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The Kitchen Sink / Re: Mechanical Zombie Nomads
« Last post by luciddreams on Today at 06:56:28 PM »

4 Trainees/Truck!  No wonder it takes 4 Weeks.  We had 2/Truck at Schneider.

Well that was in the 90's.  Now there is a severe shortage of drivers in the industry.  That's why the standards have been lowered to just 1 year accident free to be considered an experienced driver.  Roehl just changed the program from 3 per trainee to 4 because they are trying to get enough drivers to handle their current freight. 

99 out of 100 accidents involving a Big Rig are caused by dumb ass 4-wheelers.  Until you get behind the wheel of a semi, you don't grasp how bad the typical driver is.

Watch your mirrors.


I know that's the truth.  Truck drivers get the blame often when it's not their fault also.  We had a 4 hour safety brain washing/indoctrination  session today.  They showed us a video of  a car running a red light.  Apparently it was a car load of teenagers who had stolen a lawn mower and were running from the cops.  They blew through the red light and a semi t-boned them and all of the teenagers were killed.  The truck driver had a green light and was going the speed limit through the intersection.  The trainer said that the driver got a ticket. 

I'm not sure I believe that's true.  How could they write you a ticket for going the speed limit through a green light?  Were supposed to "get off the gas and be going below the speed limit through every intersection."   :laugh: :emthup: :icon_scratch:

Yeah right...we're also supposed to leave 7 seconds of following distance on the interstate....that's like a football field in length at 63 mph. 

There's the classroom reality (unreality...corporate CYA BS) and then there's reality. 
The Kitchen Sink / Re: Mechanical Zombie Nomads
« Last post by RE on Today at 06:27:55 PM »
In fact, half of my time at this truck driving school is spent reading books on my kindle.  There are four students per truck, so 3/4 of the time I'm just sitting in the back waiting for my turn to drive.  They removed the bed from the sleeper and bolted three seats down in the back.  I think I got a good 6 hours of kindle time today during "training."  I'm getting paid $500 a week for this training I don't mind.  I'm getting paid to do what I'd already be doing. 

4 Trainees/Truck!  No wonder it takes 4 Weeks.  We had 2/Truck at Schneider.

I've already driven on surface streets and on the interstate.  It's a thrill driving a semi.  You really have no idea how long one of those trailers are until you pull one behind a semi.  You also have no idea how stupid most drivers are with respect to semi's until you drive one.  The first day I drove out on the surface streets I got cut off probably 5 times.  People are dumb.  I knew that people did not respect tractor trailers, but I had no idea how bad it really is...and I worked on an ambulance for 8 years!

99 out of 100 accidents involving a Big Rig are caused by dumb ass 4-wheelers.  Until you get behind the wheel of a semi, you don't grasp how bad the typical driver is.

Watch your mirrors.

The Kitchen Sink / Re: Mechanical Zombie Nomads
« Last post by luciddreams on Today at 06:20:54 PM »
Why do you declare yourself agnostic.

You're not against knowing.
If anything, you're a sponge. You absorb knowledge 24/7....

At this point I'm open to anything with respect to the idea of God.  Presently I'm of the opinion that if there is one God than there is more likely multiple gods/goddesses.  My Druid side wants to believe that there are many gods, my Buddhist side doesn't care, and my empirical side has no evidence one way or the other. 

The only empirical evidence I have is that there is life beyond our meat suit.  That's due to multiple O.B.E's I've experienced.  However, that's not proof of a God, or gods.  Technically I'm agnostic because I believe there could be gods, but I also hold that there may not be.  I'm not prepared to hold an atheistic belief because, like theism, it's a belief without proof.  For me, being agnostic is just an expression of complete intellectual integrity and self-honesty. 

Yes, I am a sponge for knowledge. 

In fact, half of my time at this truck driving school is spent reading books on my kindle.  There are four students per truck, so 3/4 of the time I'm just sitting in the back waiting for my turn to drive.  They removed the bed from the sleeper and bolted three seats down in the back.  I think I got a good 6 hours of kindle time today during "training."  I'm getting paid $500 a week for this training I don't mind.  I'm getting paid to do what I'd already be doing. 

I've already driven on surface streets and on the interstate.  It's a thrill driving a semi.  You really have no idea how long one of those trailers are until you pull one behind a semi.  You also have no idea how stupid most drivers are with respect to semi's until you drive one.  The first day I drove out on the surface streets I got cut off probably 5 times.  People are dumb.  I knew that people did not respect tractor trailers, but I had no idea how bad it really is...and I worked on an ambulance for 8 years! 
Environment / The Strafing Run of Mother Nature: Live Updates
« Last post by RE on Today at 06:01:49 PM »
Just prior to First Contact with St. Croix, Maria has jacked up the wind speed at the Eyewall to 175 mph, and Barometric Pressure has fallen to 909 millibars.

They call it a "Pinhole Eye".  It's total concentration of the power of the hurricane into a 30 mile swath in this case.  Contrast with Irma, where the eye was 70 miles.  It looks like all of St Croix may go under the Eye of Maria.  There will be nothing left.


Maria Headed for Catastrophic Hit on Puerto Rico, St. Croix

Maria Headed for Catastrophic Hit on Puerto Rico, St. Croix

September 19, 2017, 11:41 AM EDT

Above: Infrared GOES-16 image of Hurricane Maria as of 10:51 am EDT Tuesday, September 19, 2017. Image credit: RAMMB / CIRA@CSU.

After a direct hit on the small Lesser Antilles island of Dominica on Monday night, followed by a brief weakening, Hurricane Maria reintensified to Category 5 strength with winds of 160 mph on Tuesday morning. Maria will likely be a catastrophic Category 5 or high-end Category 4 storm when it hits the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Wednesday morning. Preliminary reports out of Dominica indicate that Maria likely did catastrophic damage there. The northern eyewall of Maria also grazed the southwest corner of Guadaloupe Island on Monday night, and heavy damage was reported there. The core of the hurricane missed Montserrat, Saba, and St. Kitts and Nevis, but these islands have been experiencing sustained tropical storm-force winds and heavy rain squalls.

Maria’s encounter with Dominica bruised the storm slightly, with the top winds falling to 155 mph and the central pressure rising from 924 mb to 934 mb between 11 pm Monday and 5 am Tuesday. This took the storm briefly down to a Category 4 rating. However, an Air Force hurricane hunter aircraft on Tuesday morning found a falling pressure and rising winds. Maria’s central pressure was down to 927 mb, and the winds were back up to 160 mph as of 11 am EDT Tuesday. Maria passed just east of Buoy 42060 late Tuesday morning; the buoy reported a pressure of 956 mb and sustained winds of 74 mph, gusting to 94 mph, at 11:10 am EDT Tuesday.

Unfortunately for the islands in its path, Maria’s appearance on satellite imagery is truly spectacular, and the outer spiral bands of the hurricane are already lashing the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, as seen on long- range radar and CatherineHope’s Webcam on St. Croix.

GOES-16 visible image of Maria at 10:15 am Tuesday, September 19, 2017.
Figure 1. GOES-16 visible image of Maria at 10:15 am Tuesday, September 19, 2017. At the time, Maria was a Category 5 storm with 160 mph winds, a central pressure of 927 mb, and a small "pinhole" eye with a diameter of 10 nautical miles. Image credit: NOAA/RAMMB. GOES-16 data is considered preliminary and non-operational.

