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R.G.’s Roundup: Uncertainty in the Trump Era for Big Bend and Border Business on Fury Road

Our favorite political reads of the week.

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First Draft, Special Archives, Texas General Land Office

Republic of Texas Constitution Adopted

The constitutional convention of the Republic of Texas adjourned on March 17, 1836, after ratifying a Constitution “to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves.” However, the document also legalized slavery in Texas and declared that Africans, people of African descent, and Indians were not citizens. It additionally stated in Article V, Section 1: “Ministers of the gospel being, by their profession, dedicated to God and the care of souls, ought not to be diverted from the great duties of their functions, therefore, no minister of the gospel or priest of any denomination whatever shall be eligible to the office of the Executive of the Republic, nor to a seat of either branch of the Congress of the same.” In the Bill of Rights, the delegates also made clear that “every citizen shall have the right to bear arms in defence of himself and the Republic.” Of course, with a Mexican army invading, border security was a major issue for the young republic.

Trump seeks $4.1 billion for border wall, with no plan for Mexico to pay

by Todd J. Gillman
Washington Bureau
The Dallas Morning News

Getting a handle on President Trump’s campaign promise to build a “big, beautiful wall” along the border with Mexico has been slippery as an eel. But at least the White House has put a price tag on phase one, even if they still can’t say where the first stretch will be built.

“It’s all that we think that we can spend this year,” White House budget director Mick Mulvaney told reporters Wednesday. “The next question is going to be how many miles of wall does that build. We don’t know the answer to that question because we haven’t settled on construction types. We haven’t settled on where we’re going to start.”

But less than a month ago, the Department of Homeland Security issued a frequently asked questions document that indicated the first sections of the wall would replace current fencing. At present, the agency has requested bids for prototype walls.

A1. U.S. Customs and Border Protection is taking immediate action in response to the president’s executive order. The Border Patrol is conducting an operational assessment, which will identify priority areas where CBP can build a wall or similar physical barrier on the border where it currently does not exist. Locations near El Paso, Texas, Tucson, Arizona, and El Centro, California, have also been identified where we will replace areas where the fence or old brittle landing-mat fencing are no longer effective.

A Reuter’s story, however, says the first phase of construction will be in El Paso, but the second phase will be in Big Bend, where the federal government already owns the land.

The report said the first phase would be the smallest, targeting sections covering 26 miles (42 km) near San Diego, California; El Paso, Texas; and in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley.

The report assumes DHS would get funding from Congress by April or May, giving the department sufficient time to secure contractors and begin construction by September. Trump has said Congress should fund the wall upfront, but that Mexico will reimburse U.S. taxpayers. Mexico has said it will not pay…

The second phase of construction proposed in the report would cover 151 miles (242 km) of border in and around the Rio Grande Valley; Laredo, Texas; Tucson, Arizona; El Paso, Texas and Big Bend, Texas. The third phase would cover an unspecified 1,080 miles (1,728 km), essentially sealing off the entire U.S.-Mexico border.

Texas business men J. O. Langford, E. E. Townsend, and newspaperman Amon Carter first dreamed of preserving Big Bend in the early 1930s. They put together the funding for a state park, but believed the best way to keep the land protected was to give it to the federal government. Arguably, if a wall is built there, in an area where canyons already form a barrier, it would violate a trust that Langford, Townsend, and Carter put into the federal government.

South Texas business leaders concerned about Trump policies

by Stephanie Jara and Steve Taylor
Rio Grande Guardian

At a business forum sponsored by a pair of Rio Grande congressmen, McAllen Chamber of Commerce President Steve Ahlenius said the uncertainty coming out of Washington on renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, a proposed border adjustment tax on imports, and the construction of a wall has South Texas “hurtling” toward a recession.

“I think we are going to have some tough times in the sense that there is a lot of uncertainty about what is happening, a lot of uncertainty about what comes out of Washington, and what can come out of Mexico City. I think we are going to see an escalation of ‘if Washington does this, then Mexico is going to do this.’ So, I think we are going to see some challenges when it comes to dealing with rhetoric and policies and it could really do some harm to our region.”

Ahlenius pointed out that two weeks ago his chamber hosted an event with chambers of commerce from Tamaulipas, Mexico. “What we really tried to stress at that meeting is the importance of working together as a region and not to be taken apart. We have to recognize that there are ties, there are a lot of seamless ties on the border between Mexico and the Rio Grande Valley and we need to strengthen those ties and recognize that what happens on one side of the border, it impacts the other side.”

Some real estate agents told the gathering that international homebuyers added $10 billion to the state economy. They said as half the expensive homes in the Sharyland Plantation near Mission are owned by wealthy Mexicans. They fear the homes now are being dumped onto the market. Agent Sue Ann Taubert said:

“An example of the residential development growth is the Sharyland Plantation area in Mission, where Mexican nationals build large expensive homes. But now we are seeing many ‘For Sale’ signs in those homes in that area. Real estate sales have increased since the implementation of NAFTA, and we want to see this continue.”

Similarly, South Padre Island Mayor Barry Patel said Mexican nationals own half the condominiums on South Padre Island. “We know that because we send the tax bills to Mexico and we get a check from them to pay the property taxes,” Patel said. He estimated Mexicans spend $4.5 billion dollars in the border region each year.

There are other interesting statements from South Texans on the issues. Please, read the full article.

