In a Hurricane, Everyone’s a Socialist

September 08, 2017 By: El Jefe Category: flooding, Government

I’m sitting here watching the FEMA morning briefing on Hurricane Irma with Grinning Tom Price and director Brock Long while they are speaking of 8,000 FEMA employees advance deployed and commodities (food, water, medicine) staged from Florida to North Carolina.  They’re speaking of evacuating electricity dependent medical patients, evacuation routes, and other issues that professionals discuss preparing for landfall of major hurricane.

Over the last several weeks, elected officials in Texas and Florida have actually conducted themselves as adults, taking responsibility and using their authority (and government coffers) to serve their constituents.  The weakest person I’ve seen is Greg Abbott who has played a very small role compared to Houston mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris Country judge Ed Emmett, staying pretty much in the background, showing up only to suck up to Cheeto Jesus while he grandstanded during his two brief and embarrassing appearances here in Texas.

Speaking of embarrassing, Donald Trump. His performance during his cringe-inducing visits (accompanied by his wife impersonating Michael Jackson in those silly caps and shades) were nothing short of embarrassing.  Thank God he left to go play golf immediately after instructing shelter victims to “have a great time”.

I digress – what’s really struck me during these events is how Trump administration appointments and elected officials are bringing the force of government to bear to serve its residents.  Trump has already proposed, and the Congress is virtually certain to approve, an initial $8 billion relief appropriation.  Local, state, and federal officials are working together to save lives and shelter victims of the recent storms.  FEMA has been on the ground in Houston since initial rains started and is processing over 300,000 funding applications already filed.

The difference between these responses and the disaster during Katrina 12 years ago is striking; today government is being proactive rather than passive as it was during that crisis where local, state, and federal governments were simply incompetent and totally unprepared.  The current response is strikingly different – in general, politics have been set aside by elected officials to get help to Americans.  There’s none of the nonsense about “compassionate conservatism” which created the shameful Katrina response.  It looks to me that government is pretty much working as it should – for the good of society.

The collective power of people working together using the resources available to soften the blow of catastrophes like Harvey and Irma is how advanced societies are supposed to function.  Government money and resources help; individual citizens volunteering is key; law enforcement and firefighting agencies must galvanize to serve.  In short, this is how it’s supposed to work.  Libertarian ideology goes out the window because it simply doesn’t work.  Radical right wing ideology goes with it because no person is an island.  In short, during crisis, everyone is a socialist working for the collective good.  That’s how society is supposed to work.


August 29, 2017 By: El Jefe Category: Harvey Hell

Words fail to describe the disaster unfolding before us so I’ll try a picture from the Texas Department of Transportation.

The dark blue symbols with the slash through it are road closures; the light blue circles are flooding.  To give non-Texans a sense of scale, the east-west distance of this map is over 300 miles.  So far, thousands of homes have been inundated.  Tens of thousands of people are out of their homes.  The ENTIRE Texas National Guard has been activated with over 12,000 personnel mobilized.  The US Coast Guard has brought HALF of its US helicopter fleet to the Houston metro area.  The shelter at the George R. Brown Convention Center is now near capacity with 5,000 people who’ve lost their homes, and shelters all over the area are running full.  Gasoline shortages are just right around the corner since most of the refineries here are shut down; both of the metro areas major airports are still shut down.

The only word that begins to capture this disaster is unprecedented. Unfortunately, one word that can’t be used is unexpected.  This is what happens when you pave over hundreds of square miles of land that was once prairie.  This is what happens when you build homes on top of watershed and up against major rivers and bayous.  This is the expected result of unbridled development without appropriate oversight for infrastructure.  We’re finally reaping the result of what we have sown for years, and if we’re honest, there is major work to be done beyond simply repair these thousands of homes and buildings.

We’ll see if our elected officials will follow through after the television lights turn off.

Trump Tweets Book Recommendation – During Disaster in Houston

August 28, 2017 By: El Jefe Category: Dammit!

Yesterday morning, as the slow motion disaster in Houston was unfolding, Donald Trump demonstrated for the 1,348th time since January his absolute tone deafness and poor self control by pushing Post on this tweet:

That’s correct, folks…while the sun was rising on the biggest disaster in the history of Houston, Trump was plugging a book written by his buddy, David Clarke, sheriff in Milwaukee Wisconsin, who is well known for his cruel treatment of prisoners, encouraging the guns everywhere culture and for festooning his uniform with meaningless lapel pins to make himself look highly decorated.  Trump nominated Clarke to the Department of Homeland Security, a job he declined after the ensuing uproar.

So, Trump is plugging his friend’s book on Twitter on the day that Houston was going underwater, people were dying, and thousands of homes were being abandoned.  Thanks, Donnie J, for keeping your priorities straight.


Welp, the Drought is Over

August 27, 2017 By: El Jefe Category: Dammit!




Catastrophic Life Threatening

August 27, 2017 By: El Jefe Category: Dammit!

First time ever here, the NWS has issued a “Flash Flood Emergency for Catastrophic Life Threatening Flooding.” The freeways are mostly underwater. Thousands of homes are underwater. The fire department and volunteers are actually running out of fuel performing water rescues.  The Coast Guard has announced it’s already performed 300 rescues.  The KHOU television station has flooded.

The center of Harvey is just sitting on top of Victoria, which puts Houston right in the path of giant rain bands flowing continuously out of the Gulf dumping tons of rain on the city.  The NWS is forecasting this continuous rain for at least the next two days.  Water is rising everywhere, all bayous are out of their banks, the Brazos and San Bernard are at flood stage.

The situation in Houston is, in a word, grim.  Here comes another rain band. Gotta go for now.

Good to Know the NWS Has This One Figured out…

August 26, 2017 By: El Jefe Category: Holy Crap

Props to Eric Berger at Space City Weather.