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“The Opposite Of Patriotism”: Republican Resistance To Hurricane Relief Is A Stink Of Hypocrisy, And Worse

Provoked by opposition to Hurricane Sandy relief among House Republicans – and the delay in voting the first tranche of aid by Speaker John Boehner – both New Jersey governor Chris Christie and representative Peter King (R-NY) denounced the irresponsibility and cruelty of those betrayals. Even when that first bill passed, 67 Republicans voted no, in contrast with only 11 who voted no when Congress provided emergency funding for Hurricane Katrina (far more quickly, too) in 2005.

The Tea Party Republicans in Congress would offer various excuses for their hostility to Sandy relief, from budgetary constraints to far-right ideology. But those who voted no hail from states that have benefited from all kinds of federal relief over the past two decades, financed by Northeastern taxpayers who send a wildly disproportionate sum in levies to Washington every year.

Moving down the alphabet from Hurricane Andrew onward over the past two decades, it is not hard to trace tens of billions of dollars for storm relief alone that have flowed from New York and Connecticut to the South, the Gulf Coast, the Midwest and other regions over the years, with never a word of demurral over costs, “pork,” or “offsets” from other federal spending.

Then consider the many other forms of federal aid that have benefited the regions where “conservative” fiscal stringency supposedly prevails, and a disturbing habit quickly emerges: Republican members of Congress tend to support aid packages that benefit their own states or districts, while opposing help for other Americans. This doesn’t hold true for all Republicans or conservatives, of course, but it is nevertheless a detectable pattern.

The most obvious example in recent years is the rescue of the auto industry, a decision of national importance supported by both presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, which nearly all Republicans rejected – except those from Michigan and auto-plant districts in several surrounding states. Those in favor included Paul Ryan, the House Budget Committee chair from Wisconsin, who voted for the bailout and then, while running for vice president on the GOP ticket, pretended to have opposed it. But he couldn’t bring himself to vote for Sandy relief.

The Republicans in Kansas, whose entire four-member delegation voted against Sandy relief, never voiced any opposition to the massive aid provided by the federal government in 2007 when the city of Greensburg was devastated by a Force 5 tornado – or for that matter all the other instances of disaster assistance accepted by that benighted state over the decades. Nor did the Republicans in places like Missouri or Georgia or any of the other states severely damaged by flooding in recent years suddenly stop their routine pleading for federal aid, which they duly received.

The biggest frauds are naturally to be found in Texas, one of the drought-stricken states where the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Agriculture, and sundry federal agencies have been spending vast sums to help farmers, ranchers, and other suffering residents. Rep. Randy Neugebauer, a right-wing Texas Republican whose district includes bone-dry Lubbock, praised those federal bureaucrats just last summer for spending funds to help farmers and ranchers in his Lubbock district “mitigate damage caused by wildfires and drought.” Quoted in a local newspaper, Neugebauer said, “I hope that FEMA will quickly follow suit and declare a major disaster declaration for affected Texas counties.” But this week, Neugebauer was one of seven Texas Republicans who voted against Sandy relief, along with fellow wingnuts from drought-afflicted districts across the South and West.

All this represents something worse than cheap hypocrisy, which often crosses political and ideological lines. The behavior of these Republicans is rooted in their selfish ideology and regional chauvinism – and their rejection of a generous spirit that has united this country for more than a hundred years. It is the opposite of patriotism.


By: Joe Conason, The National Memo, January 5, 2013

January 6, 2013 Posted by | Congress, Disasters | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Chris Christie Enables The Crazies”: Sorry, East Coast Republicans, This Is Your Party Too

Spare me, Chris Christie. The New Jersey governor delighted political reporters with his theatrical excoriation of the Republican leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives after Speaker John Boehner refused to allow a bill funding aid for people affected by Hurricane Sandy to come to the floor for a vote this week.

This would be the same Christie who, in September 2012, headlined a fundraiser for Iowa congressman Steve King, who is not just one of the craziest members of the GOP crazy wing, but who also announced a month later that he probably wouldn’t vote for relief money for Sandy victims for the same reason he refused to vote for federal aid for victims of Hurricane Katrina: Because he was pretty sure people spent the relief money on “Gucci bags and massage parlors.” This is a man Christie wanted to win reelection, in order to help Republicans maintain control of the House of Representatives, so that they could continue ignoring the priorities and desperate needs of liberal, urban coastal states like New Jersey.

