Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Crisis

To say that the relief efforts for Puerto Rico after getting slammed by Category 5 hurricane Maria are going far too slow is an understatement.

Relief efforts that should have taken a day to begin took instead almost an entire week. Shipping supplies to the island was hampered by trump's refusal to exempt the Jones Act - necessary to allow cargo ships to deliver the bulk of needed goods - during the earliest days of this crisis. While there are military and FEMA response teams in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, they are too meager a presence compared to the scale of rescue and recovery required.

Compared to relief efforts for Houston (Harvey) and Florida (Irma), the response of the trump administration to Puerto Rico seems intentional negligence.

So, responding to all the harsh criticisms rising up as the national news outlets began covering Puerto Rico's recovery efforts, trump went and tweeted...

Basically accusing the Puerto Ricans of being lazy nobodies unwilling to save their own communities. Accusing Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz of partisanship, and accusing the "fake news" of established networks CNN and NBC of "disparaging the first responders" when those news channels are actually disparaging him.

And he's tweeting all this while going on yet another golfing weekend to one of his clubs. He's not on the ground, finding out first-hand how packed the hospitals and shelters are, how much damage needs to get picked up before any rebuilding can happen.

I lived through Irma as it smashed through Florida. I work in Bartow, and even with all of the emergency electrical crews and tree cutters helping out, this small town still has debris to pick up and parts of the surrounding county without power. And this is two weeks after that storm passed through. Try multiplying the damage and recovery of a small town with 20,000 to a large island with 3.5 million people, and then add onto that how Maria was more powerful than Irma.

There has long been this dread, ever since November 9th, of how a trump-led White House would respond to genuine crises. Up until now, most of the disasters of this trump Era have been self-inflicted. But now we're here: an honest to God national crisis of watching our territorial members Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands suffer through the aftermaths of a powerful hurricane season (which isn't over yet), and "trump goes golfing" replaces the "Nero fiddled while Rome burned" meme in the national consciousness.

The reports coming out now aren't good. There may be 16 confirmed deaths, but it is still far too early to know the final death toll because of the lack of power, food, clean water, and air conditioning. Hurricane Maria hit the entire island, and Puerto Rico has 3.5 million residents to account for.

Right now, this dog has done more for Puerto Rico than trump has.

It is clear trump does not care what is happening in Puerto Rico.

62 million of you voted for that.

God help us.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Aid to Puerto Rico

If trump is too busy to tweet about Puerto Rico's financial woes before the hurricanes hit, the rest of us might actually try to do something about HELPING OUR FELLOW AMERICANS (yes, Puerto Ricans are citizens ever since 1917):

Charity Navigator

Florida Association for Volunteer Action in the Caribbean and the Americas

All Hands Volunteers

ShelterBox USA

Unitarian Disaster Relief

United for Puerto Rico

National Voluntary Organizations Active In Disasters (supplies)

Do take the time to make sure the charities you're donating to are legitimate and have a history of helping out.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Take A Knee, America. Tell trump to Go F-ck Himself.

So how can we tell donald trump is a racist white supremacist bastard?

he goes to Alabama and makes a public display of himself:

Speaking to a crowd in Huntsville, Alabama Friday night, President Trump said he hoped NFL players who knelt during the national anthem—which they've done to protest unjustified police killings of black Americans—would lose their jobs.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners,  when somebody disrespects our flag,” Trump said, “to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out. He’s fired. He’s fired!’ ” ...The president appeared to be referring to  former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who last year began kneeling during the national anthem to draw attention to unjustified killings of black men by law enforcement.
Just to note, Kaepernick is currently out of the football league because NFL owners are refusing - even when the coaches and GMs want to sign him - to hire Kaep because of his Black Lives Matter stance.

Hold on, there's more.
...On Saturday morning, Trump singled out Steph Curry of the NBA champion Golden State Warriors, saying he had rescinded an invitation for them to come to the White House. “Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team. Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!” the president tweeted. (Curry had announced in June that he did not want to go, and had recently reiterated that opposition.)
In response, LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers tweeted that Trump was a “bum,” writing, “U bum @StephenCurry30 already said he ain't going! So therefore ain't no invite. Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!”
The president’s harsh condemnations of Kaepernick and like-minded players, as well as (ESPN pundit Jemele) Hill, stand in stark contrast to his earlier, sluggish reaction to the white supremacist protest in Charlottesville, in which a counter-protester, Heather Heyer, was killed, allegedly by a white supremacist.
That protest, the president insisted, had “very fine people on both sides.”

