Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Surviving Hurricane Harvey: Part Four - It Was The Reservoirs, Not the Storm That Flooded West Houston

Simply put, an area of west Houston was sacrificed in order to protect other subdivisions from even more dramatic flooding. These subdivisions, now flooded at devastating proportions, have no history of experiencing flooding. The Army Corps of Engineers released water from the Addicks and Barker Dams. This, we were told, was to allow room in the dams should more rain fall. Water in the reservoirs was released - controlled releases - to make room for future rain water. Buffalo Bayou needed relief, we were told. The result of this decision was unprecedented flooding in neighborhoods from near-in west Houston all the way to areas in Katy. To say this is tragic is not an exaggeration. 

Houston City Councilman Greg Travis, District G, has done an excellent job keeping residents informed of actions by the Corps of Engineers and the City of Houston. This explains what action was taken and the video link is a helpful way to understand how the water moved as it flooded the area.   



The storm of Hurricane Harvey didn't destroy us, it was the reservoirs after the storm that did that. Now, the mayor has approved the power to be cut off in homes and apartments that were flooded, on the heels of a mandatory evacuation order. This hampers the ability to allow some who wish to stay in their homes despite the water and protect their property. People who have dry homes are told their power will remain on but that isn't always the case. Councilman Travis, for example, said his home didn't flood but his power was cut. There is a number to call if this happens: 713-207-2222.

Some people from outside ask why Texans don't buy flood insurance. It is estimated that only 20% of those flooded out have flood insurance. In this case, it is because most of these homes are not on flood plains. The area has never flooded and homeowners weren't advised to buy flood insurance. My husband and I never bought flood insurance. We survived Tropical Storm Allison and Hurricane Ike without our home flooding.

I watched Mayor Sylvester Turner on some of the Sunday morning talk shows and he did a good job encouraging people to keep their plans - the City of Houston is open for business. He went on to say that "95% of the city is dry now." I understand what he was doing - it's his job to keep the city and its economy moving forward - but that is an exaggerated number. In my own case, my home remained dry and our power has stayed on. Our Internet and television was only out briefly - a matter of some 8 hours or so due to a truck crashing into a utility pole - so we are grateful beyond belief. But, the down side is that we are limited in our travel due to flooded streets all around us. Imagine an island surrounded by water - that is how we continue to live. The Corps of Engineers foresees reservoir releases for the next 10 days or so and flooded streets will remain while that continues. It's a waiting game. 

My former neighborhood still has large parts underwater. Remember when I wrote about moving to our current home last January? My husband was able to drive up to our former home this morning and spoke with the current owner. The house remained dry inside by the grace of about a 1/4 of an inch. That warmed my heart. We cling to the good stories because the bad ones are overwhelming. So many of my friends and acquaintances in 'my' part of town have lost homes and cars and much of their possessions. 

We will get through this. We are grateful. #HoustonStrong

Onward.





Sunday, September 03, 2017

Surviving Hurricane Harvey: Part Three - Goodness Abounds



The good far outweighs the bad in response to Hurricane Harvey and the recovery efforts in the aftermath. Texans helping Texans happens spontaneously. There is no such thing as sitting around and waiting for outside help around here. Volunteers from across the country have felt our pain and risen to the occasion. All of this revives hope for the human race.

Houston, know for its diversity, is the nation's fourth largest city and it is home to immigrants from literally any country you can think of. The greatest asset of this city, to me, is the glorious mix of people and cultures who all live together peacefully with a live and let live kind of attitude. You know all those riots in the streets of other large cities around America? That doesn't happen here. I don't know why but I think it has to do with the attitude of the city. We're simply not havin' that stuff. This isn't to say there aren't distinct differences in opinions and that conflict doesn't happen. There are problems here like other places. It is to say, though, the Texas spirit thrives in Houston. Immigrants to the city embrace it. Texans look out for each other - even those among us who are not here legally. As Congress continues to refuse to seriously tackle immigration reform, people are here in limbo, hurricane or not. One of the first announcements made by the mayor and the police chief was about those living here illegally - no one was in jeopardy of facing an ICE agent for simply seeking shelter and aid due to the storm. 

Only in America would a fund be established to help "undocumented" Houstonians during Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. The local ABC network affiliate's self-described "social media contributor" on Twitter actively promotes it.



