Link Roundup, 8/30/2017

From The New York Times: An excellent list of local charities working in Southeast Texas.

From AZ Central: Federal Judge is resisting dismissal of charges against Arpaio. The Judge has set an oral hearing in October.

From the Washington Post: Related to the last post here, Secretary Mattis is not complying with Trump’s order regarding transgender troops.

From ProPublica: Detailed explanation of the cheap, short-sighted planning decisions likely to cause catastrophic damage in Houston, published 18 months ago.

From CNNMoney: Motiva shuts down Port Arthur and Baytown refineries, raising questions about gas prices.

From The Hill: Followers of Jesus are planning to kill you if Trump is impeached. Have a blessed day.

114 Comments

  1. This is so very sad. The ball is finally squarely in Congress’ court. Just in time for mid-terms. Six months of more agony for Dreamers – children who didn’t ask to come to America but know no other country. They are the victims for our government’s inaction on establishment of comprehensive immigration policy….no matter what your position is on this issue.

    “Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Tuesday that President Donald Trump’s administration is rescinding an Obama-era policy that provided work permits to undocumented immigrants who were brought into the country as children, with a wind-down period that allows Congress to act on the issue first.
    “I’m here today to announce that the program known as DACA that was effectuated under the Obama administration is being rescinded,” Sessions told reporters.
    “The nation must set and enforce a limit on how many immigrants we admit each year, and that means all cannot be accepted,” he added. “This does not mean they are bad people or that our nation disrespects or demeans them in any way. It means we are properly enforcing our laws as Congress has passed them.”
    Read more: http://politi.co/2eZFzBP

    1. Mary, that article is likely the most terrifying thing I read, surpassing even the idiocy emanating on both sides of the Korean issue. And the U.S. inches closer to anarchy.

      Can you imagine what happens if some Democrat governor or President (who am I kidding, the odds of that happening are shrinking daily) actually has to roll federal troops into some county to maintain federal civil rights laws.

    2. Oh, goody. How long before we have good old fashioned vigilante justice and lynchings without a trial? Mob justice and back to the old Wild West. There seems to be a disturbing amount of rootin’ tootin’ rednecks with guns and guess who will be the first ones lynched? My guess is it won’t be white “christian” males

  2. I am far more concerned about N. Korea’s nuclear bomb test and how Trump will/is responding to them. Politico reports today:

    “Anna Fifield, WaPo Tokyo bureau chief (@annafifield): “The nuclear device that North Korea tested today was almost eight times the size of the American atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima”. … Jonathan Cheng (@JChengWSJ): “Full statement from N. Korea on today’s nuclear test.” http://bit.ly/2wuxcai

    1. Here’s Gen. Mattis’ public response to N. Korea’s announcement of its nuclear test:

      “Defense Secretary James Mattis on Sunday warned of a “massive military response” if North Korea threatens an attack against the United States, after the rogue nation said it completed the test of a hydrogen bomb.
      “We have many military options, and the president wanted to be briefed on each one of them,” Mattis told reporters outside the White House. “Any threat to the United States or its territories, including Guam, or our allies, will be met with a massive military response – a response both effective and overwhelming.
      Mattis promised an “ironclad” American committment to its regional allies. The escalation in rhetoric comes after President Donald Trump tweeted Sunday morning that North Korea is “very hostile and dangerous” and called on South Korea to end its “talk of appeasement.”

      Again, what could possibly go wrong with Trump making the decision?

      I expect the stock market to open sharply lower. Checking Dow Jones Industrial stock futures and S & P: ” Before the market’s open, Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 37, or 0.5%, to 8,223. Standard & Poor’s 500 index futures fell 6.20, or 0.7%, at 878.70. Nasdaq 100 index futures fell 15.75, or 1.1%, to 1,345.25.”

      You think that market volatility in response to Trump’s dangerous rhetoric in combination with his known lack of mental and intellectual readiness to respond to the NK situation might get the attention it deserves from our DC MoC? What will it take for the GOP to take action against this dangerous, irrational man? Oh – first, tax cuts….I forgot.

      See http://www.politico.com/story/2017/09/03/trump-north-korea-nuclear-242289

      http://abcnews.go.com/Business/story?id=7676102

  3. I recognize the horrors in South Texas are on most people’s minds, but I am wondering how the market will react Tuesday to one of the latest brainfarts by the puppet tyrant:

    “The United States is considering, in addition to other options, stopping all trade with any country doing business with North Korea.”

    I am sure that every company that imports/exports to China will just roll their eyes at that one, but the markets do have to take it under consideration. I have said it before. The odds of this guy meeting a bullet increases daily when he mulls seriously messing up global economies.