School leaders try to ease worries of anxious immigrant community

by Shelby Webb
Houston Chronicle

I bet few Texans know that in the 1982 Plyler v. Doe decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the State of Texas has a legal obligation to give a secondary education to every child living in the state regardless of their immigration status. Because of this, school districts do not gather information on whether a child is an unauthorized immigrant or a native born citizen. The state comptroller’s office in 2006 estimated that there were 135,000 undocumented immigrant children in the state’s public schools in the 2004 to 2005 school year. President Trump’s crackdown on unauthorized immigration has many students in Texas worried, if not for themselves, then for their parents.

Some districts with a majority of Hispanic students – including the Pasadena and Aldine ISDs – have mostly stayed mum. Meanwhile, Houston ISD and several local charter-school operators, including KIPP and YES Prep, have publicly voiced support of immigrant students and their families, including those living in the U.S. without permission.

As each anxious person raised his or her concern at the KIPP school on a recent weeknight, immigration attorney Karen Katz Feldman listened and gave responses in English and Spanish.

“Every day I’m trying to keep up with daily changes, announcements and new interpretations,” Feldman said.

Woman Brutally Attacked by Man in Ladies Bathroom

by Bob Price
Breitbart Texas

At the Texas Senate this week debated and sent to the House Senate Bill 6, more commonly known as the bathroom bill, Breitbart writer Bob Price recounted the recent story of a Seattle woman sexually assaulted in a public park restroom. Supporters of SB 6 claim it is intended to keep men out of women’s bathrooms, while opponents say it is aimed at discriminating against transgender people.

Calling the attack her “worst jogging nightmare,” Kelly Herron, 36, said she yelled, “Not today, m—–f—–,” and fought valiantly to save her life, ABC’s Good Morning America reported.

Herron completed four of her 10-mile trek and stopped to use a ladies room in Seattle’s Golden Gardens Park. “As I was drying my hands, I became aware that something was wrong,” she told the ABC reporters. When she turned around, she saw what no woman wants to see in a ladies room–a man. The man, it turned out, is 40-year-old Arizona registered sex offender Gary Steiner, she said.

Perhaps Breitbart missed the story published the same day out of Seattle. Herron suddenly had found herself, literally, the poster child for the Just Want Privacy campaign to get a bathroom law on the Washington state ballot as an initiative, I-1552. The Seattle Times reported that Herron is furious and wants the group to refund any money it raised using her image.

“To the people behind I-1552, I say ‘Not today, mother (expletive),’ ” Herron said, using the same language she says she shouted at the man who assaulted her last week.

“I refuse to allow anyone to use me and my horrific sexual assault to cause harm and discrimination to others,” she added…

In denouncing the campaign’s use of her story, Herron said, “I’m more upset now than I have been all week after seeing that a political group is using my face, my name and my story to fundraise for I-1552, a ballot initiative that deliberately targets and harms transgender people — including friends whom I respect.”

Cretins and Gohmert

The Longview News-Journal recently published stories critical of U.S. Representative Louie Gohmert for refusing to do public town hall meetings. Gohmert said he was not doing the events out of fear of violence. At least one reader believes Gohmert is right in his thinking.

Well, well. The Left-Wing News Journal is alive and well. Here you go attacking the Honorable Louie Gohmert (Editorial, Feb. 24) for having the good sense to avoid town hall meetings that will most likely include the thugs and hooligans who have decided that the way to get their way in America is to wreak havoc and shout down all opposing views. These uncivilized cretins have decided that civil discussion has no place in American politics. Theirs are not an acts of protest but of boorishness and vulgarity.

I applaud Rep. Gohmert for having the good sense to deny them a showplace for their savagery.

— Al McBride, Longview

Welcome to freedom, liberals

The Amarillo Globe News editorial page noted this week that there has been a reported increase in firearm sales to Democrats since the election of Donald Trump as president.

Those who feared President Barack Obama was coming to take their guns were wrong – and if political labels are accurate, these fears were held by conservatives. It is just as nonsensical for liberals to fear that President Donald Trump is coming to round them up and/or take away their rights – and their only recourse is to brandish a firearm.

It is a tad satisfying though to see liberals, who usually do not have much use for the Second Amendment, now exercising their constitutional rights to own a gun.

Too often liberals are unaware of or ignore the part of the Second Amendment that states “the right of the people” to own guns shall not be “infringed” by government.

Welcome to freedom, liberals.

Trump gets ‘Fury Road’ villain treatment in upcoming S.A. comic

by René A. Guzman
San Antonio Express-News

A comic book company in San Antonio is giving a time-traveling twist to anti-Trump sentiments.

Courtesy Antarctic Press

Antarctic Press sure has that dystopian jingoism on the brain with “Trump vs. Time Lincoln,” a new comic book that pits a time-traveling Abraham Lincoln against a twisted take on President Donald Trump straight out of “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

Writer Alfred C. Perez describes “Trump vs. Time Lincoln” as an adventure set in a wasteland of time called “Alternate Reality,” where “what was once fact is now a matter of alternate choice,” according to the AP solicitation for the comic.


Related Content

  • BCinBCS

    I have written several times before that the brains of conservatives and the brains of liberals are physically different. This explains some of the reason for their different philosophies. Difference in brain physiology do not explain failures of logic though. Comrade Trump/Bannon’s budget eliminates soft power in exchange for hard power but in doing so, they are adopting a hard heart.

