Casa Norberto Book Launch

Sunday August 4th at 3:30 in the afternoon we launched the book! Many thanks to Norberto, Jose and Ana Gonzalez and their staff. We had a great turnout. Got lots of questions from the floor. It was truly an invigorating experience. WIPR interviewed Russ and Tony on Thursday, August 1st. Owing to the political news of the moment the interview was not broadcast but it was posted to YouTube. If you’d like to see the interview click on the button below.

Puerto Rico TV Interview

Sorry I haven’t posted lately but we’ve been a little busy preparing for the trip.

WIPR TV in Hato Rey wants to interview us about the book and anything else we might have to say about Puerto Rican Recovery from Hurricane Maria. I have a feeling President Trump may take some lumps.

The interview’s gonna happen on Thursday August 1st at 4:30 in the afternoon. Of course we’ll also throw in a plug for the fine folks at Casa Norberto, the indy bookstore in Plaza Las Americas where we’ll be holding the book launch on Sunday August 4th at 3:30 in the afternoon.

Thanks to all you people out there we’ve had over 11,000 visitors to this website since we went live. Hopefully we’ve helped in our mission to Raise Awareness for Puerto Rican Recovery. That’s what this is all about. Nice job! Keep up the good work!!

See you in Puerto Rico!!!

We’re Coming to Puerto Rico

Now that the novel, Giants, is published it’s time to get the word out. We’ve been invited to launch the book in San Juan by Casa Norberto, an independent bookstore located in Plaza Las Américas.

Mark the date. We’ll be there Sunday, August 4th. The presentation begins at 3:30 although Tony, Nikki and I will show up much earlier to chat with anybody who wants to share their Hurricane Maria experiences.

For reference I’ve linked this blog to Casa Norberto’s Facebook page. Click on the button below. See you soon!

Click here to go to the Casa Norberto Facebook page

Novel Almost Finished!

Six months ago, my muse (Nikki Bountiful) and I, along with a good friend (the Real Uncle Tony!) who was born and raised and still lives in Puerto Rico, embarked on an ambitious journey. Our shared odyssey had five objectives:
1. To delve into the cultural roots of Puerto Rico portrayed in bona fide historical narratives and viewed through the distorted lens of our own politically incorrect rendering of Caribbean history.
2. To provoke a serious discussion about Hurricanes Maria and Florence and the dissimilar manner in which our Federal Government handled the recovery effort in the aftermath of both storms.
3. To raise public awareness of the ongoing recovery effort by Puerto Ricans, non-profit organizations and the Puerto Rican government through a website containing photographs, videos and rosters of organizations who are currently lending a helping hand. We’ve had over 5,000 visitors so far. Step up and be counted!
4. To educate the general population of American citizens about the very real human consequences of Climate Change, as evidenced by the magnitude of the disaster in Puerto Rico brought about by Hurricane Maria.
5. To write an entertaining novel that incorporates the historical narratives mentioned above interwoven with a lively tale that speaks to the trials and tribulations implicit in growing up in 21st century America. The novel, “Giants” is finished through the first draft. We expect the novel to be published in mid-June. “Giants” will be available in both premium paperback and Kindle formats. Go to and search for books authored by “Russell Hatler.” We welcome all our friends to participate in the celebration of a Puerto Rico well on the road to recovery.

Shh, Let’s Pretend Climate Change Isn’t Real

A hurricane forms when the temperature in the ocean water rises above fifty degrees Fahrenheit. The average ocean water temperature has been rising 0.13 degrees per decade since 1880. The size and intensity of North Atlantic hurricanes have increased since 1980. Between 1966 and 2009 the average annual number of hurricanes in the North Atlantic was six. In the present decade that number has risen to eight. Between 1979 and 1989 there were a total of sixteen Category 4 and 5 hurricanes. Between 1990 and 2004 there were a total of twenty-five Category 4 and 5 hurricanes.

Global Warming. Climate Change. Whatever. For every (1) degree Celsius rise in the temperature of the earth, corn crop yields diminish by 10%. And yet it sometimes snows in Florida!

