On the EDge: Looney Tunes on the border

Stock image, St. George News

OPINION — The best part of Saturday morning cartoons used to be watching the hapless Wile E. Coyote chase the speedy Road Runner across the desert.

There was no dialog to these Looney Tunes classics, just a never-ending supply of tools – from cannons and jet-powered roller skates to catapults and a multitude of high-powered explosives the coyote would purchase from Acme, a precursor to Amazon.com no doubt, to land his prey.

It didn’t work, of course, as the roadrunner would inevitably find a way to outrun, outwit and outmaneuver the coyote with predictably hysterical results.

The events taking place at the Mexican border these days are nothing short of a modern-day version of those Looney Tunes classics, with the hapless coyote repeatedly coming up empty-handed.

Concertina wire, the stuff they used extensively since it was first strung as a nasty barrier between sides during World War I, is stacked in a number of key, high-visibility places along the border between the United States and Mexico.

It’s unsightly, to be sure as anybody who has seen the stacks sent to a few crossings would attest.

It’s not terribly productive, but when the 5,200 active duty military troops and 2,000 National Guard soldiers were deployed to the work the border, their mission was primarily to string the wire atop the existing walls and crossings. They really could not do much else because of the Posse Comitatus Act, a 19th-century federal law that restricts them from participating in law enforcement activities, which limits their scope at the border.

Under the law, the troops may not detain immigrants, seize drugs from smugglers or have any direct involvement or contact with civilians, including undocumented immigrants or those seeking asylum.

So, for the most part, the troops sent to the border have been kept busy repairing Border Patrol vehicles, flying reconnaissance missions, placing concrete barriers and installing concertina wire atop a few of the existing walls that separate the two nations. It’s a far cry from the hollow threat behind their deployment to keep out the rabble.

“I see it as a political stunt and a waste of military resources and a waste of tax dollars,” former Customs and Border Protection commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske told Military Times at the time of the deployment. “To use active-duty military and put them in that role, I think, is a huge mistake.”

He went on to call it “nothing more than pandering to the midterm elections by the president.”

It’s all good optics, of course, something set in place just before the elections to up the ante for the anti-migrant candidates trying to ride the administration’s coattails.

But, it has been about as effective as Wile E. Coyote and his jet-powered roller skates.

If you have been near the border recently, you have seen the piles of concertina wire. It’s all there, out in the open for show purposes. However, it looks a lot more imposing than it really is, as evidenced by videos of a man who, a couple hours after the barrier was erected near the border near Yuma simply showed up with some wire cutters, snipped it and walked through to the U.S. side.

As far as a dressing at the top of the existing walls, and there are plenty of them at the border crossings, all the concertina wire does is slow down anybody bold enough to climb the wall with a pair of snips available at just about any hardware store. You see, Acme supplies Mexico with tools as well.

Nobody, really, expected a few strands of concertina wire to solve the border dilemma. In fact, when troops were originally deployed to California, Arizona and Texas, they had a meager 22 miles of the wire to shore up the border.

At the time, military officials said they only had a total of 150 miles of wire available, anyway, hardly enough to span the 1,950 miles that spans the border from the Pacific Ocean to the Rio Grande. Not much, but it looked good on Fox News and gave the talking heads on right-wing radio something to thump their chests about.

How effective the effort has been remains to be seen.

I do know it is an expensive proposition that will cost taxpayers at least $210 million.

I do know that this border wall nonsense has severely put an edge on the already tenuous relationship between the United States and its southern neighbor.

I also know that it has proven to be a major problem for the many people who make their way to Mexico, whether as vacationers, snowbirds or family members traveling back and forth for visits.

The coyote could be in trouble, however, as the money supply will probably dry up in the new year.

A Democratic House is unlikely to give the administration much funding for more razor wire let alone a wall, and it will likely question why we have military troops that have no legal authority stationed on the border.

Besides, the new year will bring much higher priorities to the table, which we are learning daily as more of the Mueller investigation surfaces.

You can be sure that the optics of all this will continue to grow, but they will be merely a news cycle diversion to snatch headlines from the mounting legal problems of the administration, much as the Bush-Cheney White House used elevated terrorist threat level alerts to duck when things got a bit dicey when the search for weapons of mass destruction came up empty.

