You've got to hand it to the Republicans. They're doing a heckuva job when it comes to their political posturing on emergency response and disaster preparedness. You know, like Michael "Heckuva Job" Brownie" did as George W. Bush's FEMA chief during Hurricane Katrina.
At least Brownie had an excuse. Before Bush tapped him for the big leagues, his last gig was with the International Arabian Horse Association -- not exactly the best training.
Of course, today's Republicans have no such excuse -- other than heartlessness and a belief in the powers of Libertarian magic dust.
Take House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, for example. His Virginia district housed the epicenter of August's headline-stealing East Coast earthquake. While there was minimal damage reported from the quake, Cantor made it clear that he would only support disaster relief funding if Congress paid for it by cutting money from other important programs. It's the same position Cantor took following the devastating tornadoes that hit Joplin, Mo. and -- you guessed it -- the same position he took as Hurricane Irene zeroed in on Virginia and the Northeastern seaboard.
Perhaps this heartless tin-man strolling the yellow brick halls of Congress never considered the impact that such a policy would have on those whose lives are forever changed by events beyond their control.
Maybe you're a senior living on Social Security and relying on Medicare. Perhaps you're a family or four hit hard by the GOP-destroyed economy and living on unemployment benefits. Now imagine that you've just lost literally everything to a hurricane, tornado or maybe an earthquake. If Cantor had his way, it would be easy to answer the question, "How could it get any worse?" To help you get back on your feet, he just might let the federal government step in and help rebuild your home and community, but it's going to cost you dearly in cuts to programs you rely on just to get by.
If Eric Cantor were King Solomon, he'd cut the baby in half before even speaking to the two women claiming to be its mother.
He's hardly alone.
For those wondering why so few give Ron Paul's presidential campaign the time of day, the answer just might have something to do with the insanity that is his political philosophy.
After Hurricane Irene killed at least 40 and left 4 million without power and many communities under water, the Texas Republican made it clear that he wasn't backing off his view that FEMA should be scuttled and that it was time for Americans to "transition out of the dependency on the federal government."
Thankfully for us all, Ron Paul will be transitioning out of his "dependency" on the federal government very soon. He's decided to forgo running for reelection to Congress in order to focus his efforts on the futility that is his presidential campaign.
Cantor and Paul's GOP colleagues in Congress want to go even further. It would seem that they don't even want us to have a heads up when potential disasters are on the horizon.
Over the past year, Republicans have attempted to severely cut funding for the National Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Such cuts would cripple our tsunami warning centers and could ultimately lead to the loss of many lives. Additionally, such steep cuts to the NOAA would eliminate our ability to warn Americans about hurricanes five or 10 days in advance, making it even more difficult to evacuate communities when necessary and only compounding disaster relief efforts (if the GOP chooses to fund those).
Ladies and gentlemen, this is what the anti-science GOP looks like on steroids, and it's happening on the local level too.
In GOP presidential frontrunner Rick Perry's home state of Texas, the Republican-led state legislature responded to the wildfires that blanketed more than 2.5 million acres of the Lone Star State this year by seeking to cut millions from firefighting and the state agency responsible for fire prevention. The proposed cuts came at a time when Perry was busy complaining in the media that President Obama wasn't doing enough to help him combat the wildfires, despite the fact that the federal government offered the "states' rights" governor at least 26 different kinds of federal assistance and paid for a considerable portion of the firefighting bill.
Yes, the Republican Party is a disaster when it comes to disasters. But, if you can manage to avoid earthquakes, wildfires, floods, mudslides, tornadoes, tsunamis, hurricanes, droughts, heat waves, avalanches, famines and locusts, it just might be the party for you.
Karl Frisch is a syndicated columnist and Democratic strategist at Bullfight Strategies in Washington, D.C. He can be reached at KarlFrisch.com. You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and YouTube, or sign up to receive his columns and updates by email.
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