One caption for this claims: "575,000+ undocumented immigrant families live in & surrounding suburbs. Many don't qualify for Gov aid." 575,000 undocumented in one American city. That is unheard of in any other spot in the world. Shame on national media in town asking local and state politicians - even Governor Abbott - about any pending DACA decision coming from President Trump. This should be an issue for Congress, not another executive order from the sitting president. Obama did it for political expediency. America's immigration system deserves, indeed demands, honest reform. Here is a good recap of a particularly shameless DACA discussion inserted into stories of Hurricane Harvey relief in Houston.

Remember the photograph of President Trump holding us the Texas flag during his first stop in Texas, during his first trip after Harvey struck? It was in Corpus Christi and a crowd of locals gathered as the president thanked first responders for their work. A teenage boy brought the flag to see the president and the Secret Service asked if he'd allow them to borrow it. He did. Marcos Garza asked for donations of water and baby wipes for his hometown and then said, "I think we should support the president during his run right now, because he kind of needs it." 

There are many ways to help all those affected by Hurricane Harvey. How about some retail therapy? Here is a list of retail outlets who are donating all or a portion of the proceeds of merchandise to recovery efforts. Remember when people unfamiliar with basic economics mocked former President G.W. Bush for telling America to go shopping after the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks? Yeah. Well, patronizing retail outlets stimulates the economy and helps recovery efforts. Simple, right? 

After you do some shopping, you may want to go out for a bite to eat. Here is a list of some local establishments donating portions of receipts to hurricane recovery efforts.

The list of heroes during this horrible time is long and continues to grow. There are no words to measure the hard work and dedicated spirits shown by our first responders and the countless volunteer rescue workers. 

Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan wrote a good piece capturing the urgency of Congressional approval of federal dollars to be sent to Texas for recovery efforts. As happenstance would have it, Ms. Noonan was in San Antonio delivering a keynote address to a group of think tank types gathering for a convention. 

Recovery is beginning. As water recedes, people are able to go back to their homes and start the process of tossing out damaged possessions and repairing their homes. Streets are lined with the fruits of peoples labors and family heirlooms alike, not just soggy carpeting and moldy drywall. Streets in my part of town are still flooded due to reservoir releases so police secure the entrance to our development and once out on the street, it is difficult to maneuver around to something as necessary as an open grocery store.

This, too, shall pass. We will get through it. We are grateful.

Onward.



Saturday, September 02, 2017

Surviving #HurricaneHarvey: Part Two - Political Cartoons


It didn't take long for the ugliness from the left to rear its head and publish political cartoons mocking Texas during Hurricane Harvey. People were still being rescued, the rain was still falling and people were looking for shelter as the cartoons hit the Internet. The souls of many are twisted and a national tragedy, brought on by Mother Nature, opened an opportunity for them to show their disdain of Texas, the nation's largest red state.

It began with the ugly cartoon in @Politico:

This is an attack on people of faith and small government conservatives and a little smack to the Texas secessionists fringe for good measure. Funny, I don't see the liberals in California wanting to secede being mocked.  The cartoonist is a coward, though, and as soon as the social media blowback began, he deleted his tweet publicizing it.    

The next bit of ugliness to catch my eye was this one from the staff of Charlie Hebdo in Paris:


Nazi references are common when the left goes after the right. I think it is the lowest of slurs and particularly low-brow. My paternal grandfather was Jewish. The only Nazis were actual Nazis, not your particular political opponents.
Remember when everyone, including me, posted this on social media platforms after the attack by Islamic terrorists on the publication?



   
                             

This is a political cartoon run by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:



Misspelled sign, 'militia' headquarters - the hatred is real towards the people in a red state. Once upon a time I lived in Atlanta and I went to college there, so this opportunism disguised as political comment doesn't surprise me.

The coastal elites hate us. We get it. What about the liberals living in Texas, though? No empathy for them, either? They were flooded out, too. Mother Nature doesn't distinguish between conservatives and liberals. Painting with broad brushes never ends well.

I see all the social media nastiness because I live in social media and politics. I have chosen to use my platforms for information. Twitter is an excellent tool for up to the minute news and is invaluable in an emergency. My previous blog post, Part One, was my personal thoughts as the rain stopped and the recovery begins. This one is to show reactions from those not in the storm. This is the ugly side. The good side is out there, too, and so much stronger than the ugly. Part Three will be about that. 

