Just Saying Things

Take their children from them – forever. Make them fear for their lives – there will be no asylum for them here – ever. Tell the rest of America that these are not women and children, the poorest of the poor, fleeing for their lives. Tell the rest of America that these are MS-13 gang members coming here to kill white men and rape white women, and ISIS fighters straight from the Middle East out to behead all Christians and Jews they see anywhere. There are no women and children here, or those women and children are there for show. It’s a trick. This is an invasion. This is an invasion funded by the notorious globalist George Soros and supported by the even more globalist Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. Donald Trump said this was an invasion. Fox News says this is an invasion. It therefore must be an invasion.

Say that enough times and it will be an invasion. That’s how Thanksgiving weekend ended here in Southern California, with a self-fulfilling prophecy:

The Mexican border was closed for hours Sunday at the San Ysidro Port of Entry after a group of migrants in Tijuana stormed the area, prompting the U.S. Border Patrol to fire tear gas at the group.

The incident marks a serious escalation in the tensions that have roiled Tijuana in recent weeks as thousands of migrants from Central America have amassed there with hopes for entering the United States. President Trump has vowed to seal off the Mexican border in recent days and pushed to keep any migrants in Mexico as they await the immigration process.

Board Patrol officials said they used the tear gas after migrants threw objects at them.

This had to happen. Trump asked for it. He got what he wanted. So did the other side:

The dramatic images of the clash were already being used by the various sides of the immigration debate. Backers of President Trump’s crackdown said the events showed the need to secure the border, while some critics said they were disturbed to see tear gas used on the group, which included some children.

Each side can prove its point now, in detail:

Extra Border Patrol personnel were deployed to the San Ysidro port on Sunday “in preparation for multiple planned demonstrations on both side of the border,” according to a statement from U.S. Customs and Border Protection Sunday afternoon.

“As the demonstrations on the Mexican side reached the border area, some members of the demonstration split off to head towards multiple locations along the border,” the statement read. “Some attempted to illegally enter the U.S. through both the northbound and southbound vehicles lanes at the port of entry itself. Those persons were stopped and turned back to Mexico.”

The port was closed “to prepare for the possibility that additional groups would also break off from demonstrations for a possible attempt or attempts to rush illegally through the port of entry,” according to the statement.

The move came as hundreds of Central American migrants who have been gathering in Tijuana pushed past a blockade of Mexican police standing guard and rushed toward the border.

The migrants carried hand-painted American and Honduran flags and chanted: “We are not criminals! We are international workers!”

That is not what America had been told, but Americans are told lots of things that just aren’t so:

More than 4,700 Central Americans have been living crammed together in a Tijuana sports complex. State authorities say by the time it is over, as many as 9,000 Central Americans will have arrived in Tijuana with the hope of crossing to the United States. Many of them are from Honduras – a country beset by violence and poverty – and came with the intention of seeking asylum in the United States.

Asylum has now become a long shot:

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement the department “will not tolerate this type of lawlessness and will not hesitate to shut down ports of entry for security and public safety reasons. We will also seek to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law anyone who destroys federal property, endangers our frontline operators, or violates our nation’s sovereignty.” Homeland security will maintain “a robust presence” along the border and continued “close contact with Mexican authorities,” according to the statement.

The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, CHIRLA, an immigrant rights organization in California, condemned the use of tear gas against immigrants at the border.

“It is a despicable act on the part of the Trump Administration and CBP officials to attack defenseless women and children firing tear gas, a chemical agent, at them,” Angelica Salas, executive director for the organization, said in a statement. “These are human beings who are reaching a point of desperation because their asylum claims are being processed at a snail’s pace or not at all.”

That snail’s pace is not a surprise:

Less than 24 hours earlier, Trump had reiterated threats on Twitter to close the southern border – threats that have alarmed many in Mexico, since cross-border trade is a mainstay of the Mexican economy.

In his tweet, Trump also said migrants would not be allowed into the United States “until their claims are individually approved in court.”