    Budget Director Mick Mulvaney justifies eliminating Meals on Wheel and school meals programs because they “aren’t showing any results”. What results, other than keeping people from going hungry, does he expect the results to be? He is increasing the budget for the military, I suppose, because of the fantastic results that we have gotten in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last fifteen years. Sure, starve Granny because we need more bombs and rockets.

    Mulvaney defends his decision by pointing out that there are two sides to his policy. It’s a fact that he’s willing to starve Grandmother and Grandad but that’s only because he doesn’t want to go to the tax payer and say “Look, we’re not going to ask you for your hard-earned money anymore. Single mom of two in Detroit, OK, “Give us your money!” We’re not going to do that anymore unless we can… guarantee that money will be used in a proper function. That is about as compassionate as you can get.

    That is about as compassionate as you can get. Man, his brain certainly works differently than mine.

    • BCinBCS

      In the past I have lamented here on BB the change in attitude that companies and corporations adopted starting in the early ’90s. Prior to that time corporations felt a responsibility to their employees, their customers and their communities and then lastly to their shareholders. Corporate raiders and Milton Friedman changed all of that. Now the corporate raison d’être is maximization of profits to shareholders. Everything today is production and profit.

      This production model has even infiltrated our personal lives. Foe example, we no longer nurture children, encouraging them to learn and grow, now we produce widget children, assuming all are alike and endeavoring to manufacture uniform copies for society’s use. This concept is best explained by Anat Shenker-Osorio in the five minute video below.

      I mention this because it helps to explain the mercilessness of the Comrade Trump/Bannon budget and the trade-offs that they made preparing it. It is an explanation for how and why their brains work as they do.

      • WUSRPH

        You give corporations much more credit for being concerned about the welfare of their employees and the public than any study of the history of business and capitalism in this country would demonstrate. This would especially be true of the Robber Barons period sometimes called “Golden Age of American Capitalism” in the years before and after 1900……..Remember that they and their practices are what TR was battling. That struggle continued—with government taking more and more of a role in regulating the economy—right on thru the New Deal and the Great Depression…..As such, the concern and better behavior you see in the 1950s-etc. may have more to do with the regulations and protections established by government and the role of the newly empowered unions than any goodness in the heart of businessmen. What WAS different during that period was that businessmen and investors thought in terms of the long run. It was—as you note–the change to the “short term” view with the need for a quick return and an ever growing dividend that changed business practices and led to the current situation. (I might note that H. Clinton recognized this problem and had a specific proposal to “encourage” longer term investments over short-turn but it probably died with her campaign.)

        • BCinBCS

          I was in error in not defining the time period when corporations had their own job training programs, provided good health insurance, gave their employees a decent pension, sponsored community event, paid fair taxes to the city in which they resided and kept workers for their working lives. That time period was after WWII. I apologize for not including that information. (That time was too short.)

          • WUSRPH

            What is the one thing that was particularly present in that period that declined thereafter? UNION strength.

          • BCinBCS

            Absolutely agree.

            People in the south think that it is an edict from God that employers should have absolute power over their employees because “they are the job creators” and because employees can use the free market and quit for another job if they do not agree with the policies of their employer. Unions can somewhat balance these inequities.

          • Jed

            It’s funny that the people who least understand how power dynamics work are the ones most willing to bow to anyone with power.

            Wait, I guess that isn’t funny.

          • John Johnson

            And before union demands got crazy.

          • BCinBCS

            JJ, some union demands appeared crazy from your point of view but were perfectly sane from theirs. I am not defending the wrong things that unions did such as featherbedding but overall unions led to a fairer and more equitable work environment.

      • anonyfool

        Capitalism wasn’t changed by corporate raiders and Milton Friedman. The monopolies changed through the centuries but have always been there. Accounting rules have never had a column for humanity or ethics. The timing in the US is more aligned with the replacement of Democrats in congress who reined in capitalisms excesses with congresspeople who profited from the excesses.

        • Jed

          Yup. Plus Reagan.

    • WUSRPH

      The problem is in how he defines “proper function” (of government). It is too bad that someone did not tie him down on that definition. But you can be sure it does not mean having the government do anything for anyone…other than “protecting the bidness climate” (as they used to say in Austin), guarding our shores from enemy invaders and delivering the mail” (but he doesn’t even believe in that.) Anything to do with making the life of individuals better is outside his definition of the proper function of government.

      • Helenjgoble

        Google is paying 97$ per hour! Work for few hours & have longer with friends and family! !dd14c:
        On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $8752 this last four weeks.. Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had.. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
        ➽➽;➽➽ http://GoogleFinancialCashJobs304MarketEnergyGetPaid$97/Hour ★★★✫★★★✫★★★✫★★★✫★★★✫★★★✫★★★✫★★★✫★★★✫★★★✫★★★✫★★★✫★★★✫::::::!dd14c:….,….

    • WUSRPH

      To be fair, most reports show that meals on wheels does not get much money from the specific grant program called the Community Block Grant program that Mulvaney wants to kill. Most of its est. $700 million in funding comes from other sources that are not covered by this cut. (Obama called for a cut for the program, which covers a more than just MoW, from $3 billion to $2.8. Mulvaney wants to kill the whole thing.) He completely screwed up in defending himself and gave his opponents a clear opening…..but its a bit unfair to hit him with wanting to kill the entire MoW program. In fact, even Mother Jones says it is unfair (but fun) to hit him for that one. Of course, the Mulvaneys of this world jumped all over Obama for a lot less when they had the chance…Plus, there are enough other worthwhile programs that the Trump budget would cancel to make up for not being able to hit him so hard over MoW.


