Commentary: The Ides of February, and the legacy wall

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John Skippings is a former Director of Tourism and Chief Marketing Officer for the Turks and Caicos Tourist Board 1999-2003; and Tourism Marketing Consultant with the Montserrat Tourist Board 2004 – 2006. And has had a career in banking in The Bahamas and the US; he holds a Bachelor of Science in Public Administration from Southeastern University in Washington, DC. Email: [email protected]

By John Skippings

Question: Who is the speaker, to whom it is spoken and on what occasion?

“I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me, and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border. And I will have Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.”

Answer: Donald J. Trump. Now President Trump, following his descent by way of the escalator, located in his Trump Tower, for the purpose of announcing his candidacy to be president of the United States of America.

And more recently, President Trump, following his capitulation to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, re-opening the partially closed federal government – and pressure from various sources, such as airline personnel, air traffic controllers, and unpleasant and unacceptable living conditions of the many thousands of furloughed federal employees, made it known to all that:

“We really have no choice but to build a powerful wall or steel barrier. If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress, the government will either shut down on February 15th, or I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws and Constitution of the United States to address this emergency.”

After trying very hard to find some logical cause and effect between failing to secure finding from the congress to build a border wall, and 800,000 federal employees being put out to pasture, I found none. Assuming the move is retaliatory, it seems more logical that any punishment meted out, should be those with the power to make the border wall possible. Certainly not those, many paychecks to paycheck breadwinners, with the temporary ten percent tax cut.

Way back in Roman times, March 15th was known as the Ides of March; it was marked by various religious observances, and “was notable for the General as a deadline for settling debts”. (Wikipedia). It also happened to be the day, in 44 B.C. that Julius Caesar, a Roman politician and general, met his demise, in a conspiracy of senators, led by Cassius – according to Shakespeare in his tragedy play, Julius Caesar, “Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look, He thinks too much; such men are dangerous”; and two others by the name of Brutus – one known as Marcus Brutus, or Brutus the Younger a friend of Caesar, prompting Caesar to utter after being stabbed multiple times by him, “Et tu Brute?’ Or, you too Brutus?

February 15, 2019 A.D. is of course, quite a distance from March 15, 44 B.C.; and while whatever transpires between the president and his Republican Party, and Democrats Senate Minority Chuck Schumer and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and their party, could be earth shattering, it would be verbal, and with the use of pen and paper.

Earth shattering because President Trump is determined to stick with his constantly promised to his base, border wall between Mexico to the south, and the United States. Warns President Trump: “So let me be very clear, we really have no choice but to build a powerful wall or steel barrier. If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress, the government will either shut down on February 15 again or I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws in the Constitution of the United States to address this emergency. We will have great security and I want to thank you all very much. Thank you very much.”

And on the other side, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi considers what would turn out to be the president’s legacy wall – as like President Obama’s legacy Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare, providing healthcare to more than 20 million Americans — which “most of us, speaking for myself, consider … immoral, ineffective and expensive.”

Which of course, begs the question: would that all change between now and February 15th? Even if Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA), participants are given protection by the president? Would the wall then become moral, effective and inexpensive?

What we seem to have here, is an irresistible force against an immovable object. The results of which could either be mutual destruction, or chest-thumping and fist bumping on one side, and humiliation and shame on the other.

Other than the US, I know of no other country where its leaders render its government, or even just parts thereof, and that uses its employees as leverage for political “promises kept”. The nation’s constitution establishes the presidency, the congress and the judiciary as co-equal branches of the government. While it is left for the congress to pass bills, the president is not obligated to sign those bills into law. And if he, and seems like it could soon be a she, refuses to sign – or veto, those bills, he, or could be over-ruled by a two thirds majority of both houses of congress.

Neither is the congress obligated to agree with the president. Actually having an oversight function of the presidency, as has been the case during President Trump’s first two years in office, he has been unable to fulfill his campaign promise of a border wall. Congress, controller of the nation’s purse, is refusing to provide funding for the wall. However, just as the congress possesses the power to override the president’s veto, the president has certain executive powers, among them the power to declare an emergency, as he has threatened to do if he does not get funding from the congress to build the border great wall.

Come February 15th, if President Trump continues his push for the border wall, and should the Democrats in the House under the leadership of its leader, Nancy Pelosi maintain its stand to not provide funding for the wall, then the declaration of an emergency might be the only way to build the wall. “Might”, because there can and will be legal challenges by border wall opponents; which would almost certainly end up in the co-equal and independent United States Supreme Court, for a final outcome.

Let’s wait and see.

P.S. Just watched presidential candidate Kamala Harris being called African-American. As she herself has said, and like President Trump, she is an American. If anything, you might want to say, Indian-Jamaican American; and refer to President Trump as Scottish-German American. But why deny just being an American?

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