Posts tagged ‘Puerto Rico’

Railing

There are so many things to rail against in this nightmare of Republican control and an idiot as our President. Agencies that have long tried to protect the consumer, the worker, the sick, the poor, the environment, and education are now headed by people who want to tear them down. The State Department is being gutted and our place in the world and our ability to affect world politics is diminishing rapidly under Tillerson. I would laugh, but it is too sad, to think about all the people who hated government, oblivious to what government actually does for them, or claimed both sides are just as bad, and then watch the destruction of America by Republicans. It was and is their stupidity and ignorance that got us here. It was and is the arrogance of some Democrats who do not understand the status quo is not working.

So once again, because there is so much destruction going on around us, I would just like to comment on a few things. The first should be the national shame of our response to Puerto Rico. We should be involved in massive rebuilding right now and yet many people are still without water and electricity. And no one seems to care. Watching what happened there, I would have to say capitalism failed. It was a time to mobilize, get in there, feed the people and start a massive rebuilding campaign. We did none of those as supplies arrived and then sat in warehouses. 60 Minutes had a segment last night on a chef who went down there and fed millions of people. He became very frustrated with the whole FEMA system where no one seemed to be in charge and rules instead of need drove the train.

He finally did get FEMA money and he pointed out that there were good people down there trying to help, but their hands were tied by government rules. And on the last go round, FEMA denied him money to continue his operation. I got to thinking about that. The government wants to prevent waste and rampant profit making by awarding to a low bidder. Remember the debacle the Puerto Rican government got into after they awarded a power restoration contract that was a giveaway to a Trump crony. Then I think about how the Cubans were able to move massive amounts of people to safety during the hurricane and quickly came to the aid of their citizens while we floundered in the Caribbean.

What comes to mind is that maybe the profit motive is not the best motive or efficacious way to deliver aid and help. Maybe in the time of crisis, capitalism fails and fails miserably. Maybe we should be turning to NGO’s already vetted and award them grants if we cannot mobilize our own resources. And one might ask, why could there not have been a massive military presence there to help? We rebuilt schools in Iraq, but can’t do that in Puerto Rico? Will we learn anything from this. Not under President Dumb Fat Fuck and the Republicans who are bent on a tax cut to destroy America, but make the wealthy great.

Next, I would like to comment on the rush to put all imbecilic men in the same category. Certainly what Al Franken did was childish, crude, and offensive, but certainly not in the same league as Roy Moore and Donald Trump, who are both accused of rape or attempted rape. I certainly understand many women’s sense of anger and frustration at all the loutish men they have been subjected to with no real recourse. But “kill all the lawyers” is not the answer and in fact is playing right into the hands of the Republicans. See! Both sides do it, and nothing changes.

Sadly women (and here I am going to get in big trouble) who have maybe suffered some of this loutish behavior feel the need now to expose it, but they may be doing their cause more harm than good. That we have a sexual abuser in the White House and about to elect a pedophile is not the same as someone who stupidly and inappropriately grabbed your ass. None of it should be tolerated any more (or then), but we may, by equating both behaviors, be in fact weakening the cause to end it all. Just as an aside, and of course I have never been in a position of real power over anyone, but had I grabbed anyone who I was dating or working with’s ass, they would have clocked me a good one.

There is an excellent discussion of men and facing up to our testosterone urges. Sadly we all have these urges but the difference is some of us cross the line and some of us don’t. Maybe we ought to be discussing the nature of men’s sexual urges so we can get out in the open that we all have them and what is and is not acceptable. It might help some to understand their feelings and deal with them more appropriately instead of acting them out.

Lastly, I would like to point out some logic or non-logic. If you want to learn how to confuse and lie by using bad logic just watch Sarah Huckabee Sanders in a White House briefing. Her major tactic is the equivalency argument I used above, the other side did it so why pick on us. Doesn’t matter what the other side did, but whether the behavior is atrocious and who now occupies the White House. Sad the press lets this slip by them. We have all heard the admitted defense, which if you don’t admit something, you can’t be held responsible for it, even though 14 women have come out to claim otherwise.

