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August 28, 2011 10:45 AM Ron Paul doubles down, rejects FEMA

By Steve Benen

Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul raised a few eyebrows on Friday when he said he saw no need for FEMA to respond to any natural disaster, including Hurricane Irene. “We should be like 1900,” Paul said, adding that emergency response efforts should “coordinated voluntarily with the states.”

By any sane standard, this was absurd rhetoric for anyone, but it’s especially offensive coming from a federal lawmaker and White House hopeful. Paul, however, doubled down this morning.

As Hurricane Irene rampaged up the East Coast Sunday, Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul blasted the Federal Emergency Management Agency in charge of handling the damages caused by the pounding rain, flash floods and high-speed winds.

“It’s a system of bureaucratic central economic planning, which is a fallacy that is deeply flawed,” the Texas congressman said on “Fox News Sunday.” “FEMA has been around since 1978. It has one of the worst reputations for a bureaucracy ever.”

Paul added that he would oppose funding FEMA’s emergency response efforts.

Let’s note a couple of things. First, Paul’s opposition to the “fallacy” of a federal response is fundamentally at odds with reality. As we talked about the other day, voluntary coordination among states is a recipe for one outcome: failure. Cash-strapped states barely have the resources for schools and law enforcement; the notion that they’ll be able to prepare and respond to a natural disaster, and rebuild in its wake, without any federal role whatsoever, is ridiculous.

Indeed, Galveston, Texas, which is in Paul’s congressional district, is home to the most brutal natural disaster in American history — a hurricane killed at least 6,000 people in a few hours. There was no FEMA to help before or after the crisis. It’s not exactly a model of how we should be operating now.

But just as important, I’m struck by Paul’s notion that FEMA has “one of the worst reputations for a bureaucracy ever.” That’s plainly false. FEMA is an efficient, effective agency that’s proven itself very capable of providing much-needed assistance to hard-hit areas. It occasionally has faltered, but the larger administrative context always matters.

As Kevin Drum explained a few months ago, “Under Bush Sr., FEMA sucked. Under Clinton, FEMA was rehabilitated and turned into a superstar agency. Under Bush Jr., FEMA sucked again. Under Obama, FEMA’s doing great and responding quickly. I know, I know, we’re not supposed to politicize natural disasters. Not when that politicization makes Republicans look bad, anyway. So I’ll just let you draw your own conclusions from these four data points.”

Update: On “Meet the Press” this morning, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said, “This is a much better FEMA than the olden days. They have been with us since day one…. Craig Fugate and the people at FEMA, Secretary Napolitano and President Obama — they have been excellent.”

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.

Comments

  • Lance on August 28, 2011 10:51 AM:

    I suppose the answer is, if you are an administration that believes in government, you make it work.

    If you are a Bushite*, you don't.

    *Bushite: home schooled Liberty University Graduate who used his/her position in the Bush Administration Office of Personnel and Management to cherry pick yourself a job for which you were totally unqualified.

  • Danp on August 28, 2011 10:54 AM:

    It has one of the worst reputations for a bureaucracy ever.”

    Mayabe he hasn't seen polling lately on Congress' approval ratings.

  • c u n d gulag on August 28, 2011 10:57 AM:

    What Lance said!!!

    I can't top that...

    All I can add is that I can hardly wait until 2016 or 2020/24, when Rand, that even more dim (if that's possible) Paul throws his hat in the ring.

    I get the feeling, "You ain't seen nothin' yet!"

  • davidp on August 28, 2011 11:02 AM:

    I have trouble understanding how Ron Paul reconciles his low opinion of the federal government and his high opinion of state governments. To be consistent, if health and retirement insurance should be a matter for individuals to arrange through the private sector, maybe he should argue that's how they should cope with disaster relief as well.

  • berttheclock on August 28, 2011 11:04 AM:

    The really scary part of Dr Paul and several other RepuG MDs turned politicos, is that they have been dispensing medical advice and prescriptions for years.

    Lance, just add Regent University to your comment.

  • martin on August 28, 2011 11:05 AM:

    Paul's belief in the voluntary co-operation among the states was pretty much debunked with the failure of the Articles of Confederation which were supplanted by the Constitution to which Rep Paul took an oath to uphold and defend.

  • eastlakeview on August 28, 2011 11:05 AM:

    Washington Monthly archive's has an article titled "The FEMA Phoenix" about how James Lee Witt turned around FEMA under the Clinton administration.

  • DAY on August 28, 2011 11:08 AM:

    davidp writes:"I have trouble understanding how Ron Paul reconciles his low opinion of the federal government"

    -and i will finish the thought with "Why in the Hell does he continue to run for a congressional seat in the federal government?"

  • SYSPROG on August 28, 2011 11:14 AM:

    What amazes ME is that while TEXAS bashes FEMA they were first in line when Texas suffered. EVERYONE knows (at least those corporation types that the GOP touts) that working together cuts down costs. It is a model that all disaster planning specialists use. He is incredible. This is what happens when Ayn Rand meets reality.

