It’s too late to impeach Trump

Nothing says “I’m not a Nazi” like pardoning a sadist accused of running concentration camps. Trump has done a lot of damage to our democracy over recent months, but his pardon of Joe Arpaio takes us over a critical threshold. Arpaio was a sheriff who used his power in a terror campaign against Hispanics in Arizona. Our president just told him and every other powerful racist in the country that under the Trump administration they won’t be punished for their crimes.

What will “decent” Republicans do about this? It’s a trick question, because there aren’t any. The people who stayed on this train after “pussy-grabbing” are exactly who you think they are. There are lots of polite, dignified people who still call themselves Republicans and will still vote to support this president and his enablers. These nice people have demonstrated that they will not lift a finger to protect you, your children, or anyone else from the worst that this administration and its racist supporters might do to you. They are entirely complicit. It is in our direct, material and physical interests to recognize these people for what they are before we blunder into further terrible mistakes.

Republicans at every level of government, have made one critical fact crystal-clear – our system of laws and our culture of democratic norms cannot be counted on to protect us. They might protect us. If I am white enough, wealthy enough, lucky enough, and possess enough connections to influential people, our system might still intermittently protect my rights. John McCain will not protect me. Hip-sounding, friendly Senator/Tweeter Ben Sasse will not protect me. The best I can hope for is that they will wring their hands at my plight and tut-tut at the injustice of it all.

No matter what Trump does, Republicans will not use their power to restore the old order if it creates even the slightest risk of loss to them. It’s over. We are on our own.

Last year, while still writing at GOPLifer, I posted a piece called “Do not stab the Nazis.” That advice was premised on the power of democratic accountability and rule of law. From that piece:

Everything we achieve through peaceful cooperation depends on our collective confidence that organized, legitimate violence will be available when we need it to enforce social and moral norms. Elevated by that understanding, we have developed cultural habits that make violence unnecessary in as many cases as possible. You can judge the sophistication and success of a civilization by how much public resource it takes to suppress private violence.

What happens when that understanding breaks down, when we can no longer count on the superior coercive power of government as a force for order and justice? The answer is simple, the moral calculus of private violence simply changes. To be clear, Antifa-style violence remains a bad idea, but not for any moral or ethical reason. Those reasons are gone. That kind of violence is a bad idea because it lacks a strategic focus, accountability, or a negotiable end-point. In other words, it exacts a high human toll toward no achievable goal. Morally, there’s nothing more wrong about fighting Nazis on American streets than there was fighting them on the streets of Hamburg.

I can no longer envision any peaceful end to this era. Even if Republicans removed Trump from office tomorrow, the damage to the legitimacy of our system is too deep for us to hope for a quiet return to normalcy. Donald Trump just burned our last bridge back to the old order while Republicans did nothing more than tweet their disapproval. No one seems to know where we’re headed now.

One fact continues to haunt me. As stark and frightening as this situation is, one is reminded that people of color in this country have always endured far worse. Brown bodies piled up in Joe Arpaio’s jails for decades and voters did not care. Black parents today warn their children against interactions with police, just as they have for generations. There is a sick sense of “chickens coming home to roost” in this unfolding tragedy that we each, to some degree, must own if we are ever to build something better. As a black friend who voted for Trump explained to me after the election, “You’re all black now.” White voters look on this situation with stunned horror, while black Americans shrug. What’s the most wrenching change Trump has brought? Now white people are learning to fear their government in ways minorities always have.

Private violence is still unlikely to influence the ultimate resolution of this crisis, but it will be a constant factor effecting our lives. What we really need to know now, more than anything else, is the loyalties and sympathies of major military commanders, and heads of key law enforcement agencies. We’re unlikely to get those answers until it’s too late, but the way senior officers choose to handle Trump’s campaign of transgender harassment may provide clues.

In the meantime, keep this in mind. No matter where you live, you can be confident that most of your white police officers are Trump supporters. Likewise, in dealing with border control and customs, your white officers are probably among the most enthusiastic Trump supporters you’ll ever encounter. Avoid them. Keep your passport up to date. If you have a renewal date approaching, try to renew now, before processing might be impacted by a government shutdown.

Speak your mind now. Remember that committed Trump supporters are few. Do everything you can to deny them a sense of comfort while normal political interactions remain safe. The less secure they feel, the better the chances that we can all look back on this post and laugh at my exaggeration. Create the widest possible perception of the cost of supporting Republicans, so that the most violent people out there will still feel they must hide. Most of all be conscious of the fact that in a pinch, your white local law enforcement will probably only resist illegal orders if they feel overwhelming community pressure to do so. Be mentally and materially ready for a more unstable political environment, because it has arrived.

PS – We have a lot of Houstonians in the Political Orphans community. What you’re experiencing this week is awful and I’m so sorry. Like almost anyone who grew up there, I’ve spent long hours ripping out soaked carpet and cutting away sheetrock to dry out walls. The bathroom doors in my parents’ house still have holes I poked in them with a screwdriver decades ago to drain out floodwater. Having a home ruined is terribly unsettling experience that remains with you. After a few hours of news coverage, the rest of the world moves on while you experience your own personal apocalypse. Good luck. Make safe decisions. And best wishes.

161 Comments

  1. We’re in the opening stages of a civil war.

    Antifa picking fights with conservative rallies. Berkley campus and several US cities revolting against federal (and state) authority. Shooting at a baseball field at Republican congressmen. Uprisings of white nationalist rallies, defending the glory of slavers and betrayers of the Constitutional system that holds our society together. These are opening plays, and cries for sane minds to act. Those in power are not sane. They’re Republicans first, Americans second.

    Apply enough pressure; antagonize, provoke, and get away with it enough, and people look for different solutions. The edges, the fringe, are the first to crack. Trump has pressed the acceptance of peaceful society by deliberative negotiation to its fracturing point. The Republican party is now party to his antics and the antics of this ‘alt right’ white nationalism, and they can pretend all they like, but those lose screws popping out at the edges won’t see it that way.

    1. The real breaking point may be the next few elections. If Republicans hold a Congressional majority through 2018, and I pray to god not by 2020, the left will see no further recourse in peaceful negotiation. Either that, or they’ll just run around in pink hats and delude themselves into thinking someone will care enough to fix it for them. Because that obviously worked the first time.

      I’m a centrist. I know that single-party rule will not end well for this country, and that this country will always divide itself one way or another. What’s important is managing expectations and maintaining civil discourse, not deliberate antagonism and grievance-mongering. I don’t advocate violence, but this country is no more immune to history than Germany or Rome or Persia or England. What I’m seeing is a steady, unwavering path towards something none of us want to see. We may yet see what that is, with eyes that neither be shut nor turned.

      1. This country was founded on one thing: Representation is worth violence. You cannot rule the United States of America by only representing part of it.

        Trump does not understand this. Republicans value power to rule or cripple the government over allowing Democrats representation. Without bipartisanship, this country starts rolling back the clock until that clock hits one of two numbers. 1861 or 1765

    1. I’m technically out of even the 500-yr floodplain, IIRC. Do I have flood insurance? Damn straight. The favorable zone makes it relatively inexpensive.

      I do realize that many people decided that it was too expensive, gambled, and lost. I feel very bad for those who could not afford it. For everyone else, I would advise to get it if it’s at all possible, even if you must squeeze the budget and scrimp. These kinds of events are becoming more common, and there were plenty of Harvey victims who were saying “this place had never flooded before”.

      1. What is going to bear watching is Congress’ action on funding FEMA which deadline is Sept. 30th. There has also been discussion of eliminating their flood insurance program or making significant changes as FEMA is billions in debt.

        Of course one could argue (as Mr. Brody has and others) that you “pay now or pay more later”, but our leaders in Congress have only been pragmatic about tax cuts – not investments in infrastructure and addressing environmental factors that contribute to our warming globe. Oh, well.

  2. I have a brother in Pearland and so far they are doing ok. Some friends in the area called my brother because they and their two kids could not obtain food, luckily my brother has three freezers full of meat and was able to help them out.

    This was predicted to happen.

    http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/08/29/a-storm-made-in-washington-215549

    “Houston, we have a problem,” declared the report’s author, David Conrad. The repetitive losses from even modest floods, he warned, were a harbinger of a costly and potentially deadly future. “We haven’t seen the worst of this yet,” Conrad said.

    1. From the story: “Houston has been sprawling out into the swamp for decades, largely unplanned and unzoned. Now, all that pavement has transformed the bayous into surging torrents and shunted Harvey’s floodwaters towards homes and businesses. Individually, each of these subdivisions or strip malls might have seemed like a good idea at the time, but in aggregate, they’ve converted the metro area into a flood factory. Houston, as it was before Harvey, will never be the same again.”

