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Tilting at Windmills

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March 11, 2011

HOUSE GOP EYES CUTS TO PACIFIC TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER.... On Twitter this morning, Matt Yglesias noted that House Republicans proposed slashing funding for tsunami monitoring and warnings. Almost immediately, Matt faced quite a bit of pushback from those arguing it's inappropriate to bring this up in the immediate aftermath of the disaster.

For what it's worth, I think Matt is raising a fair point. Blaming Republicans for the disaster or its effects would obviously be crazy, but that's not the argument here. Rather, there's a proposal pending in Congress that has renewed relevance this morning, and it's not unreasonable to connect its importance with developments in the Pacific.

Honolulu's Star-Advertiser ran a report a few weeks ago that has a salience now that it might have lacked when first published.

The union representing National Weather Service workers says budget cuts proposed by the U.S. House of Representatives could jeopardize public safety and increase the severity of disaster losses in Hawaii.

"People could die. ... It could be serious," said Barry Hirshorn, Pacific region chairman of the National Weather Service Employees Organization.

Hirshorn said that if a continuing resolution proposed by the U.S. House is enacted -- triggering a 28 percent budget cut in the second half of the fiscal year -- Weather Service employees as well as those at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center could face furloughs and rolling closures.

"It would impact our ability to issue warnings," he said.

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii) said the GOP's proposed cuts would "drastically" reduce the ability of officials to "alert our communities about imminent, dangerous events."

The National Weather Service's union added in a statement, "In the next hurricane, flood, tornado or wildfire, lives will be lost and people will ask what went wrong. Congress' cuts and the devastation to the well-being of our nation's citizens are dangerously wrong."

Fortunately, the proposed cuts haven't been approved -- Democrats oppose the GOP plan -- but Republicans are still fighting for them.

Is it wrong and/or exploitative to point this out? I don't think so. There's an intense budget fight underway in Washington, and critics of the Republicans' push for brutal domestic cuts have said the GOP plan would cause serious, real-world consequences. That happens to be true. The fact that the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center would face furloughs and rolling closures if Republicans have their way matters, and today's tragedy helps drive home why it matters.

Put it this way: GOP lawmakers want to deliberately undercut tsunami monitoring, based on the notion that this spending is somehow unnecessary. Republicans thought this two weeks ago, one week ago, yesterday, and today. Chances are, they'll still support these cuts tomorrow, too.

Why should the topic suddenly be off-limits? There's a tsunami threat in the Pacific, and a tsunami-related proposal pending on Capitol Hill. To make the connection is not to be callous or disrespectful towards human suffering.

Steve Benen 11:20 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (38)

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Comments

Mostly libruls and furriners in Hawaii and California anyway.

Posted by: so wat on March 11, 2011 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

Tsunamis and earthquakes are like market forces. To use governmental agencies to mitigate their effects weakens everyone's moral fibre and will lead to cultural decline. The victims just have to learn some robust self-reliance and not expect to sponge off the rest of us.

Posted by: davidp on March 11, 2011 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

Any response to "pushback" on this is just another defensive crouch, like the NPR surrender.

It's obviously relevant that they want to cut Tsunami warning funding just when there's a Tsunami (just like Jindal's famous mocking of volcano monitoring). They try to make every issue into a backlash, like the Giffords shooting.

Yglesias should double down on this. The fact that Steve even has to ask the question about why it's not improper to bring this up is maddening.

We can't continue to let creeps and sociopaths run the dialogue.

Posted by: Upper West on March 11, 2011 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

that has to be one of the all-time top 10 dumb pushbacks of the internet pamphlet era: unbelievable. there are actually people who think that a disaster that proves the value of monitoring shouldn't be used to point out that it would be a bad idea to cut out that monitoring? insane.

Posted by: howard on March 11, 2011 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

Big Picture extrapolation: Republicans want everyone but the wealthiest 1% to simply DISAPPEAR.

