Puerto Rico (and US Virgin Islands) Incident Response

10+ days after Hurricane Maria slammed into the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, we find that 40% or more of the island does not have clean drinking water.  This is a humanitarian crisis occurring on US soil..  There will be plenty of blame to go around on this one, but I ham a strong believer in the "Buck Stops Here" approach.   The POTUS since the Hurricane hit the island has had a less than stellar response to the crisis, especially compared to the responses to Harvey in Texas and Irma in Florida.   

On September 17, the White House issued a disaster declaration in preparation for Maria.  That was a good start, and in line with what the White House did in preparation with Harvey and Irma. Making a disaster declaration is one thing, acting upon it is where some of the problems lay.  If you recall back to Hurricane Irma, many Caribbean islands took a direct hit from a Category 5 Hurricane that at the time had maximum sustained winds of around 185 miles an hour.  Islands such as Barbuda were devastated, while the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico were severely crippled by the sideswipe of Irma.  As the islands were beginning recovery from those storms, the tropical wave that eventually became Maria began heading that direction.  Computer models were projecting that a major hurricane may go through the area several days in advance.  Computer modeling for hurricanes have become pretty good to this point, and the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico were in the cone of uncertainty of a major hurricane (CAT 3+) either going over or passing close to these islands that were on the brink from Irma.  

This should have instigated major preparations on FEMA's part.  The potential for major power and water distribution issues were high.  The Federal government knew the economic and Commonwealth debt situations well in advance and the high likelihood that the Federal assistance would be great in this case.  Like with Harvey and Irma, resources should have been in place ready to move once the storm had passed.  While the power issue will take time (no doubt), shortages of food, medicine, fuel (for generators), and water should have been easily anticipated.  Resources should have been at the ready, and all the red tape inhibiting the distribution and delivery of said resources should have already been cut through.   No excuse in over preparation in a possible humanitarian crisis.

The victim blaming, party bickering, and posturing by POTUS needs to stop now.  Earlier today, he sends out the following set of tweets about Puerto Rico.  

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This is victim blaming at its finest.  The general that is in charge of the relief effort states he does not have enough resources.  Mr. President, it is not about Democrats or Republicans, nor about the economic condition of the island prior to the onslaught of 2 major hurricanes.  It is about the 3.5+ million AMERICAN CITIZENS that live in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.  We have the means and the the will to help out our fellow citizens as was done in the wake of Harvey and Irma.  The buck stops with you Mr. President.  Start acting presidential and stop the partisanship.  The American people, especially those in need in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands deserve better.

Ratings and the NFL

Well...POTUS is wading into the NFL pool, stating that one of the reasons that the ratings continue to be down in the NFL compared to previous years. While true, there seems to be a false equivalency between the rating and the flag protests started in 2016.   

To begin with, all sports leagues would kill to have the NFL ratings, even at its reduced rates:

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Okay....great ratings, but in 2015,  43 of the top 50 events were NFL.  What is different?  Perhaps the quadrennial Summer Olympics?  Add in the once in a lifetime World Series between the 2 snakebitten franchises of the Cubs and Indians (until hopefully again this year) would make up the difference.

Are the ratings drops just exclusive to the NFL?  No.  Let us take a look at the ultrapatriotic, Southern born and bred NASCAR.  No flag protests, no controversial statements.   How are their ratings doing?  Not good:  According to the article, "A whopping 22 of 26 Cup Series races this season have posted a decline in ratings and viewership."  The first race of the championship in Chicago was the second lowest rating race since 2000.   Add the attendance drop over the last decade, and NASCAR is in a world of hurt as well.

How about the other sports?  NBA down.  MLB mixed (people watch more when their team is good).  NHL down in US, up in Canada.    In general, all professional sports ratings have seen a decline over the past few years.   I don't remember any controversy in these either.

Maybe it is just the professional sports?  NCAA football is still strong, NCAA basketball is improving.  Is it possible that the professional leagues have priced out the average fan to see games in person, causing more casual fans which results in lower TV viewership?  Add to the fact that the NFL is going through a crisis with regards to health of its players after their playing days, or a myriad of other possibilities explained in this article last year.

