Why Didn’t I Think Of That???

Nicholas Kristof’s column yesterday in the New York Times was his usual excellent analysis of the five craziest things about the government shutdown and Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion for his ego wall.  But what iced the cake for me was the brilliant idea he posed at the conclusion of his piece.  And so, I share his column with you … let me know what you think of his idea!

Trump’s Five Craziest Arguments About the Shutdown

Oh, and about that wall. Here’s a financing plan that’s a win-win.

nicholas-kristof-thumblargeBy Nicholas Kristof
Opinion Columnist

I’d like to apologize to all the “banana republics” I’ve offended over the decades with snarky references to their dysfunction. This is karma: I now live in a nation where a petulant president has shut down much of the most powerful government in the world — so the White House isn’t even paying its water bills.

The government has shut down before, under presidents of both parties. But this shutdown is particularly childish and unnecessary; to revise Churchill, rarely have so many suffered so much at the hands of so few.

It’s difficult to pick the craziest of the arguments that President Trump is making about the shutdown — there’s a vast buffet of imbecility to choose from — but here’s my good-faith effort.

1. This is a crisis! Terrorists are crossing the border! Rapists!

This is more like a lull than a crisis. The number of people apprehended at the border remains near a 45-year low. From 1972 on, there were more apprehensions every single year than there were in 2017.

As for terrorists, experts say that there isn’t a single known case of a terrorist sneaking into the United States along unfenced areas of the southern border. Ever.

2. Only a wall can do the job. A big beautiful wall that stops people and drugs.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was wrong to describe a wall as “an immorality,” for we need border security, and a wall in some places can be effective. But a great majority of the undocumented immigrants in the country didn’t arrive by sneaking across the border, but rather came legally, often at airports, and overstayed their visas. The most beautiful of walls wouldn’t stop them.

Likewise, drug smuggling is a real problem, but narcotics have mostly been smuggled in on trucks, cars and airplanes at official ports of entry, or through tunnels under the border, or through the postal system — not by individuals crossing remote parts of the border.

“The Daily Show” dug up a 2004 college graduation speech in which Trump counseled perseverance of just the kind that makes walls, by themselves, not terribly effective: “Never, ever give up. … If there’s a concrete wall in front of you, go through it, go over it, go around it, but get to the other side of the wall.”

3. But this is a humanitarian issue!

Yes, it is. The most egregious humanitarian concern has been Trump’s brutal policy of separating children from parents at the border.

“Kids are still being separated,” Lee Gelernt of the A.C.L.U. told me. Mostly the government does this when it says that a parent has a criminal history, but the offenses sometimes were minor or unsubstantiated.

Meanwhile, the government shutdown causes other tragedies. For example, even in normal times 3,000 people a year die in the United States from food-borne illness, yet the Food and Drug Administration has now had to stop most routine food inspections, with inspectors sent home on furlough. The result may well be more people getting sick or dying from food poisoning.

4. The president doesn’t need Congress. After all, he’s the president!

Plenty of people would be a bit relieved if Trump took the dubious route of declaring a national emergency and trying to steal, er, divert money intended for disaster victims to pay for his wall. It might be a way out of our national stalemate, allowing the government to reopen.

But look, folks, when we welcome our president doing something possibly illegal, as he unjustly takes money from disaster victims, that just confirms that we have a crisis — not at the border but in Washington.

Trump’s wall isn’t about governing but about creating a political symbol and rallying his base. The problem is that it’s an expensive symbol.

By my calculations, the $5.7 billion could send 100,000 at-risk American kids to a high-quality preschool for a year AND provide Pell grants for 100,000 students to attend college for a full four years, with enough left over to ALSO provide a year’s comprehensive treatment to 115,000 Americans struggling with opioid addiction.

5. Anyway, Mexico will pay for the wall.

Trump repeatedly declared that Mexico would pay for the wall, and he still insists that Mexico will pay for it indirectly “many, many times over.” So I have a solution to the whole mess.

Since Mexico will pay for the wall eventually, the problem now is one of cash flow. Fortunately, we have financial instruments to deal with precisely this issue.

I propose that Trump pay the $5.7 billion himself, and then the U.S. will repay him (with a nice interest rate) as the Mexican payments for the wall pour in. The Federal Reserve can verify the Mexican income stream and forward the sums to Trump.

