The president addressed the nation last night on the 18th day of the government shutdown and continued to place the blame on Democrats.
UPDATED 1/11/2019 04:23 PM PST: Rather than declaring a national emergency to raid defense funds, the president actually plans on dipping into funds set aside for disaster relief in California, Puerto Rico, and Texas to pay for his wall.
Trump spoke as 800,000 federal workers have been furloughed or forced to work without pay for more than two weeks, including important security officials like TSA agents, the Coast Guard, and federal fire fighters.
The current shutdown is now second only to the 21-day closure that occurred under the Clinton administration beginning December 1995.
In truth, Trump didn’t say much at all in his address — at least, not anything new.
He rattled off more terrifyingly skewed and out-of-context statistics, continued to blame Democrats for their unwillingness to “fund border security,” and generally upheld his pattern of unnecessary fearmongering.
Among his more ridiculous statements were his assertion that Democrats requested a steel slat fence as opposed to a concrete wall, and that the government was shut down solely due to their refusal to cooperate.
The most tone-deaf comment of the address by far, however, came at the end when he asked, “How much more American blood must be shed?” in reference to the hyper-inflated number of violent assaults and murders committed by undocumented immigrants, who, in general, commit less crime than natural-born U.S. citizens.
The American people have been asking the government that very same question after each and every mass shooting that has occurred since Sandy Hook — “How much more American blood must be shed? How many more American children must die?”
To coopt such a sentiment and apply it to a nonexistent “crisis” is horrific and insulting.
There is a silver lining, however, in the fact that he did not follow through with his threat to declare a national emergency in order to leverage the defense budget to build his “physical barrier.”
One important tidbit of information that didn’t make it into the president’s speech is the fact that the he actually made money off of last night’s address.
His campaign team sent an email to supporters asking them to help meet a $500,000 fundraising goal, and saying that the president would receive a list of all donors who contribute to “the Official Secure the Border Fund.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer gave a joint response to the president’s address rebuking his “temper tantrum” tactics and urging him to review the facts.
“Most presidents have used Oval Office addresses for noble purposes. This President just used the backdrop of the Oval Office to manufacture a crisis, stoke fear, and divert attention from the turmoil in his Administration. Throughout this debate and his presidency — President Trump has appealed to fear, not facts. Division, not unity.” — Schumer
As we digest the many inane facets of the president’s speech, let us keep a few important facts in mind.
The president and his cronies have latched on to the fiction that terrorists are entering the country via the U.S.-Mexico border, with Vice President Mike Pence and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders both asserting that as many as 4,000 terrorists were intercepted during their attempt to cross the border last year alone.
In reality, Customs and Border Protection agents only intercepted 12 non-U.S. citizens who were on the terror list at the southern border last year.
The president’s second-most popular rallying cry against immigration is the influx of drugs.
And yet, according to Customs and Border Protection, the vast majority of narcotics actually enter the country through ports of entry in packages or cargo.
Similarly, the president and his supporters have often emphasized the number of individuals entering the U.S. who have ties to gangs and organized crime, claiming in a border security presentation last week that 6,000 gang members were “apprehended at the southern border and removed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).”
However, the reality is that 5,872 gang members were deported from throughout the country during 2018, and Border Patrol only apprehended 808 people with gang ties both at the border and throughout the country, meaning that a very small number actually came from or were located near the southern border itself.
Finally, the president loves to rant and rave about how the majority of immigrants entering the U.S. through the southern border are convicted criminals.
While it is true that some 17,000 adults were arrested at the border who did have criminal records, a huge portion of those people were convicted of nonviolent crimes like driving under the influence of alcohol or who simply have previous border crossing charges against them.
As in so many instances, the president has taken his limited knowledge of the situation and combined it with fragments of truth, all while adding an unhealthy dose of propogandistic rhetoric that spins those fragments of truth into something far more sinister and subversive.