Editor’s note: The clash between the president and congressional Democrats over a border wall resulted in a partial government shutdown that is entering its third week. The Daily Signal’s audience appears to have Trump’s back. Write us at [email protected]—Ken McIntyre

Dear Daily Signal: It wasn’t all that long ago that Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, and the Clintons were adamantly opposed to illegal immigration and wanted it stopped, as Peter Parisi suggests in his commentary (“The Cure for Republican ‘Shutdown-ophobia’ Is Forceful Messaging on the Wall, Not Surrendering”).

They made public speeches condemning illegal immigration and the costs of it to American taxpayers. There was a time when they had no problem with building a border wall, and voted for it.

However, because President Trump wants the border wall and it would be seen as a “victory” for Trump, the Democrats are adamantly opposed to it. Not only are they opposed to a wall, they are now in favor of open borders, sanctuary cities, and amnesty for illegal immigrants.—Drew Page

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President Trump has taken a lot of good advice from The Heritage Foundation. Let’s hope he reads and heeds Peter Parisi’s great advice in his Daily Signal commentary.

I’m so sick of weak-kneed Republicans. They have blown opportunity after opportunity during the past two years.—Ken Marx

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Why didn’t the GOP accomplish anything while they had the presidency and a majority in both houses of Congress?

Because most of them, senators and representatives, are cowardly, useless, pathetic little bureaucrats who revel in making decisions that ruin our lives but run in terror from any issue that requires the slightest moral courage. The lack of support for the wall is symptomatic of the general moral collapse of the Republican Party.—Douglas Mayfield

Every honest person knows that the Democrats have simply found another excuse to attack Trump. Five billion dollars is a totally insignificant amount in a nation adding that much debt every 40 hours.

Any president who wants this little for something important to him should get it, especially when it’s for something already approved by Congress. So this is more of the dangerous game of obstruction, with no regard for the people.

We are aware that Obama sought border security, ordered ICE raids, voted for a border barrier as senator, did plenty of deportations. And those kids in cages were on his watch. Here’s the problem: No one ever made a peep about any of that.

Then Trump is elected and doing the same things; this makes him a racist, bigot, hater, and anti-immigrant? So everything done by the Democrats and their lapdog media is intended to destroy Trump. Nothing more and nothing less.—Anthony Alafero

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It is only the government that thinks we can’t get along without the government.—Larry Daniels

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Trump himself said that southern border security is stronger than ever, that the caravan of migrants was completely turned back, and that because of that no new ones are forming.

So it begs the question why the wall is needed at all, since Trump says he’s been so successful protecting the border already at a fraction of the price—let alone that Americans need to pay for it, since Trump said Mexico would pay for it.—Edward Buatois

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The wall is needed because while the caravan was stopped to some degree, thousands of other people, including criminals, drug mules, gun runners, and human traffickers, have been crossing the border where there is no wall. Anyone who checks before opining won’t be so far off base.—Ron Bartels

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It is not a small group of migrants, it is 10 percent of our population and we are a bankrupt nation. I support legal immigration. People just showing up is not right. I would like to live in Monaco, but I don’t.—Blake Burgess

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How many of the MS-13 gang, drug smugglers, and human traffickers are you willing to care for in your home? Then think again about why we need the wall.—Doris Gray

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Why is Congress funded in a government shutdown and 380,000 employees are furloughed, as Justin Bogie writes in his commentary (“What Would Actually Be Affected in a Government Shutdown”)? Seems that it should be the other way around.

If I decide not to to pay my utility bill, the utility doesn’t suffer the consequences, I do. Of course the president would not suffer, but the charities that receive his compensation would.—Jason Traxler

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Far too many people look at the dark side of a government shutdown. Since the Justice Department will be unfunded, then the Mueller probe goes down the drain.

