The hurricane and the President

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– Hurricane Michael has claimed 18 lives and at least $6 billion in damage measured so far, as the storm ripped through Florida President Trump held a rally in Pennsylvania. Back in 2012, Mr. Trump criticized then President Barack Obama for campaigning with Jay-Z and Bruce Springsteen while Hurricane Sandy hit New York and New Jersey. Is it fair to label Trump guilty of a double standard? The What’s Your Point panel sounds off.

This week’s panel: Justin Lurie- businessman and former congressional candidate, Nyanza Moore – progressive commentator and Houston attorney, Paul Bettencourt- Republican State Senator,  Tony Diaz- Chicano educator and activist,  Tomaro Bell – Super Neighborhood leader, Bill King – businessman, columnist and former Kemah Mayor.

WASHINGTON (AP) – Hurricane Michael has shown that President Donald Trump can’t always be counted on to give accurate information to the public when a natural disaster unfolds.

Trump wrongly stated that the hurricane moved across land with blazing speed, which stopped a terrible situation from becoming even worse because the storm didn’t linger. He also at least mildly exaggerated the ferocity of the storm’s winds.

His rhetorical record in times of calamity has been spotty.

Trump described last year’s Hurricane Maria as a Category 5 storm when it hit Puerto Rico; it was a 4. He invented a story that Democrats made up a high death toll on the island and, in the case of Hurricane Harvey and Texas, stated without evidence that thousands of water rescues resulted from people going “out in their boats to watch” the deadly storm.

The political winds swirled, too, over the past week, as Trump rallied hard for Republicans in the Nov. 6 elections that will determine control of Congress.

A look at some of his recent statements:


TRUMP: “The only thing we can say about Michael with certainty is that it was so fast, it went through like a bullet, but it was a devastating bullet. It was complete.” – remarks Thursday at a meeting about human trafficking.

TRUMP: “The one good thing we can say, we were just discussing, is that it was the fastest hurricane anybody’s seen. It just was speedy. If it wasn’t, there’d be absolutely nothing left.” – remarks Thursday during signing of a bill to reduce sea pollution.

THE FACTS: No bullet here. Michael moved across land at a relatively normal pace.

Michael moved at 13 mph to 17 mph for most of Wednesday, then sped up to as high as 23 mph on Thursday. Colorado State University hurricane expert Phil Klotzbach notes that does not hold a candle to Hurricane Hazel in 1954. That one raced along at 55 mph.

Atmospheric scientist Brian McNoldy, from the University of Miami, said Michael’s forward movement was “perfectly average.”

“Very average forward speed,” agreed meteorologist Jeff Masters, founder of Weather Underground. In contrast, a 1961 tropical storm hurtled at 69.75 mph from the mid-Atlantic over the Northeast, and a 1938 hurricane hit Long Island while traveling over 50 mph, he said.


TRUMP: “It was winds about as big as we’ve ever seen in history. We’ve never had anything like this.” – remarks Thursday at human-trafficking meeting.

TRUMP: “Some of those winds reached almost 200 miles an hour, which is unheard of. People are saying it’s the third most powerful that they’ve seen hit our country anywhere.” – remarks Thursday during bill signing.

TRUMP: “The level of power, people have not seen: the 170-, 180-mile-an-hour winds. At one point, it reached almost 200 miles an hour. So we haven’t seen that before. And I guess you have two or three cases where maybe there might have been slightly stronger wind. But this is in history.” – Fox News interview.

THE FACTS: This part is right: Michael was the third most powerful storm to hit the U.S. mainland. But Trump overstated wind speeds.

Michael’s top measured sustained winds were 155 mph and that’s from a plane, while the ground top wind speed measured was 129 mph. During the storm, a top wind gust of 130 mph was recorded at a University of Florida site before the instrument broke.

Gusts can be 25 percent higher than maximum sustained speeds, Klotzbach said, a prospect that would still leave winds considerably short of 200 mph on the ground.

Masters says the highest wind gust measured in a U.S. hurricane was 186 mph in Massachusetts in 1938.

Only four reliably recorded wind gusts of 200 mph or greater have been recorded in world history, he said. The world record wind gust is 253 mph at Barrow Island, Australia, during Tropical Cyclone Olivia in 1996.

WASHINGTON (AP) – Live from the Oval Office, it’s Kanye West with a jaw-dropping performance.

