September 16, 2018

I think it's pretty clear by now that whenever there is a Trump proxy or administration official on the air, they play their responses to a very specific audience of one: Donald Trump.

So it's not entirely surprising that FEMA Chief Brock Long would go along with Donald Trump's conspiracist tweets on how the death toll in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria has risen to nearly 3,000 people.

But the way he did it is jaw-droppingly racist and for that, he needs to resign.

“What happens is… you might see more deaths indirectly occur as time goes on because people have heart attacks due to stress. They fall off their house trying to fix their roof. They die in car crashes because they went through an intersection where the stoplights weren't working... There's all kinds of studies on this that we take a look at. Spousal abuse goes through the roof. You can't blame spousal abuse, you know, after a disaster on anybody.


All those savage Hispanics. They're not like good 'Murikans, amirite? They beat their wives to death; they can't drive and crash their cars.

This is all just part and parcel to dehumanize and de-Americanize Puerto Ricans. We can't care about them if they're all wife-beaters, can we? What's next, will he say that Puerto Ricans are "bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”???

Ironically, this interview came just weeks after Chuck Todd bemoaned the state of journalism due to Fox News and conservatives constantly gaming the system to make them fear being unbiased. Here was a perfect opportunity for Todd to push back and not allow Long to push really destructive racism into the dialog by pointing out facts. No surprise, not within Todd's ability.

So let me actually provide information on how these numbers are gathered and how suggesting that the high count was the result of spousal abuse is just openly embracing racist conspiracy theories.

The GWU study concluded the initial death toll only included those killed directly by hurricanes Maria and Irma - either by drowning, flying debris or building collapse.

GWU researchers also counted those who died in the six months following as a result of poor healthcare provision and a lack of electricity and clean water.

How did they get their figure?
The key part of the research is an estimate of "excess mortality" from September 2017 to February 2018.

Put simply, this is the difference between the predicted normal death rate if the hurricane had not struck (estimated using historical data), and the actual death rate for the period afterwards.

The researchers also factored in migration away from Puerto Rico in the wake of the storms.

"Overall, we estimate that 40% of municipalities experienced significantly higher mortality in the study period than in the comparable period of the previous two years."

Some studies had the death count as high as 4,600 "excess" deaths. The 2,975 is actually removing people whose deaths could have been just from old age or other factors.

That number is the number of people who died from the Trump administration's malevolent, racist negligence to prioritize photo ops over actual recovery efforts and to placate a narcissist who didn't care if brown people who didn't vote for him died.

And for that, Brock Long should NOT be on the taxpayers' payroll for one minute longer.

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