The dreaded "pinhole" eye

Maria developed a tiny “pinhole” eye during its rapid intensification burst on Monday, with a diameter of 8 nautical miles (nm). The hurricane has maintained a small eye so far on Tuesday, with the diameter fluctuating between 7 nm and 10 nm (10 nm = 11.5 miles). Hurricanes that develop pinhole eyes often intensify into some of the strongest storms we observe, since they concentrate their wind energy around a narrow ring surrounding the tiny eye. These small eyes tend to be unstable, resulting in an eyewall replacement cycle (ERC) shortly after the pinhole eye is observed. Some other examples of tropical cyclones with pinhole eyes with a diameter less than 10 nm (thanks go to Michael Cavaliere, Howard Diamond, and Boris Konon):

Hurricane Wilma - 2005 (175 MPH / 882 MB) - Western Caribbean - 1.5 nm
Hurricane Iris – 2001 (140 MPH / 950 MB) - Western Caribbean – 3 nm
Hurricane Beta - 2005 (115 MPH / 962 MB) - Nicaragua - 5 nm
Hurricane Dennis - 2005 (120 MPH / 930 MB) - Florida - 4 nm
Hurricane Charley - 2004 (150 MPH / 941 MB) - Florida - 2.5 nm

Hurricane Opal - 1995 (150 MPH / 919 MB) - Florida - 5 nm
Hurricane Andrew - 1992 (165 MPH / 921 MB) - Florida - 6 nm
Typhoon Forrest - 1983 (165 MPH / 883 MB) - Philippines - 4 nm
Cyclone Tracy - 1974 (125 MPH / 950 MB) - Australia - 7 nm


Short-term forecast for Maria

There is increasing confidence that Maria will reach St. Croix and Puerto Rico on Wednesday with catastrophic results. Now that Maria has regained Cat 5 intensity, there is nothing between the storm and these islands that would lead to a major drop in strength. In fact, conditions are just about as favorable as they can be for sustaining a Category 5 hurricane, and it's not out of the question that Maria could become even stronger. Wind shear is predicted to stay very low (6 knots or less) for at least the next 48 hours, and Maria will be passing over very warm waters of 29-30°C (84-86°F). These warm waters are deep enough to provide substantial oceanic heat content (greater than 50 kilojoules per square centimeter), which will limit the potential of Maria’s fierce winds to churn up cooler water. If Maria embarks on an eyewall replacement cycle (EWRC) on Tuesday, the storm could drop to Category 4 strength by the time it approaches Puerto Rico. This process would spread Maria’s hurricane-force winds over a broader area, though.

Models are in very close agreement on Maria’s west-northwest path. Among our top track models, the European and UKMET model runs from 00Z Tuesday, and the GFS and HMON runs from 06Z Tuesday, all bring Maria’s center very close to St. Croix and across Puerto Rico from southeast to northwest on Wednesday. Conditions would be worst on the right-hand side of Maria’s track, but the entire island is at risk of severe hurricane conditions—likely the worst and most extensive in almost a century. The outlier among our better track models has been HWRF, which has consistently called for Maria to angle northwest toward the British Virgin Islands and just miss Puerto Rico. Several runs ago, the GFS and HMON were predicting a similar track, but they now agree with the Euro and UKMET on a direct hit to Puerto Rico, so we are best off discounting the HWRF (especially since the 12Z Tuesday run of the HWRF trended further west, in closer agreement with the other models).

A track crossing Puerto Rico from southeast to northwest will bring torrential rainfall and the risk of landslides to both northern- and southern-facing mountainsides. Localized rainfal of 25" or more is possible in Puerto Rico, with amounts of 20" possible in the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. Rainbands sweeping into Maria from the south could also dump as much as 12" of rain on southern parts of the Dominican Republic, again posing a threat of landslides.

Along with the direct impacts likely in St. Croix, one of the three U.S. Virgin Islands, Maria could move far enough north for severe hurricane conditions to affect the other two U.S. Virgin Islands—St. Thomas and St. John—and perhaps the British Virgin Islands as well. All of these except for St. Croix took a fierce hit from Hurricane Irma just weeks ago, so even a lesser blow from Maria could have outsized consequences to residents and structures left vulnerable in the wake of Irma. Storm surge could bring worst-case inundation levels of 6' - 9' over parts of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Damage to Puerto Rico’s El Yunque rain forest from Hurricane Hugo, 9/18/1989
Figure 2. Hurricane Hugo caused severe damage to Puerto Rico’s El Yunque rain forest on September 18, 1989. Image credit: NOAA Photo Library.

Puerto Rico hurricane history

Only one Category 5 hurricane has hit Puerto Rico in recorded history: the 1928 San Felipe Segundo hurricane, which killed 328 people on the island and caused catastrophic damage. This is one of only four Category 5 hurricanes ever to hit the U.S. (the others: Hurricane Andrew of 1992 in South Florida, Hurricane Camille of 1969 in Mississippi, and the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 in the Florida Keys.) Puerto Rico’s main island has also been hit by two Category 4 hurricanes, the 1932 San Ciprian Hurricane, and the 1899 San Ciriaco Hurricane.

Even though Hurricane Irma did not make landfall in Puerto Rico, it produced up to $1 billion in damage as it passed just northeast of Puerto Rico's main island. The last hurricane to come ashore in Puerto Rico was Category 1 Hurricane Irene of 2011, which dumped up to 22” of rain, caused power outages to over 1 million customers, and did over $500 million in damage. The most recent Category 3 hurricanes to make landfall were Hurricane Georges (1998) and Hurricane Hugo (1989). Georges brought a 10’ storm surge to Fajardo in northeast Puerto Rico, and up to 30” of rain to interior portions of the island. No deaths were blamed on the hurricane, but it did $3.6 billion in damage. Hurricane Hugo killed 12 people in Puerto Rico, and did over $1 billion in damage.

Satellite image of Hurricane Hugo bearing down on St. Croix, 1989
Figure 3. Category 4 Hurricane Hugo bearing down on St. Croix on September 17, 1989. Image credit: NOAA HURSAT project.

St. Croix hurricane history

Only one Category 4 or stronger hurricane has made a direct hit on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands in recorded history: Hurricane Hugo (140 mph winds), which killed two people on the island and injured 80. About 90% of the buildings were damaged or destroyed, and the island's entire infrastructure was nearly wiped out. Six weeks after the hurricane, only 25% of the public roads had been cleared, and only 25% of the island had power. President Bush was forced to send over 1,000 troops to the island to maintain order.

Alexander Hamilton, first Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, aide-de-camp to General George Washington during the Revolutionary War, and recipient of a fatal bullet in a duel with Aaron Burr, was fifteen years old and living in the town of Christiansted, St. Croix, when the great hurricane of August 31, 1772, struck the island of St. Croix. From Hamilton's description, the eye of this storm passed directly over Christiansted. After the hurricane, he wrote a letter to his father in St. Kitts that was so well-written and moving, that after it was published in a local newspaper, a fund was taken up to bring him to New York. This launched him on his career to become a founding father of the U.S. The storm that changed Hamilton's life is referenced in the song "Hurricane" in the smash-hit Broadway musical "Hamilton." (Thanks go to wunderground commenter RobinsonCrusoe for this information.)

Long-term outlook for Maria

Maria is expected to head into the Northwest Atlantic after passing the Greater Antilles. If Maria moves over Puerto Rico, its circulation will experience major disruption, and the hurricane could also ingest dry air flowing off Hispaniola on Thursday. Wind shear will also be increasing to the 10 – 20 knot range by Friday. Considering all these factors, it would not be surprising to see Maria weaken to Category 3 or even high-end Category 2 strength by this weekend, as predicted by NHC. It will become a larger storm, though, with its wind field spread over a broader area.

By Saturday, models agree on placing Maria just northeast of the Bahamas, heading north-northwest. If this track holds, it would most likely keep Maria just east of the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeast Bahamas, perhaps sparing those islands from Maria’s worst. Nevertheless, Maria is too strong and the track too close for residents of those islands to relax their vigilance. Even Maria’s left-hand side could produce severe hurricane conditions.