Since he’s so confident that the wall will pay for itself, he should be delighted with this option. Right, Mr. President?

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Now why didn’t I think of that???

28 thoughts on “Why Didn’t I Think Of That???

  1. I didn’t comment on this post at your time of writing, but I found something today that was a bit of a revelation on the shut down.

    On scanning the recent Donald J Trump’s tweets, I found this retweet of a Tweet posted by Donald Trump Junior… With a link to an anonymous opinion piece…


    I think that Donald Trump Junior might have written this piece himself. It is supposed to have come from a ‘top Government Official). It really denigrates most Government workers.

    Have a read and see what you think?

    Liked by 1 person

    • PS…

      To put Donald Trump Junior into perspective… One of his other recent tweets (a response to a tweet questioning the value of a wall) .

      “Donald Trump Jr.
      Wow, the continuous self-owning runs strong with this guy.

      I guess Saint Peter sits at the gates of heaven but if you want you can just walk around???

      Theology 101
      Quote Tweet
      Bill Kristol
      Does Heaven Have a Wall? (link: https://thebulwark.com/does-heaven-have-a-wall/) thebulwark.com/does-heaven-ha…”

      On the face of it, nothing too unexpected. Except that Donald Trump Junior didn’t actually click on that linked article and read it. If he had done so, he would have realised that it was an attack on the Democrats and a promotion piece on all the historical Biblical walls ever built.

      It’s like watching ‘Dumb and Dumber.’ I cannot believe that people voted for this stupidity.

      One of DT junior’s other Tweets promotes an article written about farmers along the ‘border’ who find ‘prayer mats’ on their land.
      Folks, this is utter rubbish. To Muslims, prayer mats are almost sacred and must not be misused. They are hardly likely to leave them abandoned in cattle country or in a pile of trash!


      • Hmmm… I need to apologise on ‘attack on the Democrats bit… On a re read, it isn’t but I am guilty of reading it in scan mode. Nevertheless… I’m still sure that Junior didn’t read it! And… Does he really believe that ‘gates to heaven’ exist?


        • I also read some of the responses to both DTJ’s response and to the original tweet by Bill Kristol. I think that I can safely say that most of the thousands of respondents did not read the linked article, or if they did, they just simply did not understand it.

          My take is that Trump compares his ‘Wall’ is like a heavenly wall, for protection of his chosen people. The premise of the piece is that Nancy Pelosi incorrectly quoted Ronald Regan on the immorality of a wall, but that she was correct that Ronald Regan’s idea of a heaven with ‘open gates.’

          The piece closes with this summatiin paragraph…

          “Perhaps Speaker Pelosi was right, in a sense, by suggesting that we look to President Reagan’s vision of an America that was protected and strong, but that was also welcoming. And to get there, maybe we ought to reflect better on the Heavenly City of Revelation 21-22 and its message of free salvation for all who are thirsty and desperate.”

          The comments suggest that people just didn’t get this message. If that be the case, then I would suggest that right wing Christianity has become a rabid movement devoid of any God-like principles. They quote dogmatic ideas and symbolic pictures as if they have become those that would worship an icon of ‘Pearly Gates’ as a tangible proof of goodness. 🙄


    • Thanks for that link … I did read. The first red flag went up when I saw it was from the Daily Caller, which is a far right-wing publication that is even worse than Fox News, but not quite as bad, perhaps, as Alex Jones’ InfoWars, though they share some … um … traits. You may be right that it was written by Don, Jr., but I also think it sounds an awful lot like Steve Bannon’s theories. Much of what is said is easily disproven by facts. and further, I will bet money that it was NOT written by a federal employee who is either furloughed or working without pay.

      “Lock the doors, sell the furniture, and cut them down.” Seriously? Bannon’s major theory was that he wanted to completely destroy the federal government and start over.

      “Due to the lack of funding, many federal agencies are now operating more effectively from the top down on a fraction of their workforce …” And this is why our food inspection system has nearly come to a standstill? And why airports are increasingly bottlenecked, with TSA agents not bothering to ask people to open their laptop cases? And why food stamp recipients will not be getting their food stamps at month-end? And … well, need I go on? The work is not getting done at all, let alone more effectively.

