While other controversies rage, work on US border wall moves forward

While other controversies rage, work on US border wall moves forward, by Byron York.

Officials are quietly moving ahead on one of the president’s top campaign promises: the construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. Although it hasn’t received much attention relative to the president’s many problems, extensive planning for the wall is under way, officials are evaluating specific proposals, sites are being studied, and yes, there is money available to get going.

The work is being done under President Trump’s executive order of Jan. 25, which declared the administration’s policy to “secure the southern border of the United States through the immediate construction of a physical wall …” The order went on to set a high standard of effectiveness: “the prevention of all unlawful entries into the United States” along the border. Finally, the order cited an existing law, the Secure Fence Act, which in 2006 called for the construction of “at least two layers of reinforced fencing” and “additional physical barriers” on up to 700 miles of the 1,954-mile border. …

Can the USA build a wall?

What is entailed:

There is no intention to build a wall to stretch the entire border, from San Diego, Calif., to Brownsville, Texas. In his campaign, the president made clear that the wall need not cover every mile of the border. Certainly, no expert who supports more barriers at the border believes it should, either.

And the wall does not always mean a wall. The Jan. 25 executive order defined “wall” as “a contiguous, physical wall or other similarly secure, contiguous and impassable physical barrier.” Planners say that in practice, that will certainly mean extensive areas with an actual wall. But other areas might have the type of fencing outlined in the Secure Fence Act, or some other barrier yet to be designed. …

The border barrier will not look the same at all points along the border. The terrain of the border is different — some parts are so imposing they don’t need a barrier at all — and officials plan to design walls and barriers that fit each area, rather than one long, unchanging structure. …

The current barrier:

Of the 1,954 miles of border, 1,300 miles, or 66.5 percent, have no fencing or barriers at all; 299.8 miles, or 15.3 percent, have vehicle fence; and 316.6 miles, or 16.2 percent, have pedestrian fence. Only 36.3 miles, or 2 percent, have the kind of double-layer fencing required by the Secure Fence Act.

Not much wall is needed to make an impact:

At the moment, planners believe that about 700 “buildable miles” of the border will require a wall or other barrier. That just happens to be about the same amount called for in the Secure Fence Act. …

There’s no doubt that hundreds of miles of truly impenetrable barriers would have a huge effect on illegal border crossings. Talk to some experts who favor tougher border enforcement, and they will say that even as few as 100 well-chosen miles of barrier would make a difference.

No, the wall is not dead.

After the recent spending bill passed, some opponents of the wall declared the project dead. (Sample headline: Vanity Fair’s “How Trump’s Wall Failure Will Forever Doom His Presidency.”) But any victory dance right now is premature. Yes, it’s certainly possible the wall won’t be built. But it’s also possible it will be built, or that significant parts of it will be built. The work is already under way.

Did Obama Hack The Election? The Obama administration’s illegal spying may have been worse than Watergate

Did Obama Hack The Election? The Obama administration’s illegal spying may have been worse than Watergate, by Glenn Reynolds.

In 1972, some employees of President Nixon’s re-election committee were caught when they broke into the Democratic National Committee headquarters to plant a bug. This led to Nixon’s resignation and probably would have led to his felony prosecution had he not been pardoned by his successor, Gerald Ford.

But if a single bugging of the political opposition is enough to bring down a presidency — and maybe lead to an unprecedented criminal prosecution of a former president — then what are we to make of the recently unveiled Obama administration program of massively spying on political opponents in violation of clearly established law?

Because that’s what was unveiled last week.

When the FBI wants to wiretap a domestic suspect, it goes to court for a warrant. But when listening in on foreigners, the National Security Agency hoovers up a vast amount of stuff in bulk: Conversations between foreigners, conversations between Americans and foreigners, conversations between Americans who mention foreigners, and sometimes just plain old conversations between Americans.

There are supposed to be strict safeguards on who can access the information, on how it can be used and on protecting American citizens’ privacy — because the NSA is forbidden by law from engaging in domestic spying. These safeguards were ignored wholesale under the Obama administration, and to many Republicans, it is no coincidence that intelligence leaks damaged Democrats’ political opponents in the 2016 election. …

As former anti-terrorism prosecutor and national security expert Andrew McCarthy writes in National Review, this is a very serious abuse. And potentially a crime. If such material were leaked to the press for political advantage, that’s another crime.

McCarthy observes: “Enabling of domestic spying, contemptuous disregard of court-ordered minimization procedures (procedures the Obama administration itself proposed, then violated), and unlawful disclosure of classified intelligence to feed a media campaign against political adversaries. Quite the Obama legacy.” …

Will the Justice Department investigate and prosecute former Obama officials? It seems hard to imagine. But then, so did Nixon’s resignation, when the Watergate burglary was first discovered.

The mainstream media have ignored it — how does it help the left?

Battle of the Wall Street Statues: Dog Statue Pissing on Girl Statue Added

Battle of the Wall Street Statues: Dog Statue Pissing on Girl Statue Added, by Robert Wenzel.

