Tag Archives: The Wall

This is not how to govern, Congress

What a way to govern … not!

Congress is fighting over how to pay for immigration measures. It cannot settle a dispute over whether to pay for construction of a wall along our nation’s southern border or whether to extend protection for those U.S. residents who were brought here when they were children as their parents sneaked into the country illegally.

The consequence of this dispute?

The government might shut down — if only partially — in the next 24 hours.

Republicans who run both congressional chambers are scrambling to find yet another stop-gap solution that will delay the next shutdown threat for a couple of weeks.

Oh, and then we have the president of the United States. Donald J. Trump reportedly is a non-player in the negotiation over how to find a longer-term solution to this problem. Media reports say that Trump is making zero phone calls to congressional leaders, suggesting he’s leaving it exclusively up to lawmakers to find an answer.

Even congressional Republicans are complaining about the lack of a “reliable partner” in the White House.

Trump torpedoes GOP strategy

I’m trying to imagine Lyndon Johnson leaving a matter such as this to Capitol Hill. The late former president came to the presidency after a distinguished career in the U.S. Senate. President Kennedy plucked him from his Senate majority leader post to run with him as vice president in 1960. LBJ never lost his congressional connections.

Trump, though, has none of that kind of history. Zero, man!

Effective governance is supposed to comprise a partnership between the legislative and executive branches of government. It’s not happening these days.

Republicans are barely talking to Democrats in Congress, and vice versa. The president, meanwhile, is maintaining a position that I suppose he might say is “above the fray.”

As a result, Congress might stumble and bumble its way to another short-term Band-Aid repair, only to wait for the next deadline to approach before we face yet another government shutdown threat.

How about trying this: Work together for a change in the hunt for common ground. Fund the government, repair the problem — and stop threatening to shut down a government that is supposed to serve all Americans all the time.


Don’t build that wall!

Donald J. Trump keeps harping on the need to build a wall that he wants to stretch along our nation’s southern border.

How many times must opponents of that idea say it? Don’t build the wall! Don’t appropriate the money to build it! Don’t pressure Mexico to pay for it!

The president wants Congress to appropriate $18 billion for the next five years to get started on the wall.

Do not go there!

Am I advocating a totally open border? No. I am totally in favor of increased border security. The use of drone aircraft is OK with me. Providing more Border Patrol officers is a good thing, too. Deploying more electronic surveillance equipment to stop illegal immigrants is fine as well.

The country needs to secure its borders, north and south — and east and west!

The idea, though, of erecting a wall along our border is bad symbolically. The notion runs directly counter to the national creed of being a welcoming place. Does that mean we allow anyone who wants in just to walk in without proper credential? No!

I do support the president’s concern about bad guys finding their way into the United States. His concern over criminals entering this country has not been a point of contention with me.

What has troubled me is the president’s approach to dealing with that concern. A wall won’t keep bad guys out. And that nutty boast about “getting Mexico to pay that wall” makes no sense. One sovereign nation cannot order another sovereign nation to spend a dime.

If we have a problem with illegal immigration, it is our problem to solve. A wall is not a solution I want to subsidize. However, I am willing to support a comprehensive approach to solving this dilemma.

That should include a far-reaching reform of our nation’s immigration policy. Yes, more security should be an option, but we can provide it without walling off the United Stats from our hemispheric neighbors.

Wall serves to remind us of darker time

These toddlers don’t yet know what they’re seeing. They don’t yet know what those names engraved on that black wall symbolize.

My sincere hope is that Grandma and Grandpa will tell them one day. I hope, too, that when they show the children pictures of them standing next to that wall that they’ll explain the names and tell them what their presence on that wall means.

I ventured to John Stiff Memorial Park in southwest Amarillo this morning to pay my respects to the 58,000 men and women who died in the Vietnam War. “The Wall That Heals” is here through the weekend. The miniature version of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., will be open 24 hours, enabling Vietnam veterans — if they so choose — to visit the wall and to reflect quietly on what it symbolizes.

I had hoped to talk to vets about their emotions, perhaps to share with them how I was able to heal my own heart in 1989 by visiting Vietnam 20 years after I reported for duty at an Army surveillance aviation battalion at Marble Mountain, just south of Da Nang.

It didn’t happen. I chose to keep my distance from those men. I don’t regret failing to engage them in conversation, as I am confident they have had The Talk with other peers, family members and strangers.

