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Democratic president Harry S Truman is famous for his saying, “The Buck stops here.” His point was that, as president, he took ultimate responsibility for everything that happened during his administration.

It is worth noting that this includes the only decision in human history to date to use nuclear weapons in war. Truman approved dropping the nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, which is still a controversial decision.

Donald Trump, as of now, has not killed anywhere near as many people as died in the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and we can yet hope he never will.

It’s a good thing, because, in sharp contrast to Truman, for Trump, the buck always stops elsewhere. He never takes responsibility for his actions. Most recently, he said just a week ago that he would take responsibility for any shutdown of the federal government that resulted from wrangling over funds to waste on his stupid border idea. Now that exactly such a shut down has come to pass, he wants to blame it on Democrats, who refuse to vote to waste money on the wall.

More consequentially, and grotesquely, two children have died within a week while they were in the custody of the United States Customs and Border Patrol. It is simply a basic principle of any reasonable system of policing and justice that any agency taking persons into custody bears responsibility for their well being. Prison officials place inmates on suicide watch to prevent them from killing themselves even if they are on death row and scheduled for execution. In other words, how one dies matters in the criminal justice system.

Need one say that the penalty for unlawful entry into the United States is not death, and it is impossible to conceive how anyone could find a child guilty of unlawful entry when they necessarily entered with their parents.

But for Trump appointee Kirstjen Neilsen, Secretary of Homeland Security, the buck stops anywhere but with the Trump administration.

According to Nielsen, “Our system has been pushed to a breaking point by those who seek open borders. Smugglers, traffickers and their own parents put these minors at risk by embarking on the dangerous and arduous journey north.” “Those who seek open borders” is the current Republican talking point for Trump and his toadies to smear Democrats, who only want more rational immigration policy and do not want to waste public funds on a useless border wall.

It fits right into Trump’s The Buck Stops Elsewhere philosophy of irresponsible governance. It’s a cheap attempt to place blame for obvious failings by him and his toadies onto anyone but them.

Trump has no idea where the buck stops, he only knows it doesn’t stop with him.

Written by

Uppity gay, Buddhist, author, historian.

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