Friday, September 22, 2017

Eye on Miami Exclusive: The Raging Bull Jake LaMotta had a heart. Guest Blog by Linda

This is an exclusive, written by my friend for Eye on Miami.

I was 22 years old when I started working as a waitress in a topless nightclub called The Mardi Gras. They served steaks to their upscale clientele. The establishment was more Vegas than Times Square in the 70's. The dancers were all gorgeous and were not allowed to talk with the customers.

The bouncer was a man named Jake and many of the men who came in would shake his hand. I didn't know he was Jake LaMotta, the famous boxer. I was innocent when it came to the world of nightclubs. He once pointed to a stunning dancer and said "do you know that she's Betty Davis's daughter"? I asked "does her mother know she works here"? She wasn't. After that, he teased me a lot. He introduced me to a good looking man and told me he just graduated from college. I asked "What school?" What Jake meant was, he just got out of prison, that was the euphemism  then for being released. I was so naive, the teasing persisted but Jake took me under his wing and protected me.

Jake, never hit on me or disrespected me in any way. Being "green" I didn't think anything of it. After working in other clubs with other bouncers, I realized he was one of the exceptions. A gentleman.

The Jake I knew looked like this.
When I read Jake LaMotta died, it brought back all the memories of my time working with him and I cried, fondly remembering our funny little friendship.

RIP Jake LaMotta! My condolences to his family and friends. - Linda

County Commissioner Xavier Suarez Looks at Evacuation During Hurricanes. By Geniusofdespair

City Commission Francis Suarez with Dad Xavier Suarez
 I liked this Op-Ed by Xavier Suarez my County Commissioner, as I call him: 
The X man.

Commissioners, we need some overhaul of rules for evacuation at the airport as well, but that is another matter.

Find better ways to get residents out of Miami-Dade, and then back in

September 20, 2017

Hurricane Irma came with every possible warning and the longest period of anticipation ever provided by modern technology. We had hurricane-tracking planes and expert models ad infinitum on the job. I can’t imagine that technology can do much better in the future.

However, if we suffered like we did, in terms of power outages, from being 100 miles from the eye, how much worse would that suffering have been if we were hit head-on?

There are two specific preparedness issues on which we can all agree:

▪ Powerlines must be either underground or at least above ground on sturdy, reinforced concrete columns. There is really no argument here. Having wooden poles to support power grids is living in the Stone Age.

▪ Facilities for elderly residents, nursing homes and assisted-living facilities must have stand-by, working generators. Most high-rise condos and hotels in Miami have generators for emergency lights and elevators. Some nursing homes and ALFs don’t have them, and if they do, their capacity is insufficient to provide air conditioning. When you combined that deficiency with shuttered windows, you got tragic deaths such as the ones in a Hollywood nursing home.

Suffice it to say, there now are even more people who live in the Florida Keys who most likely will not follow future evacuation orders. They were hampered in their efforts to repair and rebuild by the constraints imposed post-hurricane that kept them from accessing their homes. Clearly, there are lessons for government officials who issue evacuation orders, emergency curfews, and other limitations to freedom of movement:

▪ Evacuation orders must include highway counter-flows. When Miami-Dade orders evacuation of 600,000 residents, you would think it would be coordinated with the state of Florida so that all or most lanes of I-75 and I-95 would be immediately used for one-directional travel. Forcing people on the highways north without gas supplies is a dereliction of duty.

▪ Traffic signals must be immediately replaced by temporary measures. Miami Beach did well by placing portable stop signs at every intersection. Miami-Dade County did well by providing police officers at many major ones; Miami also mobilized large numbers of public service aides, though they should be more visible and better trained.

One of my most enduring memories was driving back to my place in Miami Beach (after three couples and five grandchildren took over my city condo) and being stopped for ID on the MacCarthur Causeway. One officer saw my county ID and yelled to the other: “Hey, we have a county commissioner here.” The other one answered: “County commissioners can go anywhere they want.”

It made me wonder: If a county commissioner and the news media can go pretty much anywhere they want, why can’t a regular citizen who wants to secure his residence after a hurricane do likewise?