We're talking about a guy in trump who uses these outbursts to stir up HIS voter base, which happens to be mostly White, mostly male, and mostly racist.

Meanwhile, here's hoping the NFL players use this Sunday game schedule to #TakeAKnee in solidarity with Kaepernick and in direct opposition to trump's divisive, foolish, spiteful rhetoric.

We all need to, America. For the Love of GOD, tell this bullying shitgibbon he doesn't speak for you.

Update: I also rant about how bad the Tampa Bay Bucs play from time to time over at, and this week's observations included this bit:

9) I know I shouldn't use this as a moment to rant politics - I have other places like my own blog to do that - but having donald trump abuse Colin Kaepernick's right to protest this weekend underscores a serious problem our nation still has regarding racism. What Kaepernick - and the Black Lives Matter people - are protesting is a long history of police brutality aimed at Black communities that has exploded in the past decade into the public spotlight. Trying to label it as an unpatriotic protest against the Flag, or the National Anthem, or our troops and veterans ignores that problem of race. When you see trump continue his attacks against Black athletes and Black sports media people like Jamele Hill, you see him doing it to huge crowds of angry, confederate-flag-waving White audiences at his rallies. It's not that he's employing the "dog whistle" of racial politics, he's using a damn sound system from a Ted Nugent concert.
That a lot of players and coaches - and even a few owners - today signaled their solidarity with Kaepernick - either by Taking A Knee themselves, locking arms with each other along the sidelines, or refusing to come out for the National Anthem period - is a good sign that people will oppose trump's efforts at racism and his efforts to silence criticism aimed at himself or his beliefs. Whether or not you believe racism is a problem in the United States is still up to you. Whether or not you believe this kind of talk doesn't have to involve sports, you'll be ignoring a history of sports where baseball was segregated for decades, where Jesse Owens was treated like crap by his own Olympics team leadership, and you've still got rich Black athletes roughed up by cops under questionable circumstances. And that's just three things I can recall off the top of my head.
I know this is going to get people commenting below, as long as the moderators will leave this up. If you do comment, please avoid severe profanity and questions about my parentage. Thank ye.

I may get some heated responses...

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Off Topic: Starting a Death Metal/Punk/Dance/Techno Cover Band

Okay, so, during the cleanup from Hurricane Irma, news got out of a Catholic nun in full uniform grabbing a chainsaw and helping clear out the fallen trees around her Catholic school.

Sister Margaret Ann
So it hit me: Chainsaw Nun. BEST NAME FOR A ROCK BAND EVER.

I created a band logo:

And made some half-serious comments on Facebook about what songs the band would cover, like "Communion Breakdown" "Benedict and the Jets" and "Hells Bells" (well, straight covers would work too).

But I dunno. It's in my head and won't go away. Part of me wants to grab a bass guitar, learn the basics, and form a real band to at least try making one crazy album. Just to say I did.

It'd be fun.

Thing is, it'll cost money (even filing a trademark cost about $275 minimum). So if I want to pursue this, I'm going to start up a GoFundMe page. But that's a serious step. No turning back if I go that far.

Should I? Should I start a GoFundMe page, start up Chainsaw Nun as a real act (need to find a lead guitarist who can make the guitar rev like a chainsaw, plus a drummer and a singer)?

Please leave a comment, Yes or No.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

World's Darkest Punchline

In another round of "He said WHAT" today, when Loser of the Popular Vote trump spoke to the General Assembly of the United Nations (via Washington Post):

The president warned of growing threats from North Korea and Iran, and he said, “The scourge of our planet is a group of rogue regimes.”
He praised the U.N. for enacting economic sanctions on Pyongyang over its nuclear and ballistic missile tests. But he emphasized that if Kim Jong Un's regime continued to threaten the United States and to destabilize East Asia, his administration would be prepared to defend the country and its allies.
“We will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” Trump said, before calling Kim by a nickname he gave the dictator on Twitter over the weekend. “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself.”
So basically trump just publicly insulted a military-backed dictator perfectly capable and willing to attack our regional allies like South Korea and Japan, as well as our territorial places like Guam.

In a place where diplomacy is the religion, and showing public decorum and manners is important.

trump is basically spoiling for a fight in the one place you're NOT SUPPOSED TO PUBLICLY SPOIL FOR A FIGHT.

Saturday Night Live was not kidding about this:


Man bursts into tears. "But doctor, I *am* Pagliacci."

