Potentially Catastrophic, Party Lines
Thursday, September 7, 2017
Irma: The islands of Barbuda and St, Martin in the Caribbean sustained heavy damage yesterday as the storm wall of Hurricane Irma passed directly over them with winds gusting up to 220 mph.
As a sign of the severity of the damage, the airport in St. Maarten, the Dutch side of the island playground, is badly damaged with at least one of its jet bridges collapsed. French Interior Minister Gérard Collomb said, “In terms of material damage, the four strongest buildings on the island of St. Martin have been destroyed.”
Reports say nearly every building on the island of Barbuda has been damaged or destroyed. “Barbuda is literally rubble,” Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda told an interviewer.
Irma continued as a Category 5, the most powerful hurricane, as it tracked north of Puerto Rico, where it knocked out power to 900,000 customers, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti, headed for Florida.
Irma is one of three hurricane strength storms now churning the Atlantic, but the National Hurricane Center describes Irma as “potentially catastrophic.”
Government 101: Taking sides with Democratic leaders, President Trump yesterday struck a deal to raise the debt limit and keep the government running until December. The Republicans were left slack-jawed at Trump’s reach across the political aisle.
The Republicans had rejected the deal earlier in the day, but Trump made a snap decision and accepted it during a meeting with leaders of both parties. It’s the first significant deal made by the President who bills himself as a master dealmaker.
The agreement doesn’t solve the bigger political problems. The deal expires Dec. 15, but relieves the President of the threat of a government shutdown while Texas bails out of a Hurricane and Florida faces another one coming.
Party Lines: Also breaking with their own party, prominent current and former Republican politicians have filed briefs with the Supreme Court arguing that gerrymandering, the practice drawing of voting districts to give the advantage to the political party in power, violates the Constitution.
Republicans would probably not control the House if it were not for gerrymandering that fractures the vote of their opponents.
The briefs were signed by Republicans including Sen. John McCain of Arizona; Gov. John Kasich of Ohio; Bob Dole, the former Republican Senate leader from Kansas; the former senators John Danforth of Missouri, Richard Lugar of Indiana and Alan Simpson of Wyoming; and Arnold Schwarzenegger, a former governor of California.
“Partisan gerrymandering has become a tool for powerful interests to distort the democratic process,” says a brief filed by McCain and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, the Rhode Island Democrat.
Justice Files: A federal prosecutor yesterday charged in opening statements that New Jersey’s Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez “sold his office for a lifestyle he couldn’t afford” by accepting luxury trips from a rich Florida doctor seeking political influence in return.
The defense has argued that the gifts were just between friends, but prosecutor Peter Koski said, “There’s no friendship exception to bribery. There’s no friendship exception to breaking the law.”
Menendez told reporters outside the courthouse, “not once have I dishonored my public office.”
Russia With Love: Facebook revealed yesterday that it sold $100,000 worth of ad space during the election campaign to a shadowy Russian “troll farm” connected to the Kremlin. Most of the ads did not mention the nominees. Facebook’s chief security officer, Alex Stamos, said in a post that the ads “appeared to focus on amplifying divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum — touching on topics from LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights.”
And by the Way, What Did Happen?: In her new book “What Happened” to be in the stores Sept. 12th, Hillary Clinton blames herself for her election loss, missing the mood of the electorate that made Donald Trump the president. But she also lashes at Joe Biden, Barack Obama, former FBI Director James Comey, and in particular, her opponent Bernie Sanders. “He didn’t get into the race to make sure a Democrat won the White House, he got in to disrupt the Democratic party,” she writes. And she says, “Every time I wanted to hit back against Bernie’s attacks, I was told to restrain myself. My team kept reminding me that we didn’t want to alienate Bernie’s supporters. President Obama urged me to grit my teeth and lay off Bernie as much as I could. I felt like I was in a straitjacket.”
She says, “His attacks caused lasting damage, making it harder to unify progressives in the general election and paving the way for Trump’s ‘Crooked Hillary’ campaign.”
Also, the slogan “I’m With Her,” just didn’t move the nation.
Believe Him: President Trump yesterday said Hurricane Irma “looks like it could be something that will be not good. Believe me, not good.”
Lincoln, Roosevelt, Kennedy, Obama —— Trump.