In 1989, a bronze sculpture of a bull was dropped at the Bowling Green public square in the Financial District in Manhattan, near Wall Street.

It was guerrilla art installed without government permission by artist Arturo Di Modic. Its popularity led to it being a permanent feature. …

Some, however, in this era of the Social Justice warriors…, took the statue as an affront to women. They stuck a statue of an angry and defiant girl in front of the bull.

“Fearless Girl” was placed opposite Di Modica’s bull in March on this year for International Women’s Day on a temporary government permit — which New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio then extended for 11 months after pressure from women’s groups to keep it around longer. …

The “Fearless Girl” statute apparently irritates sculptor Alex Gardega. He has struck back by creating a statue of a small dog, titled “Pissing Pug” and he has placed it next to “Fearless Girl” aiming at her left leg.

Those three are real street art, unlike the postmodern wretched blobs and shapes the cultural Marxists have been ruining public spaces with for the past 50 years.

Wall Street Drama: ‘Pissing Pug’ Triggers SJW ‘Fearless Girl’ Supporters, by Tyler O’Neil.

While “Charging Bull” was placed as a statement by the artist DiModica, “Fearless Girl” was commissioned by SSgA as an advertisement for an index fund that comprises companies with a higher percentage of women among their senior leadership. The newer statue’s plaque reads, “Know the power of women in leadership. SHE makes a difference.” The “SHE” refers to the fund’s NASDAQ ticker symbol.

Di Modica has criticized “Fearless Girl” before, saying that placing the statue in front of his bull unfairly implicated his creation. The addition of the girl statue changed the meaning of “Charging Bull” from a symbol of economic optimism to a symbol of male oppression to be met with female defiance.

“Pissing Pug” is the ultimate “troll” move, as Gardega mocked the corporate symbol with a practical joke. But the dog does not alter the girl’s meaning in the way that the girl altered the bull’s meaning, so it is arguably less insulting to the earlier artwork it was created to mock.

Di Modica, who is suing SSgA for trademark and copyright infringement, refused to comment on “Pissing Pug.” Gardega’s statue was removed on Tuesday. …

The feminist support for “Fearless Girl” and the anger at “Peeing Pug” illustrate the danger of over-politicizing art. Di Modica’s original artwork was a statement of confidence in economic growth, not a political statement. “Fearless Girl” turned his artwork into a sexist message to serve a commercial end, advertising for a specific [and sexist] hedge fund. …

This is American politics in a nutshell: SJWs on the Left endorsing a corporate symbol because it subverts a historic American icon and “trolls” on the Right creatively mocking a sacrosanct emblem of identity politics.

UK Poll predicts Tories may lose majority

UK Poll predicts Tories may lose majority, by Sam Coates. Looks like Theresa May is blowing a huge initial lead against an old style socialist.

The Conservative Party could be in line to lose 20 seats and Labour gain nearly 30 in next week’s general election, according to new modelling by one of Britain’s leading pollsters.

YouGov’s first constituency-by-constituency estimate of the election result predicts that the Tories would fall short of an overall majority by 16 seats, leading to a hung parliament.

The central projection of the model, which allows for a wide margin of error, would be a catastrophic outcome for Theresa May, who called the election when polls pointed to a landslide result. Her support appears to have plunged after the poor reception of the party manifesto, including plans to make more elderly voters pay for home care. …

The estimates were met with scepticism by Tory and Labour figures. One prominent Conservative said that the party was expecting a majority of 50 or more, despite an “atrocious” campaign, and insisted that anger over the manifesto was fading.

Other pollsters predicted a convincing victory for the Tories. Andrew Hawkins, chairman of ComRes, said: “If voters behave in the way they broadly did in 2015 then the Conservatives remain on track for a 100-plus majority. This seems, on present assumptions, the most likely outcome.”

Prime Minister mocked on social media for debate performance, by Chris Graham. Some examples:

Anatomy of a Deep State: The EPA’s ‘Science Integrity Official’ is plotting to undermine Trump’s agenda

Anatomy of a Deep State: The EPA’s ‘Science Integrity Official’ is plotting to undermine Trump’s agenda. By Kimberley Strassel.

On May 8 a woman few Americans have heard of, working in a federal post that even fewer know exists, summoned a select group of 45 people to a June meeting in Washington. They were almost exclusively representatives of liberal activist groups. The invitation explained they were invited to develop “future plans for scientific integrity” at the Environmental Protection Agency.

Meet the deep state. That’s what conservatives call it now, though it goes by other names. The administrative state. The entrenched governing elite. Lois Lerner. The federal bureaucracy. Whatever the description, what’s pertinent to today’s Washington is that this cadre of federal employees, accountable to no one, is actively working from within to thwart Donald Trump’s agenda.

There are few better examples than the EPA post of Scientific Integrity Official. (Yes, that is an actual job title.) The position is a legacy of Barack Obama, who at his 2009 inaugural promised to “restore science to its rightful place” — his way of warning Republicans that there’d be no more debate on climate change or other liberal environmental priorities. …

Politicizing the science bureaucracy:

In 2013 the EPA hired Francesca Grifo, longtime activist at the far-left Union of Concerned Scientists. Ms. Grifo had long complained that EPA scientists were “under siege” … on everything from “mercury pollution to groundwater contamination to climate science.”