Posted by: Goldilocks on March 11, 2011 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

I can't think of a better time and example to point out the type of world the right wants. Save lives? Details.

Posted by: ComradeAnon on March 11, 2011 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

Hawaii isn't America. Obama grew up there, and we all know he's a Furriner. And remember when he took a vacation there in 2008 after winning the nomination the Beltway Village clucked that he should go some place "American" like Arizona or something like that instead of an "Exotic" locale.

And didn't the Democrat Governor of Hawaii just sign a civil unions law to grant legal rights equivalent to "marriage" to same sex couples? I'm not suggesting this is God's Wrath... jus' sayin!

Posted by: Eeyore on March 11, 2011 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

Now is the perfect time to press this.

The reason that Yglesias is getting pushback is because this message is *effective*. The Republicans have to quickly bully people into dropping this line of attack or they will lose in the court of public opinion.

Posted by: mws on March 11, 2011 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, talk about "death panels"...here's the Republican version. The only lives they care to save are their own precious hides.

Posted by: whicwitch on March 11, 2011 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

The Republican desire to reduce the size of government has no rational basis. It is a propagandistic cry of pain from the selfish rich whom the Party represents. I suppose that Republicans who are neither rich nor stupid simply believe that the gov't is so large and inefficient that budget cuts have no serious consequences (unless they are personally affected). Of course, if cuts hurt Democratic supporters--as so many seem to do--all the better from their point of view. We are not dealing here with honest debate about what advances the public interest; we are dealing with a grab for power that may well end in slavery or bloodshed.

Posted by: Keith on March 11, 2011 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

I think this has to be brought up because it points out the very heart of the matter when it comes to cuts.

Just like every survey has pointed out in stark detail: people like "cuts" but when asked what to cut they blank and say that nothing that they think could effect them should be cut.

Republicans must be over the moon about the idea that very little time has been spent in the media discussing what the proposed cuts mean in real world terms. Austerity measures are popular and political palpable until they actually deliver on their promises - at which point they (the cuts) become the villain, with the people that proposed and passed the cuts distancing themselves from the concept.

A national discussion of what these cuts being proposed mean in real world terms are the only way for people to really understand what is being proposed. Until we have that discussion, we're in the fairytale of "cuts" which everyone likes.

Posted by: Mike on March 11, 2011 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

Huckabee sez:
"Don't need no National Weather Service. Gran'pa's bunions and Gran'ma's rhumatiz gives us all the weather forecasting we need."

Posted by: DAY on March 11, 2011 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

Damn straight it's appropriate to push the issue. Dems should take out full page ads and run commercials. Highlight the irresponsibility and posturing.

You KNOW the GOP would.

Posted by: danimal on March 11, 2011 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

It's just tacky, like pointing out on a man's wedding day that he had murdered his previous three wives.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on March 11, 2011 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

Timing is Everything

and this disaster is perfectly timed to point out the foolish, short-sightedness of the Tea Bagger budget cuts. Man, the one-liners write themselves: And with the money each American will save - up to 11 cents a year, I hear - everyone can build their own worldwide seismic monitoring system!

Or more seriously: This was a world-wide disaster, and (insert some huge number) of miles of US coastal areas were impacted. Do Republicans really believe that putting these (insert huge number of residents) at risk is worth (a few) million dollars? Do YOU? How much do you want the 11 cents you'll save on your taxes?

Note that I just pulled out the 11 cents figure - in reality, it's probably more like 0.011 cents...

Posted by: zandru on March 11, 2011 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

Somewhere, the "general welfare" clause became 'for the welfare of the rich, only.'

Posted by: c u n d gulag on March 11, 2011 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

Are Republicans human? Okay, I'm kidding, but seriously - wherever and whenever there is a chance to inflict damage and human suffering, Republicans chomp at the bit to do so.

Posted by: June on March 11, 2011 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

Since when is the truth about the danger of budget cuts either wrong or exploitative? It's way past time for every Democratic spokesperson to go "Chris Christie" on the truth of what's proposed in their budget.

