Rex Tillerson- Icon of Lesser Evil.

Discord between President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, his chief diplomat, is reportedly at an all-time high. It’s been spilling all over the public view in recent days. It was crowned with a NBC News report released Wednesday that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Trump a “moron” in a Pentagon meeting.

John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, abruptly scrapped plans to travel with President Donald Trump on Wednesday so he could try to contain his boss’s fury. and manage the fallout, according to six senior administration officials. It’s enough to make a sane man sick, watching these animals and their incompetence drag this venerable American through the mud this way. Forcing a four-star general to manage a kindergarten full of nitwit monstrosities is nothing short of a crime.

Vice President Mike Pence, who was still basking in the glow of being the keynote speaker at the Koch network’s upcoming convention, is basking no longer. This latest chaos is said to have had Pence fuming during his recent travel to Phoenix, seven officials told NBC News. He and Tillerson spoke on the phone before the secretary’s public appearance on Wednesday morning, and one can imagine how that conversation went.

There’s no doubt it is very satisfying to see yet another Trump pick go up in smoke. Bearing witness to the discomfiture of a smug oil tycoon arch-polluter like Tillerson has also been worth the price of admission. However, as tempting as it might be to see Trump’s White House even further on the rocks, it isn’t what’s best for the country.

In this madhouse of a White House, Rex Tillerson is one of the few sane voices left.

Nobody knows where all this is going. That has been true all along. Ever since the sickening theft of the presidency last November, we have seen things get worse and worse. Blood in the streets was predicted last year on election night. That’s exactly what we’ve gotten, at Charlottesville.

It is the opinion of Millennial Democrats that Trump didn’t think he had a chance, any more than most of us did. The Trump campaign headquarters were all but silent, the night of the election, right up until he won. The tens of supporters present did their best to kick up a big roar, but there were more cops and drug dogs there than actual people, which will put a damper on just about anything. As the night rolled on, and the districts kept coming back red, they were just as shocked as the rest of us.

Since then, the collective hope of the country has flickered badly. Robert Mueller alone represents our ability to get rid of Trump, there’s a new disaster daily in the news, and we’re stuck in the mud completely in terms of getting anything done. On the contrary, we find ourselves and our value system completely under assault.

Trump chips away at something fundamental every day. Our system has never had to withstand the test of such a concerted and thorough attack on our foundations before. Its unusual potency arises because it is spearheaded by the very man charged with its leadership and upkeep. Today, he managed to scrap part of Obamacare relating to Planned Parenthood, under the grounds of religious freedom.

There’s no doubt at all that a guy like Rex Tillerson being anywhere near a Presidential cabinet  would be a travesty, under normal conditions. It sickens one to look back on the 1989 oil spill of Exxon- Valdez. Tillerson became general manager of the central production division of Exxon USA this same year, and as such, bears personal responsibility for that environmental disaster.

Six years later, he replaced Lee Raymond as the CEO of the company. The reckless and cavalier attitude of the fossil fuel industry is well known. It was a darkly ironic travesty, that someone in charge of the company responsible for the second worst man-made climate disaster was made the overseer of United States diplomacy on climate change.

While all of this is true, and while it certainly makes Rex Tillerson an unpalatable occupant of a presidential Cabinet, he is still part of the bedrock. He’s a solid American, if nothing else. He is also one of the last members of the civilian world to have any voice in the Trump White House, which is well on its way to being another wing of the Pentagon.

We are grateful beyond words for the Pentagon’s role in holding up our country out of the muck this past year, but we can’t stress enough the paramount importance of civilians continuing to govern civilian life. Both are necessary. They provide stability, check, and balance to the other. Every part of our American society helps to achieve a certain balance.

For Tillerson’s part, anyway, he has announced an unequivocal intent to remain at his post. For this reason, Kelly, Tillerson, and their ally Defense Secretary James Mattis had an emergency meeting at the White House to discuss a path forward, according to three administration officials.

However, it is said that Trump was beyond enraged that Tillerson refused to disavow having called him an idiot on TV, which is not surprising. He was telling the world he meant exactly what he said. I’m sure Trump was enraged.

It seems likely that if it were not for the military men who have become Trump’s inner circle, Tillerson would have been gone long ago.

Trump has grown resentful of what he considers Tillerson’s high- handed manner of deciding policy issues. He feels his secretary of state to be overly dismissive at times. Trump is insecure above all else, and a plain-spoken old timer like the Secretary of State is not likely to have much patience for the tender ego of a seventy year old billionaire man-child.  People willing to speak up to this large orange tyrant is what this country needs.

Going forward, it is necessary to realize that until next year when we Democrats take back the Congress- #RiseAndOrganize– there are no good choices, when it comes to Trump’s personnel. Only less bad ones. Rex Tillerson has become the walking embodiment, of the lesser evil.

The Koch Network- Enemies of Democracy Revealed.

When examining American political life today, the discussion has to include the Koch network. This conglomerate of groups covers a wide range of recent and radically conservative organizations, such as the infamous Tea Party movement. They have been responsible for a great deal of trouble in recent history as a result. It is therefore worth taking a close look at who they are, what they are doing, and why they are doing it.

