Disaster

What They Voted For: Swampstyle

#DrainTheSwamp | #WhatTheyVotedFor

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. (Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP Photo)

Ital Vardi brings this wonderful bit of news for the Huffington Post:

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is a shareholder in a private Montana company that manufactures and sells firearms and advanced weapons materials, a financial interest he did not disclose when nominated last year.

In response to inquiries from HuffPost, both Zinke and the company, PROOF Research Inc., confirmed the secretary’s holdings, though the dollar value placed on them varied. This previously undisclosed holding comes to light after numerous decisions in his first year in office that benefited the hunting and gun industries.

PROOF Research Inc. was first established in 2011 in Zinke’s hometown of Whitefish, Montana, under the name Extreme Precision Armaments Inc., according to state of Montana business records. The company specializes in the production of lightweight rifles with high-precision carbon fiber barrels for hunting and military applications and was born as a merger of four smaller firearms and gun parts companies. It later changed its name to PROOF Research Inc. and moved to the nearby town of Columbia Falls.

According to the company’s website, its facility in Columbia Falls produces “the world’s finest composite barrels, stocks, and complete rifles.” A second facility in Dayton, Ohio, makes specialized high-temperature composite materials for the aerospace and defense industries, including components for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and B-2 stealth bomber.

Obvious questions present themselves, but there is also something inherently clownish about the brazen stupidity of the omission, and given everything else, Steve Benen’s point last week, that the “Interior Secretary can’t seem to stay out of trouble”, resonates anew. There is also some impulse to raise an eyebrow at the seeming strangeness of a small firearms firm with such specialized defense-industry pedigree.

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The Scaredy Scare (#truthscare rising)

#ScaredyScare | #WhatTheyVotedFor

President Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump): "The FBI is totally unable to stop the national security 'leakers' that have permeated our government for a long time. They can't even find the leakers within the FBI itself. Classified information is being given to media that could have a devastating effect on U.S. FIND NOW" (via Twitter, 24 February 2017)

It would seem ironic if, in the end, Republicans managed to make “patriot” the new “communist”. More than political irony, though, the strangeness of the Trump White House is such that we really cannot afford to skip the part that wonders if perhaps the president’s latest twitshit tantrum really does intend its darker implication.

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What They Voted For: Why Government Doesn’t Work

#earthquakes | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt speaks to employees in Washington, D.C., 21 February 2017. (Photo: Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

There is that part within that wonders―really, truly, genuinely in all good faith, wonders―who in these United States really thinks they can do that speech in which the audience is supposed to pretend they have no effing clue? Or, to check in with Rebecca Leber of Mother Jones:

If Pruitt’s address was meant to soothe staffers’ concerns about their incoming administrator, they may have come up short.

“Pruitt’s talk [was] as bad as expected,” said a current career EPA staffer of over 20 years, who requested anonymity, following the speech. “Not one word about public health. And talking about the rule of law as if we didn’t do EVERYTHING with the realization that it WILL end up in court. It was condescending and hypocritical.”

Some former EPA officials shared that view. “Trump’s team spent the entire campaign and the last few months railing against EPA’s existence, its staff, and its purpose,” Liz Purchia, an Obama-era communications staffer at the agency, said in an email. “Accomplishing agency priorities was no easy task when the administrator had staff’s back and politicals and careers agreed the majority of the time, so let’s see how well Trump’s EPA does getting staff to follow them when they feel disrespected. These are professionals with years of experience, who have been made to feel like their leader doesn’t trust their judgment. The American people are relying on them to defend the agency, protect its environmental statutes and stand up to Trump’s team to ensure they uphold science and the law.”

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The Hurricane Conspiracy (Drudge Scott)

Florida Gov. Rick Scott speaks to the media during a visit to the Advanced Pharma, 22 February 2013, in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

This is one of those moments that presents a challenge about how, exactly, one should accommodate and assimilate deal with it; Eric Levitz explains:

Matt Drudge is concerned that this “impending hurricane” narrative is a bit too convenient: One minute, Obama says climate change is real and could increase the frequency of extreme weather events; several years and hurricanes later, another extreme weather event appears just as Hillary Clinton is campaigning to succeed him.

