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Since the Dilly, Dally, Delay & Stall Law Firms are adding their billable hours, the Toyota U.S.A. and Route 44 Toyota posts have been separated here:

Route 44 Toyota Sold Me A Lemon

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Jeremy Konyndyk on Trump's Puerto Rico Failures

Tweet storm from Jeremy Konyndyk (fmr. US Foreign Disaster Assistance chief):

"The White House took their eye off the ball at the worst moment.
The 2-3 days immediately after a major event are critical; that's when you gauge damage to calibrate a response.
During that critical window, rather than shaping a response, Trump was at his golf club. He held no meetings on Puerto Rico.
Senior administration officials didn't visit Puerto Rico to assess situation first-hand until 5 days post storm. That's inexcusable.
What finally set Trump off and spurred his attention was not briefings - it was bad press coverage.
He didn't hold a high level meeting on the storm response until Tuesday - Six DAYS after landfall. This is disaster mgmt malpractice.
And it has become clearer and clearer that response hasn't had the resources and people it needs - as Dept. Of Defense is now admitting.
Why do I call this malpractice? Because they had all the tools they needed to see this for what it was; if only they'd paid attention.
Storm played out exactly as forecast. Was clear it would be devastating, and it was. And then....the President left things on autopilot.
And that has had real, tangible, harmful consequences for the speed and effectiveness of the response.
FEMA staff deserve better. DoD staff deserve better. And most of all, the people of Puerto Rico deserve better. This is not leadership."

Republicans Now Blackmailing Congress to Stop Impeachment, Robert Mueller Causes Full Panic

Donald Trump looks to be speeding down the path of 
impeachment faster by the day. I know it. You know it. Donald 
Trump knows it. Congress knows it. Most of America…

Donald Trump looks to be speeding down the path of impeachment faster by the day. I know it. You know it. Donald Trump knows it. Congress knows it. Most of America that isn’t completely blind knows it.
The problem seems to be that while Congress, even the Republicans, mostly agree that Trump is unfit for office, there are a few high ranking members in the party that are threatening their colleagues over the impeachment talk.

Scott Dworkin from The Democratic Coalition says  a source on Capitol Hill has told him “Republican leaders warning GOP Members of Congress to not talk about a Trump impeachment ever-in any way—or else”
When asked what the “or else” part was, Dworkin added “Looks like loss of funding.”
The key takeaway here is that Republicans are now threatening other Republicans over impeachment talks.
Why is that significant? Because it confirms that a growing number of GOP members are getting on board with impeachment proceedings, but the leaders at the top of the GOP are trying to silence them with threats.
While he hasn’t been named specifically, the ostensible culprit is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. He runs a Super PAC which has helped fund the election and reelection of a number of Republicans in Congress. He can threaten to cut off that funding in an attempt at keeping his own party in line. It’s believed that he used that tactic during the TrumpCare vote in the Senate. But as we all saw, it only partially worked, with three Republican Senators killing the disastrous bill by voting against it.
So now comes the question of how much longer the Republican leadership can essentially blackmail its own members into keeping quiet publicly about impeachment. It also raises the question of why someone like Mitch McConnell would be so desperate to quell such talk, even as he’s had his own problems with Trump. It’s almost as if Trump has some kind of dirt on McConnell, and he’s afraid Trump will tweet about it if impeachment does happen.
Congressional Republicans are running out of time to jump ship on protecting Trump and salvaging what little tiny bit of heroism they could have from it.

Mitch McConnell Rocked By Saturday Financial Corruption Scandal That Could End In Prison

One of the many promises Trump uttered on the campaign trail, and 
has repeated since, is to “drain the swamp.” The alleged swamp 
draining is supposed to keep…
See more from Justin Acuff.

