Salon Staff

Abbott offers to staff his own armed force with fired Border Patrol agents if Biden punishes horsemen for inappropriate conduct

Even as a dual pair of infrastructure and spending bills dominated the Sunday morning cable news shows, the situation at the southern U.S. border took up a hefty amount of oxygen on Fox News Sunday — particularly during an interview with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

Host Chris Wallace asked Abbott at one point what he thought of recent images of border patrol agents on horseback this week physically intimidating migrants seeking asylum from Haiti, prompting Abbott to double down on his vision of the border as an apocalyptic, lawless place. He even offered to thumb his nose at President Joe Biden's authority by staffing his own law enforcement force on the border with employees the administration fires for inappropriate conduct.

"If he takes any action against them whatsoever — I have worked side by side with those Border Patrol agents — I want them to know something. If they are risk of losing their job by a president who is abandoning his duty to secure the border, you have a job in the state of Texas. I will hire you to help Texas secure our border," Abbott said.

Wallace followed up by asking if that exceeded his authority as governor — a criticism echoed by U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland this week, after he threatened to sue Abbott over the state's border policies.

Despite the legal threat, Abbott did not moderate his response.

"Because the Biden administration is refusing to do its duty to enforce the laws of the United States, they have left Texas in no position other than for us to step up and do what we have to do," Abbott said. "I'm going to step up and do whatever I have to do to make sure that I protect the people of Del Rio, as well as all these other communities in the state of Texas that the Biden administration is ignoring."

Regardless of the Texas governor's rhetoric, the Biden Administration appears to be holding the course on its immigration plans, despite a recent influx of new asylum seekers hailing from Haiti.

During a separate interview on the same program, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the most recent spike in migrants was "nothing new," and cautioned people from using the sort of alarmist rhetoric parroted by right-wing media outlets in recent months.

"This is nothing new," Mayorkas said, responding to Abbott's comments. "We've seen this type of irregular migration many, many times throughout the years. I don't know if Governor Abbott said the same thing in 2019, when there were more than a million people encountered at the southern border.

Wallace did at one point ask — prefacing the question with "forgive me" — whether or not the administration would be better served reprising the Trump Administration approach of building a "wall or a fence."

"It is the policy of this administration: we do not agree with the building of the wall," Mayorkas responded. "The law provides that individuals can make a claim for humanitarian relief. That is actually one of our proudest traditions."

In addition to his questions on the topic of migrants, Wallace also grilled Abbott on his bizarre pledge to "eliminate" rape — a vow he made in response to criticism of a recent, near-total abortion ban he signed into law that does not carry any exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape or incest.

"Is it reasonable to say to somebody who was the victim of rape and might not understand that they are pregnant, you know, until six weeks, 'Don't worry about it because we are going to eliminate rape as a problem in the state of Texas?'" Wallace asked.

"There's multiple things I have to say in answer to this but the first thing obviously is that survivors of sexual assault, they deserve support, care, and compassion and Texas is stepping up to make sure that we provide that by signing a law and creating in the governor's office a sexual assault survivors task force — separately from that, Chris, I got to point out about the ways that I have fought to go to arrest and apprehend and try to eliminate rape. I sought the death penalty."

Wallace tried — repeatedly — to pin Abbott down on the question of whether he would sign an exception to the current law for rape or incest if such a bill were to come across his desk.

Abbott never gave a definitive "no" — saying only that the law was "consistent" with the Supreme Court precedent, which asserts "states have the ability to make sure that we protect the health and safety of both the mother and the child."

"Chris, you're making a hypothetical that's not going to happen because that bill is not going to reach my desk," he said. "Again, the goal is to protect the life of every child with a heartbeat."

