Fun Times in TrumpTown

As SE Texas continues to recover from Hurricane Harvey, TrumpTown also is getting its first true taste of turbulent weather. For seven months now our esteemed President Cheeto Benito has primarily manufactured turmoil of his own creation, like falsely claiming his inauguration had the largest crowd size ever, and firing the FBI director. Now incidences are arising from outside Trump’s personal orbit that require actual leadership.

As we’ve seen from a recent focus group that included Trump voters, the president’s shtick is wearing thin. He’s seen as not professional, much less presidential. As his job approval numbers continue to fall, even among Republicans, Trump inches closer to the American people losing faith in his ability to carry out the basic aspects of his office.

The president ended August with a job approval rating of 34 percent, and a disapproval at 60 percent, according to Gallup. Those are historically poor numbers for a president in office such a short time.

When you look at Trump’s handling of Charlottesville, pardoning Sheriff Joe, and now invalidating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), he’s shooting himself in the foot. These were easy wins for this administration, but instead Trump sided with white nationalists and the KKK. That is the kind of decision making that will see Trump’s approval drop into the 20s.

Congress returns this week from its August recess, where its primary focus will be hurricane relief for Texas. It was cute to see Trump and his super model trophy wife dishing out free meals over the weekend, but his sludgy approval ratings and chaos presidency make no Congressional members fear or respect his office.

Hurricane Harvey continues to unfold. Some 43 people are confirmed dead, more than 30,000 remain in shelters, 436,000 have requested FEMA assistance, and an estimated 200,000 homes were destroyed. Water remains high in many areas and a fight is brewing over how to fund relief, and make whole those without flood insurance.

As Harvey plays out and Hurricane Irma barrels toward the U.S., Trump has several legislative items in addition to hurricane relief that are mandatory to accomplish by month’s end. On September 29 the United States will hit its debt limit and raising it requires 60 votes to move forward. Then on October 1 government funding runs out and a new budget is required.

A continuing budget resolution will work until the end of the year, but either this month or in December, Trump and his ludicrous border wall funding will become a serious debate topic. It’s inconceivable yet possible that Trump would shut down the Republican-controlled government over Congress rightfully not providing taxpayer money for a wall we were promised Mexico would pay for. Throw into the mix a tax cut bill for the richest one percent, and this becomes a rather congested legislative calendar.

One of Trump’s chief positives was the idea he could broker deals between divisive parties. This has never come to fruition. The supposed dealmaker has alienated himself from the people, moderates, business leaders, and driven a wedge between his own party in Congress. He wants to blame Ryan and McConnell for health care, and for nothing getting done, but it’s all Trump.

The president likes to tweet about how his administration is running smoothly, but reports from inside the White House depict angry outbursts and dark moods by the would be king.

Apparently Trump is tiring of the controls put in place by Gen. John Kelly, his latest Chief of Staff. Evidently this is cutting into the chaos president’s “love of spontaneity and brashness.” His henchmen and hangers-on have taken to referring to Kelly as ‘the Church Lady’ because they consider him overly strict and morally superior. Yes kids, that is exactly the job Kelly was hired to serve in hopes of bringing some order to this presidency.

Trump’s pissed at Sec. of State Rex Tillerson for his criticism, and characterized his top diplomat’s approach to world affairs as “totally establishment.” The translation for that would be Tillerson is acting as an adult and behaving responsibly.

Don’t forget Trump’s simmering over what is perceived as disloyalty from National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, who publicly criticized Trump’s responses to Charlottesville.

Do you see a theme here? It’s always someone else’s fault. It’s getting harder and harder to find anyone of substance and character that agrees with Trump, because he lacks empathy, discipline, and even a semblance of moral values.

As Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) put it recently, Trump is “a president who has no experience of public office, is often poorly informed and can be impulsive in his speech and conduct.”

Meanwhile Charlottesville is not going away, the drip, drip, drip of the Russia probe keeps coming, and North Korea is firing missiles left and right.

Yes, the real fun is just getting started in TrumpTown.

