The Donald Chronicles, #30 – Feb. 26, 2017

*The biggest news of this weekend is the attempt by Trump’s White House to derail investigations into their pre-election connections with Russia, and Russia’s meddling with the election. First, they asked the FBI to downplay allegations of wrong-doing, and, second, twisted the arms of the Chairmen of the Senate and House committees charged with investigating the matter to do the same. Shades of Watergate and the “intelligence” on Saddam’s WMD. But this heavy-handed approach has already had the effect of bringing more, rather than less, attention to the subject, and will probably hasten the appointment of a Special Prosecutor or independent investigative body. The truth will likely out.

*Next biggest: The White House ordered the Dept. of Homeland Security’s intelligence service to investigate and issue a report showing that travel from the 7 banned countries constitutes a terrorist threat to the US. Did you get that? The White House asks for an investigation with a pre-determined conclusion! That’s backwards, isn’t it? Well … the report was written and concluded otherwise. The report was then suppressed (“spiked” to use Rachel Maddow’s term)… and then leaked to the Associated Press. It should be clear by now that there are leakers who are not going to let Trump to get away with anything, and thank goodness for that!

*From Salon

“West Texas says no: For many people along the border, Trump’s wall fantasy is a nightmare

People who actually live in the rugged, spectacular border country of West Texas largely oppose Trump’s wall


West Texas says no: For many people along the border, Trump's wall fantasy is a nightmare
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds a sign supporting his plan to build a wall between the United States and Mexico that he borrowed from a member of the audience at his campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina March 9, 2016. Trump was interrupted repeatedly by demonstrators during his rally. During his presidential campaign, one of Donald Trump’s biggest and most ridiculous promises was that he would build a Berlin Wall-style wall along the entire 1,900-mile border between Mexico and the United States. At various times, he has claimed that such a wall could be built “very inexpensively” and that it would be —depending on how grandiose his delusions were that day — 35 to 40 feet, 50 feet or even taller. Trump’s fans, the vast majority of whom live nowhere near the border, cheered wildly every time he said the word “wall,” drunk on their loathing of anyone born south of the Rio Grande. But for many people who grew up near the border, or live there now, the response to all this wall talk is more like “huh?” The West Texas region that borders the Mexican states of Chihuahua and Coahuila, which is where I lived from birth until I graduated high school, is geographically intimidating territory: mountainous desert that is hot, dry and desolate and so steep and treacherous in places that it’s frankly impossible to imagine building Trump’s “big, beautiful wall” there. Every time he has talked about it for the past year and a half, all it did for me was to drive home how little he knows about the region of the country he blithely wants to tear up in a fit of anti-immigrant hysteria. But don’t take my word for it, as I haven’t lived in the Chihuahuan Desert in two decades. Public officials who live in or represent the area are speaking out against Trump’s plans to wreak environmental havoc on the desert that they live in and love.

Brewster County, where I went to high school, has a population of less than 10,000 people spread out over 6,00o square miles, some of which overlaps with Big Bend National Park. Last week Brewster County commissioners unanimously voted for a resolution opposing Trump’s executive order to build the border wall. The resolution noted that “Brewster County’s economy is largely dependent on tourists, many of whom travel here to hike and camp at Big Bend National Park, and to visit the Republic of Mexico.” It went on to state that “the southern border of Brewster County is marked by the Rio Grande, and the adjacent desert terrain is treacherous, rocky and marked by canyons, and building a wall of any kind would be a burdensome, inconceivable expense if not nearly impossible.”

That language might sound hyperbolic to President Trump and the vast majority of Trump supporters who have never laid eyes on this region, but it’s no exaggeration. For instance, two of the biggest tourist spots in the Big Bend National Park are Santa Elena Canyon and Boquillas Canyon, both of which are along the border carved out by the Rio Grande. This is what they look like (Santa Elena Canyon):

Credit: Flickr/Ken Lund

Credit: Getty/Wildnerdpix

The Brewster County resolution framed the issue not just in liberal language about the environment and wildlife but in more conservative terms, as well, noting that “Texans value local control” and “many of those miles [along the border] are on private property.” “It not a good option for Brewster County,” Commissioner Betse Esparza, a Republican, told the Alpine Avalanche. “This is about a local issue and local control.” Neighboring Presidio County, whose population is 7,000, is seeing similar resistance to the idea of tearing up of desert landscape with an ugly concrete wall. The mayor of the city of Presidio, John Ferguson, released a statement in January that, like the Brewster County resolution, focused on the geographical ignorance that Trump has displayed with his wall demands. “In the Texas Big Bend and in the deserts of northern Mexico, the choice to make the journey northward has often been tempered by unforgiving heat, mountainous terrain, and an extreme lack of water,” Ferguson wrote. “Yet, many still choose to try and make it, but this portion of the border generally discourages large-scale movement of undocumented immigrants.” (He’s not joking about the heat. As I write this, the high temperature expected in Presidio — in the middle of February — is 89 degrees. In June and July, the average high temperature in the area is above 100 degrees, and annual rainfall is around 10 inches a year.) Ferguson went on to say that even if it were possible to build a wall along the river, one should still “consider the blight on the landscape a border wall would cause in Texas’ last frontier.” It would, for example, likely damage the Lajitas Resort, which “is built with the river and a breathtaking mountain backdrop as its essence.” Will Hurd, the Republican congressman who represents the 800-mile stretch from El Paso to San Antonio that encompasses this border region, has been one of the most forceful of the GOP opponents to Trump’s wall. “Building a wall is the most expensive and least effective way to secure the border,” Hurd said in a statement released in response to Trump’s executive order …

Trump’s proposed border wall is a crystalline example of how he draws his political ideas, not from reality, but from lurid reactionary fantasies fueled by race-baiting right-wing sites like Breitbart and Infowars (emphasis added). He clearly has no real conception of what life is actually like around the border, and neither do those who spread this kind of propaganda. There’s no indication that the president cares to learn the facts on this issue (or much of anything else). But the border region is a real place where real people live, and many of them believe that Trump’s fantasy border wall is a threat to their way of life.

Amanda Marcotte

Amanda Marcotte is a politics writer for Salon. She’s on Twitter @AmandaMarcotte

**I have spent a considerable amount of time running the Rio Grande of West Texas. A series of canyons begins at Presidio, on the west, continues along the length of Big Bend National Park, and ends south of Dryden, TX, on the east, a distance along the river of approx. 250 miles. The river upstream of Presidio traverses howling desert, as is the case downstream of Dryden, for a considerable distance.**


Click on photo for much better viewing!

Colorado Canyon is seen on the left (west), and the Lower Canyons on the right (east). In the middle is Big Bend National Park. The land represented on this map is some of the roughest terrain in the US.



About Evensteven

I am a photographer and author, and live in Embudo, New Mexico, alongside the Rio Grande. I have published a book of photography and accompanying text on running the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. The first (print) edition is out of print, but a second edition is available as an iBook (eBook) through the iTunes bookstore. All Grand Canyon, river and nature lovers will enjoy my book: The Grand: I have also published six additional iBooks: 1. The Salt River: 2. Coyote Buttes: 3. Four Cornered, the Land: 4. Four Cornered, The Rivers: 5. Rio Marañon: 6. Rio Grande:
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