    • BCinBCS

      OMG, the horror, the horror.

      Mick Mulvaney wants you to know that he too shares the sacrifices that his budget will cause, such as loss of food for children as well as for Granny and Grandpa. He explained on Face the Nation that: “I don’t have a business card to give to you today, John, because, at the Office of Management and Budget, we have to pay for our own business cards.“.

      Well I have now done a 360º on my opinion of the budget bill now that I know everyone is sacrificing equally.

  • BCinBCS

    This post is a day late but this St. Patrick’s day thank-you to the Irish by Eric Loomis is something that I can toast:

    For this St. Patrick’s Day, let’s thank our Irish-American political leaders such as Mick Mulvaney, Peter King, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Michael Flynn, and of course Paul Ryan for bringing the British policies that starved out millions of Irish in the 1840s to the USA.

    • SpiritofPearl

      Kelly Anne Conway’s father was named Fitzpatrick.

      • WUSRPH

        The “Fitz” was often added to a name to indicate that the person was an illegitimate child. That seems particularly fitting in Conway’s case.

  • Fred Talmadge

    When I go to church on Sunday morning, I don’t really want to hear about politics. I’ve had enough of it all week. So I’m in favor of Article V, Section 1

    • Jed

      When you go to church, you are hearing about politics whether you know it or not.

      • WUSRPH

        I agree. The teachings of Christ about how to treat your fellow humans and the Sermon on the Mount, if implemented, would have a major effect on politics and public policy in this country.

  • John Bernard Books

    Its just politics is the fav mantra of dems when they get caught smearing decent folks……but when they get caught redhanded lying cheating and stealing…..
    “On October 14th, CNN accepted Brazile’s resignation as a network contributor. CNN’s Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter said Brazile’s collusion with the Clinton campaign “embarrassed all of CNN.”
    But in her Time letter, Brazile said “the media narrative” about her being in cahoots with the Clinton campaign “played out just as the Russians had hoped, leaving Sanders supporters understandably angry and sowing division in our ranks.”
    The WikiLeaks hack, Brazile said, is evidence that there must be a continued investigation into Russia’s interference in the presidential election.
    “Let me be clear,” Brazile wrote, “this is not just the price of politics. This is not normal. We cannot let this stand. Our democratic process itself was attacked and harmed, and all Americans should be concerned.”

    One of fav dems likes to say our brains are wired differently…..nope its called having no value system….

  • John Johnson

    Oh, I don’t think anyone expected Mexico to just walk up and hand us a check for concrete and concertina wire. We will fund the wall, but, in case you missed it, Trump has every fed Dept giving him a list of money they dole out to Mexico in any given year. I think they are going to pay…one way or the other. If Trump gets concessions in one form or another from Mexico, this could be mitigated, but this is the way business hardball is played, with the team with the most stroke most always winning.

    • John Bernard Books

    • WUSRPH

      Every penny that “goes” to Mexico each year would pay for a few hundred feet of wall at the most. All our foreign aid, including military, makes up less than 1% of the federal budget….and Mexico is far from being near the top of the recipients…Israel is. The ridiculous idea that another sovereign nation is going to pay for a wall to seal it off from us is beyond stupidity. The damage to Texas’ economy alone resulting from a trade war with Mexico would be more than enough to pay for the wall several times over, not considering what it would do to the rest of the U.S.

      • John Johnson

        Geez….your retort changes my mind not. Where did you ever come up with a goofy figure like that $320M?

        Furthermore, I grow tired of your screaming about the Texas economy and how it will be affected? You a member of the succession crowd? I am a proud Texan, but hold dear the well being of our entire United States. We will suffer the greatest, but so be it. You were going on and on about the oil downturn and how we were going to hit rock bottom. Please give up the pronosticating and stick with sharing history with us. Your prognosticating sucks.

        • WUSRPH

          The $320 million total in foreign military and economic aid to Mexico comes from a US Today story in January…..Wikipedia, at the address I posted, said it was $419 million with $348.72 billion being economic aid in 2014-15. In either case, it would take years and years of diverting that money to build THE WALL. (Assuming it is $419 million and THE WALL costs $20 billion, as many estimate, diverting every dollar of aid that goes to Mexico to build THE WALL it would take more than 47 years,) Our TOTAL US foreign aid program for the year in question was $43.1 billion—of which $10.57 billion was military—of which Israel got about one-third.) Mexico, BYW, got about $3 per capita.

          • John Johnson

            You are up late.

            How much money do Mexican illegals carrying or wire out of our economy and back into Mexico?

          • WUSRPH

            That has nothing to do with the amount of foreign aid we give Mexico….and you were talking about diverting the money the GOVERNMENT gives it each year. I have seen the estimates you cite of about $20 billion in rebates to Mexico BY INDIVIDUIALS and busiensses. This is totally different from what the government spends….But, if you want to change the focus–as you are trying to do—let’s look at that too,.

            I know that Trump has talked about somehow getting his hands on that money…..either by seizing it or by some sort of a tax on the rebates. Whether either is possible is more than questionable.

            Seizing people’s money raises a few little constitutional problems under the Fourth Amendment if not others and I doubt that he could find a court that would uphold it, even if he could talk the Congress into authorizing it. At the wildest he would have to try to claim that the money was the result of an illegal enterprise by virtue of the fact that they were in the US illegally. But, even if he could make such a wild claim fly, there would be very few illegals who would be stupid enough to expose their cash to his collectors. What he would do, however, is create a massive criminal money smuggling business.

