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 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.

The Arpaio Pardon, and the Dragnet of the Storm

President Trump came under withering fire from Democrats for having used the furor surrounding Hurricane Harvey to cover up pardoning Joe Arpaio on Friday. This does keep one of his staunchest political allies out of jail and energizes his conservative base, which supports both men’s hard-line views on illegal immigration. But virtually everyone else is disgusted completely. The ACLU protested the pardon immediately, calling it a “presidential endorsement of racism.

This highly irregular pardon, which comes less than a month after Arpaio was convicted,will further anger the president’s critics. It is also not likely to improve the president’s already abysmal relationship with the judicial branch, which has steadily declined since the very beginning.
R- AZ John McCain was clearly disappointed by this awful decision, saying “The President has the authority to make this pardon, but doing so at this time undermines his claim for the respect of rule of law as Mr. Arpaio has shown no remorse for his actions.” Well said.

The pardon was issued very quietly, while all eyes in America were turned toward the coast of Texas. It’s a disgrace beyond any description. For the president himself to be so low, so cowardly, as to use a natural disaster as a tool. And what a tool. Its purpose is to help him obfuscate his sneaking through this insulting and ugly pardon. It ranks as one of the most disgusting displays of brazen callousness to be found anywhere in all of human history. And, he got caught. The story of this pardon promptly created a political hurricane to go with the real ones. It’s a disaster atop a disaster. Trump is not prepared, and not taking this seriously.

Another potentially terrible tragedy relating to immigration has manifested right alongside Hurricane Harvey. The hurricane has made landfall on eastern Texas, and is impacting the state’s coastal areas from the lower tip until Louisiana.

Thousands of people are evacuating along the state’s major highways. Winds have exceeded 130 mph in some places and cataclysmic flooding is going on as well. Several people have been injured already. Evacuation routes from the coast were already showing heavy traffic on Friday afternoon, and tornadoes are expected to form by the dozens throughout the area. Should anyone need information as to where those evacuation routes are, they can take a look at this list of them.

In a move destined to go down in history as one of the most nauseatingly stupid decisions ever made, Border Patrol checkpoints will stay open as the storm approaches, the Customs and Border Protection agency said Friday.

Several of these evacuation routes go right through these checkpoints, including one on Route 44 in Corpus Christi and another on Route 35 heading up to San Antonio:

Civil rights activists were quick to strongly protest the incredible cruelty of this new policy. In addition to this, it is the opinion of Millennial Democrats that this will make for a logistical nightmare of epic dimension. Tens of thousands will end up bottlenecking behind checkpoints, waiting for the verification of tens of thousands of papers. It seems inevitable to result in avoidable misery, maybe even some fatality.

Furthermore, what to do with those rounded up by this massive dragnet of the storm? To prevent their arrestees from simply walking away, the authorities would have to prepare to detain most immigrants awaiting deportation. Existing facilities would have to be expanded overnight to hold hundreds of thousands. How ironic, if those dreaded FEMA camps the alt-right was convinced Obama- whose administrative leftovers are the ones in charge of dealing with the hurricane, while Trump is off at Camp David- was planning to lock us all up in, did in fact become prisons, under his successor.

In any foreseeable scenario, this kind of project would take time, and during natural disasters, there tends to be no time to lose. As with Katrina, this is the end of the month. People are out of money and afraid already. Many refused to leave their homes in New Orleans because they lacked even the money for bus or monorail fare. George W. Bush left the poor high and dry.

The process Trump is proposing will create a task that would take a good deal of planning out under the best of circumstances, let alone thrown together slap-dash during a hurricane. The men who secure our borders are brave and tough Americans, but they are woefully underprepared for this. It also seems likely that some families with illegal immigrant members will choose not to evacuate the storm zone, preferring rather to chance it with both family and freedom intact.

“This is a disgusting move from the Border Patrol that breaks with past practices,” American Civil Liberties Union director of immigration policy and campaigns Lorella Praeli said. “The Border Patrol should never keep checkpoints open during any natural disasters in the United States. Everyone, no matter the color of their skin or background, is worth saving.

We stand in solidarity with our Hispanic countrymen, and are outraged with them at what is going on. In this country, we’ve got a no-man-left-behind policy. In the face of hell and high water, we Democrats will resolutely hold out our hands to those who need our help. Be they friend or foe, our prayers and hearts are with them. We are countrymen, and fellow persons. We will do what good we can, when we can.