Then there is the excuse for Roy Moore that he would be better than a “Democrat”. The agenda is more important than morality. We are not the only ones. I think of Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar who looked the other way during the massacre of thousands in the Rohingya crackdown in the hope that the she can make a difference in the end instead of a stand now that might staert a full military take over again. It is that old failure of logic that the ends justify the means. But when the means turns our to define who we are, we may lose everything. See Republicans for further examples.

The Tribalism B.S.

I listened to another pundit yesterday on TV use the tribalism excuse to explain why we are so divided. I just don’t buy it. There can not be two sets of facts. Sure some people are more conservative by nature than others, but when we know the facts, shouldn’t that only modulate how quickly we institute change? Instead, the two sets of facts stops all change in its tracks. I got to thinking about this when I read an article about how a survey showed that while the majority of Americans think our response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico has been too small and slow, when you break it down by party, you get three quarters of Republicans who think things are just right, and just the opposite in the Democratic Party.

Why would party affiliation have anything to do with the fact that 78% of Puerto Ricans still do not have power and 28% are still without water one month after the Hurricane? I would bet if you were one of the 78% you would not think Trump and Company were doing such a swell job. If those are the the facts, and they are, how is that acceptable to most Republicans? I think I know the answer to that actually voiced by the FF himself. They are to blame for their own plight because of the sorry state of their electrical grid and their debt. They are lazy. So what we have going here is not tribalism, but a total lack of empathy, blaming the victim, and ignoring reality. What else could it be?

But facts should clear the air, and yet they don’t. Take the latest dust up in the FF’s White House where General Kelly came out and smeared Congresswoman Federica Wilson claiming he had been at an event where she grandstanded taking all credit for funding of a new FBI building being dedicated. He called her an empty barrel. Roll the tape. Did not happen. And now the White House Press Obfuscator (Sarah Huckabee Sanders) says how dare we question the integrity of a four star general. Roll the tape again. Either she did or she did not, and the video of her remarks shows the General was full of shit. Yet, the White House is still denying it. I think we know who is the empty barrel in this episode.

So why can’t they just apologize and get the facts straight? Because the whole existence of the Republican Party today is based upon an alternate reality that does not exist. From tax cuts solve all problems with the economy, to immigrants hurt our economy, all the way to health care is best provided by unregulated markets. It is all provenly false. But that is their dogma so they can’t let it go or see the grayness of the world where these ideas need to be expanded to reality. But since this acceptance of reality would upset their whole ideological apple cart, denial is their modus operandi.

But what is new here is the leader of the nation is now liar in chief. The White House has become the center of the real fake news. That is the end of democracy as we know it if you understand that democracy depends upon a debate of facts to arrive at the proper course of action. We no longer have that. So tribes my ass. One party is delusional and denies facts and the other actually has a grip on them. It would be nice if we quit trying to equate both sides as equal in this, two tribes not listening. There is only one set of real facts. Why oh why would you listen to lies and alternate reality when the future of your country is at stake? The media might want to think about that.

Have a nice Saturday. I am headed for the Van Morrison concert in Oakland as a nice treat from my daughter. If nothing else, we still have our families in all this madness.

More Sledge Hammer Stuff

That would basically be what the Republican Party is these days, the sledge hammer party. This morning I get up to the DIC (Dotard in Charge) slashing subsidies for Obamacare for those high risk patients whose costs raise the costs for all of us without them. Now tt will for sure raise everyone’s rates. Oh, and we are going back to more junk plans so we can pretend our costs are lower until we get sick. The NYT has a nice graphic about how the DIC Administration is destroying healthcare. But where are the fixes? Once again, and I apologize to my loyal readers if I am repeating myself, REPUBLICANS DON’T HAVE ANY FIXES! What fixes healthcare for all of us is not in their ideology.

It is also interesting to note that the DIC decried Obama’s use of executive orders to improve our lives, now the DIC is wielding the mighty pen hypocritically to ruin our lives, both under a Republican Congress. Does that even dawn on many voter’s brains that Republicans can not govern?

I have an anecdote here on people who hate Obamacare. I was out picking up wine from my many wine clubs and at one winery, the owner knew of my cancer and somehow the talk turned to Obamacare and how it had raise their premiums. You know, that evil Obamacare. I pointed out that without the yearly cap on out of pocket expenses that Obamacare brought to all plans, plus basic coverage of most conditions, I would have been priced out of my medicine. They had no answer for that. They have never really been sick to find out how bad the old system was. But it was cheaper.

