Friday, February 14, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He fantasized about a non-existent version of the border wall he hasn't built in front of the people who aren't patrolling it.

Trump ended the day as he usually does on Fridays in winter, at his luxury resort in Florida. But first, he gave a speech to employees of the Customs and Border Protection agency. In it, he made the following statements about the border wall along the US-Mexico border, as he imagines it:
  • "Right now we have 122 miles of wall that's been built."
This is false. For most of Trump's presidency, zero miles of new border fencing had been constructed. But as of last month, one mile of new fencing has been put up.

    • "The panel on top -- just in case people want to know, because I would have loved it without the panel -- but actually, it's called an “anti-climb panel.” It makes it very tough to climb over the top."
    Eight-year-old children have easily climbed replica fences that include the "anti-climb" panel.

    • "So, in fact, we've had to bring in the fire departments and things to get people down. They've climbed the wall, sometimes with drugs on their back -- oftentimes. And they’re great climbers, but they couldn't get over the top anti-climb panel."
    "Great climbers," or at least recreational climbers, have also tested the fence and its panel and gone over in a minute or less—including while juggling.

    • "Here's another shot of a section -- the same section, actually, that's more advanced. And that's the way they put it up. They set it very deep into foundations and concrete. And it's steel with concrete in between. And if you've ever seen it, the bars are steel; they’re hollow. And they pour concrete inside and then put rebar in. So they have the rebar first; rebar is the steel. And they put it inside and then they pour the concrete."
    Concrete and steel are tough, but as smugglers proved almost immediately, hardware stores sell handheld battery-powered tools that will cut through them in minutes.

    • "We're now going to probably bring it in. We're going to spray-paint it after -- after it’s up. It gets spray-painted black. The black makes it extraordinarily hot, especially in areas along the Mexican border. It’s not known for cold weather. It’s known for quite hot weather. You don't have too much snow in this area, right?"
    No, but large parts of the border area are known for seasonal rains and flash flooding, which is why fencing in those areas have floodgates that must be left open for months on end.

    • "It's been almost 100 percent effective in the areas that it's been built."

    Trump closed his depiction of the wall by instructing his audience of government employees, who presumably knew most of what he'd said was false, to "say 'Thank you, Mr. President."

    Trump didn't talk about the cost of the wall, except to reference "hundreds of millions of dollars." In reality, Trump declared a national emergency to allow him to take billions of dollars, including $3.8 billion this year alone, from the U.S. military budget. Last year's cuts came from a wide variety of programs including a number of base schools attended by children of servicemembers. This year, some of the money is being taken from anti-drug operations.

    Trump ran on a promise that Mexico, not American taxpayers or the national defense budget, would pay for the fence he has built one extra mile of. 

    So what?

    • It's wrong to take credit for things you haven't done.
    • Presidents are supposed to care about whether their policies actually work.
    • Voters who heard Trump say countless times that Mexico would pay for the wall might have thought Trump meant would actually build a wall and that Mexico would pay for it.