News and views on the Shutdown

Staff & Wire Reports

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of N.Y., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., pose for photographers after speaking on Capitol Hill in response President Donald Trump's address, Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of N.Y., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., pose for photographers after speaking on Capitol Hill in response President Donald Trump's address, Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Democrats: Trump using misinformation, malice in wall debate


Associated Press

Wednesday, January 9

WASHINGTON (AP) — Top congressional Democrats said President Donald Trump “has chosen fear” in his drive to build a southern border wall and called on him to reopen the government shuttered because of the standoff over his demand for money for the barrier.

Speaking moments after Trump made his case for the wall in an Oval Office address Tuesday night, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told a national television audience that the president’s rhetoric has been “full of misinformation and even malice.”

Standing alongside her, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said America’s symbol “should be the Statute of Liberty, not a 30-foot wall.” He accused Trump of trying to “stoke fear and divert attention” from his tumultuous administration.

The White House countered Wednesday by accusing Democrats of being in denial about dangerous activity taking place at the border, which Trump says would be thwarted by the construction of a wall.

“He’s fighting for the protection and the safety of every American citizen,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Fox News Channel’s “Fox and Friends.” ”And the fact that the Democrats want to continue to live in denial and pretend that things that are coming across this border that bring harm to people in this country aren’t happening is frankly sad, it’s ridiculous, and I think you saw that on full display last night in their response to the president.”

She added: “If this is the face and the future of the Democrat party I think things are looking really good for Republicans.”

The Democrats’ prime-time remarks amounted to a debut for the newly empowered opposition. Less than a week after Democrats formally took control of the House, Pelosi and Schumer stood side by side at a lectern in an appearance designed to emphasize their party’s unity.

They spoke after Trump warned of a “growing humanitarian and security crisis” at the border with Mexico. He said it was “immoral” for politicians “to do nothing and continue to allow more innocent people to be so horribly victimized” by the drugs and criminals he claims are streaming across the boundary.

Trump and the Democrats have been dueling during a partial government shutdown over his demands for — and their opposition to — $5.7 billion to begin building a border wall. Some 800,000 federal employees are working without pay or have been furloughed at dozens of federal departments and agencies, and each side is blaming the other for the closure, which was in its 19th day on Wednesday.

The longest shutdown ever was 21 days that stretched from December 1995 into January 1996.

Polls have shown that Trump’s proposed wall and the shutdown fight have played well with his die-hard conservative supporters but poorly with the general public. The wall was one of Trump’s highest-profile campaign promises, and his performance on that issue could have a major impact on his 2020 re-election effort, while Democrats have made opposition to the proposal a cornerstone goal.

On the 2016 campaign trail, Trump promised that Mexico would pay for the wall, but Mexico has refused to do that.

Pelosi, D-Calif., said Trump forced the shutdown due to “his obsession” with a costly, ineffective wall, which she recently called “immoral.”

“President Trump must stop holding the American people hostage, must stop manufacturing a crisis and must reopen the government,” she said.

“Most presidents have used Oval Office addresses for noble purposes,” said Schumer, D-N.Y. “This president just used the backdrop of the Oval Office to manufacture a crisis.”

The Democrats’ remarks lasted just over four minutes, compared with more than nine minutes for Trump.

Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, a potential 2020 Democratic presidential contender, delivered his own response on social media. He said Trump “lies all the time,” citing the president’s assertions that Mexico would pay for the wall and his claims about the number of terrorists and amount of illegal drugs flowing across the border.

Sanders said true emergencies facing the U.S. include the number of people who remain without sufficient health care coverage, college costs that are unaffordable for many and global warming.

“Mr. President, we don’t need to create artificial crises,” he said. “We have enough real ones.”

Associated Press writer Darlene Superville contributed to this report.

For AP’s complete coverage of the U.S. government shutdown:


Crisis by Tom H. Hastings

Donald Trump is a lousy teleprompter reader. His fake crisis speech from the Oval Office was clearly the product of his handlers telling him in no uncertain terms, “Read it. Do not say anything else. Just read what we’ve written for you to say. Period. Not. Another. Syllable.”