Meanwhile in nuclear land, Trump “won’t certify the Iran deal, but won’t unravel it. Really? First of all has Iran violated the agreement? By all international partners the answer is no. There is other stuff they are doing that we do not like, like developing long distance missiles, but that was not part of the nuke deal, although the DIC can’t quite sort this out in his fuzzy brain. By all accounts the agreement is working and we are less at threat of nukes from Iran than ever before. So he wants to trash it like Obamacare, one plank at a time. Now LDs (Little Dotards – Trump supporters), if the man cannot be trusted to keep a bargain, how again is he going to be the great deal maker?

In Puerto Rico, as Paul Krugman points out this morning, “More than a third of the population has been without clean water for three weeks, and waterborne diseases appear to be spreading. Only a sixth of the population has electricity. The health care system is a shambles, and sheer hunger may be a problem in some remote areas.” Meanwhile the DIC, after both he and his pious little Vice Dotard in Chief. (Pence – VDIC) promised they would be with Puerto Ricans to solve this crisis, threatens the measly aid they are providing. It is, a moral failure of the United States, while the DIC and VDIC blame of the poor conditions there before and take no responsibility for helping out our fellows Americans. We should all be ashamed.. It is the United States of American you DICs!

To me as an engineer and as a progressive, I see the way forward. We reinvest in Puerto Rico. We forgive their debts, and we rebuild it to sustain the new normal caused by climate change. It could be the model for how to build with alternate energy and local sewage treatment, water treatment, and houses that can stand a hurricane onslaught. Most of this is not new technology. It would rejuvenate the Puerto Rican economy, and provide us with a model for how to proceed elsewhere. That is not going to happen with the sledge hammer administration. They don’t no how to build anything.

Meanwhile in California we are burning down our wine country. Is this a natural disaster or a man made one caused by maybe moving into areas we should should not, and of course climate change? I find that argument hard to follow (moving into rural areas) as Santa Rosa burned down. Of course, I do live in the midlle of the forest, so my opinion might be skewed here. What I can’t help thinking about is whether we can build more smartly with natural fire breaks, and materials that have very high resistance to combustion. Also we could probably manage our forests better in the future to prevent such wild outbreaks. Of course that would require government action, and according to Republicans, all government is bad so that is totally out of the question. Maybe this is a warning from God about wine swilling Californians? If so, screw God.

Yesterday, General Kelly, the DIC’s chief of staff, was put out in front of the press to calm fears of a disintegrating Presidency (See my blog from yesterday). What was interesting is that he denied nothing. He talked around the claims about the DIC’s unraveling and unstable behavior. On the surface it seem to put the question to rest, but if you really pay attention to words, it was just the opposite. Ali Velshi on MSNBC’s Last Word did a really amazing job of taking all this apart.

So if you have not got the gist of all this yet. The Republicans are going to take you back to the good old times when government did nothing and the market place was free to operate. And you will find out the world is not the simple place you thought as your situation further degrades. And I want you to keep one thing in mind, you can’t blame Democrats anymore. You threw them out. Maybe you will start to see the disaster that Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin has brought us with the vote of change. How’s that change working out for you? It won’t you little dotards and we will all be worse off, Then who are you going to blame?  Got a mirror?

WTF!

Shooting in Las Vegas? Could this be domestic terrorism? They found at least 10 guns in the alleged shooter’s room. Can we connect the dots yet? But the Dotard in Charge (DIC) is showing his empathy and labeled this an act of evil so I already feel better. I can’t figure whether to outlaw outside gatherings or multi-story hotels. Then again could guns be the problem? Oh shut my mouth! Nevada has legalized silencers! Apparently what happens in Las Vegas does not stay there anymore.

Meanwhile things are still fairly desperate in many parts of Puerto Rico although the relief effort is beginning to crank up. Of course once again the DIC is telling us the response has just been amazing. “We have it under great control.” That was after someone finally explained to him where Puerto Rico was and that they were actually American citizens (I don’t know that, but the big water statement and other comments indicates he did not). So if you want to find leadership, this is not it. His enablers are showing how empathetic he is and I just want to laugh. Empathy is not water, food, power, medical support, or a dry place to sleep. “Hey, get out there and fix it yourselves!” Really, that is leadership? He should have been on top of this from day one. Speaking of one, that was the first hole of his golf course he was on yesterday expressing his sympathy. Right on top of it.