Charles and David, the Koch brothers, are the sons of Frederick C. Koch, who co-founded Koch Industries. It has grown to be the second-largest privately held company in the United States, of which they own 84%. If their individual fortunes were combined in one place, they would likely represent the wealthiest person on earth.

They have used this gargantuan wealth to subjugate one of the two parties and subordinate it to an ultra-conservative and authoritarian agenda. They have spent a fortune on it. Most estimates show numbers of more than a billion dollars, every one of which proves the rise of the Tea Party movement was far from an accident. It was orchestrated, and it was well funded. It also had a deliberate aim: to destroy Washington’s ability to pay for its social programs, which would be to break Washington itself.

In this way, bothersome regulations passed down from the Teddy Roosevelt era could be smashed at last. Unions could have their backs broken, forever. The era of graft and corruption and big bosses could return with a police state to back it up. They tipped their hand when they used Wisconsin as a model, by creating the golem known as Scott Walker.

In short, the entire apparatus of American government itself, is to gradually be delivered, bound hand and foot, to the door of big capital, thereafter to act at its behest. Fascists are not against centralized authority per se, although they will make such a pretense if expedience requests it. They fight it because they are trying to gain control of it. It’s an exercise in reverse engineering. They want to strip it down to the core and reassemble it, to suit their laissez-faire agenda. The goal is as ugly as it is audacious.

Koch Industries was initially a company for refining crude oil, which has always played a big part in the Koch family fortune, dating back to the 1930’s. Fred Koch was one of its founding members. He was a founding member in another organization also- the John Birch Society.

The society was built on Fred Koch’s oil money in the 1950’s. It can fairly be considered the center of neo-conservative politics. Both the JBS and the Tea Party fit into this mold of liberalism being the root of all evil, mustrust and hostility toward persons of color and other groups of at-risk persons, and a deep seeded fear of change.

This value system, which is typified by racism, nationalism, and an ideologically devoid will to power, is the essence and spirit of fascism. So the question begs asking: when did Fred Koch become so attached to the ideas he passed on to his sons? Foreign radicalism is generally not thought to have taken deep root over here. But evidence now suggests that may not be the case at all.

One book, “The Kochs, A Nazi Past, Oil & The Foundation of The Rights,” by Damien Crisp, claimed that Fred C. Koch was both related to and involved with Hitler-era Nazis. Crisp made the statement that “Koch Industries is the child of the violence of Buchenwald.”

Information concerning the family backgrounds of Buchenwald commandant Karl and Ilse Koch is hard to find, and it should be noted that this claim is unproven. While there are fragments of information that suggestively connect the American and German Kochs, and although it gives a clear image of the sentiment behind the Tea Party and conservative American politics since the 1950s, the connection between the Buchenwald Kochs and Fred Koch is tenuous at best and should probably be discounted.

Democrats fight with honor, and have no need to rely on disinformation. That’s what the German Kochs were doing back then, and that’s what the American Kochs do now. The significance of this claim, lies rather in the fact that it’s so easy to believe and that its belief is prevalent.

If you have embarked down a course of conduct that makes you resemble those two monsters(Karl was executed by other Nazis for corruption, whilst Ilse, known best for her plan to make lampshades of the skins of tattooed Jewish prisoners, was the only woman charged for war crimes during WW2), closely enough so that millions of people would suspect to ask this question and believe the accusation true, it is the opinion of Millennial Democrats that you ought to cut it out.

However, although there is no solid evidence the American Fred Koch was related to Ilse’s family, there are ties to other Nazis named Koch that are far more solid. Erich Koch was a Nazi official placed in charge of Prussia in the days of Nazi Germany, who invited Fred Koch to sell his oil there. After the Nazi fall, Erich and Fred Koch expanded their oil empire to the Soviet Union. Erich Koch had been in charge of Prussia for Hitler, so his ties to the neighboring Soviet Union ran deep. However, a few years later, the Soviets purged some of his colleagues and prosecuted Erich for war crimes.

Fred Koch returned to the US as the most fervent anti-communist crusader one could imagine, and was allowed to do business in the States again. He hated Communism and Communists so much that he even expressed public admiration of Mussolini’s tactics against it. When he embraced this sort of thinking, he started down a road that led him to become a staunch opponent of civil rights. He grew more rigid as he grew older, and he passed both his grudge and his empire to the sons who have carried on his causes.

Since then, the brothers have attempted to impose this secretive agenda on the rest of America. Significant financial contributions by the fascist Koch network have been made to conservative, Libertarian, and Republican causes by way of effecting these changes. They pledged to spend $889 million from 2009–2016, and although the Citizens United ruling makes it impossible to say exactly how close they came, most specialists agree that this estimate is very low. The political infrastructure they have built has been said by Politico to rival that of the Republican National Committee.

Conveniently, the Koch brothers’ fervent commitment to libertarianism coincides precisely with their foremost, bottom-line interest: the elimination of government regulations aimed at containing toxic pollution and ozone-damaging emissions. Koch companies are spewing these everywhere. Around the country, around the clock.

