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Heckuva Job, Trumpy: Puerto Rico Death Toll From Hurricane Maria Now 2,975

Culture Wars

The Puerto Rican government on Tuesday officially raised the death toll from Hurricane Maria to 2,975. That's a whopping 4,500 percent increase from the previous estimate of 64. It's still significantly less than the 63,000 Americans Donald Trump claims illegal immigrants have murdered since 9/11 like slasher film killers, but it's also a real number based in observable reality and not the president's racist paranoid fantasies. When you're talking about actual living, breathing human beings who are no longer doing either of those things, it starts to get painful.

The [George Washington University's Milken School of Public Health]report also showed that the risk of dying in the aftermath of Maria was 60 percent higher for those in the poorest communities and 35 percent higher for those aged 65 or older.

"There are huge inequalities in Puerto Rico that were brought up by the hurricane," said Carlos Santos-Burgoa, one of the principal investigators of the study.

The estimate of 2,975 was determined using a mathematical model based on historical patterns, with adjustments made for age and sex, researchers said.

The GWU report took aim at Gov. Ricardo Rossello's administration, stating there was "inadequate preparedness and personnel training for crisis and emergency risk communication." Rossello, for his part, accepts the blame and admits "mistakes" were made. President Trump, who gave himself a "10 out of 10" for the federal government's recovery efforts, has supported Rossello, calling the governor "brilliant" probably because he kisses his orange ass unlike San Juan's mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz.

Maria is now the second deadliest hurricane in more than a century, which is appalling when we consider that back in 1900, when the Galveston hurricane killed more than 10,000 people in hours, these storms just sort of showed up like your deadbeat cousin looking for a place to crash after his girlfriend kicked him out. We're far more advanced now and such a shocking number of fatalities is inexcusable.

Puerto Ricans were without power for 11 months after Trump pitched paper towels at hurricane survivors, and even as late as this month, about 1,000 people were still living like the goddamn Flintstones.

The months without electricity have taken their toll. Diana, a mother of four, no longer takes her digestive medicine because she has nowhere to keep it cool. They eat tinned food – beef, fish and vegetables – which preserves in the humidity, but costs far more. They lug bags of ice up the steep mountainside four times a week to keep it in picnic coolers.

Literally days after Maria bludgeoned Puerto Rico, Trump slimed its government and residents, claiming they "want everything done for them." The obvious racial messaging was obvious, but as Bono says, "Outside is America." Trump's supporters might disagree, but Puerto Rico is America. Yes, Puerto Rico has an ailing infrastructure and resides in hurricane territory. But why wasn't this a priority before Maria? There are no hillbilly elegies for Puerto Rico, and when Trump spoke at his inauguration about the "forgotten man," he likely didn't remember to include Puerto Ricans. Trump's entire schtick is to scare Americans about what brown immigrants might do to young white women. He doesn't give a damn about the continued suffering of brown people in a US territory.

Puerto Rico's population is roughly equal to about 20 US states. If Mississippi, Kansas or especially Connecticut had been without power for almost a year, it would be a major story every day on the 24-hour gasbag roundup. That it hasn't been is shameful. I appreciate that Rossello accepts responsibility for this tragedy, but now we have to focus on making sure this doesn't happen again (acknowledging climate change could help) and keeping the current death toll from rising even more. Even young, healthy Puerto Ricans have died from treatable bacterial diseases while helping clean up post-Maria.

The governor announced the creation of a commission that will start by working off the GWU recommendations to improve public health and safety as well as the creation of a registry of people considered vulnerable to future disasters. Rossello also said the commission would update Puerto Rico's preparedness plans to endure stronger hurricanes.

This is a good start, but citizens on the mainland have a duty to ensure this remains a shared national concern. Meanwhile, Puerto Rico and its people endure because they refuse to accept any other option.

Life had become about adaptation. Their porchway is lined with solar powered bulbs that charge in the sun. They all wake at sunrise to make best use of the daylight. Their fridge – redundant without continuous power – functioned as a bookshelf for 20-year-old Leidianne Ruiz-Vera's college materials. It is stacked full of encyclopedias and books on astrology, art history and geometry that Diana, determined her children succeed in education, has collected over the years.

"I couldn't finish college education because of the fees," said Diana. "But I wanted all my kids to learn and go to school. Even if their home is made of wood and tin, they should be proud of where they came from."

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Seattle. However, he's more reliable for food and drink recommendations in Portland, where he spends a lot of time for theatre work.

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OOH BOY HOWDY, The Federalist is on fire this week! Just this morning we told you about the hilarious Federalist column where one neo-Nazi's mom and dad are Democrats, ipso facto QED NEO-NAZIS ARE THE REAL LIBERALS, FUCKERS! Is America's dumbest woman whose name doesn't rhyme with Cara Snailin' over there being a total fuckin' Mollie Hemingway right now? Sadly, she blocked us on Twitter, so how could we possibly know? The answer is WE DON'T CARE.

