The Border Wall Mystery

With respect to the proposed wall on our southern border, I think I have it right that Democrats oppose it — vehemently — and Republicans, by and large, favor it. I understand the Republican position. They seem convinced that it will help solve our illegal immigration problem. But barring building a Berlin-type barrier with electrified fences, mines and machine guns, I frankly doubt this. A complete wall built according to current proposals will likely have some effect, but people will find a way across our border if the economic incentive is sufficient.

However I am a bit puzzled by the Democratic opposition. I searched the internet and none of their spokesmen make a clear and unambiguous statement about this. I would have thought that wasting all that money that could be put to better use would be an obvious reason, but they never seem willing to put it quite that baldly. Still, I assume that this is basically their position — and mine, too.

But here’s the problem. Both of the top Democratic leaders, Sen. Chuck Schumer and Representative Nancy Pelosi, have stated in clear terms that, if funding the wall is included in a bill to raise the debt ceiling, Democrats will vote to block it. This situation will likely arise in December. They are fully aware that Democratic votes plus those of the extreme right in the Republican caucus will prevail. In other words, they are willing to sabotage the nation’s credit, drop a bomb on our economy, and risk significantly increased interest rates rather than wasting some money on the wall. On its face that doesn’t make economic sense. In fact, it defies logic unless there is something more at stake than wasting a few billions. So, what exactly is the real issue? And is it really worth that much?

Knowing Democrats, my theory is that this isn’t a money issue at all, or at least not in its essence. There is something about building a barrier on our border that strikes at the very core of progressive ideology. To many Democrats, it’s a bit like tearing down the Statue of Liberty, perhaps combined with making English our national language. The wall has become a symbol of exclusionary philosophy that is anathema to old-style Democrats. So perhaps they would indeed risk an economic catastrophe rather than conceding this point.

Of course, this is just a theory. But if it is true, then Democrats are about as nutty as Republicans, which is a standard that is rather hard to meet.

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Homeland Insecurity

The recent incursion on the Capital lawn by an old gent flying a gyrocopter raises a troubling question. Was it handled properly and, if not, what should have been done? My underlying concern is beautifully captured by this cartoon.

Gyrocopter

An official involved admits that this reveals a hole in our defenses, but he hastened to add that their rules of engagement wouldn’t allow use of deadly force to prevent this kind of event. He pointed out that anyone could see that this was “just an old man” and that there was no visible evidence that he was carrying explosives or other ordnance. Further, he added, what if we shot him down and he really had explosives and blew up some nice tourist lady from Bakersfield?

angry_manTo say the least, this response troubles me! Osama bin Laden was an old man, and in fact he looked a bit like this pilot. Moreover, hiding bars of Semtex explosive or even a rocket launcher isn’t very hard. But not to worry, there was no sign on the gyrocopter saying “Death to America”. I think we are entirely too squeamish for our own good. Fear of hurting some deranged geriatric is no excuse for lax protection of our vital interests. And in any case, the next deranged geriatric might not be so inoffensive.

If IGTs (Islamic Gyrocopter Terrorists) still don’t concern you, how about small, undetectable drones? If I were an ISIS commander I would be ordering my minions to bone up on this technology pronto. Joking aside, this is going to happen. And we better hope that the first attack is on a small scale so that we can get serious about the electronic jamming technology that could be an effective defense.