My houseplant garden is a tiny national park Donald Trump can never destroy

I write this from a rented cabin in rural Montana; it is February and the snow falls quietly, constantly. A hope philodendron stands in the window of the loft bedroom, the largest and healthiest I have ever seen in real life, almost five feet tall. The leaves are long, rippled hands grasping at an invisible sun, so enormous that they seem almost alien. The plant is beautiful, but it is more than that: its presence here in Montana, in the middle of winter, feels incongruous, inexplicable, and therefore magical. The hope philodendron, or Philodendron bipinnatifidum, is native to the hot, damp rainforests of South America, not to the cold, dry mountains of Montana. It is warm in the cabin, thanks to the wood-burning stove, but it is far from equatorial and anything but humid. I am reminded of the cliché "bloom where you are planted" that I've seen emblazoned on kitschy wooden signs in garden stores and I can't help but see the philodendron as both a miracle and a metaphor.

Keep reading... Show less

Donald Trump's Despicably Callous Response to Paris Terror Attack

Leave it to blowhard presidential contender Donald Trump to deliver one of the most vile responses to yesterday’s horrific terror attacks in Paris, which killed 129 people and injured hundreds more.

Keep reading... Show less

This Rachel Maddow Interview Is Bernie Sanders' Best Moment in Weeks

It has been a rough couple weeks for Bernie Sanders as Hillary Clinton found her footing and re-established herself as the Democratic front-runner after impressive performances in the first Democratic debate and before a House panel investigating Benghazi.

Keep reading... Show less

The One Perfect Tweet Which Put Megyn Kelly's Duggar Daughter Interview in Context

Top Duggar headlines from Fox's Megyn Kelly.  

Keep reading... Show less

7 Crucial Exchanges from Megyn Kelly’s Fox News Interview with the Duggar Sisters

Two of the Duggar sisters who were molested by brother Josh Duggar told their stories to Megyn Kelly last night, in an interview that was often heartbreaking, but also filled with forgiveness and a strong defense of their brother and the way their parents handled the situation in the home.

Keep reading... Show less

I Also Left My Kid in the Car: Mothers Share Stories of Their Own Public Shamings

In June of last year,  I wrote an essay about my experience of having been filmed by a stranger after I left my four-year-old son in the car to run a brief errand. At the time, I wanted simply to tell the story of what I’d experienced, to process what had seemed a strange and jarring moment in my life as a parent. Last week I wrote about three other mothers who wanted to share similar stories. Since then, many more mothers have contacted me with equally upsetting stories of judgment by strangers for what these mothers saw as rational and reasonable parenting decisions. These episodes have taken place all over the country; some are years old, some very recent. They all raise questions of risk and fear and the burdens of being a mother in this age; they press beneath the surface of many popular philosophies of parenting today. Ultimately, though, these stories are demonstrations of a new or underreported variety of harassment and shaming that, for the women involved, has legal, financial, moral and psychological repercussions. The letters below are being published with their permission. Their names have been omitted. — Kim Brooks

Keep reading... Show less

Jon Stewart Unloads on Fox News in Exclusive: “Watching These Channels All Day is Incredibly Depressing"

Jon Stewart opens up in a terrific new interview with The Guardian, conducted before and after the announcement that he’ll leave “The Daily Show” this year. It’s the most wide-ranging conversation he’s had since then and gets into his mindset about the 2016 election, his “heartbreak” over a tough Barack Obama interview, and what he’s thinking about for his future.

Keep reading... Show less

FBI Had Counterterrorism Agents Investigate Occupy Movement

The New York Times reports that the FBI had counterterrorism agents to investigateOccupy Wall Street, and that “F.B.I. personnel around the country were routinely involved in exchanging information about the movement with businesses, local law-enforcement agencies and universities.”

Keep reading... Show less

Paul Ryan: The Lyin' King -- 10 of His Worst Campaign Fabrications

Mitt Romney pollster Neil Newhouse recently said that the Romney campaign is “not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers.” If the past few weeks are any indication, Paul Ryan is sticking pretty close to that strategy. Here are his most recent lies, going back to his universally fact-checked Republican National Convention speech. Come back: We’ll update throughout the rest of the campaign.

Keep reading... Show less

Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.