Good wins. Love conquers hate. We will get through this. #HoustonStrong  #TexasTough  








Thursday, August 31, 2017

Surviving Hurricane Harvey - #HoustonStrong Part One

A hawk visited outside yesterday. My family thinks hawks are a sign of good luck. I'll take it. Today the visitors have included a heron and an egret who must both be as confused as the rest of us as they wade around on land that is normally dry behind our development. My adopted city has drown in about 50 inches of rain from Hurricane Harvey over the last few days and my heart is broken. Moving to Houston from south Louisiana about 20 years ago, living on the Gulf Coast most of my life, I count Houston as the tenth place I've lived in my life - nine in America, one in Venezuela. I love this city and her people. This is my adopted home.

Surreal. Surreal is the word that has been present in my head as my family and I have lived through this catastrophic weather event. I haven't left the house in seven days now. I am not about to complain about that or about the occasional bouts of cabin fever that make me snap. We have remained dry and our power has remained on the entire time. I am so very, very grateful.

My husband and I made the decision at the end of 2016 to sell our home of 20 years and downsize to townhouse living. We are at that stage in life where we no longer want the burdens of owning a large home and the swimming pool and the yard. We didn't, however, want to leave the area in which we live. So, we are in a townhouse literally 2 miles out from the subdivision in which we lived all those years. In January, as we moved, I admit to second thoughts. Was I really ready for the change? Let me tell you - life events happen sometimes that turn out to be a gift in disguise. Yesterday, all day long, we looked out a back window as our former neighbors in our former subdivision were evacuated out via air boats and smaller motorized boats. The subdivision has never experienced that before this hurricane. Not during Tropical Storm Allison, not during past hurricanes. Sure, during times of heavy downpours, the streets would fill and water would rise and then drain off. This is Houston, after all. But not water coming up and into homes. Surreal.

The two big reservoirs on my side of town had to have slow releases to preserve the integrity of the dams' infrastructures. So, areas that do not normally flood are now underwater - like my old neighborhood. I have learned more about reservoirs and water retention than I ever wanted to learn. Houston is built to handle flooding with parks and golf courses, etc. serving to hold large quantities of water in storms. Hurricane Harvey, though, was simply too much. The level of stress as water rises is unimaginable. My mind hasn't focused properly since last week. 

The people of Houston are the best. The outpouring of support and help - neighbor helping neighbor, strangers helping each other - remind me of the goodness of people out there in the world. When you live in the world of politics, like I do, sometimes that message gets lost. The generosity of those outside of Texas has also been humbling. Texans show up for others in need and that is being returned to us in folds. We are grateful.

As this picture shows, Houstonians line up to volunteer to help others in need. 
How great is that?

The downtown convention center was turned into a shelter and these fine people were standing in line, in the rain, to go in to help out. #HoustonStrong

Local news stations have covered the storm since it began Thursday night into Friday morning. It has been 24/7 television coverage pre-empting regular network programming. It is overwhelming. This is Houston. We will get through it. #TexasTough

My next blog post will be about the politics of Hurricane Harvey. Today's not the day for that, though. 


Onward.






Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Cowardly CEO's Abandon Trump's Manufacturing Council


The exodus of business CEO's and leaders from the Presidential Committee on American Manufacturing began with Kenneth C. Frazier, Chairman and CEO of Merck Pharmaceutical when Trump's statement on the hideous Charlottesville white supremacists and the counter-protesters came up lacking. 





Then, piling on, Intel's CEO, Brian Krzanich and Under Armour's Kevin Plank followed suit on Monday - after the president issued a second statement. On Tuesday, Alliance for American Manufacturing President Scott Paul resigned. Liberals and their #NeverTrump cohorts are cheering these men on. The far left wing of the Democrats are encouraging a boycott of companies whose leaders who have not resigned. 

I would encourage people, whether #NeverTrump, or always Trump, or somewhere in between, to think hard before patronizing the companies run by these quitters. Make no mistake, this is no big action of conscience. This is all about leftist politics and the demand that all Americans fall in line with the dictates of the far left. These cowards signed on to the committee and enjoyed the publicity that their close proximity to the most powerful man on earth, a business man himself, provided. The committee has some two dozen members and most have chosen to go about their business - bringing jobs to American workers and providing stockholders with dividends. This is their job. These are the adults in the room.


The quitters are cowards and show a failure to lead. Stockholders should be alarmed that the leader of a company with whom they are invested has taken himself/herself out of the discussion; has vacated a seat at the table. A real leader wants to be part of the discussion. A real leader doesn't grandstand in social media and make a big deal out of a childish decision to retreat. It's easy to quit - staying and doing the work is hard.

