Vegas

That’s from the White House moment of silence for the victims in Las Vegas. You can find a video of it if you want. It’s moving and appropriate. The video has a close-up near the end where Melania looks like she is about to cry, where the President looks sad and determined. Both are appropriate. Far more so than most of the reactions around the country or the world. As usual, I was watching British news yesterday morning, and the instant, insistent, and arrogant drumbeat for gun control angered me nearly as much as the massacre itself. It will be a long time before (if ever) I tune in again. From what I read the American media, and a good many politicians weren’t any better. It’s a time to mourn the dead, succour the wounded, and attempt to comfort the bereaved, then it will be time to see if we can figure out what happened, and what, if anything, we can do to prevent a  repeat.

I know essentially nothing. To me, it sounded too mechanical to be semi-automatic fire and too slow to be fully automatic fire. (Actually, it sounded like an old BAR). There are reports that he modified an AR 15 and/or an AK version to bump fire, or with a trigger device. Sounds about right to me. But there are reports out there supporting anything you want it to be. Nobody knows, but everybody is riding their hobbyhorses for all they’re worth. In sum, it is simply disgusting on all sides. Funny that of all of us, Donald Trump is nearly the only one to get it right.

I have little to add to that. In time we will know more, and perhaps there is a way we can make a repeat less likely. But it is also possible that, as Bill O’Reilly said yesterday, this is one of the prices we pay for freedom. Today, and as it was almost 250 years ago if so, it is worth it.

Eventually, the police will have more information for us,   as will the Federal agencies. The cause isn’t helped because they squandered their reputations one and all over the last few years, but that is where we are. God help us all.

God bless the victims, their family and friends, Las Vegas, and us all.

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Puerto Rico: A Problem Like Maria

I guess we should take a look at the relief effort in Puerto Rico. They are, after all, Americans, just like us Nebraskans. The thing is, it has become so politicized that one hesitates to talk about it. Both the President and his Twitter account and the Democrats need to shut up and get to work. All this noise is doing more harm than good.

Things are getting done, slowly, near as I can tell. Both the ARRL and the Salvation Army have called for Amateur (Ham) radio operators to help restore communications, and are getting a pretty good response, as they always do.

The way Hurricane Maria blew through the island is in many respects the equivalent of the EMP explosion from the NORKs (or others) that we have talked about here in the effects on the US of the destruction of the power grid. That is what happened on Puerto Rico, except that the computers running it may or may not have been but the physical grid was. That is going to take time (and money) to repair. Meantime, without power, there are no communications either. The landlines are fairly obvious, the same things affect them as the power lines. But even cellphones are no good when the towers have no power for a time, and when their battery’s are dead. That’s why the Hams, most of us have portable stations that (at least on low power) can be run on solar, or bicycle chargers or whatnot. Yes, some of it is a rather old model of communications, but not all, we work with almost all forms of emissions that are in commercial service. In fact, Hams developed many of them.

Water distribution has the same problem, you need electricity to pump water, other than diesel, there is no alternative, and I suspect a lot of power in Puerto Rico is diesel powered anyway.

The power grid on the island has been reported as decrepit for many years, and that is part of the reason for the utter destruction. The LA Times tells us:

Puerto Rico officials say it will likely be four to six months before power is fully restored across the U.S. territory of 3.5 million people. The island’s faltering electrical grid, now crippled by the twin blows of Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Irma, already was struggling to keep the lights on after a history of poor maintenance, poorly trained staff, allegations of corruption and crushing debt.

As recently as 2016, the island suffered a three-day, island-wide blackout as a result of a fire. A private energy consultant noted then that the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority “appears to be running on fumes, and … desperately requires an infusion of capital — monetary, human and intellectual — to restore a functional utility.”

Puerto Ricans in early 2016 were suffering power outages at rates four to five times higher than average U.S. customers, said the report from the Massachusetts-based Synapse Energy Economics.

And then came Maria.

The collapse of the power system has tumbled down the infrastructure chain, making it difficult to pump water supplies — the water authority is one of the power authority’s biggest clients — and also to operate the cellular phone system, which also relies on the power grid.

Residents have been scrounging for scarce fuel to power generators long enough to keep refrigerators and a light or two running. At night, many drag mattresses out to balconies and porches to escape the heat. Hospitals have seen life support systems fail and most business has come to a halt.

Funny how that works, but not funny ‘Ha Ha”. Electricity is quite literally the lifeblood of modern life, without it, we go back a hundred years minimum. That’s why these crackpot renewable energy schemes are so dangerous.

