Tag Archives: The Wall

Border Patrol: shutdown collateral damage

Talk about an unintended consequence.

Donald Trump said he would shut down the government over construction of The Wall along our southern border to increase border security.

So, part of the government shuts down. The U.S. Border Patrol continues to do its job, which is to secure the border. Except that the shutdown is depriving these valuable officers of their pay. It’s putting enormous stress on those officers.

Thus, it is — let’s see — oh, endangering national security. A stressed-out Border Patrol officer cannot do his or her job as well as someone who isn’t suffering from the pressure caused by a shutdown that deprives them of income.

How’s that security enhancement goal working out, Mr. President?

I’ve got the answer: Not worth a damn!

POTUS moving ball slowly toward compromise

I’ve been rolling Donald J. Trump’s latest gambit on this government shutdown nonsense around in my noggin.

Here is what I’ve come up with: The president seems to be inching ever so slowly toward compromise with congressional Democrats who do not want to build The Wall along our southern border.

I don’t want The Wall built either. Or whatever form it takes: slats, chain-link fence, steel wall, concrete. None of it sounds appealing to me as an American who hates The Wall but who supports the notion of enhancing border security.

Trump, though, has pitched an enticing notion: He is willing to grant illegal immigrants who came here as children a three-year “amnesty” that enables them to start walking down a “path to citizenship.” We call ’em Dreamers. They came here when their parents entered the nation illegally. They formerly were protected under a program called Deferred Action for Children Arrivals, or DACA. Trump rescinded that Barack Obama-issued executive order.

Now he’s budging a good bit on giving DACA recipients a break.

That is progress. It’s not enough to suit Democrats. Interestingly, the president also has pi**** off hardliners on his far right who don’t want DACA recipients to get a break, even though they did nothing wrong on their own to get here; many thousands of them have grown into adulthood knowing only life as de facto Americans. They have become productive residents of the United States. Many of them have excelled scholastically and have contributed greatly to life in the Land of Opportunity.

So . . . what now?

I would hope those on the left and the right would seek a way to understand that Trump has begun moving the ball just a little bit.

It’s an effort to end this shutdown, which has thrust 800,000 Americans into the ranks of the unpaid and unemployed. They need relief. They need to get back to work.

This shutdown, precipitated by Donald Trump’s silly boast that he would be willing to take the heat for the consequences, needs to end. If a three-year reprieve for DACA recipients can end this stalemate, then I am all in.

Is pressure mounting for POTUS to cave on shutdown?

Sitting as I am out here in the middle of Trump Country, I am in no position to state with absolute knowledge about what happens in Washington, D.C.

Still, I cannot stop thinking that pressure may be building to some sort of spontaneous combustion concerning this partial government shutdown.

Eight hundred thousand federal employees are without paychecks. They are starting to rumble. They are demonstrating. They are demanding action by the president and Congress. The speaker of the House has pulled back her invitation to the president to deliver his State of the Union speech in the House of Representatives, citing security concerns created by the government shutdown.

The president has ordered some federal employees back to work, but without pay! That order well might be unlawful, which could prompt yet another lawsuit against the president.

Donald Trump wants to build The Wall along our southern border. He wants to spend about $5.7 billion for The Wall. Congressional Democrats are resisting him. Trump said he would take responsibility for shutting down the government; then it happened, but now Trump is blaming Democrats for the shutdown.

It’s not going well for Donald Trump. There might be some weakening of his position, even though he’s still talking tough.

The government needs to reopen. Those hundreds of thousands of employees need their income restored. Yes, we need to negotiate some form of enhanced border security.

Is there a semblance of humanity and common sense to be found anywhere in Washington? If so, then it needs to present itself, the government needs to return to full functionality and both sides need to actually talk to each other about how they can find some common ground.

That is how you govern.

The Woman of the House shows her mettle

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has laid it on the line to the president of the United States.

Donald Trump is no longer invited to speak before the U.S. House of Representatives to deliver his State of the Union speech.

She wrote the president a note telling him of her concerns over “security,” given the government shutdown and how the furloughing of critical security personnel makes it impossible for Congress to protect the president, the vice president, the full congressional membership, the Supreme Court, the Cabinet, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the diplomatic corps.

So, her message to the president? Deliver the SOTU speech in writing, as other presidents have done. That’s if he is wedded to the Jan. 29 date scheduled for his in-person, live TV speech.

Pelosi wants the government reopened fully before the president speaks to a joint congressional session.

Thus, she is demonstrating — as if the president needed any proof of it — that she is the Woman of the House and that Donald Trump has met his match.

SOTU delay might serve Trump’s best interests

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has made a perfectly reasonable offer to Donald J. Trump: The president should delay his State of the Union speech until after the federal government reopens fully.