Mitch McConnell Rocked By Saturday Financial Corruption Scandal That Could End In Prison

One of the many promises Trump uttered on the campaign trail, and has repeated since, is to “drain the swamp.” The alleged swamp draining is supposed to keep corrupt officials, career politicians, and special interests out of his administration. However, upon being elected, Trump immediately hired Republican insiders and appointed a half dozen Goldman-Sachs executives to his administration. Fast forward to now, and you have people resigning for charging taxpayers for private luxury jet use – and a brewing financial scandal that is about to rock the Trump administration to the core.
Elaine Chao, who is worth tens of millions, is the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. She’s also a member of the Trump administration: the U.S. Secretary of Transportation.
In her role as the Secretary of Transportation, Chao has been a huge proponent of the Trump administration’s proposed trillion-dollar infrastructure plan. That’s good, right? America’s roads and bridges are crumbling and major infrastructure projects are desperately needed. So what’s wrong? Corruption. That’s what’s wrong.
Elaine Chao is a very wealthy individual, and has financial ties to many companies. When she was appointed to the Trump administration, in accordance with federal ethics guidelines, she divested from those companies. Mostly.
There’s one she didn’t divest from: Vulcan Materials. Chao chose to retain hundreds of thousands of dollars in stock options at the company, which is poised to profit massively from any infrastructure deal, especially with Chao negotiating from the government side.
‘Shares in the company — Vulcan Materials — climbed to a 10-year high in the days following Trump’s election and have hovered there since, reflecting investors’ optimism that the company’s business and the construction sector will benefit from a federally funded infrastructure package.
‘Since Inauguration Day, Chao and Trump have spoken publicly at least 20 times about infrastructure. Each time, the share price in Vulcan jumped in the days afterward. Vulcan, which generated $3.5 billion in revenue last year, is among the nation’s largest producers of construction aggregates — crushed stone, sand and gravel. It also produces asphalt and ready-mixed concrete.
‘Cabinet nominees and political appointees, in compliance with various laws and ethics guidelines, resign positions in the private sector and divest assets that could be affected by policy matters or legislation they’re involved in. Some will separate from all outside interests to avoid any perceived conflicts. … But with Vulcan, instead of requesting a clean break from the company, Chao opted to hold on to the stock awards through April 2018 — the soonest she can sell them — according to her financial disclosure form. In Chao’s ethics letter to the Senate confirmation committee, she cited the company’s compensation agreement with directors as the basis for her decision.
‘Despite Vulcan’s guidelines regarding director pay, ethics experts and people experienced in corporate board matters say it would have been easy for Chao to separate financially from the company upon her confirmation. Vulcan’s guidelines also allow for a director’s compensation agreements to be modified, “if it determines in its sole discretion that such action would be in the best interest of the company.”‘
In other words, the reason for Chao’s refusal to divest is simple: She doesn’t want to, and doesn’t think she should have to. She resigned her position on the board, but kept her stock options, despite selling them everywhere else. So here’s the question: Why would the Secretary of Transportation, who, if doing their job properly, will play a major role in any awarding of infrastructure contracts, refuse to divest from a major construction company?
As they say, “follow the money.” The writing’s on the wall. Elaine Chao is following the lead of Donald Trump, and attempting to use her government position for private financial benefit. Mitch McConnell, as the Senate Majority Leader and her husband, is in charge of getting enough votes for it.
This is Trump’s administration. It’s rotten from the head down – how can we reasonably expect any member of his cabinet or administration to divest and keep corruption out of our government, when he won’t? This is what you get when you appoint a “businessman” with a record of cheating anybody he works with to the highest office in the land. He’s not “draining the swamp.” He’s feeding the country to the swamp monsters.

