Mort Report is a labor of love by old-style correspondents with lifetimes on the road and young ones with fresh eyes. Our philosophy is simple: we report at first hand with analysis based on non-alternative fact, not opinion. If we get something wrong, we fix it.
SASABE, Arizona – A U.S. Army grunt freshly arrived from the Northwest was still puzzling over how to unwrap a tamale at the tumbledown general store and bar at this flyblown border outpost, but he had already sized up his mission to make America safe again.
“Kind of silly,” he said, with a chuckle. “Before, it would take a guy about ten seconds to get over that fence.” Now that troops have garlanded the steel uprights with concertina wire, he figures, “it’d take a little longer.” In any case, the fence ends five miles from here.
At the checkpoint, a veteran Customs and Border Protection agent, with a German shepherd and sharp eyes, echoed the soldier’s mirth. “I wish all those guys in Washington would spend just one day down here to see what the hell they’re talking about,” he said.
Not even the Berlin Wall was impervious, despite its machinegun towers and obstacle-strewn no man’s zone. Down here, 50 miles of forbidding desert watched by high-tech surveillance and green-striped SUVS do the job without evoking a hateful Evil Empire.
After squandering perhaps half a billion dollars on a show of military farce, Donald Trump is sending another 3,750 troops to chew up the desert until September.
A clearly marked border, with sturdy fencing where useful, is hard to call immoral, as Nancy Pelosi does. Yet immoral is tepid understatement for Trump’s wild distortions to stoke fear and loathing among his base with a jihad aimed at anguished migrants and refugees.
TUCSON, Arizona - Two movie scenes, both by serendipitous circumstance from 1952, have always powered me through dark nights of the soul when it seemed as if humanity's better side was losing it. They may no longer be enough.
In “Viva Zapata,” peasants stop troops taking Marlon Brando - Zapata - to jail for resisting a corrupt president. One aims a machete at the telegraph line to prevent a call for backup. If you cut that, an officer shouts, it's rebellion. Brando growls, “Cut it!”
In “Deadline U.S.A.,” a mobster phones Humphrey Bogart, editor of “The New York Day” to warn him not to run an exposé, or else. “What's that noise?” he asks. Bogey replies: “That's the presses, baby. And there's nothing you can do to stop it.”
A growing number of outraged Americans are ready for rebellion. Presses roll at a big New York daily and another in Washington. In too many other cities, however, bad guys simply buy out newspapers, gut the staff, and dictate “content” that suits them.
Whether acquisitions are driven by politics or greed, the result is the same. As conflict, climate collapse and economic perils steadily worsen, Americans are fast losing touch with global reality.