What's wrong and/or exploitative is the congressman from Long Island/IRA and his fake hearings, Huckabee, Ginghrich (sp?), Pawlenty, FOX News constant stream of flat out lies, not to mention the carnage by Republican government moves in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana. Florida, Texas, etc.

Of course, in the new world order, truth is challenged and found wanting, and lies get 24 hour news coverage as fact.

Posted by: Kathryn on March 11, 2011 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

One should never pass up an opportunity to point out that Republicans are morons who have no idea what is going on about anything, who are dedicated to the destruction of this country as the traitors they are.

Posted by: TCinLA on March 11, 2011 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

Don't worry - once you de-fund these projects and get the government out of the way, a market will develop for tsunami detection services.

And the private sector will then provide an economically efficient product (that won't cost the taxpayers everything).

And being rational economic actors, the people living in Hawaii and along the west coast can then exercise their choices as consumers to purchase these tsunami detection services, along with insurance. Or they can move, or join churches.

And you know something? If these people join the CORRECT kind of churches - you know, the ones with the correct viewpoints, and that get a mainline to God? - then their guardian angels will probably look out for them in the event that all of this rational and economically efficient risk allocation fails to take care of their needs.

The magic of the marketplace never fails. It is just so magical! Because it is magic. Especially when overlaid with religion, so you solution to your problems.

[Kidding, of course]

Posted by: Bokonon on March 11, 2011 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

After the inevitable disaster strikes, they can send in Halliburton to clean it up and reconstruct on a no bid contract. Also, too, Godzilla.

Posted by: Dan on March 11, 2011 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

Almost immediately, Matt faced quite a bit of pushback from those arguing it's inappropriate to bring this up in the immediate aftermath of the disaster.

Yeah. It's much more civil to bring it up when the stupidity of the cuts is a little less obvious.

But seriously, the reaction by bad-faith conservatives shows that Matt's point that eating the seed corn is stupid really strikes home. He should stick with it, as should we all.

Posted by: Gregory on March 11, 2011 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

Big Picture extrapolation: Republicans want everyone but the wealthiest 1% to simply DISAPPEAR.

Posted by: Goldilocks on March 11, 2011 at 11:31 AM

Goldi, you must be some kind of a hippy hag to say this!

This planet has a population of about 7 billion. It has a realistic amount of resources to sustain about 2 billion. It is reasonable to recognize that the population must be decreased.

Everyone knows that we, the wealthy wing of the republican party do not want everyone other than the wealthiest 1% to disappear. We just want the population to decrease to where the wealthiest 1% have just enough others to provide support for our life styles. It would not be much of a world if we did not have sufficient peons to take care of us!

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on March 11, 2011 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

there are actually people who think that a disaster that proves the value of monitoring shouldn't be used to point out that it would be a bad idea to cut out that monitoring?

I don't think they really think that; I think it's just a symptom of the tribalism, poor critical thinking and inherent bad faith of modern movement conservatism.

They perceived -- accurately -- that Matt had a good point, and so rather than concede it -- perish forbid! -- they fell back on their well-worn tactic of trying to define the terms of the debate. Sadly, thanks to our so-called "liberal media," it may yet work.

Posted by: Gregory on March 11, 2011 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

How dare we study tsunami in a Time of War!?!

Or was that question a president? I get my RNC talking points confused.

Agree that anybody challenged on this should double-down. Meet stupidity with noisy aggression.

Posted by: Trollhattan on March 11, 2011 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

Matt faced quite a bit of pushback from those arguing it's inappropriate to bring this up in the immediate aftermath of the disaster

That’s like a guy who was just convicted of bank robbery claiming it would be inappropriate to bring up his previous convictions for bank robbery during his sentencing.

Posted by: Joe Friday on March 11, 2011 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

It's not about the cut back in funding for the Tsunami Warning System; it is that it is being served by a union. "The union representing National Weather Service workers says budget cuts proposed by the U.S. House of Representatives could jeopardize public safety and increase the severity of disaster losses in Hawaii." By cutting the budget by 28%, all we have to do is reduce the wages of those "union" workers by 28% and keep the same level of service. See Wisconsin.

