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Trump Maladministration

My grandson is visiting. I will post something tomorrow.

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Trump Maladministration

No time to post today, but you must have heard about Trump’s scuttling of Obamacare. Please discuss.

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So Sorry, Puerto Rico

Trump Maladministration

We don’t actually know how many people have died in Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Maria and the deprivation that has followed.

The death toll from the hurricane is now up to 45, according to Gov. Ricardo Rosselló. But 90 percent of the 3.4 million American citizens on the island still don’t have power, and 35 percent still don’t have water to drink or bathe in. And given how deadly power outages can be, 45 deaths seems low, according to disaster experts.

At Vox, we decided to compare what the government has been saying with other reports of deaths from the ground. We searched Google News for reports of deaths in English and Spanish media from Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria. We found reports of a total of 81 deaths linked directly or indirectly to the hurricane. Of those, 45 were the deaths certified by the government. The remaining 36 deaths were confirmed by local public officials or funeral directors, according to the reports. We also found another 450 reported deaths, most of causes still unknown, and reports of at least 69 people still missing.

The official count seems to be the result of deliberate foot dragging.

At a Sunday news conference, Karixia Ortiz, press officer for the Department of Public Safety, said that “every death must be confirmed by the Institute of Forensic Science, which means either the bodies have to be brought to San Juan to do an autopsy or a medical examiner must be dispatched to the local municipality to verify the death,” according to an audio recording obtained by Huffington Post.

John Mutter, a disaster researcher at Columbia University who studied the death toll in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, says he’s skeptical of this methodology. “This is the way to go about it if you want to come up with smallest number possible,” he said, adding he suspects the death toll in Puerto Rico from Maria should already be in the hundreds based on what’s known about the conditions on the ground.

There is a severe food shortage on the island, exacerbated by the fact that most people have no way to cook food that isn’t ready to eat.  There is a shortage of drinking water. I’ve heard rumors of diseases such as cholera.

Meanwhile, the so-called president acts as if he’s been doing Puerto Rico a favor.

Greg Sargent writes,

As The Post puts it, Trump is “effectively threatening to abandon the U.S. territory,” even though “the vast majority of the island remains without power” and “hospitals are running short on medicine.” So Trump’s threat is obviously very worrisome. Yet the threat is also open-ended and thus is largely meaningless. What is it supposed to accomplish, exactly, except to frighten and enrage people, and to convey some vague sense that Trump is snapping a towel at Puerto Rico’s butt like a sadistic, bullying frat boy?

As I said in an earlier post, Trump appears to be angry with Puerto Rico for making him look bad. However bad the situation is in Puerto Rico, we can count on there being an attempt to cover it up.  See also Coming Undone and  Trump is falling apart, and nobody knows what to do about it.

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Harvey Weinstein Types Pervade the Universe

Trump Maladministration

This week many fingers have pointed to “Democrats” and “liberals” and “Hollywood” regarding Harvey Weinstein. One particularly objectionable piece was actually titled “The Specifically Jewy Perviness of Harvey Weinstein.” I’m not going to link to it.

Ross Douthat, for example, had great fun hanging both Weinstein and the late Hugh Hefner around the neck of “liberalism,” which in Ross’s mind is a synonym for “libertinism,” while touting the innate moral superiority of conservatives.  As you might imagine, the comments to this column were robustly peppered with the names of Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly.

Harvey Weinstein has long been on my list, headed by Kim Kardashian, of famous people to which I pay absolutely no attention. And he can stay there. If history is our guide, he’ll join Anthony Weiner, John Edwards and Eliot Spitzer on the liberal persona non grata list. If he’s sued, I wish the plaintiffs best of luck. I’m not going to make excuses for him.

The fact is, though, that Weinstein’s behavior has nothing to do with a political ideology, an ethnic group, or an industry. There are creeps like Weinstein everywhere, across the political spectrum, in every walk of life. The enabling behavior that let’s them get away with their actions is as common as toast. People will wink and nod at, or avert their eyes from, this behavior for years until, suddenly, they don’t. And then it all comes out.

Ross has his own theory about why this happens:

Maybe his overdue exposure shows that the world has changed, and progressive industries are finally feminist enough to put their old goats out to pasture.

