I Think Earth is Trying to Evict Us

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By Persephone

Not that I blame our planet–that magical orb without which we would not exist.  She gives us life, food to eat, water to drink, and air to breathe.  She is the source of all known life in our solar system.  In return, we pour pollutants into her atmosphere.  We dump chemicals and pile up landfills on her surface, contaminating our ground water.  We throw hazardous waste into her oceans.  And she’s starting to resent us.

That’s right.  She’s starting to resent us.  This is only the beginning.  For decades, scientists have warned us of the consequences of choosing consumerism over consideration of our planet.  We’ve chosen the easy route instead, denying that climate change or global warming even exist.  Conservatives have pointed out that the earth was already warming naturally, while environmental scientists have stated that the earth wasn’t warming up this quickly.  The creatures on this planet don’t have enough time to adapt.  And that includes us.

This isn’t just about increased temperatures and melting ice caps.  Those were the preliminary signs.  Now, we’re dealing with the aftermath.  It isn’t pretty.

On August 25th, Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, Texas.  It was a Category 4 storm.  Our scale only goes up to 5.  Over 50 inches of rain was dumped on Texas, and parts of Houston and other cities suffered from major flooding.  Over 70 people have been declared dead as a result of this natural disaster.  It also caused upwards of $200 billion in property damages.  Texas has never seen the like before.

Last Thursday, Mexico was hit with a devastating earthquake with a magnitude of 8.1 on the Richter scale.  It was the most powerful earthquake to hit Mexico in over 100 years.  Over 90 people have died as a result.

Where I live in central Washington, we too are feeling the effects of extreme weather changes.  Every year, the droughts last longer, and extensive fires break out.  Fires surround where I live, and that includes fires not only in Washington state.  Canada has been fighting fires all throughout the summer.  Montana, Oregon, and California have also suffered.  As a result, smoke has hung over my area in a haze for a solid two months.  School days have been cancelled, tourism has disappeared, and we haven’t seen the sun in months.

I’m not sure if the Earth is mad at us, but she sure is acting like it.  A lot of suffering through cataclysmic storms, droughts, fires, floods, tornadoes, and earthquakes have already occurred.  Then, there’s today.

Today, Florida is getting hit with Hurricane Irma.  It is the strongest hurricane in recorded history.  Our hopes and prayers go out to the people of the Caribbean who have already survived this storm and must piece their lives back together, and to the people just now dealing with the enormity of a Category 5 Storm.  I’m so sorry, Florida.

So, climate change is real (obviously).  What can we do?  There are things we can do, but at this point a lot of the damage is irreversible.  There will still be consequences for the last century of abuse to our planet.  However, we can recycle, start fixing our possessions instead of buying a new one every 5 seconds, maintain our cars rather than switch them out for new ones all the time, invest in alternative technologies, replace our lightbulbs with LEDs (this one is actually a big deal), plant more trees, have fewer children, and most importantly write our congressmen!!  Gods help us, it’s the politicians who hold the real power to changing environmental policy.  They hold private energy and vehicle companies accountable.  Vote!!  The EPA could also use some support from us before Trump does away with it entirely.  We need the Environmental Protection Agency to set up regulations and clean up our messes.

Other countries need to do the same.  We need to start caring about our home.  There’s no other planet like it, and we need to stop damaging Earth any further.

I repeat: this is only the beginning.  The 16 hottest years occurred in the last 17 years.  Every storm seems to gain in strength in the Atlantic, and people are dying.  These conditions aren’t going to improve.  They’re only going to get worse.

So, brace yourselves.  There’s a lot of momentum behind climate change, and we cannot even fathom the full extent of the damage that’s already been done.

Photo from The Telegraph

 

 

There are More Important Things than President Cheeto

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By Persephone

We’ve heard many stories over the past week about Hurricane Harvey as it struck Louisiana and Texas.  Houston–the fourth largest city in the United States–was hit with over 50 inches of rain, and the city has been flooded ever since.  It is only now that the waters are finally beginning to recede.

