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How’s Voting for Republicans Working Out for Red States?

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Since disasters only happen in blue states, what could go wrong with electing ideologues who see everything government does, outside of killing people and engaging in ethnic cleansing, as a problem?

When forecasters from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced the start of hurricane season in June, more than a few state and local officials were worried by predictions of as many as five major hurricanes.

But the primary concern, officials said, was not just the storms. It was the lack of a leader at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is responsible for coordinating the government’s relief efforts after natural disasters.

Those fears were eased a few weeks later when President Trump’s choice to head FEMA, Brock Long, the former Alabama Emergency Management Agency director, was confirmed by the Senate, 95 to 4.

While Mr. Trump has been criticized for being slow to fill top posts throughout his administration and the experience of several of his choices has been questioned, the selection of Mr. Long, state disaster relief officials say, inspires confidence.

“Brock has relationships with state emergency managers across the country. He can put himself in their shoes,” said Art Faulkner, the current director of the Alabama agency. “He knows what we go through in dealing with these issues.”

OK, not so bad, although no one should ever trust an official from Alabama. But then, not so good.

The Trump administration has proposed cutting a number of programs and grants at the agency that many cities and states say will leave them unprepared to deal with disasters. And despite Mr. Long’s extensive experience as a state emergency manager, the federal agency has yet to face a major disaster under his leadership.

Oh, well, I’m sure when a major hurricane hits Florida or Louisiana, a Trump FEMA will respond effectively! Just look at Montana.

U.S. government officials have rejected Montana’s request for aid in battling a group of wildfires that have been classified as the nation’s top firefighting priority.

Gov. Steve Bullock spokeswoman Ronja Abel said Tuesday the state is appealing Sunday’s rejection of a grant application to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The fire management assistance grant would allow the state to recover 75 percent of its costs to suppress the four fires that have burned nearly 400 square miles and destroyed at least 16 homes in eastern Montana.

The Lodgepole Complex is burning through a mix of private, state and federal land.

Abel says the governor spoke with FEMA administrator Brock Long, who assured Bullock that he would personally review the appeal.

Well, no doubt that the voters of rural Montana will respond to the government letting their forests and houses burn by voting for Democrats!

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  • JMP

    Yeah, while the Trump administration’s incompetence so far has been a huge positive, as it’s prevented them from accomplishing most of their horrible goals, we haven’t had any major catastrophes yet for them mishandle. All we have to do is look at the responses to Katrina and Sandy to see the huge difference having competent adults who actually take their jobs seriously in charge of the government makes.

  • brad

    Seems clear that we need private industry and the free market to solve this for us. They're better at it than some massive, bloated gubbermint anyhow. And someone makes a profit, why should any labor of any kind be permitted without that occurring?

  • FlipYrWhig

    “There would be plenty of money to put out our fires if The Government hadn’t spent it all on welfare!” :/

    • MariedeGournay

      Pretty much.

    • MikeG

      It's all Al Gore's fault. Because Freedom.

    • jamespowell

      And foreign aid!

    • … and on “illegals”. I read a conservative’s comment that the Oroville dam-spillway was due to the state of CA giving all the money to “illegals”. Via schools and medical care I guess.

      Who will they blame when the dam itself fails? http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Green-spot-Oroville-Dam-Robert-Bea-report-Berkeley-11646255.php

      • FlipYrWhig

        Everyone knows that hardworking white people have their stuff and money taken by The Government, who then spend it on welfare for black and brown people who are either lazy, sneaky, or deadly. It's the nature of The Government no matter who runs it. DRAIN THE SWAMP

      • mausium

        Lazy liberal workers and illegals and union labor.

      • Deborah Bender

        The spillway damage was a bureaucratic failure. The bureaucracy did respond to the failure energetically and intelligently. It took steps to contain the crisis, adjusted strategy when the first steps didn’t help, and prevented loss of life by ordering an evacuation. Evacuees were sheltered without much government help, but a lot of private help. The spillways are being repaired. The governor (or somebody below him) issued an order yesterday that about 80 of the oldest and largest dams in the state be inspected tout suite and reports be made on what repairs are needed to get ready for the next rainy season.