President Trump may not have said the right words in his initial statement but his second statement very clearly named names and made clear any clarity the first statement might have lacked. Perhaps they didn't get the memo when the people spoke last November - the days of a president beholden to political correctness are over. Trump is the same man he was when these men signed on to the manufacturing council. Taking advantage of a national tragedy for their own self aggrandizement is sick. Shame on them all.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Reebok Trolls Trump and Guarantees Trump's Second Term



Athletic gear company Reebok trolled President Trump this weekend over Trump's alleged remark to the French president's wife. It is reported that Trump complimented Brigette Macron by saying, "You're in such great shape....beautiful." Reebok took to Twitter and social media to lob a politically correct response. As you may imagine, Trump supporters and non-supporters have a little something to say about it.

For a little background on Mrs. Macron - she enjoyed a long career as a literature teacher at an elite school in Paris. Age 64, she first met her husband, age 39, when he was a student in her class. The school was a Jesuit school, by the way. She retired from the classroom to help her husband run for the French presidency. She tried her hand at politics in 1989 when she ran as a candidate for city council but she was not successful. She divorced her first husband in 2006 - with whom she has three children - and married Macron in 2007. She is pretty, petite, and yes, in very good shape. 



Reebok took to social to virtue-shame the president, as those concerned about political correctness above all common sense are prone to do. Here is what appeared on Twitter: 


It's all a bit too silly. Is anyone really surprised that Trump would make a remark like this? Of course not. Was it wildly inappropriate? Maybe. Was it worth a day or two of commentary? No. It's just another distraction. She wasn't an employee of Trump's and they were both in the company of their spouses. No long term damage has been done and, if truth be told, she probably enjoyed the compliment. What 64 year old woman wouldn't enjoy it? The phony outrage machine churning up once again to make the left and other sore losers from November (the American media, in particular) feel superior has produced a definitive result - regular Trump supporters no longer pay any attention to the noise. 

This is how we got Trump in the first place. If this sort of silliness continues, his second term as POTUS will be guaranteed. 

Friday, June 30, 2017

The Tweet That Set the Left on Fire

I'm old enough to remember when MSNBC was a new cable network and three women hosted a weekday show - Gina Gaston, Ashleigh Banfeld, and Mika
Brzezinski. Gina Gaston is an evening news anchor for the Houston ABC News affiliate; Ashleigh Banfeld moved on to CNN and HLN; and Mika is still with MSNBC. I have not been a fan of Mika's for a very long time. Mika is now a co-host and newsreader for that network's Morning Joe show.

A little recent background on the Morning Joe hosts: she was given the Obama administration talking points and recited them during the course of the show during that administration. She was a vocal and unabashed Hillary supporter during the last election cycle. Her co-host is former GOP congressman Joe Scarborough. Both have divorced their spouses and are now engaged to each other. Both were friendly with Donald Trump and allowed him on their show regularly, as did all the other networks, giving him unprecedented in-kind (free) campaign publicity in exchange for ratings. Then, once Trump became the GOP nominee, they turned on him, as did CNN and some on Fox, as well as all the dinosaur networks. Since his election, the hosts have regularly - maybe daily - slammed Trump as mentally unbalanced, a liar, unfit for office, and all the usual liberal sounding slurs. Like other networks (looking at you, CNN), the show brings on #NeverTrump 'conservatives' who happily join in on the personal attacks.

Like the former president, Barack Obama, Trump is a thin-skinned man. Now seeing improvement in the show ratings, the hosts should be sending Trump a fruit basket with a thank you note for providing fuel to the turnaround.  With a bitterly divided nation tuning in to shows supporting the opinions most closely aligned with themselves, MSNBC, once a laughingstock in cable news now finds its ratings rising. Why? A quick look at its programming tells the tale. Like CNN, it is all Trump/GOP bashing 24/7.  

President Trump expertly uses social media to push out his message to millions of followers. I'm all in favor of using social media as a tool. For politicians, Twitter and Facebook, even Instagram, should be used to promote policy and progress on the agenda on any given day. The problem with Trump, though, is that he is a coarse and aggressive New York businessman unaccustomed to self-censorship and  self-control. He gets very personal in his criticisms on Twitter instead of sticking to policy and politics. That's a big no-no when it is from the President of the United States, the most powerful man on earth.