But part of that is also that the island is corrupt, and has been for a long time. From The New York Post:

Jorge Rodriguez, 49, is the Harvard-educated CEO of PACIV, an international engineering firm based in Puerto Rico

For the last 30 years, the Puerto Rican government has been completely inept at handling regular societal needs, so I just don’t see it functioning in a crisis like this one. Even before the hurricane hit, water and power systems were already broken. And our $118 billion debt crisis is a result of government corruption and mismanagement.

The governor Ricardo Rossello has little experience. He’s 36 and never really held a job and never dealt with a budget. His entire administration is totally inexperienced and they have no clue how to handle a crisis of this magnitude.

For instance, shortly after the hurricane hit, the government imposed a curfew from 6 pm to 6 am and then changed it. Now, it’s 7 pm to 5 am, and makes no sense. The curfew has prevented fuel trucks from transporting their loads. These trucks should have been allowed to run for 24 hours to address our needs, but they have been stalled, and so we have massive lines at gas stations and severe shortages of diesel at our hospitals and supermarkets.

I’m really tired of Puerto Rican government officials blaming the federal government for their woes and for not acting fast enough to help people on the island. Last week I had three federal agents in my office and I was so embarrassed; I went out of my way to apologize to them for the attitude of my government and what they have been saying about the US response. When the hurricane hit we had experts from FEMA from all over the US on the ground and I was really proud of their quick response. The first responders and FEMA have all been outstanding in this crisis, and should be supported.

Well, I’m not sure what the cure is for that. We get the government we vote for, and the Puerto Ricans voted for these people. Still, they do appear to be doing their best, but it is not, and never has been, good enough. But even The National Guard can’t show up. From Deanna Fisher at Victory Girls Blog.

Click to enlarge

It’s so bad that not even their National Guard can show up for duty.

But nine days after Hurricane Maria, a striking trend has emerged: Less than half of the 8,000 members of the Puerto Rico National Guard are on duty. Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, the top U.S. officer overseeing military operations on the island, attributed this to a combination of factors. Many personnel are dealing with the devastation in their own lives, he said, and some are providing help in their full-time jobs as police, firefighters or other first responders rather than through the Guard.

The comparatively small number of Guard troops on duty in Puerto Rico appears to underscore a disconnect between pleas made on the ground by civilians on the ground since the storm, and the federal government’s relatively modest response at first. It also may have slowed awareness of how bad the destruction was, with fewer personnel responding early and cataloguing needs. […]

And the problem is not that the supplies aren’t present – as you can clearly see behind the mayor. The problem is getting the supplies where they need to be.

Col. Valle is a firsthand witness of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) response supporting FEMA in Puerto Rico, and as a Puerto Rican himself with family members living in the devastation, his passion for the people is second to none. “It’s just not true,” Col. Valle says of the major disconnect today between the perception of a lack of response from Washington verses what is really going on on the ground. “I have family here. My parents’ home is here. My uncles, aunts, cousins, are all here. As a Puerto Rican, I can tell you that the problem has nothing to do with the U.S. military, FEMA, or the DoD.”

“The aid is getting to Puerto Rico. The problem is distribution. The federal government has sent us a lot of help; moving those supplies, in particular, fuel, is the issue right now,” says Col. Valle. Until power can be restored, generators are critical for hospitals and shelter facilities and more. But, and it’s a big but, they can’t get the fuel to run the generators.

They have the generators, water, food, medicine, and fuel on the ground, yet the supplies are not moving across the island as quickly as they’re needed.

“It’s a lack of drivers for the transport trucks, the 18 wheelers. Supplies we have. Trucks we have. There are ships full of supplies, backed up in the ports, waiting to have a vehicle to unload into. However, only 20% of the truck drivers show up to work. These are private citizens in Puerto Rico, paid by companies that are contracted by the government,” says Col. Valle.

Eventually,  it will work out, but not without a lot of angst and pain for all concerned, both aid givers, and aided. The real question is, will Puerto Rico learn from the disaster, as we all learned from Katrina, or simply keep on with same old, same old, and we have to do it all again in 5, 20, or 50 years. That’s their part of the story.

Catalonia

I often go to sleep with something on the computer (the one I use as a radio/television. I did so last night, with it tuned to Sky News. Why do I mention this? Because I was rudely awakened in the middle of the night, as the Catalan election did/didn’t get underway in Spain. I was awakened by gunfire.