Beyond the Bahamas, there is strong agreement among our best track models that Maria will be following in the footsteps of Hurricane Jose, moving into a weakness carved out in the upper-level steering flow by Jose’s week-long presence. The GFS, UKMET, and European model runs from 00Z Tuesday all place Maria several hundred miles east of the Carolinas early next week, moving north, with the GFS the closest to the coast and the Euro the farthest. The 12Z Tuesday run of the GFS shifted east, which lends even more confidence to the idea of an offshore track. By the time Maria gets to higher latitudes, models suggest there will be enough west-to-east flow in the jet stream to push the hurricane out to sea. Only about 10 – 20% of the 70 GFS and Euro ensemble members from 00Z Tuesday bring Maria into the U.S. East Coast. The amount of model agreement on an offshore track is encouraging, but this is a distant-enough time frame that we cannot yet be fully confident in Maria’s long-term future.

ECMWF ensemble tracks for Maria, 0Z 9/19/2017
Figure 4. The 50 track forecasts for Maria from the 0Z Tuesday, September 19, 2017 European model ensemble forecast. The operational European model is the red line, adjusted by CFAN using a proprietary technique that accounts for storm movement since 0Z Sunday. The track of the average of the 50 members of the European model ensemble is the heavy black line. Image credit: CFAN.
GFS ensemble tracks for Maria, 0Z 9/19/2017
Figure 5. The 20 track forecasts for Maria from the 0Z Tuesday, September 19, 2017 GFS model ensemble forecast. Image credit: CFAN.
Infrared satellite image of Jose at noon EDT Tuesday, September 19, 2017
Figure 6. Infrared satellite image of Jose at noon EDT Tuesday, September 19, 2017. Image credit: RAMMB / CIRA@CSU.

Jose to linger off northeast U.S. coast for days to come

Hurricane Jose is about to enter the next phase of its long life: a gradual, multi-day loop south of New England that may help keep Maria from moving toward the U.S. East Coast. At 11 am EDT Tuesday, Jose was located about 230 miles east-northeast of Cape Hatteras, heading north at 7 mph. Officially, Jose remains a minimal hurricane, with top sustained winds estimated by NHC at 75 mph. The SFMR radiometer aboard Hurricane Hunter flights into Jose has not found any surface winds of hurricane strength for more than a day now. However, Jose’s wind field is so large that these flights are probably undersampling the storm, according to NHC. Jose’s field of convection (showers and thunderstorms) is fairly weak and mostly focused on the storm’s western side, leaving Jose quite asymmetric.

The outlook for Jose has changed little since Monday. Jose is expected to arc north and northeast, remaining at least 150 miles southeast of the Massachusetts coast. This could be enough for Jose’s outer bands to bring as much as 5” of rain and tropical-storm-force winds to Cape Cod and nearby islands, though models have been trending downward on New England impacts. High surf and beach erosion will continue to plague the mid-Atlantic and northeast U.S. coast for several more days. Jose will weaken to tropical-storm strength as it gradually transitions into a large mid-latitude storm, but that process may take the entire week to unfold.

It now appears that a long-awaited loop in Jose’s path will take place well offshore, and strengthening upper-level winds will haul Jose out to sea by early next week. In the meantime, Jose’s lingering presence will leave a weakness in the upper-level ridge steering Maria, and this is expected to create a path for Maria to angle northward along a track similar to Jose’s.

Dr. Jeff Masters co-wrote this post.

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

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Bob Henson

WU meteorologist Bob Henson, co-editor of Category 6, is the author of "Meteorology Today" and "The Thinking Person's Guide to Climate Change." Before joining WU, he was a longtime writer and editor at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, CO.


Environment / The Strafing Run of Mother Nature: St. Croix before the Carnage
« Last post by RE on Today at 05:23:07 PM »
<a href="" target="_blank" class="new_win"></a>
Looks like St. Croix gets hit this time too. They got lucky on Irma.

The USVI are mountainous islands. Sir Frances Drake's Seat, on St Thomas, is 1547 ft above sea level. But 40 ft seas will play hell with the beaches and the coral.

Looks like a Bull's Eye hit for the Eyewall on St. Croix.  If the people evacuate to higher ground, the wind speeds are even higher up there.  If the Water doesn't get you, the Wind will.

St Croix looks like it will be flattened like Barbuda.

pinhole rb animated
pinhole rb animated
Click the pic to see the animation

Eyewall trajectory also looks on target to hit San Juan.  Puerto Rico is TOAST.

Knarfs Knewz / The Madness of Donald Trump
« Last post by knarf on Today at 04:20:03 PM »
The pressures of the presidency have pushed Trump to the edge, but is he crazy enough to be removed from office?

Evening, August 22nd, 2017, a convention center in Phoenix. It's Donald Trump's true coming-out party as an insane person. It looks like the same old Trump up there on the stage: same boxy blue suit, same obligatory flag pin and tangerine combover, same too-long reddish power tie swinging below his belt line like a locker-room abomination. Earlier this year there were efforts to make Trump stop wearing his suit jackets open – designer Joseph Abboud said buttoning up was a "very visible way of showing he knows how serious the job is" – but Donald Trump doesn't take advice, not even the gently benign kind.

That makeover was undone just as quickly as it was done, leaving the Donald with the same old tie-on-bulging-duodenum look from the campaign. He even sounds the same now, kicking off the event with a go-to favorite: "What a crowd!" he shouts. (A week from now, he will shout, "What a crowd, what a turnout!" from atop a truck in Corpus Christi, Texas, on the occasion of a deadly hurricane.) But the embattled president who takes the stage tonight is a different man from the barnstorming revolutionary who ripped through the American political process a year ago. That Donald Trump enjoyed himself, to an obscene degree. Watching Trump lean over a podium on the road to the presidency was like watching a stud boar hump a hole in the wall.

He said monstrous things and lied with stunning disinhibition, and when the civilized world recoiled in horror, he seemed to take sadistic pleasure in every minute – win or lose, the run was pure glory for him, a Sherman's March of taboo politics and testosterone fury that would leave a mark on America forever.

There was one more thing. Candidate Trump may have been crazy, but it was craziness that on some level was working. Even at his lowest and most irrational moments – like his lunatic assault on the family of fallen soldier Humayun Khan, in which he raved to the grieving Gold Star parents about how it was he, Trump, who had "made a lot of sacrifices" – you could argue, if you squinted really hard, that it was strategy, a kick to the base.

Or even if he wasn't doing these things on purpose, he must have been able to feel their impact, as the revolutionary force of his campaign demolished the 160-year-old Republican Party and barreled toward the gates of Barack Obama's White House.

Now, it's different. Now, he just seems crazy. And it's his own administration that is crumbling, not any system.

After a disastrous and terrifying August, which among other things saw him defend the "very fine people" among neo-Nazi protesters in a Charlottesville, Virginia, march, it's Trump's mental state – not his alleged Russia ties, nor his failure to staff the government or pass any major legislation – that has become the central problem of his presidency.

Is this man losing his mind? And if so, what can be done about it? We've had some real zeros in the White House before, but we've never had a chief executive who barked at the moon or saw ghosts – at least, not one who was so public about it.

In Phoenix, which is technically a campaign event, the idea seems to be to surround the chief with an enthusiastic audience to boost his spirits after the fiasco of Charlottesville. Put him on the stump in the heart of MAGA country, let him feel that boar-with-a-boner high again.

