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Media’s Lame Attempt to Blame Trump for Puerto Rico’s Disaster

Media’s Lame Attempt to Blame Trump for Puerto Rico’s Disaster

A less than perfect response, but nothing has been “botched”

Being Houston-based, I watched in disgust as the national press corps attempted to politicize Hurricane Harvey and the resultant White House response, going so far as mocking the First Lady’s shoes.

None of the attacks stuck as story after story from the ground proved the press corps wrong.

Then came Hurricane Irma, and the cycle began anew. Again, events proved contrary to narrative. And now that Puerto Rico was destroyed by Hurricane Maria, we’re on the third iteration of the tired “Blame Trump” trope.

Headlines across the board suggest Trump has botched the federal response to Puerto Rico, treating the island territory like a third-class state, but it’s simply not the case. Trump suspended the Jones Act, allowing aid to flow to Puerto Rico.

According to the White House, the federal response timeline is as follows:

Former Navy Captain Jerry Hendrix was interviewed by Bloomberg and is of the opinion both the White House and the Pentagon acted smartly in regards to Puerto Rico:

Now a senior fellow with the Center for a New American Security, Hendrix served for decades both on the high seas and in high-level staff jobs, including with the Chief of Naval Operations’ Executive Panel and the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy’s Irregular Warfare Quadrennial Defense Review. Few people know more about military history than Hendrix, who has degrees from Purdue, Harvard, the Naval Postgraduate School and a PhD from Kings College in London. Little wonder that in 2012 was named the service’s director of naval history.

TH: So, it seems like everybody has blasted Trump administration’s response to the Puerto Rico crisis. Has that criticism been fair?

JH: No, I don’t think so. First of all, there was a fair amount of anticipatory action that is not being recognized. Amphibious ships, including the light amphibious carriers Kearsarge and Wasp and the amphibious landing ship dock Oak Hill were at sea and dispatched to Puerto Rico ahead of the hurricane’s impact.

These are large ships that have large flight decks to land and dispatch heavy-lift CH-53 helicopters to and from disaster sites. They also have big well-decks — exposed surfaces that are lower than the fore and aft of the ship — from which large landing craft can be dispatched to shore carrying over 150 tons of water, food and other supplies on each trip. These are actually the ideal platforms for relief operations owing to their range of assets. The ships, due to their designs to support Marine amphibious landings in war zones, also have hospitals onboard to provide medical treatment on a large scale. That these ships were in the area should be viewed as a huge positive for the administration and the Department of Defense.

TH: On the flip side, others say that sending the hospital ship Comfortwas unnecessary — purely symbolic and possibly counterproductive — given that the number of hospital beds was not the problem. What’s your opinion?

JH: Comfort can add to the solution, but her lack of well-decks and large boats as well as her limited support of helicopter operations means that she has to go alongside a pier to be effective. In the immediate aftermath of a huge storm, pulling into a port that has not been surveyed for underwater obstacles like trees or cables or other refuse is an invitation to either put a hole your ship or foul your propellers or rudders.

That being said, there was a broad misunderstanding of the Comfort’s mission. She is not an “emergency response ship” but rather a hospital ship. She was built to accompany a large military force into a war zone as part of a buildup over time of capabilities to respond to wartime injuries. She is manned by military and civilian mariners as well as active and reserve medical personnel. It takes time to both man and equip her for sea. Given that there was no certainty where the hurricane would hit, it doesn’t make sense to have readied her prior to its impact.

It is revelatory of where the U.S. group mind is now that when the American public thinks about ships like the Comfort and Mercy, they automatically think of them as part of a civilian emergency response force rather than quietly considering the type of potential conflict that would require a hospital ship with 1,000 beds. I can tell you that when I think of those ships, I internally shudder at the thought of the type of conflict they were intended to support.

But rather than focusing on federal relief efforts, the focus has shifted to Trump’s less than becoming Twitter spat with San Juan’s Mayor.

Sorry, media. Trump may have his faults and no one is suggesting Trump has handled Hurricane Maria with perfect poise and grace, but Puerto Rico is not Trump’s Katrina.

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Compare and contrast the responses in Texas, Florida, and PR. The key differences have been the State and local goverment response, and the overwelming volunteerism. In Texas and Florida – you did not see Unions trying leverage the storm into a contract. What you saw were locals and “foreigners” pulling together. I am sure in many parts of PR, you will find the same. What you did not see in Texas and Florida was a bunch of whining, while standing in front of pallets of supplies. The comparison to Nagin is just.