Laugh all you want. But it's a deep bleak laugh at the joke we've pulled on ourselves.

And the whole world is going to have to make a choice: Save themselves by ostracizing a major power, or let themselves sink into the black hole that is trump.

We are so royally fucked.

Republican Congress Trying to Kill Health Care. AGAIN.

It's the circus that never ends, kids.

Even after three failed tries while in majority control of both wings of Congress, the GOP Senate is pushing one more plan to gut the everloving shit out of Obamacare (via Jeffrey Young at HuffPost):

For what feels like the 1,000th time this year, the Republican Senate is looking to ram through a hugely consequential health care bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act and “replace” it with ... a lot less.
The GOP Congress only has until Sept. 30 to advance health care legislation with a bare majority in the Senate, because that is when the special procedural rules enabling them to avoid a Democratic filibuster expire. That deadline seems to be motivating Republicans to line up behind a bill sponsored by Republican Sens. Bill Cassidy (La.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.). This could mean a vote next week.
That’s despite the fact that this legislation has never been the subject of a public debate or the normal congressional committee process. The Congressional Budget Office also won’t have time to analyze how many people would have health insurance as a result of the bill, or how much the premiums would cost.
In other words, Congress would be passing a bill with major ramifications for many millions of people without first finding out exactly what it does...

You'll notice the Republicans in charge of the Senate do not care about procedure. They do not care about the costs of what they're trying to pass. They do not care to debate this in public.

They only care about the goddamn tax cuts for the rich they'll get out of this move.

I've said this before: Republicans can't help themselves. There's this terrible mix of sadism and greed that drives the party leadership to repeat themselves on achieving their obsessive goals towards tax cuts and deregulation and privatization. Even after decades of evidence that shows every promise they make about all that never pans out, and even after their efforts make things worse with collapsing economies and collapsing (or exploding) infrastructures.

So it's back to the phones, everybody. Call the Senate, call your Senator's local offices in-state, and register your horror and anger that Congress is trying to gut health care coverage. Again. And again. And again. AND AGAIN...

You wanna stop making these phone calls, America? STOP VOTING REPUBLICANS INTO OFFICE.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

I Survived Hurricane Irma With This Realization

Either we need to upgrade our electrical grid so that we NEVER lose power in any community; or we push our engineering industry to develop a durable, reliable solar-powered air conditioning system that will keep us Floridians chill while we recover from passing storms.

The woman who invents that solar-powered air conditioner becomes a GODDESS in the state of Florida, I kid you not.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Hurricane Irma Report Sunday September 10 2017

The winds are here now. It's been raining since 10 AM. The streets aren't flooded but there's still hours more for rain to fall.

This may be my last blog update. Irma's eye is aimed for Tampa Bay and I will be in that path. I just want to say one last thing.

I hope the Southernmost Shed in Key West survived.

Wait, also, one more thing. Impeach trump.

And I hope Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a good movie. I hate to miss it.

And Thor: Ragnarok! I don't wanna miss that either!

And Hugh Jackman should get nominated for an Oscar for his final role as Logan. Also Sir Patrick Stewart for Best Supporting. And Robin Wright for her supporting role in Wonder Woman.

I don't want to go.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

America's Original Sin, Given Human Form

For all my rage against donald trump as a con artist, a failure, and a horrifying mockery of a human being, I don't have the eloquence or skill to describe him the way Ta-Nehisi Coates does in his latest essay for The Atlantic.

You REALLY need to follow this link and read the whole thing.

Coates gives precise historical context how trump came to rise atop the Republican hill as a fearmongering white supremacist, giving form to 250-plus years of racial politics:

...To Trump, whiteness is neither notional nor symbolic but is the very core of his power. In this, Trump is not singular. But whereas his forebears carried whiteness like an ancestral talisman, Trump cracked the glowing amulet open, releasing its eldritch energies. The repercussions are striking: Trump is the first president to have served in no public capacity before ascending to his perch. But more telling, Trump is also the first president to have publicly affirmed that his daughter is a “piece of ass.” The mind seizes trying to imagine a black man extolling the virtues of sexual assault on tape (“When you’re a star, they let you do it”), fending off multiple accusations of such assaults, immersed in multiple lawsuits for allegedly fraudulent business dealings, exhorting his followers to violence, and then strolling into the White House. But that is the point of white supremacy—to ensure that that which all others achieve with maximal effort, white people (particularly white men) achieve with minimal qualification. Barack Obama delivered to black people the hoary message that if they work twice as hard as white people, anything is possible. But Trump’s counter is persuasive: Work half as hard as black people, and even more is possible...
...Trump’s white support was not determined by income. According to Edison Research, Trump won whites making less than $50,000 by 20 points, whites making $50,000 to $99,999 by 28 points, and whites making $100,000 or more by 14 points. This shows that Trump assembled a broad white coalition that ran the gamut from Joe the Dishwasher to Joe the Plumber to Joe the Banker. So when white pundits cast the elevation of Trump as the handiwork of an inscrutable white working class, they are being too modest, declining to claim credit for their own economic class. Trump’s dominance among whites across class lines is of a piece with his larger dominance across nearly every white demographic...

