Oklahoma Senator On Hurricane Sandy Relief: “That Was Totally Different”

Already this morning, I have heard Oklahoma’s Republican governor Mary Fallin express the need for and her appreciation of federal help related to the killer tornadoes that struck parts of her state the past two days. I heard the mayor of devastated Moore, Oklahoma, say this morning that he could see FEMA trucks already rolling into his town.

But that’s no thanks to Oklahoma’s two senators, both of whom are not just conservative Republicans, but the sort of conservative Republicans who are part of a contingent of right-wingers who seek to undermine faith in the federal government to do anything positive in our lives—except kill terrorists—and who seek to starve the federal government of needed funds to do things like help out during and after disasters.

Here’s how HuffPo put it today:

Sens. Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn, both Republicans, are fiscal hawks who have repeatedly voted against funding disaster aid for other parts of the country. They also have opposed increased funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which administers federal disaster relief.

Yet despite the efforts of Inhofe and Coburn, the FEMA trucks will show up in Oklahoma throughout today and beyond. Those trucks are representatives of the American people, most of whom live far, far away from Moore or any other city affected by what is now four days worth of storm damage.

Inhofe did manage to ask for help of Another kind:

inhofe and moore tornado

Yeah, now that the storm has done its damage, Inhofe seeks prayer. Seems to me, the prayer should have come before the storm not after. Others had different, less polite, responses on Twitter:

@jiminhofe Prayers work, no need for FEMA!

@jiminhofe what is your view on FEMA and federal disaster relief, or is prayer enough?

@jiminhofe My prayers 4 the ppl, the sadness that u represent them. U voted against Sandy, voted to slash FEMA, what will u and Coburn do?

Hey @jiminhofe. Maybe we would have to do less praying if you’d be a human being when it comes to disaster aid. You’re disgraceful.

@jiminhofe you’re an idiot, and the people of Sandy don’t forget how you voted to NOT help them.

@jiminhofe Maybe you can tell your constituency to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. You know, because YOU voted AGAINST Sandy relief.

Inhofe was interviewed by Chris Jansing of MSNBC this morning about that Sandy relief vote:

JANSING: You know there were a number of people along the East Coast shore who weren’t happy about your vote on Hurricane Sandy. In fact you said the request for funding was a “slush fund.” With all due respect, is there money to help the people here in your home state rebuild?

INHOFE: Well, let’s look at that. That was totally different. They were getting things, for instance, that was supposed to be in New Jersey. They had things in the Virgin Islands, they were fixing roads there. They were putting roofs on houses in Washington, D.C.  Everybody was getting in and exploiting the tragedy that took place. That won’t happen in Oklahoma.

I’ll leave you, my friends, to mull over that response, to let the phrase, “that was totally different,” sink in.

Meanwhile, Tom Coburn also expressed himself on Twitter:

coburn on moore tornado

Some of the responses to Coburn were also a bit impolite:

@TomCoburn & @jiminhofe voted NO to #SandyRelief http://bit.ly/10K1SOu  , will they offer more, now, than prayers to Okla ? #GopThugs

@AJK124 he’s calling for any funds for relief to be found in ‘cuts’ to other services first.

.@TomCoburn how dare you make them hunt and peck through the budget for disaster relief. They are STILL taking COVER you asshole

@TomCoburn You should not accept a paycheck issued by our govt until offsets in cuts are found, you worthless, anti American piece of shit

Those responses, as angry and harsh as some of them are, represent how a lot of folks feel during times like these. As another response related, it’s “@jiminhofe Karma.”  The truth is that some people get frustrated with right-wing Republicans bashing the federal government, then welcoming FEMA trucks and federal money into the state to help clean up the mess.

Some of us felt that way here in Joplin, when, almost two years ago to the day, a tornado not only killed 161 people and destroyed thousands of homes and businesses, but it temporarily blew away the locals’ dislike for “big government,” as many took advantage of the generosity of the American people, as expressed through FEMA and other federal and state agencies.