City of Miami Commissioner Francis Suarez (Xavier's Son) is Running for City of Miami Mayor

Thursday, September 21, 2017

I hate the word Resiliency. By Geniusofdespair

It is that kind of day, sunny, hot and hateful.

Miami Beach Mayor in the Miami Herald:

"Create a resiliency commission, to be chaired by a chief resiliency officer, appointed by the governor."  (What he means: What the fuck are we going to do about Climate Change flooding already happening in Miami Beach?)

Read more here:

There are certain words and phrases that make me want to scream because they are repeated ad nauseam. People say them over and over and over and then nitwits start to believe them and repeat them (sometimes not even knowing why or what the words mean).

Crooked Hillary
- Fuck that one but Crooked Trump uses it on twitter all the time...STILL. It isn't even clever Donald.
Resiliency - Code word Democrats thought up because Republicans don't like Climate Change. Call it what it is.
Rocket Man - Please let this one die quickly. I am afraid that your president likes it now, so we will be hearing it ALL THE TIME.
Memes - Started by neo nazi, naming the little jokes in their light-hearted twitter campaigns of hate and evil. The word is now embraced by the media. Let it die everyone.
ANTIFA - Stop. This is so gang like.
Perfect and No Worries - over use. Not really bad, just super annoying now.
Fake News - Should be called Fox News.
Alt Right - Nazis and racists thought it up. To rebrand white supremacists/Neo Nazi's so they sound better to the masses.
Mainstream Media - hate the term.
Obamacare - this one is probably the worst, started by pubs and embraced by dems. If it was called the Affordable Care Act, they wouldn't be so big on repealing it. Any reminder of the Black President has to go. Republicans are determined to erase him from history.

Sept. 22 ---Get over her Crooked Donald she is old news.

Words mean a lot. Watch what you say, watch what you write. It is toxic to keep repeating some of this crap because it feeds into stupid people remaining stupid. Republican talking points suck. They must get a list every morning because they all sound the same by the end of the day.

An appeal to climate change deniers, the choice really is yours ... by gimleteye

In the Tampa Bay Times, Susan Glickman compares climate change deniers to football die-hards who will not abandon their team under any circumstances (see below). There is truth to the point. Here is an appeal to the other team.

I'm a consumer, just like you. My carbon footprint is much larger than it should be. I don't like to be made feel guilty, and this perception holds back some climate change deniers from switching sides. Whether you are guilty or not, my carbon footprint could be smaller and so could yours.

The difference between "should" and "could" is vast. "Should" implies moral approbation: if we were only better people we would all be driving a Prius, Volt, or Tesla.

No one likes being lectured or hectored unless it is a place of worship where our souls are at stake. Another way of saying: people don't like their values to be questioned unless it is from within the tent. They don't like "outsiders" telling them how they should behave. The funders of climate change denialism prey on this the same way pro-tobacco forces waved away scientific evidence and promoted cigarette consumption as the "cool" choice.

The "could" part is different.

You "could", theoretically, get from point A to point B by train, efficient bus or bicycle. The "could" part of it is practical and political. Because we do have agency over our polluting choices, polluters tip the scales in their direction.

In the United States, our choice is to be "free" to pollute to whatever extent government incentivizes consumption. I do drive a gas combustion car. I do take airline flights to see my children. I have used many plastic bags in a lifetime of grocery shopping. But as a taxpayer in the first world, I also recognize that my use of gasoline, electricity and other consumer products is shaped by government.

For example, mileage standards in autos. Another example, Florida Power and Light; a monopolistic energy supplier to my home; the regulated public corporation that controls governmental regulatory processes in Florida. I love being able to turn the lights and air conditioning on, at a flick of the switch. It's not only reliable, it's also "affordable" as FPL drumbeats into consumers' heads at every opportunity.

This critical point is embraced by the marketers of climate change denial: even if climate change is real -- even if we are responsible "to some extent", the murmur now being heard in denial circles -- adapting energy consumption away from polluting fossil fuels is "too expensive". It would cost jobs and wreck the economy.

You hear this all the time from the right-wing message machine, but hear it for what it is.

