The Watering Hole, Saturday, October 11, 2014: This Week in Crazy – FEMA, Ebola, Democracy, and the Anti-Christ

Once again, courtesy of the good people at Right Wing Watch, it appears the bad people of Conservative America are really getting themselves in a tizzy over baseless fears that haunt their every waking moment. Like the long-discredited rumor about disposable FEMA coffins, or the bizarre and logically inexplicable belief that President Obama wants to intentionally infect Americans with Ebola, or criticism of the crazy idea that slashing taxes, especially on highly profitable corporations and very, very wealthy people, will bring economic prosperity if given enough time, or that western civilization will fall because of acceptance of “teh gay” as equals, or IS/ISIL/ISIS hiring Mexican drug cartels to sneak them over the border, or even the delusional idea that there’s proof in the Bible that Obama is the Anti-Christ, or something like the Anti-Christ, which I guess would be like being a particle that was like anti-matter, without actually being anti-matter. They’re scared. Let’s see at what.

In case you haven’t heard, the WorldNutDaily crowd believes that the anti-America Obama is planning on killing off five million Americans, as a prelude to imposing Martial Law all across America. As is usually the case with the Alex Jones Conspiracy-type crowd, the proof starts with a misidentified photo showing something it’s not really showing, which is happening for a purpose that isn’t really happening, all as a prelude to something else about to happen whose only connection to the first thing is that it isn’t actually happening either. In this case, the government is buying a billion dollars worth of disposable coffins because they plan to deliberately infect Americans with Ebola so they can declare martial law (and also, possibly, so we’ll look more like Africa, or because we’re racist) and then take away our guns. Again with the guns. One major problem with this particular example of mentally deranged thinking is that the part about the coffins isn’t close to true.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has a problem. Okay, not just one, but who doesn’t have more than one problem? Well, we’re not state governors trying to run a state under the delusional yet persistent conservative belief that tax cuts pay for themselves. It is simply not true. It wasn’t true when Reagan did it more than thirty years ago, and it isn’t true today. But that didn’t stop Sam from having a Brownback Mountain session with the Koch Brothers and implementing their government-destroying plan. (Remember that David Koch was the Libertarian Vice President candidate in 1980, and the budget Kansas adopted was more inline with what he wants, except that it leaves an actual, semi-functioning government in place.) And now Sam is upset because the media is reporting how badly the economy in Kansas is doing, and he thinks it’s unfair because you have to give it time to work. Except we don’t. We can see where things are going because we have things like math and science and facts and figures, and we can project that in five years, at current projections, Kansas is going to be about a billion dollars short on its budget, which by state constitution has to be balanced. The flaw is in thinking that rich people spend all the money they save by paying less in taxes, and that they do it in ways the average consumer would. But they’re not the average consumer. They make thousands of times as much income, but they don’t spend thousands of times as much on milk, eggs, and bread, or buy thousands of times as many cars or houses. Spending money is what keeps an economy moving. When spending stops, especially government spending, there’s less money to go around, and a downward spiral effect begins. Less middle class spending means a slower economy, which leads to layoffs, which leads to even less revenue for the government, which means even fewer people getting help during times of crisis, which leads to Kansas today. But exposing the truth of that is all a liberal conspiracy to discredit what Sam Brownback and the Koch Brothers think is a sound economic plan.