      I could go on, but I won’t, for I am already hearing a low growl coming from deep within my chest and it is nearly 4:00 a.m., so this is not conducive to me sleeping anytime soon. But again, this may be a collaborative effort, and may well include Don Jr., but I still smell Mr. Bannon’s hand in it. Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The New York Times columnist, Nicholas Kristof, never fails to entertain and educate. I have received his newsletter for a very long time, as I did yesterday…but I must confess that I had not yet read it, as I was engaged in other pursuits. Thus, I was pleased to see that you have shared it with those who might not know of him. Surprisingly, his solution that Trump build his wall with his own money had occurred to me…albeit, somewhat differently. I thought Trump could have one of his many touted successful businesses construct the wall (is he not a great builder?) and then do one of two things : 1) Donate it to the American people and use it as a charitable donation, or 2) Use it as a business tax write off under some sort of nefarious tax scheme. It would seem that a business man of his well known abilities would almost certainly be able to climb through some tax loophole for the rich and famous to come out with a win win solution for himself. I then dismissed the idea when it came to me that Trump does not really want a physical wall, he wants the “fight” for a wall to keep his base energized to continue supporting his ego. Thank-you!

    Liked by 4 people

    • You have good ideas! John suggested he could have Russia lend him the money, which I thought was also a good idea. However, I think that even if we get it for free, the wall is a bad … really bad idea and will do more harm than good, so even if he builds it, I would like to see it blown to bits shortly thereafter!


  3. Love the article, Jill – thanks for sharing it here. I’m intrigued by his final suggestion. I know that Trump doesn’t have the $5.7 billion to build his wall and it will be years before funds from Mexico (via the new trade deal that no one has ratified), so I’m sure Trump can get the necessary financing from Russia.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Jill, I find it amusing the rationalization by my former party for the wall includes the bipartisan Senate bill that passed, but Speaker Boehner refused to bring up. It was not perfect, but well grounded legislation to address immigration issues. Yet, the GOP led House did not want to touch it.

    Now, one facet of the immigration solution, which has been sold on fear as the panacea to all problems, is being forced down our throats without data driven and compassionate debate. Also, the cost of the wall is closer to $30 billion with another $30 to maintain. That is $60 billion not $6 that we need to discuss. $6 billion does not buy a lot of wall. Keith

    Liked by 3 people

    • This whole thing has simply gone beyond ridiculous … the Senate is a joke at the moment, albeit not a very funny one, for they are allowing the chaos and mayhem of this shutdown to continue, and the so-called president is an even bigger joke, again not funny. 330 million people are being held hostage to a madman and Mitchell McConnell sits in his office playing games with our lives. The house of cards should start to tumble any time now … Sigh. I surely would like to wake up from this nightmare soon!


    • You’re right … they all just believe whatever Trump tells them and assume he has some clue what he is talking about. Some day they will be in for a very rude awakening … sooner than later, I think. Thank you, JoHanna! And to you, also!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I am sick over all of this!!!! I love the reference to his “ego wall”! Number 5 sounds good, but you know my thoughts on all of this. Impeach and Imprison!!!!!! I want accountability!!!!! Trump, Pence and trump’s family need to go to prison!!!!! I get so upset every time I hear trump say….. that “the democrats don’t want border security”! He is a lunatic!!!! Love your posts!!!! Thanks for the work you do….. researching and writing your blog. You’re making a difference! 💙

    Liked by 4 people

    • I don’t think anybody would argue with you that he needs to be quickly removed from government and then sent, along with Jared, Ivanka and his two older sons, to Leavenworth. But, realistically we all know that is unlikely, and will take years to wade through the due process, by which time he will likely be dead. Thank you so much, dear Patty, for your support and kind words! It’s the thing that keeps me doing this!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Has anyone mentioned that those who want to avoid the wall will simply tunnel under it?. After all, many slaves left the South during the nineteenth century that way– and quite successfully! One more reason to reject the notion out of hand! I do think, however, that Trump has dug himself so deep into this hole he cannot possibly get out without getting his wall. He would lose all credibility with his followers and I don’t see how a compromise is possible. I think Congress has to give him his damned wall. It will take years to build and the new president can rescind the order to build and cut off the funds. That would save some of the money. The nation is on the horns of a dilemma.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Dear Jill, Hugh and friends,

      I love Nicholas Kristof’s last idea buy unfortunately President Trump is too darn cheap where you can count on one thing for sure. It will not be his monies paying for this wall. As a matter of fact, if he borrowed monies to build this wall, he would renege on the loan, refuse to pay the contractors after he filed suit against them and then he would declare bankruptcy.

