protections. If they sue, Sessions could instruct his lawyers not to defend the program in court, exposing it to indefinite suspension by a federal judge.

With Trump, the buck always stops somewhere else. Finally, yet more people are leaving the Trump administration:

Shermichael Singleton, who was one of the few black conservatives in the Trump administration, had been working at the Department of Housing and Urban Development....Mr. Trump’s advisers turned up public writings by Mr. Singleton that appeared during the later stages of the campaign in which he was deeply critical of the candidate.

Can't have that! Plus this:

Several White House staffers were dismissed Thursday morning after failing FBI background checks, according to sources familiar with the matter. Some of the aides were "walked out of the building by security" on Wednesday after not passing the SF86, a Questionnaire for National Security Positions for security clearance.

Apparently six people failed their background checks. This kind of stuff happens, but six? That's pretty remarkable. I've updated the Dead Pool below.

After Michael Flynn resigned/was fired as National Security Advisor, everyone breathed a sigh of relief when the top prospect to replace him turned out to be Retired Vice Admiral Robert Harward. He's well respected by both Democrats and Republicans and would have brought some needed experience and sobriety to the White House.

Unfortunately, Harward turned down the job. It all hinged on whether he would be allowed to choose his own team. Here is CBS News:

Two sources close to the situation confirm Harward demanded his own team, and the White House resisted. Specifically, Mr. Trump told Deputy National Security Adviser K. T. McFarland that she could retain her post, even after the ouster of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Harward refused to keep McFarland as his deputy, and after a day of negotiations over this and other staffing matters, Harward declined to serve as Flynn’s replacement.

McFarland hasn't held a government position for over 30 years, but she has appeared regularly on Fox News as a standard-issue hardline pundit for the past decade. In Trump's eyes, this qualifies her to be the #2 person on the National Security Council. Apparently Harward didn't agree. Politico has more:

According to an individual familiar with Harward's thinking, [Harward] turned down the Trump offer because he did not receive sufficient assurances about staffing and autonomy. Specifically, the source said Harward wanted commitments that the National Security Council would be fully in charge of security matters, not Trump's political advisers. And he wanted to be able to select his own staff.

Trump's decision last month to place his top strategist and former Breitbart CEO Steve Bannon on the National Security Council was roundly criticized as a departure from tradition, and previous administrations have tried to keep the NSC as divorced from politics as possible.

Basically, Harward is a serious guy who wanted the National Security Council to be staffed with national security experts, not Fox News hacks and political operators. That was too much for the Trump team, so Harward pulled out, reportedly calling the offer a "shit sandwich."

That's all bad enough, but it raises another question: now that this is all public knowledge, will anyone serious be willing to take this position? How could they?

Paul Ryan outlined the latest Republican replacement for Obamacare today. Here's the nickel summary from the New York Times:

The Republican plan includes tax credits to help people buy insurance and new incentives for consumers to establish savings accounts to pay medical expenses. The tax credits would increase with a person’s age, but — unlike the assistance provided under the Affordable Care Act — would not vary with the amount of a person’s income.

....But the outline did not say how the legislation would be paid for, essentially laying out the benefits without the more controversial costs. It also included no estimates of the number of people who would gain insurance through the plan, nor did it include comparisons to the Affordable Care Act, which covers about 20 million people.

The GOP outline is here, but you might as well save yourself the trouble of clicking the link. There are no real details there either. They don't say how big their tax credit is, but they hint that it will be laughably small, especially for older workers. They do say they're going to repeal all Obamacare taxes and get rid of the individual mandate. They promise to switch Medicaid to either a fixed allotment or a block grant; repeal the Obamacare expansion; and put the whole program "on a budget." The Medicaid allotment would grow by "an inflationary index"—but they don't say which one. The plan introduces support for "catastrophic" coverage, which would (maybe) provide plans that are technically cheap enough to be affordable with the tax credit, but which are essentially useless for providing normal health care.

And as long as we're on the subject of health care, the Trump administration issued some proposed new Obamacare regs yesterday. In a nutshell, they plan to shrink the new enrollment period from 90 day to 45 days and make a technical change that would reduce subsidies for a family by about $300 per year. However, this might not matter since they seem to be doing their best to create so much chaos that no insurer is going to stay in the market anyway. If you want more details, Sarah Kliff has 'em.

President Donald Trump went full Sarah Palin today at his press conference. It was glorious. I think you have to watch it to really get the full effect, but here are a few highlights.