        After a bad patch in the 1980s-1990s, California has a functional government. Higher taxes, more services.

    • MikeG

      “There would be plenty of money to put out our fires if The Government hadn’t spent it all on welfare!”

      If you’re a farmer or rancher, YOU are on welfare, though it’ll be a frosty day in hell before they admit it. No, they Deserve their ample farm subsidies and government-subsidized services, unlike all those Other People.

      • Uncle_Ebeneezer

        I was just thinking today about how perverse it is that we so fetishize the hard-working, salt-of-the-land farmers….until they have brown skin and a Mexican accent.

      • DAS

        As many on left blogostan have pointed out, Major Major Major’s father is a typical “farmer”.

  • postmodulator

    Bullock’s a Democrat, although he keeps squeaking into office. Shit, I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the real reason the grant got rejected — and knowing our modern GOP, there’s probably an email thread to that effect.

    • FlipYrWhig

      Zinke’s handiwork again?

      • postmodulator

        Oh, who can keep track. A pigfucker with bad hair and a tie. They’re interchangeable.

        • Dennis Orphen

          The guys with the bad hair and ties are interchangeable too.

          • mausium

            Bad hair and a tie could mean any politician! Granted, the “pigfucker” does point to party allegiance…

    • Deborah Bender

      “Well, no doubt that the voters of rural Montana will respond to the government letting their forests and houses burn by voting for Democrats!”

      Maybe they will.

    • Uncle_Ebeneezer

      “and knowing our modern GOP, there’s probably an email thread to that effect.”

      Well, just wait until Julian Assange releases that to the public, any minute now…is this thing on?

    • YNWA40515

      I’d be surprised if there was any other reason Trump, Inc.* rejected the grant. Although long, this is a fairly enlightening (and terrifying) read:

      http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/07/department-of-energy-risks-michael-lewis

      To excerpt a relevant bit here:

      ” . . . a signal had been sent [to Department of Energy staffers]: ‘We don’t want you to help us understand; we want to find out who you are and punish you.’ [. . .]

      According to a former Obama official, [Thomas Pyle, an ideologically-minded Trumpite who was dealing with transition with regard to the DOE] was replaced by a handful of young ideologues who called themselves ‘the Beachhead Team.’ ‘They mainly ran around the building insulting people,’ says a former Obama official. ‘There was a mentality that everything that government does is stupid and bad and the people are stupid and bad,’ says another. They allegedly demanded to know the names and salaries of the 20 highest-paid people in the national-science labs overseen by the D.O.E. They’d eventually, according to former D.O.E. staffers, delete the contact list with the e-mail addresses of all D.O.E.-funded scientists—apparently to make it more difficult for them to communicate with one another. ‘These people were insane,’ says the former D.O.E. staffer. “They weren’t prepared. They didn’t know what they were doing.'”

      *”Trump, Incompetent”

      • ITYM “Trump, Inc.*, LLC†”.

        *”Trump, Incompetent”; † “Lotsa Lies, Constantly”.

  • billcinsd

    Also, economic growth in at least Nebraska, South Dakota and Iowa have been bad recently. I think the most recent quarter numbers were -4%, -3.8% and -3.6% per annum

  • science_goy

    Given the types of places worst hit by hurricanes, tornadoes, and wildfires, I’ve always been puzzled about this attitude. Are these voters just hoping that the Big One hits California in the next couple years so they can point and laugh?

    • DAS

      Where do hurricanes do the most damage? In places where rich people can afford to live or places where poor people live? And I suspect there is a grain of truth to the jokes about tornadoes striking trailer parks: maybe again areas more likely to be conducive to a tornado actually descending are not prime real estate. IOW, the people who get the worst from those natural disasters are not the ones painting their states red on the electoral map.

      Wildfires are a different beast, though (lots of rich people have mountain houses) …

      • Jon Hendry

        I think you’ll find lots of red voters in trailer parks and poor neighborhoods, in some parts of the country.

  • weirdnoise

    There’s a significant chance of a major earthquake in California in the next few years. For example:

    In 2012, USGS scientists said the fault is due for another magnitude 6.8 to 7.0 earthquake, with the California Geological Survey concurring, stating they believe there is a 31 percent chance of a magnitude-6.7 earthquake or greater along the Rogers Creek-Hayward Fault in the next 30 years.