It is no accident that Scott Pruitt ended up heading the EPA. It was one of the concessions made by Trump’s team to reconcile themselves with the Koch brothers, who were opposed to him all the way up until when it became inevitable he’d be the Republican candidate.

Nancy MacLean, the William H. Chafe Professor of History and Public Policy at Duke University, recently published a  book, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America, detailing the corrosive practices of the Koch network.

The New York Times said the book joined an emerging corpus of important work of scholars and journalists that was “documenting the systematic, organized effort to undermine democracy and change the rules.”

But it didn’t take long for the apparatus of the “radical right”, or what we now have come to think of as the alt-right, to to prepare a counterattack. The attacks came from the same individuals and institutions that the Duke University history professor documents in her book.

At some point, the Libertarians, particularly people who are part of the apparatus in one way or another — either academics or the think-tanks — weighed in, and did the same thing with my work as they have done with climate science,” says MacLean.

MacLean’s book charts the “radical right’s stealth plan” through the fortunes and influence of the late James M Buchanan, a pioneer of so-called economic “public choice theory” who was awarded a Nobel memorial prize in economics in 1986. For a look at his thinking process, we can look to the explanation given by Buchanan himself in a famous essay. By helping the unlucky, we cushion them against the consequences of their bad choices.

Luckily for no one, the dutiful Kochs are busy as can be even now, making sure to seek out and destroy every such cushion they can find.

Their most visible front is Americans for Prosperity, a conservative political advocacy group founded by David Koch. This branch comprises the ground forces of the Koch Network. They hold rallies in 34 states, they bus people into them, and they use them to exert pressure for their anti-government, anti-education Libertarian agenda. For example, Koch think tanks spend at least $19.4 million annually, to cripple the public school systems.

The Koch donor network has exploited Buchanan’s economic system to mutate the rules of American politics. This is exactly the sentiment voiced by Republicans of both branches of Congress who voted to strip away Obamacare.

“Get Obamacare repealed and replaced, get tax reform passed,” Doug Deason, one of the few known donors in the Koch network’s fundraising rolodex, told GOP leaders recently. “You control the Senate. You control the House. You have the presidency. There’s no reason you can’t get this done.”

Every new proposal the Republicans tried jamming through the Congress would have sorely punished people with preexisting medical conditions. They were perfectly aware of this, of course. Congressman Mo Brooks even touted it as a benefit in one CNN interview, stating that the new bill has the advantage of “reducing the cost to those people who lead good lives.” This is a pure application of James Buchanan. The term he used was “misguided Good Samaritanism”.

In the wake of America’s increasing disgust with Trump, the Koch brothers are currently enjoying a new level of ascendancy. The announcement last week by the Koch network that Vice President Mike Pence will be the keynote speaker at the brothers’ policy and political strategy meeting, set for October 12 and 13 in Manhattan, is a big sign.

Another sign was the placement of Americans for Prosperity president, Tim Phillips, just one seat from Trump at a White House dinner last week for conservative group leaders. Phillips has long been one of the Kochs’ top lieutenants. In announcing Pence’s appearance, top Koch aide James Davis crowed, “Pence truly understands how good policies can help all Americans improve their lives.”

Also notable was that the only Trump cabinet member at the dinner, seated across the long table from the president, was Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt. Pruitt, the former Attorney General of Oklahoma, has literally spent his entire life fighting the agency that he is now the head of. This appointment in particular embodies the Trump administration’s desire to turn over crucial environment and energy policy decisions to the collective fossil fuel and chemical industries of which the Kochs are bedrock members.

This donor network has been tremendously successful in the spreading of self-serving misinformation to elected officials. They’re doing it for banal reasons like the rights to save money dumping waste in local rivers. This is why climate change is a reality the oil moguls do not want to face.

The consequences of that policy are so far reaching and brutal in their effects, that they require most of the populace to be kept in a disgraceful state of ignorance. They can’t let us learn, because what they’re up to is so obvious, and they don’t really bother to hide it. They just counterattack with viciousness and lies. A people softened up by decades of misinformation coming from the Koch Brothers and others were lambs to the slaughter for disinformation coming from the Russians.

It’s a liberal tendency to assume that Republicans and the right wing media can’t possibly really believe its message, but there’s too much evidence that the contrary might be true. At the level of the populace, those who deliver and receive the message are being manipulated by their fears, for a profit so large that it’s hard to imagine: global domination in total. This reality has to be faced and fully realized before counter-efforts will prove effective.

The disastrous election of Donald Trump has had one good effect and one only- it has brought America’s people to the point where more and more people are recognizing the issue and acknowledging the problem. Women in particular are mobilizing like never before. We must all join their struggle, en masse and in dead earnest.

That is the only hope we have of taking back the reins of our democracy.

If the majority understood what they were doing, they would stop it. I think that’s a really powerful thing to know,” said MacLean.

They are doing all of this in the knowledge that they can’t win if they say openly what their end game is. If people work to patiently inform and activate the majority, then they could be stopped.”

