Florida Preps for Irma, Politics of Relief

Heavy Weather: Hurricane Irma, diminished to a Category 4, could pump up again to a 5 before it hits the south tip of Florida, according to forecasts. It’s now tracking toward the west coast of the state.

Stores are closed, homes boarded up, and hundreds of thousands of cars are choking the roads as residents evacuate. Among the dangers in Miami are the forest of construction cranes building high rises that could fold in winds over 145 mph.

Cruise ships are staying at sea and moving to escape the storm

Irma rose from a 4 to a 5 yesterday as it passed just north of Cuba headed for a destructive stroll up the Florida peninsula. It then dropped again to a 4.

In Irma’s wake, several Caribbean islands are reported to be devastated. Looters are plaguing the island of St. Martin.

The British Virgin Islands are digging out of near-total damage and destruction even has a new hurricane, Jose, threatens. Trees are down and vegetation is stripped bare. Buildings are roofless or blown down entirely. A local newspaper editor told The Washington Post, “People don’t have roofs. It’d be really rough if we got hit with another big hurricane.”

Quake: At least 60 people are dead, including 45 in the southern state of Oaxaca, after yesterday’s 8.2 earthquake off the Pacific coast of Mexico. Buildings shook as far away as Mexico City, 650 miles from the epicenter.

Party Lines: To the frustration of its far-right wing, the Republican House gave final approval yesterday to a $15 billion hurricane relief bill. About a third of the House Republicans voted against it, including four Texas representatives who opposed relief for their own battered state.  All of the “no” votes were Republican.

The Republicans are seething because Trump cooperated with the Democrats to include raising the debt limit and funding the government to keep it running until December.

Trump fed the fire yesterday tweeting insults at his own party leaders for not dumping the 60-vote majority rule and flogged them to get going on tax reform. “Republicans must start the Tax Reform/Tax Cut legislation ASAP. Don’t wait until the end of September. Needed now more than ever. Hurry!”

South Carolina Republican Mark Sanford, who faces a primary challenge for his House seat, complained that, “It’s a cult of personality. He’s fundamentally, at the core, about Donald Trump. He’s not about ideas. And ideas are what parties are supposedly based on.”

Dear Valued Customer: After a computer breach in which the personal information and Social Security numbers of as many 143 million Americans may have been stolen, Equifax is already trying to sell security services to the victims. LA Times columnist Michael Hiltzik points out that what Equifax is really doing is protecting the good name of its database, not the credit of American citizens.

Hiltzik writes, “Consumers whose information is held by Equifax are not its customers or clients — they’re the product, and their personal information merely raw material to be exploited by the firm for its own profit. Equifax and its two major competitors in the credit-monitoring game, Experian and TransUnion, make their money by compiling detailed files on individuals and selling them to credit card firms, banks and marketers. In short, they don’t care about you, except so far as you’re an entry in their databases.”

Picture This: Fox News host Eric Bolling, one of the network’s conservative bombasts, is out after at least three current and former Fox women said they had received sexual text messages from Bolling, including photos of male genitalia. The company said Bolling and Fox “have agreed to part ways amicably,” blah, blah, blah. He was fired.

Net Ball: Sloane Stephens meets Madison Keys this afternoon in the final women’s singles match of the US Open, the first pairing of two non-white women in the event’s history.

The final four has been distinguished in several ways. The four were all Americans, a first, and three were black, also a first. Also, the 24-year-old Stephens beat 37-year-old veteran Venus Williams in a match that was dead even until the final two games. It was a great contest.

Parts Unknown: After declaring on the air that the danger of Hurricane Irma is being hyped by the media to encourage people to buy bottled water and emergency supplies, conservative radio blowhard Rush Limbaugh announced a couple of day later that he would not be broadcasting from Florida for a few days. He said, “I’m not going to get into details because of the security nature of things, but it turns out that we will not be able to do the program here tomorrow,” Limbaugh said Thursday. “We’ll be on the air next week, folks, from parts unknown.”

But when you think about it, wherever Limbaugh broadcasts from, a dangerous wind is always blowing.


Monday, January 22, 2018

Page Two

Jaw Meet Floor

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Small President

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Cuba Diaries

Sunday, March 13, 2016

An Alphabet of Maladies

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Healthcare Confusion Act

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Freedom from Speech

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Too Big to Fire

Friday, June 19, 2015

More Probable Than Not

Thursday, May 14, 2015

It's Been Said

" 'The enemy of the people,'" was what the president of the United States called the free press in 2017 ... It is a testament to the condition of our democracy that our own president uses words infamously spoken by Josef Stalin to describe his enemies. It bears noting that so fraught with malice was the phrase 'enemy of the people,' that even Nikita Khrushchev forbade its use, telling the Soviet Communist Party that the phrase had been introduced by Stalin for the purpose of 'annihilating such individuals' who disagreed with the supreme leader."
Arizona republican Sen. Jeff Flake speaking on the floor today.

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