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Facebook locked my account and won’t tell me why. What are they hiding?

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Facebook hasn’t had a very good time lately. The social media site has come under attack for accepting at least $100,000 from “Russian trolls” for fake ads that led to links that disparaged Hillary Clinton, and probably contributed to her defeat by Trump.

The way the New York Times put it, Facebook (and Twitter) were “being turned into engines of deception and propaganda” by “Russian operators” to “spread anti-Clinton messages” and “aid Donald J. Trump.”

It’s not clear if Facebook broke any laws, but the revelations are embarrassing, particularly coming at a time when many Facebook users report being locked out of their accounts, without warning or explanation, a situation that goes back at least to 2014.

That’s what happened to me last week. Out of the blue, when I tried to log into my Facebook page, I was told my account had been suspended. There was no reason offered as to why, no “here’s how to resolve this problem,” nothing. I panicked, and started digging through Facebook’s myriad of links, trying desperately to find a way to talk to someone at the company.

Good luck with that!

Eventually, I did find a deeply-buried link to appeal. Facebook asked me for a photo ID, so I sent them a copy of my driver’s license. They replied saying my driver’s license was inadequate, since they needed something with a photo ID, name and date of birth—all of which my driver’s license obviously had!! So I sent them a copy of my birth certificate, and that was good enough: They unlocked my account. I’m back!

I have now asked Facebook half-a-dozen times to explain specifically why they locked me out, but they’ve refused to do so. All they did was send me generic rules about not using fake names, and about their policy concerning complaints about accounts. I explained to Facebook that (a) I have never used a fake name, and (b) would they please tell me the nature of the complaints they received about me. Facebook emailed to say, Sorry, we can’t tell you the names of the complainers, or what they complained about. I asked Facebook, if I complained about Donald Trump’s Facebook account, would they lock him out; but there was no reply. Nor did they reply to my question if they had any evidence I had ever used a fake name.

What was especially bothersome was that I’ve come under repeated attack, on Facebook, on my blog and through my personal email from extreme right wing white nationalists for my anti-Trump, anti-fascist postings. The Breitbart crowd has insulted and threatened me. Within moments of getting locked out of Facebook, I got a comment on my blog (from a phony name) saying, Haha got ur facebook account deleted you troll ass liberal faggot.” I wondered how the person knew so quickly that I’d been locked out, unless he/she was the original complainer, and had been told by Facebook they had taken my account down. This raises profound questions: What complaints does Facebook act upon, and which ones does it ignore? Is Facebook subject to outside political pressure from third parties, such as Breitbart, that possess considerable power? How are we to understand this stuff?

Facebook won’t like hearing this, but it’s time for them to be regulated as a utility, the same way the government regulates power companies and communication companies like AT&T so they can’t abuse users. Facebook denies that it’s a media/communications company, but it has about 2 billion users in the world, and may be the primary communications outlet for millions of them. That sounds like a media company to me! How can Facebook cut off someone’s account with no warning, no explanation why, and refuse to answer questions? This is the heavy, troubling hand of censorship; there’s no other word for it. It violates the transparency we expect from social media companies. If this can happen to me, it can happen to you–and anyone–and everyone who crosses some undefined, arbitrary line that faceless bureaucrats determine. Facebook gagged me, and since they won’t tell me why, it’s only natural for me to assume the worst: someone at Breitbart brought pressure on Facebook to kill my account. If that’s not what happened, it’s up to Facebook to prove otherwise. Congress, the ball is in your court.


Inconvenient Timing for a Climate-Change Heretic

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Roger Pielke Jr. must be embarrassed by the timing of his latest op-ed piece. Let me explain.

We just had Hurricane Harvey, which set all kinds of records. Last week San Francisco registered its highest temperature ever, 106, which is insane for the City by the Bay. Wildfires are burning across the West. And now, here comes Hurricane Irma, the largest hurricane in Atlantic history.

You don’t have to be a climate scientist to suspect something’s awry with our weather.

The scientific issue is complicated, I know, but politically-speaking, it’s simpler to understand. Democrats believe in the Al Gore theory that human activity is radically altering the Earth’s climate. Republicans disagree, and the more conservative they are, the more they insist—not only that man isn’t the cause of climate change—but that there isn’t any climate change at all.

