Burch: Immoral Aid?

Thursday, November 1, 2012 at 10:05pm
By Michael R. Burch

Those of us who lived through the Great Nashville Flood can certainly empathize with the victims of the “Frankenstorm” that just hammered millions of Americans, leaving many of them temporarily underwater, without electricity and faced with massive cleanup projects.

One of my favorite political cartoons has a man clinging desperately to his car in a raging flood. His bumper sticker reads GET BIG GOVERNMENT OFF MY BACK! Overhead, a FEMA first-responder is being lowered from a helicopter to save him.

I’m sure that many of my neighbors whose houses ended up underwater were happy to see FEMA workers here, Johnny-on-the-spot, helping to start and coordinate the recovery process.

But it’s quite fashionable these days — especially since the rise of the Tea Party — to complain bitterly about taxes and damn the federal government for anything and everything that doesn’t work out perfectly. If a dime gets wasted on green energy or disaster relief, it’s “obvious” to the lunatic fringe that the federal government is the Devil, President Obama is the Anti-Christ, and Mitt Romney is the Savior.

But is Romney the promised messiah, really? He claims that anything the federal government can do, the states can do better. That statement plays wonderfully well with the “federal government is the Devil” crowd. But when a huge storm strikes, is a centralized federal agency bound to be outperformed by states whose actions are uncoordinated, and probably unfunded? Can we really save money by duplicating FEMA 50 times?

Ironically, when there was relatively minor flooding in Massachusetts, it seems Romney didn’t come close to outperforming FEMA. Far from it.

In 2005, the Green River flooded Greenfield, destroying a trailer park and low-income housing. Greenfield’s Mayor, Christine Forgey, says she didn’t hear from Romney on the first day. A resident turned the high school into a crisis shelter. A radio station launched a food/clothing drive. The Red Cross provided services. But Romney was nowhere to be found. New Hampshire’s Governor, John Lynch, called up the National Guard and cut short his trip to Europe, but Romney couldn’t even be bothered to return Forgery’s phone calls.

Only after heavy criticism from the press did Romney finally visit Greenfield. But Forgey says she never met Romney, because his visit was unannounced. Would FEMA have made that mistake?

Romney got lost, according to John Barrett, who said Romney called him to say that he was in the area when he was actually in the wrong county, an hour away. “I don’t think he understood that was part of the job ... dealing with catastrophic storms,” said Barrett, obviously not convinced that Romney can outperform FEMA professionals.

A year later, floods hit Melrose, displacing 8,000 residents, including hundreds of elderly tenants. According to mayor Rob Dolan, FEMA representatives arrived the next day. But even though Melrose was just minutes from Romney’s house and office, Romney was again nowhere to be found, nor did he ever call Dolan.

So Romney himself illustrates why we really do need FEMA. But his allies, including Paul Ryan, want to either get rid of the agency or slash its funding.

Romney once called it “immoral” to borrow money to help flood victims. However, Romney, a former Mormon Bishop and therefore someone who should presumably understand the term, didn’t call it “immoral” for the federal government to borrow billions to bail out the Olympic games and his rich Wall Street cronies. He obviously doesn’t consider it “immoral” to borrow the better part of $7 trillion to give more tax cuts to the wealthy and increase defense spending for things the Pentagon hasn't even requested. According to Bishop Romney, it seems the only people it’s “immoral” to help are the 47 percent of Americans who need help the most, including flood victims, Detroit auto workers, homeless veterans, the elderly, and girls who need Planned Parenthood’s help with contraceptives and preventive health care.

“Let them eat cake” seems to be Romney’s personal philosophy, but if the past is prelude, it could be a very soggy meal. And now Romney has suddenly gone mum, refusing to respond to reporter questions about FEMA at least 14 times since the Frankenstorm struck. In his next act of magical transformation, Romney will probably emerge costumed as the champion of FEMA first-responders. But I think American voters are surely wising up, by now.

Michael R. Burch is a Nashville-based editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry and other “things literary” at www.thehypertexts.com.

Filed under: City Voices

237 Comments on this post:

By: MusicCity615 on 11/1/12 at 10:33

you have a lot of hate in your heart Burch, we all do. I'll pray for you.

By: bfra on 11/2/12 at 12:30

Where is the "hate" in an article based on facts? You tepubs don't seem to know the difference in Facts from Fiction. Fiction, being Romney's "say anything to get elected".

By: Ask01 on 11/2/12 at 1:53

These examples of Willard's true character illustrate why he is truly unfit for the office he seeks. He is so far removed from the concerns of the average citizen during times of adversity, he cannot even effectively fake compassion and empathy.

When Willard and his ilk scream about the evils of 'Big Government,' one must remember they are actually railing against programs established to help the general welfare.