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Top Trump Executive Sought Putin Aid on Russian Business Deal

It has become impossible not to call bullshit on Donald Trump after he and his dirty henchmen categorically denied any contact with Russian officials in any way, shape, or form – when in reality Trump was involved in a business project with the Kremlin during the 2016 presidential campaign. Shocking? No. Trump would steal candy from babies and lie about it to your face while sucking on a lollypop.

It’s being reported by The Washington Post that Michael Cohen, chief counsel and a top executive from Trump’s real estate company, asked Dmitry Peskov, the Russian president’s press secretary, for help brokering a business deal with Vladimir Putin to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

Cohen’s contact with the Russian government occurred during Trump’s campaign for the White House, and Cohen admits that he updated Trump on several occasions about progress on the Russian real estate deal. This directly contradicts every denial given by the White House about the campaign’s involvement with Russian officials.

“Cohen’s email marks the most direct outreach documented by a top Trump aide to a similarly senior member of Putin’s government,” according to The Washington Post.

The email exchange between Cohen and Peskov, “provides an example of a Trump business official directly seeking Kremlin assistance in advancing Trump’s business interests.”

Trump even went so far as to sign a non-binding letter of intent in 2015, according to a statement issued by Cohen.

Trump is like Putin’s piss-boy. He hovers around with a bucket waiting to serve his dark lord master for the prospect of some crumbs to be paid later. This revelation also proves Kellyanne Conway, VP Mike Pence, Mike Flynn, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Sean Spicer, Stephen Miller, Katrina Pierson, Carter Page, Paul Manafort, Corey Lewandowski, and all Trump’s surrogate attorneys are lying through their teeth to cover President Trump’s unlawful misdeeds, those of his sinister adult children, and for some, their own illegalities.

The New York Times reported about another Trump business associate, Felix Sater, and his emails with Michael Cohen to help broker the Moscow tower deal.

In one email dated Nov. 3, 2015, Sater writes, “Michael I arranged for Ivanka to sit in Putins private chair at his desk and office in the Kremlin. I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected. We both know no one else knows how to pull this off without stupidity or greed getting in the way. I know how to play it and we will get this done. Buddy our boy can become President of the USA and we can engineer it. I will get all Putins team to buy in on this.”

I’m no lawyer, but that sure sounds damning. And Ivanka Trump can take her supposed swanky ideals and childish attempts at advocating for women’s rights and go piss up a tree. She is complicit with this joke of an administration. Ivanka and Kushner are now getting some of the Trump stink on them of being racists, bigots, liars, and abusers of human rights. The list grows daily.

Who here believes Ivanka simply took a whimsical vacation to Russia and just happened to visit the Kremlin, where she was allowed access to Putin’s office and got to sit in the Russian president’s chair. No my precious that access and privilege is not the normal tourist experience and a price must be paid.

Trump and his sons have been trying to build in Russia for decades with no success. Meanwhile all the other American luxury hotel chains, i.e. Ritz-Carlton, Hyatt Regency, Marriott, have locations in Russia going up like gangbusters. Trump’s sons have admitted previously that they get most of their money from Russians, yet they still have no juice with Putin.

The president refuses to say anything contradictory about Russia or its leaders. Even though it has been verified that Russia attacked the U.S. election system, funds Taliban efforts that fire on American troops, provides safe haven to N. Korea, not to mention Putin assassinates his business competitors, and murders journalists critical of his authoritarian regime.

Not one critical word has Trump uttered about Putin or Russia pitting their interests against American ideals.

Trump was so fond of picking on Crooked Hillary during the campaign. Who is looking crooked now? I don’t know what Putin has on Trump, but it must be good.

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Hurricane Harvey Sets Record for Rainfall – Swamps SE Texas

Rains continued to plague SE Texas along the Gulf Coast Tuesday, as flood waters climbed to historic levels and reservoirs overtopped, inundating neighborhoods, requiring thousands to be rescued and transported to temporary shelters.

Ironically, Tuesday marked the 12th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, a storm that devastated New Orleans and the Mississippi coastal region, areas still recovering, and foreshadowed the uphill challenges faced by those in Harvey’s path.

But Tuesday was not the time to contemplate the future. This was a day of action, a day to respond. Water-filled streets and expressways were hubs of activity as police and military boats mixed with civilian volunteers who brought personal watercraft, rafts, and other flotation devices, to help rescue Houstonians from homes and submerged vehicles.