      1. “I hope he was moved, if not humbled, by the plight of the hurricane victims he visited and how they welcomed him with open arms.”

        Any person with even a speck of decency would be. But Trump? No, I highly doubt that he would. Why? Because of this story. I see it as the key to his character:

        https://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/what-sort-of-man-is-donald-trump

        Threatening to cut off medical care for a critically ill baby is the ultimate dick move. Trump has expressed zero remorse for this act. I think it is a mistake to count on any sort of empathy or decency from him.

    1. My heart isn’t up for a wager on this issue. It is just too painful for me to consider the consequences for millions who will be affected.

      I am encouraged that more of the Republican leadership is speaking out to urge Trump NOT to take this action, and seem to be willing to work towards a permanent solution. I’m not so naive that I don’t think there would be a significant quid pro quo exacted from Dems, but honestly, even GW Bush recognized America needs a Pathway to Citizenship.

      My hope (not wager) is that Trump will not follow through with his threat. What I abhor is that he is playing with these people over something that in this hostile ICE era is so frightening to so many immigrants. It’s just wrong.

      1. Mime, I don’t believe anything this President says he’s going to do until it happens. This could be his way of postponing his decision, allowing DACA to remain in effect for now without alienating his base. Talk tough but let the opposite happen by default. After the 6 months, if Congress has done nothing, we’ll see if he really ends DACA. It would not be the first time, nor the last, that he changes his mind.

      2. You’ve probably captured his “mindset” but it is still appalling to make a game out of this. Our nation and these people deserve to be treated respectfully. These kids didn’t do anything to deserve this. Where we (you and I) agree is that this is a problem Congress has kicked down the road for a very long time. They are so focused on their tax cuts for people who are already wealthy that they cannot tend to the people’s business. Reagan acted, Obama tried to act (Republicans wouldn’t allow him to do it through legislative fiat – which is why it was done by E.O.). Now they have NO excuse. Time has run out for passing the buck.

      3. Mime, I agree. I don’t approve of his methods, his little games. I’m just trying to be cynically practical, trying to read between the lines and not taking anything he says at face value. It’s an embarrassment that the President of the United States should resort to this type of behavior.

      4. My advice for trying to predict/ make any sense of Trump- “follow the ego”. He is a vain, shallow, narcissist who has an endless craving for applause. The fascist, racist, nativist section of his base are all too happy to supply that fix, so he’s going to do things that they like. What they like is stigginit. Hence the pardon of Arpaio, and now this very cruel decision on DACA.

      1. Obstruction is easy. Legislating is hard. This is a chance for the GOP to put their $ where their mouths are- they claimed that their issue isn’t with what DACA does but rather how it happened, i.e., via executive order. If they wrote an actual DACA bill they could probably get enough Dems for a veto proof majority. They ought to just do it anyway, regardless of what Trumperdink decides, but I suspect only the calamities that would result from it being reversed could spur them to action, maybe. Or they’ll just wring their hands some more and say “tsk, tsk, that was bad. But we need tax cuts.”

      1. Living seventy years hasn’t changed him. He became president through behavior and rhetoric that isn’t fitting for a school principle, much less POTUS. This man will go to his grave being the same mean, selfish, shallow individual he has been his entire life.

      1. Speaking of money – This piece in Politico tells how Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s appointee as director of the OMB, may have hood-winked him on a massive cut to the Social Security Disability program. To the tune of $70B over ten years. The story is as much of a “tell” about Trump’s intellectual and presidential short-comings as it is about the hard right fiscal conservative wing of the GOP. Read on.

        http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/09/01/mick-mulvaney-omb-trump-budget-profile-feature-215546

      1. I wonder what happens if a Black student chooses to opt out of the Black ceremony and attend the White one, just to make a statement, or for whatever reason, will he or she be branded a traitor and be subjected to derision and public shaming on social media? Will it adversely affect his or her job prospects? This is news to me. I will read up on it.

      2. I guess for the students and maybe the professors holding a separate commencement is a statement in and of itself, a form of protest, kind of like sitting out the ceremony altogether, but when it’s arranged and approved by the school itself … I don’t know.

      3. That wasn’t what it was about, Tutta. And, yes, all of us who live in this area and beyond are shocked and saddened by what has happened. Yet, life goes on and we do what has to be done because that is all we can do.

      4. Actually, I was referring to myself, not to you or the author of the article. Although my home was not affected by the flooding, I’ve been feeling dejected all week, and writing about anything not related to the floods, even just being on the internet, maybe because I consider posting on the internet somehow frivolous, makes me feel guilty, as if I were not showing the proper respect during a period of mourning. Also, the joy is gone from my usual activities. I’ve even lost the desire to listen to music.

