Billy Long Refuses To Answer Question About Eric Cantor’s Warnings On Federal Help For Joplin

Okay. I tried to keep politics out of the disaster in Joplin.  Now, I’m pissed.

From Mediaite:

Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is eager to keep a lid on government spending, but in the aftermath of deadly tornados [sic] ripping through Missouri, the need for disaster relief funds will likely grow. The budget-conscious Cantor isn’t prepared to hold back granting such funds, but is warning that it will have to be offset with spending cuts elsewhere.

Cantor stated “if there is support for a supplemental, it would be accompanied by support for having pay-fors to that supplemental.” The term “pay-fors” means either tax increases or spending cuts, and given the fact that the Republican leadership has repeatedly stated they will not support raising taxes, that leaves only the cutting option. And since President Obama has already pledged whatever federal resources are necessary to help the victims in Missouri, it seems another budget battle might be looming sooner than expected.

While I was standing and watching Diane Sawyer live on ABC News’ evening broadcast from Joplin, I got a call from my brother, who informed me of Cantor’s comments.  I confess I haven’t been following closely the national news, focusing rather on what has been happening in Joplin related to the tornado.  So, I didn’t hear that Cantor had actually said what he said.

Across the street from St. John’s Medical Center, where ABC News was set up, was the site of a just-concluded press conference by the FEMA folks and local politicians—including our U.S. Congressman, Billy Long—updating progress on the post-tornado efforts.  Naturally, I moved across the street and tried to find Mr. Long to ask him about Cantor’s ridiculous comments.

I found him.

Immediately—I could see it in his eyes—he recognized me as, I suppose, his local tormentor.  I shook his hand and ask “Mr. Long” about Cantor’s comments, about what he thought about them, about whether we could expect federal money. 

And instead of answering me, instead of telling me what he thought, he ignored me.  He turned and walked away.  My congressman, the man elected to represent me, simply walked away without a peep.  Without a single bleeping word.  Without answering whether the victims of this disaster in Joplin could expect federal help or whether they—meaning, really, President Obama and the Democrats—would have to fight the goddamn Republican leadership for it.

I’m pissed.

Long’s “handler,’ or whoever the aide was trailing him, rudely told me they would “look into it.”  Damn right they had better look into it.

I found Wally Kennedy, the Joplin Globe news reporter who I had seen interviewing Long as I was making my way across the street, and I asked him if he had asked Long about Cantor’s comments. Kennedy, obviously and understandably preoccupied with local events, hadn’t heard about them and therefore hadn’t ask Long about what Cantor said.

Thus, Long wasn’t challenged, as far as I know.

Fifteen or twenty minutes later I saw Billy Long on CNN being interviewed by John King.  Nothing about Cantor’s comments that I saw.  Nothing about whether Billy Long will fight for federal funds to help rebuild this devastated city.  Nothing.

And that had better change.

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19 Comments

  1. jim hight

     /  May 24, 2011

    I hope you put this in the globe. People need to know about our elected representative not giving a damn about joplin. He is putting politics over the welfare of his constituents, even with everything that has happened in joplin. What a disgusting person he is.

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  2. grahamsanidiot

     /  May 24, 2011

    Only in your warped head would this be an issue. Whether it’s us or someone else there isn’t a damn thing wrong with cutting out extra from somewhere else to spend where needed now here.
    You may have started this gig just a little left of the center but somewhere along the way you went completely over the edge. The delusions of being a ‘journalist’, the desire to be recognized, the demanding for attention.
    You should seriously seek psychiatric help before it gets worse.

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    • You know, Geoff, in this case I’m going to make an exception to my Geoff Caldwell ban and leave this comment—which has a phony name because you have been banned and know it won’t make it through with your real name attached—up for all to see. It reveals a lot about you, about your petty professional jealousy, about your shallowness, about your substandard political analysis.

      For those who might be interested, they need to know that the Joplin Globe sends you a check for your blogging activities, the quality of which the comment above accurately reflects. In my not-so-humble opinion, the paper’s money would be better spent on coffee for the reporters, or maybe a potted plant in the newsroom, or—my favorite—on a raise for my underpaid Globe carrier.

      I will only point out here a couple of defects in your, ahem, “analysis”:

      1. Suggesting I have a “warped head” and need “psychiatric help” may be fun to write and may satisfy your desire to strike back at me for disagreeing with your stale politics and lately ignoring you, but it is no substitute for argument. I could, accurately or not, call you a buffoon for some of the stuff you have written over the years, but without accompanying evidence and argument, it wouldn’t mean much.

