A week and a half after Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz delivered a blunt message to President Trump on Friday evening: "I am asking the president of the United States to make sure that somebody is in charge that is up to the task of saving lives."
"If anybody out there is listening to us, we are dying, and you are killing us with the inefficiency, and the bureaucracy," she said, struggling to contain her emotions. "If we don't get the food and water into people's hands, we are going to see something close to a genocide."
Cruz's anguish over the response to Puerto Rico's crisis stirred a presidential response, but not the one she was looking for. On Saturday, President Trump accused Cruz of "poor leadership" and criticized her for being "nasty" toward him at the behest of Democrats. With that, a natural disaster whipped into another political disaster, a vicious cyclone of infighting with the White House in the eye of the storm.
Welcome to the Hellbox, my long-neglected, end-of-week wrap-up of news, political cross currents and shouts from the hustings. Declarations of Independence is this week's theme on this late September weekend, with the unfolding crisis in Puerto Rico front and center.
Why Declarations of Independence, when July 4 is a distant summertime memory? In addition to the growing desperation of millions of U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico, residents of two corners of the globe -- Iraqi Kurds and Spanish Catalans -- are flexing their political muscles in gambits for independence. And while the Friday afternoon resignation of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price might not seem to fit the frame, that scandal ultimately speaks to trust and faith (or lack thereof) in Washington. When in the course of human events... Read on!