1. It’s Tuesday, October 24, 2017.
2. It’s the 72nd anniversary of the United Nations. Despite occasional badmouthing by politicians throughout the world, it’s still around.
It’s a place where nations can talk and even make an occasional statement that carries moral weight.
When I was in elementary school in the 1960s, the UN was revered. October 24 was United Nations Day. We took a class field trip to the magnificent UN Building in New York in fourth grade. And the whole school was big on trick-or-treating for UNICEF, the organization designed to help children throughout the world.
Right now, the UN’s stature with the American government is pretty low.
It has a lot to do with the dolt in the White House, who embarrassed the nation last month with a pathetic speech to the General Assembly. The one in which he was flippant about a possible nuclear war with North Korea.
3. It’s been 34 days since Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico – a category 4 storm that devastated the whole island.
At this juncture, three-fourths of the territory remains powerless. A ridiculously large portion of the population doesn’t have running water. Businesses are operating sporadically.
If this were the case in any other part of America – especially in the areas where Trumpistas believe in their entitlement – there would be rioting. The people of Puerto Rico – Americans all – would get the ultimate award for patience if one was given.
All Trump seems to want to do is take credit for a recovery that hasn’t happened. A real president – a real human being – would be mortified by what’s transpired.
Make America great? What’s happening in Puerto Rico humiliates this nation before the world. We can’t even help our own people!
4. Today’s travesty in the Puerto Rico tragedy comes from a Washington Post story about how a small company from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s hometown of Whitefish, Mont., holds the contract to fix the island’s power grid. When Maria struck on Sept. 20, Whitefish Energy had two employees; it’s using 280 subcontractors to do the work.
When we lost power five years ago in Hurricane Sandy, this area was chockablock with trucks from Georgia Power and Alabama Power. Our utility, Orange & Rockland, was overmatched by the storm and called for help. It took eight long, cold, dark days to get things back to normal.
According to the Post, U.S. utility companies were prepared to offer assistance. But then this deal unfolded. And, after 34 days, it’s still pretty dark in Puerto Rico.
So, yes, it’s a little suspicious that this small company from the 700-people hometown of the Interior Secretary gets this huge job.
But will anyone other than the news media investigate this?
You’re kidding, right.
5. By the way, I love CNN’s new “Facts First” campaign.
I’m biased, of course. Today is the third anniversary of my retirement from CNNMoney, and I remain proud of the 16 years I worked for a news organization that continues to do great journalism.
And because I know how much integrity goes into what’s done in New York and all the other CNN quarters, and I know how much it stings having that integrity challenged by proven liars, I think this campaign is perfect.
One of the reasons I spout as much as I do these days is that I had no ability to do that in my CNN years. Company policy bars opinion stating or political activism by anyone who isn’t paid to state opinions.
So I didn’t. I had to hew to the facts of a story, and if they fell against the point of view I held, they still saw the light of a screen because they were the facts.
This morning, in response to this campaign, I saw the hashtag #ThingsITrustMoreThanCNN was trending on Twitter. The usual trolls are there, with the usual references to sexual predators or other bogeymen as being more trustworthy than a news organization whose people risk their lives at times to get at the truth.
They’re cowards, hiding behind their oh-so-clever Twitter handles, manipulated photos and Breitbart talking points. It’s just a sign that the CNN campaign hits home.
Because it deals with facts. Period.