      2. “Cutting out extra from somewhere else” to send money to Joplin is exactly the point, Geoff. Under that scenario, Joplin would be at the mercy of your party’s budgetary whims, which the folks around here should not tolerate. I’m betting Billy Long won’t tolerate it either, if he wants to see his big behind reelected next year. I’m here to tell you that if Billy Long lets the GOP hold federal funds for Joplin hostage without criticizing that move, then you may see a New York-26 moment here in Southwest Missouri, especially coupled with Long’s kill-Medicare vote.

      3. I have no “delusions” about being a journalist. By definition, I am a journalist, at least in the sense that a columnist is a journalist. And although it’s painful for me to admit it, you’re sort of a journalist, too, albeit a poor one.

      4. Finally, your constant gibes that I “desire to be recognized” and demand “attention” are just not that effective as gibes Geoff because, well, they’re true. Anyone who has a blog or writes columns demands attention and by definition desires to be recognized. I’ve tried to tell you that before, but you just don’t seem to get it. And as for a desire to be recognized, I suggest that instead of piggy-backing on me and my blog, you try to improve your writing and thinking skills, perhaps change your politics, or at least your methodological strategy, to become more tolerable, not to say more likable.

      Don’t bother to respond, by the way.

      Duane

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    • “Only in your warped head would this be an issue. Whether it’s us or someone else there isn’t a damn thing wrong with cutting out extra from somewhere else to spend where needed now here.”

      You’re right! Let’s start cutting government spending by ending useless wars such as Iraq, end corporate subsidies, and withdraw some of our overseas bases. Heck if we could match the health care costs of those countries with single payer systems we could save over a trillion dollars a year. Now that should be enough to fix Joplin without taking one extra dime from most of the selfish and unconcerned right-wing establishments who’ve placed money made money and corporate people (anthropomorphism at its worse) more important than their own humanity. Of course that’s not you? Is it?

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  3. Nicely done Duane. Tip O’ the hat for being bigger than the troll you’ve been dealing with.
    My humble little bloggie tries to steer clear of politics for the same reason.
    Being threatened by “conservatives” for having a different point of view became very tiresome.
    I don’t know that I can bring much traffic to your blog, but I am putting you on my ASSOCIATES page. That is something I do not do for many people, even when requested!
    Also, living in the same area, I will be a regular here now.
    Keep up the good blogging!

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  4. The timing of my editorial and your experience with Colonel Boss Hogg couldn’t be better. http://ccheadliner.com/opinion/guest-long-continues-to-avoid-political-critics/article_4da2e0ba-8625-11e0-b3c5-001cc4c03286.html

    We may not agree on much Duane, but we agree that this man shouldn’t be a Congressman.

    Glad you are doing well. Praying for you guys in Joplin and doing my best to do what I can to help without getting in the way.

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    • Clay,

      You are right about the timing. Perfect. As you say, we don’t agree on much, but we do agree on this, which you wrote addressing Mr. Long:

      This is your job. This is what you went to Washington to do—represent all the people of southwest Missouri. Engage in conversation with us. Quit running from town hall meetings that your handlers can’t control for you. Have the courage to face tough questions and voters that challenge you. This is the job you wanted after all.

      Billy Long should even address a question from me, a local blogger who doesn’t agree with his politics. He should want to. I know if I were a congressman representing this district, I wouldn’t walk away from someone who was asking me a question, unless I had pressing business elsewhere. In that case even, I would set up a time where I could talk to him or her later. I have always been of the mind that I could change everyone’s mind, if I just had enough time to reason with them. Perhaps that’s unrealistic, but it’s just the way I am.

      It’s just as simple as you said, Clay. Long asked for this job, he sought the voters’ approval. He should live with the consequences, even if those consequences aren’t always enjoyable.

      Duane

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  5. Angelfire

     /  May 25, 2011

    The people of Joplin elected him. Sometimes you get exactly what you voted for. What did they really expect from their Tea Party candidate? And you know what? They’ll gladly elect him again and again.

    If you told them about Cantor/Long….told them the story they’d vote him right back in.

    Anyone who’s lived here knows what I’m talking about. I hold Roy Blunt up as an example.

    Sometimes you get what you vote for.