Here's the bit that should force every White trump voter to hang their heads in guilt (and to the non-White trump voters, what the hell were you thinking???):

The focus on one subsector of Trump voters—the white working class—is puzzling, given the breadth of his white coalition. Indeed, there is a kind of theater at work in which Trump’s presidency is pawned off as a product of the white working class as opposed to a product of an entire whiteness that includes the very authors doing the pawning. The motive is clear: escapism. To accept that the bloody heirloom remains potent even now, some five decades after Martin Luther King Jr. was gunned down on a Memphis balcony—even after a black president; indeed, strengthened by the fact of that black president—is to accept that racism remains, as it has since 1776, at the heart of this country’s political life. The idea of acceptance frustrates the left. The left would much rather have a discussion about class struggles, which might entice the white working masses, instead of about the racist struggles that those same masses have historically been the agents and beneficiaries of. Moreover, to accept that whiteness brought us Donald Trump is to accept whiteness as an existential danger to the country and the world.

You should really read the whole thing. The whole history of the United States brokering on slavery and racial divisions, the stuff that the Lost Causers would rather ignore while defending their Confederate statues, is what you need to read to understand just how fucked up our political system is: so desperate for White Power to stand above all others that it would risk the worst human being on the planet in our White House, destroying every institutional norm with his greed and stupidity, with his equally greedy and ill-informed lackeys adding to the inferno.

We should be better than this, America. That enough of you sided with trump is a horrifying reality that needs fixing.

Looking For Cover With an Oncoming Storm

I mentioned in an earlier post I was looking at a hurricane hitting Florida by the end of this week.

Well, it's still coming: say Hello to Hurricane Irma!

It's the most powerful hurricane to come along (I think) since Andrew. It's currently at a Category 5 (there is no 6) and at power and size that hasn't been seen in years.

It's already wiped out Barbuda in the Leeward Islands.

That video is a clip of Irma's winds hitting Puerto Rico. It's currently at 180 MPH (sustained). By comparison, the hurricanes I sat through while living in Gainesville FL in 2004 - Charley and Frances - had 150 MPH and 145 MPH winds. The winds can be lethal: They blow buildings and forests apart and then turn the debris into weapons. Granted, by the time Irma hits Florida it could downgrade to a Category 4 at lesser winds, but the way things are going

I have two options: get in a car with my kittehs and drive out of the path of the storm, or hunker down and wait it out. I've got enough food and water for now to wait it out, but if it stays at Cat 5 when it hits Miami, I might consider getting the hell out of Polk County.

We're already looking at the damages and lives lost from Harvey over in Texas. We're now facing something worse here in Florida.

And there's another hurricane - Hi, Jose! - in Irma's wake.

Just saying here: it's not that climate change makes more hurricanes, it's that the climate change makes these hurricanes more dangerous...

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

What Republicans Do: Killing The American Dream

Our nation hasn't always been a beacon of liberty and acceptance. As James Fallows noted over at the Atlantic:

That is, immigration has always been disruptive, from the time of the Germans and Irish in the mid-1800s to the groups I was seeing a century-plus later, or their counterparts today. And periodically this disruption has led to political and legal responses that looked bad (and racially driven) in retrospect, from the Chinese Exclusion Act of the 1880s to the nativist restrictions that essentially shut down most immigration for almost a generation after World War I.

And as Fallows notes, we as a nation was able to adapt, able to accept because it was in our national character to do so:

But—I argued 30 years ago in The Atlantic, and have come to believe more strongly over the years—the United States differed from most other societies in its greater absorptive ability, and the resulting imperfectly open society enjoyed powerful economic, cultural, creative, diplomatic, actuarial, and simple human benefits from becoming a nation-of-nations.
So that’s my starting point. E Pluribus Unum is a real thing, and it is the fundamental American advantage...