After hundreds of water rescues, informal logistics organized by good samaritans ensured people were waiting to aid those just plucked from their homes, to get them out of boats, and transported to the nearest shelters.

The National Weather Service estimated some 6 million people in SE Texas were impacted by water depths of 30 inches or more, and at 3PM Tuesday a new rainfall record was set for a single event in the continental United States, as 51.88″ of precipitation was measured in Highlands, Texas.

Most eyes were on Houston’s Addicks and Barker Reservoirs yesterday, as these two repositories reached capacity. Floodgates on both were open to discharge 60,000 gallons of water per second, but with persistent rainfall this failed to bleed off sufficient amounts to prevent the Addicks Reservoir from overtopping.

This sent rapidly rising water levels into neighborhoods that were not in flood plains. As water reached the second floor stubborn residents hung out windows to draw attention of passing boaters.

Rescuers pleaded with residents to hang white sheets out windows, so they could more easily identify those needing help. Boat drivers suggested evacuees be prepared to leave, have belongings already bagged and be ready to step on the boats, because there was no shortage of people needing rescue, but space was limited, and sundown was coming too fast.

A huge help in meeting the need of the more than 19,000 water rescues in the Houston area was the Cajun Navy, a group of volunteers from Louisiana that know a lot about severe weather, and bring their boats en-masse to save lives.

Without groups like the Cajun Navy, and all the locals putting in their boats, the elderly and infirm, the young and the weak, would be forced to climb onto their roofs, or wade into the chest-high water. There was a nasty current evident in the spill-off from the reservoir and overtopped runoff, and reports that snakes, alligators and spiders were present in the water.

Local officials in Texas have reported at least 30 confirmed and suspected flood-related deaths. Included in that total is Houston police sergeant, Steve Perez, who was missing since early Sunday morning. A tearful Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo stated Perez spent 2 1/2 hours trying to find his way into work before driving his vehicle into an underpass flooded with 16 1/2 feet of water. He drowned as a result. His body was recovered by divers early Tuesday morning.

As Tropical Storm Harvey shifted east, making landfall today in Cameron, LA, skies cleared in Houston only to find torrential downpours moved in on the Beaumont/Port Arthur region of Texas. Unlike Houston, where it was large enough to have some amount of passable roads, Beaumont is submerged, with no way in or out.

The focus of first responders shifted to the Beaumont area, where 26.44″ of rain fell in a 24-hour period. With roads impassable, the burden fell to the National Guard and Coast Guard to airlift stranded residents. Officials there are requesting anyone with available boats to help with search and rescue.

With waterways filled beyond capacity across SE Texas and major roads, bridges and buildings inundated by many feet of water for days, officials warned of compromised infrastructure. Levee failures were expected, and have begun in the Beaumont area.

To gain a full appreciation of the disaster, President Trump flew to Corpus Christi for an official update. His visit could have gone better. There was no stopping by flooded homes, no looking at devastated downtowns, no visiting of relief shelters, no reassurance to displaced residents, or messages of faith. He and the First Lady did a quick storm update with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, FEMA, the Coast Guard, and several other agency heads before flying to Austin to view a command center.

Trump looked more interested in soaking up platitudes and demonstrating he knew officials’ names to match with faces around the table than offer any constructive contribution to his visit. A brief impromptu speech was delivered by Trump to the outside crowd assembled, where the president held up the Texas flag to appreciative cheers.

I give the guy credit for coming down there. Texas is hurting and they need a hug. We’ll see if the Trumpster has the patience and attention span to handle the enormity of Harvey. There was an empathy and understanding absent from Trump’s remarks. He recognized the important people around the table, cabinet secretaries, congressmen, senators; there were promises of monetary relief – but nothing, not one word about the dead or those displaced – not one “Thank You” to first responders.

I could see him looking around, with Melania in her faux-aviator fashion outfit (and perfect makeup), assessing the possibility of securing a “victory” out of handling this disaster.

After considerable criticism yesterday into this afternoon, Trump had remarks drafted that hit the missing high marks he could read off a teleprompter at a Missouri rally.

