Alex Pareene, at Salon:
… Late in June, two Republicans, Sens. Bob Corker (Tenn.) and John Hoeven (N.D.), inserted an amendment into the Senate bill to strengthen security at the American border with Mexico. No Democrats opposed the measure in a “test vote” before the Senate’s passage of the larger bill. The amendment’s proposals are referred to as a “border surge,” because “surges” are a great thing in Washington ever since “the surge worked” became a very popular catchphrase for a while. (Washington is full of very simple-minded people, on the whole.) So we will “surge” the border, just like we “surged” Iraq, and, like Iraq, we will Win the War, against Mexico and Mexicans.
Basically the “border surge” is a very expensive new expansion of a massive government program, only it’s the sort that conservatives like because it involves detaining people instead of giving them healthcare or something. The “surge” is a massive military buildup along the border, involving 700 miles of fencing, 20,000 new border agents, and more drones, perhaps even ones fitted with “nonlethal weapons,” for the Border Protection Agency to loan out to various other law-enforcement agencies. It will install, at various points along the border, an exciting array of new infrastructure and equipment of the sort usually not seen outside of actual war zones. Many lucky communities will soon have multiple new “fixed towers,” dozens of “fixed camera systems (with relocation capability), which include remote video surveillance systems” and “mobile surveillance systems, which include mobile video surveillance systems, agent-portable surveillance systems, and mobile surveillance capability systems,” and hundreds of new “unattended ground sensors, including seismic, imaging, and infrared.” Chuck Schumer described the entire deal as “a breathtaking show of force.” Even actual border-patrol agents are sort of confused by the proposal, which will double their ranks. “I’m not sure where this idea came from, but we didn’t support it, and we didn’t ask for it,” their union vice president told the National Review.
The whole thing will cost $38 billion. Fun fact! House Republicans recently attempted to cut $20 billion from the federal budget for food stamps. The measure failed when many Republicans decided the cuts weren’t large enough. But there is always money for new unattended ground sensors!…