      1. It’s going to cost big up front, but there really do need to be a large number of FEMA by-outs of many of the flooded properties. Convert these places back to wetland or prairie to help the drainage and prevent future and even bigger costs to taxpayers.

      2. Setting aside the obvious complications, I think we’re going to have to wait and see whether or not these lands are even suited for rebuilding after all’s said and done. You don’t have your entire home destroyed and (assuming that your house gets rebuilt at some point) go back as if everything’s all fine and dandy. Unless you have no choice in the matter, what large body of people would just want to go back and having an effective ticking time bomb waiting to go off again?

      3. Courage, “spine” on the part of all – homeowners and those who permit these developments in flood plains. The areas abutting the two huge water reservoirs of great concern right now were developed by builders despite the Corps of Army Engineers firm statement of disagreement. They built anyway.

      4. EJ

        If I understand correctly, the reason why many people live on the Houston flood plain is because they are very poor, and could not afford well-built houses on well-drained ground. We saw the same thing happen during Hurricane Katrina.

        Restoring Houston’s bayous as a flood prevention measure sounds like an excellent idea. But… where will those people go?

      5. Houston metropolitan surburban development is very robust; however, while many of these developments are well planned, many were built in areas that shouldn’t have been permitted. Still, I assume the place to migrate from within Houston would logically be to the burbs. Housing is still very affordable except that the poor usually struggle to get loans. There are many attendant issues to why people live where they live. Some are social, some financial. It’s “complicated”.

    2. In the nineties, we lived in the Florida panhandle. Our home was not categorized as in flood plane despite the fact that we abutted Choctawhatchee Bay on our north side, and were one mile from the Gulf of Mexico. This proved very troubling up and down this isthmus of land stretching from essentially Pensacola to Panama City, Fl when we experienced tropical storms, hurricanes, etc. People could buy flood insurance, but it was not mandatory despite this vulnerable proximity to not one but two major water areas. In addition, when these areas were hit, municipal utility infrastructure was pretty much destroyed meaning that cost had to be born by the companies and the taxpayers. When that situation presents itself over and over again, there should be some hard questions asked. Our home was built on very high pilings to accommodate for the inevitable rise of water that occurred in weather events, and it performed perfectly. The design was appropriate for the location, but even then, as beautiful an area as it was, I always wondered if that land should have been developed. This was almost 25 years ago and the area has not experienced a weather event that exceeded the designed engineering, but in a storm like Harvey, with this much rainfall? It would fail. With rising seas and warmer gulf water, and continued costly budget impact to not only individuals but to government – local and national – some hard choices do have to be made. The Politico piece is on the money. Locally, there is a push for the “Ike Dike” – purported to cost $5B, with annual maintenance costs in excess of $360M. And, this is just one relatively small stretch of TX coastline. Consider New Orleans, Miami, New York Harbor? Maybe all who are asking for a more comprehensive look that would include man-made contributions aren’t so wacky after all.

      Building in floodplains is wrong. People coming to this area from other parts of the U.S. have no idea what a floodplain is, much less why it should be a purchase consideration. One think is for certain – the solutions, if there are any, will be complicated and expensive. The sooner we start the better off we’ll be.

      1. “Building in floodplains is wrong. People coming to this area from other parts of the U.S. have no idea what a floodplain is, much less why it should be a purchase consideration.”

        I will bet that one reason that so many homes and/or businesses were built in a flood plain is because the land was cheap. Why was the land cheap? Because it is in a flood plain. Reminds me of the people who bought land out by the airport and then complain about the noise. When asked why they bought land and built by the airport they said it was because the land was cheap. It never crossed their mind as to why the land was so cheap…it is at the end of a friggin airport runway Einstien.

      2. Tex – I’ve missed your salty contributions!

        Ergo – They voted for Trump because he would “get things done” and would “drain the swamp”….Uh hum – and, now? As EJ noted – there are still many Repubs who think he’s doing a great job, and some who have regrets.

        At least people can move if they want to get out of a floodplain.

      3. As far as potential solutions go, why not just live on the water itself? It may sound like sci-fi, but we’re already seeing small-scale development of solar-powered living spaces that float on the water. We should take that idea and run with it on a much bigger scale, like our little personal Atlantis. Instead of shivering on land waiting for hurricanes and storms to come and beat the living crap out of us, we should head out into the water and get ahead of it. Imagine detecting a storm coming your way and just being able to sidestep it.

        Frankly, we’re not likely to see any significant flood insurance reform anytime in the near future, certainly not from this Congress, and so our debts are just going to keep going up and up as these storms keep coming and people’s homes are continually destroyed.

        We don’t need a plan for the next ten years. We need one for the next hundred years.

      4. “Locally, there is a push for the “Ike Dike” – purported to cost $5B, with annual maintenance costs in excess of $360M. ”

        Can’t afford it, we have to earmark $22billion for an ineffective wall that won’t keep out the non-flood of Mexicans and taxes is the socialist devil guiding the freedom hating liberals too baby killing and globalism.

    3. So Sam Brody, with his graduate students, built this website using FEMA data to let prospective buyers know if the property they are considering is at high risk to be flooded.

      Buyer Be-Where is an on-line system to help prospective home buyers and sellers understand their risk relative to other properties in the area. Anyone with an Internet connection can enter a street address and receive a graphic and statistical risk assessment for a specific property. Comprehensive, easy to understand information delivered on-the-fly will provide a critical resource for existing and future property owners interested in making sound and safe investment decisions.

      Access the website at: http://www.texascoastalatlas.com/buyersbewhere/. From there, you can enter an address or click on a specific parcel to obtain your risk score.

      http://www.texascoastalatlas.com/buyersbewhere/


      It’s wretchedly slow today. But enter your own address, give it time, then see your risk assessment.

      I would think people who want to move to Houston would like to view this information. I think many realtors would not want them to.

      1. It is a helpful site if you live in Harris or Galveston Counties. Wish someone would expand that concept to a broader metropolitan area.

        Thanks, BoBo. There are some people out there who are trying to be problem solvers. If only we would listen.

      2. Same here. Don’t ask me how many comply with that, however. There is a legal right under Redhibition for a ten year period (that could have been changed recently) to go back on the seller if during that period they experience a problem that wasn’t disclosed unless the buyer waives these rights in their purchase agreement.

  3. David Brooks on racism and the GOP. As one person commenting said: ” I often told my GOP friends that I fully realized that not all Republicans were bigots or racists, but that every bigot or racist I ever ran into also claimed to be a Republican.”

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/29/opinion/trump-identity-politics.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-right-region&region=opinion-c-col-right-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-right-region&_r=0

    1. The link that stated many law enforcement managers wouldn’t read the recommendations of the Obama law enforcement study because, “Obama”, says it all.

      I know there are good law enforcement people out there. But I have come to believe that the current culture of law enforcement attracts and reinforces beliefs in control and power that are in direct opposition from the “guardian” philosophy that is so needed. The old time officer on the neighborhood beat who knew the residents and had their trust, has been replaced by too many who choose to intimidate and over-react, especially for people of color. It’s very sad. Now with Trump reinstating the sharing of surplus (?) military equipment with local law enforcement, this will amplify the use of force.

      There is no doubt in my mind that when I am stopped or considered for stopping by law enforcement that I will be treated differently than will the Sandra Blands of the world. It’s white privilege. I have done nothing to deserve to be badly treated by law enforcement but then neither have many people of color. Yet, they are presumed guilty when the only difference is our race or ethnicity. It’s wrong and it is getting worse with every utterance from Trump and those who support his agenda.

      1. I believe that law enforcement by its very nature attracts authoritarians. With the authoritarian style training that has been used historically in law enforcement, reinforced by the trend towards more rigorous training such as used in the military, and the prevalence of white nationalism we have trained a generation of law enforcement personnel who tend to view the public as potential enemies. Further reinforcement is provided both in initial training and continuing training by the use of the numerous training videos emphasizing the dangers of law enforcement. To correct this new training regimens need to be adopted. But as you stated many people wouldn’t even consider the recommendations of the law enforcement study.

        In the old days, I doubt that the training was as rigorous. Many law enforcement officers had a beat. They used experience, knowledge of the people and street smarts for effective policing. Now few officers have a defined beat, they are largely restricted to their cruisers, they do not know the people and are largely responding to radio calls. When they are in an unfamiliar situation, they become tense, scared and too readily resort to unnecessary force.

        I do not want to go back to the old days. But I do believe the training needs to de-emphasize the authoritarian aspects of policing and to emphasize the “guardianship’ philosophy. We can still have highly professional policing without the negativity that has been so emphasized.

  4. While what is happening in South Texas and very possibly soon Louisiana is horrifying, I think we should put it in perspective.

