How Trump Created the Border Crisis, and Other News

As mentioned yesterday, Trump’s PACs spent about $50 million in legal fees in 2023. Today David Kurtz at TPM asks what Trump might be getting for his money.

Trump using campaign funds to defend himself is one thing, but it’s the use of those dollars to provide criminal defenses to co-defendants, witnesses, and other associates that pushes the political envelope in ways we’ve never really seen before. He’s buying loyalty. He’s paying for adherence to the defense strategy his lawyers are mapping out for him. He’s circling the wagons to protect himself at the expense of others and of the public good. And he’s doing it at the same time he’s running for president again.

Do read the whole thing. Kurtz says that legal feels are eating about a quarter of Trump’s campaign donations. It’s likely that percentage will get higher in 2024.

Regarding the border “crisis”:  I found this chart on the Cato Institute web page, of all places.

My goodness! As soon as Trump became POTUS the number of “illegals” who successfully crossed into the U.S. went up and up and up! And here he is going around bragging that while he was POTUS we had the most secure border in history! Clearly it was more secure during the Obama Administration.

Here’s the link to the Cato page. It argues that Trump’s policies made the problem worse.

The Trump border policy had a single??minded focus: keep out asylum seekers. Yet the ability to apply for asylum meant that fewer people tried to sneak in. One border crosser in 2018 told the Wall Street Journal that he had turned himself into the first Border Patrol agent he saw and was seeking “the immigration office.” Rather than direct these crossers to legal crossing points, the Trump administration blocked applicants from applying at ports of entry.

After first separating families and then attempting ban asylum, Trump started returning asylum seekers to Mexico to await hearings in homeless camps on the other side of the border line. This led to a wave of crimes against immigrants. Some were kidnapped, other raped, and some murdered. When the pandemic hit, the government suspended all hearings for those already returned to Mexico and began expelling all others with no hearing all.

It was inevitable that as the opportunity to obtain asylum disappeared or the costs to do so increased (such as through family separation). A greater percentage of people would attempt to sneak around ports of entry.

I’m not hearing this discussed anywhere. It needs to be.

Speaking of other things that need more attention — if you didn’t catch Chris Hayes last night, here is his opening segment. Worth watching.

Finally, the Quinnipiac University poll sees better election odds for Joe Biden.

As signs point to the 2024 presidential election being a repeat of the 2020 race between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, Biden holds a lead over Trump 50 – 44 percent among registered voters in a hypothetical general election matchup, according to a Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pea-ack) University national poll of registered voters released today.

In Quinnipiac University’s December 20, 2023 poll, the same hypothetical 2024 general election matchup was ‘too close to call’ as President Biden received 47 percent support and former President Trump received 46 percent support.

The biggest change was among women voters moving to Biden. Fallout from the E. Jean Carroll trial?

19 thoughts on “How Trump Created the Border Crisis, and Other News

  1. Continuation from earlier threads, I'm waiting for Taylor Swift to get so annoyed with the right-wing nonsense about her, that she comes up with a song that both zings them back and becomes an earworm among her fans and for the rest of us. I know very little about her music, only that she's a superstar, and I hope she's up for the task.

    The right is terrified of her power. I wonder what her boyfriend's politics is like – with the right male influence, her power and effect upon the world could explode beyond the musical domain. Some women need this kind of help, others are great strategic thinkers all by themselves. She's obviously made a lot of great moves in her career. I can wish.

    I echo Chris Hayes – the good news about the economy has taken a while to move the needle, but sentiment is moving in Biden's favor. This is typical presidential election year stuff, and Biden's team has pulled it off magnificently, especially given the obstacles.

    The impasse over the border must be overcome. So much hinges on funding the US govt, not the least its support for Ukraine. If the right cedes Ukraine to Putin, it will be a colossal geopolitical mistake, greatly diminishing US influence around the world. It's the kind of bumbling mistake – like invading Iraq in 2003 – that is typical of late-stage empires.

    • So what if Taylor Swift does endorse Joe Biden, tRump still has Ted Nugent, Kid Rock, and Eminem.  (I can type and giggle at the same time)

      • Not only that, he's got the 'I'm proud to be an American' theme song at his disposal. That's the equivalent to gold to any MAGA snake charmer. Throw in on top of that the Village people's WMCA song, and Biden doesn't even have a chance to compete in the field of audio stimulation.