Then we have the North Korean snafu (situation normal, all fucked up). Rex, doesn’t need a staff, Tillerson tells us we are talking to the North Koreans through back channels, and the DIC tells Rex he is wasting his time talking to Rocket Man. Of course enter the enablers who try to spin this as great strategy, good cop/bad cop approach when we all know there is no grand strategy. I expect Rex to quit pretty soon.

Then there is the story that the DIC can only respond to and hear good news or he lashes out so that is all he hears. On the immigration issue he is only told what they cost us, not what they add so he does not have to deal with complex thoughts or get confused by complex issues which might counter his policy ideas. Stephen Miller is probably the architect of that approach. He has no real intellectual curiosity and has decided what he believes, so telling him different is a good way to be unemployed. Remember the crowd size at inauguration? I am a normal person and I like to hear good stuff about me, but I also want to hear the bad so I can fix it. That is how I stay married. The DIC just reinvents reality so there is nothing to fix.

There was the vote and violence in Catalonia.  WTF.  People do not have a right to vote?  Spain’s reaction just reinforced the need to separate.  Oh, I understand that a nation, like ours in the Civil War, may have to go to war in a secession, but they were participating in a non-binding vote. There is a problem there Huston and it is not solved by a police riot and brutality.  And while I am at it, why is the United States against the vote for and secession of the Kurds?  Vice President Bidden even proposed that solution to Iraq years ago.  Why do we not understand the need for freedom and independence from a state that has repressed them?  We are really good at being on the wrong side of an issue.

Finally, I have been reading some snarky reviews of Burns’ and Novick’s The Vietnam War. Snarky because they said we should not be too quick to draw lessons learned, and some complexities were too simplified. Hmm. I wonder if these people lived through it? There were all kinds of complexities and all kinds of contradictions, but the big lessons are fairly simple. Here they are if you missed them:

  1. War is an atrocity. Entering into a war can only be done when our very survival is at stake. The wanton loss of life is never justified and what it does to us can never be repaired. It damn well better be worth it. See #2.  Oh and it wasn’t here.  Neither was Iraq.
  2. We humans find out things about ourselves in war, our savagery, that we did not want to know and that is what damages us the most because we find we actually enjoy it. And to be effective at it, we devalue the lives of the enemy through racism and hate.  That reduces our humanity.
  3. Our government will lie to us for political ends, and transparency and a vigorous free press is necessary so we the people can decide if we want to pay the price for war, or if the reasons are made up.  See both Voetnam and Iraq.
  4. As noted above about the DIC, generals/leaders are on top of an organization that needs to feed them what they want to hear.  Real leaders dig deep to find the truth, report it, and act on it.  There are not many of them in the real world.
  5. Governments glorify war to get us to fight them.  Medals, hero-worship ceremonies, and the lie that most wars are about protecting freedom, democracy, and the Constitution are the ways they do it.  Sure there are real heroes and we should admire them.  But because you wear a uniform does not make you a hero.  The guy who stopped the killing at My Lai was the real hero.  Somehow he maintained his humanity.  The idea of the fog of war and that this is understandable (only Calley was convicted and then had his sentence reduced to nothing) is nonsense.  Maybe it is in the sense that we lose our humanity, but it should never be tolerated.  It is the best argument against war itself.

Those are fairly simple. There might be all kinds of lessons about how to fight a war, who should be our friends, tactics in the field, yada, yada, yada, but really, they are minor players to the big ones above.  So Monday morning and another WTF wakeup.

The Great Leader is a Bust

From the NYT:

President Trump lashed out at the mayor of San Juan on Saturday for criticizing his administration’s efforts to help Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, accusing her of “poor leadership” and implying that the island, which lacks electricity and has limited cellphone service, water and fuel, was not doing enough to help itself.