That gunfire was directed by the Guardia Civil on citizens of Catalonia (the area around Barcelona) who wanted to vote on what Spain says is an illegal referendum on secession from Spain. I have no idea who is right or wrong here. I can see both sides sympathetically. The right of self-determination opposed to the right of Spain to rule its territory. I don’t know, and frankly, it is none of my business. But it is all our business when the state opens fire on its citizens. And here, other than the fact of the referendum itself, the people seem far more peaceful than the state. In fact, it rather reminds me of Chicago in 1968, albeit with less cause, when the police staged a riot and invited the protestors to attend.

In any case, here’s some about it from the BBC.

The Spanish government has given the regional government in Catalonia 48 hours to abandon “illegal” referendum plans or lose budgetary powers.

Finance Minister Cristóbal Montoro said a mechanism had been approved for the state to take control of the autonomous region’s finances.

Madrid is seeking to stop the Catalan government spending public money on its planned independence referendum.

The Catalans are defying a court order to suspend the 1 October vote.

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont launched his campaign for a “Yes” vote on Thursday night in the town of Tarragona, telling a rally at a former bullring: “Vote, and in so doing bring light to darkness that has lasted for too many years.”

The crowd shouted back, “Independence”, “We will vote” and “We’re not afraid”, AFP news agency reports.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was taking the unionist cause directly to Barcelona on Friday, addressing a meeting of his Popular Party in the Catalan capital.

‘Unprecedented repression’

If the deadline is not met, the central government will take over the funding of most essential public services in the region, Mr Montoro said.

“These measures are to guarantee that not one euro will go toward financing illegal acts,” he was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency after a cabinet meeting in Madrid.

The takeover would last as long as the “situation”, he explained.

Public finances are a particularly sore point for Catalans who for years have contributed more to the state budget than they get back in spending on public services.

Secessionists in the wealthy region in north-eastern Spain pushed ahead with their referendum project after winning control of the region’s parliament in 2015, buoyed by a wave of discontent with rule from Madrid.

The Spanish government refuses to countenance a referendum on self-determination for the region of 7.5 million people, insisting the country is indivisible.

More than 700 Catalan mayors who have agreed to help stage the referendum now face criminal investigation and police have been ordered by Spanish prosecutors to seize ballot boxes, election flyers and any other item that could be used in the referendum.

Like I said, I have no idea who (if anyone) is right or wrong here. I do however think that the Spanish authorities are overreacting and that far more Catalonians will be in favor of secession at the end of today than were this morning. Attacking the people in the streets often has that effect.

I suspect they are better off in Spain and the EU, materially at least, but material goods are not the only, nor even the most important thing in life. Nobody for us to take sides with, just to watch with compassion and sympathy as they work it out.

In other news, from Second City Cop.

 

 

Week in Pictures, Taking a Knee Edition

Well, one can’t say nobody pays attention to the NFL, can they? As I’m writing this, I’m listening to Sky News out the UK, and what I’m hearing tells us all about why Britain ain’t what it used to be. But all five of them think that the players have the support of the people and that President Trump is wrong. Well, I’m very afraid these representative of the British ruling class have lost their place. Cause I don’t see any evidence of even close to a majority of Americans agreeing with them. Bothersome as it is to some, Trump speaks for the average American here. And this being America, the marketplace will rule, and that is a very bad forecast for a brand as out-of-touch as the NFL.

My opinion is that the NFL has made the greatest marketing decision, since New Coke. Maybe worse cause I don’t think there is much of a road back. Best thing to happen to The Legends League, the NCAA, and the NHL in quite a while/

Imagine what would happen if your kid took this to school today?

You Choose!

And, of course!

mostly from Bookworm and PowerLine as usual

Here Come de Judge

So Judge Moore won the Alabama primary very decisively (almost double digits). Trump campaigned for his opponent and Mitch McConnel dumped in a ton million against him as well. Didn’t matter. Why?

Mollie Hemingway’s thoughts parallel mine, so what do we think.

1. Luther Strange Lost Just As Much As Roy Moore Won

Roy Moore is a popular man in Alabama, and he ran a solid campaign that built on his strong level of support. Much of that additional support came from people fed up with the corruption surrounding former Gov. Robert Bentley.

Pretty much of a given, I think. Alabama voters, especially Republican ones, tend to be Christians, and rather conservative ones, not inclined to be voting in people suspected of corruption, at least when they have a choice. And they had a choice, it’s hard to think of a man more incorruptible than Roy Moore, whether you agree with his views or not, he doesn’t change them for any reason, for any pressure. That is impressive.