But now we have a gem of the Federalist genre, an article written by a whiny-ass gay quisling conservative, who would like to chew on his blankie and whine about how much harder it is out there for a conservative than it is for a gay person. This is a subject we happen to have some knowledge about, because we are super gay! And we know a lot about conservatives, both firsthand -- being subjected to them every single one of our almost four decades of life -- and also from covering extremist right-wing Christians for a very long time. Particularly the kind that tell young, impressionable, vulnerable gay kids that they need to pray away the gay if they want Jesus to exercise some self control and refrain from sending them to a fiery hell for all eternity.

We clicked on the article with high hopes. See if you can spot why:

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pic via Glamour Shots, we mean this dude's old website

The House Education and Workforce Committee was all set to have a hearing today all about the horrors that a higher minimum wage would wreak on the economy. Horrors like rich people being slightly less rich. Horrors like business owners claiming they will have to fire people and charge $15 for a McChicken if forced to pay workers a living wage, which they won't actually do because no one will buy a $15 McChicken and they would go out of business if they tried that, and they already don't hire more people than the bare minimum they can get away with. Horrors like poor people not being "motivated" to work harder and get better jobs that do not pay them an amount no human being could possibly live on.

Alas, as Politico reports, it was not to be, as committee members discovered their big witness for the hearing, San Diego State University economist Joseph Sabia (pictured above in a Glamour Shot from his archived website), was kind of a wacko.

Sabia, as it turns out, once had a blog called "No Shades Of Gray," in which he wrote many columns of an extremely homophobic and sexist persuasion. In one of these columns, in 2002, Sabia was very mad about one man's lawsuit against several fast food giants for contributing to his health and obesity problems by failing to disclose the nutritional information of the food they sold. In retrospect, I think most people are now on board with these chains being required to post calorie counts and other nutritional information, but in 2002, Sabia was convinced that requiring them to do this would be an assault on freedom for all Americans everywhere. His response to this was to try and attempt a Jonathan Swift posture and suggest taxing gay sex, which he claimed leads to "disastrous health consequences."

Because sure, that's the same thing, basically.


In gay sex, we have an activity that is clearly leading to disastrous health consequences. What rational person would engage in this sort of activity? There is only one solution - let's tax it.

"Come on, Sabia," you say, "how are you going to enforce these taxes? Are you going to send government officials to peep into everyone's bedroom?"

Eventually. But first we have to mount the assault on Big Gay (no, I am not talking about Rosie O'Donnell). We can tax gay nightclubs, websites, personal ads, sexual paraphernalia, and so forth. Talk about a sin tax!!! We can cripple gay-related industries and get them right where we want them. All gay clubs will have to feature huge, flashing warning signs like "CAUTION: Entering this nightclub may increase your chance of contracting STDs and dying."

Big Gay clearly lures people into trying their "product" without discussing the risks to mind, body, and soul. The average Joe on the street does not understand all of the possible bad outcomes. I can almost hear him now:

"They said '100 percent hotties.' I thought that meant it was fun. I thought gay sex was OK…Now I have all these diseases. Big Gay has wrecked my life."

In the immoral words of Warren G, "Regulators!! Mount up!"

EXTREME SHUDDER.

In another 2002 article, classily titled "College Girls: Unpaid Whores," Sabia laments that feminists have led college girls to stop trying to be like the Holy Virgin Mary and instead to aspire to be more like that hussy Ally McBeal.

No, really.

As women have strayed from the church, they have replaced what is holy with what is temporally pleasing. For Catholics, the model woman is Mary, the virgin Mother of God. She is beloved by the faithful for her unflappable devotion to and trust in God, her nurturing of the Son of Man, and her deep love for all humanity.

Today's college girl looks to Ally McBeal, the trollops of Sex in the City, and the floozies on Friends to set their moral compasses.

The sad truth is that college girls are so desperate to find love that they are willing to degrade themselves to get it. But true love can only be understood in the context of the Word of God. Any other notion of "love" is secular and, by definition, limited and finite.

Not only that, but instead of going to college to find a husband, they have boyfriends. Boyfriends they have S-E-X with. And sometimes, not even that. Sometimes they have sex with people just because they want to have sex with people, and not even in exchange for Valentine's Day cards or money!


Additionally, other sex-based relationships have become commonplace. In recent years, a new and disturbing arrangement known as "friends with benefits" has emerged. In this arrangement, men are not even forced to perform the normal duties of boyfriends, i.e. flowers, Valentine's Day cards, rides to the abortion clinic, etc. Instead, girls consider these guys "just friends" whom they happen to screw every now and again. No strings, no attachments, no dinners. Just sex when they feel like it.

This type of arrangement is the next logical step in the direction that young women have drifted in the last few decades. These women have become unpaid whores. At least prostitutes made a buck off of their trade. These women just give it away.

How cute! He was like the ur-incel, basically.

Anyway, following the discovery of the posts, the House Education and Workforce Committee's GOP communications director Kelley McNabb told Politico that "members were uncomfortable moving forward on the hearing." A more optimistic person might think this was a step forward, that maybe those committee members actually thought it was bad to suggest that being gay means being a disease-ridden monster or that college girls are whores, but it's probably more to avoid embarrassment than anything else. Guess they'll have to start from scratch and find a crappy economist who will tell them what they want to hear about the minimum wage but who doesn't have an embarrassing Geocities blog in their past. Good luck with that!

[Politico]

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