We only can hope that government payments to Planned Parenthood, NPR, and other such “gifts” also stop. Look at it as the bright side.—Randy Leyendecker, Kerrville, Texas

On the Loss of Bre Payton 

Dear Daily Signal: I get The Daily Signal emails every day. I read your articles and I listen to your podcasts, including the “Problematic Women” podcast, which I particularly enjoy.  I have often thought about writing to express my opinions, but never bothered to do it. However, I am taking the time to do so today.

When I saw the headline “Remembering the Problematic Bre Payton,” I involuntarily cried out. My husband heard me from another room and asked me what was the matter. I had to read your article and then The Federalist article you linked to before answering him. I was so shocked and saddened by the news of Bre Payton’s death.

“Shocked and saddened” sounds cliche, but tears came to my eyes as I read about what happened to Bre. I had followed her somewhat at The Federalist, but it was listening weekly to her podcast with Kelsey Harkness of The Daily Signal that made me feel as though I knew her personally.  Now, I didn’t realize this until I read about her unexpected and premature death, but I had come to relate to both Bre and Kelsey not only as fellow conservatives concerned about the issues of the day but also as people–people I liked and cared about.

I was inspired by the testimonials from Bre’s friends and colleagues, especially the many comments about her faith in the Lord. Bre was obviously a young woman who packed a lot into her 26 years, who gave her best efforts to all she did, and who was actively concerned about other people. I am reminded of the truth expressed by James 4:14:  “Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”

My father just turned 97. But my brother-in-law died suddenly at the age of 28. None of us knows the time we’ve been allotted.  But we need to make the most of what time we have, like Bre did.

Thank you for allowing her to be, as she always said, a friend of The Daily Signal and a participant in the podcast. I will remember her family in my prayers.—Janet Anderson, Mount Carmel, Ill.

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Condolences to Bre Payton’s family for their loss, as described in Katrina Trinko’s appreciation headlined “Remembering the Problematic Bre Payton.”Losing a family member at such a young age is especially hard, because you’re losing the person he or she had the potential to be.—Kevin Zelhart

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Some people are ready for heaven sooner than others. Sounds like Bre had already learned and done all she was supposed to do here. The rest of us are still refining those rough edges. May the Lord comfort her loved ones, and raise up others to carry on her work.—Carol Morrisey

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The lesson here is to tell everyone you love that you love them every time you see them. You never know if it will be the last time you have the chance.—Drew Page

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I cannot recall the last time I shed a tear, but I teared up when I read the headline about Bre’s passing and a couple more as I read this article. How very sad! What an outstanding young woman. God bless her.—Jim B.

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I never had the honor of hearing your show, Bre, but from all I’ve read here, you were an amazing young woman. Thank you for the contributions you made in your too short time here. I know that someday I’ll get to meet you in heaven. Prayers and comfort to Bre’s family. Rest in peace, dear one.—Tonya Acre Merrill

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When someone whom we love so much departs our shores from “under the sun,” we trust and know that there are the other shores of heaven where they’re welcomed by the Son. For us believers, Christ Jesus is our living hope and one day in God’s timing there will be the great reunion. Maranatha.—Adriano Celentano

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I am so sad. I loved Bre’s sass and honesty. And I loved it when she was on “Problematic Women.” I’m going to miss her.—Trisha Swift

Championing the Homeless at Central Union Mission 

Dear Daily Signal: Kelsey Harkness’s video report on George Opudo and Central Union Mission illustrates how things used to work (“How He’s Beating Homelessness Without Government Help”).

When there was some sort of disaster that affected one life or thousands of lives, individuals and community organizations jumped in to resolve the situation. It was an efficient use of resources that got events back on track fairly quickly.

Then nanny government stepped in about 90 years ago and started to fill the role. It did so by forcibly taking money from some and redistributing it through a bureaucracy that absorbed 90 percent of the resources before they reached the people in need.

It’s time to disband the numerous unconstitutional agencies that administer “welfare” and disaster “services” and return to having local people and their voluntary community services resume the full load.

We always get more bang for the buck when we use our money voluntarily to serve other people in need. We Americans are the kindest and most benevolent people anywhere. We help our neighbors.—Ken Marx

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Our Constitution didn’t envision the government in charge of charity, and wanted God to be part of our daily lives.

