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: govskeptic on 11/3/12 at 9:02

Ask01: Is the solicitation of high fives on all comments a personal satisfaction?

By: Captain Nemo on 11/3/12 at 9:05

By: Adman on 11/2/12 at 10:20
you lost me there yogiman

You will see how lost he is as time goes on.

By: bfra on 11/3/12 at 9:16

Adman - But Obama can't talk without a teleprompter. sorry buddy but turnabout is fair play.
But unlike Bush who could not read & had a phonetic pronuciation guide attached to his teleprompter, Obama is so much more intelligent & like many before him uses it as a guide. Guess you could remember every detail making a public speech. I think not!

By: Captain Nemo on 11/3/12 at 9:21

By: Ask01 on 11/3/12 at 9:46

Say, bfra, do you suppose we'll have to endure the troll droppings following the election, or will the old geezer just hide under the bridge, too angry to come out?

Ask01; yogi is a liar and a coward. He stated that he would not be on line after the election, but by his history, tells me a different story. So I suppose the answer is that we will just have to keep (click) (FLUSH) or just ignore him all together.

BTW (click)

By: bfra on 11/3/12 at 9:23

Nemo - Amen on that! The troll has never kept his word on anything and all his comments are nothing but lies.

By: Captain Nemo on 11/3/12 at 9:34

Good morning bfra! It is a beautiful day to walk in the park. Enough time has been wasted on the troll, so I’ll check in later.

I hope you have a good day.

By: bfra on 11/3/12 at 9:45

Same to you Nemo! Going to Arrington Vineyard later in the day with several friends. Should be pretty out there about now.

By: bfra on 11/3/12 at 9:50

Obama has handled Sandy ten time over compared to Bush & Katrina, Romney acts like "Sandy who?", my politicing is more important.

By: yogiman on 11/3/12 at 10:33

Ask01, I'll admit I'm not a politician now, but I served as an Esquire on my old county commission when it was named the Smith County Quarterly Court. And I still remember the required specifications to serve at all levels of politics back then, especially the President of the USA. Have they changed the requirement to allow someone serve as our President who refuses to offer proof of their identify?

It seems okay for him and his proponents to demand his opponent to show his personal papers... you know, the ones not required by law. But then, I guess he doesn't need to show any of his papers... even those required by law because he has enough idiots willing to support him without knowing who he is.

If Article II, Section I, Par. 5 has been changed, I'd be glad to read that change of requirements if you can direct me to it. I can only wait until Nov. 6, so hurry up.

Until then, I'd be glad for you, or any of your fellow "Obama" loving posters to explain how anyone who advertised their birthplace as Kenya for 16 years until he said he was running for the presidency of the USA in 2007 could be declared a natural born citizen.

Was he "re-born" in the USA when he said he was born in Hawaii in 2007?

By: bfra on 11/3/12 at 10:36


By: pswindle on 11/3/12 at 11:06

Before FEMA, most of the damaged homes and property were not rebuilt or it took years to get back to where they were before the storm or disaster hit. Some just built a smaller box like house. Their life was never the same. But, even after the great flood in Nashville, most people have recovered nicely and better with the help of FEMA. I still remember how terrible it was after Katrina in NO. I can still see the peoplel begging for help many days after the disaster, but Bush did not have a clue in what to do, and Brownie was way in over his head. I still can't believe that Bush could not have done something to help these people in NO. If the press could get in NO, they could have gotten the people out just as well. Thousands were at the dome crying for help. I just can't seem to get that image out of my head.

By: Ask01 on 11/3/12 at 11:14

govskeptic, please expand on your question. I'm not sure exactly what you are asking.

I don't solicit anything from anyone, certainly not for my, or anyone else's, personal satisfaction. ( A truly disgusting thought.)

I do, however, address specific people at times to indicate I am answering or respondin to a comment they posted. Usually the intent is to announce I am speaking directly to that person. If someone else adds their comments, fine, but there are some who post here whom I will rarely answer directly and want to be sure they don't think I am speaking to them.

High fives, along with money are gratefully accepted, but not required.