2 Pilgrim shortcomings ongoing since plant opened

2 Pilgrim shortcomings ongoing since plant opened

Posted Sep 29, 2017

Recent ‘more than minor’ infractions had been undetected since early 1970s.
PLYMOUTH — When federal regulators recently conducted an inspection at Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station that is done every three years to ensure certain systems can perform as designed, components in two of the six systems chosen for testing fell short.
Both shortcomings had been ongoing and undetected since the reactor opened in the early 1970s. And both had the potential to affect systems needed in an emergency.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission inspectors classified the shortcomings as “of very low safety significance,” although they said both could lead to more significant safety concerns. One plant critic said the results from the small sampling were troubling.
“They chose six systems, and they found problems in two out of six,” said Mary Lampert, president of Pilgrim Watch. “That gives the plant a 67 percent. If they had chosen another six systems, would the results have been the same?”
One violation was found in the low-temperature limit setting being used for two massive condensate storage tanks and their pipe networks.
The system supplies water to cool the reactor in an emergency.
Maintaining the correct water temperature, by seeing that it does not fall too low, prevents brittleness from developing and breaking from occurring. The inspectors found that the low temperature limits used by Pilgrim operators fell short of design standards. Operators focused their attention on the low temperature limits in the metal tanks “rather than the more limiting material service temperature of the downstream safety-related piping,” they wrote.
In their report, inspectors call the finding “more than minor because, if left uncorrected, the performance deficiency would have the potential to lead to a more significant safety concern.”
David Lochbaum, director of the Nuclear Safety Program for the Union of Concerned Scientists, put the possible outcome in simple terms: “If the piping broke, it matters little if the condensate storage tank water remains unfrozen — the water would not reach the reactor vessel where it would be needed for cooling.”
The federal team noted, in its analysis, that since the plant opened 45 years ago, “the minimum temperature limits to preclude brittle fracture behavior in the associated piping system were not correctly translated into station procedures.”
The second infraction was related to one of Pilgrim’s emergency diesel generators, needed to power essential safety equipment when off-site power is lost. Diesel generators are equipped with control systems that regulate voltage and frequency of the electricity they supply. The diesel generators at Pilgrim were designed for electricity within a frequency range of 57 to 63 hertz (cycles per second).
Inspectors found that the trigger point for the alarm set to alert operators of a problem with frequency was set at too low a hertz level. If the frequency fell too low but not low enough to trigger the alarm, it could cause the motor on the generator to burn out.
Inspectors classified the infraction as more than minor because it adversely affected the “objective to ensure the availability, reliability and capability of systems that respond to initiating events to prevent undesirable consequences.”
The inspection team also concluded the violation reflected a shortcoming in human performance. “Between approximately 1971 and August 2017, Entergy had not adequately implemented an emergency diesel generator under-frequency limit into their procedures,” the report said. “Specifically, Entergy had not verified that the emergency generator alarm setpoint was in accordance with design basis requirements.”
A spokesman for Entergy submitted a written statement on the company’s behalf: “The report is important, and we will carefully review the two findings the NRC characterized as very low safety significance. We work to continuously strengthen our ability to self-identify and resolve issues in a timely, effective manner.”
Entergy has entered the findings into its corrective action program “to ensure resolution and to prevent recurrence.”
Lochbaum said that to conclude a performance grade of 67 percent, based on problems found in two out of six systems, was “misleading.”
“While the team examined only six components, they essentially put those six components under a microscope,” he wrote in an email. “Each component has dozens of facets. The NRC found fault with two of the facets in this case.”

Naomi Klein | For Progressives, Winning Is a Moral Imperative. The Stakes Are Too High for Anything Less.

Reader Supported News
30 September 17
It's Live on the HomePage Now: 

FOCUS: Naomi Klein | For Progressives, Winning Is a Moral Imperative. The Stakes Are Too High for Anything Less. 
Naomi Klein. (photo: Ed Kashi)
Naomi Klein, LabourList
Klein writes: "It's bleak out there. How do I begin to describe a world upside down? From heads of state tweeting threats of nuclear annihilation, to whole regions rocked by climate chaos, to thousands of migrants drowning off the coasts of Europe, to openly racist parties gaining ground, most recently and alarmingly in Germany."
Here's How to Support Puerto Rico as It Recovers From Devastating Hurricane Maria
Excerpt: "With the island expected to go without power for months, Puerto Rico now needs our help. The US territory is in the midst of a financial crisis and already struggling in many ways."

