Playing with fire is fun in the fall

EDITOR'S NOTEBOOK

BY ART CULLEN

President Trump, conducting official business through Twitter, told his minions in Congress to blow off immigration until after the midterms. We can lock them up in the meantime while we set the stage for the debate. And so it began that Steve King took to Twitter proclaiming that he doesn’t want Somali Muslims cutting his pork, and pretty much that our culture is going down the tubes. Same song, another verse.

There may or may not be a vote on immigration in the House this week, and it doesn’t really matter. The Senate can pass nothing. Trump is bouncing off the walls. Soccer moms who might have voted Republican in Clive are a bit uncomfortable seeing children locked in cages or sweltering in desert tents.

Nobody knows how any of this playing with fire will play out.

Meanwhile, south of the border, a revolution might be brewing. They have one about every century, and this one is 10 or 20 years overdue. Polls show left-wing populist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador with a 25-point lead heading into the July 1 presidential election. The former mayor of Mexico City is Trump’s alter ego. He has built an unlikely coalition with a pro-life party closely attached to the Catholic church and former prominent members of the two parties that generally ruled Mexico for the past 80 years: PRI and PAN.

He is campaigning against violence, corruption and Trump. Plus a doubling of the minimum wage and slowing down the privatization of state energy interests. He has been the most ardent critic of NAFTA but has toned down his rhetoric to keep powerful business interests on board. Lopez Obrador was the loudest critic of US corn flooding the Mexican market and driving its peasant campesino class out of business and up to El Norte to cross the Rio Grande.

He is as voluble and unpredictable as Trump or Hugo Chavez.

And he is likely to be president as this immigration debate engulfs the 50 states and even Puerto Rico.

Trump will be negotiating NAFTA with a counterpart who built his campaign around an odor of Trump that smells like the corruption that has beset Latin America.

That is, if Lopez Obrador lives to see the election. More than 100 politicians have been assassinated in Mexico in the past year. All were proponents of liberty and democracy. Three mayors were killed last week in two days. An entire county’s police force was arrested in Michoacán last week. Lopez Obrador announced his campaign in Juarez, ground-zero in the cartel war at the border.

As volatile as this situation is, you have to think it always favors a fascist.

That is not too strong a word for Trump, who also Tweeted that undocumented people who are detained will be denied due process — hearings and judicial proceedings — in violation of the Fifth Amendment. Drawing parallels to what happened in Germany and Italy before World War II is not a stretch when the President starts talking about deporting any “person,” as referred to in the Fifth Amendment, not citizen. Then is he talking about you or me or Pedro?

You might not take that suggestion seriously. But when your congressman is worried about who is cutting your pork, and that it might be some offense against our culture however ill-defined that might be, then you realize that Trump actually could deport every last immigrant in Storm Lake — Mexican, Laotian or African — out of the country without hearings. Even those with papers, because if you have no hearing how can your papers be reviewed? Call me crazy. But I am not the one calling for the deletion of the Fifth Amendment.

It will only get crazier. Wait until that crazy Mexican gets elected. That’s what Trump will call him. We have National Guard troops stationed within 100 miles of the border. More are on the way. But no more judges, the president says. That will only lead to graft. George Orwell couldn’t write this script any more acutely.

One would like to think that all this furor will turn people to consider JD Scholten, King’s affable and cheery Democratic opponent, but the polls indicate that Trump’s core strength is growing. If that is true nationally, then King is getting stronger with all the pork he eats cut by undocumented Honduran hands.