Saturday, December 29, 2018

Wall Is Lost!

And the best part is free shipping.

OK so for starters the Mexican border is secure. Found a very nice account from the human rights advocacy group WOLA providing US government statistics. Migrant apprehensions are at their lowest levels since the early 1970s. Children and families make up about 40% of them now, as opposed to 10% as recently as 2012, and they're overwhelmingly from the Northern Triangle of Central America, not Mexico. Of unaccompanied children, 0.06% are suspected of being members of MS-13 (no word on how many are actually members, suggesting they haven't found any). Of migrants apprehended by the Border Patrol, 0.03% are from "countries of interest" as defined by the anti-immigrant Center for Immigration Studies (i.e. countries with lots of scary Muslims), and of these, 788 of 1,010 in 2017 were from just two countries, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Terrorists, like eonomic migrants in increasing numbers, prefer to enter the US with legitimate visas and then overstay, which is a lot easier than crossing the Mexican border. Drug deliveries of opiates and amphetamines overwhelmingly come through the USPS or by vehicles crossing the border at official crossings; the only drug significantly crossing where the Wall would go is marijuana. Human trafficking may be bad, there are no reliable numbers, but bringing victims, prostitutes and slave workers, to America, endangers the foreigners being trafficked, not the Americans who are going to exploit them. There is no crisis, and there is nothing wrong that a Wall would fix. Repair fencing, by all means, install more cameras, hire some of those contract agents you've been unable to hire—

Calling for officials’ “immediate attention,” the inspector general’s report says that 10 months into the contract, the government had paid Accenture more than $13 million to complete a grand total of two hires. Moreover, according to the report, the agency was doing much of the work that the company had agreed to do. While Customs and Border Protection maintains that Accenture did put in place a “hiring structure” and lay other important groundwork for recruitment, the time allotted for the startup phase of the contract was only three months, later extended to six months. (San Francisco Chronicle)
And spend some of the billions of dollars that have already been allocated over the past couple of years:
Don't ask me what's going to happen next week. I got the impression Trump, or whoever's still managing him, was kind of preparing to be defeated and declare victory when the new House takes office next week, with the remark
“I can't tell you when the government is going to be open,” Trump said in an exchange with reporters in the Oval Office.
“I can tell you it's not going to be open until we have a wall, a fence, whatever they would like to call it. I'll call it whatever they want,” Trump said.

"I don't really care if it's not a wall as long as I get to say it is." To which Nancy Pelosi replied, in a USA Today interview,
Pelosi scoffed in the interview, published Tuesday, “First of all ... he says, ‘We’re going to build a wall with cement, and Mexico’s going to pay for it.’ While he’s already backed off of the cement, now he’s down to, I think, a beaded curtain or something.” 
And we're just down now to dickering over the terms of his surrender:

Or maybe it was $1.6 billion, who knows:
The last time there were in-person talks was last Saturday, when Vice President Mike Pence briefly met with Schumer to offer $1.6 billion in wall funding — which both Democrats and hardline conservatives refused.
Meanwhile the National Weather Service, TSA, and Coast Guard, among I don't know how many others, are working for no pay, as bills come due at the end of the month. For contract workers, it's worse:
as the partial government shutdown stretched into its sixth day [on Thursday] with no end in sight, James, a minimum-wage contractor sidelined from his job as an office worker at the Interior Department, was worried. "I live check to check right now," he said, and risks missing his rent or phone payment. Contractors, unlike most federal employees, may never get back pay for being idled. "I'm getting nervous," he said.
That rhetorical question from Trump—"Do the Dems realize that most of the people not getting paid are Democrats?"—sparked a lot of pious outrage; of course civil servants are neither Red nor Blue but conscientious servants of the whole public which etc. etc.

But it made me think, why shouldn't they? One party believes that the federal government does valuable work for the citizenry and that its workers should be paid well, protected by great unions, and keep doing it. The other party likes to talk about drowning it in the bathtub. All week Republican trolls on Twitter have been snarking, "So the government's shut down, did anybody die yet?" They're portraying the whole thing as a demonstration that we don't really even need government at all. Why shouldn't civil servants vote Democrat? It's a vote for good working conditions and respect.

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