Moving forward, our goal will be to do exactly that. We will spread the word every way we can. We will also be sure to avoid the past errors of excess and rage that awareness of these people and their garbage have caused in the past. It’s understandable to want to get back at people who are hurting you, but if in so doing, you strengthen their position, you are only making sure you get hurt some more.

We have learned from the lessons of Occupy. We won’t make those kinds of mistakes again. We will remain calm. We will acknowledge the existence of their propaganda tanks. We will drag them out into the light. We will refute both their pseudoscience and their petty lies.

We will learn to recognize their organizational structure and the techniques they have employed to subvert our democracy. They are like poison ivy, sucking life out of a grand old oak tree. The record shows that clearly. We will just have to highlight it. Most importantly of all, we will continue to provide better alternatives to their unkind and ungenerous schemes. America is strong, because America is kind. The strong are always kind. We can do better than Charles and David Koch.

The End of the Syrian Civil War- Russian Goals of Global Realignment.

The Syrian Civil War is winding down, and Bashar al-Assad is still running the showSaudi Arabia may be the latest country to give up on regime change in Syria and fall in line with Russia’s plans for the region. The dropping of a weapon called the “Father of All Bombs” on ISIS leaders in Deir ez-Zor in Syria might have played an intimidating role.

As the eyes of the world largely left the Middle East this year, Assad consolidated his position. Things like Brexit, North Korean nuclear testing, and the election of Donald Trump proved distracting to the West,

Throughout the conflict, Saudi Arabia has worked closely with the United States, giving backing to the anti-Assad rebels that have been trying to topple the dictator with our help since the 2011 Arab Spring protests began. But the situation has changed.  What was once unthinkable has all but happened. It is likely that sometime in the near future, Libertarian party candidate Gary Johnson will be learning just exactly what a Leppo is.

Earlier this year, Donald Trump’s administration ended a military aid program for these Syrian rebels.

The motivations of Trump in doing this favor for Putin have raised questions of a possible quid pro quo. An exchange for the help Trump received in fighting dirty against Hillary Clinton from Wikileaks and other Kremlin propaganda outlets. They remain a large part of the reason for the Mueller investigation into Donald Trump’s connections and activities leading up to 2016. This investigation had former Chief of Staff, Reince “Fly-Killer” Priebus, lawyering up as of Sunday.

The Russian military intervention in the Syrian conflict began in September 2015. The entire civilized world stood in universal condemnation of Assad’s civil rights abuses. His hold on Syria’s government seemed increasingly tenuous. Deciding his situation had become at last untenable, Assad asked Russia in an official capacity for military help against the rebel groups funded by America since 2012, and Russia answered his call.

Sending forth its forces against the enemies of Assad’s regime gave a boost to Putin’s foreign policy standingDamien Kingsbury, in The Drum on Thursday, speaks of Moscow  as “positioning itself as a critical actor in the future political shape of the region, just as France and Britain were in 1916 when they developed the Sykes-Picot Agreement.”

Shortly after the operation began, Russian officials were cited as saying that Russia′s goals included helping the Syrian government retake territory from various anti-government groups that were labelled by the United States and its coalition as ″moderate opposition″, a broader geopolitical objective being to roll back U.S. influence.

The Russian intervention in Syria launched a new and even more complicated phase in the Syrian civil war. We were backing different sides, and fighting right next door to one another.

The Russians claimed that they wanted to be part of a new international coalition in Iraq, where we were all going to fight ISIS together. Reality did not end up supporting those claims. Russia rarely did much to target ISIS in Syria. What it did do was to prop up Assad while undermining the rebels . The goal was to prolong the conflict until Obama had been forced out of office by term restrictions, something neither Putin nor Assad has to worry about.

Russia’s military campaign allowed Assad’s forces to recapture rebel strongholds, a task they did with terrible viciousness and incalculable human suffering. It barely dented ISIS, whose recent territorial losses have largely come at the hands of Kurdish militias backed by a US-led coalition.

The stated Russian purpose was to shorten the war, but they succeeded in doing just the opposite. Ironically, it was this very Russian- enabled savagery that sent yet more waves of refugees flooding into Turkey and Europe, possibly leading to the Paris attacks that year.

The Syrian Civil War was a test lab for Putin in many ways. It allowed him to test the resolve of the West, which he found wanting. It opened the possibility of an entirely different type of proxy war, one with a virtual battlefield. It provided one of his first opportunities to practice the use of disinformation directly against his enemies in NATO. The entire Russian narrative, that they were over there to lend a hand in a global anti-ISIS coalition was one enormous exercise in state- sanctioned lying, and they got away with it.

The Kremlin did legitimately view ISIS as a security concern. But Russian troops usually did little to engage with them, instead focusing their air campaign against the anti- Assad opposition groups that America had been financing during Obama’s tenure in office.

Russia’s anti-ISIS rhetoric served it well as a pretext to pursue its larger strategic objectives. They conjured an excuse, entered the fray, and used their military power toward the goal of preserving Assad’s control over Syria. Although President Obama showed understandable reticence at the idea of being drawn “into a proxy war between the United States and Russia,” he was not able to avoid it.