2. Trump Supporters Showed Independence

That note from the Alabama voter brings us to the second point: this was not a Donald Trump referendum. He did, for reasons only he can explain, side with Mitch McConnell in endorsing Strange. He tweeted for him, talked about him, and campaigned for him, albeit half-heartedly there at the end when he saw the writing on the wall.

That’s a lot of it here, the support for Trump is not entirely (or even mostly) a cult of personality. It is instead a deep-seated dislike (tending towards hatred) of Washington’s business as usual. The people are resuming their sovereignty and it’s going to happen whatever Washinton thinks. Playing the ball, not the man, so to speak.

3. Republican Voters Are Done With the Old Way of Doing Business

While this was a race with Alabama-specific dynamics that may not have been much of a referendum on Trump, it’s not wrong to say there was a bit of a referendum on Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and what he represents to the Republican voter. “Mitch McConnell has had a bad week, and it’s only Tuesday,” political consultant Jordan Gehrke wrote. “There is blood in the water now, and more conservative candidates who are hostile to the establishment are primed to step forward.”

This one is important and ties in with number 2. The real loser here was Mitch McConnell and the Washinton establishment. Both men are more or less Trump supporters. The fact that Luther Strange supported the president in the Senate has much to do with Trump’s endorsement, I think.  But McConnell’s support for Strange was the kiss of death. It’s a stark warning for the GOPe who are just as blind and deaf as the Democrats because Alabamians are hardly the only people in the country that feel that way. 2018 is going to be a most interesting year, The new sheriff we speak of so often is likely to get a bunch of new deputies, and it will matter.

4. NeverTrump Should Not Rejoice

While most pundits think Strange’s failure is bad for Trump, it’s really bad for NeverTrump and other critics. There is a mindset in DC that Trump is a rare disruptive blip, and that once he is taken care of or defeated, everything will return to normal.

Alabama is just the latest example that shows that the disruption that is happening is so much bigger than Trump. The voters are simply sick and tired of how DC is doing business, and they’re willing to do quite a bit to send that message. In retrospect, the defeat of Rep. Eric Cantor in Virginia back in 2014 was something of a canary in the coal mine. Republican voters have been trying to get party elites to wake up to their frustration for many years now. They launched the Tea Party, they have ousted members of leadership, they have voted for Trump as president. Now they’ve selected Moore, known for his extreme views, over the establishment candidate.

Yup. Nothing to add to that. And

5. Senate Shaping Up To Be Very Different In 2020

Moore will presumably win the special election in December, since Alabama is now a pretty solid Republican state. Trump received 63 percent of the vote in 2016.

Yesterday, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee announced he would not seek re-election. In a few years, the U.S. Senate could lack not just him but a slew of other men and women nearing retirement age, or moving on to other opportunities. That list might include Sens. John McCain, Orrin Hatch, Jim Inhofe, Thad Cochran, Pat Roberts, Susan Collins, Mike Enzi, Lamar Alexander, and others.

Indeed the pitch is on the fire and the pitchforks are out, and the Democrats are not the only, or even the major, targets. Few thing anger Americans more than hypocrisy in government. So we’ll see, but if I were a GOPe Congresscritter, staffer, or consultant, I would be (and should be) very afraid.

Conservatives Rising

Kurt Schlichter lays it out on Townhall just in case any of our so-called representatives would be interested in what the people that elected them think. I admit it’s unlikely, the gravy train and cocktail circuit in Washington is so much more fitting to their self-image. Here be ground truth or if you’re a Washington insider, monsters on the horizon, and they may be closer than you think.

I guess now we’re not supposed to be fighting culture wars anymore – man, it’s so hard to keep up with these ever-changing new rules! I’m old enough to remember way back to 2016, before Trump got nominated, and I could have sworn Conservative Inc., was gung-ho for the whole culture war thing. But then Trump actually fought it, taking on the big, soft target that is the spoiled, semi-literate athletes who like to rub their contempt for the flag we love in our faces in the guise of woke wokedness. Now we suddenly discover that fighting back is horribly uncouth and déclassé and “Oh, well I never!

Gosh, I would have thought from all those cruise panels about how our crumbling culture is slouching toward Babylon and the need to resist the liberal onslaught that maybe we ought to actually resist the liberal onslaught, but see, that was my mistake. I took it seriously when Conservative, Inc., promised to fight the leftist blitzkrieg against normal Americans. It was all a scam, a lie, a pose for us rubes. The Tru Cons didn’t actually mean it.