By: yogiman on 11/3/12 at 1:35


May I ask you a question? I realize you're an Obama fan and have followed him all the way to the bank. So... did you hear him on a newscast back on Sept. 15 when he made a comment at a campaign [BS] speech from Golden CO where he said: "Let's face it, a mixed kid from Hawaii born to a single mom is not likely to become president of the United States but in America it can happen because of education... because somebody gave me opportunity." Who gave him his education? It's obvious he didn't have the money to go to the schools he claims to have attended.

Now, a bigger question: Because Obama [Sr] was a British subject based on his residency of Kenya, was Barry attempting to prove he was an American citizen based on his mother's American citizenship? She could have only passed her citizenship down to him if she was an unwed mother and the identity of father was not known. Could it be because her marriage license and divorce papers have never been seen to make her a single mother?

By the laws of 1961, she must have lived in the USA for a minimum of 5 years following her 16th birthday. And if he was born in Kenya at her age, she could not pass her American citizenship down to him.

Now, my major question: While the requirements to be born as a natural born citizen is specialized, has he ever even been an American citizen?

I'm sure you know the laws of 1961 when she could not pass her citizenship down to him

By: yogiman on 11/3/12 at 2:44

Another thought, Ask01.

If Barry was, in fact, born to a single mother, would that not put him in more of a dementia condition by being a bastard as your president?

By: Captain Nemo on 11/3/12 at 3:30


By: yogiman on 11/3/12 at 4:41

I know you aren't interested, dumba$$, and you probably don't understand what it suggests, but I see where 444 retired service offices (the highest ranking) are backing Mitt Romney and only 5 are backing Barry Soetoro aka Barack Obama.

The majority of officers still in service couldn't voice their thoughts because of their positions.

By: Captain Nemo on 11/3/12 at 6:47


By: yogiman on 11/3/12 at 7:03

Is that a picture of your wide mouth or your big nose, dumba$$?

By: Ask01 on 11/4/12 at 4:53

Just to bring this conversation full circle, back to the actual topic, and a more civil tone, in the end, the electorate is left with the inescapable fact Willard is willing to say whatever he must to be elected.

Admittedly, the same can be said of most every politician, but Willard so openly, brazenly, and somewhat incompetently flip flops, he is an embarrassment even to the opposition.

Willard demonizes FEMA, then, forced to backpedal, capitalized shamelessly on a staged photo-op.

If he acts so shamelessly while seeking office, how will he behave if elected?

Willard strikes me as the epitome of a spoiled rich brat accustomed to getting his own way, who, if unfortunately elected, will react badly when the American people criticize, complain, and question his actions.

So many claim to fear all manner of evil from President Obama, which has yet to materialize, but I do fear the beginnings of a police state and curtailment of rights for the middle and lower income classes should Willard find himself in charge. Even those who blindly support Willard imagining themselves in the same social circle will find themselves behind the barbed wire of class seperation.

Just a short note about the supposed class warfare of President Obama and the Democratic party. I believe the true instigators to be corporate America and their GOP supporters when they began mass layoffs and moving jobs overseas in the name of selfish profit with no regard for the good of the country.

Just my opinion.

By: Rasputin72 on 11/4/12 at 6:36

ASK01...........Why would corporate America spend the capital to move to a foreign country unless their customers wanted lower prices than the labor market and osha requirements in the United States allowed?

It was you and I and the WAL-MART shoppers who moved the jobs overseas.

I have a grammar school friend who worked for FORD GLASS plant in Nashville for 40 years. A devoted and devout UAW member. For the last 20 years before his retirement he bought almost everything at WAL-MART. Now he like you complains about the low wages and pay cuts that have occurred within the auto industry.

God bless him,he like you still thinks that the corporations in America have no competition. Once upon a time the United States controlled manufacturing and about everything else in the world as a result of being the unscathed winner in WWII. The competition today is world wide. Labor in the United States has become a commodity.

I don't like it anymore than you but I understand it.

By: Loner on 11/4/12 at 7:26

Good morning, Nashville.

I imagine that most of the posters here are in church or getting ready to go right now...but the Rasp is up and at 'em.

