The news and news-like items Facebook decides I should see tend to be pretty eclectic and I find value in that: it sends me headlines I might never encounter otherwise -- or at least not from that angle.
Such was the case yesterday, when it decided I should read a Bernie Sanders (!) entry linking to an article in The Nation (!!) slugged, "The U.S. Government Fails Puerto Rico Again" (!!!). It's a rambling, unfocused piece, ostensibly about how the island territory has been wrecked by the latest big hurricane (true) and the Feds haven't done a darned thing (patently false). That's WTF number one -- I see the FEMA emergency and disaster declarations as they are released (over the President's signature, BTW); there's an e-mail listserver and I'm on it because part of my job involves making sure such information goes on the air when needed. 99.9% of the time, that list is a waste of my time (and I hope it stays that way) but it is publicly available information, no farther away than an Internet connection and a search engine.
WTF number two: the article manages to blame the current Administration both for failing to make Puerto Rico a state and for not granting the territory independence! (Mr. Obama's Administration seems to have overlooked the matter as well, and so on back to 1898, but oh, that dastardly Mr. Trump...) Interestingly -- and to all appearances, unknown to the writer and editors at The Nation -- the processes by which a U. S. Territory may gain statehood or independence are largely bottom-up, not top-down: the people who live there start the ball rolling, something Puerto Rico does with regularity. Recent voting has suffered from indecisiveness and/or low turnout; readers can sift through those tea leaves as they will.
WTF number three is the extent to which "Presidential Derangement Syndrome"* causes the writer to link the President's recent Twitter-fights over NFL player behavior during the national anthem and with North Korea to A) racism and B) a lack of concern over the hurricane damage in Puerto Rico, to the point of comparing the number of tweets on each subject. Now, if they were comparing with, say, tweets about the storm damage in Texas or Florida, or tracking FEMA performance across all three, they might be onto something; but the behavior of a celebrity President on a short-attention-span social media platform is not actually indicative of what the parts of the Fed.gov that actually do things (or at least write memos and checks that get others to do things) are actually doing.
I'm not a big fan of Mr. Trump. I didn't vote for him (nor Sec. Clinton, either) and I still think we'd've been better off with the Libertarian candidate sitting in that office right now (though I'd advise caution around the baked goods in that case). But one thing I'm sure of: he could Tweet about Puerto Rico all day long and it wouldn't get help there any faster than ships can haul the goods and equipment they need. I'm not at all sorry to see FEMA handling that while the Executive himself swaps barbs with NFL players and a fat little autocrat. Each to his area of skill -- or, as Senator Sanders and The Nation might prefer, "From each according to his ability...."
* An ailment suffered not by Presidents but by The People, usually most prevalent among those who voted for the other major party's pick. It causes Presidents to appear bigger, more evil, and more organized than they actually are, and their Administrations likewise. Personally, I'm taking more and more comfort in the knowledge that the job is really too big for any man. YMMV.
2 months ago