Shoring up Assad was a core Russian objective. Its purpose was to allow them to keep intact one of their most reliable regional allies. Russia planned to cement its foothold in the Middle East, while simultaneously expanding its influence through its partnership with Iran, and their network of regional proxies.

Backed by Russia, Assad has regained control of much of the country in the past two years. His continued presence atop the Syrian apex is looking more like a fait accompli all the time. And since the United States has done nothing to help them since Obama left office, long time enemies like Turkey and Saudi Arabia have been forced to start coming around to working with the Russians. There has been no alternative.

The nature of today’s interconnected society means all these issues impact not just the countries involved, but the entire world. And make no mistake- what is at stake here, is nothing less than the entire order of global alignment. Americans have enjoyed the view from atop it ever since the end of World War Two. Russia would like nothing better than ascending to the number one spot.

Putin is exerting pressure everywhere. His manifested ability to disrupt the electoral processes of Western powers has allowed him a leverage over us that the Soviet Union never came close to having. His aims of destabilizing his enemies have undoubtedly been realized.

The same disinformation machine that misled so many in Syria, has now interrupted our national harmony as well. We have proven unable to effectively respond to his maneuvers in the Middle East or Ukraine, since Trump refuses to do anything against Putin without being forced. His presidency has thrown our domestic affairs into complete turmoil, and that was Putin’s reason for giving him aid.

This has also allowed Putin to start gaining influence in North Korea, a staunch ally during the days of the Soviet Union. Their nuclear testing recently has made them a scourge and a threat to the entire Pacific region, and has caused a great deal of unrest everywhere. Common sense would dictate that Putin turn these happenings to advantage.

Recently, Japan was forced to negotiate a “special system” for joint economic activity on the disputed Kuril Islands, a bone of contention for their countries for decades. This hardly seems coincidental. In August Russia flew nuclear-capable “Bear” bombers near Japan.  One U.S. official described the Russian bomber flight as “clearly meant to send a message.”

Until Democrats are back in power, this order of business will likely continue all but unabated.

Having been given a free hand all over the world, Putin has been using his time with tremendous skill and vigor. If we don’t find ourselves a leader capable of successfully competing we’ll be flat on our backs within a few years. He put everything on the line to try and hamstring Hillary Clinton, and the scenario we’re seeing now is why.

Were it not for Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, things would likely be even worse.

Recently, Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone said that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly was “Treating Donald Trump like a mushroom. Keeping him in the dark, and feeding him sh*t.

After the staff of Millennial Democrats finished dying with laughter, they were born again, thinking about the nature of mushrooms and how they spread. A look at this might help us to illustrate our issue. Putin and Trump are behaving like mushrooms and cows in a pasture. They work in symbiosis. The chaos left in the wake of Trump’s passing scatters Putin’s spores to release and start spreading out, thus forming new colonies.

Putin is an invasive species, meaning that he has a tendency to spread to a degree believed to cause damage to the environment, human economy or human health. The best way to deal with him is to learn to identify and effectively remove the tendrils he puts down. This means learning to identify and prevent the spread of fake news. In this matter we can look to Ukraine and find there a useful frame of reference.

Since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, the Ukrainians have fought the Russian disinformation machine more often than anyone. The first site to directly tackle and refute Russian propaganda was StopFake.org, and they have scored many notable successes. Not only have they proven that Russia’s lying machine can be defeated, they have proven all you need to do it is your common sense.

Ultimately, the responsibility for beating back the fake news plague belongs to us. Our own critical thinking skills are the most valuable weapon we have. Every one of us must strive to educate ourselves with each passing day. We’re running out of time in which to prepare.

The geopolitical chessboard is an ever-shifting entity. Empires collapse all the time. The Syrian Civil War has done much to shape the new reality, that being that the side we were supporting lost. This will need to be carefully observed in the times ahead. The United States has entered perilous waters.

There’s still a lot we can do, however. The Democratic National Committee has coined the hashtag #RiseAndOrganize, and that option is very much open to us. There is nothing in the world right now so crucial as the Congress returning to Democratic control next year. It is only by way of this that we’ll get a group of guys in there who will impeach Donald Trump, who is the single biggest asset Putin has. To stabilize the global order, we will first stabilize our backyard.

Calamity and Climate Change- Will Trump Deny Floods?

The city of Houston is nearly underwater, thanks to the relentless Hurricane Harvey, which Vice President Mike Pence referred to on Friday as  “frustrating.” Harvey remains now where it has been for several days, dumping trillions of gallons of rain on an already inundated and devastated region. Twenty two lives have been lost, and authorities fear the worst is yet to come, in what is already the worst continental rainstorm in American history.

The enthusiastic president has traveled to Corpus Christi, to take a distant look for himself at what has proved to be a truly terrible disaster. A Houston police officer drowned this morning, after attempting a different route to his assigned coordinate, where he encountered the high water that trapped him in his car and killed him.
Trump still doesn’t seem to be understanding the gravity of it all. “What a crowd. What a turnout”, he said upon touching down in Corpus Christi, vowing to congratulate himself at a later time. He spent the hours before the storm pardoning Joe Arpaio and ordering that immigration checkpoints remain open during the evacuation process. All but giddy, every time he talks about the “big, big hurricane”, it would seem he’s very happy to have been given a chance to show his mettle. This is ironic. Because Trump himself, has been a disaster for any kind of emergency relief program, including this one.