Senator Inhofe, one of the chief GOP obstructionists in the Senate, has been particularly damaging, in terms of how people in his state (who have elected him with 57% of the vote the last three cycles) view not only the federal government, but President Obama—who received a mere 33% of the vote in 2012 from Oklahomans. Just two months ago, Inhoffe said about our President:

I was one of those who never believed he could be reelected. Sure he’s charming enough to elected the first time, but once people know that charm cannot overrule his performance in destroying this country, but yeah I guess it’s still working.

Yeah. A charming Obama is destroying the country. He’s not a citizen. He’s a tyrant using the IRS to get his enemies. He should be impeached over Benghazi. The federal government is perpetuating a global warming hoax so Obama can turn us into socialists. And he’s helping Muslims implement sharia law across the land. The Sandy Hook shootings were either a hoax or planned by authorities in order to take away gun rights. The government is either incompetent or out to get us or both. In short, the federal government is the problem, not the solution, as another famous Republican said so long ago.

These and other right-wing fantasies get to us sometimes. They get to those of us who care about the well-being of America, of Americans, and the government’s role in insuring and maintaining that well-being. And it gets to us when we find out that because of the Republican obsession with debt and deficits, the National Weather Service, which was able to warn people well in advance of the storms in Moore and Joplin and elsewhere—and thus saved countless lives—is facing sequestration budget cuts of over 8%

The American Institute of Physics said of those weather-related budget cuts:

…the government runs the risk of significantly increasing forecast error and, the government’s ability to warn Americans across the country about high impact weather events, such as hurricanes and tornadoes, will be compromised.

That’s why so many of us get frustrated and angry and say nasty things about Republicans. We know we shouldn’t. We know we should be civil, especially at a time when the death and destruction in Moore, Oklahoma, is still being contemplated. But we’re only human. We can only take so much of this stuff.

Fortunately, our President, who has managed to remain calm and steady through all the attacks on his character and his presidency, is much better than some of us when it comes to these things. He said this morning:

If there is hope to hold on to, not just in Oklahoma but around the country, it’s the knowledge that the good people there in Oklahoma are better prepared for this type of storm than most. And what they can be certain of is that Americans from every corner of this country will be right there with them, opening our homes, our hearts, to those in need because we are a nation that stands with our fellow citizens as long as it takes. We’ve seen that spirit in Joplin, in Tuscaloosa. We saw that spirit in Boston, in Breezy Point. And that’s what the people of Oklahoma are going to need from us right now.

That’s what a president of all the people, even of people who gave him only 33% of the vote, even people who loathe him and think he is destroying the country, that’s what a President of the United States should say at times like these.

And the rest of us, those of us who just get tired of the constant obstruction and obfuscation and obloquy related to President Obama and the federal government, we should bite our tongues for a while and fight our fights on a sunnier, less sorrowful day.


  1. Duane, I thought of you – and Joplin – over the last few days. And great post by the way.


    • Thanks, Moe. I appreciate it very much.

      My son graduated from high school on Sunday, almost exactly two years after the tornado hit just after high school graduation that year. President Obama spoke at last year’s high school graduation, which was, of course, a big deal. This year, we didn’t have a special speaker. But there was a short pause to remember the passing of a friend of my son’s who died in the tornado of two years ago.

      And I hope against hope that every member of this year’s graduating class, all 481 of them, will keep in mind that as each year passes, there will certainly be more among them who will die for one reason or another and that there is so little time for all of us to do what you put so beautifully today, as you described your transplanted life in Florida and the surprising summers:

      I love the sudden winds that bring our afternoon thunderstorms, and gully washers that sweep in from the Everglades and leave behind the sweetest air. I love those thunderstorms so much that just the sound of one approaching makes me rush to leave wherever I might be and rush outside so I can watch it. 

      I love how every green and growing thing explodes – all at once – as though released from six-months of holding its breath.

      I love how quiet and peaceful it is once the winter people leave – and how I can park right in front of the library. Lines disappear in a moment and the annual refrain is heard: “hooray, at last we can go out to eat again”.

      There’s no ice. I’ve never had to scrape a windshield.

      But I do miss the smell of  lilacs and the rich velvet of tulips. I’ll always miss those.

