Lazy Caturday Reads

Painting by Roxanne Driedger

Good Morning!!

While Trump spends his nights lying to his cult followers at his Hitler rallies, and his administration works at finding excuses for the murder of a Washington Post journalist, survivors of Hurricane Michael down in Florida are wondering if Trump’s flunkies will bother to help them in their time of desperate need.

The New York Times: ‘We Need Answers’: Hurricane Michael Leaves Florida Residents Desperate for Aid.

PANAMA CITY, Fla. — It was two days after Hurricane Michael, and Eddie Foster was pushing his mother in a wheelchair down a thoroughly smashed street, his face creased with a concentrated dose of the frustration and fear that has afflicted much of the Florida Panhandle since the brutal storm turned its coast to rubble.

He was in a working-class neighborhood called Millville, where many residents said they were becoming desperate for even basic necessities. Mr. Foster, 60, and his 99-year-old mother had no car, no electricity. The food had spoiled in his refrigerator. The storm had ripped off large sections of his roof. He had no working plumbing to flush with. No water to drink. And as of Friday afternoon, he had seen no sign of government help.

“What can I do?” he said. “I’m not angry. I just want some help.”

This was the problem that government officials were racing to solve on Friday, as desperation grew in and around Panama City under a burning sun. Long lines formed for gas and food, and across the battered coastline, those who were poor, trapped and isolated sent out pleas for help.

Painting by Arsen Kurbanov

Buzzfeed News: “It’s Pretty Much All Gone”: Residents Return Home To Ruins At Ground Zero Of Hurricane Michael.

As residents returned to Port St. Joe and Mexico Beach, the ground zero Florida Panhandle towns where Hurricane Michael made landfall as a dangerous Category 4 storm Wednesday, they arrived to a landscape ravaged by 155 mph winds and massive storm surge.

“We kind of knew what to expect from watching the TV, but it is horrible to be here in person,” said Maxie Warren, 69, while looking at the home her son lived in.

Warren made the trip two days after the hurricane made landfall, killing at least 14 people as it plowed through the region, from her home in southwest Georgia to check on her own ancestral home in Mexico Beach — an area nearly obliterated by Michael.

“I think it’s a total loss. It’s pretty much all gone,” Warren said of her home, which has been in her family since 1955. “It will take years to get back from this.”

People with disabilities are particularly at risk in disasters like this, and FEMA has drastically cut the number of employees trained to help them. WGBH (PBS):

In the last month, two major storms have ripped through the Southeast: Hurricane Florence drenched the Carolinas, while the high winds of Hurricane Michael “shredded” houses in the Florida Panhandle. But as state and local governments assess the damage, nonprofits that aid people with disabilities during natural disasters are worried new policy changes within the Federal Emergency Management Agency could negatively affect recovery for these residents.

Painting by Chen Yifei (Chinese, 1946 – 2005)

FEMA deploys teams of Disability Integration Advisors to provide assistance to those with disabilities during federally declared natural disasters, such as hurricanes, wildfires and floods. In the past, this included providing disability training to FEMA employees, as well as assessing what technical assistance people needed, like hearing amplifiers or sign-language interpreters. The roles of DIAs continued after the disaster, helping people find appropriate housing and avoid having to go to nursing homes.

But back in May, FEMA said it was reducing the number of DIAs per disaster from 60 to 5. For every major storm in the past, such as the 2016 flooding in Louisiana, FEMA deployed between 60 and 65 DIAs. During Florence last month, FEMA sent five advisors to North Carolina and two to South Carolina.

On murdered journalist Jamal Kashoggi, Michael Isakoff reported yesterday that what initially angered Saudi Crown Prince was Kashoggi’s criticism while the prince was sucking up to Jared Kuchner and Trump: Khashoggi friend says journalist angered Saudi government with column during its ‘charm campaign.’

In October 2017, Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi crossed a line that made him a marked man and led, most likely, to his brutal death, according to one of his close friends.

His offense: He dared to criticize the country’s volatile Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a Washington Post column that accused the supposedly reformist strongman — and a strategic partner of White House adviser Jared Kushner — of imprisoning intellectuals, journalists and other political dissidents.

Dee Nickerson, Casting on

“That article came in the middle of this charm campaign that the Saudis and Prince Mohammed bin Salman were having,” said Khaled Saffuri, a political analyst who met with Khashoggi regularly in recent months, even smoking cigars with him a few weeks ago, shortly before the journalist left the U.S. for Istanbul.

In an interview for the Yahoo News podcast “Skullduggery,” Saffuri explained that Khashoggi evolved from a onetime defender of the royal family to an outspoken critic who became increasingly distrustful — and fearful — of his country’s powerful new de facto ruler.

He spoke as the Washington Post was reporting that Turkish officials had informed the U.S. that they had audio and video recordings proving that Khashoggi was interrogated, tortured and then murdered after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

At The Washington Post, Fred Hiatt wonders how all the U.S. lawyers and lobbyists, and former officials who work for Saudi Arabia will live with themselves now: Will you work for a murderer? That’s the question a host of ex-generals, diplomats and spies may soon face.

“Why do you work for a murderer?”

Increasingly, it seems that is a question many Americans should be preparing themselves to answer.

Each year, Saudi Arabia employs, through consultants or otherwise, a host of retired American generals, diplomats, intelligence experts and others. Until now, they could assure themselves this was a win-win: lucrative for them, to be sure, but also enhancing mutual understanding with an important U.S. ally.

