Rocket man and the dotard

It’s difficult to imagine that the leaders of North Korea and America could show significantly more antipathy toward each other than they do at present.  There is, unfortunately, room for escalation of tensions.  North Korea is currently threatening to detonate a hydrogen nuclear bomb in the earth’s atmosphere (NBC, BBC, The Atlantic, Business Insider).  It’s been about  37 years since anyone has thought to do something this stupid.  As regrettable as it would be to lose the millions of humans who live in Seoul and Tokyo, a neutralized North Korea does have a sort of appeal to it.

Advertisements

The end of the world

Just because the world didn’t end in 2012, that doesn’t mean it won’t end next Saturday.  According to a ‘viral video,’ this is the likely outcome of the weekend.  This is why it is so important to avoid things with virus-like qualities, especially videos.

Instead of worrying, though, I say we should celebrate the life of the guy who kept the world from ending in 1983, when it very nearly did.  Stanislav Petrov should have annihilated life on earth as we know it, but he didn’t (NPR, BBC, NYT, RT).  It was his job to monitor Soviet airspace against incoming U.S. nuclear missiles and, should he happen to notice any, return fire.  One day, he noticed some.  Fortunately, instead of the barrage he was trained to look for, he only saw five incoming missiles.  ‘Hmm,’ thought the brave Ruskie, ‘why would the Americans start a war with only five?’  ‘Hmm,’ he then thought, ‘we have a new radar system that hasn’t really been tested too well.’  Hmm, ‘ he then thought, ‘I have about ten minutes to decide what to do.’  And so he did nothing.  He didn’t even report the blips on his screen.  And so we’re still alive.  And today he died.  And Saturday is just around the corner.  I guess it’s time for someone else to step up to the plate.  Because, even if Nibiru doesn’t get us, someday the war may not be imaginary.

It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.

Multiple rocket launcher systems fire during the Zapad-2017 war games in Belarus
REUTERS

Houston, we have a problem

Donald Trump has acknowledged the disaster that is flooded Houston and even visited the area to reassure the populace.

“To the people affected by Hurricane Harvey, we are with you every single step of the way. We will help you recover, we will help you rebuild, we will support you today, tomorrow and the day after.”

He said that on August 25th, so I suppose the offer has run its course by now.

Several sources have noted the irony that Trump managed to rollback Obama’s efforts to fortify America’s infrastructure against just this sort of flooding just days before Hurricane Harvey struck (The Hill, Gears of Biz, Business Insider, Jalopnik, CBC).  In fact, Trump did this before Obama’s executive order even had a chance to come into effect, so it appears the move was mostly symbolic.  It seems as if nothing is as important to Trump as undoing everything done by Obama.

Here are the executive orders, for those who like to read such things.  Obama’s:

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

Executive Order – Establishing a Federal Flood Risk Management Standard and a Process for Further Soliciting and Considering Stakeholder Input

EXECUTIVE ORDER
– – – – – – –
ESTABLISHING A FEDERAL FLOOD RISK MANAGEMENT STANDARD
AND A PROCESS FOR FURTHER SOLICITING AND CONSIDERING
STAKEHOLDER INPUT

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to improve the Nation’s resilience to current and future flood risk, I hereby direct the following:

Section 1. Policy. It is the policy of the United States to improve the resilience of communities and Federal assets against the impacts of flooding. These impacts are anticipated to increase over time due to the effects of climate change and other threats. Losses caused by flooding affect the environment, our economic prosperity, and public health and safety, each of which affects our national security.

And Trump’s (skipping to the end where he gets to the point:

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

Presidential Executive Order on Establishing Discipline and Accountability in the Environmental Review and Permitting Process for Infrastructure

EXECUTIVE ORDER

– – – – – – –

ESTABLISHING DISCIPLINE AND ACCOUNTABILITY IN THE ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW AND PERMITTING PROCESS FOR INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to ensure that the Federal environmental review and permitting process for infrastructure projects is coordinated, predictable, and transparent, it is hereby ordered as follows:

 

Sec. 6. Executive Order 13690 of January 30, 2015 (Establishing a Federal Flood Risk Management Standard and a Process for Further Soliciting and Considering Stakeholder Input), is revoked.