First off, the word of the day is mess:

To be honest, I inherited a mess. It's a mess. At home and abroad, a mess…I just want to let you know, I inherited a mess…ISIS has spread like cancer—another mess I inherited…And you look at Schumer and the mess that he's got over there and they have nothing going.

Fact-check: Delusional. Trump inherited an economy in pretty good shape. Crime has steadily decreased over the past decade. ISIS is losing ground and close to defeat. Illegal immigration has been stable for many years. Test scores for schoolkids are up. Fewer than a dozen American soldiers have died in combat in the past year. Obamacare has cut the number of people without health insurance almost in half. The budget deficit is down to 3 percent of GDP. After years of stagnation, wages are finally starting to go up. Unemployment and inflation are both low.

I put it out before the American people, got 306 electoral college votes…270 which you need, that was laughable. We got 306 because people came out and voted like they've never seen before so that's the way it goes. I guess it was the biggest electoral college win since Ronald Reagan.

Fact-check: Also delusionial. He got 304 electoral votes, and Reagan, Bush Sr., Clinton, and Obama all did better.

We've begun preparing to repeal and replace Obamacare…I know you can say, oh, Obamacare. I mean, they fill up our rallies with people that you wonder how they get there, but they are not the Republican people our representatives are representing.

Fact-check: Plausible! Trump and the Republicans in Congress probably do think they represent only Republicans.

The leaks are real. You're the one that wrote about them and reported them, I mean the leaks are real. You know what they said, you saw it and the leaks are absolutely real. The news is fake because so much of the news is fake.

Fact-check: Huh?

If the information coming from those leaks is real, then how can the stories be fake?

The reporting is fake. Look, look…You know what it is? Here's the thing. The public isn't—you know, they read newspapers, they see television, they watch. They don't know if it's true or false because they're not involved. I'm involved. I've been involved with this stuff all my life. But I'm involved. So I know when you're telling the truth or when you're not. I just see many, many untruthful things.

Fact-check: True. Trump almost certainly does see many, many untruthful things.

I mean, I watch CNN, it's so much anger and hatred and just the hatred. I don't watch it any more…Well, you look at your show that goes on at 10 o'clock in the evening. You just take a look at that show. That is a constant hit…Now, I will say this. I watch it. I see it. I'm amazed by it.

Fact-check: Schrödinger's cat. Trump both watches and doesn't watch CNN.

We had Hillary Clinton try and do a reset. We had Hillary Clinton give Russia 20 percent of the uranium in our country. You know what uranium is, right? This thing called nuclear weapons, like lots of things, are done with uranium, including some bad things.

Fact-check: Half true. No, Hillary Clinton didn't give Russia any uranium. (She was one of many who approved a deal for the Russian atomic energy agency to buy a Canadian company that controls 20 percent of the US uranium reserves. But none of it can exported outside the United States.) However, it is true that bad things can be done with uranium.

QUESTION: Let's talk about some serious issues that have come up in the last week that you have had to deal with as president of the United States. You mentioned the vessel—the spy vessel off the coast of the United States.

TRUMP: Not good.

QUESTION: There was a ballistic missile test that many interpret as a violation of an agreement between the two countries; and a Russian plane buzzed a U.S. destroyer.

TRUMP: Not good.

…QUESTION: So when you say they're not good, do you mean that they are...

TRUMP: Who did I say is not good?

QUESTION: No, I read off the three things that have recently happened. Each one of them you said they're not good.

TRUMP: No, it's not good, but they happened.

QUESTION: But do they damage the relationship? Do they undermine...

TRUMP: They all happened recently.

Fact-check: True. These are all things that happened recently.

JAKE TURX, A REPORTER FOR A SMALL ULTRA-ORTHODOX JEWISH PUBLICATION: Despite what some of my colleagues may have been reporting, I haven't seen anybody in my community accuse either yourself or anyone on your staff of being anti-Semitic. We understand that you have Jewish grandchildren. You are their zaidy. However, what we are concerned about, and what we haven't really heard being addressed, is an uptick in anti-Semitism and how the government is planning to take care of it... There has been a report out that 48 bomb threats have been made against Jewish centers all across the country in the last couple of weeks. There are people who are committing anti-Semitic acts or threatening to…

TRUMP: He said he was gonna ask a very simple, easy question. And it's not, its not, not—not a simple question, not a fair question. OK sit down, I understand the rest of your question.

So here's the story, folks. Number one, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you've ever seen in your entire life. Number two, racism, the least racist person…See, he lied about—he was gonna get up and ask a very straight, simple question, so you know, welcome to the world of the media. But let me just tell you something, that I hate the charge, I find it repulsive.