  • Sean Scallon on August 28, 2011 11:16 AM:

    "It occasionally has faltered, but the larger administrative context always matters."

    Not to the people to whom the agency fails to help. I'm sorry but there's no such thing as "Democrat Government" or "Republican Government" unless you believe all the employees of FEMA are political patronage job holders who come and go with every election. I don't think that's true.

    "Cash-strapped states barely have the resources for schools and law enforcement; the notion that they’ll be able to prepare and respond to a natural disaster, and rebuild in its wake, without any federal role whatsoever, is ridiculous."

    So your solution is cash strapped Federal Government coming to spend billions it doesn't have? Well, technically the Feds are broke because it can always print more dough in order to tide us over until the next disaster or so long as the Chinese wish to pay for it.

    I don't know about you but I just can't wait for the million dollar note to come off the Feds printing presses just like in Zimbabwe. I hear they make great wallpaper.

  • Werewolf on August 28, 2011 11:19 AM:

    Meanwhile, Ron Paul has asked for (and gotten) millions in earmarks from FEMA for Galveston and Port Aransas.

  • why why why on August 28, 2011 11:20 AM:

    why does Ron Paul insist on trying to drag us back to the 19th century?

  • 2Manchu on August 28, 2011 11:21 AM:

    “'It’s a system of bureaucratic central economic planning, which is a fallacy that is deeply flawed,' the Texas congressman said on 'Fox News Sunday.'”

    Yes, this never worked in the United States.

    Except between Decemeber 1941 and September 1945.

  • bleh on August 28, 2011 11:29 AM:

    Honestly, why even waste electrons on Libertarian stupidity?

    Most of them are privileged, sheltered, and historically ignorant -- many deliberately so. They're also interestingly lacking in human sympathy, some of which no doubt is due to never having suffered or witnessed need, but some of which seems deliberately self-inflicted, as though they would like to show a little sympathy, but the Gospel of Rand forbids it.

    Admittedly, there are a few who themselves are needy, but who for some pathologically misanthropic reason deny it for themselves (and their families), and therefore feel comfortable doing so for other people. For them one can at least feel sorry. For the Ron Pauls of the world, one can feel nothing but eye-rolling contempt.

    Please, can we just agree to stop paying them any attention? They'll never go away, but at least we don't need to inflict them on each other.

  • CDW on August 28, 2011 11:46 AM:

    That devastating Galveston hurricane was in 1900.

    I have to wonder why idiots like Paul - either father or son - keep getting elected. Is it fair to say that our representatives are no better than the people who elect them?

  • PeakVT on August 28, 2011 11:46 AM:

    which is a fallacy that is deeply flawed

    As opposed to a fallacy that is slightly flawed? Or are there fallacies that are flawless?

  • Nancy Cadet on August 28, 2011 11:55 AM:

    It's astounding (but maybe not surprising given their venomnous ignorance) how many libertarian and Teabagger trolls are logging onto news sites to decry the assistance, planning and media attention directed to hurricane Irene.

    I guess they prefer the Katrina-heckuva job Brownie approach ? The racism, disguised as anti-elitism or common sense self sufficiency, is not subtle.

  • DRF on August 28, 2011 11:58 AM:

    I've never understood this knee-jerk rejection of a centralized, Federal administrative operation in favor of 50 different state organizations. Aside from the difficulty of ensuring interstate cooperation during emergencies, it just seems more efficient and desirable that there be one national organization that has the scope and resources to hire talented and experienced people to run emergency operations in any state. Sure, each state will inevitably have its own emergency service operation to handle smaller-scale situations, but for the most part the states can't really afford to hire adequate staff in the way the Federal government can.

    This ideologically pure disdain for anything done at the national level is just mindless.

  • Josef K on August 28, 2011 12:19 PM:

    The old adage about how "Republicans say they don't believe government work, then go out and prove it" comes to mind. I doubt even another Galveston 1900-level disaster will shut them up; they'll just blame the hurricane/earthquake/whatever on the federal government.

    From Sean Scallon @11:16 am:

    So your solution is cash strapped Federal Government coming to spend billions it doesn't have? Well, technically the Feds are broke because it can always print more dough in order to tide us over until the next disaster or so long as the Chinese wish to pay for it.

    I'm prepared to argue what a wonton misconception of monetary policy and macroeconomics this is, but why bother? It originates out of too faulty a premise that no amount of correction will penetrate its core. Sean Scallon would be better off praying he never has ends up in the kind of situation he sounds so scornful of.