 

This flood business is expensive (Houston Chronicle, The Hill, weather.com) and hard to insure against (Houston Chronicle, LA Times).  Some say the troubles in Houston are due to the lack of regulation.  Others disagree.  Others note that much of the flood damage occurred outside of the designated flood zones.  FEMA and other such agencies have certainly given the matter plenty of attention.  Unfortunately, flooding seems to be a problem that will only get worse.  And America has an administration determined not to prepare for it.

Sebastian Gorka

Now that most of the people I’ve come to recognize have left the Trump administration, it seems the B-players are now joining the exodus.  I had never heard of Sebastian Gorka until I found out he was gone (NYT, theblaze, WP).  And, I only just barely found this out, given his departure amid both a hurricane and a Friday night bad news dump.  He claims he resigned (even writing a letter as evidence), but the administration says otherwise.  It seems he’s going back to Breitbart from whence he came, joining his buddy Steve Bannon.  Was this latest ouster a further attempt to play down the Charlottesville fiasco?  Was it due to Gorka’s opposition to the Afghanistan ramp up?  What’s going on this time?  Come to think of it, the Afghan war is pretty stupid, isn’t it?  20170824_Afghanistan

Kinda makes me wish this guy had stuck around–at least long enough to get to know him.

 

Bye, bye Bannon

The latest casualty in the Trump fun house is Steve Bannon.  I do not know why he has been fired.  Several sources talk about his views or what he will do next or his latest interview, but none of them will tell me what is different between the Steve Bannon of last week and the Steve Bannon of today, except that he has his old job back (The American Prospect, The Telegraph, The Atlantic, The Globe and Mail, NYT).  So, who’s next?  Hard time killing floor blues.

bannon
NYT

Race wars – a new Hope

If there were one thing we could count on Donald Trump to do, it was unite the business community.  After all, he was one of them!  He could speak their lingo, make the deals, talk the talk, do the thing.  It kind of worked, I guess, for a while.  Then, he just got too racist.  See, you can be openly racist in America.  And, you can be a highly visible corporate CEO.  But, you can’t be both.  You can’t even hang out with racists, even when they are the president of a country.  It’s just bad press.  It hurts sales.  So Trump’s CEO buddies are backing out of the white house.  Nothing personal, really, they just don’t want to be associated with the current administration.  It’s bad for business.

Meanwhile, Trump found a lovely (and very loyal) fashion model to join his team as communications director.  I can do no better than to end with a quote from the furthest right-wing news source I know of, the Daily Caller, to describe the virtues of this new white house addition:

“My father makes people earn his trust,” Ivanka told The New York Times about Hicks in an interview for a June profile. “She’s earned his trust.”

Trump reportedly loves that Hicks can read his moods and execute her job accordingly with professionalism. “Her most important role is her bond with the candidate,” his former campaign manager Paul Manafort told The NYT. “She totally understands him.”

Hicks did not respond to a request for comment.

Charlottesville

Donald Trump held a press conference in which he dearly wanted to talk about his plan to save the country by allowing critical infrastructure to flood (once a developer, always a developer), but the pesky press kept hammering away at his reaction to the recent White Supremacy rally in Virginia.  Trump seemed determined to share blame for the recent violence equally between both violent extremists and non-violent non-extremists.  Most coverage seemed unsympathetic to his arguments.  I’ll venture to say that this is Trump’s first real domestic crisis (coming on the heals of his first foreign crisis).  Whether this fiasco will become eclipsed by his next bit of antagonistic buffoonery or metastasize into his own Hurricane Katrina remains to be seen.

***

Although it’s little comfort for the rest of us, if the rise of the neo-nasties in Trump’s America is a harbinger of greater devastation, at least there are a few billionaires with plans to survive.