This idea that climate change adaptation is not "affordable" appeals to the innate sense that freedom and liberty -- distinctly American values -- should never be dictated, even though it is provable that the global hidden subsidies of fossil-fuel consumption are in excess of five trillion dollar per year.

Government shapes consumer preferences to pollute in many ways. At Eye On Miami, we have been arguing local county government should halt an effort by developers to move the Urban Development Boundary because, among other problems, it reinforces the sprawling development pattern that forces more people into cars onto congested highways and streets. It is no longer possible to be willfully ignorant, when you are stuck on mind-bending traffic on US 95 or SR 826.

We could have a carbon tax or a gasoline tax: we don't.

Another example how government turns value judgments by polluters into a limited set of choices for consumers is the dismantling of campaign finance rules (Citizens United); a legal and political battle initiated by the nation's fossil fuel supply chain in the name of freedom of speech. This "conservative" bedrock principle -- that government must harnessed to protect Constitutional rights --  has no influence on climate change.

Some conservatives shrug and wave climate change away for precisely this reason: they say, there is nothing we can do about it. This hopelessness leads in only one direction: fortified bunkers where no one is safe. That is what the US military says. Just last week, the commander of the US National Guard was asked how climate change has affected his preparations for natural disasters. Air Force Gen. Joseph L. Lengyel broke with Trump on climate change, like Secretary of Defense James L. Mattis. Lengyel said climate change highlights the need to have a robust Guard presence in each state.

Strict constitutionalists often link arm-in-arm with those who are convinced that if climate change isn't fully accounted for in scripture, adaptation has no place in our lives.

President Trump's likely, imminent withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord and surrendering regulatory agencies like the U.S. EPA to lobbyists and lawyers who represented polluting industries a few hours ago are further examples of hurling consumers toward forced choices and an un-American form of hopelessness.

American voters could do better and would have in 2016, if elections were secure and districts drawn fairly. In a recent letter to the editor of the New York Times, US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse observed succinctly:
The answer to why Congress doesn’t act on climate change is simple political hydraulics.

The Supreme Court let unlimited money into politics. The fossil fuel industry has unlimited money and, according to the International Monetary Fund, a multi-hundred-billion-dollar subsidy to protect. The fossil fuel industry used its unlimited money (and related threats) to capture the Republican Party. Climate change then became “partisan” and untouchable.

It’s actually not that complicated.

The Supreme Court’s Republican appointees got in the habit of doing what they were told by the forces that appointed them (which include the fossil fuel industry, which asked for the Citizens United decision), and in a fateful combination of obedience and political ignorance, they wrecked our politics.

Before Citizens United there were multiple bipartisan climate bills every year; afterward, none.
Recent studies of public attitudes show that anxiety about climate change is burning through populations who understand that unpredictable shifts in food production, massive wildfires in the American West and climate-change fueled Category 5 hurricanes are a preview of what's to come. In an August 2017 Pew Research Center review of public attitudes in 38 countries, in public perceptions of the threat to security, climate change was second just behind ISIS. (In Latin America and Africa, climate change was viewed as the number one threat.)

How has temperature changed in each country over the last century? Here is a data visualisation showing temperature anomaly –the departure from the long-term average – by country from 1900-2016. Visualisation by Antti Lipponen (@anttilip) of the Finnish Meteorological Institute based on GISTEMP data (CC BY 2.0).

At a recent Yale Climate Conference, actor and activist Leonardo DiCaprio said:
“These facts (on climate change impacts) have been presented to the world time-and-time again for decades. Quite simply, we are knowingly doing this to ourselves, to our planet and to our future, and the cost of our inaction is becoming clearer... Yet with all of this evidence – the independent scientific warnings, and the mounting economic price tag – there is still an astounding level of willful ignorance and inaction from the people who should be doing the most to protect us, and every other living thing on this planet.”
Some conservatives deride the idea that a Hollywood star should mess with politics. The same criticism was leveled against Pope Francis in 2015 when he issued his encyclical, "Laudato, Si: The World On Fire".
Obstructionist attitudes, even on the part of believers, can range from denial of the problem to indifference, nonchalant resignation or blind confidence in technical solutions. We require a new and universal solidarity. As the bishops of Southern Africa have stated: “Everyone’s talents and involvement are needed to redress the damage caused by human abuse of God’s creation”.  All of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements and talents.
At the time, some American conservatives clucked that Pope Francis should stick to religion, but climate change is not a matter to be cherry-picked like sermon topics. It is real. It is happening now. And most troubling of all, there is nothing in the trend lines showing climate change impacts have plateau'ed. In fact, we are cooking our children's future right quick.

