Here is an interesting analogy of the Trump wall vs. the Democrats’ tech solution without a wall: I was watching a TV commercial featuring “Mayhem,” the marauding insurance menace, and I thought this, in my mind, is a contemporary comparison of the current debate. The tech solution of the doorbell cam (drones, cameras, detection devices), through which the homeowner views Mayhem announcing he is going to steal said owner’s car and the owner’s only response is, “what, what,” while watching as his car is broken into and driven away. The homeowner had a great view of what was happening, but was helpless to do anything to stop it.

Had the homeowner had his car in a gated community, a wall, or even a garage, a form of wall or fence, he would have been safe(er) than with no barrier at all.

Call me crazy, but technology and physical barriers make the most sense to me — all the way to the end of the commercial.

Philip Goodwin, Brooklyn Park

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Democrats could initiate a reopening of the federal government by offering an appropriation of, say, $50 million for an Army Corps of Engineers study and project proposal to arrive at specifics on the route, land-acquisition requirements, wall architecture, construction timeline and cost estimates. This preliminary work would have to be done in any event before bids could be solicited, so why not give the president a nod, buy time for sanity to prevail, and move on?

Bob Norberg, Lake City, Minn.

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There are nine congressional districts that span the Southern border. The congressmembers are Democrats and Republicans, elected by the people of the borderlands to represent their interests.

All nine oppose Trump’s wall.

Dave Pederson, Tucson, Ariz.

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I heard pretty interesting talk recently on public radio by a very bright speaker. She said in her experience, many issues seem to follow a 70-20-10 formula. Both sides can often agree on about 70 percent of an issue, and another 20 percent can be resolved through negotiation. Sometimes the 10 percent can never be agreed upon. Wouldn’t it make good sense to get 90 percent of the border security and government shutdown fixed?

David Stene, Dayton

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The Jan. 10 editorial (“What’s the best way to secure border?”) contained sound ideas for what the president “should” or “could” do to end the shutdown. Unfortunately, he has not demonstrated the ability to rationally examine the border situation. Rather, he goes on national television with a stream of exaggerations and falsehoods.

For too long, an influential group of individuals — Republican leaders in Congress — have been on the sidelines of this issue, acting helpless. If they thought Trump’s plan for a border wall had strong merit, they would have worked to push it through while they had control of both chambers. They did not, which signals that they are not in lockstep agreement with the president themselves.

Now, the majority leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, refuses to bring a vote on related legislation without the president’s preapproval. Again, he chooses to be ineffective. Republican congressional leaders — especially those in the Senate — need to realize that they are part of a separate branch of government, not lackeys of the president. A few of them have started to speak up to find common ground with the Democrats and reopen government, and many more should follow suit. Reasonable people can find reasonable solutions. Not enough of them are looking.

Lisa Wersal, Vadnais Heights

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Let’s suppose for a moment that Trump has succeeded in building his wall. Now what? There’s never been a wall in the world that hasn’t been breached. The wall will not do what Trump and the GOP believe it will. It will have to be guarded along its entire length 24 hours a day. Over time, three shifts of thousands of guards will cost an amount far in excess of the original building costs. And what will these guards do as people start coming over and under the wall? The East Germans shot their refugees. I think Donald Trump would like that option. Of course, thinking people in this country and all the rest of the world would react with absolute horror. Who would want to come here after that? Maybe that’s been his plan all along.

Nancy Harris, St. Paul

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In 2006, an overwhelming majority of the U.S. Senate passed “The Secure Fence Act” by a vote of 80 to 19. Among those voting for the building of a border barrier on our Southern border with Mexico was Chuck Schumer: “Illegal immigration is wrong, plain and simple. When we use phrases like undocumented workers, we convey a message to the American people that their government is not serious about combating illegal immigration, which the American people overwhelmingly oppose.” In 2005, then-Sen. Barack Obama weighed in: “We simply cannot allow people to pour into the United States undetected, undocumented, unchecked and circumnavigating the line of people who are waiting patiently, diligently and lawfully, to become immigrants into this country.” Schumer, Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton all voted for the border barrier act.

Twelve years later, we are dealing with dramatically higher numbers of would-be immigrants, many of them with children. The world is a hard place. Hundreds of millions around the world would give anything to migrate to a country as compassionate and generous as ours. Every society has its limits. We already spend hundreds of billions of dollars each year to incur the costs of illegal migrants. Remember the would-be migrants worldwide who have submitted their proper documentation, only to learn that they must wait as long as 12 years to gain entry. It is long since time that we secured our borders. When we do so, we welcome those migrants who have followed all of our rules, most waiting many, many years for the unique opportunity to become American citizens.

Mark H. Reed, Plymouth

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The president and other wall supporters seem to forget that the needed land is not vacant. Ranchers and others rely on access to the Rio Grande for their livelihoods.

Betty Wentworth, Minnetonka


Wondering about the effect, if any, on that growing team of attorneys

Long before he orchestrated the federal government partial shutdown, President Donald Trump imposed a freeze on adding new federal employees. Although that hiring hiatus has expired in most quarters, it was followed by a freeze of wages for federal employees, which is still in place.

But this week the president frenetically added 17 new attorneys to his team of lawyers fending off criminal investigations and prospective congressional inquiries.

The frenzy and freezes lead to some questions:

1) Are the new Trump attorneys subject to be furloughed like so many other federal employees?

2) If not, are they classified as “essential” employees?

3) If so, how are they to be paid?

4) If the government can’t compensate workers to keep the national parks clean, why should it pay a horde of lawyers to help the president clean up the multiple messes he has created?

Marshall H. Tanick, Minneapolis


Ryan Saunders’ good start

It was heartening to read about the young Ryan Saunders’ debut as interim head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves (“Saunders: Engaged but not enraged,” Sports, Jan. 10). I don’t follow basketball, but I’m fascinated by good leadership. Here’s a man who: is smart enough to consider all options and make good choices under intense pressure; honors the history of his franchise; listens with sensitivity to his team; acts with respect for those who oppose him; gives praise where it’s earned; and expertly manages his own emotions. Any corporation, nonprofit or government entity would be fortunate to have such a wealth of qualities in its CEO/president.

Nancy Gaschott, Minneapolis