Thursday, August 31, 2017

Harvey Tragedy Just Beginning

It will take time, probably weeks, for the flood waters in southeast Texas to recede. That's assuming other storms do not add to the misery. As they slowly drop they will reveal the corpses of both animals and humans who could not get out of the way.

Outbreaks of disease, such as dysentery, are likely for the people forced to wade through waist deep water or drink water contaminated by the flooding. Other diseases likely to flourish are typhoid fever and cholera. All that standing water will lead to a booming mosquito population with all the diseases they spread, think West Nile Virus.

The chemical plant fire in Crosby may not itself be too dangerous as it manufactures organic peroxides, but the owners have been stonewalling on what chemicals have been burning and exploding so we can't know for sure. Some of the chemicals used in making organic peroxides, such as Benzene, are known carcinogens. More worrisome are the many flooded chemical plants and oil refineries that are suspiciously silent on the conditions of their plants.

Many southeast Texas residents will not live to see the recovery of their flooded neighborhoods. It's been twelve years since Katrina hit New Orleans and much of the Lower Ninth Ward is still a ghost town.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Republicans and Their Jokes

I'm sick of Republicans go to excuse whenever they get caught saying something vicious, insensitive, or just plain stupid. "I was joking," they say.

If we are to take Republicans at their words, they are all just a bunch of clowns joking about such light-hearted things like police brutality, antisemitism, and how going blind is super presidential. Problem is, they don't know how to tell jokes.

A Guide to Republican Jokesters
1) If you are saying something vicious, choose your venue well. A speech is not a good venue to joke about police beating prisoners as people will take you seriously. Try a comedy club setting. Take the time to set up your joke, don't just drop a bomb. Also, always laugh at your vicious jokes to let people know you are being funny. Let Jimmy Carr show you.

2) While it is never good for a politician to joke about sexism and racism you can soften the blow by being so outrageous that no one will mistake you for a neanderthal misanthrope. This 1990's Harry Enfield skit would not be funny in a modern setting but having it look like a 1940 instructional film insures it is seen as a joke from the start.

3) Tucker Carlson should take a lesson from Gilda Radner on how to present a silly argument in a way it will not be taken for a seriously stupid statement.

Soviet Jewelry from Gal Beckerman on Vimeo.

I don't often give advice to Republicans but they really need to learn how to tell a joke or people will just assume they are all prejudice imbeciles.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

20 Trillion Gallons of Water

That is the predicted rainfall in Texas due to hurricane Harvey. To put that is perspective, 20 trillion gallons is:
  • The total flow of the Mississippi River for two months.
  • The total capacity of the Great Salt Lake, times four.
  • Enough fresh water to supply all the water needs of Texas for five years. (agriculture, industry, human consumption)
  • The total fresh water usage of every household in the United States for six months.
Of course 99.99 percent of this rainfall will flow into the Gulf of Mexico helping no one and causing unimaginable devastation on the way.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Hurricane and Other Harvey's

Harvey the Hurricane
Galveston damage from hurricane Ike in 2008. Ike had a foot of rain, Harvey is predicted to drop three feet.
The director of FEMA was only confirmed for the job two months ago, so he probably by now knows where the paperclips are stored. By accounts, he is not an imbecile, so that's good. There is no director of Homeland Security, the department is being run by a career civil servant which is probably a blessing unless Trump appoints Jared to oversee the recovery.

As for Trump, he is spending the weekend when a biblical level flooding of southeast Texas is happening like he spends every weekend, playing golf. This time he will be at Camp David because it is cooler there than at his New Jersey course.

Harvey the Movie
The year 1950 saw a fun little movie starring James Stewart as a wealth eccentric whose best friend is a 6-foot rabbit.

Harvey the Song
Gotta go back to 1929 for this little jazz ditty written by Hoagy Carmichael and recorded by Irving Mills and his Hotsy-Totsy Gang. "Harvey's a sweet boy" as long as you don't turn your back on him.

Southwest Heatwave
Harvey is going to linger over Texas because of a blocking high pressure system that going to send thermometer breaking temperatures over Southern California.

