Archive for August 2016

Harry Reid Sees the Light

I am not sure how many blogs I wrote over the years begging the Senate Democrats to curtail the filibuster, and I got nothing.  The first one was back in January 2013.  Clearly they don’t read my blog.  Well, here is Harry, better late than never, Reid waking up:

“Unless after this election there is a dramatic change to go back to the way it used to be, the Senate will have to evolve as it has in the past, but it will evolve with a majority vote determining stuff. It is going to happen.”

He has condemned Republican reliance on the filibuster to impede President Obama. Mr. Reid’s frustration ultimately led Senate Democrats in 2013 to weaken the minority party’s ability to block most executive branch nominations. But he won’t be in office to challenge the filibuster. He is retiring.

However, he is the first to publicly express what other lawmakers and aides have talked about more quietly — the possibility that Democrats would take drastic action if they were triumphant at the polls only to be blocked by the gridlock that has plagued Washington in a new Clinton administration.

“What choice would Democrats have?” asked Mr. Reid, who lamented the inability of a stalemated Congress to take on big issues. “The country can’t be run this way, where nothing gets done.”

I could say I told you so, but the damage is done.  Now we have to either get rid of it, or make so heinous that using it will be a very last resort, kind of like when Mr. Smith Went to Washington.

Hospitals and Intolerance

I wrote a blog back in June based (Once Again the Case for Government(Single Payer) Healthcare) upon a NYT article about how the consolidation of Hospitals into Catholic systems may in fact start allowing religion to decide what care you get:

“As hospitals throughout the country struggle with financial woes, many have begun to merge with Catholic systems in order to stay in business. This means a growing number of patients are winding up in institutions guided by religious doctrine.”

Well, it hit home this morning as I read my local paper, the Sacramento Bee:

“Tuesday was supposed to be a big day for Evan Michael Minton. The Fair Oaks resident packed his bags for the hospital, said a prayer and counted down the hours until he would undergo the hysterectomy that would take him one step further in his transition from female to male.

Instead he spent the day on the phone with doctors and lawyers after Mercy San Juan hospital in Carmichael abruptly canceled the procedure on religious grounds…Health, which until 2012 was affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church, declined to discuss Minton’s case, citing patient privacy laws.

The hospital, part of the Dignity Health chain, said the procedure goes against its anti-sterilization policies, which are based on ethical and religious directives issued in 2009 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

In a statement, Dignity Health, which until 2012 was affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church, declined to discuss Minton’s case, citing patient privacy laws.

“In general, it is our practice not to provide sterilization services at Dignity Health’s Catholic facilities,” said spokeswoman Melissa Jue, in an emailed statement. Sterilization procedures, such as hysterectomies or tubal ligations, she said, are permitted by Catholic hospitals only to cure or alleviate a “serious pathology and (if) a simpler treatment is not available.”

Isn’t religious freedom great, their right to discriminate against you.  Of course as private hospitals they should be guided by their own moral principles, but what happens when they become the majority provider?  Where does it cross the line from religious freedom to religious discrimination.  Well, right here, right now, right here in River City.

Burkini and Other Nonsense

I am sure you have read about the French banning the Burkini, the Muslim approved swimwear that covers everything.  Yes it does look stupid, but so do tattoos all over your body that are permanent.  Do we ban tattoos?  I was in San Francisco last weekend and one of the things that is so fabulous about the city (besides tourist watching) is the absolute diversity.  There are people there across the whole spectrum of the human race and representing every color, religion, sexual preference, and who cares?  It is what makes the city vibrant.  So if Muslim women feel comfortable swimming fully clothed, why should we care.

Now the French for many years have had laws that repress ostentatious displays of religious symbols and for a good reason.  They suffered through hundreds of years of religious wars and discrimination and now want a society that is free of that kind of religious promoting.  And granted Burkas are the stupidest thing I have every seen and makes every woman who wears one a second class citizen, enslaved by what she must wear because she is a she.  But having said that, it is their religion and mostly it is their choice and why should we care?  As we become less and less afraid of difference, maybe they will find the freedom to shed their burkas and burkinis.

