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 on: August 19, 2017, 04:30:23 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from the Los Angeles Times....

In January, President Trump vowed to hire 5,000
new Border Patrol agents. It never happened.

By JOSEPH TANFANI | 4:10PM PDT - Friday, August 18, 2017

The border between Mexico, left, and the United States south of San Diego. — Photograph: Bill Wechter/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.
The border between Mexico, left, and the United States south of San Diego. — Photograph: Bill Wechter/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.

FIVE DAYS after President Trump took office, he signed an executive order that promised a swift, sharp crackdown on illegal immigration — immediate construction of a massive border wall, quick hiring of 5,000 new Border Patrol agents and stepped-up deportation of undocumented migrants.

“Beginning today, the United States of America gets back control of its borders,” Trump declared at the January 25th ceremony at the Department of Homeland Security, which controls federal immigration agencies.

Seven months later, construction of the wall has yet to begin, the number of Border Patrol officers has actually dropped by 220, and immigration agents are on track to deport 10,000 fewer people this year than in President Obama's last year in office, the latest figures show.

To be sure, part of Trump's crackdown is showing dramatic results. Illegal border crossings are down 22% compared with last summer. Arrests of people in the country illegally have surged 43% since January, including longtime residents who bought homes, paid taxes and raised families here.

The sharpest increase in arrests was of undocumented migrants without criminal convictions — 24,189 under Trump, nearly three times as many as Obama in the first seven months of last year.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say the slower pace in deportations — from 240,000 last fiscal year to an expected 230,000 this year — is misleading. Sarah Rodriguez, an ICE spokeswoman, attributed the shift to fewer people being caught and sent back at the border. Removals from inside the country have surged.

But other pledges that Trump made the keystone of his campaign have stalled, or even slid backward, a reflection of the gap between his broad promises and the practical reality of remaking the government's vast immigration enforcement apparatus.

The challenges are especially steep at the long-troubled Border Patrol, the nation's largest law enforcement agency. Operating from boats, planes, cars and horses, the green-uniformed Border Patrol officers hold the front line to secure the 2,000-mile Southwest border.

After the terrorist attacks of 2001, Congress doubled the size of the Border Patrol to more than 20,000 to enhance border security. But hampered by poor morale, hiring problems and high attrition, as well as rampant corruption, the agency hasn't met that goal since 2013.

Staffing has drifted downward since 2010, and the agency now has about 2,000 vacancies — with 220 fewer agents than when Trump took office, records show.

More importantly, based on current attrition and hiring rates, the agency would need to screen about 750,000 applicants to meet Trump's goal of hiring 5,000 qualified agents, according to a July report by the inspector general at the Department of Homeland Security.

“They're going to have a tough time because they hardly have anyone in the pipeline right now,” said Victor M. Manjarrez Jr., a retired Border Patrol supervisor who studies border issues at the University of Texas at El Paso. “They don't even have enough to cover attrition.”

Linda Jacksta, an assistant commissioner in charge of human resources at Customs and Border Protection, parent agency of the Border Patrol, said officials are determined to reverse that slide. But she said they probably won't do so before 2018.

The Border Patrol now has a goal of hiring 500 officers next year, she said, and is trying to recruit former military and law enforcement officers to join the ranks.

“It's a corner that we have been trying to turn for the past two years,” Jacksta said. The low hiring numbers this year “doesn't really reflect where we're headed,” she added.

Getting there won't be easy. Most applicants wash out in a gauntlet of screening reviews and tests — drug tests, fitness tests, a background criminal investigation and a polygraph test.

One reason: Drug traffickers have repeatedly bribed or otherwise compromised Border Patrol officers. More than 170 officers have been arrested and convicted of corruption in recent years, including some caught working for the Mexican drug cartels they were supposed to be fighting.

Many of the agency's hiring troubles are of their own making, according to a series of stinging internal audit reports that describe a hiring process mired in inefficiency.

Another inspector general's report in July found that the agency spent more than $5 million giving polygraph tests to applicants who had already admitted in their job interviews to crimes or other conduct that disqualified them.

“For example, applicants admitted to illegal drug use, drug smuggling, human trafficking and to having close personal relationships with people who commit these crimes,” said an inspector general's report on August 4th.

One applicant admitted to participating in the gang rape of an unconscious and intoxicated woman, but the examiner went ahead with a five-hour polygraph exam anyway, the report said.

The government's requirement that each applicant pass a polygraph test also has long hindered hiring at the Border Patrol. In recent years, more than 70% of applicants flunked the lie detector test.

Former agency leaders say the tests weren't done properly, producing failure rates far higher than at other law enforcement agencies.

In response, both the House and Senate recently passed bills to allow the agency to skip the test for some applicants, including former police officers or members of the military.

