Sunday, August 14, 2016

Last Call For Blue Bayou

Meanwhile, Louisiana is suffering from some of the worst flooding the state has seen since Katrina, with the Baton Rouge area along I-10 and I-12 the hardest hit.

Rescue efforts intensified Sunday as historic rain that paralyzed much of southeastern Louisiana eased while floodwaters continued to bring havoc to the battered region.

State Police helicopters delivered food and water to hundreds of motorists stuck for more than 24 hours in flooding near Baton Rouge. More than 7,000 people — and 500 pets — were rescued from homes, businesses and cars overwhelmed by the unrelenting waters, Gov. John Bel Edwards said. He said the death toll from flooding remained at three, with one person missing.

Parts of the area have been blasted by up to 25 inches of rain since Friday. The weather improved Sunday, but Edwards warned that flooding issues will continue for days.

"This is a serious event, ongoing," Edwards said at a Sunday news conference. "It's not over."

The Amite and Comite rivers were among those hit with record flooding. Jeff Gaschel, a hydrologist for the National Weather Service, said some areas of the Amite River won't crest until Monday. He said the area had similar rainfall amounts in 2001, but over a longer period of time.

Gov. Edwards himself had to evacuate the governor's mansion due to record flooding.  Expect to see more extreme, record-setting weather events like this as climate change magnifies the effects of storms and temperature.

The Coming Av-Hill-Lanche, Con't

Trump's corrosive rhetoric is starting to do permanent damage to his chances to win in November, as yet another set of swing state polls, this time from CBS, show he continues to be in dire odds of getting swamped.

Hillary Clinton has extended her lead in Florida and is now up five points over Donald Trump, 45 percent to 40 percent; she led by three points in June.

And Clinton now has a dominant nine-point lead in New Hampshire, 45 percent to 36 percent, a lead that has her threatening to take that battleground state off the board entirely, just as last week, a double-digit lead in Virginia made that state look like anything but a toss-up.

In Georgia - usually a Republican state not typically considered a battleground - Trump leads 45-41 but Clinton has things closer than in most presidential races, down just four points.

New Hampshire, just like Virginia, Pennsylvania and Colorado, is looking increasingly out of reach for Trump.  North Carolina, Ohio, and Florida are all moving into the Clinton solid lead column. Georgia, Arizona, and South Carolina are moving into play.  These are all states that Trump nees to win, and Clinton is starting to look like she's going to run the table.

But here's what I mean about "permanent damage" to Trump's chances:

Among women in New Hampshire, zero percent of those not with him are an affirmative "yes" and a scant nine percent say "maybe" they'd consider him going forward. Ninety-one percent say they never would.

And it also highlights the kinds of trouble he's had among voters of his own party: he's at 78 percent support among Republicans, compared to Clinton's 93 percent of Democrats.

Trump has lost women, and I'm betting he's lost black voters, Hispanic voters, and Asian voters as well.  People are not coming back to give him a second look, and that means there's not much more he can do to shift the numbers in his favor, even with 85 days left to go.

Trump hasn't made any headway since June in allaying the concerns of Florida voters who were put off by his campaign. Back in June half of them said watching the Trump campaign scared them, and those numbers are effectively the same today. The number of voters not with Trump who'd consider him has also slipped, from 16 percent in June to 10 percent now.

The movement in Florida, such as it is, has come from Clinton pulling in those previously undecided. Although she does get a few more Republicans now than Trump does Democrats, both of their support bases have remained largely locked in, and it remains a campaign in which voters feel they don't have a lot of choice. That may in turn explain why there have been so few outright swing voters.

In Florida, one-third feel they're choosing a candidate despite not liking either one, and just two percent feel they have two good choices between Trump and Clinton. In New Hampshire, that number is just one percent.

And in a year that's already provided so many counterintuitive findings, here we find that authenticity - often believed to be a valued attribute for a candidate - doesn't always correspond with who is ahead. Seven in ten voters feel Trump is showing who he really is on the campaign trail, but he is trailing. A majority feel Hillary Clinton isn't showing who she really is, but she's leading nonetheless.

Clinton's lead is starting to get locked in, guys.  It also means that the Clinton campaign's efforts to get out the vote have to be top notch in order to keep people motivated to get out and vote in November.

I still believe this is going to be one of the lowest presidential election turnouts in a long time.  The most recent nadir was 49% in 1996, just below the 50.3% in 2000 that ended up in front of the Supreme Court.  I think we'll be in the upper 40's at best and maybe less than 45%, which is why I have a pretty bad feeling about the the Dems taking back the House and Senate and Congress remaining in GOP hands.

