Hurricane Harvey: Unprecedented and Fortuitously Timely

It’s time to Break It Down!

Hurricane Harvey has ravaged southeastern Texas since last weekend. Its devastating consequences brought record-level wind, rain, and flooding to the Houston area. The storm eventually reached Category 4 status by the time it reached landfall last Friday. Houston is the most populous city in the state of Texas and the fourth-most populous city in the United States, with a 2016 census-estimated population of 2.3 million people. It is located in the fifth most populous MSA in the country. By early Tuesday evening, rainfall, which had topped 50 inches, ceased and the sun shone through for the first time in several days.

That was the good news. The bad news was, despite opening two dams to release the rapidly building water flow; area flooding had caused thousands to evacuate, and had contributed to at least nine deaths. As if that were not enough, after moving off the coast, the storm re-energized over the water, and is expected to approach land in the Houston area again, but also northeast toward the Beaumont area, as well as into Louisiana, and possibly the Memphis area of Tennessee.

While much of the rain moves toward other states, Houston is still at risk of flood waters. The Brazos River has risen 40 feet since Saturday, and is expected to rise another 5 feet before cresting. It’s apt to note Harvey is no longer a Hurricane, but even as a Tropical Storm, it continues to leave its mark.

Harvey is a tropical cyclone that is the first major hurricane to make landfall in the United States since Wilma in 2005, ending a record 12-year period with no hurricanes of Category 3 intensity or higher making landfall. Harvey is the first hurricane to hit Texas since Ike in 2008, and the strongest to make landfall in the state since Carla in 1961. It’s also the strongest in the Gulf of Mexico since Hurricane Rita in 2005, and the strongest to make landfall in the Gulf area since Hurricane Charley in 2004.

Harvey joined Matthew (2016) as one of only two U.S. hurricanes to cause an extreme wind warning to be issued, indicating “tornado-like winds” within the storm, including isolated tornadoes. Harvey is also the wettest tropical cyclone on record in the contiguous United States, dropping a total of more than 50 inches of rain, surpassing the record set by Tropical Storm Amelia in 1978.

There are numerous plots and subplots stemming from Hurricane Harvey. Most are well chronicled during the evening news, in newspapers and magazines, and on cable news outlets 24/7, or thereabouts. The storm has uprooted thousands of people, and undoubtedly discomforted millions. The property damage estimates are already into the $billions. Every iota of coverage generated by the storm has been warranted.

Still, during the virtual avalanche of attention the storm had garnered, a few key items have largely receded into the background. Just for the record, here are ten issues worth simultaneously tracking, while you monitor Harvey:

  1. Various Trump-Russia investigations (Don’t be fooled; there are 5)
  2. North Korea’s continued missile testing and accompanying threats
  3. Donald Trump, Jr. and his scheduled testimony on his Russian meeting
  4. Paul Manafort
  5. Subpoenas for Paul Manafort’s attorney and his current spokesman
  6. Jared Kushner
  7. Trump business sought to build a Trump Tower in Moscow
  8. Transgender Troop Ban
  9. GOP push to limit Mueller’s investigation to 6 months
  10. Trump’s Charlottesville response

Unquestionably, Donald Trump and his supporters, surrogates, and spinners would like very much for you to forget about the items above. Don’t do it. I’m not suggesting you or anyone should downplay the devastation in Houston. In fact, I extend prayers and best wishes for all the residents of the state of Texas who were personally affected by, or who have family and or friends who were affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Having said that, I also believe it is worth noting in a more detailed way, the investigations referenced in item #1 above. Below are the 5 investigations, and their areas of emphasis:

Senate Intelligence:

  • Russia’s interference in the election
  • Collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia

Senate Judiciary:

  • The circumstances that led to national security adviser Michael Flynn’s dismissal
  • Leaks to the media

House Intelligence:

  • Russia’s interference in the election
  • Collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia
  • Leaks to the media

House Oversight:

  • Flynn’s contacts with Russian officials, including payments he received.