    Have a look at what is happening in Bangladesh, India, and Nepal.

    There are 1200 dead in India in the last month due to flooding. India’s financial sector in Mumbai is under a foot or two of water as the monsoons have been insane.

    One third of Bangladesh is under water due to, wait for it, “unprecedented” monsoon flooding. A decent chunk of Bangladesh floods every year, but nothing like this.

    Those that think the effects of global warming are decades away, think again.

  5. I’d like to add one comment to my earlier discussion of police reform.

    In Washington, the training of police officers has been changed to emphasize guardianship using empathy as opposed to training the officers to be warriors. Up until 2013 the training regimen at the police academy was adapted from military training. Sue Rahr the former Sheriff of King County implemented the change. She then served on Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. Now she is serving as executive director of Washington’s Criminal Justice Training Commission. I’ve posted links to some articles that describe this below.

    I think this is relevant to T’s decision to start supplying military weapons to the police again and to Sessions’ speech today in Tennessee. It is obvious that Trump is attempting to reverse all changes to policing that were accomplished under Obama.

    Despite 4 years of modified training Seattle is still having police problems as I discussed earlier.

    The links are below:
    1.http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/police-academy-20-less-military-training-more-empathy/
    2 http://time.com/collection-post/4527347/2016-election-policing/.
    3. http://kuow.org/post/its-hard-change-policing-especially-when-officials-refuse-read-your-report

  6. There are some very smart people who are able to look ahead – to what will be needed – by looking to the past. This article offers insight on how Houston will need to recover in its health care service area – in all respects. As horrible as all of the images and experiences of those who are impacted by Hurricane Harvey, the work that will have to be done to recover is vast.

    https://www.vox.com/health-care/2017/8/28/16216912/voxcare-katrina-lessons-health-care-after-hurricane-harvey

    1. It’s an interesting article.

      At the end of July, I participated in a survey conducted by the UT Health Science Center. Generally, the goal appeared to be an effort to gauge the health of Houston citizens and tie health status to zip codes.

      The questions were about adherence to publicized health guidelines, such when to have have mammograms, and other issues such as food insecurity and mental health issues of ‘nervousness’ and loneliness.

      All well and good, but when I hung up, I realized that no topic they were gathering data on was peculiar to Houston. I should call them back, I said to myself, and ask them to consider the addition of fear of flooding as a mental health issue. It comes up so often when people talk about their homes.

      Well, I didn’t call them back. But they might have judged me prescient if I had.

      1. About the time of your participation in the survey, there was probably more anxiety over Trump than fear of Harvey.

        Here’s some information to share with friends who have been hit with flooding losses. The IRS is going to help by stretching out the filing time. TX on the other hand, has just reduced insurance coverage and set implementation of the new stingy law this Friday, Sept. 1, within a week of Harvey’s arrival! I’ll bet the insurance providers are happy – but it is sure going to make it harder for people with losses.

        https://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2017/08/28/irs-announces-tax-relief-for-taxpayers-affected-by-hurricane-harvey/#4cdb447742fe

  7. Off topic from your neck of the woods, Chris, a positive development from your Republican governor. Governor Rauner signed into law two measures that support individual rights – specifically, voting rights and due process.

    He has: signed a law that implements automatic voter registration and one that speaks to the immigrant rights – The Illinois Trust Act. Will other Republican Governors follow his lead? I also wonder how long it will take for the GOP machine to launch a primary against him.

    https://thinkprogress.org/gov-bruce-rauner-trust-act-3fc45902bc35/?

  8. We’re going to need to show more imagination than this.

    There’s no doubt we’re in a war, given the obvious fact that the Trumpists have effectively seceded, and if they get their way, the Constitution and the legal traditions around it will be fundamentally compromised, specifically: equal justice; judicial review; separation of powers; presumption of innocence; and every decision since then that has reinforced those principles in practice.

    Those intentions are evil, but they aren’t new. We’ve never gone a day since 1776 when we could presume safety and certainty for them. It keeps escaping all sides that the United States has never been politically unified, and never will be. But political unity isn’t necessary because no matter how divided we are politically this is one economy, and it’s tightening and strengthening the binding ties because they work: we live on a common foundation of currency and measurements that underpin capitalism in every square inch of the nation.

    You can think any way you like, Right, Left, etc.; you can read only the media that confirm your biases; and you can go down any rabbit hole that fulfills your political predilections. But you until you successfully–emphasis on that word, successfully–create your own currency, your own units of time and distance and weight, your own thermodynamics, etc., etc., you live in the same moment, the same economy and the same reality as everyone you would like to reject.

    The idea that the nation is hopelessly divided is plain asinine, ignoring the reality on the ground of capitalism and the systems that are rapidly evolving this economy into a version that is empirically cleaner, smarter, and better at building wealth. Anyone who desires violence need only look at the economy. The real violence that’s happening as we watch is capitalism attacking waste, stupidity, guessing, and obsolescence inside itself. It’s no coincidence that every interest that built its wealth on those legacies is now defending itself in futile panic mode. If the shooting breaks out it won’t stop the Internet of Things, or massive improvement of supply chain management, or Intel’s next microprocessor or a generation of Americans growing up in a digital world who know how to apply gaming to logistics. In 2017 the weapon of choice in 2017 isn’t a Sig Sauer. It’s a Smartphone.

    We need to examine the entire idea of war creatively, as the military already has. We aren’t going to see troops meeting in the fields and streets in the 21st century because that sort of violence, whether it’s the Fascists against Antifa or marchers yelling at each other across police lines, is a nostalgia exercise, an obsolete metaphor for real conflict that’s actually happening with actual outcomes that don’t make the news. This war is between empiricism and anti-empiricism. It’s the story of America’s whole history, and now as before, the resistance is traumatized and enraged because a kilowatt and a dollar and an hour are the same in Texas and Arizona as they are in California and Minnesota, and as North Carolina is learning when they try to make it 1955 again by law, they won’t escape the fact: we are one nation indivisible because capitalism punishes foolishness no matter now sincerely the fool believes it. Empiricism is winning. Again.

    1. I like what you are writing and generally concur. However, I do want to throw out a cautionary note. During the late 19th Century and early 20th Century, Europe was at peace. People travelled between states with minimal papers. Trade among the states was at high levels. Many people thought major war was unthinkable. Then it all fell apart in a few weeks in 1914. This is just a cautionary comment, without getting into the causative factors, which are numerous.

  9. We are all Black, brown and queer now Chris. I’m glad that the hoods are off and we can see what has always been there. No more Disney’s “Song of the South” just the naked, irrational hate, greed and white entitlement that has been our legacy from the beginning. No more fairy tales.

    But, we do love our law enforcement….maybe we care if the FBI story unfolds that the money laundering and shady real estate development deals that went south unmask real naked collusion and coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia. Maybe Felix Sater avoids new charges from DOJ by turning over more information. Mueller understands charging a President is a political act, but if he has smoking guns of collusion along with the financial transactions to facilitate its execution this version of “new normal” America has another decision to make. Will it tolerate a traitor to keep power? My money is only 65% of Republicans will go along with that story….I don’t think its enough.

    https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/8/28/16215710/felix-sater-trump-russia

  10. I hate to keep bringing up how much I loathe Trump but I am appalled at his response to Houston’s crisis. In his latest twitter storm he’s plugging a book, which he won’t read himself, talking about a rally in MO, which he “won by a lot” (his borderline retardation IQ words), and generally making it all about himself. Not a word for the victims.

    This creature is not presidential material in any way, shape or form.

    1. EJ

      37% of Americans think Trump is doing a great job. 65% of Republicans say their respect for Trump has increased since last November. When Trump boasted that he could shoot a man on Fifth Avenue and not lose votes, he wasn’t entirely lying.

      Presidential material seems not to be an important factor for some people.

  11. “In the meantime, keep this in mind. No matter where you live, you can be confident that most of your white police officers are Trump supporters. ”

    Bad timing, Chris. Over the past couple days, I’ve seen hundreds of photos of rescues in Houston. Many of the photos are of white police officers, emergency personnel and volunteers helping minority people in need. Other photos show black and Hispanic people helping whites.

    Unless, I’m completely misreading the situation, people in the Houston area are working together no matter what their race. Why not hit the pause button on the “white police officers are Trump supporters” (and therefore racist) theme song?

    If ever there was a time to focus on everyone working together, it is now.

    I’m very proud of Houston and its response so far. Keep up the good work. 🙂

    1. Here’s the problem Objv, you are only looking at the short term. Opposing factions of people can and do put aside differences in the face of a bigger mutual problem. But it’s valid to wonder what happens after the crisis passes. There’s a big erosion of 4th and 6th and 8th and 14th Amendment rights going on, all in the name of “law and order”. A big flood doesn’t wash that away.

