How long will this border budget deal last?

I am trying to ascertain an element of the budget deal that “solves” the border security matter that has gone largely unreported by any media, print or broadcast.

How long will this deal last? Will we be taken to the precipice yet again when the money runs out? Will there be more threats of more government shutdowns in the near future?

House and Senate negotiators cobbled together a border security deal that provides $1.375 billion for The Wall on our southern border. It kicks in more money for other matters related to border security.

The House and Senate have approved it. Donald Trump will sign it. He’ll likely plan to announce a “national emergency” to provide even more money for The Wall.

But . . . how long does this deal last?

This isn’t “good government” as I have understood the meaning of the concept.

POTUS to declare a made-up ’emergency’?

I am just going to stand with those who believe that there is no “national emergency” occurring on our southern border.

Does that mean that we have no problem with illegal immigration? Of course not! It means that the president of the United States, Donald Trump, is seriously overstating the situation to suit some political agenda he wants to fulfill.

Trump has pledged to build The Wall along our southern border. He cannot persuade Congress to give him all the money he wants to build it. So he now intends to sign a border security agreement while declaring the existence of a phony “national emergency.”

How many times must it be said: There is no national emergency on our nation’s southern border!

But the president will not be dissuaded. He won’t be deterred. He won’t let facts get in the way of his bogus boastfulness about building The Wall.

Don’t misunderstand me. I do not favor “open borders.” I want our borders secured as much as Donald Trump does. Hell, maybe more so! I simply do not believe the president’s ridiculous assertion about the presence of an “emergency” existing on the border.

Trump wants to usurp Congress’s role in appropriating money for government projects. He seems intent on diverting money to build The Wall from other actual emergencies.

The most galling example of that is a report that the president intends to take money earmarked for disaster relief in California and Puerto Rico for construction of The Wall. Hmm. How in the world can this be seen as anything other than political payback for the intense criticism the president has received for his policies in general and for his response to disasters in those two disparate regions?

The “national emergency” on our border with Mexico is a figment of Donald Trump’s fixation with pleasing his political base.

This fixation makes me sick.

Bill Cosby: He’s no Mandela, MLK Jr. or Gandhi

I don’t usually comment on convicted criminals, but I cannot let this issue pass without offering a brief response.

Bill Cosby, the formerly revered comedian and actor, is now a convicted sexual assailant. A jury convicted him of sexually assaulting a woman. He’s now spending three to 10 years in prison.

But now he says he doesn’t feel remorse because he is a “political prisoner,” in the mold of Nelson Mandela, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and Mahatma Gandhi.

No, he isn’t.

Hmm. Mandela was held on Robben Island for 27 years because he protested apartheid in South Africa; Dr. King was held in jail because he opposed oppression of African-Americans in the United States; Gandhi was imprisoned because he wanted independence for India.

Yep, those great men were political prisoners.

Bill Cosby is in the slammer because he was convicted of sexual assault. There is absolutely zero moral equivalence between what he did and why the men to whom he compares himself were denied their freedom.

Be quiet, Mr. Cosby, and do your time.

Trump ignores advice of his party wise men and women

Hey, I believe I am beginning now — finally! — to grasp why Donald Trump’s political “base” is so devoted to him.

The 38 percent or so of Americans who stand by the president have his back because he chooses to ignore the wise political advice of those who know how it works in Washington, D.C. Trump doesn’t have a clue. Neither do the 38 percent of those who support him. So . . . he speaks their language. He gets it. They get him! They’re made for each other.

See? Even those of us who are slow on the uptake are capable of understanding certain things that defy rational understanding.

Where is the emergency?

The president’s decision to declare a national emergency — where none exists — goes against the advice of congressional Republican leaders. They counseled him against it. They fear that it sets a precedent that Democratic presidents in the future could follow. If Trump declares a national emergency because of a phony crisis on the border, Democrats in the White House might be moved to declare an emergency over, oh let’s see, gun violence in our schools, or climate change, or threats from Russia.

The Wall on the border, though, becomes the crux of the national emergency.

Get it? Trump ignored that advice. He’s going to listen instead to the right-wing blowhards/gasbags/talking heads instead of the men and women who know what the hell they’re doing.

He speaks the angry language of the political base. They have each other’s back!

Trump refusing to think strategically on this emergency matter

Donald John “RINO in Chief” Trump is likely to invite a serious bit of political revenge that could occur not long after he leaves office.

An actual Republican president would understand it, but Trump isn’t anything close to being a doctrinaire GOP politician. He is the nation’s premier Republican In Name Only.

You see, if the president declares a national emergency — where no such thing exists — to institute a money grab to pay for The Wall along on the southern border, he opens the door wide open to a Democratic president down the road.

Trump seeks the money to build The Wall from other appropriated funds. Congress is planning a legal challenge if the president follows through with his reported threat.

But . . . what if the national emergency declaration withstands a court challenge? That could mean a future Democratic president could issue a similarly nonsensical national emergency to push progressive programs forward.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised at this, given Trump’s ignorance about government, politics, public policy or national history.

He wants The Wall. He seems to want something that he can claim as a “tribute” to his presidency.

However, there might be a political cost to pay.

It’s a potentially big cost at that!

Trump ‘wins,’ but declares emergency anyway?

What am I missing here?

Donald Trump said that we’re already building The Wall along our southern border. A bipartisan group of senators and House members have worked out a deal to keep the government functioning fully while spending $1.37 billion for more fencing/wall/barriers along our southern border.

The president said he is “unhappy” with the agreement. The Senate has approved it. He said he’ll sign it.

Oh, but then the president reportedly is going to declare a “national emergency” to push ahead with more construction of The Wall.

Holy crap, man! My head is spinning . . . rapidly!