Gianni Strino (Italian, b. 1953) – La sartina (The seamstress), 2013

Now, as more and more evidence implicates Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in the reported murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Saudi diplomatic property in Istanbul, the equation has changed.

So how might, say, a retired Air Force colonel explain his work when his daughter asks, “Daddy, why do you work for a murderer?”

“Well, it helps to pay your future college tuition,” he might answer. “And besides, I finally get to fly business class. Riyadh is no picnic, but they always spring for a couple of nights in a five-star hotel in London or Abu Dhabi on the way over and the way back. . . . And if I don’t do it, someone else will.”

That’s how Trump sees it, Hiatt writes–it’s all about the money. Read the rest at the WaPo.

It’s all about money for Maine Senator Susan Collins too. The Washington Post: Collins blasted ‘dark money’ groups in Kavanaugh fight. One just paid to thank her for her vote.

A conservative group that poured more than $5 million into a campaign to defend Brett M. Kavanaugh launched a new ad buy this week: thanking Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) for her vote supporting the nominee.

“In the midst of the chaos one leader stood out,” one of the Judicial Crisis Network’s ads says. “She did the right thing, supporting him. Thanks Susan Collins, for being a reasonable voice in Washington.”

Painting by Jeffrey Nentrup (American, b. 1976)

The ad ends with a phone number for Collins’s Washington office. The group did not disclose the cost of its ad buy but said it would amount to more than $100,000 for television and digital ads.

Judicial Crisis Network is a 501(c)(4) advocacy organization — a “dark money” group that is not required to disclose the sources of its funding, regardless of the industry groups or individual donors behind them. It poured at least $5.3 million into its pro-Kavanaugh advertising campaign, much of it targeting vulnerable Senate Democrats in red and swing states. At least $1.5 million of that was spent defending Kavanaugh after Christine Blasey Ford went public with her allegation of sexual assault against him.

Is the constant onslaught of Trump chaos affecting our mental health? According to Politico, some therapists think so: Trump May Not Be Crazy, But the Rest of Us Are Getting There Fast.

During normal times, therapists say, their sessions deal with familiar themes: relationships, self-esteem, everyday coping. Current events don’t usually invade. But numerous counselors said Trump and his convulsive effect on America’s national conversation are giving politics a prominence on the psychologist’s couch not seen since the months after 9/11—another moment in which events were frightening in a way that had widespread emotional consequences.

Empirical data bolster the anecdotal reports from practitioners. The American Psychiatric Association in a May survey found that 39 percent of people said their anxiety level had risen over the previous year—and 56 percent were either “extremely anxious” or “somewhat anxious about “the impact of politics on daily life.” A 2017 study found two-thirds of Americans’ see the nation’s future as a “very or somewhat significant source of stress.”

Michael Leonard (British, b. 1933) – Rameses and Monica, 1978

These findings suggest the political-media community has things backward when it comes to Trump and mental health.

For two years or more, commentators have been cross-referencing observations of presidential behavior with the official APA Diagnostic and Statistical Manual’s definition of narcissistic personality disorder. Journalists have compared contemporary video of Trump with interviews from the 1980s for signs of possible cognitive decline. And even some people on his own team, according to books and news reports, have been reading up on the process of presidential removal under the 25th Amendment of the Constitution—fueled by suspicions that the president’s allegedly erratic and undeniably precedent-shattering approach to the Oval Office might prove eventually to be a case of non compos mentis.

A more plausible interpretation, in the view of some psychological experts, is that Trump has been cultivating, adapting and prospering from his distinctive brand of provocation, brinkmanship and self-drama for the past 72 years. What we’re seeing is merely the president’s own definition of normal. It is only the audience that finds the performance disorienting.

On that note, I’ll turn the floor over to you. What stories are you following today?

13 Comments on “Lazy Caturday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:
  2. NW Luna says:

    Anxiety levels rising — oh yes, and It certainly affects the rest of one’s health. “two-thirds of Americans’ see the nation’s future as a “very or somewhat significant source of stress.”

    Lovely paintings! Thanks, BB. I’d love to sit down with some of these women and admire their cats and talk. Ah…..

  3. dakinikat says:

    I love the cat paintings! It got down to 66 last night and both of mine were snuggled up on my pillows and the dog, as always, spooning me. I have no idea how I would get through all of this stress with out their constant antics and love.

    I read the politico article. I think I told you I took a unscientific survey about who had to turn off the TV or mute it when he comes on because it’s so stressful just to watch him animated and talking. It’s like being constantly bullied and gaslighted. I will never, ever, forgive the people responsible for this nightmare.

  4. dakinikat says:

    New York Witches Schedule Event To Cast A Hex On Brett Kavanaugh And Other Rapists accoridng to Red state, Tucker Carlson, and all kinds of shrill deplorables.

    That never gets old.

    • Delphyne49 says:

      I love that video and will save it, especially for Walpurgisnacht, the end of April! Thanks for the link!

  5. dakinikat says:

  6. dakinikat says:

  7. RonStill4Hills says:

    I have been a bit unplugged traveling so this may be old news…1) Hills told IL Douchebag to shove his security clearance up his ass, 2) Melania admits to lying about “A jacket is just a jacket.”

    Funny how much these blunt outspoken ass-hats lie about what they mean and weasel at the first hint of ctriticism. Sort of exposes their “political incorrectness” as plain old rudeness and assholery.