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09/24/2018

The Republican Rush to Confirm Kavanaugh Backfired

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Presidents and Hurricanes

Presidents and Hurricanes

Once upon a time the occurrence of a hurricane brought everyone together, including our politicians.  There was a time when our five living former US presidents took part in a benefit concert in Texas to raise money for hurricane relief efforts, and President Trump appeared in a video -- and his video actually praised our former presidents.  The event was called "Deep From the Heart: The One America Appeal," at Reed Arena at Texas A&M University in College Station.  In the video President Trump stated:  "To Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, Melania and I want to express our deep gratitude for your tremendous assistance," Trump says in the message. "This wonderful effort reminds us that we truly are one nation under God, all unified by our values and our devotion to one another."

Of course, that took place before Hurricane Maria and the devastation that Puerto Rico has not yet recovered from.  What I think is so sad is how we have deteriorated as a nation over the past two years.  The divisiveness is so great that family members have difficulty speaking to each other.  What once was interesting conversation around a dinner table has become a screaming match in many instances.  I was always proud to call myself an American, America stood for democracy and America stood ready to help those in need.  It doesn't matter very much how well our economy is doing and how great the job market is if we have lost our character as a nation.  Two years ago I would never have believed that America would be separating children from parents at our borders -- or an America where our president would actually say that very nice people marched alongside of Nazis. 

We need to change direction now if we are ever to get back the America where politicians thought it was more important to help people suffering the aftermth of a hurricane than it was to make political points.

The following article is from The New York Times:

Hurricane Florence Is a Formidable Test for FEMA and Trump, by By Ron Nixon, Julie Hirschfeld Davis and James Glanz

WASHINGTON — A year after presiding over a sluggish and chaotic response to a devastating storm in Puerto Rico, the Trump administration girded on Wednesday for a test of its ability to do better as Hurricane Florence continued to bear down on the Carolina coast.

If responding to the destruction from Hurricane Maria last year in Puerto Rico was especially challenging — it was the third major hurricane of the season, it struck off the United States mainland and the local government was often overwhelmed — Florence presents more manageable logistics for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

It is the first big storm of 2018. FEMA and state and local officials have had days to prepare, and the agency has positioned considerable supplies and personnel in the areas most likely to be affected. Two months before the midterm elections, President Trump has put himself front and center in the government’s response, suggesting that the White House will be fully invested in providing the necessary resources.

Beyond the threat to lives and property, the storm also poses a formidable political challenge for Mr. Trump, whose public posture has been shaped by his penchant for self-congratulation and relish for lashing out at political rivals.

Mr. Trump began his morning on Wednesday doling out A-pluses to his administration for its performance during last year’s hurricane season. He called its response to Hurricane Maria — whose death toll in Puerto Rico was recently estimated at 2,975 — “an unappreciated great job” in a Twitter post that blamed the “inaccessible island with very poor electricity and a totally incompetent Mayor of San Juan” for the devastation there.

Mr. Trump also posted a video of himself in the Rose Garden of the White House in which he vacillated between sober warnings and exhortations to flee the storm’s path, and reassurance bordering on overconfidence.

“Tremendous people working on the hurricane,” Mr. Trump said later at a Congressional Medal of Honor Society reception in the East Room. “First responders, law enforcement and FEMA, and they’re all ready. And we’re getting tremendous accolades from politicians and the people.”

The response to three hurricanes last year — Irma, Harvey and Maria — ignited intense criticism of the administration and FEMA, particularly for their struggles to quickly deliver food and fresh water to storm victims in Puerto Rico and help restore power there.

While various studies have allocated blame for shortcomings in the response to Hurricane Maria to officials in Puerto Rico as well as to the federal government, there is little to support Mr. Trump’s characterization of the response as “great.” In a report released in July, FEMA itself said it vastly underestimated the amount of supplies it would need, and how hard it would be to get additional supplies to the island.

Brock Long, the administrator of the agency and a veteran of emergency management, has said that it learned from its responses to hurricanes last year and would be better prepared to confront disasters.

Emergency management officials in North Carolina said FEMA had positioned water, meals, cots and portable generators at Fort Bragg, an Army base in Fayetteville, N.C.

In addition, officials said other locations in South Carolina and Georgia would be used as support bases to distribute more food, water and other supplies when needed. FEMA search-and-rescues teams are also standing by, officials said.

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