When Donald Trump became President, the United States was a signatory and an active participant in the Paris Accord to combat Climate Change. On June 1, 2017 President Trump pulled out of the Paris Accord because it was “an agreement that disadvantages the United States to the exclusive benefit of other countries.” Immediately after his inauguration he ordered the EPA to scrub all mention of Climate Change from its website. He also nominated Scott Pruitt, a vigorous Climate Change denier, to be head of the EPA. Scott got booted out, not because he happened to believe Global Warming is a myth, but because of his profligate spending habits, housing arrangements, security team and raises for political appointees.

A virtually unanimous consensus of scientists everywhere on the planet assures us that Climate Change is a reality. One notable exception is a bible thumper from Tulsa, Oklahoma, with a Ph. D. in Homiletics who insists hurricanes are a curse sent by God as punishment to be visited upon all mankind for Californians allowing gays to marry. A poker buddy of mine who’s a rabid conservative says I do believe Global Warming is real, but I don’t think there’s any way we can beat it. At least no way that’d be fiscally viable.

You could make a case for cow farts being primarily responsible for Climate Change. You could also make a case for dinosaur farts causing the Ice Age. Nonetheless I suspect there’s a dinosaur ghost wandering the earth today who wishes he’d exercised more control over his gastro-intestinal impulses.

The simple truth is this. We don’t have to save the planet. The planet’s doing just fine. It’s our time on the planet as a species that’s in jeopardy. Should we as a species perish from the earth there’ll be another species who comes along and gladly takes our place. The question is whether we should spend the money now to clean up the planet so it’s a place where our children can survive and flourish. I personally believe that’s the best possible way to invest our hard-earned dollars. You may disagree. But whether we agree or not, we can be sure of one thing. We’re all gonna crash and burn together. And that’s not a scientific theory, it’s a fact.

Have a nice day.

Declaring Victory Isn’t the Same as Achieving Victory

He said this. When he was down there in Puerto Rico on October 3, 2017, purportedly comforting his fellow Americans who had gone through Hell and were prepared for more Hell to come, El Presidente actually said “I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you threw our budget a little out of whack. But that’s fine.”

“Every death is a horror, but if you look at a real catastrophe like [Hurricane] Katrina, and you look at what happened here,” Trump also said, before asking an official sitting nearby, “what is your death count?”

The official said 16 deaths had been confirmed.

“Sixteen people, verified; 16 versus in the thousands,” Trump continued. “You can be very proud all of your people, all of our people, 16 versus literally thousands of people, you can be very proud.”

The actual number turned out to be 3,057 American citizens dead. Close enough for government work.

A year later, El Presidente held a press briefing to celebrate the victory the United States had achieved over the evil forces of Mother Nature.

“I actually think it was one of the best jobs that’s ever been with respect to what this is all about,” Trump said. Noting that the island had problems with its infrastructure before the storm (and, falsely, that it “had no electricity essentially before the storm”), he praised his administration’s efforts.

“The job that FEMA and law enforcement and everybody did” he said, “in Puerto Rico, I think, was tremendous. I think that Puerto Rico was an incredible unsung success.”

The President’s impartial assessment to the contrary much work remains to be done in the rebuilding effort. Hundreds of thousands of homes were damaged or destroyed by the storm and an estimated 280,000 residents fled to the Mainland. Poverty rate on the island increased from 44.3% to 52.3%. This compared to an overall poverty rate in the United States of 12.3%. Hurricane Maria isn’t to blame for everything, of course. But she did make a significant contribution to the ongoing disaster.

There’s no question that progress has been made in rebuilding Puerto Rico. Nonprofit organizations have had more of an impact than governmental bureaus. That’s the way it’s supposed to work. But it’s counter-productive to declare victory when a significant amount of work remains to be done. Even though it may be politically expedient.

