Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Time Already for the I-Word?

So the guy is going to build the damned wall anyway.  Ronnie Reagan gained sainthood in conservative theology by demanding that a wall be torn down.  The new guy aspires to something higher than sainthood — god — and aims to get there by building a wall.  Go figure.

Bob Reich wrote that he had lunch recently with a former Republican congressman — still well connected in the House and Senate — who said the leaders there are just biding their time, licking their chops, panting to trigger Impeachment.

Let me suggest the grounds for doing so right now: mental incompetency.

Face it, America: your president-elect is crazy as a loon.

I know a young man who is rising rapidly in the ranks of the Border Patrol.  He has worked in three border states — Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.  He has chased down coyotes and their clients.  He is intimately familiar with the existing sections of wall.  He says walls are useless on this border.  Too expensive to build, diverting money from technology that actually works against illegal immigration and drug smuggling.  He says it’s too expensive to maintain, distracting Border Patrol officers from more important duties.  He comes from a long line of Republicans.  But this new guy is, he thinks, totally loco.

First he insults the entire U.S.intelligence community.  Then he goes to CIA headquarters, ostensibly to make peace and pledge his fidelity  to all our spooks, but he brings along a claque of toadies and ensconces them in the front row to turn what should have been a sober session into one more circus act. The pros were not amused at this desecration of the memorial wall they have erected to honor comrades who gave their lives to gather the kind of intelligence data that he denigrated in his campaign.

Then he insists on raising again the canard that he’d have won the popular vote if only those three million illegal immigrants hadn’t been allowed to cast ballots.  Not even Paul Ryan or Lindsey Graham could stomach more of this insanity.  Either show the evidence you purport to have or shut the hell up, they told him.   Telling this guy to shut up is like telling the fox not to eat that chicken.  

Now he’s ordering the damned wall to be built.  The media continue to be so obsessed with his crazy tweets, twiddles, whims and what-nots that they paid virtually no attention to an important and dangerous new wrinkle in foreign affairs that his administration has already caused: China has deployed inter-continental ballistic missiles near Russia, positioning them to be able to reach targets in the United States, Canada and Europe. The DF-41 missiles (range: 9,000 miles) are in northeastern Heilongjiang province bordering Russia. International weapons experts say that selecting this area for deploying the missiles clearly indicates that they are not  meant to target Russia. Konstantin Sivkov, head of a geopolitical studies group, said, "If that were the purpose, the missiles should have been stationed deep inside mainland China or on its southern border.” He added, “This is China’s response to threats pronounced by the new US president. These Chinese missiles would be able to use a more advantageous northern strategic route for approaching targets in the United States, thus bypassing the US missile defense.”

A symptom of mental incompetency is divorce from reality.  Obsessions with minor annoyances frequently preoccupy MI victims to the neglect of far more important matters.  Many MIs are prone to middle of the night rants (alcoholics who indulge in such behavior are called “telephone drunks.”)

So we’ve got Chinese ICBMs pointed at us and this guy is going bonkers about building a useless wall along our southern border.

Impeachment, anyone?

Travelers in Trumpistan

Couple of folks left New Mexico the other day, driving east through Texas, and stopped for the night at a motel in Odessa.  The motel guy gave them a key to their room and a supply of bottled water.  “Don’t use the tap,” he said, “not even to bathe or shower.”  The travelers wished he had told them this before they registered.  The Motel guy shrugged and flashed what my midwestern neighbors used to call “a shit-eating grin.”  

“Wouldn’t have mattered.  All the motels got the same problem.  We’ve got a water situation here,” the motel guy said.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality found that the water is contaminated with chromium.  Independent environmental scientists traced the contaminated water to the facilities of Schumberger oil and gas, one of the Permian Basin’s big fossil fuel, drilling, fracking, testing and equipment companies.  Schumberger insists it isn’t their chromium.  “The source is likely an adjacent site unrelated to our facilities.”