But it might just show that a certain kind of powerful liberal creep only gets his comeuppance when he’s weakened or old or in the grave. The awfulness of Ted Kennedy, at Chappaquiddick and after hours in D.C., can be acknowledged only now that he’s no longer a liberal lion in the Senate. The possibility that Bill Clinton might be not just an adulterer but a rapist can be entertained now that he’s no longer protecting abortion from the White House. The sins of Woody Allen … well, I’m sure Hollywood will start ostracizing him any day now.

And, of course, it’s possible that those men were not guilty of all they’ve been accused of, but even so, I’ve not seen that people have been harsher toward Ted Kennedy since his death, or of Bill Clinton since he left the White House.

I think there’s something in our species that causes a kind of collective blindness or even amnesia toward the private bad behavior of people we want to like. The Jerry Sandusky scandal comes to mind. Once Sandusky was publicly outed as a child molester, many people came out of the woodwork to admit yes, they’d seen this or knew that. But for some reason they couldn’t bring themselves to say anything when it happened, or possibly even admit to themselves they’d seen what they saw.

See also this post from 2010, Spitzer’s Law.

Getting back to my point that Harvey Weinstein types pervade the universe, see “How Women Are Harassed out of Science.”

We recently spoke with a group of senior scientists who confirmed the prevalence of sexual harassment. Kim Barrett, the graduate dean at the University of California, San Diego, said she did not know of a single senior woman in gastroenterology, her subfield, who had not been sexually harassed. Margaret Leinen, of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, described a conversation she once overheard between one male and five female scientists at a meeting where harassment was being discussed. “I don’t see what the fuss is about,” said the man. “I’ve never met anyone who has been sexually harassed.” The women just looked at each other. “Well, now you’ve met five,” they said.

Earlier this very year we learned that a doctor with USA Gymnastics had been sexually abusing young women athletes for years.  Women entrepreneurs in the tech industry have been speaking out about being sexually harassed by investors. Women lawyers have reported sexual harassment in law firms. Many religious figures have been named in sexual harassment scandals.

Name just about any profession or large organization, actually, and I can just about guarantee you can find articles online about how sexual harassment is going on in it. Here’s a handy list of Republican sex scandals, for example. And notice I’m just now mentioning the pu**ygrabber in chief. See “A Running List Of The Women Who’ve Accused Donald Trump Of Sexual Assault.”

So it’s kind of a joke when someone like Harvey Weinstein is outed, and suddenly people jump to the conclusion that this is about his being a liberal, or a Democrat, or about Hollywood.

No, it’s about his being a man in a patriarchal culture.

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The Dreamers Are Screwed

Trump Maladministration

New York Times:

Before agreeing to provide legal status for 800,000 young immigrants brought here illegally as children, Mr. Trump will insist on the construction of a wall across the southern border, the hiring of 10,000 immigration agents, tougher laws for those seeking asylum and denial of federal grants to “sanctuary cities,” officials said.

The White House is also demanding the use of the E-Verify program by companies to keep illegal immigrants from getting jobs, an end to people bringing their extended family into the United States, and a hardening of the border against thousands of children fleeing violence in Central America. Such a move would shut down loopholes that encourage parents from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras to send their children illegally into the United States, where many of them melt into American communities and become undocumented immigrants.

There’s not going to be a deal.

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Evolutionary Psychology and Extreme Gun Ownership

Trump Maladministration

Via Josh Marshall, there’s a good article by David Frum on our fruitless gun control debates. Frum points out that the entire debate has been bound by rigid rules that keep us from talking about the central issue, which is that it’s just plain too damn easy to get guns in the U.S.

Americans die from gunfire in proportions unparalleled in the civilized world because Americans own guns in proportions unparalleled in the civilized world. More guns mean more lethal accidents, more suicides, more everyday arguments escalated into murderous fusillades….

… There are subtle, sophisticated, and nuanced approaches to the gun problem that balance the rights of gun owners against the imperatives of gun safety. They may well even make some difference at the margin. But they are unlikely to make any significant difference. Americans debate these approaches not because they are likely to be effective, but because the methods that will work—that have worked in every other advanced society—are here politically taboo.