Some present and former agency officials think that's a bad idea. During the last hiring surge, in the mid-2000s, the agency had trouble maintaining hiring standards and corruption soared.

“If we had our druthers we would have hired slower,” said David Aguilar, a retired Border Patrol chief. “We were using literally every background investigator who could conduct investigations, and that was still not enough. It was a very hairy time.”

In Texas, one agent was arrested with his brothers and charged with killing and beheading a man on the orders of the Sinaloa drug cartel. He was acquitted of murder in January but convicted of working for the drug organization.

“When you have cases like that, what happens is it causes you to be a lot more cautious in what you're doing,” said Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, the union representing agents. “You don't want to make the same mistakes and let the same people in.”

A bigger problem may be keeping up with people leaving.

In a 2016 survey of job satisfaction in federal agencies, Customs and Border Protection ranked 291 out of 305 agencies, even with a slight improvement in the scores. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the group that handles deportations, came in at 299.

“We're putting a burden on the taxpayers that is exponential because of this continual hiring,” Judd said, adding that it costs about $100,000 to hire and train an agent.

“When we lose that agent, that's just $100,000 down the drain that we're going to have to spend again,” he said.

Jacksta said that the attrition rate has dropped in the last two years and that other trends are moving in the right direction. The average time to hire an agent was once 469 days, she said, leading many to just bail out and get new jobs.

She said that's been cut to about 160 days. The agency has seen an increase in applicants and lower rates of people dropping out or flunking the tests, she said.

Trump's promised border wall, still a staple applause line at his political rallies, has become a headache for the administration.

He not only failed in his attempts to persuade Mexico to pay for the wall, as he repeatedly vowed. Trump's request to Congress for $1.6 billion to start construction of 74 miles of barrier wall passed the House in a defense bill but probably will be stripped out or trimmed back in the Senate.

And the bulk of the massive project has been hung up in routine federal contracting delays, the kind of problems Trump said would be history as soon as he brought his experience as a real estate developer and negotiator to the White House.

Customs and Border Protection had plans for contractors to begin putting up prototypes in San Diego this summer. But the plans have been put on hold until at least November because of protest from other bidders.

Trump, at least in public, isn't deterred. “Our borders are far tougher than ever before!” he said on Twitter on Friday.

• Joseph Tanfani covers the Justice Department and Homeland Security for the Los Angeles Times in in the Washington, D.C., bureau. Before joining the L.A. Times in 2012, he worked at the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he was a reporter and investigations editor, and at the Miami Herald, the Press of Atlantic City and the Williamsport Sun-Gazette.


 on: August 19, 2017, 03:32:21 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Donald
ktj...."merely the latest piece of proof that this is absolutely 100% gospel fact & truth!"

...yes...I agree...David Horsey is a demented leftist fuckwit😉

 on: August 19, 2017, 03:05:27 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

....Donald Trump is merely the latest piece of proof that this is absolutely 100% gospel fact & truth!

from the Los Angeles Times....

Is Trump ignorant of America's darker history, or is he part of it?

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PDT - Friday, August 18, 2017

This David Horsey cartoon from April 2014 has gained greater relevance in the wake of violent clashes between neo-Nazis and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia.
This David Horsey cartoon from April 2014 has gained greater relevance in the wake of violent clashes between neo-Nazis
and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia.

ON the night of February 20th, 1939, 20,000 Nazi sympathizers gathered at a “Pro-America Rally” inside Madison Square Garden in New York City. They proclaimed George Washington the “first fascist” and mocked the man who was then president as “Franklin D. Rosenfeld”. They characterized his New Deal as a “Jew Deal”.

Outside the hall, 80,000 anti-fascist protesters gathered. Some fought with police while trying to get inside the Garden to shut down the Nazi event. I suppose someone might have said that there was hatred and violence on both sides, as President Trump said of the confrontation last weekend between neo-Nazis and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, but history shows us which side was right and which was wrong.

Most Americans are poorly educated about their country's past, and the current president appears to be especially ignorant. Does Trump know that in the 1930s, thousands of Adolph Hitler's American admirers were politically active throughout the country? Has he heard of the Silver Legion of America, an anti-Semitic, white supremacist group that ran William Dudley Pelley for president on a third-party ticket in 1936?

Has Trump seen the photographs showing tens of thousands of white-robed Ku Klux Klan members marching down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington in 1925 and again in 1926? Can he recognize the names Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney? Does he know they were young civil rights workers who were killed by the KKK in 1964 because they were helping black Americans register to vote?