Next week the fun really begins. The Texas congressional delegation will need to request tens of billions of dollars for recovery. Problem is many of these same politicians balked at passing funding for SuperStorm Sandy victims. Texas took a hard stance at demanding offsetting cuts for any money designated to Sandy relief.

Trump warmed that he would not sign a budget, which must be passed in September to keep the government open, if there was not border wall money included. A government shutdown would be devastating to Texas and Louisiana a month from now. Yet some version of a budget must be passed, and the increase of America’s debt ceiling requires confirmation. Currently $667 million is proposed to be cut from FEMA’s budget. That is a hard argument to make when FEMA is on the ground responding to Harvey.

It took 10 months to pass a funding package for SuperStorm Sandy. Texas is a Republican stronghold, it better come quicker for Trump.

Playing out at the same time will be residents coming to the realization that their homeowner’s insurance policies DO NOT cover floods. For those not residing in flood plains, and never considered getting flood insurance, this will be a problem. One-in-six living in the Houston have flood insurance.

I must say the overwhelming response by Texans, first responders, Gov. Abbott, and the military to name a few, has been remarkable. The selfless display of heroism, courage and kindness was inspirational during a time in America when there is so much divisiveness. The American spirit and the morals this country was built upon remain intact. It may take a hurricane to clear away the political antagonism, but our fabric is strong.

A big shout out to the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, and all the church groups who have mobilized to accomplish their roles and bring an incredible amount of aid and comfort to an exasperated Texas population.

The recovery from Hurricane Harvey will take months and years. It will take a village to make it happen. But perhaps this is a rallying point for citizens across the country to come together and remember the values that make America great.

For assistance or to make donations:

DisasterAssistance.gov

Red Cross: 1-800-Red Cross (733-2767) | Text HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 Donation

The Salvation Army: 1-800-SAL-ARMY (725-2769)

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Two Cabinet Secretaries Indicate Trump Values Un-American

As Hurricane Harvey’s Cat-4 onslaught worsened Friday across SE Texas, Trump capped a tumultuous week with three poorly conceived political maneuvers that when combined with his bungled handling of Charlottesville earned rebukes from two cabinet secretaries that the president’s values were un-American.

Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State, and James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis, Secretary of Defense, both were captured on film saying American values are not being represented by President Donald Trump. These statements came to light after Trump fired Sebastian Gorka, a deputy assistant to Trump, whose conspiratorial rants and checkered past left him unable to earn a security clearance; Trump banned transgender individuals from serving in the military; and his pardoning of racist sheriff Joe Arpaio.

In an interview exchange over the weekend on Fox News Sunday, Tillerson revealed the following:

Chris Wallace (Fox News Sunday): “Does that make it harder for you to push American values around the world when some foreign leaders question the president’s values?”

Sec. Rex Tillerson: “Chris we express America’s values from the State Department. We represent the American people, we represent America’s values, our commitment to freedom, our commitment to equal treatment of people the world over, and that message has never changed.”

Chris Wallace (Fox News Sunday): “And when the president gets into the kind of controversy he does and the U.N. committee responds the way it does, it seems to say they begin to doubt whether we’re living those values?”

Sec. Rex Tillerson: “I don’t believe anyone doubts the American people’s values or the commitment of the American government or the government’s agencies to advancing those values and defending those values.”

Chris Wallace (Fox News Sunday): “And the president’s values?”

Sec. Rex Tillerson: “The president speaks for himself Chris.”

Chris Wallace (Fox News Sunday): “Are you separating yourself from that sir?”

Sec. Rex Tillerson: “I made my own comments as to our values as well in a speech I gave to the State Department this past week.”

This is America’s top diplomat speaking on the right-wing friendly Fox News channel saying the crazy stuff that comes out of this president’s mouth, i.e. his transgender ban, Muslim ban, pardoning of Joe Arpaio, supporting KKK and neo-Nazis, denigrating fellow Republicans, and specifically a war hero like John McCain – that is Trump alone and not representative of American values.

Ouch!

How about another example. This is Gen. Jim Mattis addressing troops in Afghanistan:

“You are a great example for our country right now. It’s got some problems. You know it and I know it. It’s got problems we don’t have in the military, and you just hold the line my fine young soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, you just hold the line until our country gets back to understanding and respecting each other, and showing it, and being friendly to one another, you know that Americans owe to one another. We’re so dog gone lucky to be Americans.”