      1. Fly, sometimes working together during a crisis has long term results.

        Before Hurricane Rita, people on the street we lived met – some for the first time. We secured construction debris so it wouldn’t fly at our houses and we all got to know each other.

        If there hadn’t been an impending crisis, we might have been content with waving at each other when our cars went by into our respective garages and never had any other interaction. Due to Rita, we became friends.

        A big flood may not wash away every social injustice, but a crisis tends to bring people together. It may even engender positive feelings for those “white” police officers who rescued people.

      2. Good feelings take hard work to build up and maintain, and can be easily destroyed by a few bad apples. But it hasn’t escaped my notice that you’ve had zip, zilch, nada to say about the main topic, i.e, the Arpaio pardon and its ramifications. It is a bad thing or not, and why?

      3. Fly, maybe I scrolled through the comments too quickly, but has anyone here commented on Joe Arpaio? I didn’t notice any discussion.

        Personally, I believe that Arpaio should be subject to the law like anyone else. If he was guilty, Trump should not have pardoned him.

        Other than that, I won’t comment since I don’t know all the details of the case. I would rather jump into a river of piranhas than start a discussion about Arpaio. The group here already has their mind made up. The topic is impossible for me to discuss with you rationally.

      4. Fly, the quote from Chris was directed toward white police officers generally and not “Sheriff Joe” specifically.

        While Arpaio certainly needs to be held accountable for his actions, making blanket assumptions about white police officers seems unfair to me.

      5. Chris, you wrote this about Republicans:

        “These nice people have demonstrated that they will not lift a finger to protect you, your children, or anyone else from the worst that this administration and its racist supporters might do to you. They are entirely complicit. ”

        Aren’t you the one who has the dismal view of Trump supporters? I don’t.

        Going by what you had already written, I thought it was plain that you thought white police officers were racist because they supported Trump.

        Am I wrong?

      6. More of your tap-dancing I, see.

        ++++++++++++++

        ““These nice people have demonstrated that they will not lift a finger to protect you, your children, or anyone else from the worst that this administration and its racist supporters might do to you. They are entirely complicit. ”

        Aren’t you the one who has the dismal view of Trump supporters? I don’t.”
        +++++++++++++

        So why is Chris unjustified in that opinion? Trump shows ZERO respect for political norms, the rule of law, and the principle of equal protection. What substantive pushback has there been from the GOP? What will your response be if he pre-emotively pardons Flynn and/or Manafort and/or Donnie Jr. and/or Jared to stymie the Russian investigation? Will you oh so bravely say “oh, I don’t approve” and turn your back on it too? Or are you prepared to light a fire under your MoCs and demand that they check the abuses?

        In light of the Harvey disaster, I can’t do much about contacting my reps on this Arpaio issue right now. But once things settle down, damn straight Pete Olson, Ted Cruz, and John Cornyn are going to get an earful. The question that every GOP MoC, and every person who voted for Trump ought to answer, if they have any integrity, is “what is your red line?” What does he have to do to make you say- “that’s it, you no longer have my support.”?

  12. Chris: Since we’re on the subject of private violence, here’s a question about ethics. I was going to call it a dilemma, for you it may not be. It may be cut and dried:

    If a truck full of confirmed Klansmen is washed away into the Trinity River during Hurricane Harvey and you are in a position to help them easily, but if you don’t no one would know, would you try to save them, or would you simply sigh and say it was karma?

      1. You misunderstood my question. It wasn’t about whether the Black first responders would be true to their oaths and do their jobs, but whether hatred or expediency wins out for the KKK members. If expediency wins out, does it change future behavior?

      2. Fly, my response should have gone to the question Tutt asked. Sorry about that.

        Who knows what would happen if expediency won. It’s possible that their behavior could change – at least, I’d like to think so.

    1. Hi, OV. It looks like some questions were answered by other questions, some answers were misunderstood, and there were tangental replies to direct questions. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. 🙂

      I used the example of the truck full of Klansmen to compare it to the story of the truck full of illegals that overturns, killing everyone on board that always shows up on the Chronicle and that so many people celebrate and smugly attribute to karma. I once put this question to some of these happy posters on the Chronicle — If you found a man you knew to be an illegal immigrant dying by the side of the road would you help him, and most said yes, so I said, then it makes no sense to be celebrating over several of them being killed accidentally.

      1. Tutt, I confess to being confusing. 🙂 My comments were a mess.

        You made an excellent point when you brought up the example of the Klansmen.

        Perhaps there is some cognitive dissonance between saying something on a blog and actually encountering a real life situation where we interact with another person.

        Being happy with someone’s death is horrifying to me. I’ve often been shocked when reading comments where contributors wish harm on others. I’ve noticed it from people on all sides politically. It’s sad.

  13. Perhaps it’s time to take lessons from across the pond from our Dutch friends. They live on land reclaimed from the ocean and have perfected flood prevention. Continually flooding and spending billions recovering makes no sense and with climate change it’s going to get worse.

    They’ve offered to help and we refuse to accept maybe out of some false “Merican” sense of pride.

    1. yes.

      This guy, Sam Brody, has met with the Dutch.
      https://www.texastribune.org/2016/05/31/q-samuel-brody/

      In a recent talk, he had slides that illustrate how the Dutch handle rivers that may overflow (like our bayous). They give them room.

      Any development is removed (recompense? don’t know) and land abutting the rivers become natural parks and trails and some few amenities not likely to be harmed by water that escapes the river’s banks.

      So not Houston, where developers can get grandfathered and easily get variances to building code. What good is the code if it’s not enforced?

      1. I think that capitalism has offered a great deal to the development of our nation, but the profit aspect has consumed the more positive elements of this concept. Consider the many serious issues we presently have and how they are rooted in money or the lack thereof. Every major decision now seems to be driven by helping the wealthy gain more opportunity for riches rather than creating a society that is more balanced in access to opportunity. One could argue that it is not capitalism as a concept but those who are mis-using it that is really the problem, but when our nation is focused on whether to allocate tax dollars to construct safe and necessary infrastructure (of all types) vs commit those billions to a wall? Something is terribly wrong.

    2. One immediately useful thing would be to start requiring buildings to be elevated higher. You can see that in some of the newer construction around Braes Bayou, for example. Anything built post-Allison is way up. That’s the recommendation for Meyerland, which is getting hit for the 4th time in just a few years.

      Some sensible and enforced building code standards could spare people a lot of misery. But regulations are bad for business!!

      1. Fly, if new buildings are elevated, the flooding just moves to the older lots with lower elevations.

        That’s not good. New construction should not have a negative impact on residents quietly tending to their lives.

        I speak from experience. New construction causes flooding my backyard, which is nominally illegal, a code violation. For some reason the developer could not visualize this in the planning phase.

      2. The solutions need to be unselfish, holistic , and non-political. Elevate mass transportation; develop and enforce regulations that address building design (electrical equipment at Ben Taub in the basement which caused the closure of Houston’s highest trauma center?); building locations – do.not.build.in.low.areas; and so many obvious solutions but ones that would have a cost to both builders and buyers.

        Like the Netherlands figured out long ago – you commit your country’s capital to its most important needs. This is also why we don’t have universal health care….profit-driven health care has superseded common good.

      3. I might mention that in some of the river valleys in Western Washington the older farmsteads are all on higher ground and are typically elevated. Those valleys regularly flooded in the winter and the farmers took that into account. After dams were built in the upper drainage areas, much of the construction has been at ground level.

      4. The farming generations understood the importance of proper utilization of land. It was their livelihood and their focus was always to protect it for future generations. We have lost that sensibleness in America with our lust for wealth. There was a great deal of wisdom in that generation.

      5. I gots lots o’ time. Very interesting article and city planners everywhere ought to be listening to Mr. Brodie. On elevating buildings, no I wouldn’t want that done in a way that would harm other people. If it’s a new development, putting everything up wouldn’t be an issue. But for existing neighborhoods, would beach house style elevation (mostly stilts) cause that much trouble to neighbors? Or if it’s a solid elevation, are there drainage engineering solutions to spare the neighbors?

        In Meyerland some people have permission (and funds) to raise their houses (one is a friend of a friend). Seems that they ought to lift up the whole neighborhood, but I don’t know the details.

      6. For years I’ve been thinking all new buildings should be up on stilts and engineered to let water flow underneath. In the global sense of things, tho, I don’t know if that’s a good idea.

        I think my particular situation was worsened by the footprint of the new construction. It occupies a greater percentage of the lot than the original home.

        I think Atlanta has specified that new buildings cannot occupy more than 85% of a lot. In the global sense of things, I don’t know if that’s a good idea either.

  14. I am really sorry for all the people on this site that live in Texas or have connections to the area affected. I can’t truly imagine what people there are going through.