Over this week, there’s been many photos of the brave locals who have gone out again and again in murky water containing snakes and alligators to rescue their fellow neighbors.  We’ve heard many inspirational stories of men going out again and again in their boats to save everyone stranded by the rising waters.  There have also been horror stories of people drowning and many illegal immigrants remaining in their homes rather than risk deportation by ICE.  Last I heard, there were 47 people declared dead due to the hurricane and its aftermath.  That’s a significant number in a country that’s supposed to be prepared for such disasters.

Hurricane Harvey has shown the worst of the people of the federal government, yet it’s shown the best of normal everyday Americans.

Let me elaborate on that.

I’m sick of writing about Trump.  I know I write about him an awful lot, but this isn’t because I find him a fascinating individual.  It’s just my therapy to process the horror that is his presidency.  He’s an incompetent asshole who has the attention span of a pit bull on acid.  It’s not fun to be an American right now.  As if to make up for his lackadaisical initial response to the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, Trump can be found in Texas today, kissing random babies and smiling for every photo op.  Never mind that Congress is looking at cutting $876 million from FEMA’s budget, which handles situations like Harvey, as a means of paying for Trump’s fucking wall.  The wall which is meant to shut out Mexican immigrants, such as 1/3 of Houston’s population.  FEMA is almost already out of money this year.  Their budget cannot get decreased any further.

In the meantime, Congress might also shut down the government on September 30th if they can’t agree on a new budget.  That includes social programs, military spending, FEMA’s budget, the existence of DACA, and many other programs that the conservatives of Congress want to get rid of.  Meanwhile, Trump is threatening to shut down everything anyway, even if Congress agrees on something, if they don’t pay for his border wall.

It’s just nice to know that normal Americans can band together and prove that basic human decency still exists.  You won’t find similar evidence of that in Washington, D.C.

Picture from abcnews

What to Notice About Charlottesville and Its Aftermath: The Good, the Bad, and the Predictable

By Persephone

Yes, it’s been more than a week since there was a White Nationalist, KKK, and Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.  Technically, they were there to protest the upcoming removal of a Robert E. Lee statue commemorating the Southern side of the Civil War.  The counterprotestors for this movement far outnumbered the Nazis, and one of said Nazis ran a car into the crowd of counterprotestors.  Nineteen people were injured, and one woman–Heather Heyer–died.  I should have responded immediately, but I sort of wanted to stand back and see how everyone else was reacting.  Here’s what I’ve noticed…

THE PREDICTABLE:

For some reason, the fact that Trump’s a racist has surprised people.  HOW??  When Trump first came out after the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, he said that there was “blame on many sides,” clearly diverting blame from the neo-Nazis to those protesting Nazis.  Oddly enough, people freaked out over this blase attitude.  I’m still trying to wrap my head around their disbelief.  President Cheeto’s list of didn’t-mentions that day was extensive: he didn’t list the hate groups by name, he didn’t condemn the act of violence, and he didn’t even say the victim’s name.  To anyone who had been paying attention to Trump’s presidency, this should hardly have been a surprise.  He’s a coward with an incessant need for praise, and the White Nationalists were out there praising him that day.  The counter-protesters sure weren’t.  So, therefore, he wasn’t going to say anything strong against the racist bigots because they’re his peeps.  On the following Monday, he finally named them in a short 4-minute segment, condemning their actions, but he blew even that decency out of the water the following day when he backtracked at a rambling press conference.  Because, with Trump, every press conference is rambling.

THE GOOD:

The removal of multiple Confederate monuments.  While I honestly don’t care about the Confederacy statues and what they stood for, as I grew up around such things all my life in Oklahoma and the South in general, I can see why multiple special interest groups have wanted them down.  I’ve heard several conservatives ask why these statues are such a big deal all of a sudden, so I keep responding with one particular sentiment.  These statues have always been a big deal; it’s just now that city councils and states are starting to accept the removal thereof.  After all the bad publicity of the Confederacy last week, it’s hardly surprising that so many monuments are getting the fast-track to the dump.  The Confederacy was a five year period in which the South decided that maintaining the dehumanizing act of slavery was more important than their patriotism, yet we have hundreds of monuments commemorating their efforts.  Slavery lasted for hundreds of years, yet we gloss over that aspect of our history.