Greedy, evil Democrats and slimy politicians now buy political votes by turning our government into a godless charity. And too many people are all too willing to forfeit all of our freedoms and theirs for a selfish, miserable handout.—Redigo Gubernatio

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Most of those under age 40 are entitlement-trained by the left’s actions to control and indoctrinate the children as they attend schools that are government controlled.

Black, white, yellow, and brown, they all get the same indoctrination unless they go to parochial or educational places that do not accept government money.—Karin Callaway, Florida

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A beautiful testimony. God bless George Opudo.—Delilah Fleharty

Nolan Peterson Reports From Ukraine

Dear Daily Signal: What a heartwarming article by Nolan Peterson about the citizens of Mariupol (“With War on Its Doorstep, a Ukrainian City’s Civil Society Flourishes”).

As a newbie to the issue, I wonder where the money is coming from to support all the community organizers? Serious outside money may be needed to keep the city going if its seaport is closed.—Loran Tritter

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What an uplifting article! Proud Ukrainians, taking care of their city.—Patty Howe Willey

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Mr. Peterson, my respect.—Oksana Stolpovsky

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I can’t help but see this change as a positive move for Ukraine, but the change described by Nolan Peterson seems more like a political move than one of faith (“Ukraine Steps Out of Russia’s Religious Shadow”). The move reinforces the Ukrainian identity, but is it a step toward God? I can’t tell from the article.

I also wonder about the state of the non-Orthodox and independent churches in Ukraine. Do they have the freedom to worship Christ as they see fit? Is there religious freedom in Ukraine?

I have followed Nolan Peterson’s articles published in The Daily Signal, and would love to see him address this issue. The only true solution to Ukraine’s future will be found in true faith in Christ.—John T. Reagan

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Thank you to Nolan Peterson for another fine article about the Ukrainian situation. Much appreciated!—Stephanie Fredin

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If they’re still under a communist government, they’ve escaped nothing.—Bob Shoemaker

The Fiscal Shape We’re In

Dear Daily Signal: David Ditch writes of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid being the biggest increases in spending in the budget (“5 Ways We Are Worse Off Fiscally After 2018”). Remember that workers’ and employers’ payroll taxes are paid annually to Social Security and Medicare. Medicaid is more of a welfare program.

Some nations successfully privatized (a bad word) Social Security, to the benefit of both workers and government. Let workers own their own accounts for both Social Security and Medicare.

Plus, we need reform of the many welfare programs. We used to think it was awful that the old communist Soviet Union paid women to have babies. We do this now. One should be the limit.

The War on Poverty begun in the 1960s has not been a leg up, but rather an oppressive push down. Go back to a 5-year limit and a one-baby limit. That way, hardworking taxpayers might have more babies they can afford to pay for.—Dee Hodges

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Only leaders with courage can get us out of this. Buckle up, folks, because any out there are greatly outweighed by the cowards.

The Democrats said Medicare and Medicaid would fix our health care issues, and that if seniors and the poor were covered, the rest would be fine. Then they said that Medicaid needed to be expanded to the next tier above the poor. Then the tier above that, and all would be wonderful.

So all of this is done. And the Democrats say that poor people were dying in the streets (total lie), so they needed Obamacare and all would be wonderful. So now they claim that all of it was BS and that we need Medicare for all?

In other words, it was never about health care. It was always about moving more toward an authoritarian system with an all-powerful government, run by the elitist left, of course.—Anthony Alafero

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There is no such thing as a “government trust fund,” because the government can’t be trusted. The government has routinely taken money from the Social Security “trust fund” to spend on other things, always promising to pay it back. But the government has no money of its own to repay those thefts. It will, as usual, be the taxpayers’ responsibility to repay those government thefts.

The government has done the same thing with Medicare funds, moving $700 billion over 10 years to pay for Obamacare. How much more will “Medicare for All” cost? How much will “free” college tuition cost?