As Scientific Integrity Official, Ms. Grifo would have the awesome power to root out all these meddlesome science deniers. …

And get this: “Her job is not a political appointment,” the Science article continues, “so it comes with civil service protections.” Here was a bureaucrat with the authority to define science and shut down those who disagreed, and she could not be easily fired, even under a new administration.

Ms. Grifo perhaps wasn’t too busy in the Obama years, since EPA scientists were given carte blanche to take over the economy. She seems to have been uninterested when EPA scientists used secret meetings and private email to collude with environmental groups—a practice somewhat lacking in scientific integrity.

She has been busier these past few months. In March the Sierra Club demanded that the EPA’s inspector general investigate whether the agency’s newly installed administrator, Scott Pruitt, had violated policy by suggesting carbon dioxide might not be the prime driver of global warming. The inspector general referred the matter to . . . the Scientific Integrity Official. So now an unelected, unappointed activist could pass judgment on whether the Senate-confirmed EPA chief is too unscientific to run his own agency. So much for elections.

Drain the swamp.

hat-tip Scott of the Pacific

Leading Muslim Group Calls for Ramadan ‘Jihad’ Alongside Trump, Farage, May Headshots

Leading Muslim Group Calls for Ramadan ‘Jihad’ Alongside Trump, Farage, May Headshots, by Raheem Kassam.

A self-described “leading” Muslim group is fundraising on the back of “jihad” in the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, using pictures of President Donald Trump, Brexit leader Nigel Farage, UK Prime Minister Theresa May, and UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on its material.

Islamic groups in the United Kingdom have also noted how “oppression” or “oppressive rulers” simply means any legal system besides Shariah law, established under an Islamic caliphate.

hat-tip Stephen Neil

The Soviet Way

The Soviet Way, by Theodore Dalrymple.

In the literal sense, the West triumphed in the Cold War. Nevertheless, a kind of creeping sovietization has overtaken it as if in revenge. … In what sense, then, are we being sovietized? …

I came to the conclusion when I traveled in what was then the Eastern Bloc that the ubiquitous propaganda was not intended to persuade, much less to inform, but to humiliate; for citizens … had not merely to avoid contradicting it in public, but actually to agree with it in public. Therefore, from the point of view of the ruling power, the less true and more outrageously false the propaganda was, the better. For to force people to assent to propositions that are outrageously false, on pain of losing their livelihoods or worse, was to crush them morally and psychologically, and thus make them docile, easily manipulated, and complicit in their own enslavement.

Doesn’t that describe PC today? Actively agree or … disapproval, exclusion, maybe lose your job.

Increasingly in our daily lives we find ourselves in analogous situations, especially if we have the misfortune to work for bureaucracies, whether governmental, quasi-governmental, supposedly independent, or commercial. We must not only keep silent about propositions that we find not only false but ridiculous, but assent to them, to show willingness and demonstrate that we are (to use a vile modern locution, redolent of a tyranny exercised over us) on message. The message must never be of our own devising, or indeed attributable to anyone in particular. It must be absurd and unassailable at the same time. …

The bureaucracy are complicit:

The kind of person who succeeded in the Soviet Union was the kind of person I met who succeeded in the British bureaucracies with which I had to deal in my work. They were either without ability, in which case they resembled the talentless hacks whom Dovlatov met in the Soviet literary world: “They made up for the absence of talent by perfect loyalty to power.”

Or, if they had ability and intelligence, they suppressed its exercise for the sake of a quiet and comfortable life. Describing an editor who himself had once been a man of talent, but suppressed it, Dovlatov writes, “A remarkable ability to adapt and a thirst for comfort had changed him into a model functionary.” This man was by no means a fool: “He had no illusions about what he was doing. He knew what he was doing. One saw him suffer as he took his decisions [to comply].” And Dovlatov adds: “There is no greater tragedy for a man than totally to lack character.”

This is what I encountered every day, when the bureaucrats with whom I had to deal could not look me in the eye. Theirs was a kind of suffering, endured for the sake of a pension.

hat-tip Stephen Neil, Matthew

Angela Merkel Flew Into A Fit Of Rage Over Failed Paris Agreement

Angela Merkel Flew Into A Fit Of Rage Over Failed Paris Agreement, by Sean Adi-Tabatabai.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel flew into a ‘fit of rage’ after President Trump refused to sign the Paris Climate Change deal at the G-7 summit on Friday.

According to reports, Merkel expressed extreme anger to close aides after Trump refused to bow to her demands and agree that man-made global warming is real.

Uh oh, made the Germans angry. Once this would have mattered, but who really cares anymore? Such a bunch of weenies nowadays, scarcely able to deal with their recent arrivals. By 2020, young German men will be outnumbered by young Muslim men in their own country. If this is pushed forward another generation, they will be a tiny minority.