Become a Fan of RSN on Facebook and Twitter

The disgraceful story of what Donald Trump did to his own nephew will tell you all you need to know about him

There is something seriously wrong with this guy.

The disgraceful story of what Donald Trump did to his own nephew 
will tell you all you need to know about him.
Junior Broadhurst

Donald Trump faced criticism of a different sort earlier this year after it was revealed that he allegedly withheld funds that paid for the medical bills for a sick infant during a bitter family feud over money.

The story was part of an expose published by The New York Times detailing Trump’s relationship with his older brother, Freddy.
As The New Yorker reports, “The article contained some interesting stuff about the young Donald Trump. And, buried toward the end, it also referred to an incident that says something about the adult Trump, what sort of a person he is, and what kind of President he might be.”
“In 2000, during a family dispute about the details of his father’s will, Trump, who was by then fabulously wealthy in his own right, cut off benefits from the family health plan that were paying for the medical care of his nephew’s seriously ill young son,” The New Yorker continued.
The 1999 incident was detailed by Heidi Evans in an article published by The Daily News on December 19, 2000. Evans, who went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 2007 for her editorials on behalf of Ground Zero workers, began her piece with the following:
Even when it comes to a sick baby in his family, Donald Trump is all business. The megabuilder and his siblings Robert and Maryanne terminated [Fred Trump, III] their nephew’s family medical coverage a week after he challenged the will of their father, Fred Trump. “This was so shocking, so disappointing and so vindictive,” said niece Lisa Trump, whose son, William, was born 18 months ago at Mount Sinai Medical Center with a rare neurological disorder that produces violent seizures, brain damage and medical bills topping $300,000.
Fred Trump, Sr., Donald’s father, died on June 25, 1999 “at age 93 after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for several years,” according to The Daily News. Fred Trump, III, spoke at the funeral telling mourners “that his grandfather was a generous man who had always shown an underlying responsibility to those in need.”
While Fred delivered his eulogy, his wife, Lisa, sat in one of the front pews, pregnant with their third child. That night, after returning to their home in Greenwich, Conn., Lisa went into labor. All seemed well at first. But 48 hours after baby William Trump was born, he turned blue in his mother’s arms, his body stiffening and then shaking uncontrollably. It was the first of many devastating seizures to come. What followed for the next harrowing six weeks of his life were brain scans, spinal taps, blood tests and heart-wrenching visits to three hospitals, including Yale Medical Center. Doctors eventually diagnosed William with infantile spasms, a rare disorder that can lead to cerebral palsy or autism and a lifetime of care.
“We just don’t know what William’s future holds, what he will be able to do in his life,” said Lisa, a full-time mom. During the baby’s three-week stay at Mount Sinai, Robert Trump [Donald’s brother] called to assure his nephew that whatever the child needed would be covered by Precise, the Trump company medical plan. Round-the-clock nurses. Neurologists. Pulmonologists. Emergency room visits when William stopped breathing twice in the first eight months of his fragile life. “We were so relieved when Robert called,” Fred remembered. Robert’s call to Fred and Lisa was followed by a July 19 letter from a Trump company lawyer to the family insurance broker, which read: “Please instruct Precise to pay 100% of all costs relating to baby William’s care, notwithstanding any plan limits (percentage, number of visits, or maximum dollar amount); and … whether or not they are deemed by Precise to be medically necessary.”
The New Yorker explains that:
The situation changed in March, 2000, after Fred III and his wife, Lisa, filed suit in Queen’s Surrogate Court, claiming that Fred, Sr., who died in June, 1999, had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and that his will had been “procured by fraud and undue influence” on the part of Donald, his brother Robert, a New York businessman, and his sister Maryanne, a federal judge in Newark, New Jersey. The will had divided most of their father’s estate, which was worth somewhere between a hundred million and three hundred million dollars, between the families of his surviving children, leaving considerably less to Freddy’s descendants than to other siblings’ children.
Trump and his siblings insisted that the will accurately reflected their father’s wishes. After the challenge, it didn’t take them long to retaliate. On March 30th, Fred III received a certified letter telling him that the medical benefits provided to his family by the Trump organization would end on May 1st. The letter prompted Fred III to return to court, this time in Nassau County, where a judge ordered the Trumps to restore the health coverage until the dispute was resolved.
Unapologetic, Donald Trump told The Daily News: “When [Fred 3rd] sued us, we said, ‘Why should we give him medical coverage?'” Asked by Evans whether he thought cutting the funds could appear cold-hearted considering William’s medical condition, he responded, “I can’t help that. It’s cold when someone sues my father. Had he come to see me things could very well have been much different for them.” Donald also stated that “It’s sort of disappointing. They sued my father, essentially. I’m not thrilled when someone sues my father.”
“You have to be tough in this family. I guess I have what my father didn’t have. I will stick to my guns. I just think it was wrong,” Fred told The Daily News, adding: “These are not warm and fuzzy people. They never even came to see William in the hospital. Our family puts the ‘fun’ in dysfunctional.”
Freddy’s sister, Mary Trump, told The Daily News “My aunt and uncles should be ashamed of themselves. I’m sure they are not.”
Jason Horowitz of The New York Times recently interviewed Donald Trump and reported on January 2, 2016 that: “Mr. Trump said that the litigation had been settled ‘very amicably’ and that he was fond of Fred III, who works in real estate, though not for the Trump organization.”