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she might file a legal challenge to the president’s effort to usurp Congress’s budgeting authority; Trump’s declaration would enable him, he says, to divert money from other projects to build The Wall.

The speaker says, in effect, “No can do, Mr. President, and I might take you to court to prove my point.”

McConnell flips on emergency

What puzzles me is that Donald Trump and his allies have declared victory, more or less, because they contend The Wall already is being built. Why, then, declare a national emergency? Indeed, there is no emergency on the border.

I am going to agree with Nancy Pelosi, who said today that the president ought to declare the rash of gun violence in our schools and other public places as a real national emergency. 

Another Confederate monument to come down

The Dallas City Council has joined the chorus of governing bodies to speak out against the memorialization of a struggle that sought to destroy the United States of America.

Voting 11-4, the council decided to remove a Confederate war memorial from property near City Hall in downtown Dallas.

I will stand and cheer the council’s decision.

The monument, as stated at the council meeting, is “non-contributing structure for the historic overlay district.” I guess that’s some sort of code that means the structure is of no discernable value.

Bring it down! The council voted to spend $480,000 to disassemble and remove it.

Confederate War Memorial is coming down

Statues such as this have a place in museums. They don’t belong necessarily on public property. Other communities have been going through this debate for some time. They are taking down these structures — statues, plaques, engravings, etc. — that commemorate the Civil War, the nation’s bloodiest conflict.

Let’s not be coy or cagey about why the Confederacy came into being: Those states wanted to retain the power to enslave human beings, to relegate them to be the “property” of slave owners.

To preserve that hideous policy, they formed the Confederate States of America and then some Confederate troops opened fire on the Union garrison in Charleston Bay, S.C.

Thus, in April 1861, the Civil War began with an act of treason!

We shouldn’t honor such an act.

Dems worry about intraparty conflict? Get over it!

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reportedly is worried that factions within the Democratic Party are too busy fighting with each other while not fighting hard enough against, oh, Donald Trump and the Republicans.

Hey, get over it, Mme. Speaker and your fellow party honchos.

Your friends on the other side have had their share of intraparty squabbles, too. There have been spats between the so-called Establishment Republicans and the TEA Party wing of the GOP; the TEA Party has morphed more or less into something called the Freedom Caucus, which continues to raise Cain against the Establishment types.

The Republican Party is going through much of the same kind of tumult, tempest and turmoil that plagued the Democrats back in the 1960s. Perhaps some of today’s Democratic leaders recall when the Vietnam War split the party — and the nation — between the Hawks and the Doves.

Fights sometimes are worth having

I don’t believe there’s as much to “worry” about as some within today’s Democratic Party seem to suggest there is.

A little internal fighting is good for the organization. It keeps everyone sharp, on both sides. Republicans have sought to take that lesson away during their own ideological struggles.

These lessons know no partisan boundaries.

Opportunity declared dead; mission more than accomplished

That had to be the longest 90 days in human history.

A machine that landed on Mars 15 years ago was intended to be on duty for three months. Then the rover named “Opportunity” just kept on collecting data.

Yes, for 15 years the rover traipsed across the Martian surface sending data back to NASA scientists who had launched the ship.

Opportunity went silent eight months ago. NASA tried for most of the past year trying to awaken the rover. It was unable to do so.

This week, NASA “called it,” declaring Opportunity officially dead. The space agency won’t try any more to resuscitate the machine.

Mission accomplished, Opportunity

I have to say that as much as I love the notion of human beings traveling into space, I am mighty impressed with the work being done these unmanned probes that NASA launches.

They fly into the sun, they orbit Venus and Mercury, they fly to the farthest reaches of our solar system, probing Jupiter and Saturn, the asteroid belt. They send back amazing data and make incredible discoveries — such as evidence of water on Mars!

Opportunity performed its mission . . . and then some!

All that said, I hope I am still around to watch the first human beings thrown off from Earth and toward Mars.

That, I believe, would be a seriously “giant leap for mankind.”

Watching the rebirth of a city’s downtown

I don’t get back to Amarillo, Texas, as often these days. My wife and I are getting set to plant new roots in a home in Collin County.

We aren’t going to cease returning to the city we called “home” for more than decades. I am getting anxious to witness the rebirth of its downtown district.

You know already that I am a big supporter of the changes that are under way in the Texas Panhandle community. I am heartened by the expected completion of Hodgetown, the baseball park that will be the home field for the AA minor-league Amarillo Sod Poodles baseball squad; the Sod Poodles open their home season on April 8. As an aside, my wife and I will be in Amarillo that day, getting ready to shove off in our fifth wheel for a trip downstate and then to New Orleans; hmm, I might look for a way to attend that opening-night game.

I simply am amazed that the city has embarked on this urban revival journey. When we arrived in Amarillo in early 1995 we saw little evidence of a municipal appetite for the pro-active approach we have witnessed unfold there. City Hall operated on a policy of letting private business fuel any significant change. The city took a hands-off approach; it didn’t want to invest public money on what it considered to be a private venture.

That has changed to a large degree at City Hall. Two mayors, Debra McCartt and Paul Harpole moved the City Council forward in pushing for development of the ballpark. It promoted what it called “catalyst projects” that would bloom in the wake of the ballpark’s completion. Those projects appear to be bearing fruit.

The city welcomed the opening of a first-class hotel; it is pledging to make major improvements to the Civic Center; Polk Street — once known as Amarillo’s “main drag” — is coming back to life; renovated buildings on Polk are welcoming something called “pop up” businesses; the Barfield Building is in the process of being repurposed into a Marriott “boutique hotel.”

This all makes my head spin.

And I don’t even live there!

Every return to Amarillo we make these days fills us with surprises. We’ll be back again soon. I await the next jaw-dropper.