When they decry government regulations and oversight of business, they actually are complaining about the sort of programs which might have prevented the tainted drug problem which has recently swept the nation killing patients. I believe it is telling the drug company responsible for the debacle is based in Massachusetts, a state where Willard has close ties.

Is this truly how American's want the country to function? This would likely only be the first step, doing away with PBS, FEMA, and government regulation and oversight of industry, even those dealing with maintaining quality of pharmacuticals and other safety issues?

What would be next? Perhaps a roll back of child labor laws, or minimum wage? What about worker protection laws? I'm almost certain, OSHA can be found somewhere on the Willard hit list of "wasteful" government spending.

The curious issue is, Republicans demonize 'Big Government' by Democrats, which usually focuses on issues bettering the quality of life for all citizens.

Republicans are no strangers, however, to 'Big Government.' Their version just focuses on welfare to corporations and the wealthy.

Compassionate conservatism indeed.

By: Rasputin72 on 11/2/12 at 4:55

Mike Burch is. right about one thing. There are. a lot of people in this world that would have helped the world by not being born.

This is a new reality in this country. The irony of this is that in the USA we have a growing population of these people

I don't think FEMA has much to do with the message however is trying to get across.

By: Ummm... on 11/2/12 at 4:57

Romney is exactly who he seems to be- a super-rich, hypocritical, plutocrat cult-member whose primary focus is self-aggrandizement. The sad and repugnant truth is that there are many, many weak-minded sheep who would actually prefer someone like that to the black man in "their" White House. If those clueless fools get their way in this election, we will return to the policies of the Bush years which left the economy in shambles, ruined our reputation as a nation, and brought death and destruction to many innocent civilians in Iraq. If they win, they will get what they richly deserve- unfortunately, the rest of us will "get it," too.

By: Ask01 on 11/2/12 at 5:07

Mike, just a quick addendum before heading off to work.

I believe you are spot on about Americans wising up. One demographic Republicans have ignored to their own detriment consists of middle class voters rendered unemployed by a combination of Romneyesque business tactics and possible corporate sabotage of the economy in retaliation for an Obama presidency.

I know some formerly dedicated Republicans who have totally rejected the party while completely embracing the Democratic.

There are more of these people than imagined, created by the 3 Rs destroying jobs and seeking to cut off aid to the people they abused. Fortunately for the 3 Rs, in America we seek revenge at the ballot box instead of mob justice.

By: govskeptic on 11/2/12 at 5:24

Our weekly Anti-Romney shot with examples of nothing more than the author's
story after story examples what may or may not be truthful accounts. As usual of
course, is the absence of how "The One" is going to handle this massive
problem other than a one day visit and massive photo op to the seashore and promises of "I" will fix this problem, and here's my number.

One of the biggest needs in the affected areas is energy to run generators and
transportation. The windmill and solar powered cars are few and far between
it seems, so that evilest of all products, gasoline, has people lined up for miles.
Never fear though, "The One" is off again on his 4 yr. re-election bid to pronounce
to the nation, like our author, the evils of Mr. Romney, sling a few bumper sticker
slogans, do a lot of name calling with very tired phrases like "Forward", "Change",
and gives us 4 more years of the Obama brilliance in management & growth. Please

By: yogiman on 11/2/12 at 5:48

You know..., it's strange you all know so much about Mitt Romney in such a negative fashion and have nothing to say but negative comments about him.

But it's further strange you don't even know your favorite character's name or if he is even an American citizen, but he's your man for president.

Now, looking at it this way: You know so much about Romney because you have known him so many years. You obviously know about him from the day he was born to today. You've observe him for several decades. But you don't even know when or where Obama was born yet you are so willing to accept him as your savior. Sorry, I mean president.

I'll have to admit, he's one helluva liar and actor to convince so many people like you all. Good lord, people, don't you even want to know who he is?

I know you don't care if your president is a citizen or not, Mike, but don't you care for the safety of your fellow citizens? Do you want the USA to become the USSA?

As the old saying goes: Time will tell. So what kind of idiots are you going to feel like when Barry is exposed?

By: Loner on 11/2/12 at 5:54

Good morning, Nashville.

Another excellent missive from the pen of Nashville's own Mike Burch...the lone liberal voice, crying in the wilderness, in coonskin cap country. Bravo, Mike!

Romney's "moral compass" is affected by the magnetic field caused by huge deposits of subterranean cash...the needle's direction is easily deflected...this makes effective navigation impossible....Mitt's compass follows the money, not true North.

By: yogiman on 11/2/12 at 5:58


You mentioned Mike wrote this article based on facts about Mitt Romney. I understand it's great to be an author based on facts, so can you convince Mike to get some facts on Barack Obama and write a truthful article about him?

I'd be glad to pass some facts I've learned about Barry to Mike.