Others, he said, would “stay in Mexico,” he added, without elaboration.

There are two things here. Cross-border trade is not only a mainstay of the Mexican economy it’s also a mainstay of the American economy. We buy their produce, forty percent of what is consumed in the United States, and they buy our corn and whatnot. Your Ram truck or Ford Fusion was made in Mexico. So were your Wrangler jeans, and all sort of components for all sort of other products. Trump can close the border. Trump can shut down perhaps a third of the economy, immediately. Will he?

Maybe he will, but there’s that second thing. Nothing is going to be adjudicated in Mexico:

Mexico’s incoming leadership denied a report that it had agreed to a Trump administration proposal requiring asylum seekers arriving at the southwest border to wait in Mexico as U.S. authorities consider their claims for safe haven.

The Washington Post reported Saturday that Trump had won the support of the government of Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador – who takes office on Dec. 1 – for a plan mandating that asylum seekers at the border remain in Mexico as their claims move through the U.S. immigration system.

Later Saturday, however, Olga Sanchez Cordero, Mexico’s interior minister-designate, denied that Mexico had agreed to host people seeking U.S. asylum as their cases awaited judgment.

“There is no agreement of any sort between the future Mexican federal government and the U.S.,” the incoming interior minister said in a statement.

Trump just says things, but the outgoing Mexican government did do this for him:

Mexico will deport up to 500 migrants who attempted to storm the US border, according to its interior ministry. The group was rounded up after trying to cross the border “violently” and “illegally” on Sunday, the ministry said in a statement…

Amid growing desperation on Sunday, the group of about 500 migrants – who had been taking part in a peaceful protest for the right to seek political asylum in the US – made a run for the border.

Mexico’s Home Secretary, Alfonso Navarrete, said the group had asked for help to organize the demonstration, but had reportedly been encouraged by some of the movement’s leaders to split into different groups and try to cross into the US.

According to news agency AFP, a number managed to climb over the first fence. It was as they tried to cross a second, spike-topped wall that officials on the US side began throwing tear gas.

That had to be done, or it didn’t:

An AFP journalist saw the migrants – including mothers and children – trying to protect themselves from the gas, with some crying out that they only wanted to find a work and a better life in the US.

Trump wasn’t listening:

Mr Trump threatened to close the entire US-Mexico border earlier this week if it was felt the US was going to “lose control” of the situation. He also said he had given troops at the border the go-ahead to use lethal force if needed.

They can shoot to kill now. Should they? If this is an invasion of MS-13 gang members coming here to kill white men and rape white women, and ISIS fighters straight from the Middle East out to behead all Christians and Jews they see anywhere, maybe our troops should shoot to kill – this is war in a “hot” war zone – but Americans are told lots of things that just aren’t so. And the president just says things. These could be bad people. Who knows? He was just saying. He says lots of things.

Max Boot notes that:

A defining moment in the Trump presidency was the violent rally by Tiki-torch-carrying white supremacists in August 2017 to protest plans to take down a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville. Three people died, but rather than condemn far-right terrorism, Trump said there were “very fine people on both sides,” and he actually sided with the white nationalists in their desire to keep intact the “beautiful statues and monuments” honoring the Confederacy.

It is no surprise, then, that Trump will be in Mississippi on Monday to campaign for Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith in her Nov. 27 runoff election against Democratic challenger Mike Espy.

Trump does just say things, and so does she, so he likes her:

Trump calls her “an outstanding person who is strong on the Border, Crime, Military, our great Vets, Healthcare and the 2nd Amendment.” She also has strong ideas about the War Between the States – the name preferred by neo-Confederates to describe what the rest of us call the Civil War. Hyde-Smith used that very term in a 2007 state Senate resolution that she introduced to commemorate a 92-year-old daughter of a Confederate soldier who “fought to defend his homeland.” Another bill she introduced as a state senator would have renamed a stretch of highway after Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederate States of America.