      Thanks for writing that and thanks again for the kind words.



  2. angelfire

     /  May 21, 2013

    Ditto….just like Billy Long and Blunt when Joplin happened. The conservatives continue to elect these guys and then scream like a pig under a gate when the big storm comes for our tax dollars. I swear I think God does this to teach them a lesson….just saying.

    Whatever. Sometimes you GET what you VOTE for.


    • And, unfortunately, sometimes you get what the other guy votes for. That is the situation I find myself in here in southwest Missouri.


  3. ansonburlingame

     /  May 21, 2013

    It is right there, in the blog above, but I repeat it for you liberals.

    “Well, let’s look at that. That was totally different. They were getting things, for instance, that was supposed to be in New Jersey. They had things in the Virgin Islands, they were fixing roads there. They were putting roofs on houses in Washington, D.C. Everybody was getting in and exploiting the tragedy that took place. That won’t happen in Oklahoma”

    The votes for Sandy, taken some weeks after Sandy struck, were votes of “slush” as well as reasonable aid to rebuild.

    I don’t believe that happened in Joplin, “building roads in the Virgin Islands”, for Christ’s sake, with money voted to help JOPLIN, two years ago.

    We are less than 24 hours, as I write, into another tragedy, a tragedy just like Joplin. NOW is NOT the time to “be political”. Joplin rescurers are IN OKC, right now along with thousands of others, there or headed there.

    Three weeks from now when we start agruing again over what federal money is needed later on to rebuild, well we can argue then. But NOT NOW, for Christ’s sake, again.



    • There weren’t any “slush funds” in the Sandy bill. That phrase was invented by right-wing extremists to characterize a legislative process that has been going on a long time, one that has been practiced by both parties.

      And I’m not arguing over what federal money is needed—I am in favor of socializing disasters, Anson. The argument goes on in the Republican Party, as it is conflicted about what to do when a tragedy hits red states. I shouldn’t say the party is conflicted. Actually, as Sen. Ted Cruz and Governor Rick Perry proved in Texas, as Billy Long and Roy Blunt proved in Missouri, when there are political gains to be made by demanding federal dollars, they will do it. When there are political gains to be made by demanding that some folks don’t get federal dollars, they will do that too.



  4. King Beauregard

     /  May 21, 2013

    Now is ABSOLUTELY the time to argue politics, because NOW is when we see exactly why relief efforts are so important, and NOW is when the Republican hypocrites show their true colors.

    Anson, I get why you hang out here: even if posts here leave an unpleasant taste on your conservative palate, at least they provide a little bit of intellectual nourishment that cannot be found on your own blog. If you come here and people talk about how broken your politics are and how your ideology results in a country that can’t repair itself or sustain its people, well, perhaps you could learn something from the experience.


    • King B,

      You wrote,

      Now is ABSOLUTELY the time to argue politics, because NOW is when we see exactly why relief efforts are so important, and NOW is when the Republican hypocrites show their true colors.

      An excellent and seemingly indisputable point. Problem is when we so suddenly bring partisan politics into a matter like this, before all the dead are counted (or, in this case, recounted), then we risk looking like Republicans did when the tragedy in Benghazi was still unfolding. It is okay though, as far as I’m concerned, to point out that in a state known for its anti-big government philosophy, that such a philosophy apparently doesn’t include saying no to FEMA or other federal assistance programs, when such assistance is needed.

      And as I think about what you said, this is the perfect time to point that out.



  5. ansonburlingame

     /  May 21, 2013

    Exactly why I keep coming here, King. But I can almost guarantee you that what you write, as per the above, falls on very deaf ears (or eyes).

    NOW is NOT the time to make this a political issue. Find the dead or dying, right now, which is being done, right now, just as happened in Joplin 12 plus hours after our disaster.

    There will be plenty of time to see just how much slush ANY politician might try to add on to OKC aid. And ANY politician that raises HELL over SLUSH will get my support for sure. But I make no predictions WHICH politicians will inevitably try such crap, again and again, any time disaster strikes. But my guess is Dems will vote for MORE money to be spent that GOPers for ANY disaster as well.