Posted by: st john on March 11, 2011 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

The fact that they consider it inappropriate is the primary reason for pushing even harder.

This is just like the time when Bobby Jindal ridiculed volcano monitoring and then Mt. St. Helens blew up.

You don't squander those kind of opportunities.

Posted by: bdop4 on March 11, 2011 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

First they cut the volcano monitoring, and I didn't worry, because there are no volcanos near me.
Then they cut the tsunami monitoring, and I didn't worry, because I'm not at the seashore....

Posted by: Hank Roberts on March 11, 2011 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans are fascists. Their goal is to destroy individual thinking. That means using science to prepare for natural disasters does not fall into the Republican fascist control of our DEMOCRACY!

Posted by: MLJohnston on March 11, 2011 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

Every time I think, "aha! now americans will wake up to the fact that republicans really don't care about americans, they just care about themselves!", I just disappoint myself again.

Posted by: Marko on March 11, 2011 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

RepublicanPointOfView on March 11

Stand corrected. Make it 1% + ½%.

- Goldi.

Posted by: Goldilocks on March 11, 2011 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

Matt is EXACTLY right. NOW is the time to raise the issue before the GOP (pandering p***ies that they are) defund it. They are shortsighted fools. We can't talk about MONEY because we are in a CRISIS, we can't talk about storm warnings because we're in a storm, etc. etc. Heckuva job Brownie...fools.

Posted by: SYSPROG on March 11, 2011 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

So, I suppose the right will now start blaming yesterday's tsunami on lefty Dems who just want to continue spending and spending.

I'm in California and we had both deaths and injuries, and physical losses from that event. Warnings helped save both lives and property!

Posted by: Davidi on March 11, 2011 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

RepublicanPointOfView on March 11

Stand corrected. Make it 1% + ½%.

- Goldi.

Clarification: The ½% can't include labor unions, non-whites, ... you get the idea.

Posted by: Kevin (not the famous one) on March 11, 2011 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

Article: "Put it this way: GOP lawmakers want to deliberately undercut tsunami monitoring, based on the notion that this spending is somehow unnecessary. Republicans thought this two weeks ago, one week ago, yesterday, and today. Chances are, they'll still support these cuts tomorrow, too."

Hypothetically, is there anything that protects us these maniacs don't want to remove? How about stop signs and stop lights? Who needs them and they're expensive. Crib railings? Gone. Parachutes that open? Gone. Brakes and airbags? Gone. Sober airline pilots? Drink up. How about Charlie Sheen for President? Free crack for everyone. Let's stop screwing around and get this over with.

Posted by: max on March 11, 2011 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

"Since when is the truth about the danger of budget cuts are either wrong or exploitative(sic)?" Kathryn @ 11:58 AM.

You expect Cokie or Brian to do background on a story that doesn't include a dead female under the age of 25? Silly Kathryn...

Posted by: Doug on March 11, 2011 at 7:22 PM | PERMALINK

Lots of wonderful snark here in the comments, but on a more serious note, I must note that I benefited from the type of early warnings systems on the Oregon Coast this morning - meaning a first "reverse-911" call at 1am, and hourly calls afterwards - for evacuation to higher ground to prepared shelter sites. We didn't get hit, but ports not far south of here did.

Residents, warned hours ahead of time, slowly meandered into Red Cross shelters - no rush, no fuss, coffee and a lite breakfast, games for the kids, regular updates from local officials, CNN and a Portland station on a big screen TV to keep us all informed about here, Hawaii, and of course, Japan.

It worked, and nearly all of us here on the Pacific Northwest coast are safe and sound. And I credit our local disaster and warning systems, as well as a lot of sensible and kind citizens.

Could there be a better pointer for how ridiculous the conservatives are being?

Posted by: Sister A on March 11, 2011 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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