Hyde-Smith’s attachment to the Confederacy makes sense, given her upbringing. The Jackson Free Press reports that she attended a private, all-white “segregation academy” created so white parents would not have to send their students to school with African Americans. A photograph in a 1975 high school yearbook shows her as a cheerleader next to the school mascot, who is dressed as a Confederate general and waving a Confederate battle flag. Hyde-Smith sent her own daughter to another “seg academy.”

In 2014, Hyde-Smith was photographed posing with a Confederate hat and a rifle at the Jefferson Davis homestead in Biloxi. “Mississippi history at its best,” she enthused on Facebook. And just this year, she appeared to joke in a state still scarred by its history of lynching that she would be in the “front row” of a “public hanging” if invited to do so by a supporter.

Called out for this egregious attempt at humor, she said, “For anyone that was offended by my comments, I certainly apologize” – the clear implication being that plenty of right-minded people wouldn’t find it offensive at all.

She’s his kind of gal. She just says things. Trump will be in Mississippi for two rallies where he will say she’s wonderful. The crowd may end up shouting “No More Niggers! Trump! Trump! Trump!”

That has a nice rhythm. The crowd at CNN and MSNBC will be outraged. Fox News will be outraged that they’re outraged. Trump wins that one, and so does Cindy Hyde-Smith. The base approves of those who just say things, no matter how offensive, or because those things are actually offensive. That’s a good thing. Cause pain. Humiliate others. That’s winning. That’s the base.

But there is a natural limit to just saying things. One can hit a wall. One can say things, boldly and fearlessly, things that cause no one any pain and humiliate no one. One can say things, boldly and fearlessly, that simply make no sense. Just saying things is just saying things, as the Washington Post’s Josh Dawsey and Damian Paletta document here:

President Trump is demanding top advisers craft a plan to reduce the country’s ballooning budget deficits, but the president has flummoxed his own aides by repeatedly seeking new spending while ruling out measures needed to address the country’s unbalanced budget.

Trump’s deficit-reduction directive came last month, after the White House reported a large increase in the deficit for the previous 12 months. The announcement unnerved Republicans and investors, helping fuel a big sell-off in the stock market. Two days after the deficit report, Trump floated a surprise demand to his Cabinet secretaries, asking them to identify steep cuts in their agencies.

Did he want that or not? Dawsey and Paletta look into that, after the usual disclaimer:

This account of Trump’s deficit stance is based on conversations with 10 current and former officials in the White House and Congress. They spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal deliberations or private conversations. The White House has not responded to repeated requests for comment.

In short, they’re not making this up, which is a bit scary:

Administration officials have, for now, crafted a sparse plan that would recycle past proposals and call on Congress to trim federal spending on a variety of programs, two White House officials said.

But even as he has demanded deficit reduction, Trump has handcuffed his advisers with limits on what measures could be taken. And almost immediately after demanding the cuts from his Cabinet secretaries, Trump suggested that some areas – particularly the military – would be largely spared.

The president has said no changes can be made to Medicare and Social Security, two of the government’s most expensive entitlements, as he has promised that the popular programs will remain untouched.

When staffers sought to include an attack on Democrats’ Medicare-for-all proposals in Trump’s campaign speeches this fall, he initially blanched, two administration aides said. Medicare is popular, he said, and voters want it. Eventually, he agreed to the attack if he could say Democrats were going to take the entitlement away.

The line, now, is that Medicare-for-all would end Medicare. So really, the Democrats want to end Medicare, by making Medicare “the” healthcare system for the nation, available to all. And then everyone who has Medicare would lose their Medicare, because, then, everyone would have Medicare. Donald Trump liked that argument. It made no sense, but he just says things anyway and that has served him well. So there’s now a plan, but for this:

The plan is not expected to include large-scale tax increases, which would be a non-starter with congressional Republicans.