      5. “Although my home was not affected by the flooding, I’ve been feeling dejected all week,..”

        You’re not alone. I got into Houston today to help a friend who got her apartment flooded. In this case it was a few inches and most of the furniture was hardwood and salvageable. One of the people there said “I’m here to work off my survivor’s guilt.” And wrangling that really heavy bookcase works wonders in that regard!

        Got other friends in the Memorial area who still have water in the house, so there will be more work parties to follow. I already was in full realization that I was merely inconvenienced by Harvey (yes there was high anxiety last Sunday, but it could have been worse), but the sight and the smell of so many people’s possessions piled up on the curbs gives it a unique emphasis.

      6. Helping others is a positive way to contribute. There are so many ways to help without doing heavy physical work (although that is needed). Caring for children so their parents can focus their energies on their tasks, cooking meals for first responders, offering shelter in one’s home to those who need a shower and bed, working in a shelter, donating food, clothing, cleaning supplies, money – there are many ways. That helps me move into an active role which makes me feel good and is useful. We all wish we could do more but we can each contribute.

      7. I didn’t know that was called “upspeak.” What I find incredibly irritating is what I recently learned is called “vocal fry,” where the voice drops down so low it cracks.

        I guess there’s a name for everything, and you can discover it on the internet, and you find other people who also notice what you think only you notice, and it irritates them, too. What I think is ridiculous is how some of these people with irritating voices actually get death threats.

      8. I don’t consider them morons. Just irritating. I doubt they do it on purpose.

        As for what the young lady in the video said, if I’m about to go under in flood waters, you can call me anything you want as long as you are helping to save me.

      9. Yes, it was cute, but I feel sorry for her because she’s been turned into a laughingstock. That’s probably the Number One thing that I don’t like about the internet and social media, how innocent remarks or actions can go viral and the person can never live it down. Actually, that comes in second. My Number One complaint about the internet is the public shaming that takes place and how it’s accepted as normal and even necessary.

      10. As for death threats, there was a segment on BBC Radio about a Jeopardy contestant whose every sentence ended not in upspeak, but she would drag out the final syllable, and it irritated the heck out of a lot of people, and she even received death threats.

        What I found funny was how the BBC commentators, who were of course British, could not understand what was irritating about her way of speaking. They would listen to it over and over again, but to their British ears it was just basic American English.

      11. I’ve heard that many foreigners hear Americans as quacking like ducks. 🙂 and very loud. Luckily my voice is naturally low and quiet, so when I travel I don’t stand out as easily as the, yes, very loud, obnoxious Americans.

  4. This is an interesting twist in the Mueller investigation. The NY AG, Eric Schneiderman is now working with the Mueller investigation….you may recall that US attorney Preet Baharara when fired by Trump (he was investigating the Russia connection), walked across the street and went to work for – the NY AG! The significance is explained in this WaPo article.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/08/31/trump-and-manafort-get-big-reminder-that-pardon-power-does-not-extend-to-state-crimes/?undefined=&

      1. Yes, but what interests me most is Baharara’s previous work on Trump/Russia. He is one smart legal cookie and it doesn’t hurt a thing that he was fired while performing in an exemplary way….Lots of people have solid reasons to dig where this president is concerned.

        May they find layers upon layers of treachery, lies, and impeachable offenses….

  5. Completely unrelated to any of the links comment.

    I’m so completely numb to all this. I can hardly take it. I’m to the point where I can’t even listen to the man speak, not that it makes any sense anyway. And pictures of him in the oval office nearly make me sick to my stomach. The worst part is all the supposedly good people who aren’t willing to condemn any of it. It’s not the folks who are actually rooting for whats going on that bother me the most, it’s the folks who are indifferent and will not say enough is enough.

    I’m a member on another (not politically themed) forum and there’s all sorts of drama going on over there. It’s filled with way more not-crazies than crazies, but the crazies have really been on a role since Charlottesville. Recently one of the most prominent and well spoken (regarding politics) users got into a civil argument with one of the most popular users on the whole forum over Trump’s response to Charlottesville. The popular user has shown himself to be a nazi sympathizer and the other user posted at length about how you cannot think/post that sympathizer shit without being a nazi.

    AND HE GOT A TEMPORARY BAN FOR IT. For calling a nazi a nazi. What in the actual F$*#? It’s all so incredibly disheartening. There’s been some backlash, which is good, but there’s also a bunch of people unwilling to call a spade a spade because MR. NS is “good people”. Whatever that means.