I am completely speechless. This is beyond anything I have ever imagined was possible in the United States of America.
Just when you think things can't get any worse, Trump manages 
to find a new way to disgrace himself and his administration.

Trump manages to find a new rock to slither under to disgrace himself and his administration.

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz made a direct call to Trump on Friday, tearfully begging for help from him and the rest of the world.

Cruz, the mayor of Puerto Rico’s capital city, spoke on Friday afternoon at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum warning that if relief efforts aren’t quickly stepped up “what we we are going to see is something close to a genocide.”
“We are dying here,” Cruz tearfully spoke at the press conference, adding: “I cannot fathom the thought that the greatest nation in the world cannot figure out the logistics for a small island of 100 miles by 35 miles. So, mayday we are in trouble.”
Appealing directly to Trump, she continued:
I am asking the president of the United States to make sure somebody is in charge that is up to the task of saving lives. They were up the task in Africa when Ebola came over. They were up to the task in Haiti [after the earthquake of 2010]….
I will do what I never thought I was going to do: I am begging. I am begging anyone that can hear us to save us from dying. If anybody out there is listening to us, we are dying. And you are killing us with the inefficiency and bureaucracy….
So I am done being polite. I am done being politically correct. I am mad as hell because my people’s lives are at stake. And we are but one nation. We may be small, but we are huge in dignity and zealous for life.
So I’m asking members of the press to send a mayday call all over the world. We are dying here. And if we don’t stop and if we don’t get the food and the water into people’s hands, what we we are going to see is something close to a genocide.
True to form, Trump lashed out at Cruz – attacking her leadership during a multi-part Saturday morning Twitter-Tantrum.
“The Mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump,” Trump began.
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. 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. The military and first responders, despite no electric, roads, phones etc., have done an amazing job. Puerto Rico was totally destroyed.
The Mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump.
...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. 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.
And this comes in the wake of earlier remarks by Trump regarding Puerto Rico’s economy and questions regarding who is going to ultimately pay for the relief efforts:
On Friday, Trump tweeted: “The fact is that Puerto Rico has been destroyed by two hurricanes. Big decisions will have to be made as to the cost of its rebuilding!”
...The fact is that Puerto Rico has been destroyed by two hurricanes. Big decisions will have to be made as to the cost of its rebuilding!
Of course, true to form, Trump has also taken to blaming the media for the abhorrent situation in Puerto Rico, tweeting Saturday morning that: “Fake News CNN and NBC are going out of their way to disparage our great First Responders as a way to “get Trump.” Not fair to FR or effort!”