What we are finding is that since Trump is incapable of functioning in a presidential capacity and is unable to control his impulses, members of the Republican Party, cabinet secretaries and others in leadership positions are being forced to fill this void of leadership in the White House, and deliver public messages and reassurances to the country about what the president is saying and doing to calm fears or ensure allies that America is not going off the tracks into darkness.

New reporting around the Joe Arpaio pardon revealed the president first asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions whether it would be possible for the government to drop the criminal case against Arpaio, but was advised that would be inappropriate, according to three people with knowledge of the conversation.

That request dances perilously close to the line of obstruction of justice.

Instead Trump waited for Arpaio to be lawfully convicted, then used questionable decision making to pardon this bigot when Texas residents were fleeing from Hurricane Harvey’s encroaching waters. Turns out Trump felt he would score better ratings by doing the pardon Friday with everyone tuned in to hurricane coverage.

That decision and the thought process behind it is detestable, classless, and desperately lacking in values accustomed to most Americans.

Adding intrigue to all this was breaking news last night from The Washington Post on the president’s involvement with Russian government operatives. The Washington Post reports Michael Cohen, a top executive from Trump’s real estate company, asked Putin’s personal spokesman for help brokering a business deal with the Russian president to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

Cohen’s contact with the Russian government did occur during Trump’s campaign to become president, and the president was informed about the matter directly by Cohen on multiple occasions. “Cohen’s email marks the most direct outreach documented by a top Trump aide to a similarly senior member of Putin’s government.”

This verifiably documents that President Trump, VP Mike Pence, and all the other creeps in and surrounding this administration lied repeatedly about their direct involvement with Russian officials, and that assistance in swaying the U.S. presidential election by Putin was part of the reward.

It’s unprecedented how poorly Trump and his staff are bungling the job of president. Truly troubling is that many of these moves by Trump are calculated and on purpose. Trump continues to build the case for his unfitness to hold office, and the ongoing abuse of power by this pretend Commander-in-Chief slowly inches Americans closer to regaining control of our country from this demented maniac and his disgusting family of miscreants.

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Trump’s Pardon of Arpaio Salutes Institutional Racism

Each week under the Trump administration feels like a dog year by its conclusion, with its avalanche of warped misinformation. With such an unconventional figure as Donald Trump, it’s debilitating to witness the weekly bungling this administration manufactures. Seven months in and it gets harder to be surprised, but Trump again managed to leave most scratching their heads with his pardoning of Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

In the wake of Charlottesville, with Hurricane Harvey lashing the Texas coast, Trump decided this was the appropriate time to issue his first presidential pardon, and of course it was on a guy like Sheriff Joe, a convicted criminal, racist, and bigot.

I do not understand all the hate Trump has internalized. He is a successful businessman, with all the trappings to enjoy a privileged life, and could act responsibly to help many others less fortunate. Yet at every opportunity his actions and rhetoric harm the less fortunate and enable fringe right groups like the KKK and neo-Nazis.

There wasn’t a better way for Trump to thumb his nose at the Republican establishment, the U.S. Constitution, and the judiciary than by pardoning Arpaio. This is a law enforcement supervisor who publicly defied a 2011 court order to stop racially profiling people, particularly Latinos, based on suspicion of their immigration status, not probable cause. This earned Arpaio a guilty verdict for criminal contempt of court.

Trump has enjoyed a kinship with Sheriff Joe going back to 2011-2012, when both teamed up to push the hateful Birther allegation against President Barack Obama. Trump said in a tweet from July 18, 2012, “Congratulations to @RealSheriffJoe on his successful Cold Case Posse investigation which claims @BarackObama’s ‘birth certificate’ is fake.”

Trump and Arpaio played the Birther card so innocently. They had no proof, but insinuated it would be worth looking into if America’s first black president was illegitimately holding office. The overt nod to the white nationalist crowd was heard loud and clear.

Arpaio came to national prominence from a series of controversial methods used for handling individuals under his incarceration, such as hogtying prisoners, forcing inmates to wear pink underwear, housing people in a tent city in 115 degree heat, and shackling pregnant women while they gave birth.

