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In a follow-up to its earlier reporting on Donald Trump's obsession with making WALL as cruel as possible, the Washington Post published an astonishing story Wednesday on Trump's drive to build WALL before the 2020 election, because he promised WALL, his slob picnic crowds love chanting WALL, and he must have WALL, even if a few laws have to get broken in the process. Greater good and all that.

The story notes Trump has pressured the Army Corps of Engineers to rush contracts for construction, bypassing the normal bidding process, and has told aides to ignore dumb environmental regulations and eminent domain rules too so that private land can be grabbed up and WALLed, for "national security." Trump's goal is a total of 500 miles of WALL by election day 2020, which is going to take some doing. The Army Corps has only built 60 miles of fencing so far -- yes, despite Trump's lies to the contrary --and that's all replacing old sections of fencing in "areas that previously had border infrastructure."

In a completely Trumpian move, officials who attended Trump's frequent meetings on the need to WALL faster said he had promised pardons if anyone had to break some dumb laws in order to build WALL:

When aides have suggested that some orders are illegal or unworkable, Trump has suggested he would pardon the officials if they would just go ahead, aides said. He has waved off worries about contracting procedures and the use of eminent domain, saying "take the land" [...]

"Don't worry, I'll pardon you," he has told officials in meetings about the wall.

"He said people expected him to build a wall, and it had to be done by the election," one former official said.

Asked for comment, a White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Trump is joking when he makes such statements about pardons.

Trump insisted on Twitter Wednesday that the Post had completely "made up" that part, because that's exactly how journalism works. Which sort of makes us wonder why a White House official would say Trump was only joking about that thing he never said at all. (And what's the "joke"? Is he ... not going to pardon people who commit crimes for him? LOL, joke's on them!)


The story details no end of fuckery in the administration's rush to get something, anything, built in time for Trump to say WALL is going up, despite Trump's continued insistence on fiddling with the design. He wants the fencing to be painted black so anyone touching it in the summer will get a nasty burn, and remains insistent that the tops of the bollards be sharp and pointy so anyone climbing up there will get hurt, ow! He also has very important aesthetic concerns about the wall:

At Trump's behest, the Army Corps also is preparing to instruct contractors to remove from the upper part of the fence the smooth metal plates that are used to thwart climbers. The president considered that design feature unsightly, according to officials familiar with his directives.

But don't worry, the "president" still has time to pursue one of his other top priorities: Naked corruption on behalf of a crony! Trump has been pushing for WALL contracts to go to "North Dakota-based Fisher Industries," a big campaign contributor to Trump's very good friend, Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota), who is very very upset that Fisher hasn't been awarded a nice WALL contract, and even bitched about the "arrogance" of the Army Corps when it refused to show him "proprietary information" on other companies' winning bids.

So don't you go accusing Donald Trump of being a dunderhead. When it comes to things that really matter to him, like torture scenarios, hurting brown invaders, and steering government money to his friends, he's at the top of his game. And as with every other game he's ever played, he cheats. As George Conway noted on the Twitter yesterday, there's kind of a pattern here, as the New York Times recently reported. Trump's business practices and his approach to governing are pretty much the same:

"His constant instinct all the time was: Just do it, and if we get sued, we get sued," a former senior administration official says. "To him, it's all a negotiation. Almost as if the first step is a lawsuit. I guess he thinks that because that's how business worked for him in the private sector. But federal law is different, and there really isn't a settling step when you break federal law."

But if you can issue a pardon, that's even better than a settlement!

In other immigration fuckery this week, we also learned that with Hurricane Dorian -- upgraded yesterday from a tropical storm -- brushing past Puerto Rico and likely to hit Florida as a Category 3 or 4 storm this weekend, the administration just siphoned a bit under $160 million from FEMA's disaster relief fund to pay for more immigrant jails and deportation courts along the US-Mexico border. BuzzFeed News explains Homeland Security will shift around some $200 million of its internal funding to meet budget needs for the border, while hoping the rest of the department doesn't also need funding.

Some of those funds, $155 million, will be diverted from FEMA's disaster relief fund. The fund pays for the federal response to catastrophic events, like hurricanes or wildfires [...]

This $155 million chunk of the funds will go to the courts at the border, which will handle cases of asylum-seekers thrust into a program that forces them to remain in Mexico as their cases proceed, according to Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, who chairs the House DHS Appropriations Subcommittee.

To pay for the beds and transportation costs, DHS will transfer $116 million from other components, including $3.4 million in additional funds from FEMA.

Got that? We need to set up temporary immigration courts, at higher cost, because of the administration's "remain in Mexico" policy for asylum seekers, instead of letting people who pass the first step of the asylum process go to a court near wherever they're staying in the US.

And how's this for a surprise: while DHS insists its costs for detaining immigrants are way up because there's just SO MANY of them, it turns out that a good 9,000 of the 55,000 individuals currently held by ICE are asylum seekers who have passed their "credible fear of persecution" test, the first step in applying for asylum. If those folks weren't jailed -- and under previous presidents, they'd be out, with a court date -- ICE would be far closer to its budgeted 42,000 detention beds. But we have to lock everyone up, so Trump can maintain a crisis of his own creation.

As for Puerto Rico, the Great Man preemptively declared Wednesday that the island simply doesn't deserve any help, presumably even if Dorian were to hit it with its full force.

He added, again, that he was "the best thing that's ever happened to Puerto Rico!" Very few people know this, but he actually invented paper towels, and before Trump, nobody ever even thought of throwing them at people's heads and calling it disaster relief.

[Buzzfeed News / WaPo / NBC News / Image by Kid Zoom, Aged 22]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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