I, myself, think that many Republican politicians fully understand that something is wrong with our climate, and that human activity certainly is involved. But they’re afraid to say so publicly. You see, the Republican base is so under-educated, so ignorant of so many realities, so steeped in their various resentments and superstitions—resentments that the Republican Party has stoked for years–that GOP politicians dare not educate them, for fear of being primaried out of office. So the Republican Party goes along pretending all is well with the climate.

What’s particularly sad, though, is when scientists join the climate-skeptic crowd. Most scientists, reports NASA, acknowledge that climate change and warming are real, and are major, life-threatening issues. But there’s always going to be a handful who say there’s no problem. Just as the tobacco industry still manages to dig up the occasional “expert” who says smoking doesn’t cause cancer, so too the right wing will unearth someone with scientific credentials to bolster the fossil fuel industry’s contention that climate change is (to quote Trump) “a hoax invented by the Chinese.”

Enter Roger Pielke Jr. He works at the University of Colorado, where he teaches environmental studies. He’s not dumb enough to deny that something may be wrong with the climate. But he is known as a “climate heretic” (his own words) due to his belief that There is scant evidence to indicate that hurricanes, floods, tornadoes or drought have become more frequent or intense in the U.S. or globally.”

In his online piece—written before we knew about Irma–Pielke airs his many grievances. He has been attacked by “thought police” and “activist groups funded by billionaires” [like Tom Steyer]. John Podesta (Hillary’s campaign chairman) mounted “a campaign to have [him] eliminated” as a published writer because of his “inconvenient research”—a pun on Al Gore’s Oscar-winning documentary about global warming, An Inconvenient Truth. His bottom line: There have been no long-term increases in the frequency or strength of hurricanes in the U.S.”

Hurricane Harvey obviously threw a curve ball at Prof. Pielke. The size and scope of Harvey was a real challenge for Pielke, so he felt the need to do a little ‘splainin’ in the Wall Street Journal, where his op-ed piece, “The Hurricane Lull Couldn’t Last,” ran on Aug. 31.

There, he rolled out another of his contentions: Despite Harvey’s historic rainfall levels and thousand-year flooding, proof “that hurricanes [are] more common and intense” than they used to be “hasn’t happened.” Therefore, “Without data to support their wilder claims,” Pielke writes, “climate partisans have now resorted to shouting that every extreme weather event was somehow ‘made worse’ by the emission of greenhouse gases.” Pielke’s advice going forward? “President Trump should…appoint a science advisor…to coordinate federal science agencies,” as if there’s not already enough evidence out there that extreme weather events are on the increase.

Unfortunately for Prof. Pielke, he wrote all this right before another inconvenient hurricane, Irma, arose in the Atlantic. As of yesterday, it was “one of the powerful hurricanes ever recorded,” and threatens to smash into the U.S. somewhere around South Florida this weekend.

If Prof. Pielke had waited another week before writing his op-ed piece, he might have toned it down. He would have known about Irma, and perhaps not have been as stubbornly defensive. I mean, back-to-back historic superstorms hitting America within days of each other? Wow. What does it take for people like Prof. Pielke to question their conclusions? Scientists are supposed to change their minds when contrary evidence piles up. Doesn’t it seem like there’s powerful evidence that hurricanes (and droughts and heat waves and torrential rainstorms) are more frequent, and getting worse? Why are people like Prof. Pielke so resistant to the evidence?

It’s a puzzle, but it’s not puzzling why the Wall Street Journal loves him. The Journal is the mouthpiece of capitalist, Wall Street business interests. They’ve been cheerleading the “no global warming” rally for years. Business does not want to admit the severity of climate change. Neither, apparently, does Pielke. Two peas in a pod: Pielke gets a soapbox to sell his books, and the Wall Street Journal continues along its embarrassingly stupid path of climate skepticism.

 

 

 

 


The Republican war on Mueller is right out of Sun Tzu (and so is Mueller’s response)

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The Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu wrote The Art of War in the 5th-6th century BCE, before China was united. It was a time when regional warlords did battle with each other, with land passing back and forth between clans. Sun Tzu focused almost exclusively on how to defeat an enemy, not simply through battle but through deception and by exploiting his weakness. We see explicit examples of Sun Tzu’s advice in the current Republican war against Donald J. Trump’s primary enemy, who is—not North Korea, but Robert Mueller.

The clever combatant imposes his will on the enemy, but does not allow the enemy’s will to be imposed on him.” Trump and his lawyers understand this fundamental rule of shifting the grounds of the battle. Mueller is coming, armed with subpoenas and lawyers; therefore, Trump must impose his own will upon Mueller. How? “Appear at points which the enemy must hasten to defend.” Rather than wait to be charged with crimes by Mueller, seize the advantage, and attack him first.