  • Gandalf on August 28, 2011 12:36 PM:

    The logical conclusion one has to come to if you folloow Ron Paul's reasoning is why should a state govt get involved in a disaster to help it's citizens? And then following that why should any govt get involved to help it's citizens for any reason. Basically his thinking leads to the sort of rat eat rat world where only the strong and powerfull triumph. I for one don't want to live in his dark world and will happily pay taxes and higher taxes to see peolple get helped when they're in a bad situation.

  • Sean Scallon on August 28, 2011 12:37 PM:

    "I'm prepared to argue what a wonton misconception of monetary policy and macroeconomics this is, but why bother? It originates out of too faulty a premise that no amount of correction will penetrate its core.

    So much for honest debate and discussion around here. How does one know you're even prepared to discuss it other than your own word? For all I know, you know absolutely nothing other than taking the knee-jerk WaMo position the federal government is an absolute good within our society when run by Democrats.

    I hope and pray I never end up in the same situation either and have damn lucky I haven't. I'm not scornful of anybody or anything except a certain pernicious belief Americans can't so much as move a finger without Federal fiat. I don't know why anyone believes Ron Paul is "doubling down" on his views towards FEMA. He's always had this belief and like or not will stick to it and has been re-elected in a hurricane prone district in spite of it (Maybe they agree with him? ever think of that?).

    By the way, I see San Francisco is up and running again after the earthquake of 1906. I wonder how they managed that without FEMA?

  • Tigershark on August 28, 2011 12:44 PM:

    To Sean Scallon:

    We could always raise taxes to pay for our expenses. That used to be Republican orthodoxy, not Republican heresy. We used to raise taxes to pay for wars, but now the Republican House won't allow that.

    We could go back to the old days where major natural disasters where the cause of financial panics. That seems to be what Rep Paul wants.

  • Gandalf on August 28, 2011 12:53 PM:

    Sean Scallon your a typical conservo/libertarian pussy. the moment someone disagrees with you or calls you on your ignorant bullshit you start crying about how people are being mean to you. Furthermore if Ron Paul is so anti-gov aid why did he personally request it for his district in 2005? Who the fuck here ever said that the govt is an absolute good in our society when being run by democrats. Let's face it shit-for-brains the govt is only as good as the people running it whatever their political party is.
    You want to live in a nice every man for himself country I suggest Central America. There are some excellent choices for you there.

  • Tigershark on August 28, 2011 12:56 PM:

    Sean: Perhaps you should do a little research. The United States Army, under the direction on Major General Fredrick Funston, moved into San Francisco on his orders, without any order from the War Department. Buildings were blown up, looters shot....

    And in the aftermath of the insurance pay outs, there was a worldwide financial panic.

  • Skip on August 28, 2011 1:00 PM:

    "unless you believe all the employees of FEMA are political patronage job holders who come and go with every election." Sean Scallon, 11:16 am

    Not true. While appointed/hired leadership roles of agencies can be political motivated, it has less to do with the politics of employees than it is an adjustment of the sence of accountability and responsibility through budget and manpower and leadership example, items dictated by the administration over it.

    Bush Jr. zero'd the geothermal budget. The administration's politics directly affected a valuable program, diminishing an effective alternative source of energy. Bush used budget to keep America on the fossil fuel nipple. The politics of those employed there made no difference.

  • Sean Scallon on August 28, 2011 1:03 PM:

    "You want to live in a nice every man for himself country I suggest Central America. There are some excellent choices for you there."

    Yes, you are right and I hear Costa Rica is a wonderful place with none of the typical Latin American trappings of government (like death squads) whether from the Left (Nicaragua) or the Right (Guatemala). Why? Because they don't have a military-industrial complex that's why.

    As for Paul's policy on earmarks, all he does is put in citizen requests from district as part of his constituency service and then he votes against such requests. Some think its hypocritical and they have an argument to make but as I said, Ron Paul is not a libertarian ideolouge nor a saint. But compared to most, he's pretty darn good.

  • Texas Aggie on August 28, 2011 1:23 PM:

    "So much for honest debate and discussion around here. " - Sean Scanlon

    Ah, Sean, have you ever engaged in honest debate in your life? Don't you realize that what you are pushing is pure right wing talking points that are divorced from reality?

    Don't you realize that the way an agency (FEMA) works or not is to a large part a function of the people in charge who indeed do change with administrations? It's the difference between Brownie boy and Mr. Witt.

    And why do you think that the federal government is cash strapped? It can pay its bills as long as right wing dogma doesn't stand in the way. It's actual deficit is less now than it was two years ago if you count the bills that the republicans kept off the ledger that are now coming due.

    As for San Francisco, you saw how long it took to restore itself, and Galveston is still trying to get back on its feet after more than a century. As for why Paul's constituents "in a hurricane prone district" keep reelecting him might be related to the fact that he gets them federal aid when they need it.

  • Tyro on August 28, 2011 1:32 PM:

    (Maybe they agree with him? ever think of that?).