Jokes on them though, we meant it when we elected them, they’re replaceable, and I think some (maybe not enough) will be. We’ll find out soon enough. Yesterday, Alabama voters told us what they think.

Conservativism forgot about the real world conservatives we expected to line up behind us. While we were talking about free trade, we were ignoring that GOP voter who fought in Fallujah, came home, got a job building air conditioners, raised a family, and then one day watched the video of the oh-so-sorry CEO – who looked remarkably like Mitt Romney, because all these guys look remarkably like Mitt Romney – sadly informing his beloved employees that their jobs were getting shipped to Oaxaca. And our response to the 58-year old Republican voter who asked us how he was going to keep paying for his mortgage and his kid in college? Pretty much, “Well, that’s how free enterprise works. Read some Milton Freidman and go learn coding.

That’s not a response, not for a political party that requires people to actually vote for it. That’s an abdication, but what did Conservative, Inc., care? Priorities! “There’s this new tapas place in Georgetown everyone is talking about – the other night, my buddy from the Liberty Freedom Eagle Institute for Liberty, Freedom and Eagles saw Lawrence O’Donnell there getting hammered!

How about the guy who wanted to be a roofer in Fontana but he couldn’t because the contractors were only hiring illegals? What was our answer to him? “Oh well, the big corporate donors need their serfs, and if some pack of tatted-up MS-13 dreamers gang-rapes your daughter that’s just a price we’re willing to pay!

They try to crush our religion and Conservative, Inc., cowers because Apple’s CEO might say mean things. “Just bake the cake,” they say – it’s not worth the fight! They demand our tax money to kill babies and Conservative, Inc., passes the spending bills – “Gosh, we can’t risk the WaPo saying we’re mean!” They diss our National Anthem, we react, and Conservative, Inc., wags its soft, spindly fingers – “So, so very unpresidential! My word!

You know what is (not very) funny? I’ve got a lot of British friends who feel exactly the same way about the Tories, especially as led by Mrs. Dismay. You should hear them, some of them make Col. Schlichter sound very mild, indeed. They envy us though, because they’ve known enough Americans that they know we’ll do something about it, one way or another, and that we have the tools, and the experience, and yes, the guts to actually do it, not talk about it. I’m not calling them wusses, mind. They’d walk through fire for a conservative government that would tell the Frogs and the Krauts, not to even mention the Islamic terrorists, to sod off. That why they voted for Brexit. They envy us Trump, as well, and can’t see how such a figure could get to be their Prime Minister. Sadly, they have much right in that belief.

What’s coming after is militant normalacy, the not-so-polite demand that the lackwits and failures who style themselves as our betters stop dumping on us normal Americans who work hard and play by the rules (Gosh that sounds familiar, like it used to be a winning electoral recipe, if only I could remember where I heard it before).

Who are the normals? The Americans who built this country, and defended it. When you eat, it’s because a normal grew the food and another normal trucked it to you. When you aren’t murdered in the street or don’t speak German, it’s because a normal with a gun made those things not happen. We normals don’t want to rule over others. We don’t obsess about how you live your life, but also we don’t want to be compelled to signal our approval or pick up the tab. We are every color and creed – though when someone who is incidentally a member of some other group aligns with normals, he/she/xe loses that identity. The left drums normals who are black out of its definition of “black,” just as normal women get drummed out of womanhood and normal gays get drummed out gayhood. In a way, the left is making E pluribus unum a reality again – to choose to be normal is to choose to reject silly identity group identification and unite. Instead of saying “normal Americans,” you can just say “Americans.” [..]

That’s why the shameful abdication of Conservative, Inc., in the cultural fight is both important and irrelevant. It demonstrates that the first loyalty of many folks in the conservaracket is to the ruling caste to which they belong, and it also demonstrates that these wimps’ absence from the battle means nothing. […]

But we’re not giving up, and we’re not going to sit back and just take it. Militant normalcy is the result of normal people roused to anger and refusing to be pushed around anymore. We prefer a free society based on personal liberty and mutual respect. But if you leftists veto that option, that leaves us either a society where you rule and oppress us, or one where we hold the power. So let me break this down, both for the left and for their fussy Fredocon enablers: You don’t get to win.

Not for nothing did General Creighton Abrams, back when he was a Lieutenant Colonel commanding the 37th Tank Battalion, in the 4th Armored, as it led Patton’s 3rd Army to the relief of Bastogne, when he was informed that Bastogne was surrounded, say,

“They’ve got us surrounded again, the poor Bastards” 

 

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