Tossing Out the Paper Towels

Presidents traditionally undertake a host of activities to set their citizens at ease during times of crisis. Franklin Delano Roosevelt held his fireside chats. President John F. Kennedy gave patriotic speeches extolling American courage and expressing ebullient optimism about the national spirit and its role in service to our country. President Donald J. Trump threw out the towels.

A week and a half after the disastrous hurricane had blown through and people were beginning to trickle out of storm shelters the President and his First Lady paid a hurried visit to the Enchanted Island. They brought along several cartons of toilet paper and paper towels. Bounty is the quicker-perker-upper you know. What better way to perk up the spirits of the embattled natives than to toss them paper towels? To be perfectly frank, vacuum cleaners wouldn’t have done the trick. Power was still out all over the island. Besides you can’t go around tossing vacuum cleaners at your unincorporated territorial constituents. It isn’t dignified.

Was President Trump a little slow on the uptake following the natural disaster? You be the judge. He didn’t so much as hold a Situation Room Briefing until six days after the island was devastated by wind and rain. Give him his due, though. Throughout the aftermath of the storm President Trump continued to tweet to his faithful followers that we were doing a great job, a tremendous job with the almost impossible situation in Puerto Rico. Fake News refuses to acknowledge the amazing work that has been done by our Great military and FEMA but I can tell you the people of Puerto Rico love us.

By comparison President Obama, upon hearing of the massive earthquake in Haiti (which scored a seven on the Richter scale), scrambled the military. Eight thousand troops were headed to the island of Hispaniola within two days. For the record neither Haiti nor The Dominican Republic, the two countries who share the island, are U. S. Territories. Twenty-two thousand troops and thirty-two ships arrived in Haiti within two weeks carrying vital supplies. To the best of my knowledge none of them carried paper towels.

Here’s another interesting data point. President Trump’s arch-rival, the dastardly villainous Hillary Clinton, was the first public figure to call for the mobilization of the only hospital ship on the East Coast, the USNS Comfort, four days after Maria made landfall. The ship wasn’t deployed for two more days, didn’t leave port for an additional two days and didn’t reach Puerto Rico until Tuesday, October 3, eleven days after Maria made landfall. The Navy blamed a mix-up in communication for the delay. Although Puerto Rico had piers that routinely serviced cruise ships carrying as many as thirty-five hundred tourists, the Navy didn’t think Puerto Rico could handle a boat as big as theirs. Still, even with all the delays, the hospital ship made it to Puerto Rico the same day as the President and the First Lady flew in on Air Force One.

To his credit, I’m sure President Trump had other fish to fry. September is a busy month for golf.

The Enchanted Isle takes it up the Ass

The Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act of 2016 (PROMESA) established an oversight board, a process for restructuring debt, and expedited procedures for approving critical infrastructure projects in the unincorporated territory of Puerto Rico because Strom Thurmond made it illegal for Puerto Rico to declare bankruptcy. The Puerto Rican Electric Power Authority (PREPA) had been struggling with increased debt. They’d experienced a 30% reduction in their workforce between 2012 and 2017. Whereas Luis Muñoz Marin promised to bring prosperity to the island, PROMESA promised to bring austerity to the island. Tighten those belts, boys. We got $123 billion in debt to payoff.

The primary intent of PROMESA was to make sure bond holders (see earlier notes on vulture funds) got paid off. Nonetheless one of the larger hedge funds immediately filed a law suit saying the bankruptcy-like law violated the Constitution. All this political posturing took place six months before either of the hurricanes struck the island. You can see where the priorities of the billionaires lay. Even before the storms hit, the future prosperity of Puerto Rico was problematic. The jewel in the Caribbean crown had lost its luster.

Maria came onshore at the Southeast corner of the island at 4:00 am on September 20, 2017 with sustained winds of 155 miles per hour. The 50-mile wide storm traveled in a Northwesterly direction, exiting the island at Arecibo. The island was lashed with wind and rain for a total of thirty hours. Rainfall amounts totaling as much as four feet deluged the entire island. Everybody lost power. Roads flooded, roofs sailed away, shelters were crowded, communications were disrupted. Puerto Rico was quite literally cut off from the rest of the world.