         Oh, and don't forget what the J6 choir can bring to the patriotic table!

        • OMG yes, the J6 Choir!  And they've got so much time to rehearse! 

          One more thought about Taylor Swift endorsing anybody for political office; the endorsement that might have a real kick would involve Gloria Johnson's (1/3 of the Tennessee Three) upcoming senate run.  I recently saw a snippet of an interview in which the odious Marsha Blackburn was talking very uncharacteristically sweetly about Ms. Swift.

  2. Following up on yesterday, "The Walls Are Closing in…", I visualize the trash compacter scene in Star Wars. Trump's hip-deep in a legal mess of his own making. That Trump was paying lawyers to commit malpractice by counseling clients to commit perjury is established. It worked most of the time. But by the time GA rolled around, Trump quit, probably because it's too expensive but also (maybe) because the pool of lawyers willing to risk a mandatory change of career (disbarment) dried up. Again speculating, possibly because the pool of defendant lawyers was growing. How dumb do you have to be to take a case for Trump, representing a previous lawyer for Trump guilty of malpractice at Trump's direction when the terms of the deal (working for Trump) is that you also commit malpractice?

    Besides the high cost and lack of competent lawyers, the bills are coming due. When the other shoe drops, the total will be (ballpark) $350 million. Add to that the out-of-pocket from last year $50 million and the costs this year, maybe $75 million?? God only knows when the J6 civil trials will begin or what the damages might be for the personal injuries due to the J6 riot. But set aside the financial for a moment. Trump is facing prison for three of the four criminal trials. (I don't think NY will ask for prison for the Stormy Daniels crimes.) I found the idea of going to prison disturbing – when I was sentenced to a prison with some really dangerous inmates, I was scared. To Donald Trump, this is a nightmare. He expects that Biden is really conspiring to send him to the worst hell-hole in the US prison system. Because that's what Trump would do to his enemies. 

    IMO, Trump is going crazy from the pressure. Nikki is hitting Trump on his mental faculties as is Biden. Trump's in trouble as soon as he leaves the teleprompter and he's very unconvincing when he's scripted. People are walking ot of Trump rallies early. The Mojo from 2016 isn't there. 

    I have no inside information but the delay in a verdict from the appeals court re Trump's claim of absolute immunity is perplexing. What are they waiting for?  One thing that developed is that the USSC agreed to hear the CO disqualification (14the Amendment). Is the appeals court sitting on a verdict until AFTER the decision on the 14th Amendment?  I have no doubt how the appeals court will rule but did they "force" the Supremes down a different path by depriving them of having both issues before them (14th and immunity) at the same time? Justices on the appeals circuit and the USSC think differently than a "normal" judge since they don't try cases. I'm convinced there is a reason – perhaps more lawyerly minds can explain.

    Regarding the border… *sigh*. No answer will satisfy everyone. I don't want draconian cruelty to families who are legitimate refugees. Part of the solution has to be intervention to stabilize countries wracked by criminal cartels that can buy or threaten governments. We need to do some nation-building in our own hemisphere. Only then will the border settle down. If we had half the money we wasted in Afghanistan…

    Short term, we may be in a good place politically regarding the border, Biden's weak spot in the election. Democrats negotiated a deal in good faith. The Senate may pass it. Trump has called his minions to kill it and the House won't bring it up for a vote. So Team Biden can lay the status-quo on Trump, if they do it right.

    Agree a lot with Moonbat's comments above. The perception that the economy is improving is growing.  I think Trump is unraveling before our eyes. The last two trials, plus the one coming up may drive home to Trump the huge danger of the other trials. This won't cause Trump to steady down in a disciplined groove. I think he will get more erratic and nobody on Team Trump has the power to keep the crazy out of the public eye.

