The Politics of Disaster Relief

by Walter Brasch

     More than 150,000 Texans sent a petition to the White House, demanding the union allow Texas to secede.

     This was not 1861 when Texans wanted out of the union. This was two years ago.

     Among those who threw around the idea of secession was conservative Republican governor Rick Perry, who has re-entered the race for president-not of the Confederate States of America, but of the United States of America.

     About a month ago, the U.S. military announced a two-month long large-scale drill, known as Jade Helm 15, to begin July 15. The training exercise will spread over Texas and four other states.

     But that’s not what a large chunk of Texans-and especially a chunk of rabid patriotic right-wing talk show pundits and almost all of the Tea Party believe. They put on their tin foil caps-apparently to stimulate their two brain cells-and determined the military training exercise is a prelude to the U.S. seizing Texas and stripping its citizens of their guns and their Constitutional rights. Not that many of them ever read the Constitution. And, certainly, not federal and Supreme Court decisions.

     They said the military, in civilian clothes, would be blending into the local populations of more than 15 cities in preparation to imposing martial law.

     Normally, when you have paranoia this deep, it’s time to allow open admissions to the psychiatric wings of major hospitals. But, the new governor, Greg Abbott, a conservative Republican, like the governor before him-and the governor before him-ordered the Texas National Guard to monitor the exercises to make sure that the damn Yankees didn’t emasculate Texas statehood. No one knows how much that decision to mobilize the National Guard will cost Texas taxpayers.

     While complaining about the Invasion, Texas suffered from heavy rains and floods. Almost three dozen died. Hundreds have lost their homes. The Red Cross and numerous disaster relief organizations are in Texas to help. They don’t care what the victims’ social, religious, or political beliefs are. They care about helping people who need help.

     Gov. Abbot and U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz-Texans, Republicans, and on the far right side of conservative politics-have begged for federal assistance, including a large dose of federal funds. Both Cornyn and Cruz had previously voted against giving federal assistance to New Jersey and the victims of Hurricane Sandy.

     President Obama responded quickly, and ordered humanitarian assistance for the people of Texas. That assistance includes significant manpower and federal funds. The President didn’t say-like Cornyn and Cruz had once said about New Jersey-there wasn’t enough money to help Texas. The President didn’t say-like Cornyn and Cruz had once said-that even if there was enough money, they wouldn’t vote for assistance until the President yielded to them on a completely unrelated political matter. The President didn’t even worry about whether Texans liked him or not, even though a majority of that state’s politicians think of him as incompetent, evil, and-horrors!-a firebreathing Muslim who is the anti-Christ deploying forces to take their guns and all their rights. He made sure the people got the help they needed.

     When the people of another state experience tragedy, like the people of New Jersey and Texas did, perhaps Sens. Cornyn and Cruz will remember this is, still, a United States of America, and will not make inane political speeches and block federal disaster funds.

     [Dr. Brasch covered numerous disasters when he was a reporter; after leaving newspapers, he was involved with emergency preparedness and emergency management. His latest book is the critically-acclaimed best-seller Fracking Pennsylvania]

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