    Like

  6. Newintown

     /  May 25, 2011

    I honestly don’t see why this is a big deal. Sometimes when I’m involved in a hotly contested business deal, I like to keep some family member of my opposition bound and gagged in my basement. This guarantees the give-and-take that keeps negotiations honest. It’s not uncommon for an emergency room to withhold treatment on those pesky “self-pays” until their prepaid account check clears. Not all sociopaths are conservatives but …

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    • New,

      Nicely done. A comment worthy of Jonathan Swift.

      By the way, I would want you as my advocate, should I ever need a deal brokered.

      Duane

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      • Newintown

         /  May 26, 2011

        You won’t be sorry. I once had a guy pay me 20 grand to buy his house. Have you noticed that a lot of conservative pols have this same problem … “Oh, Lord! He’s talking about emotion and compassion. What do I do? How does that sound again? What WOULD someone with compassion have said and how do I spin this back to that?” Ted Bundy was a natural. The conservative sociopaths just don”t DO it very well. When you talk about real human values they’re just deer in headlights. John Edwards talked the talk very well whereas the guru of virtue Ken Bennett…

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  7. I threw Billy Long a bone yesterday, contacting his office about how Eric Cantor padded a major political contributor’s pocket with FEMA money during Katrina. I didn’t even get a thank you.

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  8. Keenan

     /  May 29, 2011

    Why do they “NEED” federal funds? Long should have answered your question, but would it have done any good, anyway? You’re obviously not a fan, and seek to counter-act him more than find working solutions.

    Some people in our government are trying to be responsible, and people are finding fault with that. With the storms we’ve had and IMO, we’ll have for the next few weeks, the central US needs money and support. From Missouri to Iowa to Oklahoma to the Mississippi River surrounding areas. I think the best solution is private donations, that’s true charity. If it’s not enough, then Congress will have to designate money, and doing so wisely is preferred.

    We’ve reached our federal debt ceiling. It’s more than trying to “keep a lid on spending”. They can’t borrow the money that WILL be sent to Joplin, to Alabama, to Louisiana, to Oklahoma. It HAS to be cut from other places. There are several options, and any congressman/woman with a brain and heart should be able to easily figure out how to fund the relief efforts.

    Try to look at this more objectively, with facts, rather than being so partisan. Maybe it will help you to be treated with more respect if you SHOW respect first. Yes, he should have answered your question, but if your goal is to counter-act conservative thought, rather than to find solutions to problems, maybe you should re-think what you’re doing. The division in America is wide, and you’re making it wider.

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    • Keenan,

      Thanks for not calling me names.

      Here’s how I will respond:

      1) We need federal funds for reimbursement of local governments for unbudgeted expenses related to the tornado search and rescue efforts, as well as clean-up and restoration. Roy Blunt has called for 100% reimbursement. I have praised him for that, despite the fact that I completely differ with him politically.

      2) You said “some people in government are trying to be responsible.” I agree totally. I find ZERO fault with the people in government here working to restore normalcy. I didn’t even find fault with Billy Long. He had been saying and doing all the right things and all he had to say to me was, “Don’t worry. I’ll fight for Joplin in Washington , D.C.” That’s all. And I would have praised him, too. I was prepared to do that.

      3) You think the “best solution” is private donations. While I think private donations are essential, they are not sufficient. As the President said today, this is a national tragedy and the nation will be behind us. The nation, in this case, is behind us via the federal government. Just like Joplin residents have contributed through their taxes to other areas of the country that needed help. That’s how it works these days, although, as you indicate, private charity is a good thing.

      4) The point about the debt ceiling you made is quite telling. You realize of course that the debt ceiling issue is all tangled up in politics, Keenan. That’s the point I am trying to make. Joplin relief help should not get tangled up in politics, tangled up in ideological battles. That’s what Long should have said not to me but to the people of this area. As far as I know, he has yet to say it.

      5) I am a partisan. I have explained countless times why I do what I do the way I do it, which I won’t go into now. The “solutions” to our problems are not to be found in the same old tired Republican ideology, which is what I “counter,” but I digress. On this issue, I wanted very much to avoid politics. Then Eric Cantor made his comments about offsetting. He knew when he said it that such a statement would lead to angst for those around here who want to make sure federal help gets to those who need it. That was his point. He wanted to make a political statement and essentially hold hostage federal assistance for Joplin in return for budget cuts elsewhere, which, of course, would lead to a fight. That’s why Billy Long should have spoken out immediately. He didn’t.

      6) As far as showing respect, I show respect for anyone—and I mean anyone—who comments on here and doesn’t call me names or hurl insults at me or otherwise makes a fool out of him or herself. You say I am making the “division in America” wider. I disagree, but at least you expressed that idea in a civilized way, which I much appreciate. We can have a conversation as long as people are willing to do that.