The wall, though, always is worth seeing. It provides a “welcome home” to those Vietnam veterans who didn’t get that simple greeting in real time as they were coming home from war.

Too many Americans did the unthinkable back in those days. They took their anger at a deeply flawed military and foreign policy on the men and women who merely were following orders. They did what their government ordered them to do. For that they were scorned.

It was a moment that will live in eternal shame.

I was among the more fortunate veterans, as I didn’t witness any of the spitting and name-calling, let alone experience it.

We all know it happened.

Time does have a way of making people — and nations — wiser. It did so with our national relationship with Vietnam War veterans.

The Wall That Heals is a demonstration of those evolving attitudes.

Let us hope as well that the children pictured with this post hear also from their elders about how the nation has grown up.

‘Big, beautiful wall’ now becomes ‘see-through’?

For as long as Donald J. Trump has been in politics, he has spoken forcefully — if not always eloquently — about his desire to build a “big, beautiful wall” across our nation’s border with Mexico.

Now he’s saying something, um, quite different — and strange!

The president ventured to Alabama and declared that the wall is going to be a “see-through” structure.

Which begs the question: What in the name of erecting roadblocks is he talking about?

I keep thinking that Trump is considering some sort of Plexiglas structure. Clear plastic. We can look at the other side and see who’s trying to sneak in. Is that what he means?

Trump comments on wall outlined

What does this argument do to the president’s assertion that he’d build a wall as high and as deep as possible into the ground to prevent illegal immigrants from coming across the border?

Then we have this ridiculous assertion that Mexico is going to pay for the wall. Uh, Mr. President? You cannot force a sovereign government to do your bidding unless you have some rather drastic and hideous option in mind — such as invading that country and overthrowing its government. You know and I know that won’t happen. So, what’s the deal with this insistence that Mexico is going to foot the bill?

The wall is, to quote the president, a “loser.” It won’t protect us. It won’t keep drugs from coming into this country. It won’t stop truly bad guys from sneaking in.

For the life of me I cannot understand why we simply cannot beef up existing security procedures to curb what the president describes as a crisis along our southern border. I’m all in favor of cracking down on illegal immigration. But … build a wall — even a see-through structure?

The president is operating in Fantasyland.

Is POTUS getting it, finally?

Pity the president of the United States’s “base” of supporters. Well, actually, I don’t.

They’re suffering acute apoplexy because Donald J. Trump is beginning to show the faint signs of understanding something about the high office he occupies. It is that he even though he didn’t win a popular vote plurality in 2016, he won enough Electoral College votes to become elected and, therefore, he has to deal with the wishes and needs of those who voted against him.

Immigration is the issue of the day.

Trump is sounding like someone who wants to strike a deal with congressional Democrats and moderate congressional Republicans that would give so-called “Dreamers” a path to citizenship and/or permanent immigrant status. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals order issued by President Barack Obama has been rescinded. Trump, though, says he wants to strike some sort of deal to protect the DACA residents, to keep them in the only country they’ve ever known.

You see, about 800,000 of these U.S. residents came here as children — some of the infants and toddlers — when their parents sneaked into the country illegally. The Trump “base” considers these folks “criminals.” Well, their parents broke U.S. immigration law. But does that mean we punish the children for the sins of their parents? Let’s get real here.

The president still wants to build that wall along our southern border. We’ll have to see how that struggle plays out with the aforementioned Democrats and moderate Republicans in Congress. In my mind, the wall is a non-starter. Mexico won’t pay for it. American taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for something the president said would be financed by another government.

What’s more, the wall won’t make this country any safer from terrorists, and assorted criminals who want to come into this country to do grievous harm.

I don’t feel a single bit of sympathy for the Trumpkins who just can’t stand the thought of their guy working to fulfill the interests of the rest of the nation he now governs.

POTUS remains an angry man

Donald John Trump is an angry old man. The 71-year-old president of the United States marked his 200th day in office with a series of tweets.

He blasted Democrats, the “fake” media, turncoat Republicans, Congress in general. The only folks who escaped his Twitter tirade it seems are his kin and Vladimir Putin.

What gives with this guy? The honeymoon period presidents traditionally get never materialized with this buffoon. Perhaps it was the tone of his inaugural speech, the one that talked about vowing to end the “American carnage” and painted a dark portrait of the world’s greatest, most powerful nation. There was no high-minded prose coming from the president. There was plenty of anger.