Arpaio was first elected sheriff in 1992. Between then and his re-election defeat in 2015, Arpaio and his Maricopa County office racked up $142 million in legal fees, settlements and compliance costs for cases, including two wrongful death lawsuits and millions for civil rights and discriminations suits.

A Friday editorial in the Arizona Republic had this to say, “By pardoning Arpaio, Trump made it clear that institutional racism is not just OK with him. It is a goal.”

“That should trouble every American who believes that our duty as a nation is to continue working on behalf of equal justice.”

America has a long and complicated history of racial inequality. We continue to be amidst a struggle over violations of civil rights of minorities by law enforcement, and right-wing conservatives are working diligently to place stumbling blocks intended to suppress people’s ability to vote.

Trump secured the presidency with his talk of banning Muslims and building border walls. This campaign bombast is stubbornly becoming policy behind Trump’s ban on transgender individuals serving in the military, a big thumbs up going to white supremacists in Charlottesville, and the pardoning of Arpaio.

Who does Donald Trump respect other than his white power buddies, corporate America, and Russia? Apparently those like Arpaio, who embrace Trump’s warped historical vision that somehow America has lost its true heritage and culture. To get that back Trump intends to “Make America White Again.”

I’m sure guys like Mike Flynn and Paul Manafort, who are deeply implicated in Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, are encouraged by Arpaio’s pardoning. Loyalty is a big thing to Trump, so long as it serves his betterment, and this was a signal to those that might be called to testify by Mueller that Trump has their backs. But is that the signal, or is this the first in a series of pardons that ultimately is a public confessional to condone and forgive Trump’s own insatiable greed and racist beliefs.

With Trump now attacking members of his own party with regularity, Republicans in growing numbers are signaling they have had enough of this train wreck as no end appears in sight or any decency evidenced in this president.

Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader, weighed in recently to offer a damning prediction, saying it is “uncertain that Mr. Trump will be able to salvage his administration.”

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Hurricane Harvey Blasts Texas Coast with Cat-4 Winds & Rain

There is no good day to wake up and see your home city perched in the path of a massive hurricane. It’s a surreal moment. Disasters always happen somewhere else is how folks usually look at these events, until one comes knocking on your door. Harvey is a storm that made news for several days leading up to Friday evening’s landfall, but was buried beneath Trump’s bungled handling of the Charlottesville tragedy and his unhinged rhetoric at a Tuesday rally in Phoenix.

For many along the Texas shoreline and down the Gulf Coast, it wasn’t until Friday morning that the immediacy of Hurricane Harvey became a reality. Residents in the impacted areas awoke Friday morning to find meteorologists on every television channel showing Harvey increasing to a Category 2 hurricane and on a deliberate path to crashing into the area just east of Corpus Christi, Texas.

I experienced that same morning some 12 years ago when I woke up in New Orleans to see Hurricane Katrina had grown into a Cat-5 hurricane and was heading straight for me. It’s an odd moment to flip on CNN and see your town is the lead story, with a big red bull’s-eye on it, and all the talking heads issuing dire warnings to leave.

Those of us in New Orleans were under a mandatory evacuation order, which many in Texas found themselves under yesterday as well. But that’s not as easy to comply with as one might think. The weather tends to not appear threatening earlier in a day before a hurricane hits, which plays into everyone’s decision making. Offices may be open for business. Liberal leave policies are generally in effect, but for hourly employees they don’t get paid if they’re not at work.

It’s an expensive and disruptive endeavor to evacuate. There’s loss of income from being away from work or offices being closed, the travel, gas, hotels and food, especially when entire families are bugging out. What about the pets, are they going in the car too? Then there is the question of where to go. One of the trade-offs for living along the Gulf Coast is knowing storms do happen, and folks will have to evacuate from time-to-time. During active hurricane seasons it’s not uncommon to have evacuation orders issued on multiple occasions. Sometimes those calls are pre-emptive and nothing serious happens, but heeding those calls to reach a safe distance from a possible storm gets price prohibitive.

Families that live in these areas for generations often have standing hurricane reservations at the same hotels for decades. For those that do not, it can be a problem finding a temporary home, and often they must travel some hours to reach areas with vacancies.