    Probably not. The only reason he has the privilege of a well-heeled constituency that votes for him is because he lives in a country with functional infrastructure willing to keep many parts of his state and district afloat. He can only spout off like he does because he doesn't have to face the consequences of his vacuous belief system. But that's what is great about this country: we take care of each other and keep the country afloat when disaster strikes, which allows douchebags like Paul to exist and gives him the freedom to believe stuff that is so transparently counter to the very reality he inhabits. He should thank FEMA and the federal government, without which there would be no one with the wealth, privilege, and freedom to espouse and dedicate their lives to the false and hateful philosophy of libertarianism.

  • DelCapslock on August 28, 2011 1:34 PM:

    My experience is that most libertarians are just trying to put an intellectual face on their cultural conservatism. Government is often sluggish and corrupt, and there's an honest debate to be held about what is or is not appropriate for the government to address, but the idea that government itself is root cause of all problems is just bizarre, and most likely self-serving.

  • Sean Scallon on August 28, 2011 1:36 PM:

    "It can pay its bills as long as right wing dogma doesn't stand in the way."

    Yeah, with a printing press, always nice to have around. I hear the Weimar Government tried to pay its bills with printing press too. Or closer to home, so did the Confederate Government.

    Don't you realize that what you are pushing is pure right wing talking points that are divorced from reality?

    I am? Then why do Bill O'Reilly, Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh and Dick Morris keep attacking Ron Paul then if I'm pushing his presumably "right-wing" talking points?

  • Texas Aggie on August 28, 2011 1:37 PM:

    Sean, you need to do some recent fact checking. Costa Rica is now beginning to suffer from many of the same things that the rest of Central America does because the narcos have moved into there as well. Corruption is beginning to become a force and the social situation is starting to degrade.

    As far as a military industrial complex goes, none of them have enough to mention. They have militaries, but no industrial base dependent on selling to the military. They get there stuff from abroad, mostly the US. The reason that Costa Rica in the past was a poster child for Central America is that it had no army and it had a social outlook that was very socialistic. They have single payer health care. They have or had control over land use so that the reserves weren't imperiled. In other words they are as antilibertarian as you can get. I don't think you would be happy there at all.

  • Matt on August 28, 2011 1:37 PM:

    "We should be like 1900" is probably as good a five-word summary of the Paul philosophy as you can get. You could quibble a bit with the exact year, but if you want a hamstrung and contemptible federal government that's completely unprepared to deal with either crisis or opportunity, set your time machine for c. 1900.

  • Anthrobyte on August 28, 2011 1:45 PM:

    Sean Scallon,

    Your brand of vitriol is so unoriginal I bet that the Chinese are manufacturing it and Sam's Club is selling it by the crate load. Which is obviously where your picking it up with your Fox News coupons.

    Please don't ever look down the barrel of a shotgun because some unfortunate emergency responder will undoubtedly have to clean up after you. It's always assholes like you that need to have outside intervention when your ignorance creates consequences you can't deal with. To say that your irresponsible would be putting it lightly. In the meantime, go ahead and rip on the government; spew your radical talking points and continue to impress us with your stunning stupidity.

  • jjm on August 28, 2011 1:48 PM:

    Fascism always appeals to a sentimentally pictured past that it will 'bring back.'

    Resuscitation is what they promise; what they bring is always destruction.

    Paul himself may not be a fascist, but his kind are precisely what will permit fascism to flourish.

    It's pathetic that people without enough intelligence to see the bigger picture seem to hog all the news.

  • Werewolf on August 28, 2011 1:53 PM:

    I'm noticing that Ron Paul and a lot of others are against Federal regulation, etc., but have no problem with state governments. IOW, States' Rights-the rallying cry of racist oppressors since the 1830's at least.

  • Daryl McCullough on August 28, 2011 1:55 PM:

    I don't think this is news for anyone. Ron Paul is a libertarian (I'm not sure why he's not in the Libertarian Party, but I guess he thinks there's no way a third party can get elected), and libertarians aren't in favor of any government intervention in anything, other than the military (and then only to protect the country from invasion) and law enforcement.

    People with extreme views can either "double-down" in the face of hard cases (thus confirming that they are extremists) or can make exceptions (thus confirming that they are unprincipled hypocrites). The former is considered more admirable to lots of people, even though in practice, it's better to have hypocrites than extremists.

  • Sean Scallon on August 28, 2011 2:02 PM:

    I can see where this discussion is heading given the cuss words and personal attacks so I'll just leave you all with this article from Counterpunch Magazine supporting Ron Paul from a progressive prospective as food for thought:

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/04/28/is-ron-paul-more-progressive-than-obama/

  • RP Rocks on August 28, 2011 2:06 PM:


    Ron Paul believes that FEMA blanket budgets are wasteful and that federal earmarks are much more efficient when targeted for disaster mitigation and recovery specific to that state's geography.

    Even better would be to have interstate partnerships that would allow state governments to work together in times of crisis independent of federal assistance.