Dave Barry used to make fun of Al Gore for being so wooden in his speeches as Clinton’s VP. Barry was funny; he referred to beavers chewing on Gore’s leg while Clinton apologized to the nation for something—military mishaps in Serbia, sleeping with random women—and Gore would stand there dutifully, imitating an aspen tree, the favorite of beavers everywhere.

If Gore was wooden, Trump was petrified and putrified. He had zero idea what he was saying, mouthing words, faking expressions, emphasizing incorrect syllables, and looking pinched and pained that he was being controlled. I can see him ripping off the leash instantly afterwards.

“We control you or you cease to be president.” That must have been the message from Stephen Miller, his eloquently lying Officer of Disinformation, a staffer minimally nine times smarter than Trump but equally amoral.

Trump told us, astonishingly, that the Wall would be paid for three times, never by the American people.

Once, as he promised relentlessly and re-re-repeatedly in his campaign promises, by Mexico.

Two, incredibly in his speech, by “itself.” Um…ok.

Three—what will we do with all this extra money?—“indirectly,” by his new NAFTA 2.0 deal. Yeah. That mechanism was explained clearly by No One, Ever. That is classic gaslighting. Fake news. Lying. That. Will. Never. Happen.

You will pay for it, assuming you are an American taxpayer. None of his lies were anything but. Not Mexico. Not “itself.” Not “indirectly.”

Pelosi was OK. She stated truthfully that Congress passed a bipartisan bill to reopen the government.

But Schumer was more succinct: “We don’t govern by temper tantrum.”

The new Congress has adaptively and rightly separated the Trump Great Wall debate from the ongoing functioning of the US government. It is up to the Senate to pass it and Trump to sign it.

Step up, Republican Senators. Especially Cory Gardner (CO), Susan Collins (ME), Joni Ernst (IA), Shelly Moore Capito (WV), Thom Tillis (NC), and Lindsay Graham (SC). You believe you are safe? Your business as usual? We shall see. You are all up for office again in 2020 and you have supported the stupidest Trump-for-ignorance, Trump versus the American people, Trump-corrupt measures, legislation, and nominations. You believe we’ll forget and vote you back in.

I wonder. What are the American people made of? Time will tell.

Dr. Tom H. Hastings is PeaceVoice Director and on occasion an expert witness for the defense in court.

Facing pressure, networks fact-check Trump speech


AP Media Writer

Wednesday, January 9

NEW YORK (AP) — Television pundits moved swiftly to correct or challenge President Donald Trump following Tuesday’s Oval Office speech on the proposed border wall, after their networks were the target of an unusual debate over whether they should show him at all.

“Just because you say it’s a crisis doesn’t necessarily make it one,” ABC White House correspondent Cecilia Vega said following the president’s address.

Some network critics had essentially made the same point in arguing for a television boycott, along with saying the president couldn’t be trusted with the truth. It’s rare, but not unprecedented, for networks to say no to a presidential request for airtime.

But refusing to air Trump’s first Oval Office address as president, in the midst of a government shutdown over the funding fight, would have been seen as a provocative act in itself. So the four major broadcasters and cable news networks showed him, while also airing rebuttals from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and making provisions of their own to pounce on misstatements.

CNN brought on Daniel Dale, a White House correspondent for the Toronto Star, who has become known for cataloguing Trump misstatements, and he said the president falsely asserted it was the Democrats who had advanced the idea of a steel barrier instead of a wall. NBC’s Chuck Todd made the same point.

“I would say he made a lot of dubious claims,” Todd said.

ABC’s George Stephanopoulos disputed Trump’s claim that the U.S.-Mexico free trade agreement will essentially result in that country paying for the wall. “It has not been approved by Congress and even if it is, there’s no provision there to make Mexico pay for the wall,” Stephanopoulos said.