Rasp, I have to agree with what you just posted...at least to some degree, but we probably disagree on some of the underlying factors and their effects.

True, we Americans want good stuff at a cheap price...this is not an evil thing, this is only natural.

It's cheap and easy to produce shoddy goods and incompetent services; the rub comes in producing high quality goods and services, at a low price.

The Japanese , the Koreans and the Chinese have all been able to come across with good stuff, cheap. That's not always been the case here, in the states.

Some blame labor unions for all of the ills that have contributed to this sad reality; but Eastman Kodak, for example, was never a union shop.

Kodak is in bankruptcy right now...they once were the biggest employer in the Rochester area...now the stacks of Kodak are dormant....On the positive side, the chemical wastes from the film processing industry no longer pollute the Genesee River and Lake Ontario. And the once haughty and arrogant Kodakers have been thoroughly humbled....their stock in Kodak is practically worthless...and their pension benefits are being cut all the time, in a slow process of leaving them with nothing.

They despised unions in Rochester at one time....now, they have remorse for trusting what was once called "enlightened management".

By: Loner on 11/4/12 at 7:36

Should Americans roll back their quality of life, to be more in line with the unregulated and exploited Asian labor force? Mitt Romney thinks so...he invested in Chinese prison factories...that's his vision for America. He'll put the lazy moochers to work.

I'd rather trade goods & services with the rest of the world's nations, as opposed to trading bullets and bombs with them...if we work this right, we can bring about a win-win situation for most, if not all of our fellow human beings on this planet.

But that will take empathy, compassion, sacrifice, communication, cooperation and mutual willingness...that's hard to do....whipping up hate, xenophobia and war is a lot easier.

By: MusicCity615 on 11/4/12 at 7:42


By: bfra on 11/4/12 at 7:53

mc - This is supposed to mean what?

By: Ask01 on 11/4/12 at 8:01

I don't expect you to fathom this concept, Rasputin72, but I will attempt, no matter how futile, to explain.

Do you suppose corporate America ever consider perhaps lessening the chasm between executive compensation and the pittance given workers?

Considering the obscene compensation packages one reads about in business news, foregoing a year of increases would have likely done wonders in keeping prices down. I am certain a careful review of corporate budgets would reveal numerous additional items which could have been omitted resulting in lower prices.

Beyond that option, had the corporate giants not entered into races with each other to import cheap foreign manufactured goods, but instead encouraged American manufacturers to keep producing solid made American products, the present may have looked very different.

I grudgingly agree the American consumer is partly, but only partly, to blame for their plight, accepting the offered foreign goods which ultimately rendered them and their neighbors unemployed. This can change however.

All it takes is a few retailers to take a risk, accept reasonable profits, hire employees at decent wages, sell quality products, and undermine the culture of corporate greed. One hopes a crippling, outright depression will not be required, but that is all within the power of corporate America, which will be the ultimate loser if the people lose all hope.

By: Rasputin72 on 11/4/12 at 8:12

LONER........Even though your bias sometimes exceeds your ability to apply logic your are still far ahead of the intellect of the "Simple Six"

I think this morning logic exceeded your bias. Technology displaced Eastman Kodak not low prices. Now if you want to place blame with some part of Eastman Kodak it would surely have to be their management. They were too little in forward vision and probably too bureaucratic to acknowledge their vulnerability. Everyone was a loser at Eastman Kodak. The employees,the shareholders and the management people. They remind me of the people whoever they were that made buggy whips and were the market leader. They were left at the gate with the rise of the automobile

As far as Americans rolling back their quality of life,the world market is doing that whether or not you or I or anyone in America likes or not. Certainly you are correct in that I would rather trade goods and services with the rest of the world that trading bullets and bombs. Until the United States says to the Israelis "We have nurtured you and raised you to be independent" It is now time that you you go out into the world and take care of yourself." To the Muslim world that hates the Jews, I would say to them, "You better find common ground with the Jews because I am going to interfere in any dispute you have with them."