“less than perfect” eh? The Federal Government is up to it’s eyeballs in relief in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia and the US Virgin Islands. P.R. is like New Orleans in that most of the population is happy to wait for someone else to come along and help. Not all of course. Then you have stem to stern inept and crooked politicians who have been given money for years to fix this or that or prepare, only to have squandered the money… so they are unprepared.

Next is the politics. Democrats. The Trucking union in P.R. declaring a strike unless they get concessions. Refusal to allow “scab” drivers to help out. Democrats and media hate Trump. I cannot think of any way they would allow him to appear in a good light to P.R. Trump could do everything right and proper, and the media won’t allow it.. b/c politics. They did it to ’43. They are doing it to Trump. At least Trump is fighting back.

CNN has always leaned left. Since Jeff Zucker took control, it has become nothing but a propaganda channel.

but Puerto Rico is not Trump’s Katrina.

Katrina shouldn’t be considered Bush’s Katrina, either. Somehow or other that old goof W. managed to get the perfect aid to New Orleans—two Wasp-class amphibious assault ships in the water, where neither Blanco nor Nagin could screw things up. But that’s not what the Press, or the Dems, or the punditry say. They’ve never had any trouble blaming Bush for N.O.’s problems.

The same crew will have no trouble at all smearing Trump the same way, no matter what he does or how well he does it.

    Old0311 in reply to tom swift. | October 1, 2017 at 7:55 pm

    I’ve been accepted to Government Hurricane Controllers School class of 2020. I was shocked to find out the school took so long because hurricanes can’t be difficult to control. There must be a lot of studies courses involved.

    Valerie in reply to tom swift. | October 1, 2017 at 9:04 pm

    Texans train their governors about disaster response, and Bush was well trained. He agreed to make a disaster declaration in advance, something new to me, and sensible. He was not the problem, with Katrina.

    For me, the picture of the drowned fleet of busses, that was supposed to be used for evacuation, said it all.

      rabidfox in reply to Valerie. | October 1, 2017 at 11:49 pm

      That and the fact that Pres Bush had to call Nagan the night before it was expected to land fall and beg, BEG Nagan to call for evacuations.

    Milhouse in reply to tom swift. | October 2, 2017 at 4:19 am

    and poor Michael Brown blasted by the reporters for not knowing about the chaos at the Superdome, and insisting that his sources were not telling him that. Of course he was all apologetic, and looked ineffectual. Only things, it turned out the reason he didn’t know about the chaos was because there wasn’t any. The MSM had made it up out of whole cloth. He had the correct picture and they had the wrong one. But the damage was done and he became a figure of fun, and Bush became a figure of fun for having praised his performance.

MaggotAtBroadAndWall | October 1, 2017 at 8:06 pm

The mayor was fine with Trump and the federal government’s response until the journolisters decided to politicize the response. She got the message she’s supposed to be angry.

From what I’ve read, the supplies and stuff are there it’s just not getting efficiently distributed to those who need it. That seems more like a failure of local government than the federal government.

I just can’t stand our lying media any more.

Even Geraldo gets it.

The mayor, Cooper Anderson, the trucking union and the rest seem to miss that Trump holds the, er, trump card here —

— he can declare martial law. With that he can federalize the whole thing; the truckers darned well will show up and the aid will get out there.

We can all imagine the headlines…

    Milhouse in reply to stevewhitemd. | October 2, 2017 at 4:24 am

    No, he can not. Where do people get these notions? Martial law can only exist when the civilian courts are unable to function. So long as there exists at least one civilian judge in PR who can dispense justice, any order to impose martial law would be illegal, and those who implemented it would end up in prison.

I’ve been vacationing in St Martin every year for the last 28.
First visit was just after Hugo. Was there for Debbie and a number of near-misses. Left a couple of days ahead of Luis in 1996 and Irma this year.

For the last few weeks, my wife and I have been tracking the bits of news out of this French/Dutch island.

Frankly, I’ve been perplexed about Puerto Rico from the outset.

St. Martin under went a period of looting, so did PR. The US National Guard was airlifting US citizens (and others) out of St Martin once the water had drained off the airport and charging folks for the privilege, just like PR.

St. Martin was out clearing the street hours after Irma had left, not PR. Electricity has been slowly coming back on to parts of St. Martin, but not PR. Water has been slowly coming back on to parts of St. Martin, but not PR. Supplies have been coming in to St. Martin and being distributed, but not PR because the Teamsters decided to use it as a negotiating chip.

I don’t want to point fingers, but it sure seems like some people don’t just give a damn about their fellow man.

“less than perfect”. I think you can replace that qualifier with “very well executed except for the local areas of responsibility”.