By: Loner on 11/2/12 at 6:07

(click) Is this going to be another day filled with troll droppings, clicks and flushes? These boards have suffered a serious degradation in quality ever since the birther fool started posting his hate-filled racist crap here....many quality posters have moved away from this once-great site...what a shame.

By: treehugger7 on 11/2/12 at 6:26

Loner, I hope your area was not impacted badly by the weather, and everything is all right with you--let us know...

By: yogiman on 11/2/12 at 6:43

Call it what you wish, Loner. All I've asked for from the beginning is facts. You and your fellow posters have accused me of being a "troll", but you haven't offered me any facts about "your" man. Why not, don't you have any?

You all are simply showing your ignorance by accepting a man who refuses to identify himself. But he's your man. Brilliant! But who in the hell is he? Going by information know, is he even an American citizen, or like Mike, you don't care.

Give me your knowledge and I'll "shut up". But I mean knowledge of facts, not thoughts.

By: bfra on 11/2/12 at 6:50


Loner - We have trolls (flush again) & then there is Raspy, under the other topic, so far today. His comments are typical of a jealous, envious snipe. He writes about everything he "wants" but doesn't have.

By: yogiman on 11/2/12 at 6:53


You can call me a birther fool all you like. I call you an idiot because you so willingly accept a man as your president whom you don't even know. Don't you even have an inquiry about who the man is?

I'll repeat my questions: Is he an American citizen and why does he refuse to identify himself?

And I'll ask another question: don't you even wonder who's sitting in that office, or don't you even care?

You all seem to know so much about everyone else mentioned, but you don't even know Barry's legal name. And you call me a birther? I, Sir, call you all idiots.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 11/2/12 at 6:58

Well, there is some noteworthy news today. The Economist has endorsed Obama, which is quite a surprise. I'm sure Ben won't want to acknowledge that based on his postings yesterday.

In more noteworthy news, the UAW has brought charges against Romney for profiteering from the auto bailout.


By: bfra on 11/2/12 at 7:02


Blanket - For anyone with Romney's MO, that is no surprise.

By: Loner on 11/2/12 at 7:05

Treehugger...I'm OK...the storm was pretty much spent when it reached my place...I live in the far West of NY state...West of Rochester...lost power for two hours....no trees down on my property...all the foliage has been unceremoniously stripped...it looks like winter now....the Summer's over, baby....it was a good one....thanks for giving a rat about the lone one.

The Rasp has one script..the class envy script....he tries to infuriate us, but we know the man is in fantasy land...bless his Grey Poupon-stained heart.

Yogi, however, is an annoying bore...the French have a word for it : "ennui" (pronounced: ahn-wee)....he generates ennui and that stuff is toxic to a comment board.

Budlight is a fast typist, I'll giver her that much..Miss December 1966 has reached out to the Rasp and Yogi...she shares their pain...and their prejudice...oh yeah, we got characters, here at the NCP....that's why I love the place.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 11/2/12 at 7:06

So, we have serious conflict of interest here. He moves the profits into his wife's off shore blind trust account. So he is set up to be legislating according to his own financial best interest. By comparison, Obama's trust is set up with bonds and mutual funds that are not influenced by legislation that is directly controlled by him.

By: Loner on 11/2/12 at 7:10

(click) Almost hit that one....swerve OR brake...do NOT swerve AND brake at the same time..if one must hit the troll dropping, hit it squarely, not on an angle....then wash your vehicle ASAP.

By: Loner on 11/2/12 at 7:24

I've seen these "blind trusts" before...Senator Frist's blind trust had 20-20 vision...his colleagues quietly frowned on that. The Dems might have investigated his financial shenanigans....that's probably why he stepped down....neither party wanted to start looking into "blind trusts", there is plenty of guilt on both sides of the fence.



Frist was caught with his hand in the cookie jar...instead of being disgraced, he was allowed to keep the cookies...provided he step down and exit stage right. Frist got away with it....until the divorce anyway.....kerching!

The cookie thief is probably not a happy camper right about now....maybe Rasputin is Senator Frist? The script would fit.....and we all know that Frist was addicted to Grey Poupon....hmmmm.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 11/2/12 at 7:29

Loner, the Frist Family Fortune (HCA) is alive and well.

By: Captain Nemo on 11/2/12 at 7:32

MC615and others right wing fringe are always talking about the hate on the left, yet they are the only ones on this site that keeps saying hate.

Rasputin with all of his make believe class has periods in place that makes no sense. Yet he thinks they're people that should not have been born.


By: Captain Nemo on 11/2/12 at 7:35

Rasputin has no class to be envy of.


By: Captain Nemo on 11/2/12 at 7:39

FEMA is big government at it's best when it has good leadership.

By: Captain Nemo on 11/2/12 at 7:42

Preempted (click)

By: yogiman on 11/2/12 at 7:46

Let me observe this 'observation', children. You all know so much about Mitt Romney you feel he's not "the man" for our President's office.