Fake News CNN and NBC are going out of their way to disparage our great First Responders as a way to "get Trump." Not fair to FR or effort!
Lucid Nation
This sanctimonious, shell of a human should be ashamed, but that would require some basic traits that he doesn't possess.
Junior Broadhurst

Lost Weekend: How Trump's Time at His Golf Club Hurt the Response to Maria 
Abby Phillip, Ed O'Keefe, Nick Miroff and Damian Paletta, Washington Post 
Excerpt: "At first, the Trump administration seemed to be doing all the right things to respond to the disaster in Puerto Rico." 

A woman tries to walks out from her house after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Salinas, Puerto Rico, September 21, 2017. (photo: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)
A woman tries to walks out from her house after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Salinas, Puerto Rico, September 21, 2017. (photo: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

ALSO SEE: Hurricane-Struck Puerto Rico
Pleads for Help Amid 'Genocide' Conditions

t first, the Trump administration seemed to be doing all the right things to respond to the disaster in Puerto Rico.
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.

Administration officials would not say whether the president spoke with any other top officials involved in the storm response while in Bedminster, N.J. He spent much of his time over those four days fixated on his escalating public feuds with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, with fellow Republicans in Congress and with the National Football League over protests during the national anthem.
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.
Federal and local officials said the lack of communications on the island made the task of assessing the widespread damage far more challenging, and even local officials were slow to recognize that for this storm, far more help would be necessary.
“I don’t think that anybody realized how bad this was going to be,” said a person familiar with discussions between Washington and officials in Puerto Rico. “Quite frankly, the level of communications and collaboration that I’ve seen with Irma and now Maria between the administration, local government and our office has been unprecedented.”
“Whether that’s been translated into effectiveness on the ground, that’s up for interpretation,” the person added.
Unlike what they faced after recent storms in Texas and Florida, the federal agencies found themselves partnered with a government completely flattened by the hurricane and operating with almost no information about the status of its citizens. The Federal Emergency Management Agency struggled to find truck drivers to deliver aid from ports to people in need, for example.