The best way forward is to vote in 2018 for incumbents and candidates who will act in taxpayers' and voters' best interests on climate change and against politicians rooted in denialism and falsehoods spread by polluting industries.

That choice is unconditionally yours. 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸

Column: Now is exactly the time to have that discussion about climate change
By Susan Glickman, special to the Tampa Bay Times

Thursday, September 14, 2017 4:57pm

As a native Floridian, I chose to ride out Hurricane Irma in my hometown of Tampa — just a few miles north of where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers play football. Like millions of other Floridians who evacuated low-lying beach communities for higher ground, I had the obvious safety concerns and worries about whether I would even have a home to return to. But as a public interest advocate who has worked on climate and energy issues every day for almost two decades, I also have intense concerns about the growing climate change/hurricane nexus.

So when EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt says it's insensitive to Floridians and Texans to talk about climate change during hurricane emergencies, I say he missed the boat as to what's truly insensitive.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Live Web Cams of Hurricane Maria Hitting Puerto Rico. By Geniusofdespair

And the Tweeter in Chief:

I was saddened to see how bad the ratings were on the Emmys last night - the worst ever. Smartest people of them all are the "DEPLORABLES."

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Handmaid's Tale. By Geniusofdespair

Photoshop Original! I am getting good.
Canadian Margaret Atwood wrote the book Handmaid's Tale in 1985. Hardly plausible then. However, now? Seems so likely. Touched a nerve. I recommend it. The Emmy award winning series is worth the watch.

 I bought it and watched the entire season on my phone during the hurricane aftermath. It is a very intimate series and I thought the way I viewed it was just perfect. I used headphones and had the Iphone resting on my chest.  Cinematographer Colin Watkinson should be put on a pedestal. It is poetic and austere. Elisabeth Moss is amazing in the series. Better than Game of Thrones? I liked it better. But then after 7 seasons Throne's plot can get worn. Same can be said of the Walking Dead's 7 seasons.

Restoring democracy and turning the tide on climate change: in the U.S., it's not too late to learn from our mistakes ... by gimleteye

This letter from US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) explains it all for you:

To the Editor:

Re “It’s Not Too Late to Learn From Our Mistakes,” by Nicholas Kristof (column, Sept. 3):

The answer to why Congress doesn’t act on climate change is simple political hydraulics.

The Supreme Court let unlimited money into politics. The fossil fuel industry has unlimited money and, according to the International Monetary Fund, a multi-hundred-billion-dollar subsidy to protect. The fossil fuel industry used its unlimited money (and related threats) to capture the Republican Party. Climate change then became “partisan” and untouchable.

It’s actually not that complicated.

The Supreme Court’s Republican appointees got in the habit of doing what they were told by the forces that appointed them (which include the fossil fuel industry, which asked for the Citizens United decision), and in a fateful combination of obedience and political ignorance, they wrecked our politics.

Before Citizens United there were multiple bipartisan climate bills every year; afterward, none.


The writer, a Democrat, is a United States senator from Rhode Island.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Everything Upside Down: Life Imitates Art ... by gimleteye

@realDonaldTrump nonchalantly swinging into an imaginary inferno
Players nonchalantly golfing near a real inferno

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Hurricane Aftermath: At least 2 more Hurricanes on their way. By Geniusofdespair

Not enough fenders to save this Cat in Coconut Grove. A man was found dead in the seaweed not too far from this boat.

First let me announce the Toxic Puzzle will be rescheduled because of Hurricane Irma. I was looking forward to going tomorrow.