Charities are backing out of events scheduled at Mar-a-Lago.  I was more surprised to discover that anyone still booked Mar-a-Lago for events, but hey.  Better late than never, I guess.  I hope President Cheeto loses a lot of business.

The size of the White Nationalist movement itself.  Not only is this movement even smaller than I’d believed–there were just a few hundred people protesting in Charlottesville–but there are very few women in this movement.  It is primarily made up of white men in their 20s and 30s.  You know–the spoiled brats of society.  They’re upset that not everything has been handed to them, so it’s easier to blame the Jews (because clearly there’s so many of them around) and other races than recognize that life isn’t easy for anybody.  What makes them so special?  I would like to point out how oogy it is that several have suggested that they wouldn’t mind forming an all-white society with a polygamous family base.  That’s right, folks.  Despite their inability to get even one wife, they think they’re all entitled to two or three or more.  Icky.

Tina Fey’s idea of “sheetcaking.”  If you haven’t heard about this, you really need to watch this sequence.

How late night comedians have responded.  Many set aside the jokes and the commentary for a short time to just hash the seriousness of the situation with the right amount of quiet contemplation that’s very much needed right now.  Seth Meyers was particularly poignant.

Steve Bannon is now no longer an official member of the Trump administration.  ‘Bout time.  Although his removal from office lacked the scandalous fanfare we’ve grown used to in this administration.  It’s hard to compete with the Mooch!

On Saturday, several conservative, White Nationalist rallies were scheduled throughout the U.S.  Their numbers were small.  The numbers of the counterprotestors were not.  The pictures from Boston’s protest were quite good fun.

THE UGLY:

White Supremacists, the KKK, and Nazis exist in the United States.  They aren’t just trolls on the internet anymore.  I cannot emphasize how dangerous this is.  People I work with have mentioned sympathy for their plight, and this is unsettling.  If you sympathize for White Nationalists because you feel the elitist hippies are being too mean via twitter, then you really should sit back and take stock of your priorities.  It’s always okay to condemn Nazis.  They have nothing positive to offer anyone.  That’s the one group that should always be oppressed.

Worst of all, someone died.  There’s no glossing over that.

 

If He Ends Up Killing Us All, I’m Going to be Pretty Miffed.

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By Persephone

The big news this week…not that I’ve been updating this website lately (sorry about that–school is my biggest excuse)…is the recent exchange of threats from North Korean President Kim Jong-un.

Sometimes, I just feel like screaming.  We elected the biggest baby of them all to head our military and make all war decisions.  Can I just say–why?  That’s like handing a lighter and a basketful of firecrackers to a three-year-old with a propensity for arson.  It’s just insane.

North Korea has grown more and more menacing over the last six months.  They continually develop stronger nuclear weapons with increasingly longer ranges, and Kim Jong-un keeps marching his millions-strong army and other weapons in front of the cameras.  It’s difficult to tell just how serious the North Korean President is about attacking other countries, but he definitely has an out for the United States.

Well, here’s the thing.  North Korea can’t really do anything.  If they attack the United States, our allies will retaliate.  If they attack China, the rest of the world will retaliate.  If they attack Europe, they can expect the same response.  As long as they don’t attack anyone, they will be left alone.  As soon as they make good on any of their threats, they will be annihilated.  Not only is North Korea a tiny country, but they aren’t the only country with nuclear weapons.  We might not like nuclear war, but we are prepared for it.

Having said that, the only thing we can do is bide our time.  Unless North Korea does anything, diplomacy is our only option.  No one actually wants to go nuclear.

Of course, this is all speculation that doesn’t involve our beloved Cheeto-in-Chief.  Trump threatened North Korea right back, and all this posturing only succeeded in North Korea threatening to destroy the American territory of Guam.

Sigh.

I do hope President Trump realizes just how tied North Korea’s hands actually are.  If they attack us first, they’re on their own.  If we attack North Korea, though, we will have screwed ourselves.

Because, while North Korea might be a small country with minimal resources, China is not.  Thanks to the Sino-North Korean Mutual Aid and Cooperation Friendship Treaty, China would have to get involved if another country attacks North Korea.