Okay, next up is NASA findings that the planet is heating up faster than it has in the last 1000 years.  But hey, there is no global warming and we can just continue doing things just like we have in the past.  This after all is a “bisness” decision and if your business is fossil fuels, it is all a hoax, right.  And what moron party believes this stuff?

Speaking of moron party, the Donald is going to Mexico to visit the President?  Say what?  In what universe does any of this make sense?  He has already alienate all Hispanics so is he trying to look presidential for the morons who have not made up their mind?  Yes I use morons a lot.  It is just getting to be a very operative word these days.

Oh, and in the vein of I told you so, here is a snipet from a NYT story on Kaepernick and the national anthem:

Why is the national anthem a staple of sporting events to begin with? Why does the United States stand apart in making the anthem a part of the pregame ritual? And what does it mean to be patriotic?…Lost in that debate, though, is that while high-level sports are a type of entertainment, few other forms of mass-consumed entertainment — movies or concerts or exhibitions — have the anthem ingrained into every performance.

Tens of thousands of theater goers, for instance, have packed a Broadway musical that is devoted to the life and times of one of this country’s founding fathers, yet “Hamilton” does not feature the national anthem. On the other hand, a game between the Cleveland Gladiators and the Arizona Rattlers in the Arena Football League could not begin without it.

Why indeed.

And finally tonight John McCain and Marco Rubio survived their challenges from the far right.  Now the question is can they survive their challenges from the left.  I hope not.  They are the problem.

Kaepernick and Weiner

Okay, I just have to weigh in here.  Do people remember what country we live in?  The land of the free?  Where we have freedom of speech?  Give me a fucking break.  Here is the real problem with Kaepernick not standing and showing respect to the flag during the national anthem:  Most people haven’t a clue what real patriotism is and they fall all over themselves with false displays of it.  Tearing up when the nation anthem is played doesn’t mean snot. Wearing your fucking flag lapel pin doesn’t cut it.  Most of those asshole in Congress never served in the military so don’t give me it is disrespectful to servicemen.  I am one and I don’t give a crap.  Sacrificing for your country means patriotism. Caring about changing your country and pissing off powerful people to try to do that is patriotism.  When you put your ass or your career on the line for what you believe in, that is patriotism.  

Kaepernick knew what he did would draw big attention.  He knew in the land of football where bravery is getting brain damage for the team, but most supporters won’t let their kids play anymore, taking a real stand would piss off a lot of people.  Does anybody remember that flying the flag upside down is a symbol of a country in distress?  Well we arein distress and if criticizing our country is a bad thing, then the Founders were all unpatriotic.  We are so full of shit.  When did it become a thing to require a loyalty oath (the pledge or showing respect for the flag)  in this country?  Who decides what are the right views?  

I would never say the pledge.  The flag is a symbol and the nut cakes want to turn it into an religious icon.  What I and others are proud of is our Constitution where the Kaepernicks of the world are protected and can actually point out some of the realities in American life that others ignore.  Inconvenient truths. There are lots of things we as Americans should be ashamed of beginning with guns, how we treat veterans (oh thank you for your service and cut money for services to them), how we treat the poor, women, and on and on.  So take your pledge and enforced conformity at praying to the flag and shove it.  Kaepernick’s stock just went up in my eyes.

Okay, Anthony Weiner. Why is the news media focused on this sad state of affairs like a laser.  See Donald Trump and his rise if you want to understand where this kind of jounalism leads us.  Our press should avert their eyes.  There is nothing political here, just leering at a very sad situation.  And yet I turned on the TV this morning and it was 24/7 Weiner.  And you want to know what is wrong with this country?  It is the fact that our press can’t seem to not chase ambulances.  Well this one has nothing to do with anything in the national scheme except a very sad situation where we should let the victims sort out their private lives, not be a leering voyeur.  Welcome to journalism 2016.

Okay, I got that off my chest.

