I have no particular knowledge of, affinity towards, nor connection with the island territory of Puerto Rico.  In fact, I would say that about the only clear cut association that I, and my fellow D.C. residents share, with the PR, is the lack of voting representation in Congress.  Sure, our statuses are different – DC is not a territory like the PR, we are a “Federal District” according to the Constitution.  But although the terminology differs, when it comes to voting rights, the bottom line is we and our Hispanic origin brothers and sisters share exactly the fate. 

All righty, now that I have that of my chest.  Actually I do have connections to that gorgeous island territory sitting out there some 1,000 miles southeast of Miami, wedged between the Dominican Republic and the U.S. Virgin Islands, (another U.S. Territory) in my rock bottom favorite part of the planet: The Caribbean Ocean.  The only direct one concerns a honeymoon way back when we used rotary dial phones to communicate and The Temptations were rocking the airwaves.  I have to say that I fell in love with San Juan and Puerto Rico especially since it was my first Boeing 747 sighting as one lumbered in for a landing at San Juan International Airport. 

A more precarious connection is through a dear friend of mine who spent fifteen years working in San Juan and still has friends there.  His stories are rich in mashed up language encounters and thwarted attempts to have a telephone installed in their two-bedroom, beachfront, San Juan apartment. 

Even with my starkly limited familiarity with all things Puerto Rican, I was struck with curiosity when “Stop The Puerto Rican Bailout” ads began appearing on my Comcast deranged cable television set.  “Hmmmm,” I thought to myself.  Why is this an issue this year when we are dealing with a bunch of crazy men running for the Office of the President of the United States?  I mean if we can bail out Wall Street, Big Banks and GM, why not Puerto Rico?  Of course, my first reaction was “Who are the fucking racists idiots who created this gem?” Hey, that's just how I roll.  Get over it. 

Puerto Rico's steep slide towards insolvency began with the crash of 2008, capping years of not so fiscally wise spending habits, for sure.  Not unlike Greece or Italy or Iceland or Portugal, let's say, all of whom were bailed out.   So, taking advantage of Google’s search function, I discovered an old Mother Jones article that pretty much explained the whole deal.  You see, “CIF” is a 1998 Karl Rove, Crossroads GPS, creation founded to “protect and defend individual freedom and individual rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.”  According to the article, the Center for Individual Freedom preaches “free-market reforms, opposes government regulations, and slams labor unions,” pretty much your typical right wing unfettered free market capitalist agenda. 

Then, of course, the question arose in my addled brain, “Why now?  Is Congress proposing a bail out?”  Well, my research reveals that it’s not Congress who’s proposing anything (keeping up their recent do-nothing history) but the Obama administration.  More or less.  Actually for the moment much less than more.  So far it’s only been talk.  No proposed bills have suddenly appeared on Speaker Paul Ryan’s desk nor Mitch McConnell’s on the other side of the aisle.  So I’m assuming here that the “Center for Individual Freedom” is simply taking the bull by the horns and warning all of us that the dastardly Obama Administration is thinking about the dastardly rescue of 3.1 million Puerto Rican citizens.  And, naturally, as a nation we certainly wouldn’t want to repeat that was the dastardly Obama-led rescue of General Motors, now would we?

Here’s what Representative Tom McClintock (R-CA) had to say about such traitorous talk:

“I am afraid the credit markets will say, ‘Wait a second, if they can do that to the Puerto Rico debt, they can do that for California and Illinois and New York,’” McClintock continued. “And as a result of this action you are proposing, I am concerned we are going to see a rapid escalation of borrowing costs for states right now that enjoy the understanding that there is a stability to the rules under which they are making these loans.”

Now of the three Democratic-led states in his list, Illinois does have a financial problem.  But California?  New York?  Both had positive GDP growth rates in 2014:  CA: 2.8%; NY: 2.5%.  Unfortunately some Republican led states didn’t fare so well.  AK: -1.3%; MS:  - 1.3%; MN: 0.2%; and IN: 0.4%.   But, hey, who’s relying on data. 

So when you begin to see the Puerto Rico anti-bailout ads in your locale, just remember than not only does the “Center for Individual Freedom” funnel millions of dollars of anonymous money through our anonymous political system supporting the right wing agenda, they also have a penchant for filing lawsuits to topple disclosure laws, zealously protect donor privacy, overturn Federal Elections Commissions rulings, and vitiate state laws passed to counter the effects of Citizen’s United. 

Not, I conclude, the world’s most objective organization when it comes to the merits of assisting the people of Puerto Rico.  Of course, should the topic of bailing out our island Caribbean neighbors arise in Congress, I have a feeling that the chances of such legislation passing are a tad slim.  In fact, I would rate them somewhat less likely than the "Second Coming" coming day after tomorrow.  Then too, since all-powerful Ted Cruz (R-TX) is also a believer, who knows?  Right?  

NOTE:  One thing for sure:  It's just above freezing here in Washington.  I just checked and the temperature in San Juan is 86 degrees, if you can believe it.  Forget bankruptcy.  Who cares?  What I want to know is when the hell are we ever going to get that Star Trek transporter machine?  


Popular posts from this blog