No word yet on whether the president will accept Pelosi’s request.

Why is it in Trump’s best interest?

Consider the following:

Democrats and Republicans are locked in a death match over The Wall. Trump wants it built. Democrats oppose it. The deadlock has produced the partial government shutdown that Trump once said he would be “proud” to own. The State of the Union speech is designed to give the president to declare whether the Union’s strength is strong, weak or somewhere in between.

Trump surely is inclined to declare that the SOTU is “strong.” Were he to do so, he would become the butt of jokes throughout the nation, if not the world.

Accordingly, perhaps the speaker has Trump’s best interests at heart by requesting a delay. I don’t know, obviously, what fueled the request. If you think about it, though, I find it a way out of the president exposing himself to national or international ridicule.

The speaker’s letter to the president talks about security concerns related to the shutdown. That’s legit, too.

The back story might lie more as a PR move. There’s no requirement that Trump deliver his SOTU speech on Jan. 29 as planned. He could do so in writing, as Pelosi has suggested.

He might do well to take Pelosi’s offer. Put the speech off until he can report that the State of the Union is in better shape than it is at the moment.

Check out Pelosi’s letter here.

Border security? Agreed, Mr. President . . . but how?

Donald J. Trump fired off this Twitter message today.

It reads: ... Border is eventually going to be militarized and defended or the United States, as we have known it, is going to cease to exist…And Americans will not go gentle into that good night. Patrick Buchanan.  The great people of our Country demand proper Border Security NOW!

If you can get past the mangled syntax from the man who knows “the best words,” then more power to you. Someone will have to explain why the name “Patrick Buchanan” appears in the middle of this message.

I actually agree with the last part of the president’s tweet. The “great people of our Country” do demand secure borders.

In that context I consider myself a “great” person. So, thank you, Mr. President.

Where we differ is how you obtain “proper Border Security.” The Wall isn’t necessary. We have technology. We have Border Patrol agents. There are drones. Electronic surveillance. Cameras.

C’mon, Mr. President. Use what we have. Pay for more of it. No more money for The Wall. End the government shutdown! Put those American public servants back to work and pay those who have been working for free! This is nonsense.

Now it’s the Freedom Caucus resisting emergency declaration

Donald Trump listens only to his political base. The rest of us can go straight to hell, in Trump’s world.

Get a load of this: The Freedom Caucus, the group of ultraconservative members of the U.S. House of Representatives, is now pushing back on the president’s desire to declare a national emergency so he can obtain money to build The Wall along our southern border. Such a declaration might empower the president take funds earmarked for other projects to pay for The Wall.

No can do, Mr. President. Many of us believe that’s illegal.

The Freedom Caucus speaks out and, guess what, Trump pulls the emergency declaration off the table, at least for the time being.

At issue is government shutdown. It’s about to set a record for longevity. Hundreds of thousands of government workers have been furloughed or are working without pay. They’re mad as hell. They’re griping to their members of Congress. Many of them are starting to hear their constituents’ complaints.

Trump has declared a “crisis” on our southern border. It’s a phony issue. The only crisis is occurring inside the White House and on Capitol Hill. I don’t mean to say we should throw open our borders and let everyone in — legally or illegally.

However, the national emergency won’t do a thing to stem whatever is occurring on the border. Illegal crossings have declined for decades. So have arrests. Trump, though, made a stupid campaign pledge to build The Wall; he said Mexico would pay for it, but now he is trying to foist the cost of The Wall on you and me while denying he ever said Mexico would write “a check.” Well, actually he did say such a thing.

In the meantime, about 800,000 federal employees have been kicked around like a battered football. They are suffering. They need to work. Trump, though, says he can “relate” to their troubles. The truth is he cannot relate at all; no rich kid who inherits millions from his father can “relate” to someone who’s actually must work for a living to feed his or her family and keep a roof over their heads. The president of the United States doesn’t demonstrate empathy for anyone — period!

There must not be a national emergency declaration. The president says the law is “100 percent behind” him. Actually, that’s a highly debatable point and you can bet every nickel in your piggy bank that Democrats are going to take any such declaration to court.

And, yes, the Freedom Caucus just might join them.

Pay attention, Mr. President. Your “base” is cracking.

National security suffers from shutdown

Donald Trump has dug in on The Wall. He wants it built and he wants you and me to pay for it, not Mexico — as he had pledged during his campaign for the presidency.

As a result, part of the federal government has shut down. Trump says the shutdown is needed to bolster — ostensibly — our national security. The Wall would protect us from those hordes of killers, rapists and sex traffickers seeking illegal entry into the United States of America.

Oh, but what about national security.