Modern Life

My trusty xootr parked so I could take a picture of the Ferry Building. Yes it is a new one, the latest Xootr MG

The weekend in the city (San Francisco) is always a pleasure and another chance for life to slap you in the face.  That is a good thing by the way.  My daughter was flying in from London via LA for dinner on Saturday, and she who must not be mentioned her and I have our 37th anniversary next week so it seemed a perfect time to spend a few days in the city.  So with the dog at doggy daycare, and the cat wherever the hell she wants to be (plenty of food and water, plus she can slip into the garage through her “cat door”), we were off Friday morning.

Driving to the city the weekend before Labor

IMG_1147

Lovely Serena at Coqueta

Day is a smart because there is not any traffic to speak of as I guess everyone is saving up for the next weekend, either come into the city or leaving it.  I would prefer to take the train and just forget about driver strain, but having the car in the city is a useful to store stuff.  We usually just park the car in the Embarcadero Center and then anything we buy we can drop off until we leave.  Besides, as evidenced by my Xootr above, I do have to bring my toys.  The one thing about the drive that does always amaze me is that people just hate it if you leave a reasonable following distance between you and the car in front of you.  So eventually they pass you on the right and then they are the guy/gal you are trying to leave a reasonable following distance behind, and they don’t deserve it.

Okay, into the city and we usually eat lunch at either the Slanted Door or Hog Island in the Ferry Building.  It is like coming home.  We wanted light so we went to the Slanted Door for their Crispy Rolls and white wine.  Then we checked into our hotel and went our different ways, one shopping and one Xootr, you can guess who did which.  Now here is where it gets interesting.  First, as you can see, my Xootr is a scooter for adults.

Crispy Rolls at Slanted Door

Crispy Rolls at Slanted Door

I have really bad knees and this thing can get you around the city in amazing good time.  The other thing was a lot more people are catching on because I saw a lot of people on scooters, some motorized (wimps).

So I went down along the Embarcadero dodging people, which I am getting really good at.  It is amazing how many people walk with their head stuck in their phones.  I think it is part of the great plan to weed out people who do not watch where they are going.  I mean really.  You pass some young couple and they are both totally focused on their phones and this beautiful city just passes them by.  I did see one lady walk into a parking meter.  Anyway, the great unknown path is along the Embarcadero going toward Fisherman’s Wharf.  It goes around a bunch of the piers and has few people so it is clear sailing.  So after I had turned around and come back to the Ferry Building, I decided to stop and get some cash from a Bank of America ATM in the Ferry Building.  It ATE MY CARD!

So I called the number on the machine and they said, “Oh we are so sorry, the machine will shred it, not to worry, have a good day, oh and call your bank (Credit Union in this case).  So I called them to report the card missing and they asked me for my verbal key phase.  Huh?  I am Steve Lightner, ask me anything but I don’t know anything about a “key phrase”.  Oh I would have had to set that up in one of their branches in person, but I haven’t been in a branch in 15 years.  No, really.  Sorry, we can’t help you.  Well, does the key phrase have a hint?  Nope, no hint.  So what do I do for cash?  Well, there is a Credit Union up on Market, past the Civic Center (thanks Google) where if I show them my ID, I can get up to $500.  Oh, and to get a new card I either have to come in, or write a letter.  They will verify my signature.  Holly Shit.  Have gone that batshit crazy?  Answer Yes.

So I BARTed up to the Civic Center, Xootred to the Credit Union (not mine of course, and the nice folks helped me out.  All this at a dead run (well what a guy with very bad knees would call a run) to beat 5 pm when they closed.  It was invigorating and I did get lots of exercise.  I just wonder what kind of a world we are building.

Fried Oysters at Ferry Plaza Seafood

Fried Oysters at Ferry Plaza Seafood

Okay, nice fish dinner at Ferry Plaza Seafood that used to be at the Ferry Plaza, but when Hog Island expanded, moved up to Washington Square.  It was really a nice clean open space, service was excellent, and the fish (I hate to admit it but I had fried oysters and Crab Louie) was superb.  But there weren’t many people in there.  I guess in North Beach they are looking for Italian.