But with what crimes? It hardly matters. Anything at all, to cause confusion and sow disarray in the enemy camp. “By inflicting damage,” says Sun Tzu, “[the combatant] can make it impossible for the enemy to draw near.”

Thus the accusations against Mueller have been mounting all summer, in hope of distracting a determined special counsel and forcing him to devote his energies to defend himself. Spurious as these anti-Mueller allegations are, they give aid and comfort to Trump’s allies, who are Mueller’s enemies.

One of the first to counter-attack Mueller on Trump’s behalf was the disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. As early as last Spring, using a phrase popular at Breitbart, he accused the special counsel of aiming “the tip of the deep state spear” at the president. Then, borrowing the language of Trump himself, Gingrich reassured Republicans that the Mueller investigation was “a rigged game,” and he planted the first seeds of suspicion that Mueller—a lifelong Republican appointed to lead the FBI by George W. Bush—was actually a crypto-Democrat.

Soon, with Gingrich and other revanchist Trumpites covering their backs, right wing Congressional Republicans joined the anti-Mueller brigade. Typical of them was the Arizona tea party Representative, Trent Franks, who in August became one of the first Republicans to demand Mueller’s resignation.

Since then, as the evidence against Trump and his family and associates has become more damning, the attacks on Mueller have increased in severity. The latest comes from (no surprise) the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page which, despite the fact that the paper’s real journalists are doing yeoman’s work in investigating RussiaGate, continues a flamboyantly shrill and desperate defense of the president. In “How’s He Going to Explain This?”, the conservative apologist James Freeman resurrects the moribund story of (yes), Hillary’s email server, which nobody cares about anymore, except for the most lunatic fringe of Trump loyalists. Comey, Freeman writes (and we’ve read similar nonsense a thousand times) “exonerate[d] Hillary Clinton…before FBI agents finished their work.” That there is zero evidence to substantiate this claim is irrelevant. It is enough to make the charge. As Sun Tzu explained, “To ensure that your whole host may withstand the brunt of the enemy’s attack and remain unshaken- this is effected by maneuvers direct and indirect.”

Charging Comey with being pro-Hillary is the only thing Republicans have left. It is the “indirect maneuver” designed to allow the Trump regime to “withstand the brunt of the enemy’s attack.” That it is absurd and laughable on its face is obvious: Comey released his damning letter about resuming the Hlllary investigation ten days before the election, while keeping secret the fact that the FBI was investigating the Trump campaign (and Comey hasn’t explained that bizarre behavior to this day). The result, as everyone knows although Republicans cannot admit it, is that enough swing voters switched from Hillary to Trump, thereby giving the groper-in-chief the election.

One of Sun Tzu’s principle tactics was “doing certain things openly for purposes of deception.” This spreads confusion and chaos and lowers morale in the enemy’s ranks; deception is in fact the “basis” of “all warfare.” One presumes that Robert Mueller, too, has read Sun Tzu, and knows precisely how the Republican Party is spreading deceptive disinformation. He is not wasting his time responding to every ridiculous allegation, but is husbanding his resources, following Sun Tzu’s sage advice: “If there is an outbreak of fire, bide your time [and] do not swallow bait offered by the enemy.”


Trump’s aggression on DACA

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As I write this on Monday night, the word is that Trump is going to kill DACA sometime today. Maybe he won’t, but if he does, here’s my take.

He will have done as he promised. Declared war on 800,000 law-abiding Mexican immigrants brought here as babies and children, who have known no other home in their lives other than America.

Of all the disgusting, cheap, horrific things Trump has done as president, this is surely one of the worst, along with his other human rights attack, against transgendered Americans who wish to serve in the military. Trump is a racist, pure and simple. He grew up in a household dominated by his father, Fred, with whom he ordered the property manager of one of their apartment buildings to “get rid of blacks” back in 1973. Earlier, Fred had been a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

Evidently, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Forty-five years later, Donald Trump is still a racist, and a xenophobe as well. Don’t forget, this is the man who called Mexicans “rapists” and “criminals” and “bad hombres,” providing us with a useful if disturbing insight into a dirty, dark mind. But, of course, this hatred of foreigners, and brown-skinned Mexicans especially, ignited a prairie fire of support among the poorly-educated, resentful white men of rural red districts, who cheered at the nomination of one of their own, and went on to elect him POTUS. These racists were heavily engaged in the campaign. For example, one of them, a guy named Craig Bachler who was Trump’s Coalition Director in Florida, posted this offensive image on Twitter:

You can easily find the slime trails of others of these poor white haters on Breitbart. Here are a few choice morsels:

“Karl Testify” from 2 days ago, in a comment about the wall: “I need target practice, let ’em come.