In a series of early-morning messages on Twitter from his New Jersey golf club, where he is spending the weekend, Mr. Trump dismissed the statements by the capital’s mayor, Carmen Yulín Cruz, as political and asserted that his administration had organized a response by federal workers who are “doing a fantastic job.”

The Mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2017

…Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help. They….

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2017

Mr. Trump said his critics in Puerto Rico should not depend entirely on the federal government. “They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort,” he wrote. “10,000 Federal workers now on Island doing a fantastic job. The military and first responders, despite no electric, roads, phones etc., have done an amazing job. Puerto Rico was totally destroyed.”

He does not seem to understand the difference between an island and say Houston. Well, he did say big water around it, really big water. And as he and his colleagues did their best to not help the island when the banks and corporations were raping them, now they blame them for their plight. The mayor of San Juan just got tired of kissing ass and nothing happened. Even the General deployed down there has said he does not have the resources.  But the DIC blames Puerto Ricans.  I wonder if they are brown makes a difference?

Yesterday I blogged what should have happened day one after Maria. He sat on his ass and did not pay attention. And as always there is no truth to power (everyone is covering their asses) so everything is working out fine. “Your doing a great job Brownie.” Now when people are desperate, he blames them instead of solving the problem.

Oh, and it is really rich that he is doing this from his New Jersey golf club. I hope he got two scopes of ice cream on his desserts. The man has no idea how to manage and he does not give a flying fuck about the little people. As a leader, you solve the problems first, then later look to see what went wrong. This was a ticking time bomb and it finally went off. He has no idea how to keep his eye on the ball, or which ball is the one he should be watching. Can’t wait to see how he is going to handle North Korea.

This really, really smart man is a dotard. Kim Jong-un got that dead on. Maybe all the folks in Puerto Rico need to take a knee next time they play the national anthem. Maybe then they would get some attention.

Oh and one other thought.  Maybe it is time to give those folks in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands the vote.  Then we might not get an idiot for President.  Just how dispicable can he get before Republicans quite legitimizing him?

Puerto Rico 

Remember West Side Story?  I head this song (America) when I was in 8th grade (1961 maybe):

Puerto Rico,
My heart’s devotion–
Let it sink back in the ocean.

Always the hurricanes blowing,
Always the population growing,
And the money owing.

And the sunlight streaming,
And the natives steaming.

I like the island Manhattan,
Smoke on your pipe and put that in.

And here we are today and Puerto Rico is “money owing”.  Now for some strange reason Puerto Rico unlike other states, can’t declare bankruptcy and get a judicated settlement.  That strange reason is someone (read Republican) slipped a provision into a funding bill years ago that denied them the right of every other state.  Now for a number of reasons Puerto Rico was set up to fail by Congress and is going under while trying to borrow money to keep their hospitals and other essential services open.

They owe money to a lot of hedge funds who want them to shut down their schools and other essential services to pay their loans back.  Here you get a real insight into what government by corporate America would look like.  But Congress is considering a bill to help them, but of course the problem is Republicans.  I listened to one who explained the delay in getting a bill out of Congress as making sure it is not bailing them out.  Now read this another way:  Bailing out the hedge funds and screwing Americans.  Okay, I get it, Puerto Rico, in impossible circumstances that Congress would not remedy, turn to borrowing, and borrowed too much.  Bad, bad Puerto Ricans.  But what of the hedge funds that made bad loans? Where is their haircut?

This is a complex situation and requires complex solutions including a bailout just as we bailout communities and states struggling in the United States.  But what is truly revelling here is corporate America’s response (screw the people, where is my money), and Republicans response (screw the people, where is corporate America’s money).  It should tell you all you need to know about who really wants to make America great again.

Here is a really great read on Puerto Rico and where we go from here.

No, We Don’t Need No Stink’in Gov’ment

From the Guardian today:

Billionaire hedge fund managers have called on Puerto Rico to lay off teachers and close schools so that the island can pay them back the billions it owes.  The hedge funds called for Puerto Rico to avoid financial default – and repay its debts – by collecting more taxes, selling $4bn worth of public buildings and drastically cutting public spending, particularly on education.

Let them eat cake, oh, and their children can rot in debtors prison.  No we don’t need to stink’in gov’ment to reign in these greedy bastards.  According to Ronald Reagan via Gordon Gekko, greed is good.