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Donald Trump quietly backed off his threat to close the US-Mexico border, at least for the moment, because apparently some of his Top People finally made it clear to him that the US would suffer very bad economic consequences. Instead, Trump said Thursday he would Very Definitely take SWIFT ACTION against Mexico -- in a year, maybe. And by then, who even KNOWS what crazy shit will be going on, so let's not get too bogged down in the details of what Trump ever says he's going to do.

Yes, you should definitely expect Trump to threaten to close the border again within the next month or so. Right after he suggests bombing Puerto Rico and banning wind farms to save eagles. Dude never lets any of his hobbyhorses alone for long.

At a press availability before a Cabinet meeting, Trump explained that nothing had changed at all, except maybe the timeline. And what would trigger the shutdown. And whether it would actually be a shutdown, or something else. But otherwise, EXACTLY the same as his insistence last week that he'd immediately shut the border if Mexico didn't end all illegal immigration in the space of a few days.


Trump warns Mexico: Auto tariffs or border closure www.youtube.com

So now instead of immediately, it's in a year. And instead of a border closure, it might be tariffs on cars, because

Mexico understands that we're going to close the border or I'm going to tariff the cars. I'll do one or the other. And probably start off with the tariffs.

Trump returned to his disgust that the US even has courts to decide whether asylum can be granted, AS IF: "We have a stupid system of courts; it's the craziest thing in the world." Honestly. Courts! Who ever heard of such a nutty idea?

But anyway, these tariffs will be exactly like closing the border, but better! They'll hit the US auto industry and US consumers, and that will teach Mexico such a lesson! Also, the trigger for imposing tariffs/shutting the border is now not a complete end to immigration, but stopping the flow of drugs. In a year. Or maybe it will be making sure football players salute the flag like they're supposed to, by law.

Still, he said, it's actually the drugs. The drugs are FOR SURE the measure of whether Mexico is in compliance. Oh, and also the caravans. If there are any more caravans of migrants seeking asylum, then it'll be tariffs. And also closing the border. But mostly the tariffs, on the cars, because of the drugs.

The only thing, frankly, better and less drastic than closing the border is tariff the cars coming in, and I will do it. You know I will do it. I don't play games. I'll do it!

So just to reiterate, Mexico has to stop the drugs. Also stop the people. After a one-year warning. On the drugs.

And if the drugs don't stop, we're gonna put tariffs on Mexico, and products, in particular cars. The whole ballgame is cars. It's the big ballgame. With many countries it's cars. And if that doesn't stop the drugs, we close the border.

Sounds like a detailed policy position to us! As his ramble continued, Trump insisted he didn't even think closing the border would be necessary, because, pulling a percentage out of his ass, he would assess a 25 percent tariff on the cars, and that would stop the drugs. And/or the caravans. And the greedy Puerto Ricans, probably.

One itty bitty problem with the whole tariff threat, as the Associated Press points out, and that's Trump's own cherished NAFTA replacement, the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which sounds tough like the Marines! Even though the full treaty hasn't been ratified by Congress (and may never be), those wily Mexicans saw the likelihood of Trump trying a tariff scheme, because as Trump always reminds us, other countries are smart and we are stupid:

[The] USMCA was worded to protect Mexico against auto tariffs based on national security concerns, and trade lawyer Daniel D. Ujczo said those provisions are already in effect under a side letter [emphasis added -- Dok Z].

"In short, this is the exact scenario that the Mexican negotiating team predicted and secured protections from in the USMCA," he said. "Mexico 'Trump-and-Tweet-proofed' its auto sector," and the White House "would need to get very creative to impose auto tariffs on Mexico."

Still, wowie, Trump is smart and will surely find a way to close the border and slap on high tariffs because he is not bound by mere law.

Trump is in California today, visiting the border at Calexico. We imagine he was originally planning to announce the closure of the border, but now that he's backed off that threat, sort of, look forward to his announcing that threatening to shut the border in a year's time (over drugs, caravans, or perhaps, hell, let's say NATO) is nothing new at all, but what he had in mind the WHOLE TIME.

He'll also be preening for the cameras to show off what he insists is the first completed section of WALL, even though it's really just a replacement of a decades-old section of fencing with a new bollard fence. As Toronto Star reported Daniel Dale points out, last year, the Border Patrol made a point of insisting the new fencing was not WALL.

Never mind the bollards, it's WALL! And now there's a plaque, and a plaque makes it real, just like that plaque at his golf course made him the club champion last year.

In one year, we expect the plaque to be replaced with a new one reading "Here is where Donald Trump completed his US- Mexico border wall." And it will become a pilgrimage destination for wingnuts.

[AP / NYT / LAT / Border wall photo by Anthony Albright, Creative Commons License 2.0]

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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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