I had planned an event on Marco Island for September 8th. That obviously didn't happen since the hurricane made landfall on Marco Island. I had the stress of talking to all the people to cancel their flight and hotel the last minute. Plus I was saddled with the further stress of non-stop TV Hurricane coverage. I became physically ill. On Thursday before the hurricane, I was to leave for New York. We made the reservation on Tuesday. It was cutting it close, flights were being cancelled right and left as I sat at the airport. They couldn't get flight crews. We were almost scrapped because of the two hour limit on the tarmac. Spent 5 days in New York coughing (stress didn't help). Had soup most of the time.

I got back to no air conditioning and I had bronchitis pretty bad. I had gone to the doctor before I left but the inhalers and antibiotics didn't help. It has been almost three weeks. I am on predisone now and a second course of antibiotics.

When I returned on Tuesday I had no electric, so no AC. The fumes from the generator for the building were coming right in my windows so I had to keep them closed. By Wednesday I felt so sick I booked a flight to Tampa on Spirit at 5 pm as I had a friend there. I took a Lyft to Ft. Lauderdale. The flight was at 10 pm and it was cancelled, I turned around and came home.  Miracle: My Electric was working when I got back. Everything in the Grove was closed Thursday except Greenstreet.

Couldn't get my new prescriptions filled too easily as drugstores were closed. Found one after much searching.

My stupid boat is okay. The Marina is not. I was hoping for the insurance. We lost a lot of trees near me...and part of our seawall. The city of Miami Marina is expected to be without power for up to 6 months. There are a lot of people living aboard their boats at this Marina.

At least a dozen trees were destroyed.

Walkway around Island ends where seawall was destroyed.

What's next after Harvey and Irma??

Channel 6

I am one of the lucky ones. Mostly, because I now rent.

There are still people in South Dade without power. Schools are closed, grocery store shelves are sparse. I went to Crust last night, near the river. (Don't go there, I don't want you ruining my chances of getting a reservation.) Had my first full meal in 3 weeks.

Many people are staying out of town till the electric comes on at their home.  But those same people are expected to vote. The Governor would not move the election date for the State Senate seat 40. Early voting began yesterday. Vote for Annette Taddeo.

Early voting:

Finally, What is our nitwit president tweeting today:

Rocket Man? OMG.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Elections Dept. Won't Budge on Important Election Date. By Geniusofdespair

ANNETTE TADDEO - State Senate District 40

In spite of hurricane Irma disrupting life in South Dade, a special election to replace former State Senator Frank Artiles will be held as planned on Sept. 26. Rick Scott rejected a request by Democrats to hold the election for two weeks to give people time to get back to their routine. Our election supervisor Christina White said she is ready, even if the voters aren't. She should tour the district. People are still without power, drug stores and food markets are just opening and people have to replace all the food in their refrigerator. Are they really thinking about the election?

I know voting is the last thing on your mind right now but if you live in Senate District 40 vote for Annette Taddeo, who did NOT TAKE BIG SUGAR CAMPAIGN DONATIONS!

Early voting starts tomorrow.

Need to know more about Annette? Watch this video! I found it very inspiring.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Dexter Filkins explains it all for you

Elegy for the Sunshine State
The New Yorker
By Dexter Filkins
September 10, 2017

If you grow up in Florida, you watch the natural world around you disappear. It’s just a fact you live with. The verdant, miles-long stretch of dune and palm, rustling to the beat of the waves? Paved over. The brackish stream that flows from ocean to intercoastal, giving life to manatees, alligators, and tarpon? Turned into a parking lot. The swath of live oak trees, the Spanish moss clinging to their branches like the mists from a Faulkner novel? It’s an apartment complex called Whispering Pines.

It doesn't matter when you moved to Florida. Ever since the nineteen-sixties, the stream of people pouring into the state has been relentless: an average of eight hundred newcomers a day. All of them need places to live. Where I grew up, in Cape Canaveral, the destruction of nature happened so fast that it was often disorienting; passing a stretch of woods for perhaps the eight-hundredth time, I would stare at the backhoes and cranes and wonder what had occupied that space only a week before. On a few occasions, my teen-age friends and I got so angry that we scaled the fences of construction sites and moved the survey points that were marking the spot for the next foundation—the next pour of cement. We failed, of course, to stop what the builders were building, or even to slow it down. The joke among us was that every housing development in Florida was named to memorialize the ecosystem it replaced: Crystal Cove, Mahogany Bay, The Bluffs. For about a year, I lived in an apartment complex, paved from end to end, called “In the Pines.”

