Saturday, September 30, 2017

Puerto Rico: politicians playing politics with tragedy and disaster

Following my earlier article about how Puerto Rico's state and local governments are the real problem with aid distribution and relief efforts there, I can't resist pointing you to three other comments that summarize the problem.

First, Aesop pins down the Mayor of San Juan in two blunt blog posts.

Chutzpah Alert:
Apparently, the stacks of containers sitting undistributed on the docks at San Juan are the president's fault because he hasn't come down to hand out the water bottles personally, and the Puerto Ricans can't be bothered to distribute literal cargo containers of supplies themselves.

No doubt it's also Trump's fault that the island's government is bankrupt, short $74 billion in bonds since May, and another $49B in unfunded pension liability, having squandered billions of dollars, including FEMA grants, for a decade, without spending any of it on hardening and improving the island's decrepit infrastructure, despite the fact that PR gets hit by hurricanes nearly every year since forever, and instead blowing the money on failed social programs.

Calling it an island of lazy dumbasses run by a Democrat kleptocracy isn't racial profiling, it's predictive modeling based on decades of experience.

The main thing Puerto Rico brings to the table is the ability to make the District of Columbia, or Venezuela, look like well-run entities by contrast.

Island Time Means Never Showing Up To Work:
So with USAF planes landing supplies, navy ships in the waters offshore, and tons of relief cargo being unloaded at the Port of San Juan, how are they handling things?

Well, the D- student of the pledge class, the PR National Guard, currently boasts that around 50% of guard members called up for service during the emergency have actually shown up. FTR, those are criminal counts of AWOL, chargeable under the UCMJ, and probably under federal and territorial law as well. And these are the honormen of the class.

Posting a 20% score, for a solid F, are truck drivers. The Teamsters there are on strike, and refusing to deliver supplies, or even show up to transport them, until they extort a favorable contract out of TPTB. That little stunt should be the reason that the president declares martial law, nationalizes the drivers, and tells them failure to muster for driving duty will be a federal felony, prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. All of which is both legal under federal law, and proper under the circumstances.

But the star pupil? Posting a 0% attendance rating?

Oh, that would be Heronner, above, Miss Chiquita Banana Republic postergirl herself, Carmen Yellin' Yulin Cruz, bitchmeister meisterburgher of the quaint little hellhole fiefdom of San Juan, PR. She's been invited to multiple FEMA meetings, but apparently due to her endless commitments for TV spots to decry the overwhelming federal response to the disaster, she's been unable to attend every planning meeting she's been invited to at FEMA HQ.

Here's what the head of FEMA has to say.

Folks, I know disasters.  I've been in and around far too many of them for comfort, ranging from man-made (the aftermath of war, insurrection, terrorism and riot) to natural (Tropical Storm Domoina, Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike, and the Nashville floods of 2010).  I also know disaster relief, from the inside (as a civil defense sector officer, as a member of military units assigned to relief work, and as a volunteer in situations of civil unrest and natural disaster), and from the outside (as a recipient of aid).  I speak from both experience and expertise when I say that FEMA is doing everything it possibly can right now to deal with disasters in many different areas.  (It's not just the states affected by hurricanes, but also the wildfire situation in the western US, which is as bad as it's ever been).  FEMA is doing a much better job than it did in previous disaster situations where I saw it at work.  It's clearly learned a lot of lessons, and I'm impressed by its performance.

The states of Texas and Florida are also doing a great job of distributing the aid that FEMA and their own governments and citizens are supplying.  Of course, in a major disaster situation, not everything is going to go smoothly.  That's why they call it a disaster!  Nevertheless, overall, the response in terms of rescue, recovery, resupply and rebuilding of basic infrastructure has been outstanding in those states.  If it hasn't been as good in Puerto Rico, as I've said before, don't blame FEMA and the federal government for that.  State and local assistance is not their job, because no Washington bureaucrat or aid organizer can know about conditions on the ground.

FEMA gets aid and supplies to the area concerned.  After that, it's the job of state and local governments to distribute them and use them wisely.  In Puerto Rico - unlike Texas and Florida - those entities have been conspicuous by their absence and/or abject collapse.  That's why the crisis on the island is so much worse than in the other hurricane-affected states.  As far as I'm concerned, those trying to score anti-President-Trump or anti-federal-government points out of this tragedy deserve to be strung up on Puerto Rican lampposts . . . that is, if any of the latter can be found still upright.

(If you'd like to read a situation report from Puerto Rico, from someone who knows what he's talking about, see here.)



Quartermaster said...

PR is a graft society like the rest of Latin America. The only difference between PR and the rest is PR belongs to the US. It is still a mess, even so.

The National Guard does not fall under the UCMJ unless it is federalized. If martial Law were declared, then the NG would be federalized and the UCMJ would then apply. At that point, the people that don't report could be given a court martial. When I was in the Tennessee National Guard, military offenses were tried in General Sessions Court, and often the General Sessions judge would just give a slap on the wrist as they didn't take us seriously. I would not be the least bit surprised if that were to happen in PR.

That the stuff that is happening in PR is taking place is no surprise. They're even more corrupt than Louisiana and Chicago.

The Marine reporting from PR in the forum you link to, reported something that is quite disturbing about the Coast Guard. I wish I were in a place where I could deal with that problem. I'd end some careers immediately. I thought the Coasties were better than that, but I guess not. perhaps the Coast Guard has changed since I was in the Navy. The Coasties I knew were good people and we cooperated when needed without any back and forth. Just worked together.

It may be time to cut PR loose.

Ragin' Dave said...

I lived in PR from 2005-2008. The entire island is one gigantic shit show. Were it not for the billions upon billions of dollars that the USA pumps into the island, the entire cluster-fark would destroy itself in less than a year. Crime, corruption and graft are the norm, not the exception. It is a third-world shithole masquerading as a first-world country using the USA as a fig leaf.

And those are some of the nicest things I can say. That there was almost no preparation done by local officials doesn't shock me one single bit. That the mayor of San Juan has refused to meet with FEMA but goes on TV to bitch about Trump doesn't shock me one bit either. Puerto Rico is an entitled, selfish, lazy, dis-functional mess, and it has been for decades. It's not going to get better until they're forced to get better, and that will only happen once we pull the plug, cut off funding and tell them to straighten themselves out. And even then, that might not work, but at least we wouldn't have a cancer sucking billions of dollars away from us every year.

eriko said...

I agree with most of what you wrote expect that the drivers are not on strike. That part is at best a misinterpretation of some spanish language tv. When your whole communications system is shot it is hard to call people into work even if they are not busy trying to take care of their families.