    "Earmarks really allow transparen­cy and we know exactly where the money is being spent." - Ron Paul

    Also, it comes down to coastal citizens just not paying enough in insurance for natural disasters. In other words, Montana taxpayers shouldn't have to pay to cover Florida taxpayers' disaster relief when it is really just a question of lack of insurance coverage.

  • drkrick on August 28, 2011 2:10 PM:

    "Yes, you are right and I hear Costa Rica is a wonderful place with none of the typical Latin American trappings of government (like death squads) whether from the Left (Nicaragua) or the Right (Guatemala). Why? Because they don't have a military-industrial complex that's why.

    A cite for the Nicaraguan death squads, please? I've never been able to find evidence for them beyond Reagan-era State Department reports that I don't consider credible without independent corroboration.

    Costa Rico owes it's relatively peaceful political history to the fact that it wasn't "blessed" with any resources that multinational corporations wished to exploit. As a result, there was no need for any foreign nations (particular those located between the Rio Grande and the Great Lakes) to sponsor a local government willing to suppress local interests in favor of those of foreign investors.

  • John on August 28, 2011 2:13 PM:

    Werewolf on August 28, 2011 11:19 AM:

    Meanwhile, Ron Paul has asked for (and gotten) millions in earmarks from FEMA for Galveston and Port Aransas.

    Exactly; and in that Ron Paul proves himself to be a standard-issue Republican knuckle dragger: holler and rail against something until it affects them personally, then run crying with hat in hand to the government they claim to hate so much.

  • drkrick on August 28, 2011 2:18 PM:

    "Yeah, with a printing press, always nice to have around. I hear the Weimar Government tried to pay its bills with printing press too. Or closer to home, so did the Confederate Government."

    You may want to do a little research - the underlying economic situations of Weimar Germany and the so-called CSA are not particularly comparable to that of the US.

    The current US fiscal situation is entirely self-imposed as a financially illiterate cabal within the political elite refuse to allow the adjustment historically low tax rates to match the level of government services desired by the electorate. This description has been repeatedly supported by public opinion polling which elite opinion refuses to acknowledge.

  • DelCapslock on August 28, 2011 4:29 PM:

    same old libertarian tactics. Cite examples where government has not worked as reasons that government is the problem. there is something fishy about such a singular perspective. Government is a lot of things, including susceptible to corruption, but is the only hope for the less powerful members of a society. the libertarians might answer that the less powerful are the problem; they are the "takers" of society. That is a cynical, and immoral outlook, in my opinion.

  • JohnN on August 28, 2011 4:33 PM:

    Also, it comes down to coastal citizens just not paying enough in insurance for natural disasters. In other words, Montana taxpayers shouldn't have to pay to cover Florida taxpayers' disaster relief when it is really just a question of lack of insurance coverage.

    "Just a question..." Your lack of common humanity is revealed right there. In the wake of a disaster there is search and rescue, supplying food, shelter, medical supplies, rebuilding vital infrastructure, additional needs for law enforcement, and on and on.

    I know you don't care about anything but money, but some of us care about the lives involved. The response to a disaster is not just paying out money.

    In the wake of a big disaster the state and local governments are overwhelmed and need help. Of course they can call up other states, but they also need expertise and trained people. So IT'S JUST MORE ECONOMICALLY EFFICIENT to have a national agency learn the lessons of disasters, coordinate, develop training, identify issues and work with local people.

    "should have interstate compacts" Yes, good idea. We've got one already, it's called the U.S. Constitution.

    "Why should Montana pay for Florida's disasters?" Do you have any concept of what insurance is? It's way for us to pay for each others disasters. Montana pays now, because it saves them money if Florida's industry and commerce gets going quickly and because one day Florida will pay for Mantana's problems, to the extent Florida isn't already subsidizing ranching in the west.

  • Jay on August 28, 2011 4:36 PM:

    Lots of people in Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas do not exactly hold FEMA’s effectiveness in responding to disaster in very high regard. When FEMA can out do Wal-Mart in the efficiency and efficacy of its response to disaster, we can then discount the initiative and cooperative efforts of private citizens and private organizations, as well as the effectiveness multi-state cooperative compacts, in favor of a FEMA-type response.

    See also “Big-Box Stores' Hurricane Prep Starts Early” by Jon Hamilton (8-26-2011) and Wal-Mart Aid Outpaced Some Federal Efforts” by Frank Langfitt (9-9-2005) both on National Public Radio.

  • Tyro on August 28, 2011 5:47 PM:

    Jay, 6000 dead people in Galveston, TX in 1900 and the endemic poverty of the pre-war south disagree with you. In fact, FEMA did everything that right-wing libertarian losers said we should do: appointed well-connected republican true-believers to positions of power and starved them for resources. That's why things fail: Jay-- things fail when we put idiots like you within 2 miles of essential government services. It screwed up because we did things your way and elected politicians beholden to your hateful, stupid ideological gutter.