It’s gone downhill … from there!

He hasn’t filled a huge number of key staff posts. Judgeships remain vacant. Federal prosecutors need to be named. He’s changed his White House chief of staff, booted out his press secretary, fired the FBI director and the acting attorney general, tossed his national security adviser, kicked out his communications director. Am I missing anyone? Whatever.

My point is that the president is an unhappy man who this morning decided to torch a Democratic senator over an issue for which the senator has apologized. Take a bow, Richard Blumenthal.

Nothing of consequence has been accomplished — legislatively. Yes, he issued those executive orders removing the United States from the Transpacific Partnership and from the Paris climate accords. He tweeted something about banning transgendered Americans from serving in the military, only to get push back from the Pentagon brass at the highest levels of all the military branches.

Trump keeps getting caught in lies and duplicitous comments, thanks to the “leakers” inside the White House who are exposing his countless shortcomings as the head of state and government.

Those “easy” tasks, such as repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act? Not done! The leader of the party that controls the Congress and the White House couldn’t get that one pushed across the finish line. So … he blames Congress for his own failures.

Getting Mexico to build a wall along our nations’ shared border? Forget about it. Tossing out the North American Free Trade Agreement? Pfftt!

Here’s the best part of all of this: We’re at Day 200 of the Trump administration. That means we’ve only got 1,261 more days of this ahead.


These projects don’t pay for themselves

Donald J. Trump’s proposal to cut taxes — notably for the wealthiest Americans — is getting considerable play in conservative media and political circles.

The president thinks he’s on to something. He has pitched what his team has called the most sweeping “tax reform” package in U.S. history.

Now …

Let’s get real for a moment.

* The president also wants to enact a few big projects. He has proposed spending an additional $54 billion next year alone on the Department of Defense. He contends the military is depleted and, of course, blames the previous administration for all but rendering us defenseless against our enemies.

* He also wants to rebuild our nation’s roads, bridges and airports. The price tag for that? A cool $1.2 trillion. This is a project worth doing, given the sorry state of our highways and airports. I’m still baffled as to how this plays among fiscal conservatives who (a) voted for Trump in 2016 and (b) say they dislike spending money the government doesn’t have in the bank.

* The president also wants to build that “big, beautiful wall” along our southern border. The price tag varies on this matter, but I’ll go with the bigger number that’s been floated: $25 billion. I do not believe the wall will be built. Nor should it be built. Still, the president insists that it will and he no longer is saying at every campaign-style rally that “Mexico will pay for it.”

These things do not pay for themselves. Thus, Americans across the land need to ask themselves: Are we willing to step up to shoulder the cost of all these projects or are we going to ignore the reality that the money must come from each of us?

The tax cut mantra has become standard Republican Party policy. President Reagan famously sought to cut taxes while “rebuilding” the military. He railed against President Carter’s budget deficits, only to preside over a skyrocketing deficit during his two terms in office. President George H.W. Bush challenged us to “read my lips” while vowing at the GOP convention in 1988 to never raise taxes; which helped get him elected. He then raised taxes — wisely, in my view — and it cost him votes among his conservative GOP base in 1992. President George W. Bush cut taxes in 2001, then went to war with international terrorists after the 9/11 attacks; the deficits exploded.

A new Republican president is now proposing another massive tax cut while at the same time seeking to do big things. With what, Mr. President? Where’s the money coming from?

I hate the wall idea. If the president wants to stem illegal immigration, then invest more money in better enforcement along both of our lengthy borders — north and south — and at ports of entry along all three coasts.

The defense buildup doesn’t need to cost nearly what Trump is proposing. Our military remains the strongest in the world.

Infrastructure improvement makes sense, but it’s going to cost Americans a lot of money to get it done.

Are we going to fall for the GOP tax-cut dodge because we don’t want to pay for the things we insist that government do for us? Or are we going to understand that our government requires us to spend a bit of our money to make it work?

100 days: real — or phony — benchmark for POTUS?

Donald John Trump now calls the 100-day threshold for presidential performance a phony standard.

That’s not what he was saying, however, while he was running for the office in 2016. He said repeatedly — and loudly — that he would do more than any other president in U.S. history during his first 100 days in office.

How has he done?

Repeal of the Affordable Care Act? Nothing. Tax reform? Zip. Infrastructure renovation? Forget it. The Wall on the southern border? Ha!