It’s useful to remember this now, as Hurricane Irma lays waste to much of Florida: the destruction of the state has been unfolding for decades, and, for the most part, it wasn’t done by nature. It was done by us. In the nineteen-nineties, I covered the Miami-Dade county commissioners as a reporter for the Miami Herald. Miami is a vibrant, tumultuous city, remade every few years by the energy of its new arrivals. But, in the time I worked there, one thing never changed: the enthusiasm with which the elected commissioners greeted every new housing or commercial development unveiled before them. It was a kind of sad ritual: A new housing development would come up for a vote, and an earnest member of the county’s planning-and-zoning staff would warn about the development’s impact on the quality of the schools, on the phlegmatic pace of rush-hour traffic, on the erosion of beaches. Almost always, the pleas were ignored; the economy of modern Florida is a kind of Ponzi scheme, where tomorrow’s growth pays for today’s needs, and real estate is the largest employer. It was a confidence game, and the commissioners were only too happy to go along.

Once, following the approval of a housing development on an especially sensitive stretch of land near the Everglades, the Herald ran a story titled “The End of Nature.” Some of the commissioners called to protest the story, but the headline made no difference; the development rose anyway. Florida’s current governor, Rick Scott, is an apostle of the game: Scott has prohibited state environmental officials from using the terms “climate change,” “global warming,’’ or “sustainability” in their official communications.

It’s an old story: Florida, land of dreams. Leave your life behind in the cold, gray north—or in the hot, humid tropics—and come to Florida and start anew. Or buy a condo and retire. Your taxes will be lower, your home bigger, and your walls a lot thinner. The newcomer to Florida typically settles as close to the beach as he or she can—that is, as close as he or she can afford. Across the state, the development is especially heavy on the barrier islands—the thin, narrow strips of land that lie just off the mainland. The construction in places like Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale has been so heavy that, from a distance, the islands look like overloaded ships, so top-heavy that they are about to tip over and crash into the water.

Living in Florida, you didn’t have to be a genius to realize that what was happening wasn’t sustainable—that Florida wasn’t meant to have so many people, all jammed together, so near the coasts. On a typical Sunday afternoon in Miami Beach—or Fort Lauderdale, or Palm Beach, or Fort Myers, or Naples, or Destin—the causeways were so jammed that it would sometimes take hours to get off the island. What if everyone had to get out in a hurry? Every year, the beach washed away a little more, and every month a new condo tower rose. Much of Florida, including its largest cities, rests on a foundation of limestone, a porous rock, and when the big tides come in the seawater flows underneath the ground and floods into the streets. There’s little point in building seawalls; the land is literally floating away.

There have always been hurricanes in Florida, of course, but they usually taunt, threaten, and go somewhere else. One catastrophic storm that did not turn away—Hurricane Andrew, in 1992—destroyed more than sixty thousand homes in Miami and the surrounding area. After the storm, the Herald did a fascinating investigation in which it compared the pattern of destruction to the ages of the neighborhoods. It turned out that whether a house in Miami survived had very little to do with the speed of the wind. What mattered was the age of the house: the older ones—those built before the nineteen-sixties, when Florida’s boom began, survived almost anything. The new ones crumpled like cereal boxes. Following the storm, Miami’s building code was toughened considerably.

As I write, Hurricane Irma is bearing down on Naples on Florida’s west coast. Some meteorologists are predicting a storm surge of eighteen to twenty feet along a three-hundred-mile stretch of coast from Naples to Cedar Key, which would devastate St. Petersburg and Tampa. Many of Florida’s big coastal cities, like Miami Beach, are nearly empty now. The millions of people who are streaming north to get away are not just a measure of Irma’s power but a symbol of that moment, which comes in every Ponzi scheme, when the bluff is called. Maybe it will be different next time.

Dexter Filkins joined The New Yorker as a staff writer in 2011.