Friday, September 15, 2017

Trump's Approval Rises Only Slightly Despite Three Weeks of the Most Favorable Media Coverage of His Presidency

Today marks the middle of the month and the end of three weeks of the most positive media coverage of the Trump Presidency. It started with Hurricane Harvey hitting the Texas shore on August 25th.  Trump received positive reviews for his administration's handling of the storm.  Then came Hurricane Irma and Trump's bipartisan legislative deals.  Again, more positive media coverage.

Although I didn't buy that Donald Trump had actually changed his persona from being a self-obsessed, intellectual lightweight who lacked even the most basic qualifications and temperament to be President of the United States, I thought a significant number of other people would have a change of heart and now judge Trump more favorably.  I was wrong.

Gallup's tracking poll had President Trump's approval rating at a dismal 35% on August 25th.  Today it is only 37%.  Real Clear Politics' average of the Trump polls show his favorability rating has only increased from 38.5% to 39.3% during the same period.

Trump's poll numbers appear to be baked in.  They rise only slightly when the news coverage is positive and do not decline significantly when Trump is getting hammered in the media.  People's minds seem to be made up about the President.

Yesterday though introduced a new dynamic.  Trump appears to be in the process of walking away from two of his major promises on immigration, DACA and the Wall.  Immigration is an issue that motivates Trumpers and one the President successfully used to distinguish himself from the other Republican presidential candidates.  Some Trump supporters, people like Rush Limbaugh, Anne Coulter and Breitbart, are treating the Trump immigration retreat as a betrayal to the base.

My guess is that Trump's won't lose his core supporters despite his new-found moderate position on immigration or his willingness to cut legislative deals with "Chuck" and "Nancy."  Trumpers seem willing to sign on to the President's agenda, regardless of whether it is a conservative, liberal or moderate agenda.  They are behind the President, because, well, he is Donald Trump.  The Trump phenomenon is the closest to a cult of personality that I ever want to see this country come.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Draining the Swamp in Florida Has Increased the Impact of Hurricanes

I have long said, the reason hurricanes cause so much damage is because of the overdevelopment of tropical areas that used to absorb much of the wind and water that came with hurricanes.   In short, the hurricane buffer is gone.  Writing a lengthy piece in Politico, Michael Grunwald, a Miami resident temporarily displaced to Orlanda due to Hurricane Irma, does a terrific job of telling the history of Southern Florida and how draining the swamp for development has left the state exposed to wrath of hurricanes.
Today, Florida’s southern thumb has been transformed into a subtropical paradise for millions of residents and tourists, a sprawling megalopolis dangling into the Gulf Stream that could sustain hundreds of billions of dollars in damage if Hurricane Irma makes a direct hit. So it’s easy to forget that South Florida was once America’s last frontier, generally dismissed as an uninhabitable and undesirable wasteland, almost completely unsettled well after the West was won. ... Miami wasn’t even incorporated as a city until
In 1896, close to 400 people crowded onto the second floor of the Lobby Pool Room (large building in center of photo)  to vote to incorporate Miami as a city. It then had 90 residents. Today the Miami metro area has over 6.7 million residents.
1896. And even then an early visitor declared that if he owned Miami and hell, he would rent out Miami and live in hell.
 