To the Chinese, I would say to them. I respect what you have accomplished but there are certain things we must place tariffs to protect our industrial future. All else is free trade." As far as their buying our debt, I would say "thank you"

In the meantime this country has a lot more serious problems right here at home than China, Israel and the Muslims. The divisiveness among American is as dangerous if not more so than our debt. Class warfare is the last thing this country can afford.

If somehow we can all put the national good ahead of Country Clubs and second homes and other factions would understand that "free stuff" is only available to a limited few, and I mean a very limited few we would be on our way to the nation we used to be.

I just do not see empathy, compassion,sacrifice ,communication and mutual willingness coming forward with a President of the United States promoting class warfare from the highest office in the land.

By: Loner on 11/4/12 at 8:12

Thank you MC615 for the link to the NYDN article..I post on that site too...I posted this comment on the NYDN:

new_york_loner 2 minutes ago

Quote from the article: "A crisis of long duration, the gap between purchasing power and the necessities of life widened after the 2008 meltdown revealed that the U.S. economy was built on toothpicks — and they snapped." (end quote)

And now the NYDN is endorsing the same party and same failed ideas that led to the crash of 2008: Reaganomics, trickle-down, union-busting and deregulation. That makes no sense.

Another quote from the article: "In deficit on the balance sheet, he stepped to the front in ratcheting up sanctions against Iran only after the country’s regime had moved ominously close to nuclear weapon capability, and he executed a misguided strategy for achieving peace between Israel and the Palestinians that left the parties further from a settlement." (end quote)

The NYDN is an Israel-loving US media outlet; the fact that the NYDN is in favor of furthering Israel's perceived interests, at the expense of our own US interests, is not surprising. Helen Thomas explained it all quite accurately.

When mayor Bloomberg ran for his third term, he took out full-page ads in the Jerusalem Post in which he called New York City, "The world's largest Jewish city".
Judging by the bias shown towards Israel and the Jews and their general contempt for Arabs and Muslims - as routinely demonstrated by the NYDN, the WSJ and the NYT - it appears that the Big Apple is indeed Occupied Israeli territory.

By: Loner on 11/4/12 at 8:20

Well Rasp, I can't see Mitt Romney bringing empathy, compassion, sacrifice, communication, cooperation and mutual willingness to solve problems to the White House...that's not his modus operandi....the guy invested in Chinese prison factories, that should reveal, to all reasonable people, all that we need to know about Willard Romney.

Gotta run....later!

By: Rasputin72 on 11/4/12 at 8:28

LONER......You are probably right about Mitt Romney. This however is about class warfare not empathy compassion,sacrifice,communication,cooperation and mutual willingness.

As long as class warfare is the banner that Barack Hussein Obama waves then I am pushed along with the tide. Romney best suits my place in the class warfare battle.

By: parnell3rd on 11/4/12 at 9:08

This propaganda has been up long enough city paper! Just like the other post is old!

By: Captain Nemo on 11/4/12 at 9:12

By: Rasputin72 on 11/4/12 at 6:36
ASK01...........Why would corporate America spend the capital to move to a foreign country unless their customers wanted lower prices than the labor market and osha requirements in the United States allowed?

Because slavery is not legal in America and other counties don’t care about their workers.

By: Captain Nemo on 11/4/12 at 9:18

I stop buying in Wal-Mart back in the late 70’s when they began advertising that they only bought American made. After looking at the labels on their wares, I was hard pressed to fine any with Made in USA tag.

By: Captain Nemo on 11/4/12 at 9:28

By: Rasputin72 on 11/4/12 at 8:12
LONER........Even though your bias sometimes exceeds your ability to apply logic your are still far ahead of the intellect of the "Simple Six"

I find the humor in Rasputin this day to be a lot bias. LOL

By: dargent7 on 11/4/12 at 10:24

Aloha! from San Jose'
My new e-mail address is dargent77@gmail.com....
Write friends.

By: Captain Nemo on 11/4/12 at 10:33

Good to hear from you Paul!!

By: bfra on 11/4/12 at 11:46

Hi Paul: Hope everything is going well for you in San Jose'.

By: Loner on 11/4/12 at 3:20

It's 4:20 in New York.....hope all is well in Nashville and in San Jose...good to hear from you, Darge.