The outrage against Trump’s 7-nation migration ban has been both swift and furious.

Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham spoke out against Trump calling the ban a “self-inflicted wound”.

In response, Trump did what he usually does when people disagree with him: blast them in a series of Tweets, accusing the pair of “wanting to start WWIII“.

What’s going on?

While pondering the above question, note that the Department of Homeland Security partially reversed the ban on entry with a clarifying statement On The Entry Of Lawful Permanent Residents Into The United States.

WASHINGTON – In applying the provisions of the president’s executive order, I hereby deem the entry of lawful permanent residents to be in the national interest.

Accordingly, absent the receipt of significant derogatory information indicating a serious threat to public safety and welfare, lawful permanent resident status will be a dispositive factor in our case-by-case determinations.

Trump Tweets

What About Vice President Pence?

McCain and Graham aren’t the only Republican senators to criticize Trump so far.
“This was an extreme vetting program that wasn’t properly vetted,” Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”

Anyone recall this Tweet from vice-president Pence, then Indiana governor Pence.

“Calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. are offensive and unconstitutional,” then-governor Pence tweeted at 7:30 a.m. on Dec. 8, 2015.

The obvious way out is to say Trump banned countries not religions. Still, this adds to the controversy.

The Public?

We have had one hell of a backlash over something a January 12 Quinnipiac Poll shows 48% of the country (more than not), approves of.

The Persuasion Filter and Immigration

Dilbert founder Scott Adams chimes in with The Persuasion Filter and Immigration.

President Trump has issued temporary immigration orders that ban citizens from several Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. This is a good opportunity to test the Persuasion Filter against what you might call the Hitler Filter.

For new readers of this blog, my starting point is the understanding that human brains did not evolve to show us reality. We aren’t that smart. Instead, our brains create little movies in our heads, and yours can be completely different from mine. We see that situation now. Half the country thinks President Trump is well on his way to becoming a Hitler-like dictator. But many other Americans think Trump is an effective business person with good intentions. They can’t both be right.

I use the word “filter” to describe an optional way of looking at the world. A good filter is one that makes you happy and does a good job of predicting what happens next. Let’s use that standard to compare the Hitler Filter to what I call the Persuasion Filter.

The Hitler filter clearly isn’t making people happy. The people watching that movie are protesting in the streets. Meanwhile, the people who see Trump as a good negotiator looking out for the country are quite happy with the job he has done so far. The Persuasion Filter says Trump opens with a big first offer and negotiates back to something reasonable. If you don’t recognize the method, it looks crazy, random, and racist.

If Trump is a Master Persuader, as I have been telling you for over a year, he just solved his biggest problem with immigration and you didn’t notice.

The Persuasion Filter says Trump is negotiating with his critics on the extreme right at the same time as he is negotiating with his critics on the left. He needed one “opening offer” that would set up both sides for the next level of persuasion. And he found it. You just saw it.

Trump’s temporary immigration ban set a mental anchor in your brain that is frankly shocking. It will make his eventual permanent immigration plan (”extreme vetting”) look tame by comparison. The Persuasion Filter says that’s his strategy. Because that’s ALWAYS his strategy. He acts the same way every time. He wrote a book about it. He talks about it publicly. Then he does it right in front of us, over and over. And no matter how many times he does it, half the country still thinks the opening offer is the real one.

I’ve mentioned in this blog a few times that persuasion works even when the subject of the persuasion recognizes all the techniques as they happen. This is a perfect case. The left has been watching Trump make big offers and dial them back for the past year. And yet they still think this time it will be different. The Persuasion Filter says that 70-year old Trump will act the same way today as he has for the past several decades: Big first offer, then negotiate.

But what about Trump’s critics on the far right who want more extreme immigration? Trump needs to negotiate with them too. And he is. He did that by showing them that his temporary offer was so extreme that people took to the streets. The system (America) is actively trying to eject Trump like some sort of cancer cell. And the worse it gets, with protests and whatnot, the more leverage Trump has to tell his far right supporters that he has gone as far as the country will let him go. He needed that. The protests are working in his favor. He couldn’t negotiate with the extreme right without them.

Are Trump’s temporary immigration plans chaotic? Yes. Do they hurt innocent people who were minding their own business? Yes, temporarily at least. Did he scare the pants off of half the country? Yes. Will there be lots of unintended damage from Trump’s immigration orders? Yes. No honest person should deny the cost component of the equation. It’s ugly. But don’t stop with a half-pinion. If you want a full opinion on immigration you have to compare those costs to the potential benefits that include fewer terrorist acts and avoiding Europe’s refugee problems. Are people making that comparison?

No.

On Twitter I am seeing lots of well-meaning liberals tweet charts showing that no one from the banned countries has ever been a terrorist in the United States. But Trump isn’t trying to solve the PAST. He’s trying to reduce risks in the future. And the future has risks that are unlike the past.

If you want your president to solve only problems that have already happened in the past, we can ignore any potential climate change issues too. Human activity has never warmed the planet too much in the past, so why worry about it in the future? The point is that we try to stop problems before they happen, not after. Terrorism and climate change are similar in that one narrow way. They are both problems of the future, not the past. You can’t look to history to figure out how to solve either one of them. Dinosaurs didn’t drive cars and ISIS didn’t always have hobby-sized drones that can drop bombs.

No Free Passes For Minding Your Own Business

Adam’s conclusion is even more interesting, and it’s well thought out.

President Obama’s approach was to give a free pass to Islam in general and to any Muslims that were just minding their own business. But the unintended consequence is that Muslims have less incentive to police their own ranks. Trump changed that. Now if you want to stay out of the fight against terrorism it will cost you.

So Trump has created a situation – or will soon – in which the peaceful Muslims will either have to do a lot more to help law enforcement find the terrorists in their midst or else live with an increasingly tainted brand. Trump is issuing no free passes for minding your own business. His model makes you part of the solution or part of the problem. No one gets to sit this one out.

I’m not smart enough to know whether President Obama or President Trump have the best strategy in this regard. But both strategies are rational.

Inept Policy or Purposeful Action?

I believe that represents all sides of the issue, including the possibility that Obama was right.

So, which is it? Inept policy or purposeful action?

Actually, it can be both. We saw that with Bush’s war in Iraq and Johnson’s war in Vietnam.
Purposeful, but shockingly inept move (from a long-term how it turned out view) drove the US into two horrendously stupid wars.

It can also be neither. How so? Let’s say that Trump did not do this on purpose or would not have done this had known of the backlash. Perhaps he would not have stranded those with green cards as opposed to thinking he does not give a damn and will deal with the backlash when it comes.

Perhaps Trump did not even think of the situation Adams described “in which the peaceful Muslims will either have to do a lot more to help law enforcement find the terrorists in their midst or else live with an increasingly tainted brand.”

Thus, it is conceivable things turns out as Adams described, whether or not that was the purposeful intent.

Small Price Theory Again

Regardless, I cannot approve of “small price” illegal actions simply on the grounds that the end justifies the means.

We have already seen too many horrific results of poor adaptations of the “small price” theory.

For further discussion please see

  1. Small Price to Pay
  2. Judge Blocks Deportation; Green Card Ban Reversed; Protests Gather: Small Price Theory

Mike “Mish” Shedlock