It’s late one evening. Behind the bar at Andy’s Cafe in Cincinnati, a spray tanned older gentleman laughs quietly with his guests when the phone rings.
“Andy’s, where the beer is cold and the music is hot,” he answers.
“Hey, John! It’s Paul – Paul Ryan, remember me? Well, I’m sure glad I caught you. I need some advice.”
“Well, you know I left that life behind, Paul. Breaking up bar fights is easier on a 67 year old body than those squabbles on Capitol Hill.”
“I know, I know. But look, I’m in a real pickle here. Was kind of hoping to bounce some ideas off you and see what you think.”
“Are you recording this? Is this some sort of practical joke? You know, like when y’all ran that celebrity real estate developer for President. Man, that was a doozy!”
“No, no, this is serious. And yeah, glad you liked that one. But there’s something you may not have heard about, yet.”
“That guy is now the President of the United States. And I don’t mean the United States of Benetton. And he’s part of the reason I need your help.”
“You mean, you idiots ran the only man in America who uses more spray tan than me and lies more than Nancy? Wasn’t that script for ‘Trading Places 2’ rejected by Hollywood?”
You can hear the pause before Ryan responds, “Maybe it was. But he and that gawd-awful combover are in charge now.”
“Oh, you are truly and greatly screwed. Like Big Green Weenie screwed. No, better yet…”
“John, this is serious. Everyone thinks he’s a Russian spy or something, and DC is so busy not tripping over one another over they haven’t noticed the Chinese star-and-sickle tattoo he got the other day.”
“Right, serious. Speakering of which, you haven’t introduced that tooth repair kit I invented yet, have you? Give me a couple a days Head Start.”
“I know, hahahahahahaha! ”
“So, do you have any advice for me?”
“Retire. Buy a bar in Wisconsin. You can get royally drunk and nobody gives a shit.”
“No, look, this is serious. Do you know what he asked me to do this morning? He asked me to draw up legislation selling Alaska back to the Russians!”
“Well, he is a real estate developer. I imagine he got a good price.”
“Mitch is beside himself over this. Jeb Hensarling wants to know if he can get something similar from Spain for California. This whole thing is going off the rails.”
“You guys are the ones who nominated him. If I remember right, you had a chance to turn him away at the convention. You gotta deal with him now.” The old bartender belches loudly. “Damn, that was a GOOD one! Did you hear that, Paulie boy? Rattled the doors with that one, I did!”
Ryan sighs, loudly. “That’s history. What do I do now?”
“I told you. Retire. Buy a bar. Get drunk.”
“You can’t be serious!”
“Sure I am. I did and look at me now. I’m hanging out with my friends, only using spray tan once or twice a week and I’ve only cried once in the last year. Best move I ever made was coming back to this bar.”
“Thanks, John. You’ve been a real help.”
“Glad I could be, Paul. And next time you’re in Cincinnati, the beer is on me.”
Bor•der [bawr-der] (n): The part or edge of a surface or area that forms its outer boundary; the line that separates one country, province, state, etc. from another, the frontier of civilization (courtesy Random House Dictionary).
It’s funny how “border,” a seemingly simple word with a clear definition, can rile up so many people. This isn’t one of George Carlin’s Seven Dirty Words either, although the reaction it generates in certain quarters would make you think it was. Sometimes, when I’m bored and need some entertainment, I’ll seek one of that crowd out and ask them why they refuse to recognize our national borders. The apoplectic rage with which the question is met, the incoherence of the replies and the visceral hatred exposed by the body language is almost humorous.
Mind you, I can understand why some groups find borders detestable. I can see why an illegal alien would rather chain himself to a bus rather than cross back over the border. The Catholic Church has never believed in national sovereignty. International businesses dislike tariffs almost as much as payroll taxes and unions are desperately in need of new members. Liberals hate anything that might actually be good for the country. Barack Obama needs a new distraction; after all, both Obamacare and the national economy remain unmitigated disasters.
But what perplexes me is the seeming disinterest the general public has regarding borders. I’m talking about the 70% or so of people who don’t generally pay attention to politics. If there was one issue that they should be interested in 100% of the time, you would think borders – and their security – would be it. After all, everyone is extremely interested in protecting their personal borders, right? We lock the doors to our houses, apartments and cars, we build fences and hedges around our property. Those of us who commute by mass transit quickly learn the unwritten rules regarding personal space and what happens when somebody crosses that border. We alarm our property, install security gates around communities and staff them with armed guards. We install expensive camera systems so we can watch for others crossing the borders around our property. As a society, we even have legal penalties for those who penetrate our personal borders, ranging from trespassing to breaking and entering. In most communities, if the legal resident kills a person who crossed their border, they are applauded as courageous.
Yet if anyone suggests those same measures be used to secure the national borders, they are met with scorn and ridicule. We’re told we should just accept illegal immigrants as new residents – even though if somebody just simply camped out in your front yard, you would do everything possible to get them off the lawn. We’re told the border can’t possibly be secured, although I bet ADT is just salivating at the chance to try it. We’re told posting armed guards along the border with shoot-to-kill orders is impractical, yet we use thousands of American troops to enforce that same standard along the North-South Korean border.
As a nation, we already spend over $34 billion to secure our personal borders. To secure the national borders in a similar fashion, the Congress has already approved $46 billion. But for some reason, most of the country remains blase when it comes border security. So, I have a solution. Make it illegal to provide any greater security for your person and property, than is in effect along the border.
After the general public gets tired of hosting a few dozen people for dinner every night, I suspect attitudes might change.