Another Brick in the Wall
January 8, 2019

The White House began a campaign Monday to pressure lawmakers into funding President Trump's border wall by arguing that there's a "crisis" on the U.S.-Mexico border that is serious enough to warrant a constitutionally dubious exercise of presidential emergency authority. Trump himself will make his case in a prime-time address from the Oval Office on Tuesday night, and then he will travel to the border city of McAllen, Texas, on Thursday.

Conservative provocateur Ann Coulter, a longtime booster of Trump's proposed wall and one of the pundits credited with convincing him to shut down the government over it, was on board with Trump giving "a serious Oval Office speech explaining why a Wall is the only compassionate solution." But she was less impressed with Thursday's presidential excursion.

It's not clear if Trump personally saw Coulter's tweetstorm, as he unfollowed her after her last blast at his wall tactics. Peter Weber

December 21, 2018

GoFundMe users are throwing around lots of cash on increasingly ridiculous border wall-related campaigns.

It all started on Sunday when Brian Kolfage launched a page on the crowdfunding platform calling for Trump supporters to bypass Congress and just raise money to build Trump's wall themselves. The goal? Oh, just $1 billion. In less than a week, more than $12.6 million has been raised, with one big-spending user apparently donating $50,000.

Since that campaign started to gain traction, two competing pages have popped up, including one looking to raise $100 million to provide migrants with ladders to get over the wall. It launched Wednesday and has raised more than $89,000. But ladders might not even be required if another GoFundMe page is successful: User Luke O'Neil is looking to raise $200 million to build — wait for it — a "series of giant escalators" over the wall.

If this all sounds too ridiculous to be true, that's because it is. Both pages are fairly tongue-in-cheek and specify that the funds raised will actually go toward a nonprofit group that provides education and legal services to refugees and immigrants.

As for the millions being raised on the original GoFundMe page to pay for the wall (which President Trump repeatedly promised would be paid for by Mexico), any money donated to the U.S. government actually just goes into a fund for "general use" and wouldn't be designated for any particular purpose, Business Insider reports, although the page's founder insists he has an in with the White House to get around that, per NBC News. More than likely, all the people who have donated to this campaign would just be giving the federal government free cash to use on anything but building a wall, which would cost about 21 times the page's goal ridiculously lofty goal anyway. Brendan Morrow

March 12, 2018

In an interview on 60 Minutes broadcast Sunday night, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said arming "capable" teachers "should be an option for states and communities to consider," insisted there is a "sense of urgency" in the school shootings task force she will chair, seemed to equate false rape and sexual assault accusations at colleges with actual rapes and sexual assaults, and said she's "not so sure exactly" why she is — as interviewer Lesley Stahl put it — President Trump's "most hated Cabinet secretary," the only one protected by a squad of U.S. Marshals. "I think there are a lot of really powerful forces allied against change," DeVos said.

But DeVos' big passion is "school choice," and she struggled to answer Stahl's questions about how shifting taxpayer dollars to private, parochial, and charter schools is working out in practice. When Stahl challenged DeVos' claim that "we have seen zero results" from federal investment in public schools, she said "test scores vis-à-vis the rest of the world have not gone up," even though they've gone up for 25 years in the U.S. DeVos pointed to a positive study of school choice in Florida, and Stahl asked about Michigan, DeVos' home state.

DeVos said "there are certainly lots of pockets where ... the students are doing well" in Michigan, and Stahl pushed back: "No, but your argument that if you take funds away, that the schools will get better, is not working in Michigan, where you had a huge impact and influence over the direction of the school system here. ... The public schools here are doing worse than they did." She asked if DeVos has "seen the really bad schools" to "figure out what they're doing," and DeVos said, "I have not intentionally visited schools that are underperforming." "Maybe you should," Stahl said. DeVos agreed. Peter Weber

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