How many more billions will the open borders and illegal immigrants that the Democrats want cost? How many more billions will a continued military presence in Afghanistan and the Middle East that the Republicans want cost?

How many more billions will government bailouts cost? How many billions will be spent by government to pay salaries and benefits and pensions to “nonessential” government employees?—Drew Page

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Why is it that Congress and administrations have completely ignored the need for a real budget? The continuing resolutions are nothing but padding that has pushed us over the brink.

Social programs should not include Social Security and Medicare because they are prepaid, mandated items by all workers from their paychecks. If it had been left in a trust account or at least something that would gain interest, and not “borrowed” from by the government on a whim, it would be in better shape.

The older people did not have the options that are available now for pension and retirement savings. Plus, had Social Security Administration accounts been interest-bearing, the cost of living adjustment might actually have been steadier.

Every business and family unit should have a budget or spending plan that is laid out for at least one year, every year. Then a tentative estimate of the following year. The budget plan needs to be started by no later than March of each year, so that it can be completed by Sept. 1 of each year to allow enough time for everyone to read it and be able to ask questions before voting to accept. That includes both houses of Congress, the administration, and the American people.

There are far too many departments in government, and I would say that most are entirely unnecessary. Which goes against the Constitution, which was written to control the size and meddling of government affecting our private lives.—Karin Callaway, Florida

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Short of direct humanitarian or emergency aid, I would end all foreign aid. Unless there is a country that actually does something in return for the aid received; that country is Israel, which I wholeheartedly support.

The irony is that most Jewish Americans do not support Israel. Or they certainly don’t vote that way, voting overwhelmingly for Democrats who clearly do not support Israel.—Paul Johnson

The ‘Yellow Vest’ Riots in France

Dear Daily Signal: To be fair, the French in the past 15 years riot at the drop of a hat, and it’s hard to tell fun from substance (“France’s Riots Fueled by Anger at Elites,  Rich”). The French middle class is disappearing and being replaced by a benefits-dependent, alienated, polyglot lower-middle class.

Of course, the same could be said for the U.S., where Ivy League graduates hold 90 percent of the power. The rest of society deals with heroin and methamphetamine addicts, who are proclaimed the true victims who need even more federal money.—Gerry Wright

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Back in the 1970s, I was told by an expert that France had a law requiring companies to pay those they lay off for a full two years. That may explain why young people with degrees often have to volunteer for a company for up to three years before they are accepted on the actual payroll.

This kind of thing started to happen here during the Obama years. No wonder so many millennials tend toward the left. It may not just be indoctrination.—Dee Hodges

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The American revolt against arrogant elitists in November 2016 was a lot more orderly.—Boyd Richardson

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We have the same divide here in the U.S. between people who work for a living and are overtaxed by an out-of-touch political class on both sides. This political class thinks that no tax is high enough and no spending big enough on the part of Big Brother.—Barry Takacss

This and That 

Dear Daily Signal: In response to Troy Worden’s article, “Michigan Lawmakers Urge Fast-Food Chains to Stop Offering ‘Gender Classified’ Toys,” also featured on the podcast the next day, I can say only that I’m proud to be a Floridian. The Michigan lawmakers have lost their minds.

If Michigan legislators think that classifying or not classifying a toy is going to change a child’s mind, then they haven’t spent enough time around children. Children don’t care how we, as adults, classify a toy. They simply want a toy to play with, and they want what they want.

Just because certain genders are predisposed to picking certain types of toys over others has nothing to do with it. This is not a gender identity issue, as state Rep. Leslie Love tries to make it into. It’s simply another way to ban free speech, and if too many left-wing Democrats get ahold of this legislation, I’m afraid to say what I predict could happen because I don’t want it to come to pass.

Love needs to have her head examined for bringing this up in the first place. She has no business being in public office or anywhere near the public. The best thing for her to do is go hide in a cave. I have cousins in Michigan, and I don’t want them exposed to her ideas. I don’t want to see their minds corrupted as hers obviously has been.

Excellent reporting. Thank you.—Keri Lynn Siegel, Delray Beach, Fla.