Was there one legal change that could have thwarted Stephen Paddock? Probably not. But the reason crimes like his are so common here, and so rare in western Europe, is not that we are afflicted with more Stephen Paddocks than they, but because their Stephen Paddocks find it so much more difficult to obtain guns, and especially large quantities of guns.

Another long-time rule is that we’re not allowed to talk about firearms being a problem except in terms of crime. The firearm rights activists always want to turn the conversation around to gang bangers shooting each other in Chicago, or the inner city youth holding up a liquor store to buy drugs. Law-abiding citizens owning guns are not the problem, they say. And the response to that, of course, is that Stephen Paddock was a law-abiding citizen right up to the moment he opened fire.

As Frum points out, we have a lot of different gun problems. The problem of guns used in street crimes and the problem of mass shooters like Stephen Paddock are, in many ways, different problems. The kid who waves a gun to get a clerk to clear out the cash register is not necessarily operating in the same social-psychological space as a guy who hauls an arsenal into a hotel room so that he can kill a lot of strangers from a distance. And we’ve already got a lot of laws to deal with the former problem. It’s the latter problem that is vexing us.

Gun nuttery in general appears to be a culture-bound syndrome in American men, something like the way anorexia nervosa is a culture-bound syndrome in western women. The solution appears to be two-fold — reduce the availability of firearms, and change the culture. Not easy.

I found an article on the evolutionary psychology of mass shootings. Basically, men — younger men, especially — are often driven to displays of violence or risky behavior to “prove” themselves. And guns seems to be a part of that these days.

In 2006 I coauthored a laboratory study on men’s responses to guns in the journal Psychological Science with my colleague Tim Kasser and one of our students. We demonstrated that males who interacted with a handgun showed a greater increase in testosterone levels and more aggressive behavior than males who interacted with the board game Mouse Trap.

In the study, each participant dismantled either a gun or the mousetrap, handled its components and then wrote instructions for how to assemble the objects. Then we gave them the opportunity to put hot sauce into water that was going to be consumed by another person. The participants who handled the gun put in significantly more hot sauce – and were also more likely to express disappointment after learning that no one was going to actually drink the concoction.

Thus, cues tied to threats often won’t result in aggressive responses unless testosterone is involved. Elliot Rodger, the disturbed college student whose violent 2014 rampage through Santa Barbara, California, was foretold in a chilling YouTube video, clearly experienced a testosterone surge upon purchasing his first handgun.

“After I picked up the handgun,” he explained, “I brought it back to my room and felt a new sense of power. Who’s the alpha male now, bitches?”

So, yeah, as we all have pretty much figured out by now, the guy who strolls the aisles of Home Depot with an SIG SG 550 strapped on probably has masculinity issues. But the mass shooter has other problems.

British clinical psychologist Paul Gilbert has developed something he calls the Social Attention Holding Theory. According to Gilbert, we compete with each other to have other people pay attention to us; when other people take notice, we build status. The increased status that comes from having others attend to us leads to all kinds of positive emotions. But persistently being ignored by others produces much darker emotions – especially envy and anger.

It’s no mystery why the media will often describe mass shooters and terrorists as misfits or loners. In many cases, they are. …

… Apparently, a lack of attention from others results in a lack of status, resulting in a lack of access to women. Combined with a young man’s testosterone, it creates a toxic, combustible mix.

There may not be much we can do to change the structure of the young male mind that evolved over the course of millions of years. However, ignoring or denying its existence doesn’t do us any favors.

Stephen Paddock was not young, but by all accounts he was very much a loner, pathologically so.

The author also discusses men who join terrorist organizations:

Nicolas Henin was a Frenchman who was held hostage by ISIS for ten months. Here’s how he described his young, murderous, Jihadi captors:

They present themselves to the public as superheroes, but away from the camera are a bit pathetic in many ways: street kids drunk on ideology and power. In France we have a saying – stupid and evil. I found them more stupid than evil. That is not to understate the murderous potential of stupidity.