It doesn't work. The crowd is big and boisterous enough, maybe 10,000 Sheriff Joe-lovin', Mexico-hatin' 'Muricans, but Trump looks miserable. He's not the insurgent rebel anymore but a Caesar surrounded by knives. He's got a special prosecutor crawling up his backside, and there are numerous prominent politicians, including at least two in his own party, who are questioning his sanity in public amid growing whispers of constitutional mutiny. Moreover, after shrugging off a thousand other scandals, Trump seems paralyzed by the Nazi thing. He can't let it go. Say one nice thing about Nazis, and it's like people can't get over it. Unfair!

He plunges into a 77-minute rant on this subject, listing each offending news outlet by name. In a nicely Freudian twist, he starts with The New York Times, which incidentally is the same paper that nearly a century ago identified "Fred Trump of 175-24 Devonshire Road" – the president's late father – as a detainee from a 1927 Ku Klux Klan rally in Queens. Back then, "native-born American Protestants" were railing against "Roman Catholic police" – essentially the dirty-immigrant Irish, last century's Mexicans. Not much changes in this country. Maybe the father of the 2072 Republican nominee is here tonight in a MAGA hat.

That old family shame might be why the president, who's always denied Fred Trump was a Klansman ("Never happened"), is having such a hard time with Charlottesville and race. He rails against the "Times, which is, like, so bad," moves on to the "Washington Post, which I call a lobbying tool for Amazon" and winds up with "CNN, which is so bad and pathetic, and their ratings are going down."

CNN's ratings aren't down. The network's second-quarter prime-time viewers just cracked a 1 million average, its most-watched second quarter ever, largely due to the blimp wreck of the Trump presidency. It's the one incontrovertible achievement of this administration. The network tweets as much shortly after Trump says the line. The Phoenix audience doesn't care. "CNN sucks!" they chant. "CNN sucks!"

I was late to the event and actually standing outside the press pen, so when the crowd turns to scream and hiss at the media, I'm on the angry-zombie side of the line. A man taps my shoulder.

"Fuck those people!" he shouts.

I smile, zip up my jacket to hide my lanyard, then turn around to give him a thumbs up. The crowd escalates:

"Tell the truth! Tell the truth!"

Trump goes on, raging against "very dishonest media" and trying to rekindle the spirit of the campaign. He self-plagiarizes a little, reviving the "little Marco" dig for "little George" Stephanopoulos.

The audience seems into it for a while. But it goes on too long. During the campaign, Trump was expert at keeping a hall buzzed with resentment for an hour or so. But he hits weird notes now. He goes off on a tangent about his enemies, it's not clear which ones. "They're elite?" he says. "I went to better schools than they did. I was a better student than they were. I live in a bigger, more beautiful apartment, and I live in the White House, too, which is really great."

Polite applause.

"You know what?" he goes on. "I think we're the elites. They're not the elites."

No one is counting fingers, but you can tell people are having trouble making the math work. We're elite because you have a nice apartment? Campaign Trump bragged endlessly about his wealth – "I have a Gucci store that's worth more than Romney" was a classic line – but back then he was selling a vicarious fantasy. Trump's Ferrari-underpants lifestyle was the silent-majority vision of how they would all live once the winning started. But candidate Trump was never dumb enough to try to tell debt-ridden, angry crowds they were already living the dream.

At one point, Trump ends up standing with a piece of paper in hand, haranguing all with transcripts of his own remarks on Charlottesville. To prove that he's been misquoted or misunderstood, he goes through the whole story, from the beginning. It gets quiet in the hall.

It's an agonizing parody of late-stage Lenny Bruce. The great Sixties comedian's act degenerated into tendentious soliloquies about his legal situation (he had been charged with obscenity). Bruce too stood onstage in his last years for interminable periods, court papers in hand, quoting himself to audiences bored to insanity by the spectacle.

This is exactly Trump. Even his followers are starting to look sideways at one another. In a sight rarely seen last year, a trickle of supporters heads for the exits. Then Trump cracks.

"The only people giving a platform to these hate groups is the media itself, and the fake news," he says, to tepid applause.

He stops and points in accusing fashion at the press riser.

"Oh, that's so funny," he says. "Look back there, the live red lights. They're turning those suckers off fast out there. They're turning those lights off fast."

We reporters had seen this act before. On October 10th of last year, in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, at one of the most massive rallies of the campaign, Trump accused CNN of shutting down the feed because he was criticizing their debate coverage. In that case, a camera light really did flicker, but CNN was actually turning the live feed on, not off. That was possibly an honest mistake. Possibly also it was Trump just pulling the media's tail, tweaking us with a line of bull, as he had with countless other provocations. The general consensus of attendant journalists that night was that Trump was messing with us.

Phoenix is different. Trump seems to believe what he's saying. He really thinks that not just CNN, but all of the networks are shutting down their feeds, overwhelmed by the power of his words. "Boy, those cameras are going off," he says, coming back to the subject. "Oh, wow. Why don't you just fold them up and take them home? Oh, those cameras are going off. Wow. That's the one thing, they're very nervous to have me on live television..."

The president of the United States is seeing things. He might as well be shooing imaginary ants off his suit. His followers still love him, but even they're starting to notice. They come for the old standards, but this new Trump material gets mixed reviews.

Outside, a fan gives the speech a half-hearted thumbs up. "I liked 'Lock her up,'" the man says with a shrug. "They did that for a little while."

"[He's saying] 'I don't
 promote racism, that's
 just the media trying to
 fuck with me,'" says Rich
 Yukon, a biker from a Tempe-based club called the Metalheads. "But he gets a little out of hand here and there, he says some shit."

After the event, Trump tweets, "Beautiful turnout of 15,000 in Phoenix tonight!" Later, he reportedly fires the organizer of that same "beautiful" event, longtime aide and RNC contractor George Gigicos, apparently for not delivering a terrifyingly massive enough crowd. Sources told Bloomberg that Trump saw open floor space in TV shots before he took the stage, and this put him in a "foul mood" from which he never recovered.

Trump has never had much use for facts, or decorum, or empathy, or sexual discretion, or any of the hundred other markers we normally look at to gauge mental wellness. But he's never been like this. This guy is lost, and as he flails for a clue, he keeps struggling violently against the conventions of his own office. The presidency has become a straitjacket.

We deserve Trump, though. God, do we deserve him. We Americans have some good qualities, too, don't get me wrong. But we're also a bloodthirsty Mr. Hyde nation that subsists on massacres and slave labor and leaves victims half-alive and crawling over deserts and jungles, while we sit stuffing ourselves on couches and blathering about our "American exceptionalism." We dumped 20 million gallons of toxic herbicide on Vietnam from the air, just to make the shooting easier without all those trees, an insane plan to win "hearts and minds" that has left about a million still disabled from defects and disease – including about 100,000 children, even decades later, little kids with misshapen heads, webbed hands and fused eyelids writhing on cots, our real American legacy, well out of view, of course.

Nowadays we use flying robots and missiles to kill so many civilians and women and children in places like Mosul and Raqqa and Damadola, Pakistan, in our countless ongoing undeclared wars that the incidents scarcely make the news anymore. Our next innovation is "automation," AI-powered drones that can identify and shoot targets, so human beings don't have to pull triggers and feel bad anymore. If you want to look in our rearview, it's lynchings and race war and genocide all the way back, from Hispaniola to Jolo Island in the Philippines to Mendocino County, California, where we nearly wiped out the Yuki people once upon a time.

This is who we've always been, a nation of madmen and sociopaths, for whom murder is a line item, kept hidden via a long list of semantic self-deceptions, from "manifest destiny" to "collateral damage." We're used to presidents being the soul of probity, kind Dads and struggling Atlases, humbled by the terrible responsibility, proof to ourselves of our goodness. Now, the mask of respectability is gone, and we feel sorry for ourselves, because the sickness is showing.