If people don’t want John Boehner controlling — or attempting to control — an arm of the federal government, the answer is to not support Republicans at almost any level of government. It’s that simple. The reason Boehner is speaker is because Republicans at the state level in various states controlled redistricting, and did such a good job of it that it would require that Democrats nationwide pull off a 7-point popular vote victory in the next midterm in order to win even a slim House majority.

Every Republican — including New Yorkers Michael Grimm and Peter King — who fundraises and campaigns for the Republican Party is responsible for what the Republican Party does with its power. While the “crazies” have nearly complete political control of the party, much of the money still comes from rich coastal “moderates,” and Chris Christie is so important to the party as a symbol of moderation (shouty bullying moderation but moderation all the same) that the GOP gave him a prime-time speaking slot at the national convention. The Christies enable the crazies.

The reason a bunch of knuckle-dragging idiots and far-right radicals were able to kill the Violence Against Women Act is because there are effectively no consequences for doing things the moderates disapprove of and huge consequences for doing things the right wing doesn’t approve of, and that is going to remain the state of affairs in the Republican Party until the supposed grown-ups stop supporting the Republican Party. Everyone who remains in the party is responsible for the worst abuses of the conservative movement, from voter suppression to fiscal nihilism to refusing to send money to people whose houses were destroyed months ago.


By: Alex Pareene, Salon, January 3, 2013

January 5, 2013 Posted by | Disasters, Politics | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Nothing But Contempt”: One Man’s Disaster Relief Is Another Man’s Pork

In all the attention paid to the drama over the fiscal cliff, most people momentarily forgot that there were a few other important things the 112th Congress was supposed to take care of before its ignominious term came to an end. But yesterday, thanks to a couple of prominent politicians criticizing their own party—something always guaranteed to garner plenty of media attention—everybody remembered that states in the Northeast, particularly New York and New Jersey, are still waiting on federal disaster aid. First New Jersey governor Chris Christie came out and gave a blistering press conference in which he blasted House Republicans for not taking up the relief bill, saying, “There is only one group to blame for the continued suffering of these innocent victims: the House majority and their speaker, John Boehner.” Christie also said he called Boehner multiple times, but Boehner wouldn’t return his calls. Then Representative Peter King, a Republican from New York, delivered a rather extraordinary statement on Fox News, not only urging people in New York and New Jersey not to donate to members of his party, but referring to them as “these Republicans,” as though they were from a group of which he was not a part. “These Republicans have no problem finding New York when they’re out raising millions of dollars,” King said. “I’m saying right now, anyone from New York or New Jersey who contributes one penny to Congressional Republicans is out of their minds. Because what they did last night was put a knife in the back of New Yorkers and New Jerseyans. It was an absolute disgrace.” Yow!

Obviously, it’s good politics to plead on behalf of the folks back home, but King seemed genuinely pissed off (it’s harder to tell with Christie, since pissed off is pretty much his default mood). And the GOP is about as popular as syphilis right now, so criticizing them is also good politics. That will always be true for Christie, which could complicate his potential 2016 presidential run—he can’t look too close to the national party or his popularity at home will suffer, but he can’t be too antagonistic if he’s going to win over Republican primary voters. (King won his last election without too much trouble, but his district has plenty of Democrats). But this is a good reminder that one man’s absolutely necessary emergency government expenditure is another man’s pork.

This mini-revolt also reminds us just how far south the center of gravity within the Republican party has moved. New Jersey, which has an independent commission draw its congressional districts, will have a 6-6 split in its delegation in the new Congress. But head north, and it’s tough to find a Republican. Only six of New York’s 27 members are Republicans, and there are a grand total of zero Republican representatives from the New England states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. Christie and King are criticizing a party in which they as Northeasterners are a vanishing breed.