Special Counsel:

  • Any attempt to obstruct justice by Trump, or his allies
  • The Trump campaign’s ties to Russia
  • Russian meddling in the 2016 election
  • Possible financial crimes by Trump associates

Now let’s be clear. It is conceivably possible that all 5 of the aforementioned inquiries could result in finding that President Trump is as clean as the Board of Health. His right wing chorus has already acquitted him. They routinely and hyper-vigorously exclaim he is the victim of haters, left wing liberals, Democrats, the Main Stream Media, and the deep state. This, of course, is where I normally note, for example,  that most of the so-called leaks occurred in his White House. You know, the one in which he has appointed all the staff and Councils…including those who’ve failed to make it eight full months; see a list of at least 30 people and two Councils, including the following:

  • General Michael Flynn – National Security Advisor (resigned) – 22 days
  • Sean Spicer – Press Secretary (resigned) – 182 days
  • Anthony Scaramucci – Director of Communications (fired) – 10 days
  • Reince Priebus – Chief of Staff (resigned) – 189 days
  • Steve Bannon (mutual agreement) – 210 days
  • Sebastian Gorka (unclear) – 217 days
  • Carl Ichan (resigned) – 210 days
  • White House Manufacturing Council (dissolved) – 201 days
  • White House Economic Council (dissolved) – 201 days
  • Denise Morrison – Advisory Council (resigned) – 201 days
  • Inge Thulin – Advisory Council (resigned) 201 days
  • Thea Lee – Advisory Council (resigned) 200 days
  • Scott Paul – Advisory Council (resigned) 200 days
  • Richard Trumka – Advisory Council (resigned) 200 days
  • Kenneth C. Frazier – Advisory Council (resigned) – 199 days
  • Kevin Plank – Advisory Council – (resigned) – 199 days
  • Brian Krzanich – Advisory Council (resigned) – 199 days
  • Derek Harvey National Security Council Advisor (fired) – 186 days
  • Michael Short Assistant Press Secretary (resigned) – 186 days
  • Walter Shaub Director Office of Government Ethics (resigned) – 180 days – (resigned)
  • Robert Iger – Advisory Council (resigned) – 133 days (resigned)
  • Elon Musk – Advisory Council (resigned) – 132 days
  • Mike Dubke – Director of Communications (resigned) – 85 days
  • T. McFarland – Deputy National Security Advisor (resigned) 117 days
  • James Comey – FBI Director (fired) – 109 days
  • Angela Reid – Chief Usher (fired) – 105 days
  • Katie Walsh – Deputy White House Chief of Staff (resigned) – 69 days
  • Craig Deare – National Security Council Senior Director (fired) – 26 days
  • Travis Kalanick – Advisory Council (resigned) – 13 days
  • Sally Yates – Acting Attorney General – fired – 10 days

As we watch while Texans battle the elements and fight to emerge from Hurricane Harvey, be reminded that hurricane season is just a little more than 60% over, and will remain with us until November 30th. With that in mind, it’s even more important to retain focus, and keep your eye on the ball. I noted above that there is a GOP effort underway to sunset the Mueller Investigation at 6 months. Trump and his acolytes will try to deflect and if possible, even short-circuit the efforts to get to the bottom of any Trump shenanigans related to disrupting our election process. They, in effect, promote the notion of move along, nothing to see here.

I would not suggest they are going out of their way to exploit the tragedy of the hurricane for this purpose, but they will leverage the moment if we are not diligent about holding the President and his team accountable for the ten items I enumerated and more. If, as his backers suggest, there is nothing here but the overactive machinations of Democrats, if that is actually true, then just humor us, and allow the investigations, all of them, to run their course unfettered. What better way to robustly validate the unassailability of that theory?

At the end of the day, we are a democracy, and if we do not ensure that our elections are free and fair, what do we have left? Russia. We are better than that. Don’t fall for the okey-doke. Hurricane Harvey: Unprecedented and Fortuitously Timely!”

Holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the link: http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com. Find a new post each Wednesday.

To subscribe, click on Follow in the bottom right hand corner of my Home Page at http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com; enter your e-mail address in the designated space, and click on “Sign me up.” Subsequent editions of “Break It Down” will be mailed to your in-box.

Consult the links below for more detailed information on a variety of aspects relating to this post:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Harvey

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/trump’s-business-sought-deal-on-a-trump-tower-in-moscow-while-he-ran-for-president/ar-AAqOjEs?li=BBnb7Kz

http://www.cnn.com/2016/08/22/politics/north-korea-south-korea-us-military-exercise/index.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/national/trump-russia-investigations/?utm_term=.49bf181a2172

http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/29/politics/trump-jr-russia-senate-testimony/index.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jared_Kushner

http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/29/politics/mueller-manafort-attorney-spokesman-subpoenas/index.html

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/08/29/ron-desantis-wants-to-shorten-probe-into-trump-russia-ties/612029001/

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-military-transgender-idUSKCN1BA016

http://www.ydr.com/story/news/politics/2017/08/29/ron-desantis-wants-to-shorten-probe-into-trump-russia-ties/612029001/

https://www.yahoo.com/news/trump-charlottesville-response-sinks-gop-130035915.html

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s