Airport security officers are working without pay. They’re calling in sick. The post-9/11 travel restrictions are suffering now because TSA agents aren’t showing up for work. Those who do are being put under undue stress while they wait for their next paycheck; they don’t know when that day will arrive.

And then we have our air traffic controllers. They are employed by the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA cannot pay its air controllers, either.

Air traffic control is among the world’s most stressful of jobs even under the best of circumstances. As the head of the ATC union said this morning, those men and women have to be “100 percent 100 percent of the time.” Given the shuttering of the government, they aren’t functioning at 100 percent. They are worried about their mortgage payments, their kids’ tuition, their utility bills, grocery bills, car payments, credit cards payments. You name it, they’re stressing out.

Can these individuals spare a single moment away from their job of guiding airplanes, preventing jetliners full of travelers from crashing into each other? Of course not!

National security, Mr. President? You’ve got to be kidding — but you’re not.

Do you, dear reader, feel safer now? Me neither.

Lt. Gov. Patrick in line for a job with Trump? Oh, let’s hope so

What little I know about Ross Ramsey of the Texas Tribune — and it’s really not all that much — I am inclined to believe he doesn’t toss rumors out there just to make a spectacle of himself.

So, when he wrote this in an analysis published by the Tribune, I kind of sat up a little straighter in my chair:

“(Lt. Gov. Dan) Patrick’s visit to Washington sparked a rumor that he might be in line for a post in the Trump administration — a rumor that prompted speculation about how the legislative session would go with senators choosing his replacement from among their own ranks. That hasn’t happened since George W. Bush became president and then-Lt. Gov. Rick Perry succeeded him as governor. Senators made Bill Ratliff the lieutenant governor until the next election.”

Then Ramsey offered this: “Scratch all that.”

Read Ramsey’s analysis here.

Patrick met the president in McAllen earlier this week and offered to help him build The Wall along our border with Mexico. He said Texas could pony some of the $5.7 billion that Trump wants to spend.

So, what would that mean if Patrick gets whisked off to D.C. to serve in the Trump administration? That would allow senators to select a new lieutenant governor. I know one of those 31 senators pretty well: Republican Kel Seliger of Amarillo, who I believe would make an outstanding lieutenant governor.

He calls himself a “conservative,” but he sounds more, shall we say, moderate than some of the righties who populate the Texas Senate. That is fine with me. For instance, I cannot imagine a Lt. Gov. Seliger pushing a “Bathroom Bill” through the Senate to make some sort of statement to appease cultural conservatives within the Texas GOP Senate caucus.

I’ve known Seliger for nearly 25 years. He and I have developed a good relationship. I was editorial page editor of the Amarillo Globe-News and he was Amarillo mayor when we first met in early 1995. He then left City Hall and was elected to the Senate in 2004 after the late Teel Bivins received an ambassadorial post from President Bush.

I have long supported Seliger’s work as a state senator.

Would he make a good lieutenant governor? Of course he would! I realize I am getting way ahead of myself. Lt. Gov. Patrick likely isn’t going anywhere.

Then again . . . my hope springs eternal.

Wall between Texas and Mexico: daunting task, indeed

Donald J. Trump presumably counted on unanimous support from Texas’s Republican congressional delegation to build The Wall separating the state from Mexico.

He didn’t get it. Imagine that, will ya?

GOP Sen. John Cornyn, the state’s senior U.S. senator, hedged significantly on whether he wants to spend $5.7 billion to build The Wall along our southern border. He met with the president today in McAllen, along with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Sen. Ted Cruz.

Patrick wants The Wall erected so badly that he reportedly — according to Trump — offered to have the state pay for its construction.

Cornyn, though, says the state’s 1,200-mile border with Mexico is quite geographically diverse. He is not sure about how much he wants to spend, but it appears that he isn’t on board with the $5.7 billion the president wants.

Consider, too, that the entire length of the Texas-Mexico border runs along the Rio Grande River, which presents an entirely different set of circumstances confronting other border states. New Mexico, Arizona and California are bordered along land with Mexico; the Texas border meanders a bit, much of it through some very rough, and scenic territory. We also have that big ol’ national park at Big Bend with which to deal.

Oh, and then we have that thing called “eminent domain,” given that almost all the land along our border is held privately. The government cannot seize that land without offering “just compensation,” as it is spelled out in the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It’s going to get really expensive to build it.

So, how much support does The Wall have? Politico talked to 17 House members and senators who represent states and House districts along the border. Just two of them — Cruz and fellow Republican Sen. Martha McSally of Arizona — said they support The Wall.

Trump boasts about GOP solidarity. Yep, the party sounds pretty solid, all right, but not in the way the president keeps saying.