    No real point to this other than to vent. I should really try to get on here more at the computer so I’ll post. I mostly visit on my phone and usually am not motivated enough to use the small keyboard.

    1. I know how you feel. I used to post on the Houston Chronicle website (a paid subscription) and after Trump’s election the people already suspected of being white supremacists really let it out. Trolls and alt-right sympathizers crawled out from under their rocks and bridges. The moderating system did not do too much to ban them and, in fact, the hypocrite Nazis would scream loudly about censorship but had no problem getting others banned. I canceled my subscription and haven’t been back since. I visit a few other blogs that have a wonderful “ignore” button for the worst Nazis. It drives them nuts too but after continually seeing blacks referred to as “discoloreds” and “mud people” my tolerance for their “free speech” came to a halt. I’ve also come to the the opinion that our local ABC affiliate is run by white supremacists since they allow this language to stay up on their message boards yet zap the word Nazi.

      As far as the people who continue to make mealy-mouthed excuses for the moronic tub of lard and his “classy” FLOTUS inhabiting the WH, they are low info voters who cannot, or refuse to realize, that they fell for a carnival barker or they are closet racists. The good news is that quite a few are realizing they made a huge mistake.

      His performance in Corpus was a disgusting spectacle and just showed how lacking in any normal human emotions and sociopathic he is. Not one word mentioning the victims or their loss, just “what a great crowd” while selling his hat for $40 on his website.

      Ugh. I’ve started avoiding people I know who still think he’s doing a great job. Sorry for the rant. I’m venting too.

      1. Used to post at the Chron too, and left for the same reasons. If you’re going to maintain any semblance of adult discussion, especially at a news site that gets tons of traffic, you’re going to have to have active moderators to do clean up. Too much troll crap and the sane people go elsewhere. Only one person had the ban-hammer dropped on him here, and this was after he was fairly warned.

        Any on-line forum I enter, I consider myself as a guest, even if I’ve paid for the access. That means that the host has the right to state the rules. As long as the rules are clear and reasonable and fairly enforced, I won’t have a problem, and there’s enough places that meet my standards to allow me to vote with the mouse.

      2. I think I remember seeing you there. Was the person banned name Dan? If so, I think he’s still showing up on the Chron under different aliases after being zapped multiple times over there. He’s a very active internet troll. I remember him posting here and he really had it out for me. I think he was finally banished after calling me a whore or something or maybe I’m just flattering myself. 🙂

      3. Thanks. Until Charlottesville I’d never really heard of the anitfa but anti-fascist sounds better than pro-fascist. Frankly, I’m glad they are there to protect protesters from Nazis and other fascist groups. Anyone who comes to a “peaceful” rally to scream hatred is not coming in peace.

      4. To be clear, the Antifa may share some of our positions but they do not always “come in peace”. Violence is not acceptable. Self defense is, but not if one is egging on those who need little provocation. I’m glad Antifa protected the peaceful protesters as well; however, they beat a “peaceful” Trump protestor in Berkeley and there was no excuse for that. Wrong is wrong no matter which side you’re on.

      5. It’s wrong no matter who is doing it and they are both extremists on opposite sides. What I dislike is when right wing media tries to spin peaceful protestors as part of antifa as if anyone protesting Trump is an anarchist or “alt-left”, which was a right wing media invention.

      6. RE: AntiFa

        I have no experience with them; I only know what I read in the news reports. I read the Weekly Sift column and that more or less corroborated what I have read elsewhere in regard to Charlottesville.

        It has similarity to the police conclusions regarding a shooting at the UofWA during a Yiannopoulos appearance in January. The police concluded that the shooter was a Yiannopoulos supporter and intended to create a confrontation so she could open fire. In other words it was the right wingers who were the provocateurs.

        In many ways, the reports of the the police standing by when the right wingers provoked confrontations while cracking down on the AntiFa is parallel to their actions during the anti-Vietnam demonstrations in the 1970’s. They cracked done hard on the demonstrators to the point where the rights of free assembly were being denied.

        Following the Kent State massacre, the UofWA came very close to exploding. The civic leaders and then Governor Dan Evans acted with coolness and allowed a major protest to occur which included marching on the I5 freeway in downtown Seattle precluded an explosion. This action allowed a venting. True it created a traffic mess, but that was much better than major riots, such as occurred at Berkeley and some other major campuses.

        So considering my experience, the tendency of police to sympathize with the white supremacists, the various reports from Charlottesville regarding the AntiFa, the white supremacist groups and the police, I am inclined to concur with Doug Muder in the Weekly Sift blog. As he states in the last paragraph:

        “When state institutions work well, and work for the benefit of the vast majority, then anarchists look like nut jobs. But when they don’t work, when the people have to start organizing their own defenses outside the system, and when the only path of protest liberals offer is nonviolent martyrdom, then anarchists who come prepared to face violence start to make a lot of sense.”