So what do the Republicans do when they're in political power? Destroy that fundamental American advantage for the short-term gains of appeasing an angry Nativist base.

trump's call to end an Obama program DACA - which allowed for the children of illegal immigrants (nicknamed DREAMers) to remain in the US for education and employment, since many of them were mere babies when their parents came here - isn't serving any legal or national security purpose, despite what a grinning AG Sessions says. Every argument Sessions made during his announcement yesterday - that DREAMers took away jobs, that they were violent criminals, that they were living off the government dole - were provable lies, and yet he threw them out there because the Far Right anti-immigrant crowd would scoop it up like caviar.

What trump and Sessions hope to do - purify the nation by blocking the dread Other as immigrants - may appease the hater base, but it will do serious harm to our economy and to the United States' global standing. Worse, it will punish a set of Americans - yes, they are - whose only crime was that they are innocent - yes, they are - of their parents' coming here as illegals. DREAMers are those who grew up in the USA, learned English, pledged allegiance to the Stars and Stripes, worked part-time at service jobs, made friends with other Americans, moved on to college to get better educated and better work. Kicking them out of the United States would be like kicking white guys like me out of the country: because like me those kids would be strangers in lands they don't know, coping with loss of livelihood and identity.

This is sadistic. This is cruelty. What trump is doing is blatant racism.

And why is trump able to do this. Because the Republican Party he represents has no problem with him attacking Latinos (and Blacks, and Women, and Asians, and Transgenders, and...).

The Republicans have opposed sensible immigration reform for decades. When their own party leaders Bush the Lesser and Karl Rove tried to push an immigration platform in 2005 - looking at the long-term reality that the GOP needed to right themselves with Hispanics - the Congressional Republicans voted it down. When confronted with doing either 1) the humane, profitable thing by legalizing illegals and restructuring our immigration policy or 2) refusing to fix a collapsing system and making it worse by deporting genuinely effective and hard-working Americans - yes, they are - just to make sure they win their midterm primaries... Republicans consistently go with 2).

Which isn't crazy.

Just racist.

When you combine this with the overall Republican agenda of massive tax cuts for the rich, massive deregulation of worker and public safety, massive slashing of the social safety net, you get a political party that has no love or respect for the American Dream. The idea that any one person can improve his/her lot in life, pursue a meaningful career, and enjoy the benefits of friends and family.

Everything the Republicans want to do will make it harder for Americans to get educated, for Americans to get good jobs at good wages, for Americans to take pride in their accomplishments. They are pushing an agenda of the rich, for the rich, to the exclusion of everyone else.

And to accomplish that, Republicans have to lie and bully and deny, to hurt Americans simply because of the color of their skin, or the form of their gender, or the beliefs they hold. They sell racism to their voter base to keep them angry and motivated and voting even against their own best interests, because that hatred burns out any kind of compassion or empathy.

What trump is doing isn't weird or abnormal. It's just the Republican playbook on steroids, bulldozing down entire communities all so the rich can buy the ashes.

And it's racist as hell.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Going Into September With a Lot On My Mind

Just a few notes:

  • We still have a sadistic prick in the White House, ruining people's lives.
  • Houston is still flooded, struggling to climb out of the damage Hurricane Harvey left behind. The environmental impacts aren't fully confirmed, but there's a likelihood of mass toxic spills and health hazards in the months/years to come.
  • We have another hurricane aimed for Florida sometime at the end of this week.
  • Congress is coming back after Labor Day, for a session that will likely see a push towards a budget that slashes billions in exchange for the GOP's obsessive need to cut taxes on the uberrich.
  • trump's mishandling of foreign affairs is still making a mess of Asia, as North Korea launches more missiles and trump is showing signs he'll let South Korea (and Japan, also Guam) burn if it means getting himself a cozy little war.
  • A possible vote on raising the debt ceiling to where the wingnut GOP caucus might gum up the vote to force a shutdown and default.
  • There's even a slim chance McConnell will bring back a voting motion to kill off Obamacare before the parliamentary rules of Congress block him from doing so.
On the bright side, Mueller's investigation into trumpian misdeeds is keeping pace. Although it'd be nice if he wraps it up soon and, you know, arrest everybody from trump on down who betrayed our elections using Russian help. Just sayin', sometime this week would be great before trump does something like knock over liquor stores in Anacostia or something.