Waterlogged Texas, Short Honeymoon

Aftermath: Parts of Beaumont, Texas remain cut off and flooded as the effects of Harvey begin to recede. The flood is expected to crest today.

In the Houston area, homeowners are returning to a soggy, uninsured mess. There are fish in swimming pools and snakes inside houses. Floodwaters are laced with sewage and chemicals that have soaked through homes and possessions.

The Houston Chronicle attributes more than 50 deaths to the storm.

President Trump says he will ask Congress for $7.8 billion in disaster relief in the next few days, and $6.7 billion more by the end of the month,

New fires have broken out at the Arkema chemical plant 70 miles outside Houston that lost all its power used to cool its volatile chemicals. The plant makes organic peroxide used in plastics, which spontaneously combusts when not kept sufficiently cool. The company has warned that more explosions and fires can be expected.

Two trailers loaded with the chemical burned yesterday and there are six more to go.

The White House Mess: Special Counsel Robert Mueller has obtained a copy of an unsent letter in which President Trump explained his reasons for firing FBI Director James Comey. The NY Times reports that White House lawyer Donald McGahn was opposed to the letter because it said some things that may have been problematic for the President. If Trump appears to have fired Comey to kill the Russian influence investigation, he could be accused of obstruction of justice.

The Trump letter was replaced with a letter from written by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, that focused on Comey’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server.

Trump tweeted about it yesterday saying, “Wow, looks like James Comey exonerated Hillary Clinton long before the investigation was over…and so much more. A rigged system!”

Short Honeymoon: President Trump tweeted yesterday that things are just ducky with his new chief of staff, Gen. John Kelly, even while the NY Times published a story that the two are already wearing thin on each other. Trump tweeted, “General John Kelly is doing a great job as Chief of Staff. I could not be happier.”

But the Times reports that after Kelly’s efforts to control his restless and loose-lipped boss, “Mr. Kelly has gradually diminished in his appeal to his restless boss. What is different this time is that Mr. Trump, mired in self-destructive controversies and record-low approval ratings, needs Mr. Kelly more than Mr. Kelly needs him.”

The paper reports that Trump ripped Kelly a new one the other day and Kelly “later told other White House staff members that he had never been spoken to like that during 35 years of serving his country.”

Econ 101: Job growth slowed a bit in August, adding 156,000 jobs, a little less than expected. Unemployment rose a tic to 4.4 percent.

Animal House: a Pennsylvania judge threw out the most serious charges against 12 of Penn State fraternity brothers accused in the alcohol-related hazing death of a pledge. They had been accused involuntary manslaughter and felony aggravated assault, but will be tried on lesser alcohol and hazing charges.

Social Register: Tennis star Serena Williams has given birth to a baby girl. Her fiancé is Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian. The 23-time Grand Slam winner said she plans to return to tennis for the Australian Open in January.

The Obit page: Shelley Berman, a popular comedian in the 1950s and 60s who helped transform standup from a collection of one-liners to a wry and sometimes brittle commentary on life, has died at age 92.

Berman actually did his standup sitting on a stool. He often did a routine in which he makes a frustrated phone call to the hotel desk or a department store. “hello, Nichols Department Store? Say I … alright … Oh yeah … Okay, I’ll wait …”


Sunday, February 18, 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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