    Going forward, I do have a question. When the waters recede, every building that is flooded, are they taken down to the studs to address the mold issue? This is not the first flood in the area.

    1. Case by case basis, Dinsdale. Depends upon how high water got – few inches or to roof. If few inches, cut sheetrock 2′ above slab so water can drain, then spray studs with chlorox mixture for mold retardant. There is a litany of steps. I’m afraid many are looking at whole home situations which solution will depend upon their financial resources, insurance, etc. As our weather issues become ever more catastrophic, solutions will have to be more extreme – not re-building, building on piers, relocation, etc. No easy answers and it seems with every event, more areas that have never before flooded are flooding now. Add to that fact that access is shut down to hospitals, etc and all the problems from sewer/water infrastructure and how do you handle something of this magnitude.

      Houston occupies 17,700 square miles and is the 4th largest city in the US. Outlying surburban areas also are having problems. The cost will be staggering. It is incredibly frustrating to see Trump demand $billions for a wall when what we really need are elevated roads and general infrastructure M&O. Insane. Misguided. Stupid.

      1. I don’t know, but don’t think so. Our neighborhood is on a ridge and we are not adjacent to any direct downstream release areas. Of course, what the dump will do to already overloaded drainage systems could impact all of us if rainfall continues. Water that can’t flow downhill, will rise. Right now I am fine – it is sprinkling and blustery. Friends who live on Lake Conroe report high water but not in home. That would be a major decision and I feel certain that the areas south of Lake Conroe will have a lot to say about any release from this body of water that could impact them.

    1. Thank you all for checking in. It’s nice to know you’re all okay.

      My sister and her husband, who live 2 hours north of Houston, are ‘trapped’ in their house because 20 inches of rain washed away their driveway access to the nearest road. But they’re dry and they have supplies enough for a few days.

      Me, I’m so appreciative that my power was only out for a brief period. And that the internet is available. And that my ditch-digging seems to actually have helped.

      My most important action: Standing at the back door and issuing a doggy commandment: “Go out there and pee!”

      1. Just saw this post on FB:

        In January, 2015, President Obama issued an E.O. requiring all federal investments involving floodplains to meet higher flood risk management standards. (EO 13690).

        On August 15, 2017, Pres. Trump issued an EO revoking Obama’s EO 13690.

        I’ll just let the wisdom of this revocation speak for itself. He will be here Tuesday and I hope someone who can get close to him will ask him about this brilliant decision.

      2. I would actually watch a Trump press conference live if there was a guarantee that that specific question would be asked. Of course I expect that Orange Foolious wouldn’t even remember doing that, then would bullshit about how hard they are “studying” the situation, and finally claim to own a brewery in the Houston region that everyone should visit.

    2. Tutt, I hope you and the others here continue to stay safe and dry. I’ve been checking the news and the facebook feeds of my Houston area friends. I still have deep connections with many people in Houston, and I am sorry that Harvey has caused such devastation.

    1. About the theme of police attitudes, am I wrong in assuming that there’s going to be a rather sharp divide between those in the big blue cities and those in the red regions? For example, I don’t see HPD chief Acevedo as being down with Arpaio-style law enforcement. Or Harris Co. DA Ogg.

      1. There is some red/blue divide in police attitudes, but it isn’t as strong or as predictable as you might expect.

        The threshold question really is: “Is he white?” That’s a stronger determinant than, “where does he live?” Trump did poorly in NYC, but he did great on Staten Island, where much of the police community lives. His support among non-white officers and women seems to be pretty low, as you’d expect.

      2. I would have to concur with Chris regarding police attitudes. This will be a long post but I am making it to illustrate the difficulties with the police community. Living in Seattle, one of the bluest cities in the nation, I have some experience with this.

        The Seattle Police Department has a long history of both low level corruption and discriminatory policing. There have been numerous efforts to implement reform, but they have all been thwarted by the Police Guild, through passive-aggressive resistance and some outright resistance.

        Finally, after several egregious incidents, including one in which the police killed a native-american carver, who was hard of hearing, just because he did not drop a carving knife, the ACLU and some other organizations filed suit and persuaded the Justice Department to join. This ultimately resulted in a consent degree, which was opposed by the SPD and our former mayor who wanted their support.

        The SPD resisted by all means available and used numerous passive-aggressive tactics. Finally the new mayor recruited our current SPD Chief O’Neil. With the support of the City Council, the Mayor, and the business community good progress has been made in reforming the SPD. Nevertheless, there has been a core of officers, many of whom are important in the Police Guild hierarchy, who continue to resist. They have been using labor contract negotiations, to delay the implementation of body cameras.

        Finally, two police officers shot a black mother in her apartment in front of her children. She was mentally depressed and unstable. She was apparently threatening the officers with a knife. There was also a long history with the SPD, so the officers were tense and on alert. There were no body cameras, and we only have an audible recording from the officer’s radio. One of the officers was not carrying a taser despite having been issued one. He had left it in his locker because the battery had failed!! Furthermore, both officers had received de-escalation training.

        Needless to say the sh.. hit the fan. The Mayor has ordered use of body cameras using an aggressive schedule. The Police Guild then filed an unfair labor practices complaint. We still have to see how this plays out.

        But there is more to the story, the mayor has been forced out of office by a sexual abuse suit that was conveniently dropped as soon as he decided not to run for reelection in November. I am making no judgement on the merits of this case, other than to comment on the timing of the suit and the subsequent dropping of the case.

        Meanwhile, both mayoral candidates who advanced after the Primary Election are women and support the continued reform of the SPD. The favored candidate held the office of US Attorney for Seattle, during the period of the original lawsuit and was aggressive in the prosecution.

        This is a long post, but I am making it just to illustrate the difficulties of police reform even in one of the most liberal cities in the nation despite support from the political system and the business community. As Chris says the white police community does tend to be supportive of the ultra-conservative (white nationalist) outlook and Trump.

      3. A long post, but also very informative, so thank you. You and Chris illustrate well the issue of the good-old-boys networks. My take away is that getting more open minded people as mayors, police chiefs, and DAs is merely the first step in a long reform process, not the final victory.

  15. Obviously no one can know for certain, even when the rain stops, but does anyone have any insight into the long-term economic impact the catastrophe in Houston is? It’s the largest city in the state and the 4th largest in the entire country, so I have to imagine it’s going to be nothing short of phenomenal. Texas isn’t going to have anywhere near the money to do this on their own, so are they going to be forced to rely on an utterly dysfunctional Congress to try and work something out?

    Honestly, what’s going to happen from here on out for Houston and all its people?

    1. Houston’s been debating these issues for a while. This is certainly not the sole factor, but all the underregulated development, especially on wetland areas that used to help with drainage, contributed to this problem. I read an estimate somewhere that the drainage system is designed to cope with 2 in of rainfall per hour. Obviously that is not adequate. I’m not a civil engineer who specializes in drainage (if one is lurking, please chime in) so I can’t comment in much detail on what could be done to improve things. But I do know that if you want it, you will have to pay for it.

      1. The last place I lived in Houston was in Walnut Bend, just west of Beltway 8. It was built on rice farms that were spread out across a couple of bayous. In typical Houston fashion, it was originally built outside the city limits, so no building codes whatsoever. They just bulldozed the fields and filled in the smaller bayous and started construction.

        Once construction was completed, the land was later annexed by the city (again, this is how it happened all over town). The homes were built in the late 60’s, but by the 90’s every foundation was cracked and drainage was terrible. It was a routine thing to have the foundation stabilization companies come out every 5-10 years to re-level the houses, tearing up the carpeting and the landscaping in the process.

        We had it done once while we lived there. When I saw the bare foundation I gasped. It looked like a smashed windshield. I always laugh when people talk about the attractive home prices in Texas. Yea, it was cheap.

        Those habits will be hard to break, and the impact of these early development practices are likely to linger. Tough situation for Houston ahead.

      2. Friends of mine bought a new house in Silverlake (west Pearland) back in the early 2000s. They measured the windows for blinds, which arrived a few weeks after they moved in. In that short time, the house had shifted so much that the blinds didn’t fit. Turns out that the developers were in such a hurry that they couldn’t be bothered to wait for a few heavy rain falls to help settle the ground.

        Chez Fly is on the east side. When I bought the house it was disclosed that there had been some partial foundation work on the back. In 2006 I noticed the standard signs that the house was shifting again, so I bit the financial bullet and hired one of the big, reputable, established foundation firms to put the whole house on pilings- one of those guaranteed for the life of the structure, transferable warranty deals. Eleven years later that work has held up, through droughts and torrential rains. I asked the engineers couldn’t all this be done on the front end when the foundations are being poured. The answer is of course it can, but the contractors don’t want to spend that extra $ up front. Should I ever build a house, that’s the first thing that I get on the contract, that the slab is going to be properly engineered.