            He might be able to grab a little if what he tried was say a 20% tax on rebates by wire, etc. but, again, the number sending their money home that way after the tax was enacted would substantially drop off.

            All this suggests that about the only semi-possible way to “get Mexico to pay for the Wall” is to put a tariff on goods imported from Mexico…..That, of course, also has some built-in problems. First, it would start a trade war with Mexico that would do severe damage to our own economy….And, secondly, the people paying the tariffs would wind up to be the American consumers who would have to pay inflated prices for everything from trucks to avocadoes.

          • John Johnson

            Oh, contraire….if you knew as much about current business hardball as you do about historical minutiae that has no bearing on the world we now live in, you would undrstand that these exported billions from here to there are a huge part of Mexico’s economy. This can be shut down tomorrow. Anyone without proof of citizenship or holding a current green card could be rejected from transferring money via wire.

          • WUSRPH

            Find a way to do it constitutionally TOMORROW….or any day. I never said it was not a significant part of the Mexican economy and that Mexico might be hurt by it….But you have yet to show any way to do it……This, not being Germany in the 1930s, The Donald’s WILL is not sufficient to block international commerce. He might try to do something under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (see below) but that act is aimed at governments, not actions by individuals living within the US. In any case, “tomorrow” is less than likely.


          • WUSRPH

            Find a way to do it constitutionally TOMORROW….or any day. I never said it was not a significant part of the Mexican economy and that Mexico might be hurt by it….But you have yet to show any way to do it……This, not being Germany in the 1930s, The Donald’s WILL is not sufficient to block international commerce. He might try to do something under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (see below) but that act is aimed at penalizing governments or foreign individuals, not actions by individuals living within the US. In any case, “tomorrow” is less than likely.


          • John Johnson

            Hide and watch. You haven’t been right yet.

          • BCinBCS

            JJ wrote: “This can be shut down tomorrow. Anyone without proof of citizenship or holding a current green card could be rejected from transferring money via wire.

            W wrote: “What he would do, however, is create a massive criminal money smuggling business.

            I haven’t put much thought into it but an obvious way to avoid Comrade Trump/Bannon seizing funds transfer from the U.S. to Mexico would be for Mexico to adopt the Hawala system. This is a value transfer system that usually does not include a physical transfer of funds – it is mainly an accounting system accomplished via telephone, text or e-mail.

            It could be argued that Mexico would soon run out of dollars if they were not physically moved from the States into Mexico. Two easy work-arounds would be to do the transfers in pesos or to recruit the drug cartels who have a surplus of American currency. Cartels have to pay a fee to move their illicit funds into the legitimate banking system. If they provided funds in a Hawala system they would, instead, earn a fee for the use of their money.

            This threat by Comrade Trump/Bannon will not work and therefore he cannot harm Mexico with it.

          • WUSRPH

            I see you added a new last sentence….Fine, show me the law that provides for such.

          • John Johnson

            I didn’t add anything. There is no law, but that hasn’t meant much since Obama came along.

          • WUSRPH

            When Obama went too far with EO”s he was stopped by the courts. The same would happen to Trump if he tried to do something like this. Of course, the difference may be that Obama respected the Constitution enough to accept the rulings.

          • WUSRPH

            Funny since the system shows that this is what you originally posted without that last sentence:

            John Johnson • 14 minutes ago

            Oh, contraire….if you knew as much about
            current business hardball as you do about historical minutiae that has no
            bearing on the world we now live in, you would undrstand that these exported
            billions from here to there are a huge part of Mexico’s economy. This can be
            shut down tomorrow.

          • John Johnson
      • SpiritofPearl

        A discussion about “Trump’s Folly” should also include an estimate of its effectiveness.

        • WUSRPH

          Why belabor the obvious. A full 18 to 30 Ft tall supposedly unclimbable concrete wall, able to block any tunnel that is within six feet of the surface (as the RFP specs call for) would keep some people out. No question about it. Of course, the cost would be more than prohibitive but that appears not to be a problem for Trump….

          • SpiritofPearl

            If you own a cat, you know there is no wall that’s insurmountable. A wall just isn’t worth the expense . . .

          • WUSRPH

            Assuming the Congress allows Trump to build his monument along the border, I suspect it will be no more than a couple of hundred miles at the most….concentrated in the heavy traffic areas….so that he can pose in front of it. Beyond that we are likely to get some additional fencing (although they have pretty well fenced the areas that can be fenced at anywhere near even a semi-reasonable cost)….plus more sensors……All this will take several years–more than his term—to implement but he has to have a least a section of WALL to pose in front of for the next election. After that, he will not care that nothing else is ever done about THE WALL “along the entire border”……The nasty question is will he actually try to defile areas like the Big Bend just for a photo-op? Is he that blind to anything but his desire for recognition?

          • SpiritofPearl

            Blind and deaf.

          • BCinBCS

            So true Pearl. I’ve repeatedly said that a twenty foot wall will result in a surge in the sale of twenty-one foot ladders.

          • SpiritofPearl

            Saw a news report showing a RAMP built from the Mexican side . . . Up and over!

