Saturday, January 5, 2019

In a fit of pathological narcissism, Trump looks in a mirror and discovers a national emergency.

Here is your morning quiz. Which is the clear and present danger to our nation? (A) few thousand migrants. (B) Donald Trump.

Trump Suggests Government Shutdown Could Last for ‘Months or Even Years’. President Trump and congressional leaders emerged from a meeting to negotiate an end to the government shutdown with messages signaling that a deadlock remained over the president’s demand for a border wall.

President Trump threatened on Friday to keep the federal government partly closed for “months or even years” if he did not get $5.6 billion for his wall at the southern border, and he warned that he was considering declaring a national emergency to build it without congressional approval.

More on the latter monarchical claim below.

Mr. Trump and Democratic leaders emerged from a two-hour meeting in the White House Situation Room without a deal to reopen government agencies that have already been shuttered for two weeks, and the two sides offered sharply contrasting views of where they stood. By day’s end, the two sides appeared to be still locked in a stalemate.

Democrats called the meeting “contentious” while the president and Republican leaders in the House called it “productive.” And while Mr. Trump announced that he had assigned Vice President Mike Pence to lead a “working group” to negotiate with Democrats over the weekend, Democrats said the phrase “working group” was never discussed.

“We told the president we needed the government open,” Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, told reporters outside the White House. “He resisted. In fact, he said he’d keep the government closed for a very long period of time, months or even years.”

And if that doesn’t work …

Trump Floats Declaring National Emergency To Build Border Wall reports the Huffington Post. The president says he doesn’t need congressional approval to build the wall.

President Donald Trump said in a Friday afternoon press conference that he could declare a national emergency over immigration at the southern U.S. border to circumvent the need for congressional approval to build a border wall.

This might be the most alarming thing Trump has claimed. It is a short step to then argue that the President does not need congressional approval for anything - thus elevating the presidency to a monarchy.

Asked specifically whether he has considered granting himself the authority to build his much-discussed wall, Trump replied, “Yes, I have.”

“And I can do it if I want,” he told reporters gathered in the White House Rose Garden.

“We can call a national emergency and build it very quickly.”

Citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter, ABC News reported Friday that the president has discussed using funds from the Department of Defense, among several other options, as an alternative to making a deal.

The Washington Post’s Robert Costa said an unnamed former Trump adviser told the paper that the president was “willing to send the Army Corps of Engineers down to the border and start digging” if he does not get what he wants.

I thought Trump wanted a wall. Now it’s a ditch?

Lawyers from the White House, the Department of Homeland Security and the Pentagon are meeting to discuss the legality of using executive power, NBC News reported Friday.

Mexican solution to the wall
Mexican answers to Trump's wall

Exactly how the wall might materialize, though, has become nearly as uncertain as its financing. While Trump originally described a solid concrete structure, he has since indicated the barrier could take the form of a steel slatted fence.

The thing is: if Trump builds a wall of height infinity, someone will build a ladder of height infinity plus one.

Another thing is: walls have an extent - a starting point and a stopping point. That means that walls can be circumvented.

Take a lesson from history. After World War I, the French minister of war, Andre Maginot and his allies in the French government, created a vast fortification than ran most of the French-German border. But it “became a military liability when the Germans attacked France in the spring of 1940 using blitzkrieg – a tactic that completely emasculated the Maginot Line’s purpose.” How Maginot Line Failed France describes the failure. Among the reasons was the assumption that an attack could not be mounted through the Ardennes forest. Thus the line did not extend across the whole border.

The Ardennes in the north would act as a natural continuation of the man-made Line as it was considered impenetrable, so the Line need not go all the way to the Channel.

[But] German Army Group B attacked through the Ardennes – such an attack was believed to be impossible by the French. One million men and 1,500 tanks crossed the seemingly impenetrable forests in the Ardennes.

For a detailed account of the Maginot Line and the reasons for its failure, see C N Trueman “The Maginot Line” The History Learning Site, 20 Apr 2015.

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