Saturday, December 22, 2018

On Walls and Shutdowns

So here we are.

A Republican president has shut down the federal government because a Congress where both the House of Representatives and the Senate is controlled by the Republican Party won’t tax Americans to pay for a catastrophically stupid border wall that this same Republican president promised us he would force – through some magic yet unknown to either American or international law – an entirely different sovereign nation to pay for.

This same Republican president proudly declared last week that he would own this shutdown.  “If we don’t get what we want,” he said, “I will shut down the government.  And I am proud to shut down the government for border security. … I will take the mantle.  I will be the one to shut it down.  I’m not going to blame you for it.”  He actually said this on live television, directly to the incoming leaders of the Democratic Congressional delegations and to the world.

And now he’s blaming the Democrats for his shutdown.

Most people outgrow this kind of magical thinking by the time they hit puberty, but not this guy or his cronies, minions, lackeys, and enablers.  How does this work, in his mind?  I’m not sure how a party that controls none of the levers of power could actually be forcing this issue, but if they’re really that clever I think we should put them in charge.  Surely they would do a better job than the current crew of idiots.

I confess that I am not surprised by der Sturmtrumper’s refusal to own his own lunacy.  The Party of Personal Responsibility has long had a serious aversion to taking responsibility for its actions, and der Sturmtrumper is the poster child for this kind of irresponsibility and slack-jawed nonsense.  The self-declared Party of Values has long displayed a callous disregard for morality, and this is certainly immoral on top of short-sighted and stupid.  The surprising thing would have been for der Sturmtrumper to follow through on what he said.

Meanwhile, you have a known flim-flam artist setting up a fundraiser to collect private donations to pay for this wall, and so far over a hundred thousand idiots have self-fleeced in order to support it.

This despite the fact that this campaign is both illegal and unconstitutional if it actually follows through with its promises, and a scam if it does not. 

Article 1, Section 9, Clause 7 of the Federal Constitution of 1787 is pretty clear on the fact that “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law,” which means that Congress would need to pass an appropriations bill in order to use this money.  You can’t just write the federal government a check and demand that they use it in a certain way.  Congress controls spending – this is one of the checks and balances written into the Constitution as a way to restrain tyrants – so any money spent on a wall would have to come from the Treasury as a part of a regular bill.

Further, while you can donate money to the federal government, federal law is very clear on the fact that you cannot attach conditions to it.  It goes into the general fund for Congress to spend or not spend as it sees fit for whatever purpose it deems appropriate.  And even if they change that law, you’re back to Article 1.

Meanwhile, even if the guy does fleece enough suckers to hit his $1 billion target (which, at current rate, will take him several years), that’s 1/25th of the current estimated cost for this thing, assuming the price tag doesn’t go up in the meantime.  So not only is this illegal and unconstitutional (or a scam, whichever), but it’s also futile.

It’s also futile because – and here’s the thing that the people who enjoy being fleeced and get worked up over nothing don’t get – it just won’t work.

Jim Wright put together a marvelous analysis of how this thing would go down, and if you’re not following him on social media you’re missing out.  But the key part was this:

This wall will have to cover more than 1200 miles of currently unfenced border, most of which is in remote, rugged territory.  Any wall can be climbed over if nobody is watching.

“For Trump's wall, 2000 miles long, to work, you will HAVE to monitor it in real-time along every inch,” Wright points out. “You will have to install cameras and sensors, fly drones and aircraft, and put out daily patrols. The wall will be constantly probed. Constantly tested. Constantly watched by those we're trying to keep out. There isn't any way to hide it. 2000 miles long, 30 feet high, and visible in orbit. We become anchored to our wall, constantly trying to find any weakness before the adversary does. Any moment of inattention, any blind spot, any weakness, will be found -- and exploited. The odds are with the attacker, not the defender, especially over that distance.  Because that is human nature, ask any prison guard.”

And, as Wright points out, if you are going to do the kind of monitoring that this requires, you really don’t need the wall in the first place.  The monitoring will suffice, and it will do it far more effectively and cheaply.  It will accomplish your goal and not freeze your assets in place where they become useless for anything else.

Further, as any number of people have noted, the whole idea of the wall is stupid.  It won’t work.  And even if by some miracle of fanatic ideology over human nature it does work, it will spark a recession because of the number of American businesses that depend on the labor of the people der Sturmtrumper and his minions, lackeys, cronies, and enablers are hyperventilating against. 

Plus, it is a documented fact that immigrants – illegal or otherwise – commit crimes at a much lower rate than Trump Administration officials and campaign staff. 

Most Americans understand this.  Every single poll I’ve looked at in the last week says the same thing – overwhelming majorities of Americans think it’s a stupid idea and want no part of it.  Even those who, for whatever reasons of their own, want tighter border security understand that this wall won’t give it to them.  It’s the kind of project that appeals to people who think slogans are a substitute for policy and lottery tickets constitute financial planning.

So what we have here is a petulant, dim-witted shutdown of the federal government in order to get the President’s own party to give him a catastrophically stupid, ruinously expensive, and unworkable project that most Americans don’t actually want.

There is not enough whiskey in the barrel for this nonsense.


LucyInDisguise said...

Wait ... That's my christmas present? Burst my bubble by trying to tell me that "win the big jackpot" isn't a good retirement plan???

Well ........ shit And a Merry christmas to you, too. [/snark]

(And, just for shits and giggles, there is a GoFundMe page to raise money for ladders to breach the wall:

It is apparently outpacing the one for the wall. Seems like a much better investment - So my $20 is in there somewhere.)


LucyInDisguise said...

Additional actual research reveals that the ladder page is not, in fact, outpacing the imbeciles donating to build the wall.

And I thought the people throwing money away in the casinos were asinine. They, at least, stand some, if nearly infinitesimally small, chance of getting a return on their money.

Wow. Just, wow.


David said...

Hi Lucy -

Sorry to be so late in responding! Just got back from visiting family (blog posts to follow). We had a lovely time mostly ignoring the wider world, as holidays ought to be.

I hope you had a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and delightful Hanukkah, as well as a fine December 30th, which only comes once a year and should be celebrated as well.

At least with casinos they provide you with free food and drinks.

I love the whole idea of a ladder fundraiser.