The shutdown, hostages, and humanitarian crises

Let’s see if I have this straight. The government is partly shut down because Congress can’t pass a bill authorizing the employees’ salaries. But they could and did authorize post-shutdown back pay for those workers. In other words, Congress voted to pay them for work they can’t do because Congress wouldn’t vote to pay them for it.

And Congressional Republicans won’t agree to that because Democrats won’t agree to a border wall — which Republicans wouldn’t agree to when they controlled both houses.

They say they won’t vote for a bill the President won’t sign. But Congress can override a president’s veto with a two-thirds vote. Republicans and Democrats could agree on a bill to simply reopen the government, and pass it over a veto. However, Republicans won’t do that because they’re now hostage to Trump; they fear losing the next primary to a challenger he backs. So much for checks and balances and co-equal branches of government.

Trump is holding the government, and 800,000 workers’ salaries, hostage to his demand for a wall — which, again, he couldn’t get during the two years his own party controlled Congress. Calling this blackmail is not a metaphor. He’s saying, “Meet my demand, or else these government workers get hurt.” In any other context, such extortion lands you in prison.

This is actually costing the government — and taxpayers — a lot more than the $5.7 billion Trump is demanding for his wall. It’s also exceeded by the cost — financial, material, emotional — to those 800,000 federal workers. A humanitarian crisis, to use his words. And it’s also exceeded by the hit to the overall economy.

The “great deal maker” triggered this mess with no strategy for getting out of it. So now we’re stuck like Brer Rabbit with the tar baby. The same might be said of our electing him.

Saying Democrats oppose border security, wanting “open borders,” is such a lie that the word “lie” is inadequate. Let alone saying they want criminals and drugs and terrorists to flood into the country. As if we have no border security, and only now must start on it.

And he says there’s now a humanitarian crisis at the southern border. As if for the past two years Republicans didn’t control the whole government without building a wall (and without a shutdown aimed at getting it). And as if the inflow of migrants isn’t in fact way down from prior periods.

And as if Trump’s foolish wall would matter, when the vast majority of migrants, and of drugs, come in through official border crossings and airports.

But there is indeed a humanitarian crisis at the border. It’s Trump’s cruel, inhuman treatment of migrants. Including taking thousands of children away from parents, often without even any tracking, so they’ll never again see their kids, penned in wretched concentration camps. A crime against humanity, to America’s everlasting shame.

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9 Responses to “The shutdown, hostages, and humanitarian crises”

  1. Lee Says:

    Fox News reports that Trump has been making offers that would open the government and that it is the Democrats who want to keep the shutdown going. When the shutdown finally ends even without money for a wall, Fox News viewers will be happy that Trump finally stopped the madness caused by the Democrats. That BuzzFeed had to retract reporting about Trump coercing Cohen is further confirmation that (non-Fox) media reports blaming Trump for anything are fake news.

    Fox News viewers will happily vote accordingly.

  2. rationaloptimist Says:

    Noter, I think the above comment is somewhat tongue-in-cheek

  3. Lee Says:

    I did not intend my remarks to be tongue-in-cheek. Consumers of Fox News and similar sources really do have a very different context for judging the accuracy of statements and the appropriateness of actions compared to consumers of The New York Times and similar sources. There are (at least) two separate “realities” and I bet that a hypothetical visitor from Mars would have a lot of trouble in determining which elements in each worldview are actually real. For example, consulting with experts doesn’t work if there isn’t consensus about who the experts are. Short of personal inspection of the data for each contested fact, an impossibly large task even for the subset of facts where the data are available and the inspector is expert, it is quite hard to figure out what’s correct and what’s not.

  4. Tom O'Neill Says:

    Just think; if they had stopped the pay of Senators, Congressmen and their staffs on the first day of the Shut Down; all problems would have been resolved by the second day……….

  5. rationaloptimist Says:

    Actually, Lee, a reasonably intelligent Martian would not have difficulty determining which worldview is reality-based and which is not. In fact, I was a Republican myself until I could see that the rest of my own tribe had veered off into an alternate reality that was not reality at all.

  6. Lee Says:

    I sure want you to be right! But we could try an experiment. By citing reports from Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Mark Levin, and Matt Drudge, make a plausible argument that the government shutdown is a fiasco caused by Trump. Can you do it? (Many sources not on this list are “known” by Trump supporters to be unreliable, so they are off limits. Also off limits is using these other sources to discredit the general reliability of Fox News, etc.)

  7. rationaloptimist Says:

    The only reason there is a shutdown is because Trump decided to have one as a way to try to get his wall, which he couldn’t get from a Republican Congress. He said exactly this in his famous TV clip with Schumer and Pelosi. Those are facts, what more is needed?

  8. Lee Says:

    I do hope you are right. My fear is that the evildoing by Democrats (and the failing New York Times, etc.) would force any principled leader to do exactly as Trump has done … according to one worldview. If one doesn’t read or believe The New York Times (etc.) then there is little to contradict this worldview.

    Personally, I try to find some time to listen to sources that I do not consider to be reliable, so as to better understand the other worldview and to better understand the limits of my own worldview. But it is hard to find enough time, and I fear that many do not bother.

  9. Lee Says:

    A ray of hope that I see in terms of reality asserting itself is a silver lining to the abysmal shutdown. The shutdown directly affects many people, so they can directly evaluate the accuracy of reporting about the shutdown. And they have much incentive to do in-depth research on the subject. This is a boon for reality.

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