So much of the Trump phenomenon is about history. Fueling the divide between pro- and anti-Trump camps is exactly the fact that we've never had a real reckoning with either our terrible past or our similarly bloody present. The Trump movement culturally represents an absolute denial of our sins from slavery on – hence the intense reaction to the removal of Confederate statues, the bizarre paranoia about the Washington Monument being next, and so on. But #resistance is also a denial mechanism. It makes Trump the root of all evil, and is powered by an intense desire to not have to look at the ugliness, to go back to the way things were. We see this hideous clown in the White House and feel our dignity outraged, but when you really think about it, what should America's president look like?

Trump is no malfunction. He's a perfect representation of who, as a country, we are and always have been: an insane monster. Frankly, we're lucky he's not walking around using a child's femur as a toothpick.

When it's not trembling in terror, the rest of the world must be laughing its ass off. America, land of the mad pig president. Shove that up your exceptionalism.

A week in Trump time is like a century, and the week after the Phoenix fiasco felt like a thousand years. First, he slipped in a prime-time pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio – Trump's Ghost of Christmas Future, an envelope-pushing birther and demented prairie fascist who looked destined to spend his eighties in jail. Then, Trump held a joint press conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö. The diminutive Scandinavian stood trying not to reach for his cyanide pill as Trump proudly explained to the press that he'd timed the Arpaio pardon with coverage of Hurricane Harvey for maximum ratings impact. The poor Euro looked like a Belgian nun forced to bunk up with Honey Boo Boo.

Trump spent much of the week expressing morbid excitement about Harvey, as though the sheer size of the storm somehow reflected upon him personally. "HISTORIC rainfall," he gushed. Then, he went to Texas and said a slew of inappropriate things, celebrating crowd turnout and continually popping wood over the killer storm's "epic" dimensions – "nobody's ever seen this much water," he raved. He repeatedly forgot to express empathy for victims, but doled out a major attaboy to FEMA administrator Brock Long, who "really became famous on television the past few days."

Then, Trump went somewhere, fell asleep, woke up and decided first thing to take a Twitter leak on nuclear belligerent Kim Jong-Un, who just days before had shot missiles over northern Japan. "The U.S. has been talking to North Korea, and paying them extortion money, for 25 years," Trump wrote. "Talking is not the answer!"

After enough weeks and months of behavior like this, it's become axiomatic in many circles that Trump simply must go, for whatever reason. Our desperation as a nation to get back to "normal" – that is to say, back to being able to pretend we're a civilized people with justified hegemonic authority – has hit such a fever pitch that there is now real energy behind a pair of long-shot efforts to remove our mad king from the throne ahead of schedule.

The problem is that Trump might just live in an awful sweet spot – a raving, dangerous embarrassment, about the worst imaginable, but safe under the law absent new information. Depending on whom you ask, we may have to break democratic rules to be rid of him – something we've never had a problem doing, of course, but this is no desert sideshow, this would be center stage with the whole world watching.

Impeachment, now favored by upwards of 43 percent of voters, is one track. Many thought Trump was impeachable from Day One thanks to ethical conflicts and other issues. But successful impeachment would not only require significant defections from a Republican-controlled Congress, but proof of high crimes and misdemeanors, so far elusive.

There's a widespread misconception that impeachment is a purely political matter, that it can and should happen the instant a two-thirds majority of the Senate deems it necessary. Some of this has been fueled by social-media discussions quoting figures like Gerald Ford, who as a minority congressman once said, "An impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be."

But many legal experts disagree. "That was the worst thing that Ford could have said," says Jonathan Turley, law professor at George Washington University. While, superficially, impeachment is a political decision, to get all the way to the finish line the effort "has to meet the legal standard of high crimes and misdemeanors."

Merely being an inappropriate, racist, unethical, sociopathic embarrassment, even on the Trump level, doesn't necessarily rate as an impeachable offense. The president must be caught committing a crime, and it must be serious.

Impeachment is going to be tough political sledding in almost any case. Part of Trump's purpose in going to Arizona was to start digging the grave of Republican senator and open Trump antagonist Jeff Flake, who is up for re-election in 2018. Flake is polling far behind a Trump-backed primary challenger, Dr. Kelli Ward, thrilling the mad regent. "WEAK on borders, crime, and a non-factor in the Senate," Trump tweeted of Flake. "He's toxic!"

In the wake of Charlottesville, Trump surrogates like longtime friend Roger Stone argued that the president shouldn't back down at all to global outcries, but instead run back on offense by going after a "scalp" in his own party. By helping to blow up Flake, whose approval rating among voters in his own state, according to one poll, is down to 18 percent, Trump can demonstrate he still wields life-or-death power over most GOP elected officials. This will surely chill any effort to try to shorten Trump's term.

Still, five different investigations into Trump's relationship with Russia are currently underway, and there's little question that the undisguisedly sweeping nature of the inquiry is freaking Trump out. It was not difficult to notice that a predawn FBI raid on the home of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort took place just before Trump's disastrous response to the Charlottesville tragedy. If you think special counsel Robert Mueller is in Trump's head, he probably is.

Mueller, who is wielding the biggest pitchfork in this thing, is roaming promiscuously into all sorts of areas of inquiry, from Manafort's finances to the dismissal of former FBI chief James Comey to God knows what else. Mueller is exactly the kind of person Trump doesn't need sniffing his sheets: a graying, hatchet-faced moralist who, while Trump was spending decades romping with models and partying with TV stars, was quietly building – on a government salary – a reputation for being "incorruptible" and having "extraordinary integrity." As a former FBI chief, he is a veteran of massive undertakings, having led one of the biggest investigations in the bureau's history after 9/11. He can be expected to have grand juries sprouting across the country like mushrooms, and if there's evidence Trump so much as farted across state lines once, it will be in Mueller's report.

And likely none of it would 
have happened had Trump 
had enough self-control to let
 Comey's probably far narrower probe run its course. It was remarkable to hear recently
 deposed Trump adviser Steve
 Bannon say this out loud. The alt-right guru told Charlie 
Rose that firing Comey was the biggest mistake in "modern political history," and "we would not have the Mueller investigation and the breadth that clearly Mr. Mueller is going for."

But Mueller's investigation would almost certainly have to be a direct hit to Trump to result in removal from office. And there have been ominous signs for those who have hopes on this front. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, ranking member on the Judiciary Committee and senior member on Intelligence, as plugged-in a politician as there is on the Democratic side, stunned a San Francisco audience at the end of August by saying that Trump "is going to be president most likely for the rest of this term." She suggested – to cries of "No!" – that Trump "can be a good president."

Trump's catastrophic August, which saw his approval ratings drop to a preposterous 35 percent, was marked by two devastating unforced errors: his Phoenix speech and the similarly id-exposing Trump Tower presser about those "very fine people" among the Nazis. The press narrative since those incidents has been focused far less on impeachability than on the other road to early removal: a declaration of "inability to discharge duties" under Section 4 of the 25th Amendment.

This is a form of legalized mutiny that could theoretically take place if enough people in Trump's orbit were to conclude he were mentally unfit. (There is a congressional removal scenario under this provision, too, but it's complex and even more of a long shot.) There's buzz about this coup-like scenario in both parties. Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin has introduced a bill to set up an independent commission to gauge Trump's fitness. Twenty-eight Democrats have since signed the resolution.

In the Senate, Tennessee's glad-handing, six-faced, wanna-be Napoleon, wheelerdealer Republican Bob Corker, who as recently as June was seen golfing with Trump and Peyton Manning, questioned Trump's "stability" and "competence" in a statement that was widely interpreted as a reference to the 25th Amendment. This came after Democratic Sen. Jack Reed was captured on a hot mic saying to Republican Sen. Susan Collins, "I think he's crazy." Collins replied, "I'm worried."