      3. My house was built in 1950. When I bought it, I was told that the original owner had had bell-shaped piers placed under the concrete slab.

        I have no cracked anything to indicate movement or slippage. I’m very fortunate.

      4. I can’t comment on the situation in Houston. But as an electrical engineer with considerable water resources experience, I can relate to the problems you have with drainage and particularly with the filling in of wetlands. We have similar problems in the NW.

        We have had a lot of development that has drained marshes and altered the natural floodplains of the rivers. Also we have had a lot of logging in the forests that prevent the natural absorption of water. When our major rains come in November and December, we often get flooding in the lowlands, due to heavy warm rain on an early snowpack.

        A recent project I worked on involved the raising of a water retention dam by 5 feet to prevent flooding in a suburban city that was built on the floodplain of one of our rivers. The dam was originally built in the 90’s and to a 25 year event but was insufficient.
        It is on a creek that flows through the suburban city. The new design is supposedly sufficient for a 500 year event. However with continuing development in the highlands and global warming, I do not think it will truly be sufficient for a 500 year event.

        My only thought is that not only are strong building codes required, but that aggressive action must be taken to control global warming. The present administration seems determined to deny that global warming is occurring.

      5. tmerrit,

        “a suburban city that was built on the floodplain of one of our rivers.”

        Sam Brody illustrated how floodplains are changed, frequently enlarged, by development many, many miles from the floodplain.

        Here in Houston we have Meyerland, which now floods regularly. He showed a map of the 1960’s Meyerland floodplain. It was relatively small and narrow.

        Then he show a map of today’s Meyerland floodplain. It’s much wider, encompassing many more neighborhood blocks and miles longer in length.

        It’s an odd idea that people have, building in floodplains. But it’s what we have to deal with now.

    2. Something this large defies one’s ability to project. Suburbs are experiencing problems as well but most are master-planned so at least were developed with drainage systems and lot grade regulations. Still, 50″ of rain is 50″ of rain and I just don’t see how any development manages this – especially in a city environment where concrete abounds and green space is minimal.

      One would hope this tragedy would result in recognition of underlying reasons – and that factors contributing to aberrant weather would be addressed out of a common need and recognition that transcended politics….but….

      With Republicans in control, I just don’t see any help forthcoming or acceptance of changes in climate management that would have the greatest impact going forward. The economy of Houston is huge with its energy, medical, port, and corporate presence. All of these can move elsewhere. Will they relocate to say, Dallas?

      1. I see an opportunity for change if the Dems (or any group that can win a series of mayoral races) can communicate a good plan within the next few days, while memories of the hardships are still hot.

        This group has been trying to get the city to act on flooding for several years. Their website has a fairly specific list of anti-flooding steps they think the city should take. The specifics are listed in their ‘petition’.

        http://mcddc.org/

        This A&M professor used decades of FEMA data to identify addresses that flood repeatedly. Then he sometimes takes pictures of those addresses. He can quickly identify the code-related issues on adjoining lots that caused the flooding.

        https://www.texastribune.org/2016/05/31/q-samuel-brody/

        In some circles there is awareness of the role of natural environments to mitigate flooding.

        https://www.houstonpublicmedia.org/articles/news/2016/05/31/154536/leaving-land-alone-to-hold-floodwater-west-of-houston/

        But citizens have to be relentless. Don’t stop contacting your elected officials.

        In my own flooding issues (new construction next door) my city council’s rep’s office has been responsive. But there may not be much she can do without appropriate city code.

        If after Harvey all city council reps join together to make change, that would be a good thing.

    1. Great question. Police, jailers, soldiers, etc., carry out coercive acts in our name every day. It’s their job. The violence they commit is public, in the sense that it’s done as a public service in an official capacity. They are accountable through the law, but also through an officially-sanctioned chain of command which imposes training, standards and discipline.

      Private violence is carried out by any of the rest of us. It may be both legal and legitimate, like when someone beats or shoots an intruder in their home, but for the most part it happens outside of any legal sanction. Ordinary people (not police or other officials) whaling away at each other in the streets over a political dispute would be private violence. Almost every kind of private violence is illegal.

      1. Ok. I was thinking of private violence as PERSONAL violence, individual, one-on-one, and not so much group violence.

        Would an organized citizen group uprising against the government qualify as private violence, or be an example of private violence coming up against public violence?

    2. EJ

      Echoing what Chris said: One of the markers of the weakening of a state, and the rise of extremist movements, is that violence gets done privately because the state is either helpless or too divided to be able to impose its will upon the situation.

      Germany in 1919-20 is a good example: the far-Left launched an uprising, which was only defeated by far-Right militias engaging in street violence; and then those far-Right militias launched a coup, which was only defeated by far-Left trade unions shutting the state down. The police and army stood by helplessly because the government did not have either the will or the political capital to order them to fire on their own people.

      I believe that an American equivalent might be the “bloody Kansas” period, although I’m not a historian or a Kansan. (Kansasan?)

  16. This information needs to be shared with friends, family and neighbors who experience damage to their vehicles and homes from Harvey. The TX Lege just changed the law in terms of insurance limits and filing deadlines this past session.

    You may need to read up on how the changes could affect your coverage. Here’s a link to the legislation and the accompanying story. Also be aware that the new FEMA Director is proposing to cut the aid for catastrophic events making the individuals and municipal governments bear more of the cost – even when insured.

    http://www.insurancejournal.com/magazines/features/2017/06/05/452770.htm?fref=gc

      1. Thanks. My son in law said the action was driven by abuses of one agent in the Rio Grande Valley. Too bad they didn’t simply address the source of the problem. I predict there will be a lot of surprised, angry people when they begin filing claims.

      2. Here’s a succinct statement of actions people who have experienced loss/damage should take before this Friday, Sept 1 launch of the new TX law. From State Bar President Joe Longley (longtime insurance law guru and consumer advocate):

        “To take advantage of current Texas insurance law protecting property owners with regard to damage claims resulting from Hurricane Harvey, policyholders should send a written message or email directly to their insurance company that (1) specifically references their claim; and (2) is dated BEFORE SEPTEMBER 1, 2017. Telephone messages will not suffice as written notice.

        KEEP A HARD COPY OF WHAT IS SENT.

      3. OK, one last swing at the new state law (HB 1774) re property loss filing procedures. I listened to a discussion on NPR this morning by the reporter who wrote this article for the Texas Tribune. It appears the TX Insurance Council is getting a lot of calls about this new change which is causing confusion. (which led to the PR cited above by the Atlas Insurance Council…only, they didn’t tell the “whole” story.)

        Fundamentally, the law made a lot of needed corrections; however, what the Insurance lobby/council has not been able to “explain away” is why they reduced the penalty that insurers must pay who have been found guilty. Under current law, there is an additional penalty on top of the policy holder’s claim presently set at 18%. As of September 1, it reduces to 10%. I don’t see any way to explain this away as anything other than a gift to insurers – guilty insurers in fact. Here’s the clarifying article. You’ll likely hear more about this so hopefully this series of posts will help you explain it to others. Insurance companies can drag their feet on claims and I see no reason to reward them by reducing the penalty by 8%. If anyone here has a different understanding of this, weigh in, please. Lots of people are going to need this information.

        https://www.texastribune.org/2017/08/28/harvey-insurance-claims/?fref=gc&dti=734417740040758

  17. “In the meantime, keep this in mind. No matter where you live, you can be confident that most of your white police officers are Trump supporters. Likewise, in dealing with border control and customs, your white officers are probably among the most enthusiastic Trump supporters you’ll ever encounter.”

    Wish I knew how to post a picture here (if it’s even possible), but the above quote reminds me of a meme a black friend of mine posted after Charlottesville.

    It showed a picture of the assholes with tiki torches. The caption was: “What you see” and there were labels over the people in the picture such as, bigot, racist, fascist.

    Then, there was an identical picture underneath with the caption, “What I see” and there were labels over the same people, but these labels were, police man, jurist, mail man, etc.

    The ONLY good thing I see coming out of this whole debacle is the sheets have finally, literally and figuratively, been pulled off our national shame of racism.

      1. No, I’m not. People who think and write fare poorly when the guns come out.

        Orwell survived the fighting in Spain, though only barely. Hemingway made it, but he sucked. Can’t think of a lot of successful examples.

      2. Your knowledge, writing skills, and steady commitment to sharing it broadly help all who read your blog think more deeply on important issues of our time. Education is so important – to help people broaden their ability to understand complex issues. This, in my view, is mightier than the sword, although I readily admit to never having faced down a blade of steel!