    • At this point it must be a general consensus within the high end mahogany-paneled legal realm that taking tRump on as a client is professionally risky if not career suicide and much more trouble than its worth.  A client who thinks he is smarter than anyone else, who insists on controlling their lawyer's actions b/c he is their boss instead of following their advice; good lawyers don't need that crap.  Throwing in "evidence" during the trial that has not been properly entered as such in accordance with court rules?  Everybody knows who demanded trying a stunt like that.  Representing tRump would no longer be a bragging point at any country club, more likely an eye-roll generator.  The best he will get from this point on is the woefully inept (Habba) and/or MAGA-brained (Lin Wood, Sydney Powell).

      "If we had half the money we wasted in Afghanistan…", so true.  Follies are prone to marching, as Barbara Tuchman might say.

      "I think he will get more erratic and nobody on Team Trump has the power to keep the crazy out of the public eye", he is almost ready for his closeup, Mr. DeMille.  I'd guess fewer and fewer team members are even bothering to try, he is frantically flailing, his last words will be "witch hunt!".  We all remember how the Wicked Witch of the West was aquaphobic; I think we now know why he drank water carefully using both hands.

  3. Off topic, but maybe not completely:  A question: Is the world, (which has become "small" in the sense of interconnectedness), at a stage of civilization where theocracy (as we have seen it in the recent couple of centuries) has reached a tipping point and is in the early stages of a process of becoming as relevant in the near future as the Greek pantheon of gods has been to the most recent few centuries.  We may be entangled in the throes of a dying beast on a smaller scale in the case of TFG, as increasingly cornered, increasingly dangerous. There is a similar pattern in the current events in the Middle East: Shia vs Sunni; Arab vs Israeli; modernist Arab vs anciency oriented Arab. And the oddity of hyper secular dRumpf cosplaying an evangelical Christian to get votes, juxtaposed with here and there a handful of "conservative" Christians pushing back on the deprave cult currently pushing white Christian nationalism.

    Just weird thoughts spinning around in my mind. Thoughts?     

    • The Indian concept of yugas, or ages of humankind, are a major key to understanding human history. This is a good article that explains them. The author wrote a book about this, there are also many youtubes. I won't repeat what's in these links, I'll just summarize:

      There are four yugas or ages, from the lowest to highest: kali, dwapara, treta, and satya. They repeat every 24,000 years (it's tied to the procession of the equinox). Each age has distinct characteristics. 

      In the kali yuga, the lowest age, the world is understood only in material terms.

      Dwapara is the age of energy. Matter is understood to be energy (E=mc2). Space is abolished. Individuality is supreme. 

      Treta is the mental age. Crime disappears because everyone can read your mind. People use thought to alter physical reality

      Satya is the height, the spiritual age. People are closest to God

      We're currently a century or three into the dwapara yuga. Space has indeed been abolished – world travel is commonplace, and you can instantly communicate with anyone on the planet.

      The transition to Dwapara is one of the most dangerous times, because individuals have massively more power and nobody is safe. The world is radically smaller, causing great tensions among the formerly isolated, competing religions from the kali yuga. These necessarily will wither as people become more and more clear about how we're all one. It's one of the most exciting times to be alive.

      Much more I could write, but you should instead read or watch what the people in the links^ have provided. 

      • Thanks, Moonbat.  I will definitely take a look at those links. 

        Since were on a contemplative path here, I'd like to share a link with you.  It's not at the human cosmological level as what you've offered me, but it relates, I think, to the topic of authoritarian traits in human psychology, which we've talked about here on Maha's blog. A friend of mine recently passed along this opinion piece, and I find it interesting.  (My first try at an inline link… hope it works!)


        • Thanks for this link (it worked!). I think there's always been a tension between those dominated by intrinsic values vs those dominated by extrinsics, and the who-controls-society pendulum swings between them periodically.

          What concerns me are the genuinely religious (motivated by intrinsics) who are fooled into voting for the extrinsic-minded people. Trump waves a bible in the air (which he has never read) and these people follow along. 

          Besides having poor critical thinking skills (making them open to manipulative emotional appeals), they are oriented toward the past, and are fearful of the future.  Their genuine religiosity is grounded in ossified stories from the past, a past that is slipping away, and has to, because life only moves forward. Declaring the bible to be "The Word of God" is an example of this ossified thinking. It's for those who are too terrified or incapable of thinking for themselves. These people need to be talked down from the ledge.

