The Watering Hole, Monday, June 17th, 2013: Small Gummint/Big Gummint: A Love/Hate Story

It’s been two months since the tragic fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas. Currently, town leaders and residents looking for financial assistance in rebuilding seem to be involved in navigating a maze to acquire that funding. Of course, first the people of West who had insurance coverage have to start there, while other funding sources must wait in the wings to pick up where the insurance leaves off. But that’s where the real maze starts.According to the local ABC News affiliate,

“…more than $5 million in private donations has funneled into accounts set up at the town’s two banks, as well as a variety of relief funds through agencies like the Salvation Army, Baylor University and the Waco Foundation.
The Waco Foundation has collected the largest amount to date, close to $1.4 million. Executive director Ashley Allison…admits only about $20,000 of the $1.4 million has been handed out.

Baylor hasn’t yet distributed a single penny.

The Salvation Army told News 8 most of the money it has put into West so far was to cover operational expenses of their relief efforts on the ground.

So what accounts for the holdup?

Town leaders have been pushing for most of the private donations to be channeled through a newly established non-profit organization called the West Long-Term Recovery Center. The center is trying to attain a 501(c)3 designation so it can fully operate as a charity and start helping distribute the private money that the relief funds and banks have collected.

“It is a process, we know that,” said interim executive director Karen Bernsen.

The Internal Revenue Service will ultimately decide on approving the center’s designation. An application was filed last month, but there is no timetable for approval.”

But no one is going to pay attention to mundane details about local West town government, when there’s an opening to complain about a ‘big gummint’ agency. As reported,

“According to a letter obtained by The Associated Press, FEMA said it reviewed the state’s appeal to help West but decided that the explosion “is not of the severity and magnitude that warrants a major disaster declaration.””

From, responses to FEMA’s decision:

“Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott was critical of the federal response.

“…once the cameras have stopped rolling, President Obama’s FEMA has denied our state and our neighbors the necessary opportunities to rebuild critical infrastructure in the town, including an entire school.””

West Mayor Tommy Muska: “… In my opinion, the federal government is looking for the state to pony up and the state is looking at the federal government to pay.””

“U.S. Rep. Bill Flores…said he will urge fellow Texas Congress members to sign a letter urging the president to reverse the decision.”

Texas Sen. Brian Birdwell,
R-Granbury, said in a statement he also was “stunned” at the ruling and pledged to work with Perry, Flores and U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz toward winning an appeal.

Governor Perry’s office: “The day of the West memorial service, President Obama stood in front of a grieving community and told them they would not be forgotten. He said his administration would stand with them, ready to help. We anticipate the president will hold true to his word and help us work with FEMA to ensure much-needed assistance reaches the community of West.”

Even though the main headline of the majority of articles was “FEMA denies aid to West, Texas”, most of them did, at least, admit that:

“FEMA has, however, provided emergency funds to individual residents.” ~

“FEMA said last week more than $6.5 million has been approved for nearly 800 residents impacted by the fertilizer plant explosion on April 17.” ~

“Though FEMA is denying aid to the city, agency representatives note that millions of dollars have gone directly to residents in the form of grants and low-interest loans.” ~

So, does anyone else besides me find it ironic that Texas, a state whose Republican leaders extol States’ Rights and despise all ‘big gummint’, especially the IRS and FEMA, now is looking to that same ‘big gummint’ for taxpayer-funded relief? Let’s see who, if any, amongst them, suggests that the federal government should cut spending elsewhere in order to ‘balance’ the FEMA aid that Texas requests.

Finally, there’s this pointless, obviously slanted piece by Mike Sackett of USA Today. Here’s a couple of excerpts:

“Federal agencies investigating the cause of the blast that killed 15 and injured 200 would do well to include in their findings the federal government’s pivotal role in making the stuff that exploded. That might change FEMA’s attitude.”

[The “federal government’s pivotal role”? Making ammonium nitrate into bombs in WWII! Darn gummint!]

~ and ~

“I suspect that as long as the National Security Agency’s domestic spying scandal sizzles in the glare of public scrutiny, federal investigators in Texas will loll in the shade, taking their sweet time investigating the explosion in West.”

[And I suspect that Mr. Sackett is pulling stuff out of his ass here.]

This is our Open Thread. Talk about anything that’s on your mind!

85 thoughts on “The Watering Hole, Monday, June 17th, 2013: Small Gummint/Big Gummint: A Love/Hate Story

  1. IF the wingnut population in Washington would fully agree to appropriately fund gummint safety inspection projects nationwide so that fertilizer plants (and other equally dangerous facilities) could/would each and all be officially inspected no less than twice per year, and that process was in place the next time a fertilizer plant blows up, then I might begin to listen to the wails from the Tejas version of Wingnuttistan about FEMA. Until then, however, consider me a resident of Tejas’s Deaf Smith County.

    And as far as Perry, Cornyn, and Cruz are concerned, well, my message to Tejasicans everywhere is: YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR, and you got ‘absolute zero’ in those three idiots. Toss in Gomer and the rest of the wingnut crowd y’all have elected and then stop yer whinin’.

  2. Evangelical Christians want:

    Social safety net: small gummint
    Environmental protections: small gummint
    Regulating industry: small gummint
    Helping someone else in a disaster: small gummint
    Public education: small gummint
    Enforcing religious freedoms: small gummint

    Vaginas: invasive gummint
    Privacy: invasive gummint

    Invading muuslim countries: big gummint
    Locking up muuslims without a trial: big gummint
    Preventing muuslims from building their houses of worship: big gummint

    Helping them in a disaster: big gummint
    Subsidizing church-run schools: big gummint
    Forcing their beliefs on everyone else: big gummint

  3. The Slowly Dying Elephant:

    Yesterday, Sen. Butters claimed that if the GOP doesn’t “pass immigration reform, if we don’t get it off the table in a reasonable, practical way, it doesn’t matter who you run in 2016″:

    “We’re in a demographic death spiral as a party, and the only way we can get back in good graces with the Hispanic community, in my view, is pass comprehensive immigration reform. If you don’t do that, it really doesn’t matter who will run, in my view.”