And, what better way to divert than to keep tabs on the Looney Tunes as they chase that roadrunner over the horizon?

Beep, beep!

No bad days!

Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist for St. George News. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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  • Kilroywashere December 18, 2018 at 4:30 pm

    I do remember Ed a character called Speedy Gonzalez. He had a sidekick, but political correctness has left him buried in the annals of Saturday morning cartoon history. While liberal mainstream media has moved on, Tijuana, a city I know well, as I used to work in the Malquilla district for 1 week out of every month back in the day for a Tyco subsidiary, is now under siege by the caravan stuck on the Mexican side. Do a little homework, watching CNN & MSNBC wont cut it, and see what is happening with crime and the frustration of the local Mexican Citizens… I agree the military was more optics then results, but in the end a solid well built border wall with a high tech backup fire wall, would do the trick. Tunnels have their limits. See Israel as an example. And by the way who’s faster, the road runner or speedy Gonzalez? Here’s my new meme for 2019. Build a wall, and back the rule of law. If US Seals can’t get over the current prototype, then maybe Dr Wily E Coyote wont need Acme inc. in the end analysis. If America had the political will, we could do it tomorrow. Legal immigration is not an impossibility, but you are right, 2019 brings chaos. The financial markets are feeling the pain now. But hey, maybe the Fed wont hike. By the way, loved the looney toon metaphor, and interesting article to say the least.

  • Redbud December 18, 2018 at 4:51 pm

    If I were president, I would not only build a wall, but I would install high-tech acoustic weapons, rocket launchers, ballistic missiles, motion sensors, radar tracking, and remote operated sniper rifles. I’d make them think twice before attempting a border crossing!

    • iceplant December 18, 2018 at 5:52 pm

      Thankfully, nobody like you will EVER be president. Trump can’t even get his own party to side with him on building a wall.
      What makes you think your Hunger Games version of a wall would even fly? It wouldn’t.
      Keep trolling, comrade.

    • Comment December 18, 2018 at 8:45 pm

      “I would install high-tech acoustic weapons, rocket launchers, ballistic missiles, motion sensors, radar tracking, and remote operated sniper rifles.”

      12 year old child troll confirmed.

      • bikeandfish December 18, 2018 at 9:20 pm

        I actually agree with you here. You know someone has been watching too many action movies when they state we should use “ballistic missiles, motion sensors, radar tracking, and remote operated sniper rifles” on illegal immigrants. But hey, ICE should do it and then setup Mark Wallberg for the attempted murder of the president as well.

        • Redbud December 18, 2018 at 10:49 pm

          Bikeandfish, perhaps we can hire Elon Musk to use his boring machines to create a secret hyperloop tunnel from Mexico, to the inside of your garage. You can single-handedly solve the problem by housing all the illegals since you have a fantasy of being smarter than Trump.

  • Carpe Diem December 18, 2018 at 5:04 pm

    Wile E. Coyote is Mueller and Trump is the Road Runner. Beep Beep!

  • Carpe Diem December 18, 2018 at 6:01 pm

    We could always do to them as they do to us, feed them food that makes them vomit and gives them diarrhea for 3 days. Then have the cops shake them down. Seems fair enough.

    • Kilroywashere December 18, 2018 at 6:56 pm

      Actually, I think at this point Mexico wants the wall built as well. Ask the mayor of TJ. They are under siege. Make Honduras & El Salvador Great again. Can we all agree to that? Legal immigration is an American tradition. Illegal immigration is not. Rule of law is what makes our country great. Lose that, lose the Country that many have sacraficed their lives so we can live in freedom. We are not a dumping ground for third world despotic governments where rule of law is non existent. Nor to increase the voter base of the Democratic party either.

      • Carpe Diem December 19, 2018 at 8:14 am

        What’s funny is to watch Obama, Clinton Bill, Clinton Hill, and Schumer as they made their speeches a short few years ago denouncing the never ending river of illegal aliens. So weird to see them flip flop like fools making out that we “need” these lawless fellas infesting the land.

