It's been over a week since Hurricane Maria tore through the island of Puerto Rico and left the better part of 3.5 million American citizens without power or access to food, medicine or clean water.
While quick to respond to the needs of Texas and Florida after widespread damage from hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the Trump administration has been very publicly dragging its feet for the much larger and far more dangerous crisis unfolding in the Caribbean. Worse, while the public outcry for the federal government to do more has been steadily growing, Trump and his administration seem to be more focused on selling the perception that they're getting "tremendous reviews" (as if disaster relief were a Broadway play), leading the acting director of Homeland Security Elaine Duke to call it the government's tepid response a "good news story".
The only way Duke could have been more tone deaf was if she had said "Let them eat flan."
Needless to say, San Juan's mayor, Carmen Yulin Cruz, was displeased and tore into Duke on CNN:
"Well, maybe from where she's standing it's a good news story. When you are drinking from a creek, it's not a good news story. When you don't have food for a baby, it's not a good news story... This is a people are dying story. This is a life or death story. This is a there's a truckload of stuff that cannot be taken to people story. This is a story of a devastation that continues to worsen because people are not getting food and water," Cruz said on CNN.
Cruz called the statement "irresponsible" and asked that Duke come visit the towns that had been devastated on the island and the residents who lacked medical care."
It's not a good news story when people are dying when they don't have dialysis, and when the generators aren't working, and the oxygen is not provided for them," she said. "Where is there good news here? The good news is we are getting heard."
Just to be clear, according to the Washington Post, when Haiti was hit by a massive earthquake, the United States military (under a competent president) swung into action like it was going to war:
Before dawn the next morning, an Army unit was airborne, on its way to seize control of the main airport in Port-au-Prince. Within two days, the Pentagon had 8,000 American troops en route. Within two weeks, 33 U.S. military ships and 22,000 troops had arrived. More than 300 military helicopters buzzed overhead, delivering millions of pounds of food and water.
After Puerto Rico, the world's most powerful military has been barely mobilized to help millions of Americans.
Trump has already said, out loud, that he didn't want to suspend the Jones Act to allow foreign cargo ships to rush aid to Puerto Rico because the shipping industry didn't want to lose money. That, alone, is morally reprehensible and is the kind of thing it would have once been unimaginable for a president to admit. But Trump's tweets about the island's infrastructure and debt to Wall Street also suggest that some of the numerous former Goldman Sachs employees in his administration are whispering in his ear that there's money to be made if PR is left to dangle for a while.
Combine Trump's greed with the general theme of white nationalism running throughout his administration (it's not entirely clear that Trump himself understands that Puerto Ricans are American citizens) and it's easy to see how mounting a full scale rescue doesn't top the list of government priorities. Under normal circumstances, this would be tinfoil hat nonsense but if you still think there are limits to the depravity and inhumanity of the Trump administration, you literally have not been paying attention for the last nine months.
As the crisis deepens and we start to hear the horror stories of children starving while their stranded parents waited helplessly for rescue, we can look forward to more self-promoting interviews from Trump and his sycophants patting themselves on the back at what a heckuva job they did.
There are 38 days left to the the 2017 elections.
There are 402 days left to the 2018 elections.
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