"What did you do in the war, Daddy?"
"I was in an Army platoon on the front lines, stringing bands of concertina wire along the border."
"Concertina? Were you in the military band?"
"No, no, not a concert. Concertina wire is razor wire, very sharp and painful. It keeps people out — or in."
"Migrants from Central America, thousands of them coming to the U.S.A."
"Why are they coming here, Daddy?"
"Because they are fleeing gang wars, hunger, persecution, rape and murder back home. They're desperately poor, mostly women and children, seeking safety by walking hundreds of miles to our land of the free."
"So why is the U.S. Army needed? Don't we have Border Patrol and customs agents, state and local police, National Guard troops? And couldn't a few local contractors handle putting some wire around border bridges without deploying 6,000 active-duty troops and tons of equipment, costing taxpayers about $210 million?"
"Stop making sense."
"But it doesn't make sense."
"It doesn't have to if you're President Trump. The congressional elections were coming up, and he needed to scare people into voting for his party, so he used the Army as his political prop. We soldiers know this, but it's not our job to tell the commander in chief how to deploy America's fighting forces. So we've spent the whole holiday season down on the border idly stringing concertina wire. Now, with the election over and no border "crisis" having occurred, we're being sent out to take down some of the wire."
But don't think the commander in chief is unappreciative of our soldiers' work on his behalf. While he has not thanked the troops doing concertina duty, he did take a brief moment during his two-week Thanksgiving getaway at his opulent Mar-a-Lago golf resort to issue best holiday wishes to all the military members he's got deployed around the globe. Afterward, he told reporters, "Nobody's done more for the military than me."
Instead of the rule of law, the Trumpistas prefer to rule by fear.
"An invasion," screeches The Donald. "A national emergency! The caravan is coming!" he clucks excitedly. "Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners" are pouring across our Mexican border, he wails. "Build that wall!" Whew. Chicken Little could take fearmongering lessons from this guy.
So, in the name of protecting us from an apocalypse that exists only in his own head, Trump has misused our nation's army, autocratically suspended America's asylum laws, allowed border agents to tear-gas migrant mothers and children, separated thousands of children from their parents, cruelly incarcerated toddlers in tent camps miles from their families, created chaos in our immigration court system and vaingloriously proclaimed that he'll shut down our government unless we taxpayers fork over $5 billion to start building the ludicrous Great Wall of Trump in his honor.
Aside from the fact that there is no "crisis" of asylum seekers overrunning our border, is there anything a real president might do about the increased flow of families desperately fleeing Central America? Yes!
For example, instead of mindlessly sending troops to the border, move in a battalion of extra immigration judges and customs officers to quickly adjudicate the swelling backlog of asylum cases. Greatly expand U.S. support for international refugee programs in Central America and Mexico so that asylum claims can be processed without mass migrations to the U.S. Aggressively support domestic groups trying to stop the vicious forces pushing the poor and middle class to flee Central America, including gang violence, human trafficking, police repression, government corruption and the predatory practices of our own corporations.
But that would require a competent leader in the White House — not a peevish president who stamps his tiny feet and throws a Trump tantrum in a pathetic attempt to get his way.
Populist author, public speaker and radio commentator Jim Hightower writes "The Hightower Lowdown," a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America's ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at HightowerLowdown.org.