But you have no idea who his opponent is, but he's well qualified for that office even though you don't even know his legal name. Amazing!

By: bfra on 11/2/12 at 7:47


By: Loner on 11/2/12 at 7:51

The Congressional Ethics Committee reminds me of those 3-monkey nick-knack sets...See no evil - Hear no evil - Speak no evil.


And I love this cartoon....


By: Loner on 11/2/12 at 7:52


By: bfra on 11/2/12 at 7:54

Romney's famous words "I'm gonna"! But never a "HOW I'm gonna".

By: bfra on 11/2/12 at 7:56

Good cartoon Loner!

By: Captain Nemo on 11/2/12 at 8:11

That is funny Loner.

By: yogiman on 11/2/12 at 8:41


If Romney has said "I'm gonna", but hasn't impressed you with that statement because the didn't say "how he's gonna" makes me wonder what makes you wonder.

We all know Barry also said "I'm gonna" in 2008, but he also didn't say "how" he was gonna.

So, must we assume Romney must say "how" he's gonna but Barry doesn't need to because he's already proved he ain't gonna because he can't?

By: bfra on 11/2/12 at 8:45


By: Captain Nemo on 11/2/12 at 8:45


By: Adman on 11/2/12 at 8:55

I just checked the FEMA budget and only 18% (1,800,000,000 out of 10,000,000,000) is allocated to disaster relief. The rest goes to various and sundry other stuff including admin, and pet projects. For you big gov't advocates, is that is good as it can be? Do we have to just accept every gov't agency as is? We don't have the money to pay for all of this spending, we are borrowing roughly 40 cents out of every dollar spent. A lot of that new debt is being bought by the Fed with newly created dollars. What will be the ramifications of that? Do we just keep spending until we can't anymore? Are we never allowed to try to envision better ways? Or are all Fed Gov't programs sacrosanct?

By: Captain Nemo on 11/2/12 at 8:59

Tell it to Governor Christie Adman.

By: Adman on 11/2/12 at 9:11

Tell what?

By: yogiman on 11/2/12 at 9:12

I understand we are now deeper in debt than all of our past presidents. Spending seems to be the only thing Barry can do.

How much did it cost us for him to play over 100 rounds of golf? How much did it cost us for Michelle to take her children on 16 vacations? Plus how many vacation other than those 16 was Barry with them?

The nation is going bankrupt and all he knows how to do is play golf and send his family on vacation.

Oh, and I forgot, run for office. He's been campaigning since the day he went in office as it's first usurper.

By: Mike Burch on 11/2/12 at 9:13


Facts are not "hate." Bishop Romney condemns himself with his own words and actions. All I do is report things that are in the public record.

By: Mike Burch on 11/2/12 at 9:14


Good point about the tainted drugs coming from Romney's stomping grounds. We need strong regulation of businesses, but Romney's plan is to go back to the looser Bush-era regulations.

By: bfra on 11/2/12 at 9:15


By: Captain Nemo on 11/2/12 at 9:25

Well maybe if you watch something other than FOX you would see the Governor Christie is very greatful for FEMA and President Obama for all of the help in recovering efforts.

Now for the other percentage in the FEMA budget, administration fees are the bulk of cost for anything operation government or private.

By: Captain Nemo on 11/2/12 at 9:35

( )

By: Blanketnazi2 on 11/2/12 at 9:40

Adman, perhaps we need to retire the Bush tax cuts for the weathy so that we can fund necessary programs such as FEMA.

By: Captain Nemo on 11/2/12 at 9:40

Disasters do not happen every day, but the cost of keep FEMA operating when disasters do take place is a 24 hours, 7 days, 52 week cost.

By: brrrrk on 11/2/12 at 9:50

"Government is the enemy until you need a friend” is a saying of William Cohen, former U.S. Secretary of Defense and Republican U.S. Senator from Maine.

Cohen explained in 2008: “And I think that has been the posture, I think, of too many political leadership, always pointing the finger, saying, get government off our backs. You’re nothing but a bunch of bureaucrats. Well, bureaucrats are public servants, civil servants. The government is necessary. You can’t have a totally unlimited free market economy without the government having some regulatory responsibility.”

By: Adman on 11/2/12 at 9:50

@Blanketnazi, I have looked at the total taxable income over $250,000. Eliminating the Bush tax cuts would raise less then 100 Billion dollars per year while our deficits are well over 1 trillion dollars per year. Higher taxes on the rich will only provide a small (less then 10%) dent in the deficit. It will make liberals feel good that the rich are now paying their "fair share", but like many liberal solutions it won't solve the problem.

By: bfra on 11/2/12 at 9:55

Adman - But it certainly would help! Why do you have a problem with that?