Three Things: So Many Questions, September Edition

It’s been a little busy in my neck of the woods, trying to tackle a long accumulation of honey-dos. But questions piled up, needing answers, so much so that I had to take time out to put bits and pixels to digital paper. Let’s begin, shall we?

~ 3 ~
PUERTO RICO POST-MARIA

Where the hell is the USNS Comfort, dispatched in 2010 to help after Haiti’s earthquake, and why isn’t it docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico, right the fuck now?

Why did we send 24,000 military personnel to help Japan after the 2011 earthquake but can’t muster them for a U.S. territory with a former navy facility and an active facility at Fort Garrison in San Juan?

Is Trump deliberately ignoring Hillary Clinton’s plea to send the USNS Comfort to PR because — well, it’s Hillary? (Yeah. Check that link. Even Fox News noted Hillary’s request.)

Has Trump deliberately ignored Puerto Rico’s urgent plight out of personal pique over the bankruptcy and losses from a Trump-branded, Trump-managed golf course located in Rio Grande, PR? He was trying to prop it up on Twitter back in 2013.

Are Trump’s tweets complaining about Puerto Rico’s debt yet more projection, since the failed golf course was built with government-issued bonds?

Why did the Senate approve as FEMA director — who only left to tour the island FIVE GODDAMNED DAYS AFTER MARIA MADE LANDFALL — the man who was the Hurricane Program Manager for FEMA under the Bush administration during Hurricane Katrina?

This, from The New York Times:

The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Brock Long, has received widespread praise for his handling of the federal response to Hurricane Harvey, the first major natural disaster faced by the Trump administration.

Somebody get me a concrete citation of a real accomplishment attached to some of this “widespread praise” for anything besides being “a calming presence in press briefings.” Has the bar slipped this low that calmly stringing together cogent sentences is worthy of accolades? Can the NYT stop fluffing Trump and his band of co-conspirators?

Because right now American citizens are suffering and likely dying as a result of this administration’s gross ineptitude and negligence, if not outright malignance.

Now Trump says he’s going to Puerto Rico next Tuesday. That’s TWO WEEKS after the storm. Can’t disrupt his golf game over last or the next weekend, don’t you know. What I particularly despise about Trump’s response to this crisis is that he makes this guy’s fly-by two days after Katrina look so much better.

Call your members of Congress and demand action. Yeah, that’s not a question. Suck it up; you’ve got electricity, communications, and access to clean water if you’re reading this. Millions of your fellow Americans in Puerto Rico don’t. Let’s fix this.

~ 2 ~
GRAHAM-CASSIDY-HELLER-JOHNSON NOT-A-HEALTH-CARE BILL

Have you called your senator and asked them to vote NO on the debacle Sen. Bill Cassidy can’t explain and over which Sen. Lindsey Graham is ruining any cred as a rational human being, while disabled health care activists recover from being hauled away by capitol police yesterday before the Senate Finance Committee’s hearing on the bill?

Have you documented and shared publicly your senators’ position on Graham-Cassidy, especially if they are up for re-election in 2018?

The number is (202) 224-3121 if you don’t have it memorized already.

Need a script to make it easier? Here you go.

As wretchedly bad as this obscene joke of a bill is, I can’t help wonder if GOP members of Congress and their staff are gaming this. Have they been working on something even worse than previous attempts at ACA repeal just to game the stock market and make a few bucks on the backs of worried citizens?

[graphic: Health Insurance stock chart, via Google Finance]

For grins you should look at Aetna’s chart for last Friday and note the jump it took when Sen. McCain expressed his reluctance to support Graham-Cassidy. Price jumped about the same time capitol police arrived to arrest protesters. Easy money, that, conveniently ahead of the market’s close.

~ 1 ~
IRAN ~AND~ PUERTO RICO

What question do these two disparate places prompt?

First, Trump tweeted about an Iranian missile launch as if it had ~just~ happened, within 24 hours of a reconstituted travel in which Iran is listed. But the missile launch ~didn’t~ just happen; it took place more than six months ago but was mentioned only this week in Iranian news.

Second, Trump took his fucking sweet time ensuring FEMA went to Puerto Rico; Hurricane Maria made landfall on September 20th, visible to anyone who watched weather networks, NOAA, and NASA reporting.

Is Trump ignoring any and all U.S. intelligence and government experts on matters foreign and domestic, relying instead on some other criteria for responding to events, including cable TV? Should we believe for a second he’s simply and accidentally flooding his source of information?

In the case of Iran’s missile program, it looks more like he deliberately used stale news to defend a new travel ban while making propagandistic false statements to the public. The Supreme Court canceled hearing the travel ban after the travel ban was rejiggered — does this suggest his manipulation of perception worked, not only on the public but on the Supreme Court?