It shouldn’t be hard to reconcile climate-change denial and acceptance of meteorology. Even Florida’s terrible governor can do it.

“If you need to evacuate and you haven’t―evacuate!” Rick Scott said Thursday. “This storm will kill you.”

Indulge me, please, and recite the following sentence aloud: Rick Scott is a secret Clinton operative.

A’ight, then, any questions?

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Image note: Florida Gov. Rick Scott speaks to the media during a visit to the Advanced Pharma, 22 February 2013, in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Levitz, Eric. “Matt Drudge Suggests Hurricane Matthew Might Be a Liberal Conspiracy”. New York. 6 October 2016.

The Word from the War (What Is This Thing Called Hope?)

A Turkish army tank stationed near the Syrian border, in Suruc, Turkey, Saturday, 3 September 2016. Turkey's state-run news agency says Turkish tanks have entered Syria's Cobanbey district northeast of Aleppo in a "new phase" of the Euphrates Shield operation. Turkish tanks crossed into Syria Saturday to support Syrian rebels against the Islamic State group, according to the Anadolu news agency. (AP Photo)

Via Associated Press:

Turkish troops and allied Syrian rebels expelled the Islamic State group from the last strip of territory it controlled along the Syrian-Turkish border on Sunday, effectively sealing the extremists’ self-styled caliphate off from the outside world, Turkey’s prime minister and a Syrian opposition group reported.

The question does arise, occasionally, what constitutes good news in war. As the Syrian government prepares to lay siege against Aleppo again, it seems reasonable enough to temper any celebration of the announcement from the Turkish government.

To wit, while Daa’ish might well have “lost its link with the outside world”, as the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights suggests, “after losing all border areas”, it would also seem that constitutes progress vis à vis one human rights disaster that pretty much prevents the world from reasonably addressing another.

Two words: Aleppo roses.

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Image note: A Turkish army tank stationed near the Syrian border, in Suruc, Turkey, Saturday, 3 September 2016. Turkey’s state-run news agency says Turkish tanks have entered Syria’s Cobanbey district northeast of Aleppo in a “new phase” of the Euphrates Shield operation. Turkish tanks crossed into Syria Saturday to support Syrian rebels against the Islamic State group, according to the Anadolu news agency. (AP Photo)

Mroue, Bassem and Zeynep Bilginsoy. “Turkey: IS has lost all territory along Syria-Turkey border”. The Big Story. 4 September 2016.

Two Years Late (Buggin’ Weiner Mix)

Adam Huber, Bug Martini, 25 August 2014.So … right. I happened across this detail that I set aside on a different hard drive, for some reason, a couple years ago, and never posted. Or something like that. Never blogged, at least.

I wonder what the hell I did with it?

But, yeah, anyway, I found it the other day while looking for a different picture that I apparently never did upload, though I couldn’t tell you why, nor even remember what image I was looking for. Never mind.

Don’t blame Adam; I’m sure it’s a fascinating story.

No, seriously, I couldn’t tell you.

Actually, why not take a stab with something about weiner and frosting.

Clickbait, sure, but it’s worth it.

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Image note: Detail of Bug Martini by Adam Huber, 25 August 2014.

My Superstition (Anti-Prophet)

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin poses with a snow truck Saturday, 23 January 2016; the Republican governor posted the image to social media in order to show Bluegrass State residents how hard he was working on the snowstorm shortly before flying to New Hampshire for a campaign event. Detail of self-portrait by Matt Bevin.

This is a personal superstition:

Aside from the obvious, it’s worth noting that when governors go to New Hampshire to headline fundraisers, it often means they’re thinking about raising their visibility ahead of a national campaign. Bevin’s entire career in public office has only lasted a couple of months; is he already eyeing some kind of promotion?

Every once in a while a paragraph like this comes up, or some similar circumstance. One reads or hears something, and, you know, just … oh, come on.