As For Me...
The solar panels I've had installed last week will let me run my air conditioner during the heatwave without drawing on the electricity grid. Suck on that Rick Perry.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Afghanistan: Once More Unto the Breach

Insanity (noun): Doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.
Trump's speech tonight was a classic nothing burger. He didn't detail a plan, or outline a plan, or hint that there might even be a plan. There will be a troop surge. Just like in 2009 (multiple times), 2010 (to 100,000 soldiers), and 2015. Just like the Russians did during the 1980's.

This new surge that will have the same effect as the previous ones, Afghan fighters will melt into the population leaving few easy targets. Generals and politicians will become frustrated at the lack of any progress. There will be plenty of opium for bored soldiers to taste who will then be easy targets for hit-and-run attacks.

The one plan, such as it was, that Trump articulated was the promise of perpetual war. There was no stated goal except killing "terrorists." Where there is no goal there is no way of knowing if you've won. Winning becomes impossible.

For senior military officers a perpetual war allows for an endless collection of campaign ribbons, medals, and promotions. For weapons producers it means more decades of selling munitions to the army to be blown up and replaced by even more munitions.

And so the war will be passed to the next President, as it was passed from the previous two, and it will continue as long as there are patriotic young men willing to volunteer to be cannon fodder.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Cry Havoc and Let Slip the Dogs of War

War Dog.
Steven, the Dark Lord of Chaos, Bannon has been fired from the White House and has declared war. He is back at Brietbart promising to go "medieval" on Congress, the Jews (Ivanka, Jared, Gary Cohn), and generals who have corrupted Trump's white nationalist agenda.

Bannon will claim his war is with the MSM and "globalists," but confined within the narrow echo chamber of Brietbart this will be a civil war inside the Republican Party. The call is going out to primary the congressmen that fail the subservience to Bannon test. Given the degree of courage so far shown by congressional Republicans, many will choose to kneel before Bannon to save their jobs.

Why Bannon Was Fired
The statement that Bannon's departure was a mutual decision made two weeks ago is a common face saving cover story. Bannon was fired Thursday morning following Trump's pro-Nazi presser. This is why Bannon gave his own unhinged interview to American Prospect later than day. Bannon wanted his last official act as a presidential aide to be pissing on his boss.

As to why he was fired, Bannon was probably the primary leak source within the White House and he was certainly the devil sitting on Trump's shoulder encouraging his most self-destructive actions.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Anti-Fascists Are Heroes

Reading rightwing website (Redstate, National Review, Hotair) there is a divergence of opinions about Trump.
  • Some say he was right about both sides having fine people, that there must have been one or two innocent yokels that didn't realize that all those torch carrying thugs doing Hitler salutes and shouting hatred toward Jews were Nazis.
  • Others contend Trump didn't mean to give aid, comfort, and support to white supremacists because he is just so inarticulate and stupid.
  • And a rare few admit Trump is a racist who is dragging both the Republic Party and the nation into the gutter.
But there is one thing that all Republicans seem to agree on, anti-fascists (ANTIFA) are worse.

I'm here to tell you that anti-fascists are great.
Belgian underground resistance fighters
During World War II, my father's bomber was shot down over Nazi occupied Belgium. He was rescued by anti-fascists in the Comet line (Réseau Comète) who protected him for months from SS forces hunting downed American flyers. Several of these Belgian patriots were captured by the SS, tortured for information of Allied flyers, sent to concentration camps, or executed.

Because of the heroic actions of the anti-fascists, my father survived the war allowing him and my mother to conceive me. Although, now that I think about it, there are many Republicans in this Trump era who would look at me, a liberal Democrat, and wish my father had died at the hands of the SS so I wouldn't be alive to write this.

Anti-fascists are my heroes. I celebrate and honor the brave men and women opposing Nazi thugs in the streets and Nazi sympathizers in the White House.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

There Is No Such Thing As a Fine Nazi

Trump felt the need to mend fences with his white supremacists supporters today. Today he reiterated his initial, limp dick, statement. He defended Confederate rebel statues and said that there are "are very fine people on both sides."


These are very fine people.
French Resistance fighters
Jewish partisans defending the Warsaw Ghetto
American soldiers landing at Normandy

Heather Heyer, died defending freedom, Aug. 12, 2017
who fought for liberty, often at the cost of their lives - their Last Full Measure of Devotion.

