Let me be very clear at the outset; it’s not my intention to politicize the devastating tornado that just ruined many, many lives in Oklahoma. Even if that were my intention, I’d most definitely not succeed since politicizing natural disasters is a Republican thing. They’re the ones that insist man has no hand in the climate change that’s increasing the number of these catastrophic environmental events year after year. They’re the ones who scoff at FEMA’s gallant efforts and noble cause to bring immediate and substantial relief to those in most desperate need of help in the wake of these tragedies. They are the ones politicizing tragedies by fixating on the dollars and not the sense of having a Federal government big enough to be able to swoop in and mitigate at least some of the horrific byproducts of things like tornadoes, hurricanes and earthquakes. Instead, it’s my aim to take them to task for their flagrant hypocrisy on the issue.
Oklahoma Senators Jim Inhoffe (R) and Tom Colburn (R) are two of the biggest culprits in the Right’s game of treating disaster relief as nothing more than wasted government pork. Last year, they both voted to heavily cut aid directed at helping victims of Hurricane Sandy. It was the same, tired talking points about wasted spending tucked away in the bill. Of course, the fact that “pork” is how every bill gets passed in this country, regardless of ideological principle, means nothing to Inhoffe and Colburn. Every dollar spent by the government is a dollar that their rich lobbyist friends can’t put in a Swiss or Cayman Islands account somewhere; even dollars spent helping people who have lost property, income or worse — family members — in this tragedy.
In a way, these horrific weather calamities give us our best peak inside the utter hypocrisy and insensitivity of right-wing budget zealots. It’s about politics and nothing else to them. Senator Inhoffe said on MSNBC today that the difference between the aid given to victims of Sandy and the aid that President Obama has already promised the people impacted by the Oklahoma tornado will be that in Oklahoma there won’t be any pork spending in that relief effort. Making sure to draw the distinction between his red state and the blue states impacted by Sandy, Inhoffe said “everybody was getting in and exploiting the tragedy that took place…that won’t happen in Oklahoma.” Someone should make sure to keep tabs on every single nickel spent in Inhoffe and Colburn’s state just to be sure.
Oh wait…would that be targeting conservatives unfairly?
Luckily for Inhoffe and Colburn people aren’t as sociopathic as they are. Luckily for the two Teapublican Senators, blue state legislators understand the vital importance of Federal relief efforts. Both as recently as 2011 voted to let FEMA go broke when they were going to run out of funds. This sycophantic obsession with the deficit — that has been shrinking rapidly despite what Republicans tell you — is most egregious in their efforts to not just starve the government of their ability to help the sick, the elderly and the disabled, but to deprive the Federal government of helping people who have been made victims of nature’s wrath.
There are voices on the left that want to hold these conservative twerps’ feet to the fire. They want to deny them the Federal aid that they so gleefully vote to deny others. I can’t say I don’t completely understand their sentiments, but that’s not what America is about. America is about helping your fellow man, even when they live in a red state that takes more Federal money than they pay in taxes and they have two climate change denying idiots as senators. Yes it’s galling that Inhoffe and Colburn can be so effusive in their hatred of government and still rely on it to bail their constituents out. Yes, it’s appalling that these Teapublicans can rail against FEMA and then turn around and put their hand out. We have no other choice to help though, because to play politics with a disaster is to have a tea party that I frankly don’t want any part of.
That doesn’t mean we can’t or shouldn’t highlight their incessant and virulent hypocrisy…every. single. time.
For more of James’s work, check out his blog The Political Garbage Chute