Saturday, of course was a trip down to the Ferry Building for breakfast and the market.  I don’t care what anybody says, the market on Saturday at the Ferry Building is probably one of the best in the country with fresh produce from all over the state, cheeses, meats, oysters and fish, fresh rotisserie foods, you name it.  Oh and every kind of bread and pastry you can name.  Plenty of places just set up to cook you an amazing breakfast, always with a Blue Bottle Coffee to really wake you up.  Then it was on to my niece’s son’s birthday in a playground near Washington Square.

Visit by Darth Vader

Visit by Darth Vader

It was nice because the whole family was there, and the theme was Starwars since Charlie is a big fan.  And sure enough Darth Vader showed up to thrill the kids.  So I am watching all this and the next character enters the park wearing his hair in a bun, short Ninja pants, all in black, and I figured a character from one of the movies I haven’t seen.  Nope, just local color.  If you ever think people might think you are a nut job as an old guy riding a Xootr around the city with a helmet, trust me, you don’t even scratch the surface of different in this city.  Kind of nice in a way.

So we stayed away from the ice cream cake and pizza and snuck away after awhile and headed for The Wayfare Tavern down on Sacramento Street.  We were going to have a very light lunch of their famous deviled eggs and wine.  But The Wayfare Tavern is also famous for their fried chicken so what the heck.  It was wonderful.  Just a great way to spend lunch with my most favorite person in the world.

Okay, I went for another Xootr ride to work off lunch.  I wanted to go down to a little park next to Embarcadero Center Four where there is a whole colony of parrots.  Yes I said parrots.  They were either escapes or released birds and it turns

Fried Chicken, deviled eggs, and mushrooms, an Abarino at Wayfare Tavern

Fried Chicken, deviled eggs, and mushrooms, an Abarino at Wayfare Tavern

out they can survive in certain areas in San Francisco.  They are noisy little critters, but very beautiful and not something you would expect to see in San Francisco.

Now comes the whole reason for the trip, to meet my daughter for dinner at Coqueta.  This is a new hot spanish place that specializes in small plates and I knew Serena would love it.  We met her at La Mar for drinks and then to Coqueta for dinner.  I won’t bore you with all the plates we ordered but it was very, very good.  But the best part of the night, besides being with she who must not be mentioned here and my daughter who I am so very proud of, was people watching in Coqueta.  As I said it is the new hot place so all the “right” people are going to be coming in for dinner.  Let me just say we had a range of obnoxious self-important, to hot babe with her sugar daddy.  It was just a great night.

So another trip to SF and a visit with my favorite daughter and it is already over.  Well we are trying to plan something in San Diego for Thanksgiving.  Have Xootr will travel.

Octapus small plate at Coqueta

Octapus small plate at Coqueta

Oh, and for old guys with bad knees, a Xootr or some other inferior scooter adds years to your walking/skate boarding/scooting years.  Remember that song by Roger Miller, You Can’t Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd, well you can Xootr because buffalo have nothing on the crowds along the Embarcadero.

Timothy Egan Said it Best

And I am just going to give you the link and some choice tidbits.  I will preface this by saying any one watching the current election, the rallies, the reporting of it can only say we truly have become a cartoon nation as I wrote last.  Here are some of my favorites:

But surely now, when election news saturation is thicker than the humidity around Lady Liberty’s lip, we’ve become a bit more clue-full. I give you Texas. A recent survey of Donald Trump supporters there found that 40 percent of them believe that Acorn will steal the upcoming election.

Acorn? News flash: That community-organizing group has been out existence for six years. Acorn is gone, disbanded, dead. It can no more steal an election than Donald Trump can pole vault over his Mexican wall.

Yeah right media, these are really angry people who are suffering in this economy.  Just replace angry with ignorant and you would be closer to the truth.

We know that at least 30 million American adults cannot read. But the current presidential election may yet prove that an even bigger part of the citizenry is politically illiterate — and functional. Which is to say, they will vote despite being unable to accept basic facts needed to process this American life.