“The level of devastation and the impact on the first responders we closely work with was so great that those people were having to take care of their families and homes to an extent we don’t normally see,” said an administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he did not want his statement to be interpreted as criticism of authorities in Puerto Rico. “The Department of Defense, FEMA and the federal government are having to step in to fulfill state and municipal functions that we normally just support.”
Even though local officials had said publicly as early as Sept. 20, the day of the storm, that the island was “destroyed,” the sense of urgency didn’t begin to penetrate the White House until Monday, when images of the utter destruction and desperation — and criticism of the administration’s response — began to appear on television, one senior administration official said.
“The Trump administration was slow off the mark,” said Rep. Darren Soto (D), the first Florida lawmaker of Puerto Rican descent elected to Congress. “. . . We’ve invaded small countries faster than we’ve been helping American citizens in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.”
Trump’s public schedule Monday was devoid of any meetings related to the storm, but he was becoming frustrated by the coverage he was seeing on TV, the senior official said.
At a dinner Monday evening with conservative leaders at the White House, Trump opened the gathering by briefly lamenting the tragedy unfolding in Puerto Rico before launching into a lengthy diatribe against Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) over his opposition to the Republicans’ failed health-care bill, according to one attendee.
After the dinner, Trump lashed out on social media. He blamed the island’s financial woes and ailing infrastructure for the difficult recovery process. He also declared that efforts to provide food, water and medical care were “doing well.”
On the ground in Puerto Rico, nothing could be further from the truth. It had taken until Monday — five days after Maria made landfall — for the first senior administration officials from Washington to touch down to survey the damage firsthand. And only after White House Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert and FEMA Director Brock Long returned to Washington did the administration leap into action. 
Trump presided over a Situation Room meeting on the federal and local efforts Tuesday, and late in the day, the White House added a Cabinet-level meeting on Hurricane Maria to the president’s schedule.
White House aides say the president was updated on progress in the recovery efforts through the weekend, and an administration official said Vice President Pence talked with Puerto Rico’s representative in Congress, Jenniffer González-Colón, over the weekend. Trump spoke to Gov. Ricardo Rosselló after Maria made landfall and again Tuesday; he spoke to González-Colón for the first time Wednesday.
The administration still fumbled at key moments after stepping up its response. A week after landfall, Trump still had not waived the Jones Act, a law that barred foreign-flagged vessels from delivering aid to Puerto Rico. Such a waiver had been granted for previous hurricanes this year.
Asked why his administration had delayed in issuing the waiver, Trump said Wednesday that “a lot of shippers and . . . a lot of people that work in the shipping industry” didn’t want it lifted.
“If this is supposed to be the ‘drain the swamp’ president, then don’t worry about the lobbyists and do what’s needed and waive the act,” said James Norton, a former deputy assistant homeland security secretary under President George W. Bush who oversaw disaster response for the agency. “We’re talking about people here.”
Trump waived the law Thursday.
After getting good marks from many for his administration’s response to Hurricanes Irma and Harvey, Trump has struggled to find the right tone to address the harsher reviews after Maria. He has repeatedly praised his administration’s actions, telling reporters Friday that it has “been incredible the results that we’ve had with respect to loss of life” in Puerto Rico. The official death toll is 16, a number that is expected to rise.
“We have done an incredible job considering there’s absolutely nothing to work with,” Trump said as he was leaving the White House for another weekend at Bedminster.
At the same time, he said that “the government of Puerto Rico will have to work with us to determine how this massive rebuilding effort . . . will be funded and organized,” and he referred to the “tremendous amount of existing debt” on the island.
Trump’s top disaster-response aides have blanketed television in recent days in an attempt to reset the narrative. Duke, the acting DHS secretary, told reporters Thursday outside the White House that Puerto Rico was a “good news story.” The comment seemed to unleash pent-up fury from at least one local official, after days of offering praise to the Trump administration in an apparent effort to secure more federal help.
“I am asking the president of the United States to make sure somebody is in charge that is up to the task of saving lives,” San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz said at a news conference Friday. “I am done being polite, I am done being politically correct. I am mad as hell. . . . We are dying here. If we don’t get the food and the water into the people’s hands, we are going to see something close to a genocide.”
Trump’s rosy assessment of the federal response has also contrasted sharply with the comments of federal officials on the ground.
Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, who was named this week to lead recovery efforts, told reporters Friday that there were not enough people and assets to help Puerto Rico combat what has become a humanitarian crisis in the aftermath of the storm.
The military has significantly stepped up its mobilization to the island commonwealth, with dozens more aircraft and thousands of soldiers bringing “more logistical support” to a struggling recovery effort that has been delayed by geographical and tactical challenges.
Buchanan said that Defense Department forces have been in place since before the storm lashed Puerto Rico but that the arrival of additional resources is part of the natural shift in operations. Sometimes troops act ahead of the local government to meet needs, but they were also waiting for an “actual request” from territorial officials to bring in more resources. Buchanan will bring together land forces, including the Puerto Rico National Guard, to begin pushing into the interior of the island, where aid has been slowed by washed-out roads and difficult terrain. The Navy previously led the military response in Puerto Rico.
“No, it’s not enough, and that’s why we are bringing a lot more,” the three-star general said of the resources in Puerto Rico thus far.