Shepard Smith conducted a rapid-fire rebuttal of some of the president’s claims during his coverage on the Fox broadcast network. After Trump talked about crimes committed by undocumented immigrants, Smith said, “government statistics show there is less violent crime committed by the undocumented immigrant population than by the general population.”

“The president said law enforcement professionals have requested the $5.7 billion (for the wall),” Smith said. “It’s he who requested it and he who said he would own the shutdown.”

Smith’s analysis drew an angry response on Twitter from many of Fox News’ conservative fans.

On Fox News Channel, Sean Hannity critiqued the Democratic response, saying Trump’s opponents hadn’t addressed reports of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants, a point the president tried to drive home. Sen. Lindsey Graham joined Hannity to suggest Trump’s stand represents the best chance to improve border security.

None of the networks used chyrons, or onscreen text, to rebut Trump while he was talking. But CNN and MSNBC used that form of fact-checking after he had finished.

One CNN chyron read: “Trump: 90% of heroin comes across the Southern border. Fact: vast majority comes through legal ports of entry.”

Earlier Tuesday, CNN’s Jim Acosta had confronted Trump aide Kellyanne Conway outside of the White House, asking if she could promise whether Trump would tell the truth. That prompted a bitter exchange between the two.

“Let me get back in your face, ‘cause you’re such a smart ass most of the time and I know you want this to go viral,” Conway said.

Following Tuesday night’s coverage, the liberal watchdog organization Media Matters for America said the network fact-checking was ineffective.

“The fact-checking came too late for any viewers who turned off their televisions after the president stopped speaking,” said Media Matters’ Matt Gertz. “The networks gave the White House exactly what the president wanted: unhindered access to lie to their audience. He played them, and they let them do it.”

By airing the rebuttal from Pelosi and Schumer, the networks did something that is seldom done for presidential speeches, except for events like the State of the Union address, said former NBC News executive Mark Lukasiewicz, now dean of the Hofstra University communications school. That sets a precedent that may be tough for them to back away from in future events, he said.

Lukasiewicz argued that for the networks, it was an awkward night that would not please either side of the debate over border security.

“The president made no news and no new proposals,” he said. “It is hard to argue this night was about anything other than pure politics — and the networks interrupted programming to accommodate it.”

AP writers Darlene Superville in Washington and Lynn Elber in Los Angeles contributed to this report.


Adjust by Tom H. Hastings

“They’ll make adjustments. They always do.”

So said Donald Trump when a reporter asked him about the millions of people directly affected by his shutdown.

Yes, millions. Nearly 400,000 federal workers are not being paid and an equal number of workers who were fulfilling government contracts are also not being paid. Most of those 800,000 have dependents. So millions of Americans are going without a paycheck. Trump says they’ll adjust.

Wait—his shutdown? Yup. “I’m proud to shut down the government…I’m not gonna blame you for it” (Trump, on camera, to Senator Chuck Schumer in December). As with so many things (Mexico will pay for the wall, I’m ordering the troops home from Syria now, I will push for term limits on Congress, I’ll make sure taxpayers can fully deduct health care insurance payments on their taxes, as soon as the audit is finished I will release my tax return, and many more lies), Trump makes a promise and denies it. The Promisebreaker.

Back in the day, when I was a young single Dad—just me and my two sons—I missed a paycheck once. It was a catastrophe. A crew of us were working construction and the contractor bailed on all of us. Three of us were family men and two were single guys. All of us were panicked and scrambling. Yeah, we all “made adjustments.”

Now Trump has created a fake crisis on the border—even though there are fewer migrants with problems coming in than ever. The National Security Council and the State Department both issued reports that list improvements that might be made in border security and neither recommends a wall.

The crisis is the shutdown itself and the millions of Americans thrown to the wolves by Trump—even though the new Congress has already passed a bill that would reopen the government and sent it to the Senate—which Trump says he’ll never sign. To compound Trump’s crisis, the government workers and contractors will likely soon not be able to keep any semblance of safety net in place because they are themselves furloughed—when will Social Security checks stop? Food stamps for 39 million Americans who depend on them even more acutely now?