When President Trump released his proposed budget earlier this year, it included cuts across the board — including hundreds of millions from programs that help Americans cope with disasters like Hurricane Harvey.

Gigantic cuts are proposed for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the agency charged with overseeing the government’s response to Hurricane Harvey, as well as other natural disasters. The National Weather Service and the government’s flood insurance programs are to be cut as well.

Conservative commentator Laura Ingraham noted Tuesday on “Fox & Friends” that FEMA administrator Brock Long is still without a deputy.

From looking at photos of flooded Houston, she said: “We can conclude that a federal government does need staff. We see it acutely in need of staff in a situation like this.”

But, mere moments later, Trump took to Twitter by way of a response, tweeting: “@foxandfriends We are not looking to fill all of those positions. Don’t need many of them – reduce size of government.”

It is a very good thing for the people of Houston, that Trump had not yet gotten around to reducing the people who’ve been saving them, the heroic holdovers from President Obama’s administration Kathleen Fox and David Grant.

Two weeks ago, just before his disgusting rant at the news conference in which he blamed “both sides” for the violence days earlier in Charlottesville, Virginia. President Donald Trump unveiled an executive order killing planned regulations on new infrastructure building.

Among them was a rule that would have required federally funded projects to account for flood risks. Ten days later, Hurricane Harvey made its first landfall in Texas. This order revoked a whole set of Obama-era rules and regulations that would have made federally-funded infrastructure less vulnerable to flooding. It would have required the federal government to factor in the risk of flooding and sea-level rise, as a result of climate change, when constructing new infrastructure and rebuilding after disasters. Would have been nice, except that Trump doesn’t believe in climate change.
Trump’s entire climate approach, activists say, belies a profound insincerity at his administration’s response to the catastrophic flooding in the region. His strategy is to rip up any and all regulations that interfere with the short-term gain of wealth. This is the same strategy that gave us the Dust Bowl, which is another thing that could happen again if Trump policies in this area come to life. Cities like Houston, particularly the at-risk section of the people, are becoming increasingly vulnerable to future catastrophe.
“While Trump is speaking to people impacted by the storm, his policies themselves are going to make the lives of people in these storm-prone areas worse,” said Thanu Yakupitiyage, the US communications manager for 350.org. Well said.
Back in June, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, a Democrat, was one of dozens of American city leaders to pledge continued support for the Paris climate agreement, after Trump announced his intent to back us out. Scientists across the planet are universal in their conclusions that human effects on the climate are adding to the general trend of worsening storms. Although our knowledge of how the weather works is still very much incomplete, it is safe to say that human-caused climate change has enhanced Hurricane Harvey.
Not according to the president, however. He called climate change “a hoax invented by the Chinese.” 
A guy like that isn’t someone you can even talk to. It would take Archie Bunker himself, to hold fast so tight to a belief that not only flies in the face of scientific evidence, but threatens the long-term health and safety of every living thing. And all for a little more money. Here is a picture of the Manhattan Skyline in 1973, compared to now.

Image result for manhattan skyline 1973 compared to 2016

There comes a time in every adult life when they’ve got to face reality. For example, if you don’t change the oil in your car, it will turn before long into a very, very big and huge paperweight. How much more so is this true, regarding the upkeep of an entire city, or country, or world? However, unpleasant as it is, the reality of our current situation is that our President will not accept this crucial concept. Donald Trump has been a climate-change denier from the first.
By vital contrast, the 2016 Democratic Party Platform had the following statement to make on the subject.
“Democrats believe that climate change poses a real and urgent threat to our economy, our national security, and our children’s health and futures, and that Americans deserve the jobs and security that come from becoming the clean energy superpower of the 21st century.”
Democrats are aware that climate change is one of the most critical challenges that this nation has to face. Hurricane Harvey is the latest addition to a long list of disastrous proofs. Properly addressing this urgent threat will ensure America’s place as the world’s clean energy superpower, and continue to assure us a role of global leadership in the ongoing process of finding solutions. Democrats will continue to fight to return us to the table of the Paris Agreement. Our goal is to protect both our nation and our planet, for this and future generations.

Heroic Holdovers and Houston- Thanks, President Obama.

Donald Trump has been boasting about the federal government’s stellar response so far to the disaster caused by Hurricane Harvey in Houston. For once, he is absolutely right- and we have President Barack Obama to thank for it. Currently, the holdover heroes from Obama’s presidency, David Grant, and Kathleen Fox, are the ones most directly responsible for the organization of actual efforts on the ground. All Trump did, was to sign the piece of paper put in front of him to authorize federal aid. FEMA was reshaped, streamlined, and made viable, by the wisdom and decency of our former president.