  • Real Life December 18, 2018 at 6:31 pm

    How ironic that you say Looney Tunes had no “dialog”, when you offer no solution whatsoever in any of your dialogue about the onslaught of ILLEGALS, and yes Ed, they are just that. The laws that restrict OUR servicemen from protecting the border are outdated and need to be changed. If a wall is not the answer, then what is? Land mines? Gun turrets? A complete border shut down? I don’t know the answer, but I can assure you that open borders do not work when your neighbors to the South are dying to get in. Just ask Europe.

    • tcrider December 18, 2018 at 7:54 pm

      It sounds like you are the one that wants gun turrets and complete shut borders, but that is not what our country is about, unless you are a member of the white nationalist or bundy weirdo bunch.
      In this country you can get a college degree maybe and write whatever you want and even get a regular column in different news sources, if you don’t like it and want shut down borders and have gun turrets, you can always move to your buddies best friends country, yep ussr , the country that your hero pos potus .
      In the mean time, I think Ed writes excellent articles.

      • Kilroywashere December 18, 2018 at 9:07 pm

        Here’s the deal T Cider, Real Life can defend himself, but WHY CANT WE SIMPLY HAVE RULE OF LAW.? Legal immigrants do the right thing and go through the process. Why reward illegal immigration? Your first step is ignoring the rule of law as a right of passage to entering this country under the current paradigm of chaos.. Sorry, bad excuse for somebody striving to be an American. Let’s all agree, legal immigration is what America is about. The Ocasio Cortez s’ of the world think rule of law is irrelevant. That is their choice, but in no way does it reflect American values that many have dedended over, and died for. over the last two centuries. Otherwise open up the entire planet, pledge allegiance to the United Nations, and everybody can live where they want. You never know, you might end up as the French during WW2 under Nazi rule. But hey, you can always join the Vichy government. Rule of law is and has always been the answer.

      • AnotherReader December 18, 2018 at 9:27 pm

        @TCrider, so you have no problem with just anyone and everyone coming here illegally? That is what our country is about? I can’t answer for any white nationalists, but I do know that most people I know have no problem with legal immigration to this country (from whatever country they come from) so your accusation of racism is a blatant fabrication to suit your needs. It is illegal immigration that many people find an issue. If you are so anxious and willing to open our doors to anyone, because that is who we are, do you offer that same invitation personally? Do you leave your front door unlocked an open so that anyone is welcome? I clearly know the answer to that; you do not. So your argument on the national scale is hypocritical. What you may do is open your door to those in need (a very generous thing to do), but YOU make the offer, you don’t just let them wander in. Why would you see or treat the issue nationally any differently?

      • Redbud December 18, 2018 at 9:31 pm

        Tcrider, you’re right that’s not what this country is about. We have a process by which people outside the country can apply for citizenship, and legally enter the country. People who don’t follow this get taken care of by the turrets, so no one enters illegally. It’s a win-win for everybody!

  • Comment December 18, 2018 at 8:55 pm

    The illegals are here because they are hired by businesses and companies owned by american citizens. If there were to be a serious crackdown on those who hire illegals we actually would start seeing illegals “self deport”, and the silly wall would not even be needed. Illegals are good for business–plentiful and nearly unlimited supplies of cheap labor that drive wages down. That’s why we see them coddled by dems and repubs alike.

    • Carpe Diem December 19, 2018 at 8:17 am

      Oh yeah, IIRC we had such a law some 30 years ago, it didn’t have much bite. In the meantime, the welfare rolls and free medical facilities are overflowing with illegals as the Gov’t hypocritically feeds the alien beast.

  • bikeandfish December 18, 2018 at 9:55 pm

    Find myself agreeing with Ed on this one. The Looney Toons comparison works but ignores the success and power of such political strategies. This is right out of the fascist playbook. Take a real issue (our failure at comprehensive immigration reform) and amplify it with fabrications and fear mongering of a foreign other. Its nothing new really. Just look to how far it can go with Hungary who has also flirted with ethno-nationalism and has gone as far as purging academia and nationalizing it. Several prominent countries are going to the extreme right and scapegoating minorities is just one of the early steps in the long process.

    Sadly it works on his base. I think most know there is no substance to his radical immigration claims and demands. But they choose brand loyalty over facts in this round of cognitive dissonance. The diehards seem committed to supporting his slight of hand at any cost. My primary hope is that enough of his base realize he lied to them on so many levels that he loses support, his mandate and is primaried in 2020 but I’m not holding my breath (the DNC has a long history of botching these opportunities).