      Duane

      Like

    • Newintown

       /  May 29, 2011

      Sorry Keenan but to quote Lewis Caroll’s Tweedledee: “‘if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn’t, it ain’t. That’s logic.” First, and most important, this isn’t “charity” but rather the responsibility of Government to “promote the general welfare.” There is this PARTICULAR oddity of the committed conservative to this singular concept of “If it’s not enough, then Congress will have to designate money.” Why is this, to you, fundamental concept … fundamental? Why should those that expect the very basic liberties and the assets of being citizens be allowed to shirk what are, I guess to me, equally basic responsibilities. Are jury duty, taxes, serving in the military and et cetera merely voluntary? Are you allowed to only assume only the benefits? Charity is by it’s very definition, voluntary.

      The need for FEDERAL aid is obvious. I insure my HOUSE and not my very community. When the streets, water supply, stores and all the other social amenities disappear they need to supplemented quickly and that requires efficiency of scale and the largest scale is federal. Allstate is not going to bring in 4bys filled with bottled water nor setup temporary cell phone towers.

      Cantor. from his own mouth, put the lie to your partisan resurrection. He stated himself that this was quid pro quo to a political win. His position was not to some mythic Republican zero sum game as if “Oh my God! Bankruptcy looms!” It was nothing other than pettifoggery. The US economy is far more complex than “We only have $500 in the bank.” You yourself use “Debt Ceiling” as if it were some fundamental constant like the speed of light in a vacuum and not some log-rolled creation of some former Congress. We can print money for God’s sake. We need not “BORROW” it. We must always print money. There are problems if we print too much. Inflation getting you down right now? Would you rather join Ron Paul in his odd pursuit of a Gold standard. Were you aware that, were we to buy up all the gold in the world we would not be able to back up all our dollars? The true Republican mind is creating problems by merely defining them into existence.

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    • … The voters in Nodler’s and Goodman’s Senate Districts have etleecd and reelected them to serve them in Jefferson City by very large pluralities.You come out of the gated community of Highland Springs and want to discount their knowledge and judgement on voting for qualified people to serve in public office? Specifically the important offices of their respective Senate Districts? What is the matter with you man? Get out of the coffee shop and quit drinking caffine drinks. You’re about to blow a gasket.I will go out on a limb here and suggest that the voters in their respective districts and in the remaining portions of the 7th Congressional District, know better than Billy Long that both Gary Nodler and Jack Goodman are good men; capable public servants; and, much better qualified to represent us in Congress.I guess we’ll just test my theory next Tuesday.I really expected a little more of a statesman like campaign from you Mr. Long. But you’ve turned it into an auction to benefit the highest bidder….you.You, Sarah, Mike and Mel are heading to the last roundup. Enjoy the trip.

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  9. “Some people in our government are trying to be responsible, and people are finding fault with that. With the storms we’ve had and IMO, we’ll have for the next few weeks, the central US needs money and support.”

    The money belongs to the people and yet we send $billions to Pakistan while Osama Bin Laden rested comfortably within its borders. In fact we send aid across the entire planet to help those in need. When did we as a people become so callous that we now place greed above our own well-being? Picking up the pieces of disasters such as the one that hit Joplin is one of the many reasons why we have a government in the first place.

    Billy Long is a member of a select group of Americans who are in the process of handing corporate control of America over to the wealthy and the powerful. That’s not “trying to be responsible” it’s being destructive to our very ideals and who we are as a people. They can’t do it by their shear numbers alone since their are many more of us than their ever will be of them. So they do it by manipulating those of us who are susceptible through control of the media. Ask yourself what you would do if the decision of helping to resolve tragedies such as Joplin was in your hands. For the sake of your humanity I hope that you would make the right choice.

    Like

  10. majii

     /  May 29, 2011

    I found your blog from a site called the only adult in the room, Duane, and it’s a mighty fine blog. I’ll be bookmarking it so that I can keep up with happenings in MO with the tornado victims. I live in Middle GA, and in 2008, we went through the same thing Joplin is going through now. I find it unthinkable that any member of Congress would be willing to play political football when it comes to helping those in Joplin who have been so negatively impacted by this tornado. Keep the heat on Long. If he has a challenger in November 2012, I plan to donate to him/her. Thanks for all you’re doing to bring truth to your part of the nation.

    Like

  1. FEMA Declares Eric Cantor a Disaster Area (Humor) « The Fifth Column
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