        Soldier on, Chris. Even Carl Rove came out strongly against Trump’s pardoning of Arpaio. Trump’s choices will have consequences for the moderates in the Republican Party and the Independents. Nothing appears to sway the spineless GOP. They are too far gone to be saved. Let’s work on the rest!

      3. EJ

        Siegfried Sassoon was said to be a very good soldier, and his poetry is excellent.

        Also, people who think and write often prevent the guns from coming out altogether. That’s a valuable service.

      4. >] “Soldier on, Chris. Even Carl Rove came out strongly against Trump’s pardoning of Arpaio. Trump’s choices will have consequences for the moderates in the Republican Party and the Independents. Nothing appears to sway the spineless GOP. They are too far gone to be saved. Let’s work on the rest!”

        Not entirely true. Politicians of all stripes care about one thing: reelection. So long as Trump keeps an iron grip on the Republican base, they dare not oppose him. In a truly ironic twist however, this problem was made several magnitudes worse thanks to gerrymandering. Barring a wave election, Republicans locked themselves into away and isolated themselves from Democratic retribution, but in doing so gave themselves no way out from their own party.

        Of course it goes without saying that one should never underestimate Democrats’ ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, but at present, they have a 10% advantage over your average Republican on FiveThirtyEight.

        https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/congress-generic-ballot-polls/?ex_cid=rrpromo

        If they go into Nov ’18 in that range, that’s more than enough to take back the House and then some. Gerrymandering will not hold against that kind of swamping advantage.

      5. Trump’s hard-core base is solid – about one in four support him “no matter what” (!*&!) but moderate repubs, business leaders and independents are peeling away. Where does that leave him in pure numbers? About 25% on the high end and 14% on the low end. That is hardly a number that protects Trump from being primaried, even with gerrymandering. Once the GOP leadership gets off its high horse and turns the dogs loose (and that will only happen when (1) they get their tax cuts passed, or (2) Trump finally does something that is positively impossible to ignore, or (3) Mueller’s investigation yields enough evidence to impeach.

        I am tired of his bullying and being told the Republicans are afraid of confronting him. That, my friend, is why we have three SEPARATE divisions of government – for precisely this situation.

        As for what might happen in the mid-terms? Who knows. The Arpaio pardon will mobilize the Hispanic population, which is good. Don’t know if the black community will turn out or not. 538 does a good job with polling but we are a looooong way from November, 2018. Taking back the House would be a great start but we’ll be lucky to retain the Senate seats we have. Time will tell.

      6. “If they go into Nov ’18 in that range, that’s more than enough to take back the House and then some. Gerrymandering will not hold against that kind of swamping advantage.”

        In fact, the gerrymandering will work against them, if, a big if, mind you, it’s a large and angry enough wave. If you want to engineer the maximum # of seats, you’d set up that minimum # of Dem districts with the biggest margins. Yours would be smaller, high 50s or so. Pick off enough Indys and marginal GOPers, and you could have a lot of seats flipping by small margins.

        Because I need to think about something cheerful as the rains return, let’s say the Dems flip the House. They then have the power to call all sorts of investigations into Trump’s business dealings. Is that enough to make him quit? Does he take that plane trip to Moscow?

      7. >] “In fact, the gerrymandering will work against them, if, a big if, mind you, it’s a large and angry enough wave. If you want to engineer the maximum # of seats, you’d set up that minimum # of Dem districts with the biggest margins. Yours would be smaller, high 50s or so. Pick off enough Indys and marginal GOPers, and you could have a lot of seats flipping by small margins.”

        It’s gerrymandering’s marginal districts’ curse. In a normal election, you’re safe as can be. In a true wave, everything comes crashing down and you lose even more seats than you otherwise would.

        If Democratic fortunes hold (and that’s a BIG “if”), their most pressing victories have nothing to do with gerrymandering. Governor’s races in Michigan, Florida, Wisconsin, and other critical states are key to redrawing district lines on both the state and federal level past 2020. Barring a monumental decision from the SC with respect to the Wisconsin case, if Dems flop this one, they’re effectively screwed.

        >] “Because I need to think about something cheerful as the rains return, let’s say the Dems flip the House. They then have the power to call all sorts of investigations into Trump’s business dealings. Is that enough to make him quit? Does he take that plane trip to Moscow?”

        You’re asking what wins out in a battle between Trump’s ‘never back down’ instinct and his bottomless reservoir of self-love. Frankly, your guess is as good as mine or anyone else’s. Who the hell knows?

        Honestly, that’s not important. What is important is safeguarding ourselves as best as we know how when a madman feels the walls about to close in on him and he has no way out. Best-case scenario is just hops on his private jet and flees to the home office in Russia and never returns. Worst-case scenario is, well… your imagination probably gets there as well as mine does.

      8. Mary, your analysis of the situation that would be required to get the GOP Congressional leadership to do something, is right on target. The only item I would have reservations regarding is Mueller’s investigation yielding evidence sufficient for impeachment. My thought is that Mueller would have to produce evidence extraordinarily damning, such as incontrovertible bribery or direct unquestionable evidence of treason, that the GOP leadership could not ignore it. Even for that to happen, I think your first item, tax cuts being passed would be required.

        I also like Flypusher’s and Ryan Ambrose’s analysis of the gerrymandering. That could well be the case and that the gerrymandering will actually turn against them in 2018. If that happens, the major question then becomes will the Democrats be able to hold on to that advantage in 2020 enabling taking the Presidency and the Senate?

        Since many of the key state gubernatorial races will also be in 2018, the Democrats will also need to do well at the state level in 2018 enabling the reversal of much of the gerrymandering.

        The best outcome would be for the Democrats to have sufficient control at the state level following the 2020 elections so that rapid adoption of independent redistricting commissions would be enabled. I suspect however that the Democrats would resist that as much as the Republicans.

      9. >] “ If that happens, the major question then becomes will the Democrats be able to hold on to that advantage in 2020 enabling taking the Presidency and the Senate?

        Let’s not mince words when it comes to the Senate. Dems need a damn good showing in ’18 if they want to have even a chance at control in ’20. That’s a very tall order, given just how brutal the map is.

        Ideally, you’d hope for no net change at all. Barring an absolute tsunami, the only way you get there is with Dems losing Donnelly (IN) and McCaskill (MO), and offsetting those loses with Flake (AZ) and Heller (NV).

        Obviously, there are redder states that Trump won with Democratic incumbents that you’d think would be dead in the water (politically speaking, of course) like Manchin in W. VA and Heitkamp in N. Dakota, but they’re something of exceptions in just how well known and liked they are in their home states, so they’re not bogged down in ways that a more milquetoast Democrat would be. Not to say that they can’t lose (not by a long shot), but I’d expect Donnelly to lose more than I would Manchin.

        Assuming that much, Dems probably only have 3, maybe 4 (if Susan Collins either retires or tries for governor) states they could try and flip in ’20: Gardener (CO), Ernst (IA), and Tillis (N. Carolina). Barely any room for error, and that’s assuming they win back the presidency and a tie-breaking vote by the vice-president in the case of a tie.

        Like I said, the map is brutal. Dems need pretty much everything to go perfectly if they hope to take back control anytime soon.

      10. Mary and Ryan, you both mention the Republicans getting their tax cuts passed as a prerequisite for impeachment. Why? Or how would that work, what’s the thinking behind that?

        My feeling is if they get tax cuts passed, they’ll figure they can keep moving their agenda forward despite the chaos, and 45 is a small price in handwringing and virtue signalling Tweets to move on to the next issue.

        But if tax reform fails, they’ll find their bargain with the devil didn’t even come with the benefits, and will bail ship en masse.

        Anyway, when a pet shits on the floor, you shove their face in the shit so that they don’t shit their anymore. Regardless what happens, it’s the responsibility of the American public to shove these people’s face into the shit they’ve taken on our political system. Regardless of whether tax cuts passed or not, I’m just hoping enough usually feckless, aloof voting age people are sufficiently terrified enough to show up and vote the whole lot of them out.

      11. “But if tax reform fails, they’ll find their bargain with the devil didn’t even come with the benefits, and will bail ship en masse.”

        Funny thing (as in funny, ironic) about that- if you look at all the various fables/ cautionary tales about making deals with the devil, Old Scratch does literally uphold his end of the bargain. Now the thing the protagonist wished for will turn out to be not as good as anticipated or the ultimate price is grossly underestimated, but that’s on the foolish mortal.

        So how has Trump upheld his end? Really only in one aspect- making cabinet and judicial appointments that ultra conservatives like. These require zero effort on his part. But talk about week hung on the deal with healthcare “reform”. He made no effort to get out and sell this bill to the public. He celebrated the House passing something one day, then the next day complained that it was “mean”. He threw people under the bus on the issue at whim. I expect the same with tax reform. Now we can add this brewing temper tantrum over the border wall which could result in a government shutdown. So I conclude that the Devil’s word is better than Trump’s.