I’m sure Trump is fantasizing that if he shuts it all down, the judicial system will not be able to continue to investigate the mounting evidence that his campaign conspired with Putin’s Russian operatives to steal the 2016 election. It was just revealed that his campaign manager, convicted felon Paul Manafort, admitted to sharing Trump campaign data with the Russians. We’ll see if Trump gets indicted by all this or if his dream of shutting down the third branch of government buys him some time.

Or maybe Pelosi and the new House head of the Judiciary Committee Jerry Nadler—and even Ken Starr— are right that it may be possible, if evidence is strong enough, a sitting president can be indicted. Maybe Trump should get fitted for a big orange jumpsuit.

I’m sure he’ll adjust.

Dr. Tom H. Hastings is PeaceVoice Director and on occasion an expert witness for the defense in court.

White House tries to hold jittery GOP in line on shutdown


Associated Press

Wednesday, January 9

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is trying to hold jittery congressional Republicans in line on the 19th day of the partial government shutdown, with no end in sight to the impasse over President Donald Trump’s demand for a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.

There’s growing concern about the toll the shutdown is taking on everyday Americans, including disruptions in payments to farmers and trouble for home buyers who are seeking government-backed mortgage loans — “serious stuff,” according to Sen. John Thune, the No. 2 Senate Republican.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, urged colleagues to approve spending bills that would reopen various agencies, “so that whether it’s the Department of the Interior or it is the IRS, those folks can get back to work. I’d like to see that.”

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, called the standoff “completely unnecessary and contrived. People expect their government to work. … This obviously is not working.”

Trump was to get a personal sense of the concern —and perhaps questions about his strategy — from those in his own party at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.

Like other Republicans, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia said she wants border security. But she said there was “no way” the shutdown fight would drag on for years as Trump warned last week.

“I think certainly I have expressed more than a few times the frustrations with a government shutdown and how useless it is,” Capito said Tuesday. “That pressure is going to build.”

There was no sign Trump was backing down from his demand for $5.7 billion for the border wall in exchange for ending the shutdown.

Late in the day, Democratic and Republican congressional leaders were to return to the White House to meet with him and renew negotiations that have shown no apparent progress in the past week.

Tuesday night, speaking to the nation from the Oval Office for the first time, Trump argued that the wall was needed to resolve a security and humanitarian “crisis.” He blamed illegal immigration for what he said was a scourge of drugs and violence in the U.S. and asked: “How much more American blood must we shed before Congress does its job?”

Democrats in response accused Trump appealing to “fear, not facts” and manufacturing a border crisis for political gain.

The White House was trying to shore up GOP support even before Trump spoke. At a private meeting with House Republicans, Vice President Mike Pence cited a C.S. Lewis quote calling courage a virtue, and he said Trump has no plans to retreat.

“That pickup ain’t got reverse in it,” Pence said, according to people familiar with the conversation.

But a growing number of Republicans are uncomfortable with the toll the partial shutdown is taking, and Trump’s response to it. They are particularly concerned about the administration’s talk of possibly declaring a national emergency at the border, seeing that as an unprecedented claim on the right of Congress to allocate funding except in the most dire circumstances.

“I prefer that we get this resolved the old-fashioned way,” Thune said.

Trump did not mention that idea Tuesday night.

Trump plans a visit to the border Thursday as he continues to argue for the wall that was a signature promise of his 2016 presidential campaign.

He addressed the nation as the shutdown stretched through its third week, with hundreds of thousands of federal workers going without pay. He claimed the standoff could be resolved in “45 minutes” if Democrats would just negotiate, but previous meetings have led to no agreement.

For now, Trump sees this as winning politics. TV networks had been reticent about providing him airtime to make what some feared would be a purely political speech. And that concern was heightened by the decision Tuesday by Trump’s re-election campaign to send out fundraising emails and text messages to supporters trying to raise money off the speech. Their goal: a half-million dollars in a day.