        The problematical groups appear to the on the right at this time. However they can be on the left as well. In some of our lifetimes, we have experience with that. I am thinking of the more violent groups such as the Symbionese Liberation Army, the Weathermen, etc during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.

      7. On the old Chron there was the miserable old lady who complained about Mexicans and other “foreigners” and government benefit recipients (ironically she was on disability too) who stalked everyone and even used my name and a very similar image one time. She hated me. 🙂

        On the newer paid subscription version there was another guy, who sounded eerily similar to DanstheMan, who was repeatedly banished and would reappear. He went by Darel D or some version of that.

    2. Grant, here’s a story posted yesterday by Sen. John McCain that will be uplifting for you. It was for me. It seems to me that McCain has become more aware of the importance of reminding Americans (and his fellow MoC) about “how” America is supposed to work. And, he’s correct. Enjoy!

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/john-mccain-its-time-congress-returns-to-regular-order/2017/08/31/f62a3e0c-8cfb-11e7-8df5-c2e5cf46c1e2_story.html?

    1. Not quite on topic, but my mother’s area is flooded and she has 10″ of water in her first floor and she said the Nat’l Guard is making things worse by cruising up and down in huge trucks making waves that are making the water even worse in their houses. A neighbor was out working with his truck and a boat doing rescues yesterday and said there was no organization or communication between the different branches. It was very chaotic with a lot of guys hotdogging up and down, leaving huge wakes, with their air boats going too fast causing other rescue boats to nearly capsize with children inside.

      FEMA, has been effectively neutered according to him, no doubt per Trump’s plan to eliminate governmental departments.

      1. What’s worse is some aren’t even helping in rescue efforts. Just taking selfies and trying to get on tv. Our neighbor, who was assisting, told a few reporters to “fuck off” when they asked him stupid questions. 🙂

      2. If she still has phone service, she should call 911 and let them know problem.
        A lot of novices trying to help and many may not realize “wake” problems they create. She should report it so authorities can get the word out.

      3. >] “FEMA, has been effectively neutered according to him, no doubt per Trump’s plan to eliminate governmental departments.

        If so, that does not bode well for Houston’s recovery efforts, particularly if the Arkema chemical plant really does explode.

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/arkema-chemical-plant-crosby-texas_us_59a71237e4b07e81d354cda6?ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009

        We all want to try to be optimistic, particularly in the face of so many acts of individual heroism, but could we be look at a recovery effort even more f-ed up than Katrina? Let’s hope not, and that calm minds and cool heads manage to prevail.

      4. What many who follow this blog may not realize about the Arkema explosion that is more insidious, is that when a prior more deadly explosion occurred in West, TX, during which time present Governor Abbott was TX AG, he reviewed the situation and took this step:

        “Chemical plants are no longer required to publicly share what chemicals they are producing to public requests or local authorities.”

        Fixed that problem for the TX chemical industry! TU Greg Abbott!!!

      5. Ryan, I expect when that plant blows and poisons the countryside, it will have zero impact in the minds of people, lost in the din of all the individual human tragedy stories the news networks are focusing on.

        No one is interested in the human contributions to a disaster, only the results, the more telegenic the better. And no one is interested especially when those contributions and results prove that unfettered capitalism is as worse, if not more worse, than any other economic system.

        A few years ago there was an outbreak of kids dying in China because of greedy plant owners pumping out tainted baby formula. China stopped those factories cold, and shot a number of plant managers and owners.

        Will anyone in Texas be held responsible for this “act of god”? Nope. Apparently, no one could foresee that unregulated growth in huge swaths of swampland without any thought to safety would eventually lead to disaster, but that is just fine and dandy. Every now and then, I see a little bit more merit in the Chinese system.

      6. “Apparently, no one could foresee that unregulated growth in huge swaths of swampland without any thought to safety would eventually lead to disaster, but that is just fine and dandy.”

        Houston is doomed unless it starts taking zoning and development seriously and saying no to rampant development.

      7. It’s really complicated at this point, as many people live in areas that are flood plains. I heard on NPR a few minutes ago that 92% of Harris County (where Houston is located) has water.

        The lack of zoning gave a pass to developers – with drainage and roads not to mention construction being put in place either without any master plan for linking with an over-arching system, or inadequate system.

        This is going to be both a major, major expense and very tough set of decisions for local, state, and federal entities. Inexpensive housing from lack of zoning is no bargain when you live on a plain.

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