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Friday, December 28, 2018

Blame Nancy?

I've rarely mentioned the Wall. Let's talk about it.

Frankly, I could support such an endeavor on Keynesian grounds, if we faced a Depression (which we do not, despite the weirdness on Wall Street). I still believe in a basic lesson once commonly taught in economics class: When unemployment runs high and demand hits rock bottom, when a nation's economy resembles an elevator stuck in the basement, government should become the employer of last resort. Any project will do. If nothing else comes to mind, government should hire a million people to bury bottles in the desert and then hire another million to dig 'em up again.

Let's be honest: What we are debating now is not the Wall's efficacy but Trump's loathesomeness. The majority of Americans detest the man. Democrats will seem craven if they hand a win to a man hated by so many.

Dems would probably grudgingly accept the Wall, or at least not make it the reason for a government shutdown, if any other president (Republican or Democrat) had demanded the thing. But Trump is uniquely vile. A smirk of triumph on that hideous tangerine mug would be an unendurable sight.

If he wins this one, you know damned well that he'll smirk. He will prance and gloat and chortle and bellow a primitive war-cry, the kind of cry one might have heard from Conan the Barbarian after he bludgeoned his way onto the throne of Aquilonia. An effective leader always graciously allows a foe to save face, but we've learned that Trump doesn't do grace. He wants the heads of his enemies to decorate the gate while his blood-crazed followers dance in the torchlight.

He's a bully. He can't not smirk.

Being a bully, he also can't compromise. Worse, he can't be compromised with, because one must never give in to a bully, not even slightly.

Any other president would propose a "test" scenario -- say, 75 miles of Wall, as a proof-of-concept. Trump won't do that. Facing any other president, Congress would probably accept such a test. But this president...? No.

In short and in sum: The current shutdown thus has more to do with character than with security or money.

Unfortunately, the shutdown serves Trump's purposes: He wants the country to talk about something other than his obvious criminality and his ties to Russia. He wants to frame the debate in terms of "build the wall" vs "unlimited immigration" -- as though those were the only two options. In short, he wants us talking purely about his issues.

Since neither his Russian masters nor his libertarian/neo-Nazi followers want our democracy (or any other democracy) to function, Trump has zero incentive to end the shutdown on any terms other than his own. Thus, I fear that he will win this one. Since Pelosi and Schumer like democracy and Trump doesn't, Trump has the upper hand.

Blaming Nancy. Earlier today, I saw Sarah Sanders blame the shutdown on Nancy Pelosi. What the hell? Are Trump's followers so ignorant as to believe that Pelosi has anything to do with this?

She is not yet the Speaker of the House. In fact, there is still a small chance that she might not get the gig. At this writing, the Republicans retain a majority in the House -- the same majority they have had throughout the past two years.

In that body, the votes for the Wall are there. Always have been. As Trump himself said in that instantly-infamous chat/spat with Pelosi and Schumer, the problem has always been in the Senate, where the Republican majority is not filibuster-proof. I believe that Trump could have gotten his way in that body despite the filibuster threat. For example, the Republicans could have forced the Dems to conduct an actual filibuster, which would have been, if nothing else, a very droll exercise in theater. Would the trick have worked? Don’t know. We can discuss that topic at another time.

Right now, I am making one simple, obvious point: Nancy Pelosi is not a senator. She is a member of the House, where Trump has the votes for the Wall right now.

She is not and has not been in a position to stop the Wall from being funded. In the near future, perhaps -- but not in the past and not now. Thus, the Trumpers cannot plausibly construe her as the villain of this piece.

So why are they demonizing her? I can think of only two reasons:

1. Trump supporters have no idea as to how government works.

2. She's female.

I don't know what to do about the second problem. But the first is easily addressed: Make the franchise contingent on the successful passage of a high school civics class.
The print and broadcast news media demonstrate their complicity by parroting the blame Pelosi meme instead pointing out the obvious. Same as all those breathless reporting on threats to Nancy's Speakership. The Burno wing is enjoying rocking the boat and won't be happy until a republican ends up as Speaker because Wall Street.
I keep reading about how the people actually on the border don't want the wall because of the effects it would have on their farms and other property (that's in addition to the ecological effects of cutting wildlife off from their habitat, but we can't talk about that because it's science and gross stuff like that). I keep thinking a skilled publicist could paint this as essentially giving our land to Mexico by cutting it off from the red-blooded Americans who actually own it. There are places the wall would be a mile from the border. That's a lot of land to make essentially unusable to the Real Americans who own it and have been using it for Real American things like farming and ranching for generations. How about the effects on the finances of the local governments along the border?
You might like this:

A border wall may well violate a Nixon-era treaty:
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