    And this is just one possibility. The Southern San Andreas fault is overdue, and given a century since the Northern part has slipped the whole system may slip…

    I’m seriously concerned that a Trump administration would see a disaster in California as a chance to stick it to the blue state that made Hillary the popular vote winner. Someone who gloats over the collapse of insurance exchanges providing healthcare support for 11 million people wouldn’t bat an eye at this.

    Aside from nuclear war and US descent into fascism, given the fact that I live in the SF Bay Area this is #3 on my list of things that Trump might do that keep me awake at night.

    • Johnny Sack


      The only way to fix it is to flush it all away…
      any fuckin’ time
      any fuckin’ day
      learn to swim
      see you down in Arizona Bay…

      • (((Kevin)))

        What a tool…

    • sigaba

      I think Snake Pliskin has us covered in that eventuality.

      • N__B

        I thought he was dead.

    • drdick52

      Hell, there have been a whole bunch of earthquakes in Montana and Wyoming lately. Cthulhu bless the Yellowstone Caldera!

    • Deborah Bender

      The big earthquake on the Rodgers Creek-Hayward Fault is going to be horrendous with or without government assistance, because so much infrastructure is built on or near the fault.
      I expect cascading disasters from things like freeways being impassable and water mains broken, so fires can’t be controlled, people with weak respiratory systems dying from smoke inhalation, and first responders having 9/11 level health problems. It’s one reason why I no longer live in the East Bay.

      This won’t be like the 1906 earthquake, when the US was entering its imperial phase and San Francisco was able not only to rebuild but to self finance a cracking good World’s Fair less than ten years later (The Panama-Pacific, which is my all time favorite World’s Fair). Apart from the human toll, the economic losses are going to be devastating.

  • Johnny Sack

    “And despite Mr. Long’s extensive experience as a state emergency manager, the federal agency has yet to face a major disaster under his leadership.”

    Uh…what? The two clauses don’t seem to…I can’t…what? Despite his experience, FEMA has yet to face a major disaster under him? That’s…what exactly was the writer going for with that sentence?

    • science_goy

      Yet more first-class journalism from the paper of record.

    • eclare

      I don’t understand your issue with the sentence. He has extensive experience as a state emergency manager. The federal agency has yet to face a major disaster under his leadership. What’s the disconnect?

      • Scott P.

        It’s the ‘despite’ linking the two phrases. Suggesting that extensive managerial experience usually leads to major disasters, but for some reason hasn’t in this case.

        • eclare

          I see. I read it as saying essentially that he has extensive state experience, but is basically untested at the federal level, so we don’t know yet whether he’s up to the job. But yeah, it’s not the most precise writing.

          • Drew

            It’s more than imprecise, it means the opposite of what the writer is presumably going for-as Scott P. says it implies that his experience would lead to disasters.

            • I don’t think it’s entirely as opposite as you do. I read it (with a long “e” sound…) as being meant to say (with fewer and shorter words) something like “Despite Mr. Long’s extensive experience as a state emergency
              manager, it remains unclear that his experience at the state level will be adequate preparation for managing the homologous federal agency, which has yet to face a major disaster under his leadership.”

              Also, semantic bleaching has been hitting “despite” lately; as the Family (Ex-)Linguist observed, it is very disturbing (to her, in the bosom of her family, where she allows herself to bring her prescriptivist skeletons out of their closets) to hear Google Maps declare “You should reach your destination on time, despite usual traffic.”

              • N__B

                I read it (with a long “e” sound…)

                Eeet.

              • stepped pyramids

                Huh, the semantic bleaching must have happened some time ago, because I can’t puzzle out what’s questionable about that usage of “despite”. “You will not reach your destination on time, because of usual traffic” makes sense, at least with the understanding that it might also say “You will not reach your destination on time, because of heavy traffic” or “You will reach your destination in time, despite heavy traffic”.

                It’s the kind of thing a human probably wouldn’t think to say, but that’s true of many ways machines communicate with us. In this case, it’s trying to make clear that its estimate is taking traffic into account.