I hate even the question because people that know me and you heard the prime minister, you heard Ben Netanyahu yesterday, did you hear him, Bibi? He said, I've known Donald Trump for a long time and then he said, forget it. So you should take that instead of having to get up and ask a very insulting question like that.

Fact-check: Incoherent. Turx explicitly tried to assure Trump that nobody thought he was anti-Semitic, but Trump's skin is so thin that he immediately decided Turx was calling him a racist and an anti-Semite. I wonder why?

By the way, the entire point of this press conference seemed to be directed at one thing: accusing the press of being horrible and dishonest. This came up in nearly every Trump answer. This is a great strategy for shoring up his base, of course. As near as I can tell, conservatives all thought this dumpster fire of a press conference was a terrific performance.

Donald Trump held a remarkable press conference today—about which more later—but first I have to thank him. Here's an exchange with NBC's Peter Alexander:

ALEXANDER: You said today that you had the biggest electoral margin since Ronald Reagan, 304, 306 electoral votes. But President Obama had 365....

TRUMP: Well, I'm talking about Republicans.

ALEXANDER: George H.W. Bush, 426 when he won as president. So why should Americans trust you?

TRUMP: Well no, I was given that information. I don't know, I was just given—we had a very, very big margin.

ALEXANDER: I guess my question is why Americans should trust you when you use information...

TRUMP: Well, I don't know, I was given that information. I was given—I actually, I've seen that information around.

This is great! I mean, I write for a magazine, and let's face it: fact checking is a pain. I know my fellow writers will back me up here. I suppose it's good for readers, who want accurate information, but it's a huge time sink for us content creators. Next time, my conversation will go like this:

FACT CHECKER: You say in your article that hippos are the largest mammals. Are you sure?

ME: I don't know, I was given that information. They're really big.

FACT CHECKER: And mice are the smallest?

ME: I've seen that information around.

This is going to make my job a lot easier. Thanks, Mr. President!

Pew offers up the following comparison today:

Well, at least Trump is #1 at something. In related news, I was looking at Pollster yesterday and found something odd. I've mentioned before that although Trump's disapproval rating has gone up since Inauguration Day, so has his approval rating. But it turns out that if you look only at live phone polls—generally considered the highest quality polls—his approval rating has actually plummeted by six points:

I know that there are differences between phone, IVR, and Internet polls, and IVR polls are generally considered pretty high quality these days. But the IVR/Internet polls show Trump's approval up four points, while the live phone polls show his approval down six points. That's a net ten point difference, which is huge.

It's early days, and maybe it's just a matter of small sample sizes or something. But I wonder what's really going on with Trump's approval rating?

Since President Trump is bragging yet again about the stock market, here's your periodic reminder of what it really looks like:

Thanks Obama!

Pew Research released some exciting news yesterday about religious affiliation: among most age groups, I am no longer part of the most hated religion in America. In fact, among millennials, there are four religious groups more disliked than atheists. Woot! Overall, Muslims are now two points ahead of atheists for the title of most hated, compared to only one point three years ago.1

Oldsters still dislike atheists even more than they fear Muslims, but it's a close call. Pretty soon, every age group in America will hate someone else more than they hate atheists. Thrilling, isn't it?

On a more serious note, Pew also reports a rather astonishing increase in warmth toward all religious groups among Americans. Apparently we hate other people's religions a little less than we did in 2014. Progress.

1Also, no one is trying to ban atheists from entering the country. The good news just keeps pouring in for us godless heathens.

For what it's worth, Shane Harris and Carol Lee of the Wall Street Journal have confirmed that story from a few days ago about spy agencies holding back information from President Trump:

U.S. intelligence officials have withheld sensitive intelligence from President Donald Trump because they are concerned it could be leaked or compromised, according to current and former officials familiar with the matter. The officials’ decision to keep information from Mr. Trump underscores the deep mistrust that has developed between the intelligence community and the president over his team’s contacts with the Russian government, as well as the enmity he has shown toward U.S. spy agencies.

....The officials emphasized that they know of no instance in which crucial information about security threats or potential plotting has been omitted. Still, the misgivings that have emerged among intelligence officials point to the fissures spreading between the White House and the U.S. spy agencies.

If this were happening to a Democratic president, I imagine I'd be pretty outraged. But this distrust of Trump seems to be pretty worldwide. It's hard to know for sure that the intelligence community doesn't have good reason for holding back a bit.

Anyway, it appears that Trump is taking revenge by appointing a billionaire crony of Steve Bannon to "review" the intelligence establishment. That should turn out well.