If we attack first, we’ll have to contend with China‘s nuclear arsenal.  We cannot do this, President Cheeto.  No more posturing.  No more threats.  No more vague notions.  Diplomatic responses are the way to go.  Unless North Korea actually attacks, you need to shut the fuck up.

Because, if you get us involved in nuclear war, I cannot guarantee that our allies will stand by us.  You’ve kind of isolated us with all that “America first” rhetoric.  If we attack first, they are not obligated to help.  It would be us against China.  Even if we win, countless thousands will die.

That’s way too big a price to pay for your desire to act like a big shot.  Go play some golf instead.

Picture from NBC News

You Know What I Miss Most From the Pre-Trump Era? Slow News Days.

By Persephone

It’s not even noon yet today, and news has already been having a field day with what’s occurring on a national scale.  I’m just so tired of all the crazy reports swarming the news media.  Here’s just what’s been reported in the last thirty hours:

  1. The Washington Post printed the full transcripts of Donald Trump’s initial calls to both Mexican President Pena Nieto and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.  Those leaks sure haven’t been plugged much, have they?  I read both transcripts, and the biggest thing to take away is that Australia and Mexico have some very reasonable, intelligent leaders who won’t make promises that are not in the best interest of their countries.  And that our leader is a raving moron who can’t negotiate for shit.
  2. The most recent Presidential approval ratings just came out.  They weren’t pretty…depending on who you are.  I’m pretty ecstatic, myself.  It turns out only 28% of potential voters are proud that Trump is our president.  Only 33% approve of the job he’s doing.
  3. Things have gotten so bad with the lease and the cost of stationing in Trump Tower that the Secret Service is now stationed in a street-level trailer This one actually happened back in July, but journalists are just now getting around to reporting it.  This has been an ongoing issue, as the Trumps keep charging the secret service to station in their buildings, in order to protect them.  Their prices were so inflated that the secret service finally decided to stay in a building at the street, which still costs a lot, but the Trump family does not personally profit from it.  As they never should have in the first place.
  4. Four White House staffers were charged with leaking information this morning.  Jeff Sessions was practically making handstands to show to his loyalty to President Cheeto’s priorities.  While I’ll admit that there is a fine line between leaking and whistleblowing, this action does concern me on behalf of the freedom of the press.
  5. Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller has organized a Grand Jury in Washington, D.C.  This one’s the biggie.  Clearly.  Indictments might finally be in the air, in regards to the Russian hacking of the 2016 election.

This is just the news from the last day.  It doesn’t include the recent staff changes in the White House for key positions, the tweets claiming that the transgendered community would no longer be allowed to serve in the armed forces (to the consternation of the military, with whom he did not consult), Scaramucci’s presence at all (seriously, how did that loose cannon ever think he could make it in politics?), the revelation that Trump told his son to lie when the Russian scandal started going down, how the GOP’s latest health care bill was killed by the Senate Democrats and three Republicans, and Jeff Sessions’ attack of affirmative action on behalf of white people.  And this is just the news from the last week!

Do you remember the days when one scandal was enough to kill a career?  Can we go back to those days?  Every time I turn around, either President Cheeto, a member of his staff, or a member of his family is involved in yet another controversy (often illegal).  Yet, we’re still stuck with this clusterfuck of an administration.

Let’s hope things quiet down while Trump golfs in New Jersey for 17 days.  I doubt his vacation will even slow down the weird, random revelations flooding the news media, but we can hope.  We can always hope.

Why Does This Presidential Administration Have a Revolving Door?

 

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By Persephone

So, let’s see if I can get this timeline right.  Sean Spicer officially resigned on July 21st, right?  Am I right?  Was it really less than 2 weeks ago?  After six months of mockery, intimidation, lies, and SNL sketches, Sean Spicer finally resigned.  He actually lasted quite a long time, considering how much speculation of his upcoming unemployment circulated since his first briefing as White House Press Secretary when he lied about the size of President Cheeto’s inauguration crowd size.

But the President was bringing on a grade-A asshole named Anthony Scaramucci to the White House, to take over as Communications Director.  It turns out that even Sean Spicer had limits.

Scaramucci was an awesome White House character, wasn’t he?  Outright offensive to everyone he spoke to or talked about, his only enduring quality was his love of the president.  Hey, it’s a love that sprung up from seemingly nowhere (**cough cough payoff **cough cough maybe blackmail), but Trump don’t care.  Loyal is loyal, and Scaramucci was fresh and exciting.