                This is the kind of communication problem that can be surprisingly hard to solve in software, and I’m interested in language, so I’d love to learn what nuance I’m missing.

    • Western Wildfires ARE major disasters. The cost of fighting fires, the cost of cleaning up and rebuilding after a fire, and last-but-not-least there is the cost of people’s injuries from fires, especially smoke inhalation. Last time there were huge fires all over the West, the area I lived in, Reno NV was choking on smoke. I had to keep my daughter home 2 weeks (she was 11 then), with doctor’s permission.

    • Anna in PDX

      Wow I did not catch that but you are right, “despite” is the wrong word.

    • proportionwheel

      Yet more evidence that copy editors are extinct.

      • Anna in PDX

        I think I remember reading recently that there was a buyout for the NYT copy editors. Maybe there are no such editors there at all now. Should be amusing.

    • I suggest that there might be some difference between managing Alabama’s emergency system, such as it is, and the emergency system for the entire United States.

  • 16 homes? That’s it? What does an average fire burn in Cali?

    • Is the ratio of the housing stocks of the two states close to that of their populations?

    • drdick52

      It has also burned thousands of acres of farm and ranch land, as well as timber. Not to mention lost tourism. This is going to have a big economic impact on this part of the state.

      • Jon Hendry

        But think of all the freshly-cleared land ripe for McMansion construction!

  • drdick52

    I only wish I had your faith in the sentience of my fellow Montanans on the other side of the Divide.

  • mongolia

    gotta love how, for the price of your house and community getting destroyed from preventable disasters and having no relief supplies of shelter after, you get to have the government beat up black and brown people more than they did before!

    at least, it’s the trade off these guys vote for

    • Deborah Bender

      Some people do choose to live in rural areas because the trade off between fewer services and lower cost of living and less regulation appeals to them. If, for example, you know how to build a house, and you don’t want to follow building codes or get approval from a planning commission, owning land in the country is the way to go. There is still a streak of ornery independence in American culture; it’s unfortunate that it is so often combined with hypocrisy and being judgmental, but that is no reason for city dwellers to be equally judgmental.

      There are usually other sources of relief supplies and emergency shelter besides the government, except where people are already dirt poor. For example, during the worst fire in Northern California in 2015, an Elks Club just outside the burned area opened their parking lot to RVs and tents, and served meals out of their kitchen for weeks. Fraternal organizations used to do a lot of this kind of thing.

    • Jon Hendry

      A friend of my family is a lifelong Montanan (apart from post-graduate study in NYC), son of a Great Falls policeman, but also an NIH scientist in Montana, and not a wingnut at all.

  • Dr. Waffle

    Republicans: “Black people are enslaved to the Democratic Plantation™! Cities are cesspools!”

    *cites statistics showing that GOP-dominated states comprise the bottom half of nearly all quality of life rankings*

    Republicans: “Uhhh gotta go!”

    • LosGatosCA

      Actually – that’s ‘Mission Accomplished’ – what’s better than not paying enough taxes to educate the citizens, build infrastructure to create a vibrant economy and jobs with dignity plus knowing your policies are causing misery for everyone you hate?

    • Robespierre

      Any actual Republican would say: “but that’s because those states have all the blacks, see!”.

      And that’s in polite conversation.

  • Hondo

    Don’t shoot! Let ’em burn!

  • Michael

    Sure this will be a terrible blight on the rural white working class, and it’s no surprise that Trump would help destroy these people’s lives, but on the other hand, her e-mails…

  • I’m an Old Testament guy — eye for an eye both as described in the Bible as well as misconstrued. So supporters of the GOP and Donald suffering? Again, Old Testament and karma doing its thing. Refuse to feel bad for them when there are so many more more deserving victims.

    • Paul Thomas

      What I feel bad for is the 20-30% of non-deplorable people present in even the Trumpiest of Trumpy places.

      • Gotta prioritize, and prioritizing, those who made Republican rule possible are at the bottom. Meanwhile, karma.

  • Paul Thomas

    One of the most bizarre aspects of America’s bizarre constitutional structure is that as Republicans turn more and more states into hellholes that no sane person would want to live in, and anyone who’s both economically mobile and sane flees those jurisdictions, Republican power actually increases as they permanently capture the senators of those states.

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