But the economy in Kansas won’t matter much if Mat Staver, another contributor to WorldNutDaily whose anti-gay attitude is well-known to conservatives of his ilk, is right. (And he’s not.) He thinks the entirety of western civilization will fall because gay people are being allowed to marry one another. Is it even necessary to mention that facts and history do not bear any of his view on marriage out? There have been countries in Europe that have had same-sex marriage far longer than we, and their societies are still intact, or at least not in danger of collapse due to same-sex marriage. There were people on this continent (North America, for the benefit of my international readers) who were marrying each other long before anyone introduced the concept of an Abrahamic God to them. The concept and institution of marriage does not belong solely to the religious world. There are very important legal ramifications to being married, and more and more people are recognizing the fact that their gay and lesbian friends, people they’ve known to be together for years, are not allowed the simple rights married couples enjoy, such as being the one who can visit you in the hospital and make medical decisions on your behalf. And you know it’s just bigotry against male homosexuals because the people who scream loudest about this are the ones saying, “It’s Adam & Eve, not Adam & Steve.” They never say something like, “It’s Adam & Eve, not Ida & Eve.” Never. Maybe some of you have, but when I hear some homophobic bigot use the “Adam & Eve” example, it’s always that’s not two males, never that it’s not two females.

But don’t worry about being forced to get divorced and enter in to a same-sex marriage just yet (thus spreading harmful and serious disease), IS/ISIS/ISIL/Senator John McCain is about to cross our southern border. We know this because two Members of Congress (and what huge throbbing members they are) have said so. Rep Jason Chaffetz thinks so. So does Rep Duncan Hunter. The only flaw in this statement is that it is completely flawed. It isn’t in the least bit true. But why let reality get in the way of a great fear mongering talking point? Why do they do this? Because people who are afraid make poor choices. And Republicans want people to be afraid so that when they go into the voting booth on November 4th, they’ll be so afraid they’ll make the poor choice to vote for Republicans.

But even that may not matter, because the Anti-Christ is here. And he’s none other than President Barack Obama. And if he’s not the actual Anti-Christ, he is anti Christ, and so he’s something like the Anti-Christ. There’s proof in the Bible.

This is our daily open thread (late as it is). Feel free to talk about what scares you, or anything else.

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, WFAA.com:

“…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 USAToday.com 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 wacotrib.com, 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.” ~ WFAA.com

“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.” ~ WFAA.com

“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.” ~ wacotrib.com

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!

Mitt Romney – Moral Mendacity or Memory Failure?

During Monday night’s Republican presidential debate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney was asked a question about what role FEMA should play in disaster relief and whether or not more should be done by the states themselves.

CNN’s JOHN KING: What else, Governor Romney? You’ve been a chief executive of a state. I was just in Joplin, Missouri. I’ve been in Mississippi and Louisiana and Tennessee and other communities dealing with whether it’s the tornadoes, the flooding, and worse. FEMA is about to run out of money, and there are some people who say do it on a case-by-case basis and some people who say, you know, maybe we’re learning a lesson here that the states should take on more of this role. How do you deal with something like that?

His response was not only confusing, but apparently in direct contradiction to the way he governed Massachusetts.

GOV MITT ROMNEY: Absolutely. Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better.

Instead of thinking in the federal budget, what we should cut — we should ask ourselves the opposite question. What should we keep? We should take all of what we’re doing at the federal level and say, what are the things we’re doing that we don’t have to do? And those things we’ve got to stop doing, because we’re borrowing $1.6 trillion more this year than we’re taking in. We cannot…

KING: Including disaster relief, though?

ROMNEY: 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.

Okay, there are a few problems with this response. First, why is it that Republicans always feel that the private sector can do the government’s job “better”? Exactly what do they mean by that? Notice that John King just lets that slide without asking for any explanation. This is just another example of how the mainstream media that covers politics practices precious little journalism in favor of just letting politicians say whatever the hell they want unchallenged. The only thing that makes any sense to me is that when a Republican claims that the private sector can do something “better” than the federal government, they mean “more profitably.” Of course, the government is not supposed to be doing things “profitably,” they are supposed to do things as thoroughly as possible. They are supposed to serve as many people as possible, not serve some of the people and still have money leftover. if you do that, then you haven’t done your job of serving the People. Government exists to serve the People, not the Private Sector.