That did not stop Trump from stealing all the credit, though. He spent Sunday coping with the problem the only way he knows how- by going on Twitter and bragging. He seemed more excited than anything by the storm. He repeatedly sent out tweets regarding its size and potency, but did not have any words at all for the most tragic aspect of this disaster yet- the two people who have lost their lives so far.
Trump’s administration wants to show the public they are capable of adequately addressing this catastrophe. The handling of a natural disaster is a defining moment for any presidency.  As a general rule, though, it’s bad to go into any crisis, including a gigantic hurricane, with a federal government at war with itself.
Trump’s White House did little to prepare. Instead, Trump spent the hours before the impending storm starting a political hurricane to go with the real one, by granting an unpopular pardon to the former Sheriff of Phoenix, Joe Arpaio.
Fortunately for the good people of Houston, however, Trump has been unable yet to fill two out of three politically appointed positions in FEMA. Trump took so long in deciding who he wanted to do the jobs, that his picks did not have time to be confirmed before the Senate went on recess. The same goes with the top position at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which monitors storms.
This leaves FEMA’s administrator, Brock Long, who said that this storm was “unlike anything ever seen before. FEMA is going to be there for years,” Long added Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union. There is no doubt this is true. In the meantime, however, the aforementioned Grant and Fox are running the show on the ground, and we are very grateful for them.“Federal civilian employees with decades of experience are currently serving as acting in those positions,” a FEMA spokesperson said.

R. David Paulison, who succeeded the Bush administration’s FEMA director Michael Brown after the latter resigned in the wake of national outrage to his feeble Katrina response, said he is “very comfortable” with the leadership currently in place.

“You like those positions filled,” he said, especially “as you put your policies in place, you want to put your own people in.” But, he added, “The people there in acting positions are seasoned FEMA executives. They’ve been there a long time.”

Unfortunately these efforts have been needlessly complicated, by the fact of major evacuation routes having to pass through immigration checkpoints. These have remained open throughout, contrary to the dictates both of reason and conscience.
Things are certainly looking brighter than they did in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina struck the coast of New Orleans, in the most destructive storm ever to be wrought upon our shores. President Obama saw to that while he was still serving. But one can’t help wondering, what will happen once these heroic holdovers are gone? There is no evidence at all that Trump’s usual sloven would not have carried the day, had it not been for them. It nearly did anyhow.
It is the opinion of Millennial Democrats that the citizens of America should not count on the Trump administration to be able to handle a disaster of this magnitude properly. Over the twelve years that have passed since Katrina, extensive studies have been undertaken in the area of disaster relief. The key implication of them is that government does play a vital role, but that it is also our own responsibility to watch each other’s backs and be prepared. The former president said himself, “We can’t control the weather, but we can control our responses to it“.

Disaster Atop Disaster-Hurricane Trump, President Harvey.

Donald Trump will be at the presidential vacationing resort Camp David this evening as Hurricane Harvey is gaining steam.  It is expected to strike the coast of Texas, which has ordered an evacuation,sometime Friday evening. It has officially magnified into a Category 4 storm and is bringing with it tremendous winds of up to 130 mph, a massive storm surge, brutal flooding- and perhaps the first real test of Donald Trump as a president capable of handling a serious crisis. Millennial Democrats regretfully informs you that instead of preparing for this disaster, the president started a political hurricane by officially pardoning Joe Arpaio.

George Bush’s mishandling of the Hurricane Katrina crisis was one of the things held most strongly against him as a president. In Karl Rove’s book, Courage and Consequence, he opines that the Bush administration mishandled Katrina in a number of different ways. He flew over the scene in Air Force One, without bothering to land and speak to the people. A photograph was taken that indicated an aloof and indifferent response. Aloof, at least, is not the style of this president, but his job performance thus far, indicates a disaster atop a disaster. He is not ready for this, and he is not taking it seriously. He doesn’t even plan on visiting Texas, until early next week.

Earlier this week, Mashable’s Senior Editor for Science and Special Projects Andrew Freedman dubbed the storm “the meteorological equivalent of a White Walker from Game of Thrones.” The storm was thought to have lost potency earlier this week. Over the past two days, however, it has risen from the dead, born again, stronger and harder. What is dead can never die. Hurricane Harvey is coming, and those in its path have had little time to prepare.

Hurricanes usually come with only one of two terrifying characteristics. Either heavy, persistent rainfall or strong, violent winds and storm surge. Harvey could have both, because unique wind patterns may prevent the storm from moving quickly out of the region. It has been hovering over the Yucatan Peninsula for much of the week. None of this has proved of much concern to the president, however. He was busy announcing an official order banning transgender recruits from the military. Until Thursday evening he was still tweeting unhappily about fake news, which advisers have begged him not to do, at least until the hurricane passes.

One can only pray, for the Texans in the path of this disaster of a hurricane. The Trump White House has not done much to prepare. The top position at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which monitors storms, is one of the hundreds of jobs in the Trump administration to remain unfilled, now nearly 8 months into his tenure. They do have some hope, however. While Trump may not be competent, his predecessor was. Officials left over from the Obama administration are the ones in charge of governing the evacuations, preparations, and relief efforts needed to cope with this storm.