Even some of the president's chief foes on the Russia front, including "deep state" types like former director of national intelligence James Clapper, have pivoted to the unfitness theme. The day after Phoenix, Clapper told CNN that Trump's speech was the most "disturbing" thing he'd ever seen from a president.

But the 25th Amendment process, adopted in 1967, offers faint hope to anti-Trumpers. "It's the new Hail Mary," says the law professor Turley. It can be instigated in a few ways, none simple. The most likely would involve Veep Mike Pence (rumored to be preparing a 2020 run) and the bulk of Trump's Cabinet writing a letter to Congress asserting that Trump is unable to perform his duties. Presumably such an effort would also include the coterie of missile-lobbing uniform fetishists surrounding Trump, people like John Kelly, H.R. McMaster and James Mattis. These half-bright military men, upon whom so much of Washington has pinned hopes as the "axis of adults" in Trump's loony-bin administration, would likely have to defy their commander in chief.

A letter to Congress from this crew would begin a process that would put Pence in the Oval Office as the acting president. Under the 25th Amendment, incidentally, the president is never removed, but merely sidelined. Imagine still-technically-President Trump's serene, imperturbable behavior as he watches his "temporary" replacement Pence in the White House. A two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress would eventually be needed to secure the play.

As with impeachment, there is a misconception that a Section 4 declaration can be a purely political gambit. In fact, the procedure specifically can't be about politics. John Feerick, a Fordham law professor who helped work on the original bill with senators such as Indiana's Birch Bayh and authored a book titled The 25th Amendment, goes out of his way to point out the many things that do not qualify as "inability" under this law. The list reads like Trump's résumé.

The debates in Congress about the amendment, Feerick writes, make clear that "inability" does not cover "policy and political differences, unpopularity, poor judgment, incompetence, laziness or impeachable conduct." When asked about the possibility of invoking the amendment today, Feerick is wary. "It's a very high bar that has to be satisfied," he says. "You're dealing with a president elected for four years."

"It has to be very serious," agrees Turley, who adds that an inability effort would probably require "sworn statements from psychiatric professionals."

The president, again, cannot be merely a disordered, inappropriate, incompetent, destructive embarrassment. He has to be genuinely "unable" to work. For Trump to be impeachable, he probably has to be responsible for crimes. To be declared unfit, he probably has to be demonstrably insane. He probably can't be both. Is he either?

Unless the Russia investigation pans out, the question of whether Trump survives to 2020 – Vegas betting houses started putting the odds below 50 percent after Charlottesville – hangs on a single question: Is Donald Trump insane?

It's actually not easy to answer, even conversationally. Is he crazy? On one level, of course he is, hell yes. Trump has been mad as a sack of bees since he launched his campaign. Put simply, Trump believes things that aren't there. He made it to the White House in a delusional bubble of his own creation, and his brain is clearly a denuded mush of paranoid, self-aggrandizing fictions he probably couldn't part with even if some brave confederate were to force him to try.

People pay the most attention to Trump's political deceptions: that 3 million "illegal" voters lost him the popular vote, that Hillary Clinton wants to "release the violent criminals from jail," that Ted Cruz's father was linked to the JFK assassination, and so on. "We are the highest-taxed nation in the world" was a notable recent whopper.

But those lies may be strategic, and Trump probably isn't married to them anyway, given that he doesn't appear to have real beliefs. Trump picks his political positions like ties: whatever's on the rack. Under duress, and with no way to escape, he will sometimes cop to being full of it, like the time he finally admitted, "Obama was born in the United States," after five years of bleating the opposite.

But sit him in front of a doctor and see what happens when you ask: Who had the larger inaugural crowd, him or Obama? Or: Would he ever admit the Boy Scouts never called to tell him his speech was the "greatest ever"? Trump might struggle here. It's the countless little fairy tales he tells himself about his power and infallibility to which he clings like a dope fiend to a $10 bill.

Everyone with half a brain and a recent copy of the DSM (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, used by shrinks everywhere) knew the diagnosis on Trump the instant he joined the race. Trump fits the clinical definition of a narcissistic personality so completely that it will be a shock if future psychiatrists don't rename the disorder after him.

Grandiosity, a tendency to exag
gerate achievements, a preoccupation with "fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty 
or ideal love," a belief in one's specialness (which can only be understood by other special people), a need for excessive admiration and a sense of entitlement – sound like anyone you know?

Trump's rapidly expanding list of things at which he's either a supreme expert or the Earth's best living practitioner would shame even great historical blowhards like Stalin or Mobutu Sese Seko.

As the "world's greatest person" at restricting immigration, who is "good at war" and "knows more about ISIS than the generals," and who is the "least racist person" with "the best temperament" who knows "more about renewables than any human being on Earth," insists "nobody reads the Bible more than me," and even knows more about New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker "than [Booker] knows himself," Trump by his own description is not a splenetic rightwing basket case at all, but just a cleverly disguised cross of God, Norman Schwarzkopf, Coretta Scott King, Gloria Steinem, Pope Francis and, apparently, Cory Booker's mother, Carolyn.

The president's ludicrous grandiosity was a running joke throughout the campaign season, but having a personality disorder is not a disqualifying feature in a president. Even his most vocal critics in the mental-health community concede that being a narcissist, even a very sick one, does not make him unfit for office.

"As someone who's studied Trump, as someone who's met Trump, who's interacted with him socially, I can say with absolute confidence that he suffers from severe personality disorders, perhaps a cluster of disorders," says Ben Michaelis, a New York-based psychologist who has run into Trump over the years. "But to get a sense of outright psychotic behavior ... There's some possibility, but you really need to examine him in a clinical setting."

This holdup – that merely being disordered isn't enough to justify removal, particularly when so many people endorsed these characteristics with a vote – has been one logistical problem stopping the "unfitness" Hail Mary. Another has been the American Psychiatric Association's so-called Goldwater Rule, an ethical dictum that discourages mental-health professionals from diagnosing public figures from afar.

John Gartner, a psychologist who trained residents at Johns Hopkins, has found a way around both problems. The Goldwater Rule he just ignores, because, he argues, the graveness of the Trump threat renders it quaint. Lots of his colleagues seem to agree, as Gartner has managed to gather more than 62,000 signatures from self-described mental-health professionals attesting that Trump "manifests a serious mental illness that renders him psychologically incapable of competently discharging the duties of president of the United States."

    "We're not talking about a gross psychotic disorder," Gartner says. "We're talking about a way in which people with severe personality disorders can regress to what they call transient psychotic states."

Gartner's argument is relatively simple. Add paranoia, sadism and antisocial behavior to narcissistic personality disorder and you have a new diagnosis: "malignant narcissism." Trump, he says, is no paranoid schizophrenic who walks the streets claiming to be the Son of God – no one "so grossly ill" could be elected. However, the president's increasing tendency to obsess over persecution theories – and not just parrot meaningless stupidities like the inaugural crowd story but seemingly believe them – shows that he's crossing a meaningful diagnostic line into psychotic delusions, common among malignant narcissists.

"We're not talking about a gross psychotic disorder," Gartner says. "We're talking about a way in which people with severe personality disorders can regress to what they call transient psychotic states." He adds, "It's a more subtle kind of psychosis, but it goes over the boundary into psychosis."