The rapper didn’t rap. But, seated across from President Donald Trump at the Resolute Desk, the musician delivered a rambling, multipart monologue Thursday that touched on social issues, hydrogen planes, mental health, endorsement deals, politics and oh so much more.

Seizing the spotlight from the typically center-stage president, West dropped the F-word, floated policy proposals and even went in for a hug.

“They tried to scare me to not wear this hat,” West said of his red “Make America Great Again” cap. But, he said, “This hat, it gives me power in a way.”

“You made a Superman cape for me,” he told Trump.

It was a surreal scene even by the standards of a nonconventional White House. The unlikely allies spoke to reporters before a closed-door lunch that had been billed as a forum to discuss policy issues including manufacturing, gangs, prison reform and violence in Chicago, where West grew up. Spectators at the show included Trump’s son-in-law and top adviser, Jared Kushner, former NFL star Jim Brown, the attorney for a gang leader serving time in federal prison, and a gaggle of reporters.

During one pause, Trump seemed to acknowledge the oddness of the moment, saying, “That was quite something.”

West’s mental health has been a question of speculation since he was hospitalized in 2016. In a bizarre performance last month on “Saturday Night Live” he delivered an unscripted pro-Trump message after the credits rolled.

Addressing the topic Thursday, West said he had at one point been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but was later told by a neuropsychologist he’d been misdiagnosed.

“So he said that I actually wasn’t bipolar; I had sleep deprivation, which could cause dementia 10 to 20 years from now, where I wouldn’t even remember my son’s name,” he said.

The conversation began with an exchange on North Korea among Trump, Brown and West. Trump said the region was headed for war before he took over, and West commended him for stopping it. Brown said he liked North Korea; Trump agreed.

From there, West discussed prison reform and violence in inner-city Chicago. He brought up Larry Hoover, the leader of the Gangster Disciples who is serving a life sentence for murder, claiming: “The reason why they imprisoned him is because he started doing positive for the community. He started showing that he actually had power, he wasn’t just one of a monolithic voice, that he could wrap people around.”

West said he “loved Hillary” Clinton, Trump’s 2016 Democratic rival, because he loves everyone, but said he connected with Trump’s “male energy.” He also criticized the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery, calling it a “trap door.”

Holding out his phone, West showed Trump a picture of a hydrogen-powered plane that he thought should replace Air Force One.

“This right here is the iPlane 1,” he said. “This is what our president should be flying.”

Added West: “If he don’t look good, we don’t look good. This is our president. He has to be the freshest, the flyest” and have “the flyest planes.”

West also had a sartorial suggestion for Trump, proposing a hat that says just “Make America Great” – dropping the “again.”

At the end of West’s lengthy, sometimes-hard-to-follow dialogue, even Trump seemed at a loss.

“I tell you what: That was pretty impressive,” the president said.

“It was from the soul,” West replied. “I just channeled it.”

West later told reporters of his verbal stylings: “You are tasting a fine wine that has multiple notes to it. You better play 4D chess with me. … It’s complex.”

Taking questions from reporters, the rapper also voiced concern about stop-and-frisk policing. Trump this week called on Chicago to embrace the tactic, which allowed police to detain, question and search civilians without probable cause, though it was deemed unconstitutional in New York City because of its overwhelming impact on minority residents.

Trump said they’d discuss the matter and he’d keep an open mind.

Asked about his comments in 2005 that President George W. Bush didn’t “care about black people” after Hurricane Katrina, West said that “We need to care about all people” and that he “was programed to think in a victimized mentality.”

Trump and West previously appeared together shortly after Trump’s 2016 election in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York.

Asked what the two had talked about during their December meeting, West responded briefly that time: “Life. We discussed life.”

While Trump has been shunned by much of the Hollywood establishment, he has a fan in West, who tweeted earlier this year that the two share “dragon energy.”

“You don’t have to agree with trump but the mob can’t make me not love him. We are both dragon energy. He is my brother,” West wrote.

West is married to reality television star Kim Kardashian West, who successfully pushed Trump to grant a pardon to a drug offender earlier this year.

West himself has suggested he might be open to wading into politics, including a run for president in 2020.

Asked if West could be a future presidential candidate, Trump said, “Could very well be.” West shot back, “Only after 2024.”

After all that, the president brought the show to a close by suggesting, “Let’s go have some lunch, OK?”