    And the law limiting military involvement in these domestic issues is important. Our military should be used sparingly against either foreign military and/or violent militants not against unarmed civilians. That shouldn’t be a radical concept for the right given their constant justification of the 2nd Amendment to protect themselves against the feds. Its odd to seevl conservatives abandoning so many of the foundational ideals.

  • Kilroywashere December 18, 2018 at 10:16 pm

    LoL. Rule of law. Retreat, change talking point. Facist playbook…. Why is there a caravan of Central Americans wanting to enter the US and violate the rule of law in doing so? It is because they are fleeing countries where the rule of law has broken down and created misery and poverty. Why are there no caravans from Costa Rica? Answer the question B&F. Not some intellectual dance routine. Does rule of law matter in your intellectual universe? Simple question. I realize I am wasting my time even trying. Retreat!!!!! Excuse me for trying. Lol.
    Does the rule of law matter? Simple ?.

    • Kilroywashere December 18, 2018 at 10:33 pm

      Further, let’s make this a dialectic. Not a zero sum game. Not Us vs. Them. Because in the end, B&F we are only ordinary men. With, with out, after all isn’t that what the fighting all about. If you and I can agree here on a common point, then maybe there is hope for this country. So, answer the question, in the case of illegal immigration does the rule of law matter? No exceptions, just answer with honesty. Good luck, I hope reaching out is worth the effort.

      • Redbud December 18, 2018 at 10:44 pm

        BnF will attempt to side-step your question and give a typical libby response. It’s what they do best! Wonder if he’d let a few illegal families sleep in his house?

        • Kilroywashere December 18, 2018 at 11:09 pm

          Let’s see if he can answer a simple question Redbud. Yes or No. From there we can have a conversation other than partisan grandstanding and intellectual master….

        • bikeandfish December 19, 2018 at 8:45 am

          As normal, you couldn’t be more wrong.

      • bikeandfish December 19, 2018 at 8:44 am

        I already answered that question, yes.

        Your turn:

        Do you recognize rule of law inherently involves executive and judicial discretion?

    • bikeandfish December 19, 2018 at 8:46 am

      PS….its individuals within the caravan breaking the law. Most are attempting to legally apply for asylum via legal ports of entry.

      • Carpe Diem December 19, 2018 at 5:53 pm

        You and the illegals should know, you can’t claim asylum for simple economic reasons. They simply want a better life.

        • bikeandfish December 19, 2018 at 7:27 pm

          In which case they won’t be granted asylum. Pretty simple. But many aren’t applying just for economic reasons.

          • Carpe Diem December 19, 2018 at 7:54 pm

            Yes I’ve heard there are threatening gang members back home. (quite similar to what they would experience here, mind you)

            Haven’t heard of ONE SINGLE authentic asylum case in these invasion caravans, though.

          • bikeandfish December 19, 2018 at 8:37 pm

            “invasion caravans”? Yeah, Invaders normally head to legal points of entry. (Sarcasm)

          • Carpe Diem December 19, 2018 at 8:56 pm

            Maybe you didn’t know? Illegals are pouring in all along our border with Mexico, in CA, AZ, NM, and Texas. Some are even coming in and were arrested, driving a Panga onto the beach, having invaded via the sea.


          • bikeandfish December 19, 2018 at 9:57 pm

            PS Carpe…. you don’t normally hear of specific cases of asylum this soon. It can take a year or more. We’ll know better info when 2018 stats come out. That said only 25-40% are successfully granted asylum on a historic average. Was also true for the Obama years.

          • bikeandfish December 19, 2018 at 10:05 pm

            Fully aware immigrants cross illegally on widespread sections of the border. But the caravans are a different issue. “Invasion caravans” is hyperbolic partisan rhetoric with no merit. Even your link is about less than ten people; the”caravans” have been in the thousands.

            Stop conflating issues and I won’t correct you. Pretty simple.

  • Carpe Diem December 19, 2018 at 8:23 am

    One week the invaders demand $50,000 each to go back to Central America, the next week, Trump is giving their Governments over $10 BilliOn DollAr$.