The term malignant narcissist is said to have been invented by Holocaust survivor Erich Fromm, who used it to explain Hitler. It's now become a catch-word on the Internet to describe Trump, and almost inevitably – in much the same way that language from the Steele dossier bled from the Internet to pop culture to the rhetoric of elected officials – it has begun to be circulated within the Democratic Party. California Rep. Jackie Speier actually used the term to describe Trump after Charlottesville, in an interview in which she also called him "unhinged" and "unfit."

But this all has the feel of a duel between court experts. If the argument comes down to whether Trump is a garden-variety narcissist or a malignant narcissist, the from-afar diagnosis may not cut it as an excuse to sideline an elected president.

Nor should it, says Turley, who believes Trump's opponents are playing with fire. He particularly points the finger at Democrats, whom he calls "constitutional shortsellers." During the eight years of Obama, Turley says, Democrats continually boosted executive power, only to regret it once Trump was elected. Now, he says, toying with scenarios like a 25th Amendment ploy could come back to bite them.

"They're doing this without thinking of the long-term implications," he says. "It could be their president the next time." 

Trump wasn't always crazy. He wasn't even always obnoxious. Many Americans don't remember, but the Donald Trump who appeared on TV regularly in the Eighties and Nineties was often engaging, self-deprecating, spoke in complete sentences and (verbally, anyway) usually lived up to his expensive schooling. He'd say things like, "These are the only casinos in the United States that are so rated," and use words and phrases like "a somewhat impersonal life" and "money isn't a totally essential ingredient."

The difference today is striking. Trump has not only completely lost his sense of humor, particularly about himself, but he's a lingual mess. In his current dread of polysyllables – his favorite words include "I," "Trump," "very," "money" and "China" – he makes George W. Bush sound like Vladimir Nabokov. On the page, transcripts of his speaking appearances often look like complete gibberish.

"When I did this now I said, I probably, maybe will confuse people, maybe I'll expand that," he said to Lester Holt in May, "you know, I'll lengthen the time because it should be over with, in my opinion."

The difference even since last year is hard to miss, and why not? The presidency severely ages and stresses even healthy people. From Obama to Bush to Jimmy Carter, presidents on their last day of office often look like med-school cadavers. President Trump already looks older, has a lower frustration threshold and seems only to have two moods, rage and sullen resignation (a.k.a. pre-rage).

He also can barely speak anymore, but without a close-up examination it's impossible to say if this is a neurological problem or just being typically American. As the psychologist Michaelis puts it, one major cause for loss of cognitive function is giving up reading in favor of TV or the Internet, which is basically most people in this country these days.

"In someone of his economic background and age, [the decline] is somewhat uncommon," he says. "Then again, it's a trend. People of my generation got more information from TV than books, and people of the next generation get more information from the Internet, and that exercises less of your cognitive reserve."

This is a huge part of the problem of trying to gauge whether or not Trump is mentally unfit for office. It isn't just that 63 million people specifically endorsed his nuttiest behaviors with a vote. It's also that maintaining modern American media habits can make most anyone seem like a victim of organic brain damage.

In a kind of awful satire of the current American experience, part of what got Trump elected is the camaraderie he shared with other reality-averse Americans who similarly chose to live in castles of self-aggrandizement, denial and blameshifting, a journalistic product we offer to just about everyone these days.

Trump is almost certainly worse than most of his voters. He's likely more grandiose, less empathetic and less capable of handling criticism. But his phobias about science or history or inconvenient facts, along with his countless conspiratorial hatreds and prejudices, are things he shares with millions of people. They voted for this, which creates as confounding and ridiculous a conundrum as has ever been observed in an industrial democracy. Can a country be declared unfit?

Tuesday, August 30th, Springfield, Missouri. Fresh off his "no more talking" tweet about North Korea that again puts the world on nuke alert, Trump flies to this sleepy little Ozark hub for a bit of image rehab. The play is transparent: Unspool plans for a monster corporate tax giveaway to pull nervous rank-and-file Republicans back toward the rubber room of Trump's presidency, and grope a prominent piece of Americana – the birthplace of Route 66 – for the benefit of a voter base that may have been confused by the previous week's Howard Beale act.

The speech is to be delivered at the Loren Cook Company, a maker of many things, including "laboratory exhaust systems," which seems ominous somehow. The giant warehouse slowly fills with the usual crowd of elderly flag-wavers and squirrelly white dudes with bad facial hair and ill-fitting jeans. If there are protesters anywhere in the area, they're likely very far away, probably surrounded by .30-caliber machine guns.

Every Trump event is must-see TV now, because no one ever knows when he's going to go on one of his unscripted ape-rants. It doesn't happen today. Today we get Clonazepam Trump, Prozac Trump. He stands in front of a big flag, perches between his two teleprompters and reads prepared remarks virtually from beginning to end – a relative rarity for this president, who hates scripts as much as he hates buttoned suit jackets. Trump reading a speech always looks like a hostage. In stark contrast to the vibrant rage of Phoenix, in Missouri he slowly spits out each lifeless cliché like it's a dead bird.

"In difficult times such as these," he says, "we see the true character of the American people: their strength, their love and their resolve. We see friend helping friend, neighbor helping neighbor, and stranger helping stranger..."

"Jeez," moans a reporter in the press section, smacking a forehead.

Trump goes on to insinuate to the crowd that the state's Democratic senator is holding back much-needed tax reform.

"And your senator, Claire McCaskill, she must do this for you," he says robotically. "And if she doesn't do it for you, you have to vote her out of office."

Muted cheers. After the event, the crowd files out in a patriotic mumble. A mustachioed man who identifies himself only as "Chuck Chuck" says the lifeless speech doesn't bother him.

"He told us about Claire McCaskill, that was good enough," he says.

A week or so later, Trump will strike a deal to raise the debt ceiling with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer that leaves members of both parties stunned. His would-be enemies in The New York Times publish the breathless analysis they never gave to Bernie Sanders: "Bound to No Party, Trump Upends 150 Years of Two-Party Rule."

This is the paradox of Trump. He is damaged, unwell and delusional, but at critical moments he's able to approximate a functioning human being just long enough to survive. He is the worst-case scenario: embarrassing, mentally disorganized and completely inappropriate, but perhaps not all the way insane. Maybe crimes will soon be discovered and he'll be impeached, or maybe he'll run naked down Pennsylvania Avenue this fall, or nuke someone, and be declared unfit. Until then, he's just the president we deserve, dragging our name down where it belongs. He is miserable, so are we, and we're stuck with each other. Karma really is a bitch.
Knarfs Knewz / Here’s Why St. Louis Is Exploding
« Last post by knarf on Today at 04:03:48 PM »
It doesn’t start or end with the acquittal of Jason Stockley.

St. Louis is reeling after another chaotic weekend of demonstrations against police violence. Outraged protestors took to the streets beginning on Friday, after Jason Stockley, a former St. Louis police officer, was acquitted on criminal charges related to the death of Anthony Lamar Smith. The protests, which included clashes with police, broken windows, and overturned trashcans, continued well into Monday, according to CNN.

The case dated back to 2011, when Smith, a 24-year-old black man, was pursued by Stockley—a white police officer who is now 35 and lives in Texas—in a high speed car chase that ended with Stockley firing several shots, hitting Smith.  In 2016, the state of Missouri released a probable cause document outlining its case against Stockley. One line reads: “During the pursuit, the defendant [Stockley] is heard saying ‘going to kill this motherfucker, don’t you know it.'”

Though the incident happened in 2011, Stockley wasn’t charged until 2016 after what prosecutors vaguely described as “new evidence” came to their attention. But St. Louis Circuit Judge Wilson acquitted Stockley of first degree murder on Friday. Shortly after the verdict was announced, in a move that likely incensed many observers, Stockley spoke publicly to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about the case, saying, “I did not murder Anthony Lamar Smith.” Then he added, somewhat paradoxically “It feels like a burden has been lifted, but the burden of having to kill someone never really lifts.”