And while it is easy enough to knock Steve Benen for sounding histrionic partisan alarms early, the truth of the matter is that I also scoffed, nearly three years ago, at the proposition of Ben Carson running for president.

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The Shadow (Talk the #TWOC)

#StandSpeakFightWin #FightWinLoveLive

Harrowing charm? How about charmingly harrowing?

I kept hearing this statistic that struck me as terrifying and ludicrous when transphobic violence was peaking over the summer. The statistic said the average life expectancy for a trans woman of color is 35. As an otherwise healthy TWOC who turned 31 this year, this tragicomic countdown to my imminent death at least warranted further investigation.

Gravity will as gravity does, and Trav Pittman’s reflection on the intersection of violence and transgender women of color really isn’t charming, despite the author’s brave façade.

This is a disaster.

Yes, yes, there are myriad disasters going on every day. But, you know, think of a disaster like the number of people hungry or homeless, out in wicked cold tonight, and all for the sake of a post-capitalist distribution system that functionally requires this manner of suffering.

The disaster harrowing the transgender community is happening for even dumber reasons.

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Pittman, Trav. Four Years to Live: On Violence Against Trans Women of Color”. The Huffington Post. 24 November 2015.

Spectacularly Apocalyptic

Detail of image from Weibo showing a massive industrial explosion behind highrise buildings; at least seventeen people are reported dead in the 12 August, 2015 blast.

And then there is the end of the world. Not literally, but nobody’s blaiming Tianjin survivors for thinking so; it would seem that’s pretty much what it felt, sounded, and looked like.

Powerful explosions rocked the Chinese port city of Tianjin on Wednesday, killing at least 17 people, officials and state media said.

China’s state broadcaster, CCTV, said that at least 17 people were killed and that 32 were in critical condition. Chinese media reported that at least 300 people were injured.

Xinhua, the state news agency, reported that the blast occurred at around 11:30 p.m. Wednesday at a warehouse storing “dangerous goods” and that the explosion and fire touched off other blasts nearby. Local media reported that the strongest was the equivalent of 21 tons of TNT.

(NBC News/Associated Press)

Far be it for us to try to keep up with real time reporting, but this one is pretty spectacular, and we all will be hearing much more about this in the next days’ headlines. Injury numbers have soared as high as four hundred.

Our best wishes to Tianjin.

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Image note: Apocalyptic horror ― Detail of image from Weibo showing a massive industrial explosion behind highrise buildings; at least seventeen people are reported dead in the 12 August, 2015 blast.

NBC News and Associated Press. “Blasts Rock Chinese City of Tianjin, At Least 17 Reported Killed”. NBCNews.com. 12 August 2015.

Republican Governance (Egregious Everglade Edit)

MIAMI, FL - FEBRUARY 22: Florida Gov. Rick Scott speaks to the media during a visit to the Advanced Pharma to kick-off the grand opening of their new facility that hopes to create 60 new jobs by 2014 on February 21, 2013, in Miami, Florida. Flordia Gov. Rick Scott reversed himself on February 20, 2013 and is now calling for an expansion of Medicaid to Flordia residents under the federal Affordable Care Act. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Tell you what, we’re just going to skip straight on to Steve Bousquet of the Miami Herald:

Koon was talking to a Senate budget subcommittee about his agency’s request for federal funds to improve emergency life safety notifications for residents and visitors in advance of floods, tornadoes and hurricanes in Florida. Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, asked Koon if it’s true that states need to have “climate change plans” to qualify for that federal money.

Yes, Koon replied, referring to “language to that effect.”

“I used ‘climate change,'” Clemens said, “but I’m suggesting that maybe as a state, we use the term ‘atmospheric reemployment.’ That might be something that the governor could get behind.”

Senators roared with laughter, and the chairman, Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, almost literally fell out of his chair.

Again, remember: There is a reason Republicans think government does not and cannot work; governance, in Republican hands, is a laughingstock.

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Bousquet, Steve. “In Senate testimony, top Scott adviser won’t say ‘climate change'”. Miami Herald. 19 March 2015.