          • WUSRPH

            I did a piece a while back on what would really be required to get an alien-proof barrier…It was based on the East German system (not so much the Wall inside Berlin but the extensive system along their border with West Germany)….I would re-run it now but it appears to have gone with the great blow up of my old computer……I still think a much better plan than Trump is pushing would be to get a copy of the East German blueprints and flip them so they keep people out, rather than in—as the original did.. Why recreate the wheel…..Their system worked for more than 27 years and would probably still be effective if their government had not collapsed from the inside……Of course, it was designed to kill people and Trump (I hope) doesn’t intend that….Or does he?

          • SpiritofPearl

            Performance art is what he does.

          • SpiritofPearl

            Where there’s a will – there’s a way.

  • John Bernard Books
  • donuthin2

    I wonder if they can find a contractor who will not employee Mexican workers? The only benefactor will be the contractor, who undoubtedly will be one of Trumps’ old cronies.


    Why not just move the WH to Florida…It would save millions in his travel expenses and allow him to get in all that golf…It’s so nice to have a “working president”.


    • John Bernard Books

      When did the 47%ers start caring about someone working?

    • SpiritofPearl

      He thought it was a part-time job.


    Another “red meat” day in the Senate Tuesday—-Patrick’s school voucher bill will be heard (and probably reported) by the Senate Education Committee. The man just won’t give up on his effort to feed that small group that dominates the GOP primaries….This will almost complete his agenda of “priority measures”….none of which have anything to do with the State Budget or running the government. About all he has left unheard is the “religious freedom” to discriminate against this or that group .You’d almost think that he actually believed in this stuff….Of course, the real problem may be that he does.


    You see that Spicer says that Trump did not mean to show disrespect to the German Chancellor by declining to shake hands…Instead, he says, that he did not hear her request. This raises a question I have had for a while: That is: Is Trump deaf? Does he have a hearing problem? Several times he has just seemed not to hear what is being said to him. I assumed that was because he was just that self-absorbed, but it could simply be that he can’t hear that well. Of course, being Super Donald he would not admit it…..nor do anything about it.

  • John Bernard Books

    I was right….
    “PULL BACK THE CURTAIN ON NPR AND PBS SALARIES! That’ll Convince You Trump’s Right to Cut, Cut, Cut!”

    Boondoggle alert….cut cut cut


    Assume you saw that Mulvaney says that the only way we can have universal health care is to throw people in jail who won’t buy it…..Actually there is an easier way—-OFFER IT!


    Suppose you saw that the White House is planting “political aides” in each cabinet agency and major agency to “insure” compliance with the official word and dogma and their “loyalty”. They report directly to a top man at the WH. Most people would call them “management spies”. If I was one of the top businessman types that Trump had asked to take the jobs I would tell him if you don’t trust me….shove it! But there is as of yet no sign that any of them are doing anything but accept their monitors.


    • dave in texas

      I believe those people are called chekists.

      • WUSRPH

        At least, as far as we know, he isn’t wiretapping them like Nixon did some of his own staff.

        • BCinBCS

          Imagine the irony if he did.

  • John Bernard Books

    You mean they lied?
    “The study concludes that strict ID laws cause
    a large turnout decline among minorities, especially Latinos. Here, we show that theresults of this paper are a product of large data inaccuracies, that the evidence does notsupport the stated conclusion, and that model specifications produce highly variableresults. When errors in the analysis are corrected, one can recover positive, negative,or null estimates of the effect of voter ID laws on turnout.”

    Dems need their voters to remain uninformed and stupid…..

  • John Bernard Books

    The IRS is a tool for dems….
    “While the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) makes conservative groups wait years for tax-exempt status an “After School Satan Club” launched to hinder Christian-based counterparts got its nonprofit ranking in just ten days, records obtained by Judicial Watch show.”

    Listen to them squeal when PRESIDENT Trump cuts their budget…..cut cut cut
    yes I am enjoying this…..

  • donuthin2

    I see where Paxton is questioning a Texas Public school for allowing muslim students to use a room for a prayer meeting. What a conundrum. Seems I remember he went after a school for making someone take down a Christian based poster in the cafeteria. Oh well, who said you have to be consistent.


    After today’s House Intelligence Committee hearing what is there for Trump and his WH mouths to say about “wiretapping” and “Russians” beyond: “I know what I know that I know”. He certainly isn’t going to admit he is wrong…That will never happen. So I guess he will continue to tweet the Truth as he knows it. More and more he reminds me of the White Queen who could believe 12 impossible things before breakfast.

    • WUSRPH

      From David Leonhardt of the NY Times. I guess this about sums it up:

      “But the current president of the United States lies. He lies in ways that no American politician ever has before. He has lied about — among many other things — Obama’s birthplace, John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Sept. 11, the Iraq War, ISIS, NATO, military veterans, Mexican immigrants, Muslim immigrants, anti-Semitic attacks, the unemployment rate, the murder rate, the Electoral College, voter fraud and his groping of women.”

      The horrible thought is that perhaps he does not know what he does.


    It would be nice when the Senate Education Committee takes up school vouchers (taxpayer money for private/church schools) tomorrow if it could tell us what are the constitutional grounds for such a program. Of course, it would be a waste of time to ask Texas Atty. Gen. Ken Paxton for an opinion…..He would probably give them an opinion that says that it is unconstitutional NOT TO be providing such aid but then no one ever said he let his duty get in the way of his politics.


    Great headline on the Huffington-Post:
    “Bananas Republic”
    A play on the old description of Latin American dictatorships—Banana Republic—-that stresses the craziness of what is going on.