But...who knows?  I could be wrong.  Maybe Trump's awfulness will get people to come out and vote against him -- and the GOP -- like they did in 2008.  If that's the case, the Trump campaign may hit a critical mass and implode, taking Republicans this year along with it.

We'll see.

Black Lives Still Matter

Another shooting by police, this time of an armed black man suspected of robbery in Milwaukee, that led to a crowd gathering in protest and violence.

A standoff between police and an angry crowd turned violent Saturday night in the hours after a Milwaukee police officer shot and killed an armed suspect during a foot chase on the city's north side.

After an hours-long confrontation with officers, police reported at 10:15 p.m. that a gas station at N. Sherman Blvd. and W. Burleigh St. was set on fire. Police said firefighters could not for a time get close to the blaze because of gunshots.

Later, fires were started at businesses — including a BMO Harris Bank branch, a beauty supply company and O'Reilly Auto Parts stores — near N. 35th and W. Burleigh streets, a grim and emphatic Mayor Tom Barrett said. He spoke at a midnight news conference at the District 3 police station at N. 49th St. and W. Lisbon Ave. 
He and Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton pleaded with the public for calm. Barrett promised a strong police presence in coming days.

The mayor said some involved in the disturbances took to social media early in the evening to encourage others to come out and participate in trouble-making. He said many of them were young people, and he urged parents to keep tight reins on their children to avoid a repeat of Saturday night.

"Our police officers are doing everything they can to restore order," he said. But he said everyone needed to help restore calm.

"If you love your son, if you love your daughter, text them, call them, pull them by their ears, get them home."

The mayor said police had "shown an amazing amount of restraint" Saturday evening.

Hamilton said, "Our city is in turmoil tonight." He promised a full and open investigation into the the police-involved shooting.

"When we get information, we are going to share it with the public, please allow the process to work," he said.

First, it's weird how even in situations where police are dealing with armed white suspects that they are "captured" or "taken alive" but black ones are killed far more often.

Second, what would lack of restraint look like by the Milwaukee PD? Killing suspects before they could be tried or something? Rolling tanks down the streets? How is this in any way restraint by the police?

Third, Milwaukee is arguably the most segregated large city in America and has been for years. That directly affects the makeup of the Milwaukee PD, the conditions of income equality in the city, everything. Some 40% of Milwaukee residents are black, and the overwhelming majority live on the city's north side.  This was apparent even back in 1999 when I was in town for GenCon and my friends and I drove north to Appleton to meet our old pal from high school.  We went through that part of town and my friends were pretty stunned at what they saw.  Nothing much has changed since.

Black Lives Still Matter, guys.  Police reform is still needed, badly.

Sunday Long Read: 15 Years And A World Apart

As we now approach 15 years since September 11, 2001, this week's Sunday Long Read is Scott Anderson's sweeping magnum opus in the NY Times Magazine on how Iraq came apart and took the rest of the Middle East with it. It is the story of how the cosmically awful and morally indefensible actions of Bush 43 and the multiple failures to fix the problem by Obama during that time affected the ground level view of the mayhem we caused over the last decade and a half, all from the point of view of the people who lived there, whose lives America destroyed.

The opening note from the editor-in-chief sums it up:

This is a story unlike any we have previously published. It is much longer than the typical New York Times Magazine feature story; in print, it occupies an entire issue. The product of some 18 months of reporting, it tells the story of the catastrophe that has fractured the Arab world since the invasion of Iraq 13 years ago, leading to the rise of ISIS and the global refugee crisis. The geography of this catastrophe is broad and its causes are many, but its consequences — war and uncertainty throughout the world — are familiar to us all. Scott Anderson’s story gives the reader a visceral sense of how it all unfolded, through the eyes of six characters in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan. Accompanying Anderson’s text are 10 portfolios by the photographer Paolo Pellegrin, drawn from his extensive travels across the region over the last 14 years, as well as a landmark virtual-reality experience that embeds the viewer with the Iraqi fighting forces during the battle to retake Falluja.

It is unprecedented for us to focus so much energy and attention on a single story, and to ask our readers to do the same. We would not do so were we not convinced that what follows is one of the most clear-eyed, powerful and human explanations of what has gone wrong in this region that you will ever read.

This took me most of the morning to get though, and it was absolutely worth it, and it may be the single most important foreign policy piece I've read in years.  I would have missed it if my best friend hadn't tipped me off to it, so thank you.
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