    • King Beauregard

       /  May 21, 2013

      “Find the dead or dying, right now, which is being done, right now, just as happened in Joplin 12 plus hours after our disaster.”

      You first. But if you’re not going to personally spring into action in Oklahoma, then your “find the dead or dying” argument is just a dodge, and a transparent one at that.


    • kabe

       /  May 21, 2013

      AB, I have witnessed federal money being used here under the disguise of tornado relief. Go to the area between 32nd an 26th, Main St and Indiana. They are replacing entire yards with new sod because of “lead” from the tornado. The city also did not return the extra funds that they recently received, which was discussed here. And how about the new bridge at 15th and 20th streets that they wanted?
      These same politicians voted against the much smaller initial hurricane bill as well. I bet that the people of the Northeast did not think that was such a good time to play politics as well, but the Repubs sure as hell did it anyways. Fortunately for the people of Tornado Alley, Dems do not play this BS.
      Also, if politicians are using these bills to get money for their districts, why are they not called out when the bill is being discussed? Isn’t that their job? I bet most that voted on these bill were not even present when it was discussed.



    • Come on. You call me a “low-information liberal” and then send me a link to a website founded by the very disgusting and hateful and ignorant Michelle Malkin, another link to an article written by a writer for the Malkin-founded website, another link to a blog titled “The TrueSoldier Rants” that links to Michelle Malkin for God’s sake, and, finally, a link to the now-disreputable Heritage Foundation, which, God help us, actually gave an award to Michelle Malkin for, uh, “Excellence in Journalism”! Are you bleeping kidding me?

      How about a link to Newsmax or Breitbart or Human Events? Or, maybe you could have just quoted Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity or Mark Levin or any other right-wing Obama- and Democrat-hating extremist. It would have the same impact, which is to say not much.

      As for the substance of the charge you make via these outlets, most of it is a bunch of hooey. Here’s a link back at ya that explains the Smithsonian roof repair, which was storm-related and which amounted to a measly $2 million of tens of billions. And if I bothered to look for it, I am sure I could find other justifications for some of the other, comparatively small, “pork” projects inserted into the bill (by the way, that’s the way both parties have conducted bidness for some time now, so I don’t know where you get off on blaming Democrats for it; for all you know, some of that stuff may have been put in there to get Republican votes).

      And speaking of Republicans, just to put your complaint in perspective, the Republican governor of New Jersey, the man many think is the only GOP candidate who has a chance of beating Hillary Clinton in 2016, estimated that for just his state alone, the damage amounted to almost $37  billion. That sort of makes that Smithsonian repair job look kinda small, don’t you think?

      Finally, you say Sandy relief money was “stolen” by Democrats. Talk about low information. The bill that finally passed was about $50 billion and, according to Ann Coulter’s favorite presidential candidate Christie, all the pork was taken out of the bill by the House, except that it wasn’t! So, before you go accusing Democrats of stealing from Sandy victims, perhaps you had better ask Chris Christie and all those House and Senate Republicans who voted for the final bill where they are stashing all that cash they stole.

      It is because I was once a wild- yet blind-eyed right-winger like you that I will most definitely keep “repenting.” *chuckle*



      • ansonburlingame

         /  May 21, 2013

        NEVER try to “outlink” anyone, is my call. Links can be found to support just about any position, period. CONSIDER all links and then make up you own mind, and don’t link why you did so, is may call, one way or the other.

        As for Duane, he will repent until the cows come home and nothing any conservative can do will prevent such repentance, which is NOT repentance, it is ATTACK against another side, for sure!! Just go “search” for a blog supporting a GOP cause or even agreeing with a conservative comment herein. VERY hard to find, for sure and Duane makes no apologies for doing what he does. Fine. But others should at least consider his views with a grain of salt. For me, I usually use a ton of the stuff, salt, and unload accordingly. But not always, as Duane well knows.



