Flint water and the Governor

I have been reading this story with shock tempered by schadenfreude. If ever a Governor deserved the kicks Rick Snyder of Michigan is getting right now it’s him, unless it’s his neighbor Scott Walker of Wisconsin.

Look at the circumstances. Flint is a city in distress, with its industry gone and its tax base diminishing right along with it. It hasn’t the money to repair its infrastructure, and its governments have been unable to lure new industry and tax dollars. So Republican Snyder decides he’ll make use of the Emergency Manager’s Act of 1988, technically Public Act 101. This manager’s powers are very broad indeed: An emergency manager can:

  • Hire/fire local government employees
  • Renegotiate, terminate, modify labor contracts with state treasury approval
  • Sell, lease, or privatize local assets with state treasury approval
  • Revise contract obligations
  • Change local budgets without local legislative approval
  • Initiate municipal bankruptcy proceedings
  • Hire support staff

An emergency manager cannot raise taxes.

In other words, he’s pretty much a dictator.

Anyway, the manager decided Flint could save money by using the Flint River as the city’s source for all its water needs, because buying water from Detroit Water and Sewerage was expensive. Bad decision, since the savings weren’t used to filter the water from the river to keep the lead pipes from corroding and contaminating the water supply. Complaints began almost immediately. Did the Governor listen? Did the state’s Department of Environmental Quality not just ignore the complaints but dismiss them out of hand? Are the politicians at the state level Republicans who worship at the small government altar?

If you answered “no, yes, yes,” you win the prize.

Our North Shore, ladies and germs

Surfers took off at Waimea Bay on Dec. 6.

Surfers took off at Waimea Bay on Dec. 6.

The photo is from December. The forecast is for waves bigger than the one shown there.

Surf is expected to rise to 35 to 45 feet today [Wednesday] for the north shores of Oahu, Maui County and Kauai County. The west shores of Oahu, Kauai County and Molokai could see up to 20 to 30 feet, weather officials said. The warning is in effect through 6 a.m. Thursday.

A high surf advisory is in effect for west shores of Hawaii island.

Forecasters said a very large north-northwest swell will bring warning-level surf of 35 to 45 feet to north-facing shores today, then lowering to 20 to 25 feet Thursday.

This happens every winter.

The Bundyites are horny

Here’s what I mean:


Posted by Blaine Cooper on Sunday, January 17, 2016

Republican candidates

Here’s a nice summary from Fred Kaplan at Slate of the most notable responses from the Republican Presidential candidates to the three transactions the US concluded with Iran this week: the release of the Navy sailors, the nuclear deal and subsequent release of Iranian assets and this morning’s prisoner exchange.

It was pretty evident even to us non-experts that the candidates were idiots when they denounced the temporary detention of United States Navy sailors who’d strayed into Iran’s territorial waters. What do they think the United States Coast Guard does when another nation’s boats stray into ours?

Then some of them screeched that Iran should not be “given” the $150 billion that was part of the nuclear deal signed late last year. It seems obvious these people don’t even know that that money was and always has been Iranian and that it’s been frozen and unavailable to its government as part of the sanctions regime which got them to do the nuclear deal in the end. Nor do the candidates seem to understand that the deal included the unfreezing of those assets upon completion or destruction of certain nuclear facilities in Iran.

Finally the idiocy became completely obvious when they squalled about the prisoner exchange which brought five Americans out of Iranian custody and on their way home today. “My pushing might’ve had something to do with it,” Trump said. Here’s Kaplan:

Even by Trump standards, the egomania embedded in this remark is staggering. But it also reflects something more dangerous about not just Trump but most of the leading GOP candidates: a view that “hitting them hard” is the only way to get people to do things, and that patient diplomacy is for suckers and weaklings.

Exactly. It’s kind of scary when you learn that the leading candidates put forth by one of the two major political parties in the most powerful nation in the world are not only buffoons but dangerously stupid buffoons at that. Kaplan again:

The events of the past week reveal a few things about the Republican critique of Obama’s foreign policy. First, it is completely uninformed on substantive grounds: The jeremiads against the nuclear accord in particular reflect a deep-seated ignorance of what’s in the nuclear deal. Second, it is completely uninformed on procedural grounds: The candidates know nothing about the diplomatic back-and-forth that produced the nuclear deal, the prisoner release, or the release earlier this week of the 10 U.S. sailors who’d somehow crossed into Iranian territorial waters.

If 48-50% of Americans really think any of these people are feasible candidates for President of this country, the sane members of this society should be worried.

Home Decor


Besides the usual loads of towels and clothing, today was “wash the Christmas tablecloths and hang them up for another year” day. We took the tree down earlier in the week, and I finally got everything back into the Christmas closet a day or two later.

Pfui. Where’s my Valentine’s Day tablecloth?

Remember this, boomers?

Most of the album is bluesy, raucous and loud, but this opening track is quiet. The next track is a very uptempo Smiling Phases.

Blood Sweat and Tears never came close to the success this album achieved again. In some form or another and with an ever-changing personnel list (over 140 bandmembers so far!) it’s still touring and presumably earning a living. There are performances next week in Texas (Austin, Richardson, and The Woodlands).

First Bowie, then Rickman. Who’s next?

I wasn’t ever a big fan of David Bowie or his music, probably because I didn’t hear a lot of his 1970s material since I was out of the country almost continuously from 1972 to 1978. Nonetheless I recognize how big a cultural icon he was. I’d know that if only by the volume of regretful posts noting his passing from cancer at 69 on my Facebook feed. At least two-thirds of my friends there posted something about him.

Just as you’re muttering “damned cancer, taking the good people early” and putting a lid on that part of you that grieves for people you admired in life without knowing them comes today’s news that Alan Rickman died, also from cancer and also at the relatively young age of 69.

I’m not much of a moviegoer, but I went to see those that nearly everyone went to see over the last 15 years, including the Lord of the Rings movies, the Hobbit movies, and all the Harry Potter ones. I may have seen the cast of the Potter films more than any other bunch of actors in my life, with the possible exception of Sean Connery in his James Bond years. I admired Rickman as Snape. He radiated disdain in that role, and he managed to portray the Professor of Potions and then Professor of the Dark Arts as a sinister and unnerving character. The revelation of his motives at the end of the saga was very satisfying.

From all the acclaim for him that I saw today I may have to rent some of his other films.

Oy, these right-wingers

Ann Coulter thinks says Nikki Haley was mean to Donald Trump and is a closet immigration amnesty-lover who should be deported. (I’m not sure Coulter ever thinks; I think she just reacts to things.)

Roy Edroso at alicublog documents the fright-wing’s responses to the release of the 10 Navy sailors momentarily detained by Iran for violating its territorial waters.

One gets the sense reading the frothy language from those guys that as far as they’re concerned the optimal result of the episode would have been the delivery of American nuclear bombs to Tehran. From the bomb-bay of a B-52.

They are a gutsy bunch.