What transpired in St Louis after the verdict is a scene that’s become all too familiar in cities across the country.

Protesters, mostly black, took to the streets to voice their outrage at yet another acquittal of a police officer charged with murdering a black citizen. In total, more than 80 people were arrested during the protests, with police officers at one point mocking the protesters by chanting, “Whose streets? Our streets!” while making those arrests.

Stockley’s acquittal may have been the match that lit the fuse in St. Louis, but the protests were the result of anger at a history of indignities suffered by black communities over generations. In 2014, after 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by ex-officer Darren Wilson in neighboring Ferguson and that city exploded in righteous anger, the U.S. Department of Justice tallied the Ferguson police department’s interactions with the local, majority black community over several years. One finding was that Ferguson generated the bulk of its revenue from municipal fines that unfairly targeted black residents.

But the most profound indignity of all has been the pace at which black people die at the hands of the police, and how seldom anyone is held accountable for those deaths. An investigation by the Guardian in 2015 found that young black men are nine times more likely to be killed by police than Americans of other races. But the Guardian also noted that convictions in such cases are rare.

Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, made the case to CNN earlier in 2017 that institutional bias runs incredibly deep in the criminal justice system. “At the end of day, officers in their badge and uniform enjoy the benefit of the doubt,” Clarke said. “But none of that should distract us from the root cause of the crisis we face … [which is] the racial bias that infects many aspects of policing in our country.”

Racial bias can be seen in some of the other cases where officers have been charged in relation to the deaths of unarmed black men and acquitted in 2017:

Year of incident: 2011

Officer: Jason Stokley

Victim: Anthony Lamar Smith, age 24, was shot after a high-speed chase in St. Louis.

Year of incident: 2015

Officer: Raymond Tensing

Victim: Sam DuBose, age 43, was shot and killed while driving on the University of Cincinnati campus.

Year of incident: 2016

Officer: Betty Shelby

Victim: Terrance Crutcher, 40, was shot and killed after his vehicle stalled in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Year of incident: 2016

Officer: Jeronomi Yanez

Victim: Philando Castile, age 32, was shot and killed during a traffic stop in Minnesota. Video of his death went viral.

The outrage on display in St. Louis did not start—or end—with the acquittal of Stockley. St. Louis police chief Lawrence O’Toole said in a news conference on Monday that law enforcement had regained control. “The city of St. Louis is safe and the police owned tonight,” O’Toole said of the Sunday night protests. He said later: “We’re in control. This is our city, and we’re going to protect it.”

Teamsters rally outside Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to free Eber Garcia Vasquez.

Today we bring you a conversation with George Miranda, the president of the 120,000-member Teamsters Joint Council 16, which is an umbrella group made up of 27 different local unions in New York City.

Sarah Jaffe: Let's start at the beginning. One of your members was deported last week, right?

George Miranda: Correct, Eber Garcia Vasquez was deported basically because his asylum case had been turned down ... (I believe) in 2012. He has been a Teamster for 26 years and has been working in this country and raising his family on that. He has been reporting in routinely as he is required to. He has had no felony convictions, no arrests, no nothing. Clean, clean, clean record. He just reports in once a year, routinely, a few questions are asked, and they know exactly where he is.

This time, he went in and they kept him and scheduled him for deportation. He left behind his family, three kids. He married an American citizen, and his three kids are US citizens. He was on his way to a green card -- about a year off, I guess. But he is on application for a green card and eligible for it, obviously, until this incident. Now he is in Guatemala. That is the story. If it happens to him, it could happen to anybody. Clean, clean record. Absolutely nothing wrong.

You guys had a campaign trying to stop his deportation, right? Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Yes, we had a campaign and we still have a campaign to stop his deportation. Unfortunately, events and time overtook us, but we had a lot of organizations come to our aid. We had a protest and rally, and we still have a campaign petition going around to stop the deportation, but unfortunately, like I said, he was on the fast track for some reason. Still don't know why. Nobody is telling us why. From the time they picked him up, [to] the time he was in Guatemala, was 13 days.

Again, there was absolutely nothing whatsoever that he did wrong. In fact, the only reason they picked him up was because he was adhering to his release, that he had to report in once a year and routinely, he does.

I think a lot of people don't understand that. Can you tell us a little bit more about that, the fact that a lot of people like him are checking in with authorities...?

It is a condition that they have to remain here, that they are not a threat or anything. You have to report in to immigration folks to let them know -- they ask the same questions.... "Where are you? Are you working?" Your address, and so on and so forth. Obviously, there are no red flags, there is no criminal record on them or anything, then all they have got to do is just report in so they know exactly where they are. That is it. And he did. Routinely.

After this, your union passed a resolution to become a sanctuary union. Tell us what that means and how that decision came to be.

Immigrant rights and labor rights are explicitly tied together. You can't have one without the other. If you lose on one issue, whether it is immigrants or the labor, you lose the other. It is obvious that we are tied together, and there is no way that we could say that we are not a union of immigrants.

It seems to us that we need to protect our members. We are all immigrants, but we need to protect our members more than ever now since this administration has taken the position that they have taken on immigrants. So, we have decided to be a sanctuary union, meaning that we protect our members. They are working, they are earning their living, they are supporting their families, and they are not doing anything that is criminal or whatever. We are not going to cooperate with the immigration service whatsoever in going after our members.

We are going to ... help them with attorneys and whatever other expertise they need in order to protect them and their families and, hopefully, get them out of the mess that they may find themselves in. That is what sanctuary unions mean. We are going to indoctrinate all of our members, all our stewards, as to exactly what that means.

You mentioned that you will try to bargain for protections for undocumented workers in labor contracts, as well.

Yes, we put language in to try to protect them so that if they have to go to court or whatever it may be so that they don't end up losing their jobs or their rights on the job just because ICE came up and is trying to deport them. So, they maintain their rights and their benefits.

These days, the labor movement is pretty invested in the rights of immigrant workers, but that wasn't always so. People like Trump still try to play off immigrant workers against US-born workers saying, "Oh, they are coming for your jobs." Talk about why it is important for unions to fight on this front.

Again, the labor movement was made up of immigrants [going] back [to] the early days of this country. You cannot separate us from the immigration situation in this country. They are explicitly tied together. These people earn a living, they are in building trades, they are mechanics, they are in every walk of life that we have, that we represent members of. They are part of the fiber of the labor movement, the immigrant movement. We are tied at the hip.

Your union also has been involved in other protests and actions that have gone on about the Muslim ban, the border wall, things like that. Talk about what that organizing in the community looks like for your union.

They are awakening a giant right now. Little by little, people are seeing that we are all tied together and we all have the same issues, whether it is putting a wall up or whatever it may be. All of it is designed to weaken unions and weaken the unity of immigrants and send them back. Over time, people are now seeing that we are more alike than we have ever been before and we have got to start waking up and fighting back. That is what this is all about.

Do you know of other unions that have passed similar resolutions?

I do not off the top of my head. I am sure that there probably will be some that have taken the position. I am sure that unions have taken positions to protect their members who are immigrants. I am not sure whether they have taken the position of being a sanctuary union to the extent that the Teamsters have.

Do you see this as a model that should spread and could spread to different places?

I would hope so. They can call it whatever they want, but I would hope that they are taking the same action that the Teamsters have taken with our resolution and our different local unions.

Anything else people should know about this?

I think it is going to start developing over time more and more. It is going to start having legs and growing as this immigration situation continues to fester and fester in this country.

How can people keep up with you and with the union?

They can contact me at the Teamsters Joint Council 16 and follow us on Facebook.
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