Jim Cantore wasn’t covering it for the Weather Channel, stapling his feet to the ground in order to bend in the wind like a bungee pole. But it was a disaster, man-made as it turns out: the 2010 Republican landslide in the House of Representatives. Whether the misguided or misinformed voters who produced this tempestuous cataclysm knew it or not, they were signing themselves, and all the rest of us up for Hurricane force psychosis.
For all but those living under the rocks with the Geico men, it became apparent many months ago, that the 2010 elections installed a bitter bunch of reactionaries in the House of Representatives, and unlike any previous majority, these are cold-bloodedly zealous goofballs, dogmatically resolved to implement an ideological agenda entirely indifferent to the priorities of most Americans (we have polls for that, too). The dull-witted response from the Eric Cantor crowd is that since they were elected, well, everybody in the country necessarily supports any and everything they do. Such is the excuse ideologues and authoritarians will offer to justify extreme and unconscionable acts. It isn’t clever; but it doesn’t matter.
Having held the U.S. government’s continuing operation, and then the full faith and credit of the United States at gunpoint, the radical right in control of the House of Representatives didn’t take long to decide that disaster relief for hurricane, tornado and flood victims was next on the list of available targets.
Once again, and also like the debt threat extortion, unprecedented in American history, Cantor and his merry band of kooks are threatening obstructionism with money for disaster victims, unless a further dismantling of government and government programs…a dismantling neither advocated nor agreed upon by the bulk of America’s citizens…is undertaken. You want assistance for flood and tornado victims? Give us some money for firefighters or security equipment. You want help for your damaged city after its battering by Irene? Hand over some Medicare, or some bridges and highways or some education funds.
FEMA’s relief fund serves dual and simultaneous purposes: funding immediate emergency relief to communities and to individuals currently or recently under siege; and ongoing rebuilding projects. Administrations typically dispense money for recovery efforts on a continuing basis, keeping money in reserve for fresh disasters as they come along. Administrations will usually low-ball the amount in their initial FEMA requests, and then return to congress later to ask for money based upon the frequency and severity of the disasters as they occur. This time, the moral defectives in the House majority recognized an opportunity. So here we go again: let the hostage negotiations begin.
In order to get the current FEMA budget, among the cuts House Republicans forced in exchange, were Homeland Security grants for training and equipping firefighters for natural disasters: 1,600 jobs were lost. Also stripped was an urban security program for providing assistance to cities for the purpose of training and equipment to counter terror attacks.
But we know by now that problem-solving, practical solutions, meeting human needs and even minimal cooperation for the good of the country are not within the scope, nor even among the faintest considerations of these ideologically blinkered louts. The goal is simply, and only the dismemberment of as much of the safety net Republicans loathe as possible, to be replaced by sterile abstractions, and a tiny public sector possible only in Republican myth.
Let’s not forget that Eric Cantor, along with other previously serving Representatives and starry-eyed wack-a-doodles voted repeatedly during the Bush administration for spending initiatives, tax-cut spending, wars, debt ceiling increases and burgeoning deficits without nary a single request for “offsetting savings” they are requesting now. So their hypocrisy level is as smarmy as their favored tactics.
And the newest victims whose suffering will be subjugated to an unwanted ideology are Americans afflicted by natural disaster, or perhaps,those whose needs are bludgeoned by those “offsetting” budget cuts. This crop of Republicans has a commitment to enforced primitivism only the Khmer Rouge could top. But when it comes to ideology and ideological zealots, people don’t matter