Hurricane Harvey looks to be a unique storm from the beginning as it’s predicted to be a multi-day weather event. Usually a hurricane makes a fuss as it reaches landfall, then dissipates as the storm loses access to water on its path inland. Harvey is hovering over SE Texas, where it continues drawing moisture from the Gulf and is dumping historic levels of rainfall.

The intensification of Harvey came quickly Friday as it grew from a Cat-2 to a Cat-4. Hurricane experts describe the difference between a Cat-3, where the roof of a house may blow off, to a Cat-4 that simply takes the house.

Some 8 million people were under hurricane warnings from Harvey’s 145 mph sustained winds, 12-foot storm surge, and up to 40 inches of rain. As it got dark Friday residents could hear the wind, but not see the debris being whipped around or the encroaching water.

A mandatory evacuation was issued for Victoria, but an estimated 60 to 65 percent elected to stay. In the wake of evacuation orders, fire and rescue in Fulton stopped responding to calls to protect the safety of its first responders, as that area was expected to be submerged by morning.

Hurricane Harvey is the first real test for the Trump administration and its disaster relief apparatus. As Harvey approached landfall, and bands of wind and rain lashed Texas coastal communities, Trump chose to utilize the inclement weather as a distraction to release a trio of polarizing decisions that could not get the full critiquing they deserved from the news services due to weather coverage.

Friday again was a hatchet day for Trump, as the fringe alt-right military and intelligence analyst Sebastian Gorka was fired. Gorka served as a deputy assistant to Trump, but many observers questioned what Gorka did other than run his mouth in a conspiratorial fashion. The intention was for Gorka to work on matters of national security, but he was never able to receive the necessary security clearance.

Trump also signed a ban on transgender individuals serving in the military. Now we wait to see if the service branches actually adopt the changed policy.

Most controversial of the three items from Friday was Trump’s pardoning of former Arizona sheriff, Joe Arpaio. Sheriff Joe is known for his tough stance on illegal immigrants and his curious methods of detaining persons under his incarceration, such as placing them in tent cities, forcing prisoners to wear pink underwear, and compelling men and women to work on chain gangs.

The U.S. Department of Justice concluded that Arpaio oversaw the worst pattern of racial profiling in U.S. history, and subsequently filed suit against him for unlawful discriminatory police conduct. A federal court found that Arpaio’s office continued to detain persons for further investigation without reasonable suspicion that a crime had been or was being committed. Arpaio was convicted for contempt of court for this. Sheriff Joe is also known for pushing the flawed idea that President Barack Obama’s birth certificate was a forgery to support the birther movement Trump advocated.

It’s nice to see Trump exercised the questionable judgement to waste some of his administration’s time and attention away from disaster preparations to handle these three impertinent issues. I suppose from a purely strategic standpoint Trump was smart enough to bury these controversial moves under the wall-to-wall storm coverage. Still, in the wake of Charlottesville, the Arpaio pardon reeks of appeasement to the white power crowd.

As of this evening Hurricane Harvey has claimed one death in Rockport, Texas, with another 12-14 injured. An estimated 300,000 are without power in the impacted areas.

Harvey was downgraded to a tropical storm, in terms of decreased wind speed, but its true destruction may just be beginning. With it stationary over SE Texas, flood warnings are issued for cities including Corpus Christi, Rockport, Victoria, Port Lavaca, Bay City, Houston, Galveston, and on into Lake Charles, LA.

Harvey may only be a tropical storm at this point, but these folks along the Gulf Coast have a long way to go before they can get back to a normal life. Mandatory curfews are in place in several cities, and hundreds of reports are coming in of people price gouging those in need, such as trying to charge $99 for a case of water.

Meteorologists are advising this weather event could last well into next week, if not into the following weekend. Let us all hope the damage is less than anticipated, and people remain safe and sane.

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Bloody Charlottesville

Our knuckle-dragger & chief, Donald Trump, made huge strides last week. I don’t mean in terms of legislative accomplishments. Lord no, that’s laughable. This White House can’t chew gum and walk.

This relates to the white supremacist gathering in Charlottesville on Aug. 11-12 that erupted into violence, leaving one woman murdered and two police officers dead. Trump’s contribution to this tragic affair was his reprehensible public display of divisive leadership. Even for Trump this reached a new low, and edged him closer to being forcefully removed from office.