 

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Independence Day to all my fellow Americans.   First a look at the document that started it off.

 

So, on this most American of holidays, you would expect the President to say something about it. Our President did, tweeting out a message with a video attached.  Given that structure, one would think that he might have used the Star Spangled Banner:

 

If not that, then the classic song by Irving Berlin,  God Bless America.

 

He could have even chosen a song by one of the performers at his inauguration, Lee Greenwood, with God Bless the USA:

 

So, what does our President tweet on Independence Day?  See for yourself

That's right.   A MAGA song?   WTF is that?  90% of his tweets are used to divide the country, rather being a President representing the entire nation, as the great ones would.  What a narcissist.   

About that antivirus program on your computer

Here in the last week, both at work and at home, I have seen the following type of email:

 

This email has every indication of being malicious, with a password protected word document, unsolicited, and with very little details to go on.  Let's download this puppy into our virtual machine and check it against just generic Windows Defender built into the machine.

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Nothing seems all that unusual.   But if you open the file, it really wants you to enable macros and click on them.

 

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Look what happens when you enable the macros and click on the files.  A bunch of VB scripts.  Are those scripts dangerous?  Absolutely.

 

This virustotal scan was taken nearly one week after the files was emailed to us.  Are we brave enough to run the scripts in a controlled environment?

The Obama and Trump Presidencies

Scouring through my social media timelines over the last several days, I find that the left and right have one thing in common, the glorification and/or vilification of Obama and Trump, depending on your political leanings.  Obama fans have said he was one of our best presidents, while Trumpsters will "Make America Great Again."  Neither will be quite the case.  Let's take a look at the pros and cons.

When history finally writes its final chapter about the Obama presidency, his 8 years will probably fall into the 2nd Quartile of Presidents, which is not that bad.  His administration has seen several key advances with regards to LGBTQ rights and other social issues, but economic issues have been a mixed bag.  On the surface, employment stats look somewhat impressive on the surface (Unemployment rate halved, while Dow Index tripled), the unevenness of the economic recovery led the decline in Democratic power nationwide, starting with losing Congress and then a decline in the number of statehouses and governorships.  ACA (Obamacare) is the signature legislative achievement of his presidency, but has not been the panacea as expected and awaits an extremely tenuous future in the Trump administration.

As I had written back in February 2016, I have very little hope for a Trump administration.  If he turns out to be a 3rd Quartile President, he will be exceeding my expectations.  Many of his cabinet picks have been on the baffling side with minimal knowledge of details of his cabinet posts.  He has questions about ties to Russia during the election process, has not disclosed taxes as is traditional, and has not divested interests in his companies to avoid the perceived conflict of interest.   Recent odds by British bookkeepers put the odds at 2-1 that he will either resign or be impeached before his term expires.  A very rocky start for the presidency to say the least.

Stop being enamored by politicians.  You can almost always do more for your local community than weighting for Federal help.

Congratulations to President Elect Hillary Clinton

Congratulations @HillaryClinton, you have become the 1st official female president of the United States.  In order to achieve this event, you had to beat a tremendous Democratic field of 3, including a (former Independent-Socialist) Bernie Sanders, and dry milk-toast candidate in O'Malley.  You used the power of the DNC to help make sure that the election was rigged against Senator Sanders, but also encourage the rise of the only Republican you had a better than coin flip chance of beating in Donald Trump according to the John Podesta emails leaked by Wikileaks. 

And congratulations to the Republicans, whose fascination in the xenophobic, misogynistic, loud-mouthed, charlatan of a reality TV star nominated the only candidate with a disapproval rating lower than Hillary Clinton's.  His ability to put his foot in his mouth makes him a viable spokesman for Dr. Scholl's.  His campaign rhetoric likely set the Republican Party back 40 years.  The upcoming war within the Republican Party will not be pretty.  Bravo, GOP electorate, Bravo!

Sigh.....if only 3rd party candidates had a legitimate chance to participate.