        Granted if the GOP had done a literal deal with the Devil, they would have gotten the AHCA and lots of tax cuts for the rich. Of course millions would have died and suffered due to not being able to afford healthcare and the economy would tank, but they would have received what they asked for. So Trump’s fecklessness may have saved them from themselves, but there’s this little matter that Chris just wrote about above. Our old Confederate demons have regenerated.

      12. You are correct that the 2020 map is brutal as well as the 2018. But a lot can change in 4 years, particularly with this administration. That would even be true in the event Pence has become President. If he does he will be very weak.

      13. “Funny thing (as in funny, ironic) about that- if you look at all the various fables/ cautionary tales about making deals with the devil, Old Scratch does literally uphold his end of the bargain”

        That’s my point. Ryan and Mary are saying that the GOP won’t impeach until their tax cuts. But if the GOP get their tax cuts, why would they want to impeach? They made a deal with the devil and are reaping what they sowed. I would resent it and be angry, but I would at least understand that they are getting everything they wanted. Rather than looking at Congress with jaw-dropping confounded anger, I’d be more focused on the voters who actually asked for this suffering instead.

        But the GOP isn’t even getting their literal end of the bargain. Turns out 45 is LESS good than a deal with the devil. So instead of being confounded with the voters, I am confused about what the GOP sincerely expects to achieve with this situation.

        That’s why I lean to the opposite of what Mary and Ryan are saying… That if tax reform fails to pass, which is the only ‘big ticket’ item the GOP can sincerely brand as their own victory, then I can’t imagine why they would support 45 for anything moving forward. Take this one step further and imagine that tax reform fails BECAUSE of 45 messing it up, and I would expect the sound of knives sharpening to echo through the streets of Capitol Hill.

        That’s all assuming GOP Congresspeople are humans that can recognize an existential threat to their very survival, and not some subhuman wretches cringing at the mere thought of 45 Tweeting something mean.

      14. If Republicans get their tax cut deal, why would they want (need) to impeach?

        I submit that the great majority of them cannot stand POTUS. They would want to embarrass him. They want him gone. They wouldn’t need him for anything. He is a liability.

        That’s why.

  18. I am watching CNN’s coverage of the disaster. I hate using the term, because it is so trite, but my thoughts are indeed with the people in South Texas. And this is going to get so much worse, if the weather predictions are right. For a snide comment, how long does the tyrant go before he blames Obama for gutting FEMA?

    And Chris, when the street battles start, the devastation that we see on TV today will be dwarfed. I wonder if the U.N. has a plan to deploy peacekeepers to the U.S. Of course, all this will play into the hands of the puppet tyrant and his cadre, as they declare martial law. The only hope is a decapitation of the regime. Think we need NATO to step in with a wet team.

  19. “we have developed cultural habits that make violence unnecessary in as many cases as possible.”

    I was on an airport shuttle in Washington DC with a bunch of vets who had come for the unveiling of the Korean War memorial. One of them said to me that he thought it would be a good idea if today’s generation had to go to war. I looked him in the eye and said “I don’t.”

    1. Going to war is never good, having been there myself.

      They think of the sense of purpose for the nation that arises in war. The difficulty is that is no longer true, with the professional military we have. The public is disconnected from the military and has been ever since the all volunteer force was instituted as Vietnam began winding down. As a percentage of the population there are few veterans any longer.

    2. ” One of them said to me that he thought it would be a good idea if today’s generation had to go to war. ”

      I seem to recall this thing the news talks about sometimes, seems important or something, what was it called? Arik? Eyrick? Irack? And Aphghan Stan? Anyway maybe it isn’t a big deal, but apparently it’s this thing that’s been going on for like 16 years.

      1. Mary, I think she’s in place for the duration, there doesn’t seem to be any roads open. Eventually the waters will have to start draining faster than they accumulate. At least I hope. I’m more concerned with how long she’ll be stranded, probably without power. Thanks for your concern, there’s a lot of people out there who are in for a rough few days.

      2. It was not a casual offer, Creigh. Any sister of yours would be welcome here if and when she can get out safely. Yes, she will be without electricity and all that means for a while. Should she need a place to shelter at night, I can send you instructions.

  20. Scarey reading between the lines. At least in Orlando the sheriff is Black amd many officers are Black and or Hispanic. I hope I do not have to flee my country. But yes mine and wife’s passports are up to date. Historically we have faced worst political upheavals. I still believe we will survive this too.

    1. Citizens have to determine for themselves whether America is still a country worth fighting for or whether their lives are better fulfilled elsewhere.

      Even for one who’s never been ostensibly patriotic, the thought of leaving the place that I’ve called home all my life is painful. There’s still so many things I want to do here (a career I want to pursue, places I want to visit, people I want to see), and so the thought of leaving all that behind because my country left me behind isn’t a decision I take lightly, but it’s one that has to be genuinely considered now.

  21. EJ

    You’re in a positive mood today, Chris.

    If it’s any consolation, my friends in the Antifa have been saying about themselves exactly what you say about them. Their style of direct action can only ever get the Fascists off the streets; getting them out of the offices requires the actions of other groups, who have been conspicuous thus far by their failure. This leaves it up to the street fighters, whose victories can only be temporary and won at a high human cost. So far they’ve been winning, but they’ve been wondering how long it becomes until the police and national guard get deployed against them.

    I’m a pacifist: I will not support any form of violence, even for the best of causes. However, I’m aware that you’re not. If you feel you may be able to provide useful organisational support to your local Antifa and so help them overcome their strategic weaknesses, I’d urge you to reach out.

    1. Funny thing about Antifa and other purveyors of “private violence”: they are very volatile. As a former Republican and current “neo-liberal” with libertarian leanings, I am on their official list of Fascists. Once these militias get rolling on either and every side, no one who isn’t a member can be confident they won’t be counted a target. In fact, historically many of their first victims will start out as members.

      Not so sure I want to reach out and get their attention.

      1. Regarding Antifa, yes they are a private militia and that is not good. Private militias need to be controlled. On the other hand, I have read accounts of some people including clergy, who were in clerical clothing, and were at the Charlottesville riots, who feel that the Antifa protected them from serious injury. According to the accounts, the white nationalist groups were closing in and the Antifa people protected them. Most likely, my source was KOS and I’d have to research this. But the fact remains that Heather Heyer was murdered by the white nationalists and not by the Antifa. I have also not heard of situations where the Antifa initiated violence. Rather they have acted in a defensive manner.
        The KKK and the other far right organizations have definitely been initiating violence and have been taking the law into their own hands. Accordingly, I have mixed feelings regarding and am somewhat sympathetic to the Antifa. I am inclined to think that if the security groups were really doing their job, and if Trump was not encouraging the hate groups, the Antifa would go away. So I am somewhat sympathetic to the Antifa organization.

  22. All I can say is good luck and may God be with all you, Houstonians.

    Regarding the national political situation, I think Chris is absolutely correct regarding the Republican Party’s refusal to do anything. They absolutely will not. The DHS security agencies (ICE, Border Control, etc.) are all borderline corrupt and tend strongly towards white nationalism. Even the local police agencies tend in that direction. Whenever, reform is attempted, they resist by any means they can. TRUMPISM is catering to that. IN GENERAL, THE GOP IS DEDICATED TO MAINTAINING POWER AND FURTHERING AYN RANDISM AT ALL COSTS.

    However, there are places in this nation where things do not appear to be so desperate. The sun still rises in the morning and the birds still sing and migrate. There is still optimism for our government, particularly at the local levels. In those areas there is a strong dedication to fending off TRUMPISM. But we can not do it all ourselves; the nation will have to react. The nation is slowly beginning to react. That is one reason I stubbornly maintain a sense of long term optimism.

    Again good luck to all you in the Houston area. I am following the news closely.

  23. We may “all be black now”, but one look at the money and attention pouring into opioid problems in white areas shows that there are still very real differences in political responsiveness when one’s base is impacted. Funny, isn’t it, that the Republicans “get” this issue but hide when faced by the looming problems Trump is creating. The GOP has sold its soul totally for a few pieces of gold. In reading about the deductions being considered by the “group of six” who are plotting/planning tax reform, they are tip-toeing around any changes that will hurt corporations while looking once more at stripping mortgage and tax deductions (and who knows what else) from working class and middle class folks.

    I say – go for it. Republicans may ignore the great harm being done to our democratic institutions, but they usually vote with their pocketbooks. If they (Repubs) support the GOP in savaging individual tax deductions in order to deliver on the pledge to cut corporate taxes, we are truly lost. When money fails to motivate conservatives you know an abyss has been crossed forever.

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