It turns out he was a little too exciting.  He made outrageous comments on the air and even blew a kiss when he left the stage.  Comedians had a field day with this guy–he was pretty much the living embodiment the unholy love child of Michael Corleone and Joe Pesci in any role he’s ever been in.  His stereotypical Italian schmuck persona provided seemingly limitless parody potential.

Yeah.  It was that surreal.  Comedians absolutely loved him, and that was before the interview from The New Yorker. Completely unprovoked, Anthony Scaramucci called up the journalist Ryan Lizzie to extract the name of White House leakers.  Instead of getting what he wanted, Scaramucci went on a tirade bitching in very graphic language about all the people he was going to have to work with in the White House.  Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus were at the top of the list.  If you haven’t read the article, I urge you to do so.  It was delicious.  And disturbing, because this is supposed to be a person of authority spouting all this shit, and he didn’t even have the presence of mind to state that this was all off the record first.  Clearly, a smart move on his part.

Speaking of Reince Priebus….guess who got fired, probably due to this Scaramucci’s insistence?  On July 28th, President Trump announced his replacement General John F. Kelly via twitter (because why not) without having informed Priebus of his getting laid off.  Talk about fucked up.  Priebus heard about it in a limousine surrounded by colleagues in a rainstorm.  His colleagues quickly skedaddled out of the limo.  You gotta’ admit–that must have been an awkward car ride.

Then, after all that, Scaramucci was fired on July 31st–before he’d even started the damn job!  I can’t keep up!

I’d like to point out one thing, though.  Before all this change-up of White House staff, what were we talking about?  Oh, yeah, the failed health care plan.  Before that?  The proposed (but unsubstantiated) ban on transgendered soldiers from the United States military.  Before that?  Oh, that’s right.  Donald Trump, Jr.’s and Jared Kushner’s ties to Russia.  We sure have been getting distracted from that piece of news lately.

Maybe President Trump isn’t as dumb as he appears.

Picture from the Washington Post

That was Seriously Close

By Persephone

In the wee hours this morning, the U.S. Senate voted on the health care bill they referred to as the “Skinny” repeal.  It was a rushed effort, and that’s an understatement at best.  After multiple health care bills that hadn’t gotten enough votes to enter into open debate, this week McConnell and President Cheeto were determined to get something passed.

I’ll admit: it terrified me when the Republicans voted to debate the newest travesty of a bill earlier this week.  I mean, they only got this far with Vice President Mike Pence breaking the 50-50 tie, but this is still a big deal.  Repealing the Affordable Care Act would threaten the health care, and therefore lives, of millions of American voters.  Even replacing the act with one of the proposed Republican health care bills wasn’t going to change that.  Things looked dire.

I really don’t understand why Republicans have been so opposed to ObamaCare in the first place.  It’s a bill that wouldn’t have been introduced had the public not needed it.  I’m a prime example.  Without my health insurance through the ACA, I’d be left without while I attend graduate school.  It gives me security while I get my life in order and become a professional educator.

But whatever.  To make a point that the ACA is failing despite all the evidence to the contrary, the Republicans have claimed for seven fucking years that it needs to go away.  They’ve thrown together legislation that’s scary in the details, as they give insurance companies leave to refuse care for those with preexisting conditions and defund Planned Parenthood.  It’s a hissy fit that could cost thousands if not millions of lives in the coming years.

So, this morning, thanks to John McCain and two other Republican Senators, the “Skinny” Repeal didn’t go through.  The bill lost, 49 to 51.

That.  Was.  Really.  Close.  I can’t emphasize this enough.  This was a bill that was thrown together with even greater speed and half-assedness than previous ones, yet it came the closest to getting passed.  Had not three Republicans grown a spine, we’d all be freaking out this morning.

Well, I think we need to freak out anyway.  That was close.  That was really close.  We just dodged a serious bullet.  But there will be others, and the next one could easily hit its intended target.

So, in the meantime, call your congressmen.  They need to know that their constituents care about what is going on, and that we are watching their every move.