    Now that competent people are in charge of government agencies, we're seeing FEMA get stuff done, like they did in the Clinton era-- that's the difference when you have politicians that give a damn and know something about how disasters affect people, unlike the privileged and stupid like Ron Paul.

    Screw those hateful, stupid libertarian and Republican screwups-- those losers have no idea how real people live and how they cope with natural disasters in our country. Go back to ranting about how oppressed you are because you can't buy raw milk, you privileged asshole.

  • thezendiaper on August 28, 2011 6:15 PM:

    These goobers act like the "Government" is some outside foreign entity out of control and dominating the citizenry. Especially that 'kid' Marc Rubio. What these short sided wannabes can't see is "WE" are the government...and"WE" got together after suffering through many such disasters and "WE" made decisions to form Collective bodies to deal with such emergencies. If Paul doesn't like FEMA then help top make it more efficient and effective and stop acting like an outsider who isn't part of the "WE". Rubio missed the starving and freezing to death of the elderly before "WE" made choices like SS and Medicare to stop all the unnecessary dying of the elderly and handicapped. Go back to 1900???
    Seems such shallow stupidity dominates those incapable of learning from the past. They seem to ignore that even Ann Ryand collected SS and went on Medicare when she got old and got cancer. The hypocrisy of the GOP is astounding but their inability to come up with solutions is even greater.

  • steve on August 28, 2011 7:19 PM:

    Libertarians are to the right of republicans on small government. Libertarians are to the left of democrats on civil liberties and war. They are reviled on both left and right leaning blogs. They are everyones worst nightmare.

  • Tyro on August 28, 2011 8:04 PM:

    They are everyones worst nightmare.

    In the sense that I have nightmares about dealing with annoying, stupid people, yes.

    Practically speaking, libertarians aren't going to put much effort into civil liberties and war, but they WILL spend lots of time trying to cut taxes and hobble the government. Then they'll whine that the biggest problem in America is that mean old liberals won't let them buy unpasteurized cheese.

  • burro on August 28, 2011 8:33 PM:

    Jay @ 4:36 PM:

    "When FEMA can out do Wal-Mart in the efficiency and efficacy of its response to disaster, we can then discount the initiative and cooperative efforts of private citizens and private organizations, as well as the effectiveness multi-state cooperative compacts, in favor of a FEMA-type response."

    That's a bizarre comparison.

    Good on Walmart and Home Depot and whatever other companies there are which can stock up on the supplies needed to support pre and post disaster activities.

    But are they working with people in the far flung and wide variety of communities affected by disasters? Are they helping with everything including medical, housing, communications, security, transportation and whatever else is included, (during optimal circumstances when the reigning administration gives a damn), in the responsibilities of FEMA? Are Walmart and Home Depot helping everyone regardless of their social status and economic well being?

    It's obvious that the anti FEMA folks think everyone will be screwed except for themselves, and that their umbilical oneness with big companies that have lots of stuff will be their saving grace because the anti FEMA folks really do love Walmart and Home Depot and Walmart and Home Depot will love them back, and recognize them as kindred spirits and they will understand who deserves to have plywood and screws and other goodies, and who doesn't.

    If there was the opportunity for profits in disasters, the gov't wouldn't need to do anything. Beyond a few, like Walmart and Home Depot, a natural disaster is a major hit, not an opportunity, (scam artists and price gougers notwithstanding).

    When Walmart and Home Depot start delivering food, housing and supplies 24/7 for as long as it takes, and when they start contributing their employees to assist the affected citizenry for however long it takes, and when they start working in close coordination with insurance companies to help citizens stabilize, transition and rebuild, and when they stand as a bulwark between social chaos and some semblance of normalcy, then I'll look to Walmart and Home Depot as substitutes for a Federal presence.

    Until then, the comparison is hopelessly uncomprehending.

  • NadePaulKuciGravMcKi on August 28, 2011 9:20 PM:

    Blackwater/Xe wants FEMA to grow

  • Sean Scallon on August 28, 2011 9:55 PM:

    "That's why things fail: Jay-- things fail when we put idiots like you within 2 miles of essential government services. It screwed up because we did things your way and elected politicians beholden to your hateful, stupid ideological gutter."

    The idea Ron Paul and George Bush II are one in the same or share the same views is what's truly stupid.

    You're right that they screwed up FEMA. But I doubt if Ron Paul would support keeping an agency so it can be starved of funds and not do its job. You just get rid of the agency. It is irresponsible to offer a service paid for with other people's money and not provide the best quality of service. You either get rid of it or you fund it. That's the difference between Paul and Conservative INC., which, I think we would both agree, uses Federal agencies as dumping grounds for political hacks and wind up wasting taxpayer money anyway (Republicans get elected because government doesn't work and then go out and prove it).