Is there any motivational difference between why one youth joins ISIS and another joins an inner-city gang? Possibly not. It’s probably the same damn syndrome expressing itself in culturally different ways.

So what are we gonna do?

The good news is that the rate of Americans who own guns has actually been going down over the past several years. In 1994, 53 percent of American households had at least one firearm. In 2016, it was 36 percent. So we aren’t all guns nuts on this bus.

Put another way — 78 percent of Americans own no guns. However, just 3 percent of Americans own 50 percent of the guns in the U.S. And there probably are more guns in circulation in the U.S. than there are people.

Further, — the U.S. has 4.4 percent of the world’s population but contains nearly half of the world’s privately owned firearms.

Just try to get a gun nut to address those numbers. Can’t be done. It’s not the gun, it’s the person, they’ll tell you. But it’s the person who can easily get guns that perpetrate mass shootings. As David Frum said,

Was there one legal change that could have thwarted Stephen Paddock? Probably not. But the reason crimes like his are so common here, and so rare in western Europe, is not that we are afflicted with more Stephen Paddocks than they, but because their Stephen Paddocks find it so much more difficult to obtain guns, and especially large quantities of guns.

As I’ve written before, owning six or more firearms is an indicator a person is likely to be violent.

Josh Marshall:

Guns have been embedded in American culture, particularly though not exclusively rural culture, for centuries. But what we might call extreme gun ownership – individuals owning large numbers of often quasi-military firearms – is quite new. The mass casualty shooting is no longer a random freak out by a troubled person: it’s an established American idiom of violence, a way certain people choose to make a statement to the society at large.

We absolutely must address the issue of extreme gun ownership. We can make a distinction between the extreme gun owner and the antique firearm collector, but otherwise we must have limits on how many firearms a person can legally own at one time. And that’s going to require registrations and a database to keep track of such things, and the firearm activists will hate it. And I’m sure a lot of them will become criminals to keep their arsenals. But it’s got to be done to even begin to get a handle on the mass shooting problem.

Another point made by Josh Marshall last week is that we need to “de-normalize” firearms and the open carrying of firearms. We should not accept or just get used to the sight of civilians strolling around with firearms.

It may be the case that the specific open carry ‘activist’ probably isn’t going to aim his AR-15 at the restaurant crowd and start shooting. But guns are inherently dangerous and especially so in civilian spaces. Normalizing them in this way is dangerous and part of the problem. This cultural component is as critical as the legal restrictions. But we are not collectively powerless in the face of culture. We know this from the evolution of perceptions of drunk driving, smoking, domestic violence and numerous other de-valorized activities. We reify cultural norms in laws and laws, along with the behaviors they shape in turn, changes culture.

If we could get across the perception that a firearm does not make you the “alpha male” and instead is a badge of weakness, we might get somewhere. I’m not sure how that will be accomplished, though.

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Know Your Gunz

Trump Maladministration

I want to gripe about “I used to think gun control was the answer. My research told me otherwise” in WaPo.

researched the strictly tightened gun laws in Britain and Australia and concluded that they didn’t prove much about what America’s policy should be. Neither nation experienced drops in mass shootings or other gun related-crime that could be attributed to their buybacks and bans. Mass shootings were too rare in Australia for their absence after the buyback program to be clear evidence of progress. And in both Australia and Britain, the gun restrictions had an ambiguous effect on other gun-related crimes or deaths.

Let’s review — annual firearm death rates per 100,000 population:

  • Australia: 1
  • Britain: 0.2
  • United States: 10.2

See also Gun violence in America, explained in 17 maps and charts.

If the author is arguing that the change in laws in Australia and Britain didn’t make much difference because gun death rates were already low, um, lots of other people say otherwise. This says that in Australia, gun-related homicides and suicides dropped by 59 and 60 percent respectively after they tightened the gun laws in 1996. This does not seem all that ambiguous.

When I looked at the other oft-praised policies, I found out that no gun owner walks into the store to buy an “assault weapon.” It’s an invented classification that includes any semi-automatic that has two or more features, such as a bayonet mount, a rocket-propelled grenade-launcher mount, a folding stock or a pistol grip. But guns are modular, and any hobbyist can easily add these features at home, just as if they were snapping together Legos.