How’d you like to have “Karl testify” living next door to you, an angry ranter, with a rifle on his lap, hunting for brown-skinned people or anyone else who pisses him off?

And, in the same string, a delightful post from a “Mr. Cheong,” who, if that’s his real name, sounds like an immigrant:

That’s why people elected Donald Trump to lock up that scum of Earth Barack Hussein Obama and his minions including Eric Holder!!! Trump 2020 with 50 states landslide!!!”

Here is “piled high and deep”’s policy recommendation in the field of foreign affairs:

We are going to have to take over Mexico again in the near future…

Gee, that will go over well with the Mexican people—and the Central American people—and the South American people—and the United Nations—and the world. Good thinking there, piled high!

And from last Sunday’s early report trump would end DACA:

YellowFruit52: Winning!!!!!

Here’s “Honey Badger” Finally! America First..This is MAGA

Yes, America will be great again when we evict 800,000 men, women and children who are paying taxes and bettering themselves, thereby providing a light of peaceful immigration policy unto the world.

And from Libsareclowns: Fun to see Obama eat more CACA. MAGA baby. Go Dream in Mexico PENDEJOS….hasta la vista….

And finally, Al Dente James: Stop DACA now and increase deportations.

You must admit these men and women sound like good, fine, upstanding, kind-hearted Americans, the kind who have studied our history, read the base of the Statue of Liberty, and exemplify American values of tolerance, acceptance, compassion and progress.

Not!

What they are, are Trump fanatics. These are the ugly, wrathful faces of the anti-DACA crowd…Donald J. Trump’s tribe and cult. This is a sad, sick, deplorable day in the history of the U.S.A., brought to us by a sad, sick, deplorable human being. One can only hope and pray that the lawsuits against Trump by Washington State and New York will restore this compassionate and fair executive order. One can also hope that this Republican-led Congress, reprehensible as it is with tea party, evangelical and other fringe extremists, will come to their senses and restore DACA before it’s too late.


Let’s mess with Texas

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I don’t have anything against Texas. My maternal grandparents and their children settled there and in Oklahoma, before the latter was even a state, in the early 1900s. I still have cousins who are proud Texans. Texas gave us a great liberal President, Lyndon Baines Johnson. But somewhere along the way, Texans decided to let the Bible, or their interpretation of it, rather than the U.S. Constitution, be their guiding document, with tragic consequences. They went deeply, tragically off the American rails.

There’s a meme out there that liberals look down at “flyover country,” including Texas, with disdain, but this is a lie. It is, however, expedient propaganda for Republicans to feed the useful idiots in their party, who feel disrespected, and whose sense of grievance is looking for scoundrels to blame. The Republican attack machine is eager to target liberals on the two coasts as the bad guys, and there’s very little we can do to refute the charge. It’s like the old accusation, “When did you stop beating your wife?” Whatever you say, you look bad.

Last week, you may recall, a Florida professor was fired for tweeting that Hurricane Harvey was “instant karma” for Texans, in terms of their Republican-inspired anti-science attitude. I wouldn’t go that far, but I do hope that some of them will reconsider Trump’s allegation that global warming, with its prospect of more, and more intense, storms, “is a hoax invented by the Chinese.”

It is, meanwhile, worth noting that in the most recent poll (March, 2017) I could find on Texans’ beliefs about climate change, the most dubious part of the state is the Gulf Coast (including Houston), which is “solid Trump country,” in addition to North Texas. Latino South and West Texas were the most concerned about the reality of global warming.

The Florida professor no doubt deserved to get fired for his stupid tweet. There’s no evidence that Democrats or liberals or anyone else is blaming Texas conservatism for Harvey. Of course, on the opposite side of the political spectrum, Christian conservatives often allege that liberal, and especially gay, areas are targets of God’s wrath: Pat Robertson, who, although senile, is still with us, warned Disney World that showing rainbow flags “will bring about earthquakes, tornadoes and possibly a meteor.” (The late, demented Jerry Falwell, and the Catholic bigot, Patrick Buchanan, made similar charges.) Still, despite that fact that this meme of liberals hating on Texas is a slur, that doesn’t stop the right from hauling it out anyway, every chance they get, in order to stir their base to righteous indignation.