This will NOT be paid for, and that’s a problem:

In total, government debt has risen roughly $2 trillion since Trump took office, and the federal government now owes $21.7 trillion, according to the Treasury Department. The president’s agenda has contributed to that increase and is projected to continue to do so, both through the GOP tax cut and with bipartisan spending increases.

But it’s all just words:

Trump’s recent interest in the issue is at odds with his long-standing previous indifference, according to current and former aides. Three former senior administration officials said the deficit issue was rarely brought up in Trump’s presence because he had no interest in discussing it.

When former National Economic Council director Gary Cohn’s staffers prepared a presentation for Trump about deficits, Cohn told them no. It wouldn’t be necessary, he said, because the president did not care about deficits, according to current and former officials.

Trump also repeatedly told Cohn to print more money, according to three White House officials familiar with his comments.

“He’d just say, run the presses, run the presses,” one former senior administration official said, describing the president’s Oval Office orders. “Sometimes it seemed like he was joking, and sometimes it didn’t.”

Two current aides said they had not heard Trump make that comment in recent months, and he is changing his tune on the budget in public statements.

“We’re going to start paying down debt,” Trump said during a White House event last month. “We have a lot of debt.”

No, not quite:

Trump often uses “debt” – the total amount the government owes – to refer to the deficit, the annual gap between what the government takes in and what it spends.

Trump also is often not versed in the particulars of the federal budget.

Chief of Staff John F. Kelly has told others about watching television with Trump and asking the president how much the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff earns. Trump guessed $5 million, according to people who were told the story by Kelly, startling the chief of staff.

Kelly responded that he made less than $200,000. The president suggested he get a large raise and noted the number of stars on his uniform.

He does just say things:

Even as Trump has told aides he’s finally interested in taking steps to reduce deficits, he has floated several ideas that would further expand them. He has proposed a 10 percent tax cut for the middle class, a huge package of infrastructure spending and billions of dollars for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. He hasn’t specified how he would pay for any of those things.

Trump repeatedly pushed staffers to spend more on the infrastructure bill this summer, envisioning large projects for many key states. “Infrastructure Week” became a joke in the White House because it often happened during disastrous weeks that were waylaid by guilty pleas, errant tweets or bombshell developments in the Russia probe. Many staffers thought the problem was that it was too expensive. But Trump thought the government was not spending enough, according to current and former officials, and he is looking to revive the pricey plan.

So he wants to spend big and do great things, to make America Great again, and not touch Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security or reduce his new big military budget one penny, and at the same time he wants to take real steps to reduce deficits, or the debt, or something, with big cuts, to something or other. He really just does say things:

Over a round of golf at Trump National Golf Club in Virginia last year, Sen. Bob Corker encouraged the president to push for deficit-control measures and to force Republicans to cut spending.

Trump was dismissive of the Tennessee Republican’s request. “The people want their money,” the president said, according to two people familiar with the exchange. The conversation soon moved on.

The people want their money. What does that mean? That was just something to say, something that sounded insightful until you thought about it for a few seconds – like that talk about the “invasion” of those who seek asylum here, so they can build a better life for themselves and love and contribute to this country in any way they can – and like that talk about heroes of the Confederacy that fought to defend their country against… their country. All of that is just saying things. That’s not the same as knowing things. There is a difference – not that it matters anymore, now.

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About Alan

The editor is a former systems manager for a large California-based HMO, and a former senior systems manager for Northrop, Hughes-Raytheon, Computer Sciences Corporation, Perot Systems and other such organizations. One position was managing the financial and payroll systems for a large hospital chain. And somewhere in there was a two-year stint in Canada running the systems shop at a General Motors locomotive factory - in London, Ontario. That explains Canadian matters scattered through these pages. Otherwise, think large-scale HR, payroll, financial and manufacturing systems. A résumé is available if you wish. The editor has a graduate degree in Eighteenth-Century British Literature from Duke University where he was a National Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and taught English and music in upstate New York in the seventies, and then in the early eighties moved to California and left teaching. The editor currently resides in Hollywood California, a block north of the Sunset Strip.
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