    • SpiritofPearl

      Nunes claims he hadn’t heard of Carter Page nor Roger Stone. If not he shouldn’t be chairing the committee.


    A brief moral/ethical question:

    What is the moral/ethical justification for the persons responsible for the “leaks” that are so confounding the Trump Administration (sic)? If they see that actions taken by the Administration are, in their opinion, endangering the country and/or if they see that the Executive is constantly lying to the American people is it ethical/moral for them to take actions to offset the lies, etc.? If so, should they be punished if caught?

    I have mixed thoughts about the situation and about a person taking it upon himself/herself to take steps that could undermine the Administration (sic)….and about what should happen to them if they are uncovered. What level of malfeasance must their be before an individual can undertake such actions? After all, this—despite what we all say—is not Germany and the Trump Administration is not sending millions to their deaths…..has it done anything yet that justifies such actions?

    Anybody have any thoughts?

    • donuthin2

      Go vocal, but only after you resign and make public your reason for resigning. Takes courage but is more honest than being a disloyal member of the team.


    Lately I have been receiving e-mails from an outfit that calls itself the League of Independent Voters of Texas. It claims to be organizing an urban/rural coalition of populists. It uses the slogan “Our land, our water, our elections” and is holding its first Lobby Day at the Legislature on Friday and is having an organizing meeting on Saturday in Bastrop. It’s home page is:

    Does anyone know anything about the group?
    I, personally, have a three minor problems with it….First, I never understand why people have lobby days on a Friday when all but a very small handful of legislators have gone home. Second, I’m not a populist (if you didn’t know that already….and, third, I have not totally given up on the idea of the Democratic Party as an political organizing tool. .

    • donuthin2

      “and, third, I have not totally given up on the idea of the Democratic Party as an political organizing tool”. The League of Independent Voters of Texas, don’t sound like the solution to the problem, but the Democratic Party seems to be moving further to the left rather than capturing the moderates. I realize that things can change in a hurry when citizens are really frustrated, but I’m not sure the Democratic Party can move in a direction to capture the center.

      • WUSRPH

        I think that depends on where “the center” may be…..It is clear that the “center” in the GOP Primary is far, far to the right….and, in Texas at least, still a little bit to the right in the General Election….but it may move back toward what was generally considered “the center”–and what you probably mean—from election to election. Demographics—the legendary “coming of the Hispanic vote” that may have actually begun in the last presidential election—can also move it.

        None-the-less, I have no concept of a Democratic Revival in Texas for maybe another 20 years, especially since the same GOP that has proved itself an expert at racial/ethnic/political gerrymandering will be the one drawing the legislative and congressional district lines in 3021.
        They will also be in control of the process in a majority of the other states as well, so I don’t expect a great turnaround in the various state legislatures or congressional races, either. It will take time and a lot of work in any case. A disastrous Trump presidency could help, but more nationally than here in Texas.

        In terms of the presidential race I’m not sure that the Democrats are that far from the center or whatever the position they have to be in to win. After all, Clinton did win the total votes and only lost the electoral college because she screwed up in two or three states that she should have won….and there by a total of only 72,000 votes combined. A better candidate, a sharper message and Trump continuing to be Trump, and a Democratic win in 2020 is clearly not out of sight.

    • WUSRPH

      I have been told that the outfit is led by the woman who helped ram-rod thru the 10-2 city council plan in Austin a couple of years ago. It includes a bunch of rural folks who feel their ground water supplies are threatened by a proposed pipe line to San Antonio. If anyone goes to one or both of the affairs on Friday/Saturday maybe they can report back.

  • John Bernard Books

    Can we ever undo the damage the dems have done to our political system?
    What is the only general obligation bond that doesn’t go before the voters?
    “The Senate State Affairs Committee today voted 7-2 to approve Senate Bill 151 by Senator Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston), which would require voter approval for a city to issue pension obligation bonds (POBs). These bonds were originally authorized in 2003 but voter approval was omitted as one of the requirements. Since becoming law, the city of Houston has issued POBs seven times. The most recent discussed amount for bond issuance is $1 billion by cost in order to reduce their current pension obligation. This by far is the largest amount requested by a city for this type of bond.
    “A public vote on pension obligation bonds is an important check and balance that was omitted out of the so-called reforms last decade,” Senator Bettencourt said. “As a result of the original bill that left out voter approval, municipalities have been putting taxpayers under an additional $1.2 billion of debt. SB 151 puts approval of pension obligation bonds back where it belongs, in the hands of the voters!”
    “Texans deserve a vote on the issuance of pension obligation bonds,” he reiterated.”

    dems have been giving out pension increases without voter approval……draining the swamp one bill at a time.

    Another dem ploy is using Certificates of Obligation instead of General Obligation Bonds for large projects because they don’t need voter approval.

    Drain the swamp.


    The Texas Senate today voted to create future budget crises for the State land local governments in Texas by tightening the screws on the fiscal garrotes it has tried to place around their ability to fund public needs. The Senate voted to AGAIN cut and eventually kill the state’s only general business tax, setting up a guaranteed shortage of funds in future years and giving big business a tax free ride when it comes to supporting the State’s programs. It joined that cut by passing a bill, SB 2, that will strictly limit the ability of local governments to increase their funding above current levels forcing them in the words of the Senate sponsor, to do more with less. Both measures are part of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s not-so-secret program to drastically reduce the amount of services provided by both the state and local governments.