Consider, for example, the Wall Street Journal’s lead editorial over the weekend: “Texas, Thou Hast Sinned,”  which advances the incredibly fake allegation that “the media left” is accusing “Texas, and especially Houston, for the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.”

Yes, you read that right. The editorial cites anonymous media sources for this slander. The only media it does mention by name is Bloomberg (of course; Rupert Murdoch hates Michael Bloomberg.) How did Bloomberg blame Harvey on Houston? They ran an article pointing out that Houston—a city everyone acknowledges is historically prone to floods—did not adequately plan for a major flood: the city paved over its prairies, reducing the ground’s capacity to absorb rainfall, and reservoirs were built too small to contain flood waters.

And yet, the same Wall Street Journal earlier reported on those very facts! An Aug. 28 article described how the limited size of Houston’s reservoirs confronted the Army Corps of Engineers with “a dilemma as water levels rose to perilous levels in its two reservoirs”: they could order controlled releases into already-flooded neighborhoods, or they could “hold tight and risk having water pour around or over the earthen dam…”.

Even more glaringly, an Aug. 25 article in the Journal, “Five Reasons Why Houston is Especially Vulnerable to Flooding,” described how newly-built “shopping malls and roads have added vast stretches of pavement to the Houston area. These expanses of concrete and asphalt inhibit drainage and worsen flooding…”. Which is what Bloomberg said.

In other words, the real reporters at the Wall Street Journal wrote exactly the same analysis as the reporters at Bloomberg (and other credible media), and then the Journal’s right wing editorialists–who are paid to opine, not report facts–under orders from the Murdochs bashed Bloomberg while letting their own journalists off the hook.

Well, you get the idea. The Wall Street Journal editorial pages no longer possess a shred of credibility. They exist for one reason only: to protect Republicans and blame Democrats. This is not a newspaper; it’s the P.R. arm of Murdoch’s conservative political empire.

As for Texas, well, Harvey was really bad, and I’m glad the nation is rallying to help. But I swear, the next time there’s an earthquake in California, I really don’t want to hear some sicko fundamentalist preacher blame it on the gays. Of course, they will, anyway, and it’d be nice to see the Wall Street Journal bash them for it. (Which the paper won’t.)


Shaming: an old way to get people to change

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I loved that article in the Wall Street Journal the other day:

TRUMP LOSES CORPORATE AMERICA

The American presidency is always about constituencies: you need a coalition of enough of them to win, and then to help you govern. Corporate America—the businesses large and small that form the backbone of our consumer society—always has been Republican-leaning, although some CEOs incline personally toward the liberal end of the spectrum. Trump seemed to have united corporate America behind his Republican candidacy with his promises of lowering corporate tax rates, eliminating regulations and other things that would increase their profits. But now, says the WSJ, Mr. Trump’s administration is turning out not to be the administration they were hoping for, though probably the one they realistically expected.” Now, corporate leaders are “fleeing” Trump because “They just see no upside to being associated with him.”

Well, better late than never! Many of us could have told these “corporate leaders” more than a year ago that there is no upside in being associated with Trump on anything, unless they want to be branded as racists, homophobes, xenophobes, pussy gropers, science deniers, bullies, liars and greedheads. Those are not particularly savory qualities for a business to be known for!

Let’s see, who else has Trump “lost” besides corporate America? According to the latest Fox poll (the only one Trump is said to trust), “his job ratings are increasingly negative” among:

  1. Conservatives
  2. Republican men
  3. Whites without a college degree

These are constituencies that formed his base! Of course, he never “had” liberals or Democrats to begin with. Latinos never liked him, and Trump’s pardon of Joe Arpaio has eroded what little support they still give him. African-Americans voted overwhelmingly against him, and now, post-Charlottesville, even “Black Republicans” are finding him “a moral dilemma.”

So who’s left in Trump’s corner? The Arpaio crowd, obviously, those under-educated NRA rednecks who carry rifles in their pickup trucks because, hey, you never know when you’ll have to shoot someone. Evangelicals also seem to be sticking to him, despite the fact that he’s a sexual predator and a pathological liar who’s broken nearly all of the Ten Commandments. This loyalty on the part of “Christians” towards a man who is arguably the least spiritual president in American history can be explained simply: These people are not “Christian” in thought or deed. They use their alleged “Christianity” as an excuse to act out their resentments against non-white, non-straight, non-Christian people. Trump has, if anything, starkly illustrated the utter hypocrisy of these “Christians,” whose professions of faith we now can laugh off as absurd.