A new poll indicates 4 in 10 Americans now support the impeachment of President Trump, a 10 point jump in the last six months, according to the Public Religion Research Institute. For those not psyched by polls, or who find them subjective, give a look to professional gamblers. When in doubt, those who make a living off predicting winners and losers are an excellent barometer for which way the wind blows. Oddsmakers at Ladbrokes are giving Trump a 48 percent chance of not finishing his first term due to either impeachment or resignation.

Tensions flared in Charlottesville Saturday after a torch-lit march through the campus of the University of Virginia by neo-Nazis, white power, and white nationalist supporters the night before. Heather Heyer, 32, was killed and at least 19 people were injured when a car plowed into a crowd of counter protesters gathered to oppose a “Unite the Right” rally of white nationalists and other right-wing hate groups. About three hours later a Virginia State Police helicopter that was assisting with police surveillance crashed near the scene. The two officers onboard were killed.

Trump gave a slippery condemnation that came too late and required numerous redirects from his staff, allowing for planned wiggle room for the president’s KKK and white power buddies. They helped get him elected and are part of his fragile popularity base that sits below 35 percent approval. He can’t come down too hard on these hate groups or they will desert his meager base.

After a vague tweet issued by Trump later Saturday, David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan imperial wizard issued the following response via Twitter, “I would recommend you take a good look in the mirror & remember it was White Americans who put you in the presidency, not radical leftists.”

The cover story for this vicious gathering was a protest over the planned removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. As the violence roiled armed militia stood their ground on the park’s periphery in menacing fashion. Virginia is an open-carry state. It’s common to see civilians strapped with handguns, but to see military-style assault weapons, like an AR-15, slung over shoulders of grimacing hatemongers sporting pro-Nazi insignias sent a chilling message.

I continue to question why law enforcement didn’t assert themselves on Friday to prevent that disturbing march through UVA’s campus, or prior to the violence erupting Saturday. There is no room for malicious hate groups to be marching through a bastion of learning with chants of “Jews will not replace us,” or “blood and soil,” a key slogan of Nazi ideology that is intertwined with racist and anti-Semitic ideas.

Words such as those are violent. The imagery before any physical confrontation from Friday and Saturday was violent. The raw hatred, seething from these white nationalist marchers Friday evening was evident and threatening, especially on a college campus. Considering the visuals from Friday, it’s beyond me how law enforcement didn’t prepare to make a forceful presence Saturday, and communicate to organizers that any violence would not be tolerated.

It was estimated some 500 white nationalist protesters were in the park Saturday when police declared the gathering an “unlawful assembly” at 11:40 a.m., about 20 minutes before the rally was about to begin. Most of the conflict came as white nationalists and anti-fascist groups crossed paths making their way to the park where the Lee statue is located.

The ensuing melee was not something often seen in America, as both sides came equipped with riot gear. Numerous protesters wore tactical vests, helmets, and were grasping clubs, bats, and plastic shields. Both sides came prepared with canisters of pepper spray, other chemical agents, or threw bottles filled with urine.

The raw anger on display and emboldened attitude of self-righteousness from these white power pukes offered a similar vibe fostered at Trump’s campaign rallies seen throughout 2015-2016. It gave off the impression this sentiment of nativism and white power has a solid foothold in America.

With Trump’s tepid statement of condemnation, and vile double speak about how bad people were on both sides of this clash, this evil was given the air required to survive and thrive. The event and response had all the hallmarks of a Steve Bannon/Stephen Miller production. Here was the White House offering light to Nazis and the KKK for them to step out from the shadows, with a big wink from Trump to David Duke, who was in attendance.

Nice to see Donald Trump and his creepy advisors are really rising to the occasion of being presidential and broadening his message of inclusion to the nation. Who knew we needed to make room in the tent for the Klan.

I must say those red “Make America Great Again” hats sure did look smart atop all those white power boys’ heads, and blended lovely with their black swastikas. The White House must be proud.

“We are determined to take our country back,” Duke said from the rally, calling it a “turning point.” “We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in. That’s why we voted for Donald Trump, because he said he’s going to take our country back.”

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