    No wall! What the? Heck! Not a fan!

    • iceplant December 19, 2018 at 10:50 am

      Trump is now giving money to Central American gov’t. And we all know where that money will go. Straight into the pockets of the very people the immigrants are trying to escape.
      That is some delicious irony right there.
      SO. MUCH. WINNING. 😉

      • Carpe Diem December 19, 2018 at 6:02 pm

        Trump made the US Great Again… Now he is going to make MExiCo Great again.

        “Newly inaugurated President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador waxed poetic about the plan to provide jobs so people won’t have to emigrate.

        “I have a dream that I want to see become a reality … that nobody will want to go work in the United States anymore,” Lopez Obrador said at a morning news conference before the announcement.”

        Will they screw it up? Well, I would guess Trump will own it’s success or failure, and it will take a few years to mature… Since Trump is getting elected again in 2020, he will get to see it through. More than one way to skin a cat. BTW I think we spend 150B annually on illegals as it is… so if it works, that’s a good investment.

  • Lee Saunders December 19, 2018 at 4:27 pm

    I’d like to see or hear one (authentic) example of where a Democrat in a position of responsibility and authority has said that they want to see illegal immigrants flooding across the border. Please post a link to such a statement. I’d like to also hear from you who support a border wall explain where you’d put the wall along the Rio Grande in Texas. Would you put it down the middle of the river? Would you put it on the Mexican side? Yeah, right. Would you put it on the US side, cutting off all the commercial and recreation access to the river, which is immense. Would it bother you that the ranchers and farmers who rely on access to the river for water for their crops and livestock would be denied access? Would it not bother you to know that you are disrupting many thousands of years old wildlife migration routes?

    Also, have you heard about Amazon’s plans to deliver parcels by drones? Don’t you think that the cartels haven’t already been doing this with their drugs over the current wall? It’s pretty much consensus among informed authorities that whatever type wall is put up, it won’t stop people who are determined to get in. I think a compromise would be a less expensive delineation that lets migrants know they’re at the border and lets the Border Patrol have a visible “line in the sand” . From there, increased technology application for detection and apprehension seems reasonable.

    I’ve spent time along the border and at night you’d be amazed at how many blimps are stationed along the border. This, and other technology that us regular citizens don’t even know about is a more rational approach that spending billions of dollars on T rump’s wall.

    • Carpe Diem December 19, 2018 at 6:05 pm

      Are you deaf, dumb and blind? Many large cities and the State of CA are going Sanctuary… thereby attracting illegals and preventing the rule of law of the Federal Govt from being used to deport the aliens dwelling therein, even when they are arrested and then released from incarceration.

      Google: Jerry Brown

      • bikeandfish December 19, 2018 at 10:01 pm

        Do you understand what sanctuary City means? It doesn’t stop the feds from enforcing the law. It just means they don’t participate in the process. Immigration enforcement is a federal duty, not a state or local one.

      • Lee Saunders December 20, 2018 at 9:55 am

        Again, show me the video of Jerry Brown saying he is begging illegal immigrants to come flooding across the border, okay? Maybe you should read up a little on what the purpose of sanctuary cities is.

      • Lee Saunders December 20, 2018 at 10:10 am

        Oh, and your sage response to my question about where to put the wall along the Rio Grande?

    • Redbud December 19, 2018 at 7:01 pm

      Lee, that sounds like a wonderful idea! Let’s compromise. Instead of a wall, we will have remote operated turrets spaced every 50 feet mounted on towers, and we’ll have a virtual fence where they simply get shot. It can also target drones and shoot them down too!

      • Lee Saunders December 20, 2018 at 10:07 am

        There you go with that violent video game mentality again. Who knows what is or will be happening with the drug drones. I hope they end up better funding the Border Patrol and not wasting billions on a politically motivated wall that won’t solve the problem of illegal entry. There’s amazing technology out there already. I was once involved in a seismic testing project. The sensors were so sensitive that we could not walk, couldn’t do the testing if the wind was blowing the leaves on the trees or if it was raining. My point is that it makes more sense to have adequate staffing to respond to the technology than a wall that the consensus among the experts is that it won’t solve the problem.

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