    • Weird thoughts?  Count me in; I imagine the possibility that 1,000 years from now our descendants, while vacationing in a sunny Antarctica resort, will enjoy reading fantastic folklore tales about some guy named Jesus, incredulous and amused at the preposterous beliefs of their ancestors.  They themselves will forever have comfort and peace in knowing the one true god – Elvis.

    • I think his sights are fully locked on "Border, border, border!" and he's not inclined to pick up on anything new unless its something tawdry, but also maybe a sign he is a bit distracted with a few legal matters.

      • I would argue Stump is ignoring the slaughter in GAZA because it works for his reelection chances, Biden is bleeding support among his base over it. Stumps a moron but he knows when to avoid a situation that works for him as is.

        • Good point, he may eventually chime in with another "Only I can fix it! One phone call to my friend Bibi… (blah blah blah)" boast, if anything.

          • But also, regardless of the extent to which he is aware or pondering some mouth noise about it, I have no doubt the sick eff enjoys the suffering of others.

  4. I checked in on the news periodically today. At first, I thought nothing happened. For CNN, nothing did. Watching UTube, I see a few things did. Trump's ex-CFO who did 100 days at Rikers for business fraud for Trump is in the process of a plea deal for perjury – lying for Trump. One of the talking-heads lawyers pointed out this explains a two-week delay Engoron announced in the verdict. Engoron wants the receipts – exactly what lies and is there proof that the perjury was directed by Trump. Besides the cash penalty, there's the proposed ban on Trump or any of the kids from doing business in NY. The factual result and extent of Weiselberg's perjury (IMO) may be the final nail in a business ban for TFG. 

    A different talking head – I should pay attention to who – observed that the official delay of the J6 trial opens up the criminal trial in NY. I'd rather see the J6 trial but it's important to keep the pressure on Trump. He's not handling it well, so dial it up.

    Someone else observed that there was recently a meeting between Smith's team and Judge Bimbo in FL on the document case. Smith (properly) wants to limit what Trump lawyers can see and use in the trial. Trump's trying to blackmail (graymail they call it) the government into reducing charges. If they don't Trump's lawyers will spill national secrets that they say are "evidence" of Trump's innocence. Cannon can turn Smith down but if she does, that may give Smith cause to appeal and ask for Cannon to be replaced. If Cannon sees that trap, she has to remove that defense for Trump, and end the threat of spilling secrets, which was the only straw Trump had to eliminate the documents case. Cannon could still delay for Trump but if/when she rules for Trump on national secrets, she could be off the case.

    Last, it looks like Willis and Wade were pitching woo. (look it up.) However, Willis came out swinging. It's not illegal or unethical. There's no conflict of interest. The lawyer who presented the accusations against Wade was a huge supporter of Wade when he was running for something. The glowing reference is/was there on Twitter or whatever in 2016. A few years later, suddenly he's unqualified. But what does it say that a defendant is criticizing an "unqualified" prosecutor? That he wants a better-qualified prosecutor who can better secure a conviction? Willis may have nailed it – they are after her and Wade because they have a case. There may be no legitimate cause for a delay, much less a dismissal. That's gonna get a hearing on the 15th (I think.) 

    Last, (I know I said the previous para was last but I lied.) A month ago I read speculation that the USSC would play let's-make-a-deal if they had the 14th Amendment appeal at the same time they had the absolute immunity defense, striking down the ridiculous absolute immunity argument in exchange for invalidating the 14th Amendment (for Trump.) The pretense would be that it's "fair" because Trump lost one and won one. In fact, one has nothing to do with the other. But did the Appeals court decide to sit on the absolute immunity case until AFTER the 14th Amendment case so that the Justices will have to happer out one without the other?

    • I did look up "pitching woo", also "happer" (see, I read all the way to the end), was not familiar with either.  I confess to having pitched woo in my younger days a time or two, although I seem to recall it was much like Dr. Fauci's infamous ceremonial opening day pitch, at least there were few witnesses to my flubs. 

      Will be interesting to see if tRump or one of his minions tries any spin on Willis and Wade, he can't without the blatant hypocrisy being pointed out but that wouldn't stop him from trying, he just wants to make his points in the court of public opinion.  Maybe he has already, I don't know its hard to keep up.


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