Dark forces have tried to control our society since the country's inception. Racists, anti-Semites and anti-immigrant bigots have always been among us. Sometimes they have been on the fringes; other times, they have held power in many states and in Congress. The reason new manifestations of these dreadful philosophies need to be resisted is that they are never completely defeated, and, if not opposed, they can gain in popularity and power.

Here's the disturbing question that now faces us: Is President Trump simply ignorant of this darker history, or is he fully aware and eager to be part of it?


 on: August 19, 2017, 08:32:29 am 
Started by Donald - Last post by Donald

Troughers by any other name still smell as rancid

Ratepayers should not be paying councillors for one job while they are out campaigning for another, says the Taxpayers’ Union. At least four candidates in the three main centres are still enjoying salaries over $90,000 while they campaign for seats in Parliament. The Taxpayers’ Union is calling on them to follow the lead of Lawrence Yule and Adrienne Pierce, who have stepped down from their locally elected positions in the lead up to the general election.

It’s now a well established practice.  Auckland Mayor Pill Goff did it the other way around by drawing his $160k+ salary as an MP while running full time to be Mayor of Auckland. 

Who are these well-practiced troughers looking for a deeper through?

Wellington City Council has two elected members running for Parliament – Deputy Mayor Paul Eagle is running for Labour in Rongotai, and is drawing on a salary of $111,000. Cr Andy Foster is running in Wellington Central for NZ First, while also continuing to receive a a salary of $91,000.

In Auckland, Cr Denise Lee is running for the National Party in Maungakiekie whilst drawing on a salary of $107,599.

In Christchurch, Cr Raf Manji is contesting the Ilam seat [as an independent] whilst on a $102k salary.

“In the three centres alone ratepayers are up for more than a hundred thousands dollars paying for councillors who are away campaigning in the election regulated period,” says Mr Williams. “At a minimum all four should be on unpaid leave.”

It isn’t just common sense, it is common decency.

But then there aren’t a lot of politicians that know what decency is.

The Remuneration Authority has given MPs a nearly 2.5 percent pay rise. The pay rise is backdated to July this year, and takes an ordinary backbench MP’s salary to $160,024 – a rise of nearly $4000.   Nov 8, 2016

They do, without exception, know what a bigger trough looks like.

C slater

 on: August 19, 2017, 08:15:20 am 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Donald
Ktj...."Kelly has transformed the West Wing from a political Grand Central Station — with aides and hangers-on cycling through the Oval Office"

...yes....a great team....glad you agree😉

 on: August 19, 2017, 08:11:24 am 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Donald
Ktj....."Yep....Donald Trump is the best thing ever to happen to the world"

....good to see you have come to your senses.....long may it continue😉

 on: August 18, 2017, 11:51:02 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by aDjUsToR
Trump isn't racist. It's weird how braindead the loony left are on this issue.

 on: August 18, 2017, 11:46:29 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by aDjUsToR
What did you do with yourself while Bazza O was on the throne?  😁

 on: August 18, 2017, 10:23:17 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

I think it's really good that the Republicans control both Congress and the Senate, yet because of their infighting and a narcissistic, moronic, fascist president, they are all-but paralysed and cannot even pass any of the big-ticket items of legislation.

China will be laughing as they become the world's new superpower to replace the stupid Americans.

Yep....Donald Trump is the best thing ever to happen to the world....he is trashing America.

 on: August 18, 2017, 10:20:19 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from the Los Angeles Times....

With Trump and Congress increasingly at odds,
hopes for Republican legislative agenda fade

By LISA MASCARO | 3:40PM PDT - Thursday, August 17, 2017

In February, when President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell shook hands during a White House ceremony, they had high hopes for their legislative agenda. — Photograph: Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press.
In February, when President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell shook hands during a White House ceremony,
they had high hopes for their legislative agenda. — Photograph: Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press.

REPUBLICANS in Congress have tried to stick with President Trump in hopes that despite politically damaging outbursts from the White House, his pen would ultimately be able to sign their legislative agenda into law.

But in the aftermath of Trump's controversial response to the neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that promise seems ever more distant.

Congressional Republicans are now coming to grips with the reality that they are increasingly on their own, unable to rely on the president to helm their party, but without having powerful enough congressional leaders to bring bickering factions together.

That has dimmed prospects of passing big-ticket items such as tax reform, an infrastructure package or a new healthcare law.

At best, when lawmakers return to work next month, they hope to agree to keep the government funded past the end of the fiscal year on September 30th and not provoke a financial crisis with a prolonged standoff over raising the limit on federal debt, which the government will hit sometime in early October.

"The president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful,” Senator Bob Corker (Republican-Tennessee) told reporters on Thursday after a meeting at the Chattanooga Rotary Club.

“I do think there need to be some radical changes," Corker said. “We need for him to be successful.”

The latest Trump outbursts solidified the gloomy assessment from many Republicans.