~ 0 ~
One more time: call your Senators to ask NO on Graham-Cassidy and get their position on the record. Call your members of Congress to ask for urgent response and funding for aid to Puerto Rico. The number is (202) 224-3121. Put it on speed dial.

Viajar bien, mis amigos y amigas.

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.

29 replies
  1. orionATL says:

    the president’s ignoring puerto rico, and that is what he was doing, deliberately ignoring millions of american citizens’ dire plight because they are hispanic, is contemptible politics, as contemptible as his support for lindsey gramham’s bastard “health care” bill.

    our president is the very model of an old-fashioned, 1930’s, whiteboy-huggin’, pandering southern populist.

    as jenifer rubin noted: hurricane aid for texas flew thru the congress, but a vote for aid for puerto rico is weeks away.

    when white boys rule, disaster aid for non-persons gets slow-walked.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Yep. Look at this pure bullshit.

      Trump: We’re getting ‘really good marks’ for Puerto Rico response

      http://www.politico.com/story/2017/09/26/trump-puerto-rico-response-243146

      “Texas & Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble,” Trump tweeted. “It’s old electrical grid, which was in terrible shape, was devastated. Much of the Island was destroyed, with billions of dollars owed to Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with. Food, water and medical are top priorities – and doing well. #FEMA.”

      [Why the fuck did he have to mention Wall Street and banks? Trump is #UnfitForOffice. There can be zero doubt]

      [An absolute loser that only cares about money and just brushes off the suffering of those that are now just trying to survive]

      [because his golf course there failed, maybe he is into Honey Badger mode]

      https://www.cnbc.com/2015/07/13/trump-golf-club-in-puerto-rico-files-for-bankruptcy.html

      [Of course, if Trump knew he was going to be elected, he probably would have kept the course open, and now, post-Maria, would have applied for millions in disaster relief. Millions? What was I thinking? He would go for Billions!]

  2. Watson says:

    The catastrophe facing the 3.5M people in Puerto Rico demonstrates that a capitalist government lacks the means, the mandate, and the conceptual framework to address such problems adequately.

    As with the 2010 BP oil spill, the supplies and equipment necessary for repair and restoration are virtually all privately owned.
     
    And food, water, energy, shelter, etc. are commodities to be sold, not given away as charity or provided as a universal right. (The mythical ‘Obama phones’ created an uproar; imagine giving someone a home on a tropical island!)

    • Rayne says:

      No. Our government possesses the resources and means. It is ~currently~ not populated by elected and appointed persons whose ethics and morals drive them to use the non-private, government resources and means available to them.

      USNS Comfort as well as USNS Mercy are military, not private, vessels, which have responded to humanitarian crises as have our troops. No NGO can command the resources the U.S. military has, given the U.S. spends more than the next seven countries combined on defense. Deploying them for humanitarian purposes serves our nation’s interests, both in developing and maintaining relationships, domestic or foreign, and in on-the-job training for future military demands.

      The 2010 Deepwater Horizon accident was resolved in no small part with federal resources, or do you not recall seeing then-Energy Secretary Steve Chu working with both government and private entities to resolve the crisis?* The well would probably still be leaking today if the feds were not involved both at regulatory and resource level. It was the failure of government’s regulatory system that a private corporation experienced this level of failure; were the system not undermined, Deepwater Horizon’s leak may never have happened.

      Our problem is an erosion of ethics, specifically dedication to community and the commonweal (a manifest symptom of the problem is not knowing what commonweal is). Selfishness and corruption have undermined this. Until we have a conversation about the impact of systemic selfishness and corruption and the need to reduce it, our country will continue to diminish as inequality worsens.

      ________

      How Science Stopped BP’s Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill, Scientific American, April 19, 2011

  3. Rugger9 says:

    Well, there could be a good reason for the USNS Comfort to be tied to the pier: she is not operational, but the Military Sealift Command might have some explaining to do. I’ll agree Comfort should be there because it’s what she does.

    However, USNS Comfort is not the only ship that can help. My prior carrier Carl Vinson could make more than enough water per day to really help out, and they also have the ability to provide some significant medical care as well. The Gator Navy (the amphibs) also has the ability to be of some really good use and are experienced in the transport of troops to land and supporting them once there. I would bet that most of their officers are champing at the bit to get going, but are waiting for the orders to go.

    This is all stuff Kaiser Donald could use to do something about this right now, but he simply does not care about non-white, non-English-speaking Americans and will only talk about the NFL, etc. to try to distract America from the 3.5 million+ Americans in deep doo doo now on PR, St Croix and St Thomas.

    I predict PR will be independent in the next ten years, and this “response” will go a long way to pushing them out.

    • Rayne says:

      NBC reported that the USNS Comfort is being dispatched to PR. Now I wonder if this is just spin if, as you say, the vessel isn’t operational.

      Which then begs the question: where the hell is the USNS Mercy, the Comfort’s twin? It’s not like these idiots in the White House couldn’t see Hurricane Maria was a HUGE problem before 20-SEP.