These are pieces of shit.
After forcing the Jewish women from the Polish Mizocz Ghetto to strip naked, Nazi machine gunners killed them en masse. Then these two men walked among the bodies shooting any survivors.
German soldier, with scores of his comrades watching, shoots a Jewish man so he will topple into a mass grave. Vinnitsa, Ukraine
SS soldier shooting baby.
Nazi paraders, Charlottesville, Aug. 12, 2017
There is no "both sides" here. There is good and there is evil. Trump is choosing the side of evil.

Monday, August 14, 2017

It's Happening Here

A significant political movement, the Trump base, are happily goosestepping the nation to its doom.

The Walmart tiki torch parade in Charlottesville was a clear homage to the Nazi torchlight marches of the 1930's. (We're here, we're proud, we're going to finish what Hitler started.)

After Ivanka Trump denounced white supremacy by name commenters attacked her as a Jew traitor. (Fascist marchers in Charlottesville shouted "Jews will not replace us.")

The blame-both-sides crowd condemn anti-fascists, saying their counter protests were to blame for the fascist violence. (Anti-fascists are the real villains here.)

A nation's leader responds:
The scenes at the right-wing extremist march were absolutely repulsive ― naked racism, anti-Semitism and hate in their most evil form were on display.
Unfortunately, that wasn't from the American president but from German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

This is only a beginning as Trump obliquely encourages his supporters to march for "blood and soil" ethnic cleansing. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Why Trump Thanked Putin

After Congress imposed sanctions on Russia, Putin kicked out 755 US diplomats. And Trump thanked him.

Why say something so obviously demeaning?

In sadomasochism, the submissive is expected to thank his master for the torture he receives.

Trump was merely fulfilling his role as the gimp in the relationship.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

He's Only the President, Don't Listen to Him

The most interesting thing out of Trump's "fire and fury" rant is that the White House, meaning John Kelly, let it be known to the world that it should ignore what he said. It was "improvised" and not official policy.
That was doubled down by reports today that the Government in general is ignoring his statements on the theory that his short attention spaans he will quickly forget what he wanted. The White House is making it crystal clear that Trump is meaningless and that people should wait until they hear from Tillerson or Haley or Mattis or someone else with actual authority.

Mooch Can't Quit Being a Clown
Tony the Mooch has decided his 7½ minutes of fame hadn't made him a big enough laughingstock. He's beginning the late night comedy show circuit. And, no, I shan't watch, I don't like my laughter seasoned with vomit.

In other Moochnews, he is comparing himself to Monica Lewinsky which I assume means he is impressionable young bimbo and not that he gave Trump a blowjob.

Trump Making Friends
I'm guessing Trump never read this book because I seriously doubt that gratuitously attacking a man you need to help you if you want to get anything passed by Congress is one of the chapters. To be fair, Trump is just parroting what Steve Bannon whispers to him.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Madman On the Button

I've mentioned before that I developed a nihilist approach to nuclear conflict growing up during the Cold War having existentialist discussions with my elementary school friends during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Hiroshima, 1945.
I've also mused what war with North Korea will look like.
If there’s going to be a war, it’s going to be in the region, not here in America. ~ Sen. Lindsey Graham
Basically, Seoul wiped from the face of the Earth (along with your Samsung product warranties), millions dead, and Russia possibly using the chaos to invade eastern Europe triggering World War III.

Retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey was on MSNBC last night and, while acknowledging the apocalyptic lose of human life, predicted a Korean War would last only six months.

Generals are always predicting wars will be short. Donald Rumsfeld said the Iraq War would last less than five months. Lincoln's Secretary of State thought the Civil War would be over in 60 days. World War I was supposed to be "over by Christmas."

The first Korean War lasted three years and ended in a draw. There were 140,000 American servicemen killed and wounded and 2.5 million civilian casualties.
If we have them [nukes], why can’t we use them? ~ Trump, 2016
Then there are the madmen holding the triggers, and by the day it is getting harder to know which of them is more insane. One or the other may order a nuclear attack because of rampant paranoia or just because his hemorrhoids are acting up.

Sometimes, accepting the pointlessness of existence makes sense.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

What Happened on August 8, 1938

I recently read the Chicago Tribune from 79 years ago. It was a fascinating look into the past.
Nazi Bible
This was what I was looking for, an article written by Rev. John Evans. In the 1930's, Nazis decided to remove all references to Jews from the Bible. Gone was the entire Old Testament. Jesus was no longer descended from the Hebrew King David, his origin was now Germanic.