    Ladies and gentleman, Ron Paul was lone backbencher for many, many years. He is not tied to wealthy individuals or special interests like the Koch Brothers for example, who hate Paul, because he threatens the gravy train they've built their business along with the rest of the oil and gas industry and the other suckers of corporate welfare. Here you have a candidate who opposes such subsidies and military-industrial complex. Your strident opposition to him, suggests to me, you really do love running around shouting "Those are our F-15s!" after you win elections. You can't be for the state only when your gang is in control in the White House and vise versa. You're argument with Bush II was not about ideology it seems, but about competence (Where have I heard that before?). So you're basically asking many on the Left to look away while the blood of the innocent is being shed in Afghanistan or Libya or Iraq in drone attacks just because your gang can make the trains run on time. Nice.

    Hopefully Glenn Greenwald and Charles Davis will prick enough consciences and hopefully Paul will do well enough in the primaries for Leftists to make a real difference in politics next year, instead of being a rubber stamp.

  • Varecia on August 28, 2011 10:20 PM:

    I've been a volunteer with a disaster relief organization for 6 years, and if something truly major happened we would definitely need federal assistance. Some of us serve very isolated areas of rugged and impossible terrain with lower population densities. It can be very difficult to get supplies and enough people to address the needs during even minor disaster events that cut us off from the larger metropolitan centers. I know this from experience. The country is not monolithic in terms of geography, resources and populations, but apparently Republicans have no clue.

  • E on August 28, 2011 10:25 PM:

    Sean Scallion, I wish you could find more people here willing to engage in a reasonable discussion. (I haven't read the whole thread; perhaps you find that farther down.) I don't have time to engage in such a discussion but it would greatly enhance this comments section above predictable kvetching about the state of things, which i'm as guilty of as anyone.

  • Michael on August 28, 2011 10:54 PM:

    2e, Im afraid in order to have a reasonable discussion, something of logical reason must be brought up to be discussed. Libertarian reasoning as ensconced by sean makes no sense at all, it just perpetuates rabid right wing thinking.

  • burro on August 28, 2011 11:08 PM:

    Sean Scallon @ 9:55 PM:

    "You just get rid of the agency"

    F'n brilliant. And then what?

    Hurricane Sean forms, goes across the tip of FL, creaming Homestead and the Keys. It then returns to the Gulf and strengthens and spins up to Mobile, going right up the bay and causing bad flooding and peripheral damage in Mobile and the cities around the bay. It continues inland causing damage all the way up to Tennessee and Kentucky.

    FEMA is gone. It's been "gotten rid of". What now Mr. Scallon? A big chunk of the gov't hating South awaits your answer.

    And don't forget, those lovely, bucolic little southern towns and cities are broke because their teabagger governors have been telling the Federal gov't to keep it's dirty money. The states are broke because nobody but the folks at the bottom are paying any taxes. And they ain't paying much because they don't have jobs and they aren't buying shit.

    What does your post FEMA world look like Mr. Scallon? Who, or what, is everybody hating on at that point because nothing is getting done? Or are they cheering because they are finally, well and truly, on their Darwinian own, and can now pull together their communal resources, (sounds like socialism to me), and circle whatever they have to circle, (probably the racks left in the Walmart and Home Depot after they've been looted, or are Walmart and Home Depot standing by their homies and providing them with what they need), and they'll get back to the rest of the country in a few years when they've been able to pull it together again.

    Draw us a picture Mr. Scallon. And if you come up with ANY kind of gov't entity to participate in this scenario, which is "paid for with other people's money", then it had better, "provide the best quality of service", because that's what the fine citizens of this country deserve. Right?

  • The Oracle on August 29, 2011 2:00 AM:

    FEMA worked perfectly before and during the first twenty-four hours or so of Hurricane Katrina, up until it was reported back to the White House that the New Orleans levees had been breached and the city had flooded. Politics then entered the picture, Republican politics, Rovian politics, disseminated by the vast right-wing media machine.

    On the day New Orleans flooded, Gov. Kathleen Blanco (D-LA) was coordinating the state disaster response with the federal FEMA disaster coordinator at FEMA's Baton Rouge command center, a twenty-year FEMA veteran who'd been deployed to Louisiana (by the Bush administration/DHS) forty-eight hours before Katrina hit. She reported (in one of her few post-Katrina interviews) that the phones suddenly started ringing off the walls. Media people were calling from all over about right-wing reports that she hadn't officially asked for federal assistance before Katrina made landfall. Wait a second. She was there with the FEMA disaster coordinator when these calls flooded the FEMA command center in Baton Rouge. That fact right there should have clued in any of the media people calling that they'd heard a vicious Republican lie representing an orchestrated smear campaign against Louisiana's Democratic Party governor. Or they could have checked the official White House website, like I did, and seen the official Gov. Blanco request for federal disaster relief assistance, dated days before Katrina hit, with the official White House/DHS response that sent a FEMA disaster coordinator to Baton Rouge.