“I just addressed the nation on Border Security. Now need you to stand with me,” read one message sent out after his remarks.

In their own televised remarks, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer accused Trump of misrepresenting the situation on the border as they urged him to reopen closed government departments and turn loose paychecks for federal workers.

Negotiations on wall funding could proceed in the meantime, they said.

Schumer said Trump “just used the backdrop of the Oval Office to manufacture a crisis, stoke fear and divert attention from the turmoil in his administration.”

In his dire address, Trump ticked off a string of statistics and claims to make his case that there is a crisis at the border, but a number of his statements were misleading, such as saying the new trade deal with Mexico would pay for the wall, or suggesting through gruesome examples that immigrants are more likely to commit crimes.

Trump, who has long railed against illegal immigration at the border, has recently seized on humanitarian concerns to argue there is a broader crisis that can only be solved with a wall. But critics say the security risks are overblown and the administration is at least partly to blame for the humanitarian situation.

Trump used emotional language, referring to Americans who were killed by people in the country illegally, saying: “I’ve met with dozens of families whose loved ones were stolen by illegal immigration. I’ve held the hands of the weeping mothers and embraced the grief-stricken fathers. So sad. So terrible.”

The president often highlights such incidents, though studies over several years have found immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than people born in the United States.

Associated Press writers Jill Colvin, Colleen Long, Alan Fram and Deb Riechmann contributed to this report.

For AP’s complete coverage of the U.S. government shutdown:


What We Need Is The Best Possible Plan For Border Security

By John A. Tures

Professor of Political Science

LaGrange College

Republicans or Democrats must at least agree on one factor: we need the best possible border security. Once we get that, we need to figure out what’s the best way to get it. We also need to look at the facts, and the evidence, to see what’s working, and what isn’t.

The argument that works with the American people will be protecting the border first. In doing so, we have to consider what our greatest threat is, which is terrorism.

“White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Friday that Customs and Border Protection officials caught nearly 4,000 known or suspected terrorists ‘that came across our southern border.’ She repeated that claim on talk shows throughout the weekend, and Vice-President Mike Pence used the same data point during an appearance on “Good Morning America” on Tuesday,” according to USA Today (

“But in the State Department’s summary of global terrorism threats published in September, analysts concluded that there was ‘no credible evidence indicating that international terrorist groups…sent operatives via Mexico into the United States,’” The USA Today report added.

In fact, CNBC found when they analyzed the CBP data, that less than 1% of those suspected of being connected to terrorism actually crossed the border from Mexico. Of those 41 individuals, 35 were U.S. citizens, and 6 were not American citizens (

On Fox News, Kellyanne Conway admitted the mistake made by the administration. “That was an unfortunate misstatement…everybody makes mistakes, all of us.”

But what about immigration…isn’t it out of control? Evidence from The Washington Post shows that illegal immigration is the lowest level it’s been since 2000, and that was when Bill Clinton was U.S. President. It went up during the Bush Administration, according the conservative watchdog group “Judicial Watch” which found out that the spike in immigration was due to perceptions that George W. Bush would support amnesty (

However, illegal immigration has been declining since the late 2000s (

Do you know who said immigration was at its lowest level in 17 years? It was Donald Trump, back on April 21, 2017, in an interview. You can read it here, if you want to:

Has it stayed low, or increased since 2017? Well, on December 11, 2018 Donald Trump tweeted “Our Southern Border is now Secure and will remain that way.” ( Please follow the links, if you don’t trust me.

Senator Graham also called the border wall just “a metaphor” a few days ago. I’ll agree with him on that statement.

Let’s end the shut down and spend money on catching the 99%+ of terrorists trying to enter our airports and seaports, as illegal immigration continues to decline on our Southern border.

John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Georgia. He can be reached at His Twitter account is JohnTures2.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of N.Y., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., pose for photographers after speaking on Capitol Hill in response President Donald Trump’s address, Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of N.Y., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., pose for photographers after speaking on Capitol Hill in response President Donald Trump’s address, Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Staff & Wire Reports