The latter point is one I made in a post last year, Why an Assault Weapons Ban Is Not Going to Help. We aren’t getting anywhere complaining about “assault weapons,” because it’s a meaningless term. I wrote:

The federal assault weapons ban in effect from 1994 to 2004 had a negligible effect on gun violence overall; perpetrators simply switched to other kinds of semi-automatic weapons not considered “assault weapons.” The assault weapons ban was a cosmetic law that made people feel good about having done something about gun violence when in fact they hadn’t done much of anything. Let’s not go down that road again.

So forget “assault weapons.” I want us to start talking about a ban on all semiautomatic firearms (full auto firearms are already tightly restricted). That would actually mean something.

The Australian government “banned automatic and semiautomatic firearms, adopted new licensing requirements, established a national firearms registry, and instituted a 28-day waiting period for gun purchases. It also bought and destroyed more than 600,000 civilian-owned firearms, in a scheme that cost half a billion dollars and was funded by raising taxes.” (source) This entire overhaul was done in six months.

Would the same restrictions work as well in the U.S.? Probably not, because of our gun-nut culture, but it would work some.

Or, if restricting all semi-auto firearms is too much of a lift, consider allowing only those with fixed, low capacity magazines. The detachable magazines make it too easy for a shooter to keep shooting without a pause.

Federal law that went into effect in 1986 makes it illegal for a private civilian to own any fully automatic weapons manufactured after May 19, 1986.  And you cannot buy legal replacement parts for full-auto weapons manufactured before 1986.  All fully auto weapons are registered with the federal government. People who still own a “grandfather” full auto weapon cannot legally sell them to someone who doesn’t have a federal firearm license, and you have to do some major hoop-jumping to get those.  The process takes about a year, and if you don’t have a damn good reason to own a full-auto weapon, you won’t be licensed.

This ban on full auto firearms actually has had the effect of making full auto firearms scarce. No, it has not eliminated them entirely. But the ones still out there are almost never used in crimes in the U.S. The 1986 law did not violate the 2nd Amendment and appears to have been very effective in restricting access to fully automatic weapons.

Now, let’s do the same thing with semi-automatic weapons, including semi-automatic handguns. That would still leave a wide variety of weapons for those who want to hunt or protect their homes or hold up liquor stores or shoot their own heads off or whatever else they want to do with them, but it would cut down on the mass-shooter carnage considerably.

James Eagan Holmes, the Aurora movie theater shooter, had two weapons, a pump-action shotgun and a semi-automatic rifle. He fired six rounds from the shotgun, then went on to fire 65 rounds from the semi-auto rifle, a Smith & Wesson M&P15. That’s the difference.

I would also put strict limits on the number of firearms of any type that an individual may own. As I wrote yesterday, owning six or more weapons seems to be a predictor that an individual may become violent. So limit the number to five. At least the gun nuts keeping an arsenal will be forced to stop calling themselves “law abiding citizens.”

I don’t think it’s just the availability of guns that makes the U.S. so dangerous. There’s something in our culture that’s seriously out of whack. But I don’t know how to fix that.

Painting by Charles Marion Russell

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Yeah, He’s a Moron

Trump Maladministration

From what I’ve seen Trump has managed to not make a complete ass of himself in Las Vegas today, which is a triumph compared to yesterday in Puerto Rico, where he did make a complete ass of himself.  See Charles Pierce, “Trump’s Puerto Rican Air Ball.

This morning NBC News reported that Tillerson had called Trump a “moron” at some meeting with other administration officials, so Tillerson had to present himself to the public and recite a statement about the glory that is Trump today. I actually felt sorry for him. The guy used to be a titan of industry, and now he’s just a common court eunuch.

But he never said he didn’t call Trump a moron.

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Labeling Stephen Paddock

Trump Maladministration

When I heard that the Las Vegas shooter owned 42 firearms, I thought back to this post I wrote last year. It linked to this study, which said,

The more guns a person owns, the more likely they are to report experiencing serious, uncontrollable outbursts of anger and aggression. That’s the conclusion of a new study published in the journal Behavioral Sciences and the Law, which found that nearly one in ten Americans have both a history of impulsive anger and access to a firearm.

