Citizen Green: Trump’s wall address persuaded no one but Trump

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The vast majority of employees of the National Park Service have been furloughed because of the partial government shutdown. Along with the closure of Joshua Tree National Park in California because of toilets reaching capacity, CNN reported that the shutdown is delaying an investigation into the death of a visitor to Yosemite National Park.

Transportation Security Administration screeners, faced with missing their first paycheck, are calling in sick and even quitting, multiple outlets report.

If not full-blown crises, these are concrete consequences wrought from the whim of a delusional narcissist. There is no crisis at the border except for the one created by President Trump.

In the sonorous tones that the president adopts on the rare occasion he wants to persuade skeptics, the president said from the Oval Office on Tuesday night: “Tonight, I am speaking to you because there is a growing humanitarian crisis at our southern border.”

Trump went on to say, “The proposal from Homeland Security includes cutting-edge technology for detecting drugs, weapons, illegal contraband and many other things. We have requested more agents, immigration judges and bed spaces to process the sharp rise in unlawful migration fueled by our very strong economy. Our plan also contains an urgent request for humanitarian assistance and medical supports.”

All well and good so far. It’s the $5.7 billion in funding for a “physical barrier,” otherwise known as “the big, beautiful wall,” that is the sticking point.

It’s “absolutely critical to border security,” Trump said.

How or why remains a mystery — beyond the demagogic emotional manipulation of anecdotal violence speciously extrapolated as widespread phenomena.

“Day after day, precious lives are cut short by those who have violated our borders,” Trump said.

The best summation of the snarl of deliberate falsehoods in Trump’s alarm-fest came from National Public Radio.

“John, I’d like you to also address the descriptions President Trump gave of illegal drugs, violent crime tied to immigrants, gangs, bloodshed,” host Ari Shapiro said during a post-speech fact-check with Southwest correspondent John Burnett. “Contextualize that for us.”

“Oh my lord,” Burnett responded. “In the first place, this question about the ‘murderous aliens’ who are coming across and, how much more US blood can be shed before Congress does its job, I mean I spoke to Houston police Chief Art Acevedo. This is a city that has one of the largest populations of undocumented immigrants in the entire country. His quote to me was, ‘There is no wave of crime being committed by undocumented immigrants.’ And there are four peer-reviewed academic studies that I reported on back in May that illegal immigration does not increase the prevalence of violent crime, or drug and alcohol crimes. Which doesn’t take away from the tragedy of individual crimes committed by undocumented immigrants. But if the implication is that this is a murderous population that we have to stop, I don’t think that the research tells us that.”

First mention on Trump’s litany of carnage was a California police officer murdered on Dec. 26 by an undocumented immigrant in central California.

“America’s heart broke the day after Christmas when a young police officer in California was savagely murdered in cold blood by an illegal alien who just came across the border,” Trump said. “The life of an American hero was stolen by someone who had no right to be in our country.”

Devastating, but irrelevant to the wall debate, and in one key aspect, factually untrue. As Scott Horsley, one of NPR’s White House correspondents, pointed out, “The suspect in that case is someone who’s living in the US illegally, but as he’s done in the past, the president left the misimpression that the suspect in that case, Gustavo Perez Arriaga, was someone who had just crossed the border. In fact, when he talked about this on Friday, he left the misimpression that perhaps Arriaga was being pursued across the border. In fact, Arriaga crossed the border from Mexico years ago. He had been working in California’s central valley. His presence in the US really had nothing to do with this wall debate.”

And then there’s the issue of drugs.

“Our southern border is a pipeline for vast quantities of illegal drugs, including meth, heroin, cocaine and fentanyl,” Trump said. “Every week, 300 of our citizens are killed by heroin alone, 90 percent of which floods across our southern border.” 

The figures are correct, the Washington Post reported, but again it’s a problem that would not be addressed in any meaningful sense by a wall. Look no further than a 2018 report by the Drug Enforcement Administration, which found, “A small percentage of all heroin seized by [Customs & Border Patrol] along the land border was between Ports of Entry.” In other words, the vast majority of illegal drug traffic comes in packages, tractor-trailers and other vehicles.

There comes a point when the willful refusal to own up to facts begins to defraud the con artist even worse than the mark. 

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