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In response to David Harsanyi’s commentary “Dear TSA: Please Stop Molesting Kids at the Airport,” may I add this example. The last time we flew, a few years ago, my wife and I entered a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint for the flight home to Oregon from California. Approaching the agent, I greeted him warmly, at which point he demanded I empty my personal bags in his presence.

I immediately realized he was simply being an arrogant power guru, and his authority probably couldn’t be challenged. So I looked him in the eye and said we, this nation’s taxpayers, spent how many millions on this equipment to speed up this process, yet here now you’re telling me it was a waste of our tax dollars?

I told the agent that as a taxpayer I wanted to know if we taxpayers are in fact getting good value for our dollars, then immediately I tossed my bag onto their system and it passed through. Then I looked at him and asked, “Did you hear any bells or alarms go off?”

Next, I told his colleagues to send my bag back to me so I could test it in the next baggage pass-through lane. At which point the agent told me to get the hell out of his presence.

My wife had to empty her bag, as she didn’t choose to challenge him as I did. I observed that he barely looked at her possessions, as soon after she caught up to me.

As I departed, I heard the TSA agent tell a beautiful young woman to empty her bags, which she did. At that point it was obvious he was both misusing his authority and, in her case, keeping her in his area where he probably wrapped her within his thoughts.

That was the last time we flew or ever will again. We as taxpayers and paying customers won’t put up with arrogant, taxpayer-funded government employees dishonoring us with their misuse of power.

I wonder if anyone ever bothered to take a survey to determine who and how many, like us, have discontinued flying permanently because of dishonorable TSA mistreatment? Has anyone every taken a survey on how many opposite-gender citizens are equally mistreated because of their sexual appeal?—Ron Dale, Boise, Idaho

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Great podcast by Rob Bluey and Ginny Montalbano on teaching civics. I am proud to see my alma mater, Arizona State University, push for civics being taught (“Podcast: The Importance of Civics Education“).

As a former intern of John McCain’s first Senate campaign, I am excited by the bill recently introduced by Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., and Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, to have civics introduced in K-12 schools all over America.

With both good citizens and good government, the United States of America will always remain free and strong. Yes, we can restore our republic and keep alive “that glorious liberty document,”our amazing Constitution.—Bill King, Pittsburgh

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Hillsdale College has been teaching civics for generations. But good for Arizona State University to get in on an important subject.

The more people learn, especially young people, perhaps we will see more truth and less obstruction of free speech on our campuses.—Vince Lorenz

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After reading Fred Lucas’ report, it seems like most Americans should be able to be convinced that an investigation that goes on for well over two years has little to do with justice and is all about a political agenda (“3 Times Special Prosecutors Were Fired”).

I say it’s time for special counsel Robert Mueller to put up or be shut down.—Tom Yunghans

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Great column by John York on salary increases for federal  workers (“Giving a Raise to All Federal Employees Makes No Sense“). I want all the perks stopped, and a great way would be to start releasing bureaucrats to compensate for any and all benefits. Big government is bad and like cancer feeds on itself. This would help clean up the swamp, and fiscal reform would help restore discipline and accountability.—Brennan Edwards, Savannah, Ga.

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Pawan Kalyan is not only an actor or political leader, he is a great human being, as your podcast reveals (“Movie Star Leads a Youthful Revolution in India”). The sky is the limit for his humanity.

Kalyan helped a lot of poor people, helped cancer patients, and addressed people issues to government. He is definitely going to play a vital role in Indian politics. God bless India, the U.S., and Pawan Kalyan.—Vara Prasad

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It takes a great effort to be able to come to the USA and try to represent the problems back in India, and also the problems of immigrants. We sincerely thank Pawan Kalyan and Nadendla Manohar for voicing their opinions and aspirations. Thanks a lot, Daily Signal, for publishing this to a wider American audience.—Naveen Budi

Sarah Sleem helped to compile this edition of “We Hear You” which has been modified since publication to include the letter from Janet Anderson on the death of journalist Bre Payton.