Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Smoke and Fire

Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Interior, has put on his detective hat and has identified the miscreants who are responsible for the terrible wildfires that are burning up California—they are the environmentalists:
The US interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, has blamed environmentalists for California’s ferocious wildfires and claimed, contrary to scientific research, that climate change had “nothing to do” with them.*
It would be nice to say that Secretary Zinke’s headgear was a Holmesian deerstalker, but in reality Zinke, himself, is less a Sherlock than a Vidocq. 

Eugène François Vidocq is considered the first private detective and was the model for Edgar Allan Poe’s fictional sleuth, C. Auguste Dupin. But before Vidocq turned to hunting criminals, he was one himself, with a long police rap sheet. 

Now, to be fair, Zinke has not spent time behind bars, like Vidocq, but as Huffpost has put it: 
With [Scott] Pruitt now gone [from the EPA], Zinke appears to have taken the reins as the most scandal-plagued member of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet.**
Here's part of Zinke's rap sheet:
The sweetheart Halliburton land deal, secret meetings, expensive trips on charter planes and helicopters, and several cases of mixing partisan politics with Interior business — all these and more are on the list of Zinke’s alleged abuses, wasteful spending, and conflicts of interest.***
However, again to be fair, Zinke has a challenger to that title in Wilbur Ross, the Secretary of Commerce:
If even half of the accusations [against Ross] are legitimate, the current United States secretary of commerce could rank among the biggest grifters in American history.*** 
Of course, Zinke's and Ross’ boss would give them both a run for their money.


 But back to our main storyline.

One need not be a detective oneself to conclude that Zinke, in his claim to have discovered the culprits behind the California fires, has shown himself not to be a disciple of Holmes or Vidocq. He has let his ideological heart rule his forensic head. Even the most amateurish wannabe detective would not claim that environmentalists are to blame for the west coast inferno. 

It was environmentalists with matches


Monday, August 13, 2018

"Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me"

A soaring crime rate meant P. E. did not feel safe walking around the barrio. She said other madres in the playground expressed similar worries, and that stress about violent crime has dogged her recently. "It's crazy how unsafe it has become — so much more so than 10 years ago." "Talking with other madres at school, there have been so many incidents, so many attacks, robberies, knives during the day. You don't feel safe walking around the neighborhood.”

P. E. and her children hitched rides when they could, but mostly walked days and nights through Central America and Mexico, arriving finally at the southern border of the United States, where she turned herself in to the authorities and asked for asylum for herself and her children. 

She was immediately arrested and separated from her children, who were taken away to be warehoused in inhumane conditions. Where they are now she doesn’t know.

An all-too-familiar story under the present administration.


But wait! I lied.

The story as I quoted above isn’t exactly as reported in the newspaper article I read the other day.*

Here, to set the record straight, is the relevant portion of the original:
Petra Ecclestone has spoken of her relief over moving to Los Angeles as a soaring crime rate meant she did not feel safe walking around Chelsea. The heiress said other mothers in the playground expressed similar worries, and that stress about violent crime has dogged her recently. She told the Sunday Times Magazine: "It's crazy how unsafe the UK has become — so much more so than 10 years ago." "Talking with mums at school, there have been so many incidents, so many attacks, robberies, knives during the day. You don't feel safe walking around the neighbourhood.”
Ms. Ecclestone has already selected the place where she will live out her days as a refugee from the violence of her anarchic homeland:
The socialite plans to shortly move into her 57,000ft LA mansion - the largest house in Los Angeles county - and said she believes she will enjoy an easier life across the pond.
Here’s a picture of Ms. Ecclestone when she could safely walk the streets of Chelsea and take a brief stroll over to Harrods to pick up a tchochke or two:

The child with her in the above picture and her two siblings, once settled into their place of asylum, need have no fear of being knifed on the walk to school—they won’t have to walk: 
[Ecclestone] said:  "There is valet parking for the kids and the teachers come and get them from the car.”
Whether the children have to walk with the teachers to the door of the school or are carried there is unknown at present.


Some background:

Petra is the daughter of Bernie Ecclestone, a one-time used car dealer, who made his way to the top of the tree by turning the auto-racing sport called Formula One into an international institution. As the years went on, F1 dropped many historic racing venues from its program while spreading its tentacles into such famous motoring countries (and citadels of democracy) as Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, Azerbaijan, and Singapore.

But, then again, Bernie never cared much for democracy:
Former Formula One dictator-in-chief Bernie Ecclestone hates a lot of things. He hates the entire continent of North America, a known shit hole. He hates the idea of gender equality. He hates social media. He also hates when widespread corruption is out of the picture, because corruption accomplishes things.
But damn, does this guy hate democracy. He’s been reminding us of that for years, including when he said in 2009 that Hitler, Saddam Hussein and the Taliban were good at getting things done. Here are a few select quotes on that topic that made it into The Times, from Ecclestone circa almost a decade ago:
“If you have a look at a democracy it hasn’t done a lot of good for many countries - including this one. I like people who make up their minds.”
We did a terrible thing when we supported the idea of getting rid of Saddam Hussein, he was the only one who could control that country. It was the same [with the Taleban] [The Times of London spells that murderous group differently from just about everybody else].
“In a lot of ways, ... [Hitler] was in the way that he could command a lot of people able to get things done. ... In the end he got lost so he wasn’t a very good dictator.”**
On the other hand, if his daughter Petra ever expressed a political thought, it’s unfindable through a Google search of “Petra Ecclestone politics.” What she has done, however, was to mirror the non-political activities of a daughter of another admirer of dictators and strongmen by doing some modeling and then operating a shmatte company. 

So, in conclusion, we must be joyful that one member of the huddled masses is now able to breathe free in Los Angeles (sorry about the smog, though). 

But we also must wonder how she was able to squeeze ahead of all those other frightened madres at our borders and be allowed to take asylum when the others can’t.


(Ecclestone, it seems, will have to put his head together with Trump to determine what the definition of a “shit hole” country is, and which states qualify.)