    Of course one of the two high (low) points of the session is the passage of the bill allowing a doctor to LIE to his patient about the condition of her fetus if he thinks she might want to get an abortion if he told her the truth….plus makes it impossible for her to sue afterwards…….Trump’s avid and fervent use of the LIE seems to be making lying acceptable behavior in all things.


    If others follow the example being set by proponents of school vouchers (public money for private/church schools), legislators may start demanding that you present a photo ID in order to communicate with them.

    It seems that rural legislators (who are thought to oppose vouchers) are being flooded with letters apparently coming from their constituents asking/demanding that they vote for the voucher bill. The problem is that all the letters are postmarked from Austin and a good number (who knows how many) are lies—or at least potentially fraudulent.

    I wonder who was stupid enough to hatch this plot……whoever it is they were not smart enough to ship boxes of the letters around the state to be dumped in post offices closer to the representatives….Plus, as you can do with computers today, vary the text of the letters so it does not appear to be such a “form letter” operation.

    Nor were they smart enough to check the names…For example, they sent one allegedly from a former State Rep. who was and still is totally against vouchers. Plus there appears to be the usual number of dead persons to whom the issue was so important they wrote from beyond the grave.

    One call only hope that it blows up in the faces of those responsible.

    Of course, in the spirt of Trump, when caught they will probably claim that it is actually a plot AGAINST vouchers by the opponents of the bill.


    A hard question:

    Assume you ae the parent of an intelligent black or Hispanic child and you live in East Austin where,
    except during the “forced busing” period, the schools have always been second rate and today your child is attending a outdated facility without most of the extras found in West Austin Schools……..assume you want the best for your child and that includes the best possible education……assume that someone comes along and tells you the magic solution is “vouchers” that will allow you to send your child to that fancy private school across town…(even if, in reality, the voucher will not cover the tuition cost)….what do you do?

    Sign up with the voucher-pushers…..whose concern for you is more a cover for their desire to reduce the cost of private education for middle and upper class whites than it is for your child…

    Send your child to a “charter school” in your part of town that may (or may not) offer a better educational opportunity…

    Work to improve the schools in your area even though you know this will take years, at best, and may not meet your child’s needs before she graduates…(especially when the State appears not to really care) (as I am proud to say I did during my 35 years around the Capitol) or

    Take advantage of the inter-district transfer policy in Austin that allows some students to attend schools outside their neighborhoods even though no transportation is provided…(as, according to some estimates more than 25% of the parents do now)…..but that is now being limited because the “better schools”
    are getting overcrowded?

    It’s a hard question no doubt…..and one that makes you understand why people like former State Rep. Ron Wilson, a black from Houston, started advocating for vouchers for intercity children back in the 70s and 80s…

    I am fortunate that I never had to face this question……If I had I hope that I would have chosen to fight for better public schools….BUT?


    Poor Paul Ryan…you almost (stress almost) have to feel sorry for him…..There he is with the biggest bill of his career as speaker—repeal of the ACA which the GOP has been proclaiming as its chief goal for more than seven years—and he does not seem able to get the votes–even when he called in Trump to threaten the malcontents.

    Of course, he will keep trying—and may even pull it off—but it has to be difficult when you are trying to find some “compromise” between a majority of your members who are terrified of going home after kicking millions of people off of semi-guaranteed health care and a group of Freedom Caucusites who WANT to do just that.

    The best he can probably do is play the “party loyalty….we need your vote” card with the Freedomites and the “this is only to move the process…it is not the final bill…the Senate will fix it” plea with the others. It will be interesting to see if he can pull it off.


    You may remember that back on the election day itself I predicted that the GOP would, win or lose, immediately begin efforts to further limit the ability of people to vote……I was taking about an article in that day’s on-line version of The National Review advocating limiting the time for pre-election day voting. Well, as you may have seen, that’s just what a Texas state rep. from that hotbed of diversity, The

    • WUSRPH

      Of course, there still is a bill to prohibit the sue of the “temporary” absentee voting stations that are used for less than the full period of pre-election day voting. Like the other bill, it is also being pushed as a cost saving measure. Just because it might make it harder for people to vote is a pure coincidence.

  • John Bernard Books

    Last for today…(Hurrah you say)

    If, as I suggested some time ago, the wire-tapping of the Trump Towers consisted of the NAS picking up calls of Russian agents, etc. (which are legally monitored) with someone in the Trump effort and not because of any tap on Trump, it still raises the interesting question of:

    What were the Trumpites talking to the Russians about in those calls?

    • WUSRPH

      If it turns out that the Trump people did talk to the Russians about the election….can we expect Trump to “pull a Nixon” and claim that he did not know and “regretfully accept the resignations” of those “distinguished public servants” involved, ala what Tricky Dick did to Haldeman and Ehrlichman?


    Two sessions ago the Legislature made a big deal about how it was going to bring an end to the “budget tricks” that allowed it to artificially increase the size of the state budget and still stay within the spending limits. There was even talk of a constitutional amendment to require honesty in budgeting…..This session the Texas Senate is proposing a $2.5 billion “smoke and mirrors” accounting trick. How soon things change. How hypocritical some can be.

  • John Bernard Books

    How dumb are dems….
    “The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward warned on Wednesday that there are people from the Obama administration who could be facing criminal charges for unmasking the names of Trump transition team members from surveillance of foreign officials.”

    yep that dumb….