    Meanwhile, Ezra Klein argues that even if immigration reform is taken off the table, there is one big reason many Latinos will stick with Democrats:

    “Obamacare is really popular in the Hispanic community. Polling often shows support in the 2-to-1, and even 3-to-1, range. It could just be that Hispanics like President Obama and so they like his law. But it could be that 30 percent of nonelderly Hispanics are uninsured, as opposed to 11 percent of whites and 21 percent of African Americans. Hispanics stand to gain a lot from health reform, and so it’s important to them.”

    He notes that Republicans are currently “making a point of demanding that legalized immigrants can’t get Obamacare” and are “considering a crushingly punitive version of the individual mandate, in which undocumented immigrants need to purchase private health care on their own, without subsidies, or they can’t even become legal residents.”

    • the GOP may not have a shot for another 50 years. they have to groom a whole new generation, and given their track record with anyone under 60, the elephant may well be suffering death throes.

    • “He notes that Republicans are currently “making a point of demanding that legalized immigrants can’t get Obamacare” “

      well guess what those legalized immigrants will do with that information…..? And we will remember who f**ked us over when we get our voting registration done.

  4. Here we go again. Are all Republicans stupid assholes, or just most of them?

    Congressman Calls For New Birther Investigation, Questions ‘The President’s Validity’

    Another Republican is accusing President Obama of secretly being a Kenyan man who forged his birth certificate in order to get elected President of the United States. This time the theorist is Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC), chairman of the House Homeland Security Oversight Subcommittee.

    Duncan appeared on the radio program TruNews with Rick Wiles on Friday where the host asked the South Carolina congressman whether the House would go after Obama’s “phony identification papers.” Duncan initially demurred, but then agreed with Wiles that Obama could be lying about his birth certificate, calling for Congress to “revisit” the issue of “the president’s validity.”

  5. You may want to have a barf bag handy.

    Chris Christie seems to be sitting out 2016 in favor of 2020. Wise move.

    2012 wasn’t a wake-up call. It was a snooze button.

  6. And the right were up in arms when Clinton asked what the definition of “is” is. Talk about technicalities.

    This notion of the Fifth Amendment not being self-executing has always perplexed me.

    I hereby claim this right for now and for always. It’s mine. Why do I have to claim it on each instance?

    Supreme Court Rules That Pre-Miranda Silence Can Be Used In Court

    Salinas’ “Fifth Amendment claim fails because he did not expressly invoke the privilege against self-incrimination in response to the officer’s question,” Justice Samuel Alito said. “It has long been settled that the privilege `generally is not self-executing’ and that a witness who desires its protection `must claim it.'”

    The court decision was down its conservative/liberal split, with Alito’s judgment joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia.

  7. Boo f—king hoo.

    Former Bush, Romney Adviser Greg Mankiw Writes Paper ‘Defending The One Percent’

    At long last the downtrodden, disrespected 1 percent have a hero to make their case: Harvard economist Gregory Mankiw.

    The former economic adviser to President George W. Bush and wannabe president Mitt Romney has a new paper, called “Defending The One Percent,” arguing that income inequality is not as terrible a thing as liberals make it out to be. And even if it is, fixing inequality is really hard to do in a way that is not totally unfair to the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans.

    • I, for one, would have been leaping across tables, tossing umbrellas left and right and breaking each of her husband’s fingers one by one. “Reward?” I’d blush. “Well….”

    • “Strangely, soon after, she reportedly kissed him on the cheek. Another photo shows her apparently crying and visibly upset, leaving the restaurant. Police are now investigating the incident but have not launched a formal investigation.”

      Rough sex trade, performance art?

        • That, unfortunately, is how it reads.
          Reads as if she’s moved out for the safety of the children and herself –
          He makes it read as if it were his idea and ‘sent them away’ for their safety.

          Hopefully she’ll have enough courage and strength to stay away from this fellow.

    • I have been in precisely one fight since I turned 18. Some drunk jackass decided to slap his girlfriend after she misplayed a hand of bridge. I administered an elbow to the temple of said jackass and he took a little nap.

  8. Republican cites masturbating fetuses to support new abortion restrictions

    Representative Michael Burgess (R-TX) on Monday asserted that he witnessed male fetuses pleasuring themselves as early as 15-weeks after conception

    Guess his occupation?

  9. Idaho GOPer fears gay employees will come “into work in a tutu

    The Idaho GOP is pushing to overturn local ordinances that ban discrimination based on sexual orientation

    “I’d hire a gay guy if I thought he was a good worker. But if he comes into work in a tutu … he’s not producing what I want in my office,” said Cornel Rasor,

    • I’m thinking the main reason he was arrested was his demand that Cruz pay him three million bucks. Money is all that really counts anymore anyway, as we all know, and bribery? I mean, really. Can’t have THAT. It gets expensive. Etc.

  10. The ‘Standing Man‘ Of Turkey: Act Of Quiet Protest Goes Viral

    Erdem Gunduz (center) stands in Instanbul’s Taksim Square early Tuesday. After weeks of clashes with police, many Turkish protesters were inspired to emulate Gunduz, and stand silently.

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