Where are the GOP’s conservative principles when you need them?
Next week marks the first anniversary of Trump’s fake national emergency declaration which was the pretext for raising military funding to divert it to border wall construction. As we noted last week, Trump’s “impenetrable” border wall is showing its weaknesses as an immigration strategy, given revelations that the offensive wall could be cut through with a cheap saw, climbed over with a rope or ladder, knocked over with a stiff wind, and that it must be left open for months at a time during the summer because of potential flood damage. As we move close to the anniversary, we have five fresh reminders why the wall is such a disturbing and ineffective boondoggle that should outrage American taxpayers and that violates supposedly sacrosanct conservative principles:
- American Taxpayers’ Tab for Border Wall Up to $18.4 Billion: Nick Miroff and Adrian Blanco of the Washington Post report: “Though Trump had insisted Mexico would pay for the project, it has been funded entirely by the U.S. government, at costs that reach nearly $30 million per mile in southern Texas … The White House is planning to divert an additional $7.2 billion from this year’s military budget, bringing the total amount of money available for the project to $18.4 billion … Of that, just $5.1 billion has been authorized by lawmakers. The rest is coming from Defense Department funding, primarily through the Pentagon’s counternarcotics accounts and military construction budgets.” Of note, that means only 27.7% of the wall funding has been appropriated by Congress, with the rest raided from military construction and other Pentagon funds. And remember, per Miroff and Blanco, Trump “personally urged military officials to hire” Fisher Industries – helmed by a Trump loving Fox News guest – and that “the company recently won a $400 million contract” for wall construction.
- Trump Seizes Most of Border Wall Funding from Military Construction – at a Time When Military Housing is Characterized By “Mold and Neglect”: The military construction projects being raided include military housing – a particularly relevant topic given a spate of recent attention directed at substandard housing conditions at Fort Meade in Maryland and beyond (see a recent New York Times article, “Military Families Say Base Housing Is Plagued by Mold and Neglect”).
- Trump Spent $1 Million Forcing U.S. Military to Paint One Mile of Fencing to Test His Crackpot Punitive Theory: Trump is so obsessed with the wall project that he is micromanaging the expensive testing of his bad ideas. Theorizing that painting the wall black would make it impossible to touch due to heat, Trump forced U.S. troops to actually paint a section of the wall black to test his theory, in a disturbing parody of Tom Sawyer. As a separate Miroff piece this week notes, “Trump told aides last year that he wanted the new barrier painted black, so the metal would absorb more heat and become hot to the touch, discouraging climbers. The administration spent $1 million to paint a one-mile span of fencing in California’s Imperial Valley, using U.S. troops to perform the labor.”
- Border Wall to Cut Off Texas Parishioners from Church: As KRGV-TV news in the Rio Grande Valley reports, “A church south of a levee near the border in Donna will be cut off from its parishioners by a wall…Templo La Hermosa started holding church services in the 1930s and now meets once a week on Sundays.”
- Border Wall to Destroy Ecologically Sensitive Sacred Land for Native Americans: As The Intercept’s Ryan Devereaux reports, Trump’s wall construction is “blowing apart a mountain on protected lands in southern Arizona … [the] blasting is happening on the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, a tract of Sonoran Desert wilderness long celebrated as one of the nation’s great ecological treasures, that holds profound spiritual significance to multiple Native American groups.”
According to Douglas Rivlin, Director of Communication for America’s Voice:
Conservatives used to care about such things as private land seizures by the government; military families; religious freedom; the separation of powers; waste, fraud and abuse on government spending; corruption and cronyism in contracting; and taxpayer-funded big-government boondoggles. But in the era of Republican fealty to their Dear Leader Donald The Trump and in the case of the border wall, none of those supposedly deeply held and defining values seem to matter anymore.
Big government spending and taking money from the military, while trampling private land ownership and crushing individual houses of worship all seem to be OK with today’s GOP as long as it makes the President happy.
During his presidential campaign, Trump liked the way the racist rally chant of ‘build the wall’ made him feel and he promised to make Mexico pay for the border wall. This not only perfectly demonstrates how Trump is willing to spoon-feed lies to his followers, it is the quintessential example of Trump’s bullying in the service of domination politics directed at racial and ethnic minorities. Trump’s border wall obsession dictates so much of our politics and remains the perfect encapsulation of Trump and his presidency: narcissistic, mendacious, wasteful, corrupt, racist, authoritarian, ineffective, ridiculous and thoroughly at odds with everything the Republican Party once embraced.