    Strange. A right-wing smear campaign against a Democrat based totally on a lie and people believed it. Not unusual really, but the key to understanding what happened after New Orleans flooded. The FEMA disaster coordinator in Baton Rouge was bypassed. FEMA-directed aid (federal personnel and equipment) intended for Louisiana and New Orleans dried up. The state (and Gov. Blanco) were left on their own. Why?

    Well, why would someone behind a smear campaign, one claiming incompetence and the seeming inability of a state governor to effectively respond to a worsening natural disaster, do anything to help ameliorate the situation, to make it better, to ease the suffering of those affected in the disaster area? IOW, someone high-up in the Bush administration decided that to make Republicans look good, they had to make Louisiana's Democratic Party governor look bad.

    At the same time federal disaster aid was denied Louisiana and New Orleans this aid was re-routed to neighboring Mississippi and Alabama, two states also hit by Katrina...but with Republican governors. (Thus the NY Times story about what two U.S. Navy helicopter pilots from Pensacola saw as they overflew the Katrina-devastated coastal areas; plenty of relief activity in the air and on the ground in Mississippi and Alabama, but NOTHING once they crossed into Louisiana airspace).

    FEMA works, like all other federal agencies, as long as politics don't enter the equation, as long as the mission of the federal agency isn't usurped by political hacks seeking political gain, using a disaster for their political advantage...like what happened during Hurricane Katrina after New Orleans flooded.

    BTW, I understand what happened to the New Orleans Police Department during those first few critical days when federal assistance was denied. The police officers, like everyone else in New Orleans, were on their own, with only state assistance possible, assistance that was sketchy at best. For instance, Gov. Blanco had to request national guard assistance from fellow governors in other states in an attempt to shore-up security gaps. Half of her state's national guard units were over in Iraq, along with their equipment. And a lot of Louisiana national guard equipment was destroyed by Katrina.

    This is why the withdrawal of federal disaster assistance from Louisiana was so evil, so disastrous, making the disaster much, much worse, just as Republican operatives planned, in keeping with their smear campaign. So, while many stranded and abandoned New Orleanites grew desperate, so did New Orleans' police officers. Anything could happen, and it did. Normal federal disaster relief back-up was missing. But at least many people started blaming Bush and his administration (and FEMA) after several days passed, taking the incompetence hit off the Republicans intended target, Gov. Blanco (D-LA). And yet, few people realize what really happened.

  • Varecia on August 29, 2011 2:22 AM:

    Sean, the Davis piece you linked to states:
    "...Let’s just assume the worst about Paul: that he’s a corporate libertarian in the Reason magazine/Cato Institute mold that would grant Big Business and the financial industry license to do whatever the hell it wants with little in the way of accountability (I call this scenario the “status quo”)..."

    How exactly does this make Paul more progressive than Obama? Just how does that selective calculus work? So exploiting and harming people economic via means is somehow more virtuous or at the least merely blase compared to harming people with war?

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  • jake riesen on August 29, 2011 9:35 AM:

    I am sorry I have to agree with dr Paul. Fema has a troubled past. The truth is America is one of the most compassionate countrys in the world. We raised tons of money in a matter of hours for hurricanes, Japan, Haiti, Ext... why not give it straight to the State to spend instead of having fema as a middle man. All that happens is cost goes up for the same service. Newer doesn't always mean better and on this one dr paul is right.

  • ET on August 29, 2011 10:56 AM:

    Sean Scallon - don't need to be rude by San Fran after the earthquake was a much different place than 21st century America. You need to understand that 2011 America is NOTHING like 1906 America.

    There are millions of more people and millions of more things that get broken and they have to be fixed. We also have higher expectations of what people should live with than we did then - and I am purely talking about post disaster. You know things like electricity, running water, etc. Governments make decisions about accessibility of emergency workers and soundness of buildings that back then everyone may have just shrugged their shoulders about. Prior to Katrina most people have no idea how interconnected city life actually is.

    Bringing big cities, much less mid-size cities and towns back online after these types of things isn't that easy and when things are big enough local jurisdictions - no matter how well run - can be completely overwhelmed. You can't tell me that even if LA and NOLA were run well, that NOLA and the surrounding areas would have been up and running a few weeks after the levee waters were gone. If you do then you don't know what the hell you are talking and should just STFU. The outer banks and other localities that were impacted by the hurricane may have issues their towns just don't have the money or expertise to deal with. This is what FEMA is for.

    For years FEMA was a wasteland, they they did well and people could see what an advantage a large government agency could do in a disaster. Then there was Bush 43 and Brownie and FEMA's rep suffered again. FEMA is only as good as the people running it and FEMA's bad rep (when it had a bad rep) was solely based on the sucky people running it. It didn't have a bad rep because it was a government agency.

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