“There’s got to be a reckoning on all this,” said Charlie Sykes, the influential conservative radio host, in a soul-searching interview with Business Insider. “We’ve created this monster.”

Trump, who says he doesn’t read much at all, is both a product of the epidemic of ignorance and a main producer of it. He can litter the campaign trail with hundreds of easily debunked falsehoods because conservative media has spent more than two decades tearing down the idea of objective fact.

If Trump supporters knew that illegal immigration peaked in 2007, or that violent crime has been on a steady downward spiral nationwide for more than 20 years, they would scoff when Trump says Mexican rapists are surging across the border and crime is out of control.

If more than 16 percent of Americans could locate Ukraine on a map, it would have been a Really Big Deal when Trump said that Russia was not going to invade it — two years after they had, in fact, invaded it.

If basic civics was still taught, and required, for high school graduation, Trump could not claim that judges “sign bills.”

Two things here, the Republicans to hang on to their power and failed ideology created ignorance where facts are just opinions, and Trump is the natural result.  All you good neighbors and friends, you know, good people who vote Republican enabled the dismantling of our country.

But what you don’t know really can hurt you. Last year was the hottest on record. And the July just passed was earth’s warmest month in the modern era. Still, Gallup found that 45 percent of Republicans don’t believe the temperature. We’re not talking about doubt over whether the latest spike was human-caused — they don’t accept the numbers, from all those lying meteorologists.

Of late, almost half of Floridians have done something to protect themselves from the Zika virus, heeding government warnings. But the other half cannot wish it away, as the anti-vaccine crowd on the far left does for serious and preventable illnesses.

I’m sorry that my once-surging Seattle Mariners dropped two out of three games to the Yankees this week. I just prefer not to believe it. And look — now my guys are in first place, no matter what the skewed “standings” show. In my own universe, surrounded by junk fact and junk conclusions, I feel better already.

Timothy got to the heart of the problem.  It should be the lead in the news:  Amazing stupid people believe the following!  But instead we get “differing opinions”.  Ridicule is our only hope.

Caricatures

I would comment on what is happening in the world this morning, but I feel like we are living in a cartoon world where the characters are all caricatures of real people.  Donald Trump can’t be real and the only place he could have come from is a cartoon.  He is yuge.  The stuff he says isn’t real, and certainly could only be believed by other cartoon characters. That gets me to his supporters.  While the press (I will get to them in a minute) want us to believe these are angry  people with real concerns, all I see are cartoon caricatures of angry people with real concerns.  There is no there, there.  They are so mindless and ignorant of facts, they could only exist in a cartoon world.

So how did we get here?  Enter our cartoon news media.  Now not all media has become cartoonish, but almost all television news has.  There was a time when they reported the news and informed.  Now their goal is entertainment, enter the cartoon characters looking for conflict, real or imagined anywhere.  Take the “ransoming” of hostages out of Iran.  It has been totally debunked, it was money owed and the payment was simply timed to ensure timely action by the Iranians.  But the press senses conflict and differing opinions where facts are irrelevant to the story, so we get this cartoon approach to news.  It entertains and the fact that it is more like a cartoon of people fighting than real people armed with real facts debating is the problem.

The President visited Louisiana yesterday and on MSNBC the lead was, “The President visits Louisiana amid criticism that he should have ended his vacation and gone down there earlier.”  That was the story.  Now the fact that it was cartoon characters from the Republican Party who were criticizing him, after the Governor had asked him not to come down and the support provide by the feds was really helping (making the cartoon characters from the Republican party look like, well, cartoon characters of politicians), never made it to the story.  Real people can’t be this brain dead, only cartoon caricatures of them, right?

Here is another example on the local news, promoing the upcoming segment: “Hillary Clinton now says Colin Powell advised her to use a private server.”  Hillary did not just now say it, the FBI released her testimony way back when and that is what she told them.  That’s a big difference.  Oh, and the press, like a dog with a bone, sensing more conflict went to Colin Powell who doesn’t remember and as the press characterized it, is pushing back.  This is the man of integrity that told a totally false story to the world, and then when he discovered he had been used, did not resign?  It is a cartoon world.