Second is the false idea that the states can do everything better than the federal government can. Not so. It’s true that not all one-size-fits-all solutions will work in every state, but that does not mean we have to abandon all federal support. It’s not an either-or choice – either the federal government does things everywhere or it does things nowhere. This is just the same old “States’ Rights” argument from the party that thinks we’re operating under the Articles of Confederation and not the US Constitution. We tried giving the states more autonomy and the results were disastrous. The Founders the republicans love to revere knew this and decided to do things differently.

But the thing that struck me most was Romney’s apparent immorality. He claims that it is “immoral” to “rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids.” Well, Mitt, if you believe that, then why are you a Republican? Republicans bear the most responsibility for our huge national debt. You were governor of Massachusetts during the Bush Administration when our country ran huge deficits. You said in the debate that borrowing more money to provide disaster relief was “immoral.” Was it immoral when you did it? Flooding and severe winter storms have been a problem for your state, and you accepted federal aid for it in 2004, 2005 (and with your state’s Congressional delegation helping), big-time in 2006 (see here, too), and again in 2007. There may be other examples, but I found those after a brief search of the internets. Was it moral for you to ask the federal government to borrow money to help your state with disaster relief back then?

You also claim that the states can do things better than the federal government, but you also expressed support for an idea floated by the Bush Administration in the wake of their disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina to have the Pentagon (a very federal agency) take the lead in responding to catastrophic disasters.

There is almost no support among the nation’s governors for President Bush’s suggestion that the Pentagon could take the lead in responding to catastrophic natural disasters, a USA TODAY survey has found.

Of the 38 governors who responded to a request for reaction to Bush’s comments, only two backed the idea: Republicans Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota.

Looks like both you and your fellow Republican “T-Paw” got some ‘splainin’ to do, Mitt.

Cross-posted at Pick Wayne’s Brain

Heckuva job FEMA.. Heckuva job…

Raw Story

Over 3 months after Hurricane Ike hit, 30 miles of trash still lines the Texas coastline. The Associated Press’ Michael Graczyk reported, “alligators and snakes crawl over vast piles of shattered building materials, lawn furniture, trees, boats, tanks of butane and other hazardous substances, thousands of animal carcasses, perhaps even the corpses of people killed by the storm.”Rachel Maddow reports that only 100 yards of coastline have been cleaned out of the 30 mile debris field. Local officials blame FEMA.

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Galveston Residents Return-Mayor Seeks 2.5 billion

With traffic backed up for 10 miles, most of the people are returning today for the first time since the city was hit by Hurricane Ike almost two weeks ago. There were warnings issued that Galveston was infested with germs and snakes. The city of Galveston started letting people come back at 6 a.m. this morning, some found their homes destroyed.

Police are trying to make this an easy transition; since many signals are missing, they are directing traffic at major intersections. To prepare the residents for the ravages from the Hurricane, city officials didn’t pull any punches on what the living conditions on the island would be like.

Ruben Rosas, 74, one of those who had fled inland to San Antonio. Once he reached his first-floor apartment located on a bayou, he found that the walls and nearly all his possessions were gone. “This is just sad, but the good thing is, I’m still around,” Rosas said. “I can recuperate these things sooner or later.”

The mayor and others warned people not to return without tetanus shots and rat bait, and to be ready for swarms of mosquitoes and displaced snakes. Residents were told to bring their own water and to not even consider turning on the gas or flipping an electrical switch until one of the island’s three remaining electrical inspectors can examine the property.

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Katrina Pain Index: New Orleans Three Years Later

by: Bill Quigley, t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Katrina hit New Orleans and the Gulf Coast three years ago this week. The president promised to do whatever it took to rebuild. But the nation is trying to fight wars in several countries and is dealing with economic crisis. The attention of the president wandered away. As a result, this is what New Orleans looks like today.

0. Number of renters in Louisiana who have received financial assistance from the $10 billion federal post-Katrina rebuilding program Road Home Community Development Block Grant – compared to 116,708 homeowners.