“The new research also indicates that the 310 million firearms estimated to be in private hands in the United States are disproportionately owned by people who are prone to angry, impulsive behavior and have a potentially dangerous habit of keeping their guns close at hand,” the Los Angeles Times reports. “That’s because people owning six or more guns were more likely to fall into both of these categories than people who owned a single gun.”

It turns out that being chronically angry is the REAL warning sign that predicts a potential killer. And owning multiple weapons is a warning sign of chronic anger. Hmm.

A number of common mental health conditions — including personality disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and alcohol use disorder — tend to be associated with the risky mix of pathological anger with gun access, according to the APA.
“However, only a small proportion of angry people with guns has ever been hospitalized for a mental health problem — voluntarily or involuntarily — and thus most would not be prohibited from firearms under the involuntary commitment exclusion.”
Indeed, Paddock had recently purchased firearms from a gun store and had passed all background checks.

Regarding “common mental health conditions” — Americans on the whole remain grossly ignorant of what “mental illness” is. As I wrote in the post from last year, “mental illness” has no specific medical meaning. It could be anything from being deathly afraid of spiders to thinking that Martians are talking to you through your dental fillings.

People who are genuinely psychotic and unable to process what we might call “standard reality” commit very few violent crimes, and when they do it’s a sudden, impulsive thing, like shoving someone off the subway platform because the voices in their heads told them to do it.  They don’t tend to be able to carry out plans that involve several steps over a period of days. Usually they can’t interact with the public without lots of people noticing they are buggier than an ant farm. If someone can pass for “sane,” which is not a medical term either, then they probably are rational enough to know what they are doing and whether it might harm someone.

People with character, personality or mood disorders may feel compelled to do violent things, but intellectually they know right from wrong. So if they survive to go to trial, they don’t get to use the insanity defense. However, diagnosing such disorders is a subjective opinion; there’s no laboratory test that confirms one is borderline or antisocial or whatever.  Few people with character or personality disorders bother to seek professional help, and psychologists themselves say their professional assessments of which of their patients might be capable of violence are no more reliable than flipping a coin.

So Stephen Paddock probably wasn’t “crazy.” However, if we find out later that he had chronic anger issues, then that’s your “motive.”

A lot of people are angry that Paddock isn’t being labeled a “terrorist.” I can understand that one, though, since by definition a “terrorist” is someone who has political aims. However, I’ve noted in the past that there seems to be a thin line between the personal and the political when it comes to violence. For example, this is from last year also

It turns out that the Orlando shooter, Omar Mateen, was a regular toxic stew of Personal Issues. He wasn’t so much a jihadist as someone who poured his excessive rage into a fantasy of jihad. The Washington Post reports that in the past he had falsely claimed connections to many Islamic terrorist groups, including Hezbollah. He seems not to have understood that Sunni and Shiite militants don’t hang out on the same corner.

The real bombshell is that it turns out Mateen was gay himself, according to people who had known him a long time. He’d even been a regular at the nightclub he attacked. And he had a father who is a Taliban supporter.  Talk about raging internal conflict, huh?

He did spend a lot of time on jihadist websites, according to some sources, which no doubt added more bite to the hot pepper gumbo of loathing sluicing around in his id. Other than that, he had about as much connection to ISIS as to the Brownie Scouts.  It seems debatable to me whether the shooting itself was an act of “terrorism” as much as one more mass shooting by a poorly socialized male.

And, in fact, there are studies that conclude most people who become terrorists do so because joining a violent movement is a way of dealing with personal issues. Well-adjusted people not facing a life crisis, identity issues or nursing a boiling personal grudge generally don’t become terrorists, no matter what their scriptures or ideologies say.

It’s amusing, almost, that ISIS claimed responsibility for Paddock’s act in Las Vegas. After the Orlando shooting people were calling for more bombing of ISIS. They seemed unable to process that Omar Mateen’s connection to ISIS likely existed only in his own head. Paddock’s connection to ISIS seems to exist only in ISIS’s head, although some right-wing whackjobs are claiming that his girlfriend, an Australian national currently visiting family in the Philippines, is a “recent convert.” There’s no question that ISIS is a nasty piece of work, but I’ve never thought it had any real operational ability to do mischief in the U.S.