One last example.  Do you remember the character played by Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mocking Bird, Atticus Finch?  He was slow talking and deliberate.  He considered things carefully and was kind.  That is a real person.  That is how we should all be.  Can you imagine how our cartoon news media would deal with him?  Think they would allow him to finish a sentence or listen carefully to him?  Yosemite Sam is running for president, Senator Foghorn Leghorn is running politics, and Tom and Jerry are doing the news.

Hard Decisions

Zika is coming! Zika is coming!  Yeah, it probably is.  I think it was estimated the other day that half of the residents of Puerto Rico will be infected.  How many children will be disabled?  Yet Congress, led by the Republicans, doesn’t want to fund what the CDC told them they will need.  So we don’t care about Puerto Ricans, but as it migrates up the Florida coast we might think twice.  After all if it’s us, not them, then it gets important.  But in looking at this in another light, it is in fact the death panels, this time headed by penny pinching Republicans, that Sarah Palin warned of.  And let’s be honest, when you ration health care you are in fact deciding maybe who lives and who dies, who gets a disabling disease, who lives a very short life.  Death panels indeed.

And the truth is that day is probably coming (and in some ways as in the above already here).  Who gets saved and who dies when a pandemic hits and health care has to be rationed.  Again, we have been doing this for years by denying universal health care so that the poor are the losers. We (Republicans) don’t admit we are doing it, just being frugal, but we are in fact deciding who lives and who dies depending on your financial status.  So don’t get queazy on me here.  We have been at this for a long long time.

This subject was discussed at length this morning in an article in the NYT where Maryland doctors are trying to come up with a protocal during a pandemic when choices have to be made.  They are trying to involve the public and you have the range from a pure lottery system, to children first.  My contribution to this discussion is first we have to have this discussion and we need a protocal.  We have in fact left this decision to doctors and that is totally unfair, and maybe in the end debilitating.  Second, it is going to happen and we had better be ready for it.  Our new global society will spread a new bug in record time and hospitals will be inundated.  So let’s decide now what the pecking order is.

I don’t think I will weigh in and tell you my opinion, but for sure people like me with cancer and a ticking time bomb in their body should come last.  Age should also play an important role.  Life is a precious gift and we should not sacrifice the young for the old.  Selfishness is a sin after all. Then it gets more complicated.  I know my state (California) already has a protocal, but I don’t know what it is.  

I once watched a movie a long time ago about Japanese honor.  To scratch the surface, saying your sorry does not clear the harm you did.  But one of the things that made me really think about the meaning of life was that for them life itself was not precious, only a life lived honorably.  Define honorably how you may.  But you get the complications here.  Whose life is more important than someone elses.  Yet these decision are being made and may have to be made quite openingly if we have a health crisis.

You can be sure once this gets out there will be large outcries of “death panels”.  I would prefer to call them life panels.  It is dealing with reality and in Maryland’s case, what they are trying to do is noble and necessary.  But like all hard decisions, our conservative friends would rather avoid it until they are standing in a line at the hospital and wonder why they don’t come first.  Some things never change.

Flooding in Louisiana

We got a problem Huston and it is called ignoring reality.  Or maybe I should say there are two realities.  The first is La La Land where this is not part and parcel of global warming and is going to happen more and more frequently.  Oh, and in Donald Trump land he is down there to show his concern and show that the President is ignoring the issue, like that does nothing but detract from the rescue effort.  Of course that is patently false and the head of FEMA is on the ground and the state itself had said please wait for a visit because it does redirect resources needed for rescue and recovery. Oh, and who does not want to fund Flood Insurance?  That would be Republicans.