There was really just one reason South Florida remained so unpleasant and so empty for so long: water. The region was simply too soggy and swampy for development. Its low-lying flatlands were too vulnerable to storms and floods. As a colorful governor with the colorful name of Napoleon Bonaparte Broward put it: “Water is the common enemy of the people of Florida.” So in the 20th century, Florida declared war on its common enemy, vowing to subdue Mother Nature, eventually making vast swaths of floodplains safe for the president to build golf courses and Vanilla Ice to flip houses and my kids to grow up in the sunshine. Water control—even more than air conditioning or bug spray or Social Security—enabled the spectacular growth of South Florida. It’s a pretty awesome place to live, now that so much of its swamp has been drained, much better than Boston or Brooklyn in the winter, and, for the obvious economic and political reasons, much better than Havana or Caracas all year long.
But Mother Nature still gets her say. Water control has ravaged the globally beloved Everglades and the rest of the South Florida ecosystem in ways that imperil our way of life as well as the local flora and fauna. And sometimes, as we’re about to be reminded, water can’t be controlled. Hurricanes routinely tore through South Florida even before hundreds of gleaming skyscrapers and thousands of red-roof subdivisions sprouted in their path. Our collective willingness not to dwell on that ugly inevitability has also enabled the region’s spectacular growth.
...
...In 1926, a few weeks after the Miami Herald urged its readers not to worry about hurricanes because “there is more risk to life from venturing across a busy street,” a Category 4 storm flattened Miami, killing 400 and abruptly ending the coastal boom.Then in 1928, another Category 4 storm blasted Lake Okeechobee through its flimsy dike, killing 2,500 and abruptly ending the Everglades boom. It was the second-deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history, and afterward Florida’s attorney general testified before Congress that much of the southern half of his state might be unsuited to human habitation: “I’ve heard it advocated that what the people ought to do is build a wall down there and keep the military there to keep people from coming in.”
Needless to say, nobody built a wall. But America finally did get serious about draining the swamp. The Army Corps of Engineers, the shock troops in the nation’s war on Mother Nature, built the most elaborate water management system of its day, 2,000 miles of levees and canals along with pumps so powerful some of the engines would have to be cannibalized from nuclear submarines. The engineers aimed to seize control of just about every drop of water that falls on South Florida, whisking it out to sea to prevent flooding in the flatlands. They made it possible for Americans to farm 400,000 acres of sugar fields in the northern Everglades, to visit Disney World at the headwaters of the Everglades, to drive on the Palmetto and Sawgrass Expressways where palmettos and sawgrass used to be. They made South Florida safe for a long boom that has occasionally paused but has never really stopped, bringing 8 million people to the Everglades watershed, pushing the state’s population from 27th in the nation before World War II to third in the nation today. 
...
The problem, like most problems in South Florida, is a water problem. Half the Everglades has been drained or paved for agriculture and development, so in the rainy season, water managers have to dump excess water into estuaries and what’s left of the Everglades. Then it’s no longer available in the dry season, which is why South Florida now faces structural droughts that create wildfires in the Everglades and endanger the region’s drinking water, which happens to sit underneath the Everglades. Meanwhile, the Everglades itself—once reviled as a vile backwater, now revered as an ecological treasure—has all kinds of problems of its own, including 69 endangered species. In 2000, Congress approved the largest environmental restoration project in history to try to resuscitate the Everglades, an unprecedented effort to fix South Florida’s water problems for people and farms as well as nature. But 17 years later, virtually no progress has been made. It’s a real mess.
And they keep coming. Twenty-five years ago, Hurricane Andrew ripped through Miami’s southern exurbs, but the homes destroyed were quickly replaced, and most of us who live here now weren’t here then. So we weren’t really ready for Irma, even though at some level we knew it was possible. It’s conceivable that Irma will finally shut down our insatiable growth machine, but I wouldn’t bet on that. Our inclination towards collective amnesia is just too strong.
The thing is, it’s really nice here, except when it isn’t....

Conservative Radio Host Mark Levin Wakes Up, Concludes Trump Supporters Were Sold Out by President

While some Trumpers have somehow managed to twist President Trump's complete capitulation to Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi as being the fault of Congressional Republicans (after all nothing is ever the President's fault for those who live in Trumpland), the deal finally caused Trump-loving, conservative radio host Mark Levin to finally awake to the fact the President is selling out his supporters.  Redstate reports on the development:
Mark Levin, seeing the light, went after President Trump for his capitulation to Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. To Levin’s credit, he doesn’t turn the blame on Paul Ryan and
Mark Levin
Mitch McConnell the way others pathetically have tried to do. Levin says Trump is the ostensibly the leader of the GOP and the buck stops with him.
... 
Some of the key points he hits on: 
  1. Donald Trump needs to be the leader of the Republican Party and take charge of the leadership. Instead, he’s at war with leadership, and that’s a fault of his, not McConnell and Ryan.
  2. He’s selling out the country by working with Pelosi and Schumer just to get back at Republicans.
  3. Trump broke his promise on DACA. It has nothing to do with the Republican leadership.
  4. He hit Trump on saying he’d shut down the government unless he gets funding for the border wall and he flip-flopped
  5. He said, “He sold us out on DACA. He sold us on this deal with Schumer….this continuing resolution because it doesn’t include the wall.”
  6. He says a leader doesn’t throw in with leftists just because the Congressional leadership isn’t doing what he wants
In the end, Levin says he doesn’t think this is the last time. 
Here is a link to the Levin audio.

Of course it won't be. Trump is not a conservative.  The only principle he stands for is doing what is best for himself under all circumstances.  Donald Trump could not care less about the American people, including those who stand with him at his rallies.  
Levin wasn't the only conservative opinion leader to set down the Kool-Aid and tell the truth about the Trump - Schumer/Pelosi deal.  On Fox News Sunday, conservative commentator Brit Hume hammered the President for getting "rolled by "Chuck" and "Nancy."  The Daily Wire reports:
No doubt Chuck and Nancy were happy. He got rolled; the president got rolled, and his administration, therefore, got rolled because as you pointed out correctly, doing this short-term deal attached to the Hurricane Harvey money, which was a must-pass, and therefore a good vehicle to do a longer debt limit extension and perhaps other things as well, is now a three month deal — and we're right back where we started except without the Hurricane Harvey leverage when December rolls around.  
So it's a terrible deal. And I think the president, he wanted to sign something, so he got something to sign — but he got rolled.




Of course President Trump got rolled.   Donald Trump was never a great negotiator and, in fact, is proving to be spectacularly bad at cutting deals.  As Hume points out during the roundtable, it is not hard to cut deals when you're giving the other side everything they're asking for.