Yes, the president has signed a lot of executive orders. I like a few of them; most of them are clunkers.

Legislative accomplishment? The president has come up empty.

That means the 100-day report card — when it comes due — is going to record a pretty dismal job performance. Unless, of course, you’re Donald Trump, who’s been saying in consecutive breaths that he’s done more than any president in history and that the 100-day benchmark doesn’t mean a damn thing.

Trump’s victory in the 2016 election rewrote the political calculus on so many levels. He wasn’t supposed to win; he didn’t know anything about government; he insulted too many key political demographic groups.

Despite all of that he won the Electoral College by a comfortable — if not a massive — margin over Hillary Clinton.

He’s parlayed that changing political dynamic into some sort of success in his own mind.

I’m not buying the president’s version of success. And, yes, the 100-day marker for first-term presidents does matter, no matter what the current president might think publicly about it.

How did The Wall become our responsibility?

Hey, didn’t Donald John Trump vow, declare it a lead-pipe cinch that Mexico would pay for a “big, beautiful wall” along the border between that country and the United States of America?

Didn’t he say he would force Mexico to foot the bill because, after all, those criminals and terrorists were “flooding” the country through our southern neighbor?

He got into an immediate war of words with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto after taking office this past January. Why? Pena Nieto said “no way” would his country spend a nickel to pay for the wall.

Here we are, nearly 100 days into the Trump administration’s existence. The wall is now central to a domestic political dispute — in the United States. The federal government might shut down if Congress cannot come up with a plan to stick American taxpayers with the bill to build a wall that (a) won’t work and (b) will blow up the annual budget deficit.

What’s the cost of this boondoggle? $20 billion to $25 billion? For starters?

Congress and the president are squabbling over whether to approve one of those “continuing resolutions” that would fund the government for the short term. Meanwhile, that damn wall is still being negotiated between Republican congressional leaders and the Republican who now sits (once in a while) in the Oval Office.

If there is a more impractical, illogical and ill-conceived idea than building such a barrier between two ostensibly “friendly” nations, then someone will have tell me.

A huge portion of the U.S.-Mexico border happens to be along a mighty river — the Rio Grande — that separates Texas from Mexico. How in the name of civil engineering does the president build the wall along that border? How does the president propose to seize all that private land without adding to the already-enormous cost? The U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment requires “just compensation” for any “private land taken for public use.”

Well, why quibble over the small stuff?

The very notion of this wall becoming central to this political dispute simply illustrates yet another blind and thoughtless campaign promise the president cannot keep.

And if he made that promise knowing that he couldn’t fulfill it, isn’t that just another flat-out, bald-faced lie?

Building ‘The Wall’ faces mountain of obstacles

Donald J. Trump’s mouth provides an endless supply of nonsense.

The wall he intends to build to keep an imagined horde of criminals and terrorists from entering the United States of America provides a stark example of his “ready, fire, aim” approach to public policy.

The New York Times, in an editorial published Sunday, took note of the enormously complicated task associated with building a wall across our nation’s southern border.

Did the Republican candidate for president consider any of them before riding down the escalator to announce his candidacy in the summer of 2015? Umm. Nope. No way, man.

The Times asks:

“How do you build a wall along the 1,200 miles of the Rio Grande, the Texas stretch of border? Do you put it on our side and abandon the river to Mexico, or seize Mexican territory for it, or put it in the middle of the river, or do some zigzag compromise? What do you do then about a treaty requiring that both countries have open access to the river?

“How do you make a concrete wall see-through, so smugglers aren’t invisible to the Border Patrol?

“How do you get private landowners to go along? What about the Tohono O’odham Indians, whose reservation straddles the border in Arizona and who want no part of any wall on their sacred land?

How do you wall out deep tunnels, drones and catapults? What about the tons of drugs that pass through existing ports? Did you know that drug cartels have ships and submarines? What happens when drug bales start coming ashore in San Diego, or over from Saskatchewan?

These things do not seem to matter to the president who keeps referencing these matters in the first-person singular, suggesting that he’s going to make it happen just because, well, he can.
Actually, he cannot. That’s not how it works.
The president cannot just say things, as the NY Times notes, without understanding the consequences of his utterances. It worked for him as a candidate for the office. Now that he’s occupying it, the time has come for the president to start thinking rationally — and strategically.