“Federal civilian employees with decades of experience are currently serving as acting in those positions,” a FEMA spokesperson reported today. They are holdovers from Barack Obama’s presidency, David Grant, and Kathleen Fox. Democrats both, who we are very proud of, and lucky to have. Trump can’t even manage the trouble going on over Confederate statues, let alone a hurricane.

 

 

 

Chaos in Charlottesville- Moving Forward

The violence that has rocked our nation in Charlottesville this weekend was reminiscent of the Civil War. Although our president would not condemn the white nationalist terrorism this weekend, Gov. Terry McAuliffe renewed his calls for white supremacists to leave the city, and even the country, in the wake of violence that saw the beautiful and brave Heather Heyer to an early grave. The same day, troopers had to be assigned to the governor’s travel detail, and two state officers were killed in a helicopter crash. 

On Saturday, McAuliffe told the demonstrators to go home. On Sunday he went further.
“Let’s be honest, they need to leave America, because they are not Americans,” he said. While those words are passionately spoken and help to convey the message of grief and sorrow that all of us are feeling, these events were all too American. The last eight years lulled many into a false sense of complacency as to the improvement of racial relations in America. This is a very old problem, however, and its roots go back much farther even than slavery. The topic is very large. For our purposes, we will be looking at race relations in the millennial era, from 1980 forward, with a brief look back at the most important recent events that set the context for them.
Particularly the War on Drugs should receive attention, as it is one of the most notable weapons available to the forces of reaction vis-a-vis the suppression of ideological and political adversaries. Other forms of new and subtle economic pressure and exclusion were also further developed, and applied by certain sections of white America to deny people from other ethnic backgrounds a share of the American dream. These methods included discriminatory hiring practices, rent control, and gentrification.
The first one to use the term War on Drugs was Richard Nixon. The concept was a political farce from the start, based on racism and a callous desire to remain in power at any cost. Nixon plotted this out during the 1968 campaign for the presidency because the opposition was comprised mainly of hippies and blacks, both perceived to be into drugs.  Nixon’s domestic policy advisor, John Ehrlichman later said, “We knew we were lying about the health effects of marijuana.  We knew we were lying about the relationship between heroin and crime.  But this is what we were doing to win the election.  And it worked.”

After being elected as Governor of California, Ronald Reagan quickly made himself a hero to conservatives with his crack downs on anti-war protests in Berkeley. During the implementation of these draconian measures, police brutality led to the murder of James Rector, shot and killed by police. After he was elected President, it was soon to be more of the same. This was to manifest in the official War on Drugs, personified best by the famous words of First Lady Nancy Reagan- Just Say No.

During the tenure of the senior Bush’s time in the White House, the war on drugs was running low on steam, although this did not stop him from intensifying his attempts to make his power felt in that department almost immediately. His famous War on Crack speech in 1989 sent a brutal message. During the speech President Bush pledged one billion dollars for the drug war because “we need more jails, more prisons, more courts and more prosecutors. The laws enacted shortly after this time created sentencing disparities along racial lines that would last for years to come, and have not been thoroughly fixed today. These disparities are still a weak point and a stressor on the stability and conscience of the nation.

The Obama presidency represented the highest watermark yet, in the struggle of people of color and women to assert their rightful equality in a country that had historically denied them. The fact of Hillary Clinton’s having won the popular vote, and without Russian aid, is another tremendous step in the right direction. That success has the forces of reaction up in arms. The status quo is altering, regardless of their attempts to preserve it.

The events of Charlottesville and many other events, both nationally and worldwide, are a sad and grotesque example of just how far radicals will go to avoid parting with a familiar idea. However, in the immortal words of Dr. Martin Luther King, No lie lives forever. The rest of the civilized world has already long ago moved on from this awful way of thinking.

The death of Heather Heyer was not in vain. Already, the terrified organizer of this rally, the largest hate rally in decades. has been chased off the stage of his own conference. In abject cowardice and disgrace. He knows in his heart they have gone too far, and awoken a sleeping giant. The nameless worm who murdered her, gave her more power to change the world in death than she ever could have had in life. Let her name become our battle-cry, our clarion call to action.

Moving forward, we have got to remain calm. If this situation escalates too far it could lead to civil war. That said, however, we are also not going to be victims. That’s out. The NAACP has issued a travel advisory to women, people of color, and anyone with a disability to a specific State, Missouri, which is another sad first in a year that has been full of them. It is the opinion of Millennial Democrats that you can add anyone with long hair, an eccentric mode of dress, or license plates from any coastal state to be very careful in all of Middle America, to the list of people that advisory applies to. Look out for yourselves, and each other.

As we mourn the death of Heather Heyer, we mourn as well that things in our fair nation have come to this. We mourn that peaceful protest can no longer be counted on to remain so. We mourn that the President refuses to disavow and condemn her killer, choosing instead to rebuke “many sides” for that hideous act, as if the brave and beautiful woman who lost her life yesterday was on par with the savage who snuffed out her promising young life. But in our sadness, we will become even stronger. A hundred thousand will rise up in terrible anger at the thought of the outrage that has blighted our beautiful country. Chaos in Charlottesville will not last forever. When the dust settles, we will gently pick up the pieces, and lay our friend to rest, and move on.