      “Within the last few months DHS have discovered tunnels built under the US SW border wall. What was fun, was imagining the president’s reactions when a DHS agent pointed out to him in a video, what the tunnel looked like.

      Here’s one that the 10/10/18 Newsweek report detailed:”

      “Mexican and U.S. law enforcement agencies discovered a highly sophisticated underground tunnel—featuring a rail system and solar-powered lighting—running underneath the border between Mexico and California.”

      “The San Diego sector of U.S. Customs and Border Protection are investigating an unfinished tunnel they believe drug smugglers and human traffickers were building that was found starting at a residence in Jacume, in the Mexican state of Baja California. On September 19, Mexico State Police, Policia Estatal Preventiva (PEP), and Mexican military forces found the tunnel opening approximately 221 feet south of the border. The tunnel continued north, running underneath the border between the two countries, according to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) report released Tuesday.”

      As per a 1/7/18 San Francisco Chronicle report by Dianne Feinstein, While many of these tunnels are used to transport illegal narcotics into the United States, they’ve also been used for human smuggling. In August 2017, agents discovered and detained 30 migrants in an underground, cross-border tunnel. The tunnel was more than 300 feet long, and ran under the fencing between Tijuana, Mexico, and San Diego. Tunnels have been uncovered that run as long as a half-mile.

      Hugs, Gronda

      Liked by 2 people

      • The truth … and we all know it, even Trump … is that if they want to get in to this country, they will find a way. But here’s my question: under the current circumstances, why the hell would they want to? I do realize the conditions that they are fleeing, and fully understand why they are fleeing, but … why come here? There have to be better places than the U.S. under its current “leadership”! We are a runaway train headed for a steep cliff … I wouldn’t advise anyone to come here, not even for a visit!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Oh yes … that one has been mentioned, as well as the fact that most illegal immigrants actually come in by air or through border checkpoints. But does the dolt in the Oval Office listen? No. Do his sycophants in Congress listen? No.

      That’s just it … he has painted himself into a corner, allowed the likes of Sean Hannity and the Freedom Caucus to force his hand, and now he cannot even so much as compromise without “losing face”, which his over-sized ego will not allow him to do.

      And yet, to give him the money for the wall, even assuming we can oust him and save at least some of it, is not feasible, for we are already spending at levels that our revenue cannot support. We are, I fear, barreling toward the next financial crisis in this nation … with many thanks to Mr. Donald Trump. Sigh.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. For what it is worth, I would like to suggest a face saving solution to the current shutdown crisis. Since the usually reliable S&P Global Ratings, have calculated that the shutdown’s cost to the economy will top $6 billion in two more weeks, it turns out that more than the cost of the wall will have been spent. The same group last week calculated the current cost to the economy was already $3.7 billion.

    Now here is my wonderful idea. Congress should agree to Mr Trump’s request of paying $5.8 billion for the wall but since the costs have to come from the already impossible annual debt it would be only fair to first deduct the amount Mr Trump has already forced to be spent (as determined by S&P Global Ratings) via the shutdown at the time of settlement. There, that should keep everyone happy. Congress won’t lose face. Mr Trump will face a slight delay while he waits for the promised money from the Mexicans and the wall will finish up looking pretty much like what most thinking people expected.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Y’know … your idea has merit! If the powers-that-be ever listened to me, I would suggest that, for it is the first valid idea for a compromise I’ve heard yet! The reality is that this nation is heading toward an economic crisis to equal or exceed the 2007-2008 financial crisis, for we are living on borrowed time, spending money we do not have and, since we have reduced the tax burden on those who could afford to pay, we may never have, at least in the foreseeable future. Thanks for your idea, though!

      Liked by 1 person

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