The fact that Sandy hit a couple of states that many members of the House GOP caucus would just as soon see go straight to hell anyway went a long way to mitigate their enthusiasm for disaster relief. This problem is both regional and ideological. The time is gone when most or all members of Congress saw Americans suffering from a natural disaster, no matter what part of the country it occurred in, and said, “Of course the federal government will help.” After all, the fact that people are looking for help from the federal government just shows that they’re 47-percenters who deserve nothing but contempt.

All that being said, there’s only so much pressure an embattled Speaker can take. After emerging battered and bruised from the fiscal cliff debacle, by the end of the day yesterday Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor basically sued Christie for peace, declaring that the new Congress will take up a Sandy relief bill on the first day of its session.


By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, January 3, 2012

January 4, 2013 Posted by | Congress, Disasters | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“You’re On Your Own”: Mitt Romney Called Federal Disaster Relief “Immoral”

Hurricane Sandy now threatens the eastern seaboard of the United States. You can follow the storm here. As the storm disrupts the final days of the presidential election, it’s important to think about the candidates’ positions on disaster relief.

During the GOP primary, as the candidates pitted themselves against each other in a contest to see who could call for more austerity, Mitt Romney called the money the federal government spends on disaster relief “immoral”:

“We cannot — we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids. It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids, knowing full well that we’ll all be dead and gone before it’s paid off. It makes no sense at all”.

Of course the amount of money we spend on disaster relief – approximately $6.1 billion is allocated for 2013 — is a fraction of the estimated $294 billion Mitt’s latest proposed tax cuts would cost.

During the Republican National Convention, as Hurricane Isaac forced the GOP to cancel the first day of its festivities, Mother JonesTim Murphy looked at how Romney’s proposals and his running mate Paul Ryan’s budget would affect disaster relief and found that “…under a Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan administration, FEMA’s ability to respond quickly and effectively to natural disasters could be severely inhibited.”

But at least disaster victims would have the relief of knowing that the rich have more tax breaks to keep them warm.


By: Jason Sattler, The National Memo, October 28, 2012

October 29, 2012 Posted by | Disasters, Election 2012 | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

George W. Bush Says “Most Nervous Moment” Of His Presidency Is When He Threw A Ball

Former U.S. president George W. Bush. (REUTERS) Former President George W. Bush might want to drop the superlatives.

In what is at least his second foot-in-the-mouth moment recalling the toughest moments of his presidency, Bush has said “the most nervous moment” of his presidency was throwing the ceremonial first pitch at the 2001 World Series.

According to an interview Bush gave to the producers of “Beyond 9/11: Portraits of Resilience,” a TIME documentary that aired over the weekend, and a clip provided by Gawker, the former president said:

The adrenaline was coursing through my veins, and the ball felt like a shotput. And Todd Greene, the catcher, looked really small. Sixty feet and six inches seemed like a half-mile. And anyway, I took a deep breath and threw it, and thankfully it went over the plate. The response was overwhelming. It was the most nervous I had ever been. It’s the most nervous moment of my entire presidency, it turns out.

The statement was reminiscent of another by Bush last year, in which he said the worst moment of his presidency is when rapper Kanye West called him a racist. “It was a disgusting moment, pure and simple,” Bush had  said. “I didn’t appreciate it then [and] I don’t appreciate it now.”

Bush was referring to a Hurricane Katrina live telethon appearance by West in 2005, in which the performer launched into a  an angry diatribe about race and aid efforts, including the accusation: “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”

The Guardian pointed out at the time that the comment came in spite of Bush having led “the U.S. into war and presiding over the beginnings of one of the greatest financial disasters in history.”

This time, Gawker provides a laundry list of things Bush should have found more nerve-wracking than a baseball pitch, including receiving a warning that Osama bin Laden was going to strike the United States or authorizing the torture of detainees in U.S. custody. “That was some … pitch, though,” Gawker writes sarcastically.

Watch the video of Bush’s statement here or his full “Beyond 9/11” video here.


By: Elizabeth Flock, The Washington Post, September 12, 2011

September 12, 2011 Posted by | Conservatives, Disasters, GOP, Government, Homeland Security, Neo-Cons, Politics, Public Opinion, Racism, Republicans, Right Wing, War | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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