We knew all this as Trump ran for POTUS. It's why Republicans like me didn't support him in the primary. He's not my cup of tea. That said, once he became the GOP nominee, he became my candidate. I didn't have to like him to vote for him.The Supreme Court nominations and conservative governing policies are too important to me to ever vote for a Democrat for president. Ever. Sanctimonious long-time Republicans who threw support to Hillary or third party candidates with no hope of winning forever lost my respect. The professional class that earns a living off the Republican party understood that they would no longer be in the inner circle and they responded according. They were willing to support Hillary Clinton and the Bernie Sanders crowd over a Republican promising to govern as a conservative. Today they all sound just like the left on social media - more interested in slamming the president than supporting solid policy and initiatives the GOP is moving forward.

Thursday, after the usual barrage of nasty statements from Mika and aided by her fiancé, Joe, the president took to Twitter and took his thoughts into personal criticism. He said Mika was bleeding from a face lift over the New Year's holiday and he (Trump) didn't want to join her and Joe during Mar-a-Lago festivities. Apparently the face lift part set the left on fire. I understand the discomfort from those offended. Personal attacks are not right, especially from the president, who should be leading by example. The fact that the show hosts are using personal attacks against him for ratings doesn't matter in this case. Keep it about facts, not snarky personal attacks, I would counsel him. I'm most concerned that others around President Trump don't have the sense to counsel him themselves. He is a 70 year old man, though, and no one should have really expected him to make good completely on his campaign promise to act presidential, should he win the election.

Mika and Joe are special examples of Trump Derangement Syndrome within the media. Truly the only respite from non-stop Trump bashing on television is to be found on Fox News - most of the time, and from OAN, though it can be harder to find. Those two hosts take extra pleasure in going as low as possible in their slurs against Trump. Whatever happened to "When they go low, we go high"? Oh, yeah. It was really never a thing.

So, here's what I think about the latest Twitter storm - do I care about the face lift crack? No. She's even come out and admitted she had what she calls minor surgery on her chin at that time. She's upset that it came out into the public, no doubt. I wouldn't like that, either. Should Trump have gone that far? No. There are any number of ways he could have constructed a tweet to let his displeasure of their lowbrow conversations against him be known without making it a personal jab. But, we all know that is not Trump. This isn't a surprise. It makes me angry, though, that Trump seems unable to control himself long enough to allow a really good week go by for his administration and allow the headlines be about political accomplishment, not silly Twitter wars. This was a good week for Trump, politically speaking. The Supreme Court ruled unanimously ( quite unusual these days) in favor of his travel ban, immigration reform measures were signed, VA reform legislation was signed, tort reform has passed, unemployment is down, job creation is up, and so on. He should be tweeting about all that to satisfy his urge to use Twitter. Take the wins. Let the other stuff go.

Make no mistake - I have no sympathy for Mika. She's a nasty human being and has a good-sized platform to promote her brand of bullying and hate. It's divisive and unnecessary. As a leftist, she has lots of things she could criticize the GOP and Trump about on policy. She uses the ugliness for ratings. Trump punches back. This is not a surprise, as he campaigned on that. She responded to Trump's tweets by using one of her own - a personal attack on the size of Trump's hands. So, tit for tat.

Mika and Joe published an op-ed this morning as they left for vacation. No, I am not linking it here. I'm sick of this nonsense. It's time for everyone to grow the hell up. There are eight years of the destruction left from the Obama years to correct and there is no time to waste. If President Trump truly wants to Make America Great Again - and I think he does - it's time to get on with it.  



Trump Nominates Texan Kay Bailey Hutchison for Ambassador to NATO

Good news, fellow Texans! President Trump has nominated our own former Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison to be the next Ambassador to NATO. This is truly an excellent choice. Not only am I pleased to see her be recognized with such a prestigious position, but she is well qualified to do the job.

This is the press release issued last night from Senator John Cornyn:

Cornyn Statement on Nomination of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison as U.S. Ambassador to NATO

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) issued the following statement after President Donald Trump nominated former Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) to be U.S. Ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO):

“Throughout her career in public service, Kay’s dedication to helping others and advancing commonsense Texas values has been second to none.  With a proven track record of getting results, she has always done what she thought was in the best interest of Texas and our country.

“I have no doubt she will now bring her tireless advocacy and fierce work ethic to the world stage on behalf of the American people.  I’m thankful she has once again answered the call to service, and I look forward to supporting my fellow Texan’s nomination before the U.S. Senate.”

Kay Bailey Hutchison was the first woman to represent Texas in the U.S. Senate. She also became the first Texas U.S. senator to receive more than four million votes in a single election.