Now let’s enter reality land instead of partisan twist the facts and never face reality land.  Flood insurance is a federal program because “the market place” could not bear the risk.  And it can’t afford anymore floods, but there will be more.  Here is where politics failed us when reason said we have to quit subsidizing building where it is going to flood.  People would be unhappy and vote for the guy who will bail them out, but how many times do we have to bail them out?  Given the changes in weather patterns brought on by global warming, the program is no longer viable. From the above referenced article:

The White House issued a disaster declaration for 20 parishes in Louisiana following flooding that killed 13 people and damaged an estimated 40,000 homes. Almost half of the people in Louisiana’s high risk flood zones have insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program, and more than 85,000 people have registered for federal disaster aid with FEMA. The problem is, the flood insurance program is billions in debt.

…When Congress passed the program, they passed extensive subsidies and the intent was that those subsidies would last for about 20 years, and they haven’t,” she said. “They’ve lasted for more than 50 years.”

Moore said federal policy should stop encouraging and paying for people to rebuild their homes in flood zones. And lawmakers should make information about flood damage and flood risk readily available to home buyers.

Well, so far we have seen political cowardice (authorize a program and not fund it) and we have neither recognized the true flooding threat due to global warming or had the nerve to say we can’t subsidize your risk building in flood prone areas anymore.  Even before global warming was widely known, I worked in the New Orleans District Corps of Engineers, basically designing flood walls along the Mississippi*.  Even then it was well known that the real solution was to not rebuild or build flood walls along the river, but to get people to move back from the river (not rebuild) so the rivers had places to spread out in high flows.  It would be less costly and more healthy for the environment.  But politics being what it is, short term keep them happy is what drives the train. So we built levees and flood walls along the river and created a multitude of other environmental problems.

Now we simply can’t afford it.  It’s a free country and you can build where you want, but you are on your own.  Harsh?  Isn’t that the market place at work?  And in this case true reality?  So what to do about the current crisis in Louisiana?  These are our fellow Americans.

First some snark.  Isn’t Louisiana redder than red in Congress?  Aren’t they the ones who hold back funds on say Zika research and prevention, funding anything to fix the Flint Michigan lead contamination, or deny global warming.  Who wouldn’t fund Sandy relief? Who was in charge during Katrina when FEMA was a hopeless mess? But when they are up to their asses in alligators they cry wolf?  We are a village?  You hypocritical asses. Your problems are everyone’s problem, but their problems are, well, their problem.  Welcome to the world of conservatives and the Republican Party.    Okay, back to being a nice rational person.

Yes, we have to help them.  But we have to do it in a responsible way.  Only about 45% actually have federally funded flood insurance.  So let’s start with them.  Be clear the fund is broke and their representatives probably won’t fund it in the future or even fund it now.  So if they get their money and can rebuild there has to be a disclosure.  This is going to happen again unless we fund and build infrastructure to prevent it, and next time you are on your own.  Global Warming exists and these storms are just the beginning.  You voting Republican is a great part of this problem.

Second, what about all those that lost everything with no insurance?  Well they are not going to like this.  FEMA and the Red Cross will work for temporary relief and housing, and offer them low insterest loans to build again, but it is a loan, another debt.  We will get you through this tough time, but then you have to accept the responsiblity for your choices.  And if you rebuild in the same place, you will not get flood insurance anymore and next time you are on your own.  We can’t keep doing this over and over again.

Tough love.  Not really.  We need to help those who have been hit by a disaster, but the disaster was predictable if you did not ignore science and data.  Politicians and especially Republicans have facilitated this kind of denial, but not funded the results of that denial.  And unless we change our ways, get in touch with science and data, and do planning for our future with that reality in mind, this is just a reoccurring nightmare.  In other words the future is not a Republican one, but one based soundly on science, data, and a balance sheet that says we can’t afford to continue to do stupid things.  It is called being progressive.  Who knew Progressives were more fiscally responsible than Republicans?  Anyone who has been paying attention since the disaster of the Reagan years.  Look at the data.  Oh wait! I forgot!  They have their own data and facts.

*No, during Katrina none of mine failed, but neither did any other flood walls fail.  What failed was the assumptions about the soils beneath the flood walls that allowed them to be pushed over.  Sadly as a structural engineer you rely on the subsurface data given you and apparently a lot of it was simply bad.