Did I say right-wing whackjobs? I’m seeing lefties on social media speculate that Paddock was pulling a “false flag” operation on behalf of Donald Trump to pull attention away from Puerto Rico.

Of all the labels being attached to Paddock, “evil” is the most useless. Calling something or someone “evil” is an avoidance strategy, in my opinion. It’s a way of absolving oneself or one’s culture, society or nation of responsibility for something. IMO our proclivity for sorting humanity into “good buys” and “bad guys” bins — we are always one of the “good guys,” of course — is the cause of most of the atrocities of the world. I’ve written about this in the past. Very few of the atrocities of human history were carried out by people who were fully aware they were doing something evil.

Labeling something isn’t the same thing as understanding it. In my experience, the more you know about something, the harder it is to label. That’s true also of people. So I’m not really interested in labeling Stephen Paddock. I’m more interested in discussing what steps we can take to stop the next Stephen Paddock.

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Trump Is Angry With Puerto Rico for Making Him Look Bad

Trump Maladministration

Well, he does everything bigly. Now Trump has made Bush’s “heck of a job, Brownie” moment look like Clara Barton arriving on the battlefield.

As I posted yesterday, the Trump Administration’s tepid “response” to the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico pales in comparison to what Obama did for Haiti in 2010. Even the general in charge of relief there says the Administration isn’t doing enough.

Yesterday in response to some blather from the acting head of Homeland Security about what a great job the Administration is doing in Puerto Rico, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz responded “Dammit, this is not a good news story. This is a ‘people are dying’ story.”

Ms. Cruz became a powerful voice of grievance on Friday when she went on television to plead for help and reject assertions by the Trump administration about how well it was responding. She was incensed by comments made by Elaine Duke, the acting secretary of Homeland Security, who had said on Thursday that it was “really a good news story in terms of our ability to reach people and the limited number of deaths” from the hurricane.

“This is, dammit, this is not a good news story,” Ms. Cruz said on CNN. “This is a ‘people are dying’ story. This is a ‘life or death’ story. This is ‘there’s a truckload of stuff that cannot be taken to people’ story. This is a story of a devastation that continues to worsen.”

Naturally, Trump responded by being Trump.

The president is responding by citing what he calls “such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help.”

Trump says “they want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort. 10,000 Federal workers now on Island doing a fantastic job.”

He says the hurricane “totally destroyed” Puerto Rico and that “the military and first responders, despite no electric, roads, phones etc., have done an amazing job.”

And, of course, the asshole in chief is screaming about fake news.

The Washington Post has a different take:

As Hurricane Maria made landfall on Wednesday, Sept. 20, there was a frenzy of activity publicly and privately. The next day, President Trump called local officials on the island, issued an emergency declaration and pledged that all federal resources would be directed to help.

But then for four days after that — as storm-ravaged Puerto Rico struggled for food and water amid the darkness of power outages — Trump and his top aides effectively went dark themselves.

Trump jetted to New Jersey that Thursday night to spend a long weekend at his private golf club there, save for a quick trip to Alabama for a political rally. Neither Trump nor any of his senior White House aides said a word publicly about the unfolding crisis.

Trump did hold a meeting at his golf club that Friday with half a dozen Cabinet officials — including acting Homeland Security secretary Elaine Duke, who oversees disaster response — but the gathering was to discuss his new travel ban, not the hurricane. Duke and Trump spoke briefly about Puerto Rico but did not talk again until Tuesday, an administration official said.


In Puerto Rico, meanwhile, the scope of the devastation was becoming clearer. Virtually the entire island was without power and much of it could be for weeks, officials estimated, and about half of the more than 3 million residents did not have access to clean water. Gas was in short supply, airports and ports were in disrepair, and telecommunications infrastructure had been destroyed.

Instead of stepping up his act, Trump has behaved like a petulant child complaining that not everybody loves him and picking a feud with the Mayor of San Juan.

See also Hurricane Maria’s death toll in Puerto Rico is higher than official count, experts say.

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