0. Number of apartments currently being built to replace the 963 public housing apartments formerly occupied and now demolished at the St. Bernard Housing Development.

0. Amount of data available to evaluate performance of publicly financed, privately run charter schools in New Orleans in 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 school years.

.008. Percentage of rental homes that were supposed to be repaired and occupied by August 2008 which were actually completed and occupied – a total of 82 finished out of 10,000 projected.

1. Rank of New Orleans among US cities in percentage of housing vacant or ruined.

1. Rank of New Orleans among US cities in murders per capita for 2006 and 2007.

4. Number of the 13 City of New Orleans Planning Districts that are at the same risk of flooding as they were before Katrina.

10. Number of apartments being rehabbed so far to replace the 896 apartments formerly occupied and now demolished at the Lafitte Housing Development.

11. Percent of families who have returned to live in Lower Ninth Ward.

17. Percentage increase in wages in the hotel and food industry since before Katrina.

20-25. Years that experts estimate it will take to rebuild the City of New Orleans at current pace.

25. Percent fewer hospitals in metro New Orleans than before Katrina.

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CDC Suppressed Toxic Trailer Warnings

via: CBS News

Agency Suppressed Repeated Warnings From Top Scientist About Formaldehyde Fume DangersAs CBS News first reported last spring, FEMA has been under heavy fire for failing to acknowledge then adequately address health problems like respiratory illness associated with the toxic chemical formaldehyde found in travel trailers that became home for hundreds of thousands of survivors of Hurricane Katrina. More than 143,000 families have lived in the toxic trailers, and more than 40,000 still do. (My emphasis added)

Now, CBS News has learned, the public health fiasco reaches beyond FEMA – into the one of the nation’s most respected agencies. CBS News has learned that the Centers for Disease Control, the nation’s top public health agency, suppressed repeated warnings from one of its top scientists, raising questions about whether the CDC bowed to pressure from FEMA to conceal the long-term health risks of formaldehyde in the trailers it distributed to hurricane victims – health risks like cancer and birth defects, CBS News chief investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian reports.

A string of internal documents obtained exclusively by CBS News reveal that Dr. Christopher De Rosa, director of the CDC’s Division of Toxicology and Environmental Medicine, told his superiors “there is no safe level of exposure” to formaldehyde in trailers. That warning never made its way into any public report about the trailers. Read on..

The victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have been victimized once again – this time by our own government, and likely with long-term, lasting effects. As Mike Molloy said on the radio last night (paraphrased from what I remember..) “The only thing these people did wrong was to be born, and live during the Bush Presidency”. Even Cuba takes care of its citizens in the event of a disaster..

So now the CDC is being politicized as well..

Why am I not surprised..

 via: Raw News
Fake FEMA news conference director gets promotion

CNN reports that John “Pat” Philbin, the Director of Public Affairs responsible for FEMA’s recent faked news conference, is effectively receiving a promotion. PRNewser was notified by an email which said that Philbin’s new job was an “amazing opportunity to head the communications shop at ODNI.”

Philbin is slated to become Director of Public Affairs for the Director of National Intelligence, Mike McConnell.

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UPDATE: Just heard on Olbermann – Philbin’s promotion cancelled! Well, there you go..

FEMA’s phoney reporters?

According to Salon, FEMA held a press briefing this week on the Southern California wildfires, had FEMA employees pose as reporters having them ask softball questions during that briefing. Bad judgment? Merely a minor mistake? Or a completely idiotic unprincipled underhanded manipulation of the American public and media?

As the Washington Post’s Al Kamen reports, at least three and maybe four FEMA public relations staffers asked questions of FEMA deputy administrator Harvey Johnson during what was billed as a news briefing Tuesday. Fox and MSNBC both carried parts of the briefing live, apparently with no mention — probably because they didn’t know — that the reporters asking questions weren’t actually reporters at all.

In an update, FEMA apparently apologized for their lapse in judgment. Like that makes it all right now..