      • Rugger9 says:

        I said it was a possibility as to why USNS Comfort would not sail, along with the note that IF that were the case someone in the MSC would have explaining to do. It’s hurricane season in the Atlantic.

        USNS Mercy is in the Pacific.  However, these particular vessels have top speeds of 20 knots.  Carriers are much faster and the amphibs (like the Wasp-class) are faster as well but not as fast as a Nimitz-class carrier.  I’d send a couple of LHDs over following the carrier since they have casualty support capability.  It would cut a day or two off of the response, and that would be golden.  The other nice thing about the amphibs is that with the LCACs they carry more of the littoral is accessible for immediate help, back and forth.

        I also remember seeing how the first try for dodging the deployment was to say that Comfort would not be able to dock.  Like the carriers, that is not unusual due to the hospital ships’ draft, and standing offshore a few miles means water can be made continuously as well in the evaps.

  4. Rugger9 says:

    I forgot the Seabees as well.

    Of course, this costs money and I do not see the Congressional GOP majority doing a thing for non-white, non-English-speaking Americans that will never vote for them. After all, they’ve gotten theirs.

    • Rayne says:

      The lack of a Congressional representative and senator for U.S. territories certainly doesn’t help much. Imagine if a Cat 5 had hit Hawaii, which is majority non-white — would we be having the same conversation? I suspect not.

      • Rugger9 says:

        Well, Hawaii has very rarely been hit, due mostly to where it is in the Pacific.  Iniki was the exception that proved the rule, but the currents / wind / water temps are not usually conducive to high-powered cyclones hitting the islands.

        However, with that said the main reason HI would be supported (grudgingly since it is blue) is due to the military installations there that are highly strategic. While I put nothing past this band of Teahadis, it’s a tougher sell to stiff the military when explaining such a decision to their base.

        • Rayne says:

          Hawaii tends to be moderate. Hello, Tulsi Gabbard? State government was divided from 2003-2010, could slip back that way if it weren’t for Executive Cheetoh.

          If another Iniki-like event happened (and the odds improve with climate change), the situation with North Korea and China would likely spur greater response, not merely Naval Station Pearl Harbor’s active status.

          But Puerto Rico’s proximity to Cuba and Venezuela, Panama to the west, are more than adequate reasons why a larger, immediate naval presence should have been close enough to respond post-Maria. I don’t buy for a second PR was that worthless or inconvenient.

          I do buy Trump as a racist jerk who triggers easily over slights and is more than willing to sell out Americans if it will make him a buck. What’s in his intransigence for him?

      • Rugger9 says:

        I probably did, but it’s still interesting that he’s only concerned about how much he’ll get out of it.

        Maybe he was irritated at the locals regarding why these tanked (and is taking petty revenge), but from what I saw it was only a “branding” deal, not a full ownership.

  5. orionATL says:

    this wapo article is very useful because it details many dod activities underway to aid puerto rico, thus balancing some prior criticism:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2017/09/26/clinton-pressured-trump-to-deploy-hospital-ship-comfort-to-puerto-rico-now-its-on-the-way/?

    the key to situations like this, though, is concerned leadership at the top. the puerto rico hurricane crisis has never had the benefit of caring presidential leadership. that is in no way accidental, as trump’s tweets highly critical of PR clearly demonstrate.

      • P J Evans says:

        Gas prices.

        And Himself has no fucking clue how much more PR has to pay for everything because of that act, which could be suspended for several months to a year while they get put back together. (It also affects Guam, which does get hit by hurricanes.) I doubt that shipping companies would lose that much money; I don’t think that they’re making a lot on PR now.

        • orionATL says:

          p. j…!! good to hear your voice.

          jeez, i didn’t think about gas.

          i was thinking the other day why i wasn’t seeing you here. where you been, man?

  6. harpie says:

    Tweets today:
    1] Rebecca Ballhaus [WSJ]   Trump on why he won’t waive the Jones Act: “A lot of people who are in the shipping industry don’t want” it lifted.
    2] Matt Pearce [LA Times]   I just looked up what we wrote about the Jones Act in 1920. [see screen shot from 1920-Jones Act is called: “America First Shipping Bill”]

    • orionATL says:

      :)) U BUM gets beat up on twitter – again.

      you what that comment about what people in the shipping industry don’t want…. reminds me of?

      it reminds me of another trumpism (they’re kind of like malaproprisms),
      that time in the first month of his reign when trump was planning to dump a lot of dodd-frank bank regulations saying:

      “… “Because frankly, I have so many people, friends of mine, that had nice businesses, they just can’t borrow money . . . because the banks just won’t let them borrow because of the rules and regulations in Dodd- Frank.”…”

  7. GKJames says:

    It boggles the mind that this discussion is even taking place. Can someone regale us yet again with stories as to how “both sides are the same”?

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