If America had a system of direct elections instead of the antiquated electoral college, Trump’s re-election prospects would be non-existent. After all, he lost the popular vote in 2016 by a landslide. And if we hadn’t permitted Republicans to gerrymander their districts in the most unholy, twisted ways, the GOP would lose its stranglehold on the House of Representatives. Unfortunately, we do have the electoral college, and we do have districts that reflect, not proportional representation as the Constitution requires, but fake patterns of conservative demographics jury-rigged by rightwing pols. There’s nothing we can do about that, in the short term. What we can do instead is try to educate those conservative voters, to wean them off this bizarre addiction they have to the Republican Party.

Problem is, in order to educate someone, they have to be educable; and Republican voters have shown a remarkably stubborn resistance to learning anything new, in politics, culture, philosophy, history or science. The battle, therefore, is going to have to be in every living room, around every water cooler, in every family conversation. Children are going to have to convince their parents that the Republican Party is not on their side. Church goers are going to have to convince their fellow parishioners that Jesus would never be a Republican. This is what change will take: not from the top down, but from the bottom up. I firmly believe these conversations already are happening; I believe that many of these corporate leaders, whom Trump has “lost,” met with fierce criticism of their support for him from their own spouses, children, cousins, in-laws and siblings.

“Shaming” is a public behavior used for nearly a thousand years in European history, whereby a village of citizens applies pressure on individuals who refuse to conform to societal norms. Shaming was widespread in colonial America, with public punishments, such as shunning, shackling, dunking and even caging. “[T]he aim was to humiliate the wayward sheep and teach him a lesson so that he would repent and be eager to find his way back to the flock.

 These days, we wouldn’t resort to those types of abusive coercion. But shaming can be a simple act of making someone embarrassed and ashamed of his behavior, in front of loved ones—kind of like an intervention for addiction. That’s what we need to do with Trump supporters: shame them.

Happy September! Have a great weekend!


Trump’s “Harvey” response? Meh

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Everybody’s giving Trump credit for his response to the Texas flooding caused by Tropical Storm Harvey.

The New York Times called it “a test of [Trump’s] competence and empathy” and generally gave him a pass. The right wing fake news source, Newsmax, quoted tea party sympathizers as saying that Trump is showing “great leadership and executive qualities” in his response. The sycophantic Wall Street Journal ran a piece by a conservative Orthodox Jew (of the Jared Kushner type), entitled “Trump’s Reassuring Hurricane Response,” that’s embarrassing in its boot-licking praise. Breitbart picked up on the piece and ran a photo of Trump looking “presidential” as he stares vapidly at a map of southeast Texas. Of course, Trump himself practically broke his arm patting himself on the back on his POTUS Twitter feed, where KellyAnne Conway (yes, she’s still around) called the federal response “incredible.”

Let’s get real. Presiding effectively over a disaster is the most basic part of a president’s job; only someone as inept as George W. Bush could have failed at it. Ever since Hurricane Katrina, when Bush issued his infamous “Heckuva job Brownie” crack, there’s been a checklist for presidents on what to do in a natural disaster. Bush himself got the process started when, following Katrina, the White House issued a “Lessons Learned” primer consisting of 17 categories of response, to identify systemic gaps and improve our preparedness for the next disaster.” In short, you order every level of your government to do whatever it takes to help (and every level, from FEMA to the EPA to the National Guard, has its own checklist). You have multiple press conferences where you announce you’re on top of things. You visit the affected areas and promise all the help they need. And as Obama once said, “Don’t do stupid stuff.”

So presiding over a natural disaster is not rocket science. Trump is simply checking off all the boxes on Bush’s list. This is something any competent bureaucrat could do.

Still, the right wing is busy singing Trump’s praises to the sky, as if he’d achieved Middle East peace, brought the unemployment rate down to zero, and solved the housing crisis. The tea party is so desperate for anything resembling a victory by this hapless regime that even this relatively modest, rote response satisfies them. Trump, whose latest poll numbers are more dismal than they’ve ever been (here, here, and here), is scrambling to look “presidential,” and Harvey is letting him do it—for the next day or so. Meanwhile, the investigations continue, tick tick tick, and increasingly, Trump has that deer in the headlights look in his porcine, frightened eyes.

 

 


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