Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}


Privately Funded Border Wall May Soon Collapse

Reprinted with permission from ProPublica

Tommy Fisher billed his new privately funded border wall as the future of deterrence, a quick-to-build steel fortress that spans 3 miles in one of the busiest Border Patrol sectors.

Unlike a generation of wall builders before him, he said he figured out how to build a structure directly on the banks of the Rio Grande, a risky but potentially game-changing step when it came to the nation's border wall system.

Read Now Show less

#EndorseThis: Colbert Narrates Trump's Visit To His Border Wall

If Trump felt sad about his pitiful Tulsa rally, what better way to cheer himself up than to visit his cherished border wall? Never mind that the wall as he envisioned it can never be completed (let alone paid for by Mexico).

As Stephen Colbert explains, even Trump's diminished substitute for the original wall isn't meeting expectations. And of course -- as Colbert further elaborates -- the president is lying about the building of that dinky, entirely useless barrier.

According to Colbert, Trump is also preoccupied with proving his mental acuity, and refers often in White House meetings to a cognitive exam he took two years ago. If you find that reassuring, you're a Trump cultist. And you won't find this monologue funny at all.

It's hilarious. Just click.

How Trump’s Border Wall Grab May Backfire —In Wisconsin

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

When President Donald Trump ran on building a massive border wall in 2016, anyone informed about politics could tell his claim that Mexico would pay for it was a shameful, empty promise. And now that Trump is actually trying to build the wall while running for re-election, his grab for wall funds is making him vulnerable to a potentially devastating attack line:

“Mexico isn’t paying for the wall — Wisconsin is.”

That was the gist of a tweet from the Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Ben Wikler, who wrote Monday:

And it’s substantially true. Trump couldn’t get Congress to agree to pass funding for his wall — even when Republicans had complete control of both chambers — so he has resorted to an executive power grab to get it built. He’s trying to seize $3.8 billion in Pentagon funds and redirect it toward building the wall.

As Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin explained in a statement, the plan includes taking $101 million that was appropriated by Congress to build heavy-wheeled defense vehicles for the military from Wisconsin company Oshkosh Defense. Her office said she helped secure this funding “to support hundreds of jobs in small and medium-sized businesses across the Midwest and is crucial to our national and economic security.” Trump’s budget also reportedly reallocates $650 million from a project to build the America-class Amphibious Navy Ship, which uses an engine that would also be built in Wisconsin. Baldwin said this funding supports “more than 100 jobs” in the state.

“President Trump promised the people of Wisconsin that Mexico would pay for his border wall and now he is making American taxpayers fund it,” Baldwin explained. “Wisconsin manufacturers strengthen our national defense and create jobs, but Trump is taking funding away from our economy and the workers that build it.”

John Nichols, a columnist in the Wisconsin paper Daily Citizen, shared Baldwin’s sentiment.

“When the Trump administration and its cronies tear up budgets that have been approved by Congress in order to find billions for the border wall, they abandon fiscal responsibility,” Nichols said wrote. “They also abandon workers, in communities such as Oshkosh.”

In some ways, this backlash represents exactly what is so frustrating about American politics. Place-based representation and the nature of the Senate and electoral college mean that small-scale projects that might not actually serve the national good can develop powerful constituencies that are politically risky for politicians to abandon. And the U.S. military budget is already bloated beyond belief, in part because it’s been a useful mechanism for influential lawmakers to direct the federal government’s largess toward their own constituents.

But politics plays out in the institutions and structures that we have, not those we’d like to have. So if Trump makes himself vulnerable by coming into conflict with a state like Wisconsin — a key state he won by a slim margin that was central in his 2016 win, and which could be necessary for his re-election — then he can expect that Democrats will exploit that decision. This is especially true if the issue also highlights some of his genuine faults, such as his disregard for the separation of powers and his broken promises.

Confirming ‘Fake News,” Trump Admits Wall Blown Down

On Sunday, Donald Trump confirmed that a part of the border wall in California fell into Mexico due to high winds, but also called reports of the incident “Fake News.”

“Last week the Fake News said that a section of our powerful, under construction, Southern Border Wall ‘fell over’, trying to make it sound terrible, except the reason was that the concrete foundation was just poured & soaking wet when big winds kicked in,” Trump wrote on Twitter with his trademark grammatical errors and unorthodox capitalization. “Quickly fixed ‘forever’.”

Here are the facts, which Trump seems to both confirm and deny.

On Jan. 29, high winds in Calexico, California, blew over a section of Trump’s border wall, causing it to fall into Mexico.

In an email the following day, Ralph DeSio, a Customs and Border Protection official, wrote that high winds “impacted a handful of panels,” adding that there were no injuries or property damage. DeSio said the concrete holding the wall was still drying, confirming the media’s reporting on the incident.

Texas-based company founded by Republican donors was awarded a multimillion-dollar contract to build the section of the border wall that blew over.

In a June 2019 press release, CPB said the company, named, SLSCO had been awarded an $88 million contract to replace an 11-mile section of dilapidated border wall in Calexico. According to a 2019 Forbes report, SLSCO has received contracts for border wall projects totaling almost half a billion dollars since Trump took office.

During the 2016 campaign, Trump promised Mexico would pay for a border wall. When Mexico refused, Trump resorted to taking money Congress allocated for military bases to use instead.

In 2019, the Trump administration took $3.6 billion meant for military bases and services for military families. In 2020, Trump is planning to divert an additional $3.8 billion away from the military to help fund the border wall.

Trump regularly accused the media of being “fake news” when reports are unfavorable to him or his administration. But in this case, Trump both accused media reports of being fake and confirmed the underlying facts of the reports.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.