Concepts like "thou shall not kill" and "turn the other cheek" are nowhere to be found, to be replaced by the commandment to "keep the blood pure" and "Honor your Fuehrer and master." Cries of "Hosanna" were changed to "Heil."  Nationalism replaced peace as the driving command of faith.

Chicago Aliens Rush for Citizenship
Page five had an article on the doubling of people becoming naturalized citizens. This was considered a good thing. The bulk of the new citizens were Polish, escaping likely invasion from Germany and Russia, as well as refugees from fascist Germany and Italy.

Southern Invasion
Also on page five was an article about 2500 National Guardsmen practicing to defend Chicago. The scenario for this war game was that nine states of the old Confederacy split from the Union and, allied with a foreign power, invade the north to secure its industrial cities.

Palestine Troubles
Barclays Bank in Hebron, Palestine firebombed in 1938.
Tucked way back on page 16 is the story of British Colonial Secretary Malcolm MacDonald's secret mission to Palestine to witness the continuing violence of Jewish terrorists and Arab rioters. MacDonald, in a statement, pledged to restore peace to the region.

War News
While Germany wasn't involved yet, World War II was already raging in Asia and Spain.
The battle of Ebro in Catalonia would continue for several more months. On this day, the Loyalists had driven back the fascist Nationalists, reversing gains that had been made with the support of the German Luftwaffe.

Russia's Red Army was engaged in skirmishes with Japan along the Russia-China border. Both sides warned against this leading to full scale war.

In Sports
Both the Cubs, who would eventually win the pennant, and White Sox split doubleheaders. Dodgers firstbase coach Babe Ruth was thrown out of the game for arguing with an umpire. Detroit slugger Hank Greenberg was ahead of Ruth's 60 home run record; he would end the season with 58 homers.

The Dow Jones Average was at 145.67, up from its Depression bottom of 41.22 but it wouldn't reach its 1929 high until 1954. You could buy a mink dyed muskrat hair coat for $125 while Persian lamb coats sold for up to $495. Men's suits sold for under $50. A ham sandwich, with pickle, was advertised for 15 cents at the Triangle restaurant on West Randolph.

A 1932 Nash was going for $75 while a brand new Buick convertible would cost $1500.

Want ads 
Grinding horseradish at a Jewish fruit and veg store in Chicago, 1938
"Day work, Colored" at $2.50 a day, experience and references required. Experienced salesmen, men only, could expect $30 to $40 a month. One ad was looking for a male clerk for a fruit and vegetable store, Jewish preferred. Another wanted a 15 year-old Gentile (no Jews) boy to train as a typesetter. A plant superintendent could expect $6000 annual salary.

Women had limited job opportunities. A private secretary with bookkeeping experience could get $110 a month while a typist topped out at $70 a month. A good housekeeper would be worth $25 a month or $7 a week plus carfare. Then there is the ad for fifteen cocktail waitresses, must be very attractive, who will get 25 cents an hour plus tips.

Rooms could be rented for $8 a week or $30 a month and up. A five room Portage Park house was being offered for $5000. Other homes were going for $400 down and $29 a month, so if you could scrape together the down payment it was cheaper to buy than rent.

Letters to the Editor
Complained about high taxes, disrespected doctors, and junk mail.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Trump the Absurdist

When I was young I studied the Theater of the Absurd, plays by writers such as Samuel Beckett and Eugene Ionesco. I didn't think that research would have much practical benefit, until this year.
2013 Broadway production of Waiting for Godot.
Some of the characteristics of Absurdist theater is that rationality is useless to understanding reality. The dialog tends to babble, flooded with random non-sequitors, as the words spoken seem to lose their natural meaning (i.e. Trumpspeak).

Action, when there is any action at all, is arbitrary, illogical, and devoid of any reasonable purpose. Petty, meaningless acts are trumpeted as if they were profound and important.

The characters in the plays range from clowns (Tony Scaramucci) to realistic (John Kelly). The character's relationships are confused, friends and enemies are interchangeable and unrecognizable. The characters lack growth, motivation, or obvious purpose.

We, the audience, the public, are alienated, teased, puzzled, and disturbed all at once. "Entertainment" is useless as the audience is meant to think, think that thinking is useless.

Trump's North Korea policy, for example, is the plot of Waiting for Godot with the possible alternative ending of nuclear annihilation.