Felicia Acosta, who lives nearby, doesn’t care whose chromium caused her water to turn yellow, then green, she just wants it to stop. “I’ve got rashes on my arms,” she said. ““Stomach problems, a lot of stuff that my doctor doesn't know where it's coming from.” Darrell Moody says his property values have plummeted.  “"I have emphysema and other health problems," Moody said. " I've got some bad headaches.” 

Welcome to Life in the Divided States of Trumpistan.

    * * *

Oh, you can’t drink the water in Odessa, Texas, 
You can’t drink the water down Midland way,
‘Cuz somebody’s chromium has laced it with poison,
If I was a Texan I’d move out today.

* * * 

The government of Trumpistan has declared that construction will resume on the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Keystone XL pipeline.  Construction on both had been halted by the Obama administration because of the threats they pose to the environment, especially the water supplies of dozens of communities along the routes. Protests against the Dakota pipeline by native American tribes have won support from all over the world.  

The lines are especially dangerous because they would move diluted bitumen from the tar sands of Canada, highly toxic substances so thick that they can only be moved at extremely high pressures, which makes the pipes more susceptible to rupturing.  At a point near Baker, Mont., the pipeline would take on crude from the Williston Basin, whose characteristics are like those of the Permian Basin that surrounds Midland.

And so, Steel City and Cushing, Lincoln and Patoka, and all the other towns along the way,  you are Odessa, you are Flint.  You are f-, f-, fracked.

* * *
A voice that sounds like Sean Spicer’s blares from the loudspeaker:

Attention, citizens of Trumpistan!  Attention!  Pay no attention to the lies coming from the nasty media. Ignore them!  Your water is perfectly safe to drink.  Take many baths, many showers.  Yellow is a beautiful color. Green is even more beautiful.  If God had intended water to be clear He wouldn’t have made the oceans blue, would He?  You know we would not lie to you.  Drink the water.  Pretend it is Kool-Ade.

Me and The Big Mountain

They’re going to re-measure Everest, the tallest mountain in the world.  Scientists fear the big guy may have shrunk as much as three feet as a result of the 2015 earthquake in Nepal.

 Surveyor General of India Swarna Subba Rao said,  “Everest height was declared, if I remember correctly, in 1855. Many others also measured it. But the height given by the Survey of India, even today, is taken as the correct height. It is 29,028 feet. We are remeasuring it. Two years have passed since the major Nepal earthquake. After that, there is a doubt in the scientific community that it is shrinking. That is one of the reasons. Second reason is, it helps in scientific studies, plate movements etc. We plan to send our expedition team in two months.”

Mountains can speak — the wind gives them voice — but I doubt they can hear.  If Everest could hear, I would try to console it by telling it the story of my last visit to the doctor.

Before you see the doctor, they weigh you, take your blood pressure and measure you.  The nurse fiddled with the measuring apparatus and said, “Six feet two inches.”

“Oh, no,” I objected.  “Your device must be wrong.  I’m 6-4.  Have been since junior year of high school.”

She remeasured.  “Six feet two inches,” she said firmly.  “High school was a long, long time ago.”

“You have 32 vertebrae,” the doctor said.  “They bear a lot of weight over your lifetime.  As you get older, the space between them tends to compress.  It only takes 1/16 of an inch between vertebrae to reduce your height by two inches.”

Shrinkage, it seems, is part of the natural cycle, like the “growing pains” of youth.  What goes up, comes down.  

Everest, being a relatively young mountain, might be upset at first but it should consider that the Appalachians, which used to be very tall like the Himalayas, seem to be quite happy in their current, much shrunken status. They’ve even figured out how to grace their so-called “balds” with lovely patches of rhododendron. 

Mountains are spared the problem of worrying about other kinds of shrinkage, like hands.  

I used to be able to palm a basketball in each hand, I told the doctor.  Even sent a picture of me doing so to a surgeon who had repaired one of my hands after an injury.

“Don’t try it now,” the doctor said. “Too much arthritis.  Maybe a soccer ball . . .”  But it wouldn’t be the same.  Sad.
This is no time for anyone on the political left to be afflicted with small hands.