“It codified it: This administration has no hope of accomplishing any major policy goals,” said longtime Republican strategist Rick Tyler, a former top advisor to Newt Gingrich and to Senator Ted Cruz's presidential bid.

“We don't have to wonder about it. It's like driving your car past empty — the motor's going to stop, and it's not going to go forward anymore,” Tyler said. “These are the laws of physics, and legislation's very much the same."

Trump has emerged less a partner to the Republican majority in Congress than an unpredictable bystander, welcoming lawmakers to lunch one day, bashing them on Twitter the next.

Several senators got the latest taste of that on Thursday, when Trump swiftly turned on them after they critiqued his response to the neo-Nazi demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Trump attacked both Senators Lindsey Graham (Republican-South Carolina) and Jeff Flake (Republican-Arizona) on Twitter during Thursday morning — assigning a derisive nickname, “Flake Jeff Flake”, to the Arizonan and praising one of the candidates lining up to run against him, Kelli Ward, a former state senator who last month predicted that John McCain, the state's senior senator who is being treated for cancer, would die soon and said that she should be appointed to replace him.

The praise for Ward marked an extremely rare presidential intervention into a primary against an incumbent of his own party — a move almost certain to increase tensions.

Graham's response was swift.

“You are now receiving praise from some of the most racist and hate-filled individuals and groups in our country,” Graham tweeted, referring to the congratulatory messages Trump received from former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.

“For the sake of our Nation — as our President — please fix this. History is watching us all.”

Rank-and-file Republicans, and other party leaders, are less likely to be as sharply critical. Many remain hopeful Trump — or his legislative team members, who are close to Vice President Mike Pence — can still help push parts of their agenda to passage.

But the payoff Republicans counted on when they backed Trump for president — large-scale legislative victories with GOP control of the House, Senate and the White House — has not happened.

Trump has blamed Congress. He said the collapse last month of Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act was the fault of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Republican-Kentucky) and other Senate Republicans. He lashed out several times at McCain for his no vote.

But Republican lawmakers and their staffs say the president's own performance was lacking. Trump's shifting views on the legislation and his unwillingness or inability to convince lawmakers — and the public — to rally around a preferred option was as much, if not more, to blame, they say.

A similar dynamic is unfolding on a tax overhaul bill. Republicans in the House and Senate are struggling to draft legislation that can meet the demands of both conservative and centrist Republicans. Trump has said taxes are a top priority, but has made no effort so far to sell the public on a proposal.

On Wednesday, he was supposed to tout his infrastructure plans, but instead, blotted out any discussion of that topic by his defense of the marchers in Charlottesville, who, he said, included many “very fine people”.

On Thursday, the White House said that plans to form a White House advisory council on infrastructure were being shelved.

Presidents and congressional leaders always have some tensions. But the current rift is extreme. To make things harder for Republicans, McConnell and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Republican-Wisconsin) have not shown they are able to muscle through their priorities as effectively as the Democratic leaders, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco and Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, did during the opening period of the Obama administration.

Trump's 30% approval rating isn't helping either. It leaves the president without the political capital he needs to move Congress to action.

“When the country's on board, the Congress moves. That's the way it works. It's not a mystery,” said Tyler.

Despite their unhappiness, however, the Republican Congress is unlikely to take the sort of action against Trump that Democrats and outside groups on the left are demanding, such as a resolution to censure the president for his statements.

“There's an imperative right now in the country to make clear Trump is not speaking for the country when he defended Nazis and supremacists,” said Jesse Ferguson, a former top aide to Democrat Hillary Clinton. “The only way to do that is to have the co-equal branch of government say it.”

But even with Trump's sagging approval nationwide, the president remains popular in many states and congressional districts that elected Republicans to Congress. Lawmakers remain reluctant to put themselves crosswise with voters many will need in next year's mid-term elections.

Moreover, Republicans in Congress know that for better or worse, their political fates are hitched to Trump's popularity, which stems in part from his disruptive and racially tinged tone. That hitch was fixed in place last year when GOP lawmakers rallied around Trump as their nominee for president.

Doug Heye, a former spokesman for the Republican National Committee and GOP leadership in Congress who opposed Trump for president, said that dynamic isn't likely to go away.

“As long as Trump remains popular with their primary voters,” he said, “I don't see things changing.”

• Lisa Mascaro covers Congress in Washington, D.C. for the Los Angeles Times. She writes about U.S. policy, economics and political culture. A Los Angeles-area native, she has reported across Southern California, edited, traveled the States and worked in Texas. While the Washington correspondent for the Las Vegas Sun, she contributed as the paper won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. An economics and political science graduate of UC Santa Barbara, she also studied in Budapest, Hungary.


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