In case you haven’t noticed, the supreme deal maker hasn’t made very many good deals. President Trump opened negotiations with the vicious dictatorship in North Korea by halting military exercises with South Korea and expected them to reciprocate in kind. They didn’t. Later he gushed that he and Chairman Kim Jong-un had “fallen in love,” a relationship Kim’s wife probably wouldn’t claim.
Trump accepted responsibility for the government shutdown in opening negotiations with Democrats the day before the lights went out in some government agencies. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer just looked down at the floor, struggling to contain his glee. The only thing I can write about the reaction of congressional Republicans is: Expletive Deleted!
Even with the overwhelming influence of the greatest economic power on earth at his back, Trump struggles to score trade victories. In fact, I was amused – although it’s really not funny – when I read the title of an article by John Hohmann, author of The Daily 202: “From Brexit to NATO and the shutdown, Putin is winning so much he might get tired of winning.”
And it’s true. What more could Russian President Vladimir Putin want? Even the suggestion that Trump advocated a U.S. withdrawal from NATO weakens that organization. Trump’s distain for our most important allies in Europe, Germany, France and the United Kingdom, plays right into Putin’s hands, as does Brexit, the UK’s break from the European Union. The Trump-forced shutdown not only weakens our national security it allows autocrats like Putin to tout why our democracy doesn’t work. But perhaps the greatest gift to Putin is Trump’s overt efforts to divide Americans, pitting white people against people of color and Latino immigrants.
Trump doesn’t care what damage he inflicts on the nation or who gets hurt in the quest to get his way — and neither does his chief enabler, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Trump creates a humanitarian crisis then offers to alleviate it if his demands are met. McConnell refuses to act unless Trump approves. I’m not sure what their endgame is other than self-aggrandizement and power — but if McConnell is the gravedigger of American democracy as Holocaust historian Christopher Browning has suggested, Trump is its undertaker.
So, what are the real facts about border security? Republican congressman Will Hurd of Texas is a 41-year-old former undercover CIA officer who represents one of the largest congressional districts in America, Texas’ 23rd. It’s a vast expanse around the size of Georgia with almost half of the U.S border with Mexico, 820 miles. In an interview with Rolling Stone Hurd said Trump’s border crisis is a “myth” and a cement or steel slat wall all along its length is a “third-century solution to a 21st-century problem.”
Why aren’t Trump and Republicans listening to Hurd? Well, they aren’t listening to the U.S. Coast Guard either. It’s been reported that these guardians of our sea borders — who are not being paid during the shutdown — intercept half the illegal drugs confiscated by the government. And budget restrictions prevent them from pursuing four of the five targets identified by intelligence. Most of the remaining drugs come through tunnels under the border or are smuggled in at legal points of entry, carried in cars or mixed with cargo in trucks.
Let’s face it, Trump’s wall is not about border security, it’s about a promise to his base and right-wing hatred for the federal government. By all accounts it’s a waste of budget dollars that are getting evermore scarce.
The latest Congressional Budget Office baseline report projects growing yearly deficits and national debt due to the GOP/Trump tax cut and last April’s huge spending bill. This heavy fiscal burden will only get much worse with rising interest rates and the economic downturn that is being predicted by most economists. Large deficits impair America’s ability to react to a crisis like a full-blown recession or a major military conflict. And it makes the nation beholden to its creditors, the largest being China, a confirmed adversary.
Strained federal budgets can also inhibit the robust spending necessary to enhance national security. A recent report by U.S. intelligence organizations outlined numerous situations where the United States has significant security weaknesses vis-à-vis some foreign adversaries, particularly Russia. Immigrants crossing the southern border was not one of them — federal budget uncertainty was.
Most Democrats, particularly Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have tried to avoid a discussion of impeaching Trump before special counsel Robert Mueller’s report is completed. But an article in The Atlantic by Yoni Applebaum advocates that Trump should be impeached NOW! It argues that he has violated his oath of office in numerous ways, including denigrating the separation of powers, the rule of law and the civil liberties enshrined in the Constitution. It cites Trump’s divisiveness and his preference for autocrats, among many other abuses.
A competing New York Times’ article by Michael Tomasky suggests that the 2020 election is the best way to remove Trump. He has a political perspective on the Trump problem and believes rejection at the ballot box will do more long-term damage to the GOP.
I tend to agree; unless Mueller finds clear evidence of impeachable criminality, the best solution to Trump’s transgressions is at the polls. But his plummeting approval rating suggests this shut down might convince a strong majority of voters that either way – Trump must go!