For those on the island, I offer my donations and I will say a set of prayers for those on the island still waiting for diesel fuel at the hospitals, those who are not well and cannot take care of themselves, those without shelter, or food, or light and electricity.

For those in the media, I offer this:

As for Trump’s tweets, I fell for the ol’ media narrative that Trump overstepped again. But Trump usually picks his twitter battles well, and when he hits back, usually the recipient loses.

Rosie O’Donnell.
The NFL.
Jeb Bush.
And so on …

Everyone who tangles from a bad position but thinks Trump is an easy mark loses. The FEMA response has been great.

The San Juan mayor, though, is quickly turning out to be an embarrassment. Potentially corrupt. Not focused on the FEMA activities she should be. Letting supplies pile up while not focused on distributing them.

Yes, getting supplies all across the island is a challenge. Across the city from the port? It looks more and more like something is rotten in San Juan, not the federal response. I guarantee that in the aftermath there will be widespread attempts to exploit the tragedy by some unscrupulous parties in Puerto Rico for personal benefit and financial gain.

I do not think she will escape this with her reputation intact if she continues. Her best bet is to quietly get back to work.

Anyway, back to the media. Sometimes God sends more than a rowboat. This time God sent the US Navy and more, because God has blessed America. The corrupt government officials and those in the media trying to exploit this situation for something else would do well to remember this.

“Lame?” Yes.

But also a filthy lie.

Ignore the bastards till they’re bankrrupt.

CaliforniaJimbo | October 2, 2017 at 2:54 pm

The island is in shambles because of two hurricanes plus an electrical grid that even Mexico would replace.
The larger picture is some will use this to force a bailout of PR over their financial woes. Never let a crisis go to waste.
It isn’t President Trump’s fault that the island power grid is crap. President Trump cant force truck drivers to deliver goods. The PR Governor should address issues with his San Juan mayor and get the supplies moving. If he cannot, then he can ask President Trump for assistance and we can take it over to get the people what they need.
Support always starts at the local government, then the state / territory government then the federal government.

One of the biggest misconceptions is that FEMA is a large outfit with thousands of workers and equipment. Its name describes its function. Federal Emergency MANAGEMENT Agency. It is for the coordination of state and local resources aided by the federal backup resources. It is not a military type force that lands and then takes over. Unfortunately, when you have morons like Gov Blanco and the now-imprisoned mayor Nagin in LA and NOLA there is nothing to coordinate with. PR is at best a third world country and in many respects, it is even worse. The entire infrastructure is gone and no amount of US aid is going to bring it back quickly. But just like in Cuba when Fidel started his revolution, the intelligentsia and the wealthy fled. Now the same group in PR is acting the same way. They will bring their left-wing views and voting choices to the US and be a thorn in our side for decades to come.

    This hillary clinton clone/idiot mayor of San Juan is exactly why PR is in the shape it is: it’s a house of cards blown down by wind.

    PR was useful when there was a cold war. Now, it’s more than just a giant welfare case – it’s a leftist factory, the face of which is the the malignant fool San Juan elected as its mayor.

    Despite being led by leftist oaf bill diblassio, NYC has enormous financial underpinnings and a strong American infrastructure that even diblassio can’t destroy in one term. But give him two.

      Read about the corrupt, malignant clown in the mold of hillary clinton who is mayor of San Juan more interested in personal and political gain than growing PR:

      Hopefully, like New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin (of Hurricane Katrina infamy), she winds up in federal prison.

      Obama had 8 years to deal with emergency preparedness. The corrupt, incompetent leftist fool he is, he did nothing:

      “New Orleans, Houston and Puerto Rico share a common pattern. The left runs an area into the ground. And then when disaster strikes, it lashes out at a Republican in the White House. When local authorities fail to evacuate, when they don’t have a viable disaster plan, when they don’t use available resources, it’s Bush’s fault or it’s Trump’s fault. But it’s never the fault of the Democrats. Nothing ever is. It’s the job of local authorities to deal with a disaster. The Federal government is only supposed to step in when local resources are overwhelmed. But in Puerto Rico, there seem to be no local resources.”

Brock Young is a very rare creature. A competent and (apparently) honest Trump appointee. Donnie will have a tough time replacing him with somebody’s brother-in-law after his handling of the mainland storms. PR has been a mess for years, for a number of reasons. I suspect that donnie was not aware that PR is a US territory, but I do think that he remembered that he owned some PR bonds that he’d bought for essentially nothing, and PR was not paying. He’s pissed–he want’s his blood money. Donnie won’t show his tax return, which means ANY scheme and scam is possible. He’s mentioned the debt several times now–it’s personal to him. And, because he IS competent, republicans in congress are going to be beating the hell out of Brock Young within a year.