The State of Affairs

You wish they’d listen to reason, scientific facts, the truth, but if they’re corrupt, the only weapon you’ve got is ridicule.”
This is a quote from an article  about Virginia Tech professor of civil and environmental engineering, Marc Edwards.  He was the scientist/engineer that helped expose and then fight with Flint Michigan Water officials to expose the lead in their waters.  It is where we are at when “reason, scientific facts, the truth” don’t hold sway anymore.  Donald Trump and his followers spew misinformation, lies, or just rumors and no one seems to have the courage to out shout them and do what Virginia Tech professor Marc Edwards did, start ridiculing them.

Yesterday on The Rachel Maddow Show, she had a young man and his father on her show yesterday (Jake Anantha and his father, Ramesh Anantha), to describe Jake being removed from a Donald Trump rally by security and accused of being a protester, even though he was an actual Trump supporter. Jake and his father are brown skinned and Jake looks to be a first generation immigrant.  Jake went to the rally because he thought Donald Trump represented everyone.  Now he gets it.

Jake, like many Americans believe what they want to until they are runover by the truck of reality.  They have to be slammed in the face before they get it. The question you have to ask is why you did not get this before?  We are swirling in information about Trump, his lies, his racism, his thuggishness, and you think he is for everyone?  What kind of selective listening can screen out this obvious reality.  For that matter what kind of selective listening can think there is a future in coal or any other carbon based fuel?  Louisiana is up to its ass in water in a thousand year storm that are now happening more and more frequently and what kind of selective listening can ignore global warming.  The Republican kind.

When the Donald went Breitbart, and fired his campaign manager trying to pull him back to semi-normal, we got racism, misinformation, twisting of facts, and shouting.  It will be 100% Benghazi, emails, and any other mud they can pull up while ignoring real issues and refusing to answer questions.  We have already seen that this week as instead of addressing a question like why is you candidate continuing to fall in the polls, they shout back America doesn’t care about that, what about the emails?  Whenever you are put on the defensive, go on the offensive.

Why does it work?  Well one reason is that our talking heads don’t know how to deal with it.  In their world it is okay to ask penetrating questions, but be fair and polite.  The other side does not abide by those rules.  They are neither fair or polite and they hurl back half truths or outright distorations and ask why aren’t the media reporting on that.  If you could have a rational discussion with them they would be destroyed so they are never going there.  So what should the media do?  

Time for some self-defense classes before the next interview.  Here are the basics. First, never ask a question you do not know the answer to.  In other words you have to be well ground in the facts or you are going to be taken on a fantasy trip.  Second, make them answer the question and challenge their facts.  This is where it gets difficult because they won’t and they will interrupt and shout over you.  

They want to make you the evil press that is suppressing reality when it is actually them.  So interrupt and don’t play their game.  If they won’t answer the question don’t move on, challenge them.  In the immortal words of Marc Edwards, use ridicule.  Are you afraid to answer the question?  In one exchange, a Trump campaign spokesperson was asked about the disruption in their campaign organization.  Response, “The American people don’t want to hear about that, they want to know why Hillary never talks to the press.  What does she really stand for?”  The campaign spokesperson is counting  on no one actually reading all her carefully laid out proposals and in that she is right (they are almost always she these days because it looks bad to argue with a she.  It is bullying).

I know that ridicule goes against everything that good journalism used to be about.  But you are not dealing with rational people anymore.  Fox News has used it for years, ridiculing the truth while surrounded by their fellow La La Land travelors to create an echo chamber of false truth.  But as real journalists, not propaganda misters, you do have facts, science, and data on your side, and that is what you should be fighting for, not differing opinions.  It is your job to fight back.  Otherwise the world is full of Jakes. 

So get the role playing sessions going because the world has changed and so has journalism.  It does not have to be partisan, which is how it will be described.  The problem is that on party, the Republicans left rational thought, data, and science a long time ago, so when you use it, you will appear partisan.  Well you damn well be partisan if that means fighting for truth and honest reporting.  Get ready, because this is going to be ugly.