        • Anson,
          What a strange comment. Duane made it clear from the beginning that he is a former self-described “dittohead” who thought his way clear of right-wing ideology. The title of his blog should be a clue. If this bothers you, don’t read it. I am sure there is no contractual obligation that requires constant monitoring and rebuttal on your part. Simply put, this blog is not about what you believe he should write in order to placate conservative sensibilities (or lack thereof).

          Suggesting that readers should “consider his views with a grain of salt” because you find them disagreeable is bizarre. Sounds like you have a bellyache from eating too many sour grapes.


  6. Inhofe and Coburn are, of course, two of the higher-ups in the American Taliban. As an Oklahoma resident, I have never voted for either one of them. In fact, I prayed they wouldn’t get re-elected and told God that if He answered my prayers, I would actually, gulp, go back to being a faithful Presbyterian. Well so much for God. (The Presbyterians are probably relieved as well.)

    But I think I understand where my two right-wing-nut Senators are coming from. Republicans are about independence, self-reliance and responsibility. So, when a tragedy strikes, especially a weather event, these guys thought process says the victims should have had insurance, or built a stronger house/building, or have the neighbors hold a cake sale to raise money for repairs. (I actually heard Cobern suggest a cake sale for someone who just had a $500,000 liver transplant! That’s how looney these guys are.)

    That mentality ties in neatly with the second big Republican mandate: small government. FEMA and related entities represent big government, large bureaucracies, and institutions using taxpayers money to perform. Everybody knows that big government is anathema and that bureaucracies are inefficient and will drive the country into ruination.

    The final part of this trifecta is money, especially tax money, and more especially, debt. Once again the President promises to fund FEMA and affected states with more tax money but no revenue offset, in other words, more debt financing . Sure, the 8% cut the FEMA budget due to the sequester will help, but there is still a long way to go to get the debt under control.

    There’s some other stuff of course, but I think the forgoing pretty much represents the major thinking (if we can call it that) of Senator Inhofe and Doctor Senator Coburn. But being highly dedicated fundamentalist Christians, they don’t realize that their whole philosophy of governance is anti-Christian. I would refer them to Matthew 5-7, the Sermon on the Mount, especially Matthew 7:9-12:

    “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

    Inhofe and Coburn surely know that Jesus hated hypocrites. But apparently that is an inconvenient truth. And don’t call be Shirley.



    • “me,” not “be.”


    • Herb,

      Nice summation, surely.

      Your comment reminds me of an article I read on The Hill site today about how House Republicans (most of them quite likely evangelicals or other brand of conservative Christian) are handling the proposed immigration reform bill. As part of a bipartisan House immigration group, they are demanding an amendment that would force those affected by reform to be excluded from ObamaCare and to otherwise pay for their own damn healthcare, thank you.

      Now, I’m no expert, so I would ask: What Would Jesus Do?



      • King Beauregard

         /  May 21, 2013

        Forget Jesus, what would Moses do?

        “You shall not oppress a resident alien; you know the heart of an alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.” – Exodus 23:9

        It’s very clear: either treat foreigners well or roast on a spit for eternity. That’s if you take the Bible at all seriously, of course.


      • ansonburlingame

         /  May 21, 2013

        And get no answer Duane, if you asked Jesus or God such a question, if you were really honest. Jesus and God deal in matters very spiritual and not real world politics, as you well know, if you can divorce yourself from your own “Iron Age theology” past. Theology must be updated from time to time to apply “spiritual matters or principles” to real world problems, and you know that as well as I do, if you really THINK about it.



  7. kabe

     /  May 23, 2013

    I see Joplin received some more “pork” today, in the form of $ 20 mil for a library and a theatre. A private enterprise no less in the theatre. Correct me if I am wrong, but neither was destroyed by the tornado. How can any conservative in this area stand by voting against Sandy relief?



  8. I’ve had some distractions lately or I would have joined in this very interesting thread and excellent EC post. It has made good reading.

    I’d like to call out a special appreciation for Anson’s contributions. Without an impenetrable Conservative mind like his, the discussion would have been like a stew without the spice of irony. Where else can you get someone to openly suggest that the Bible doesn’t apply to “real world problems” and that “theology needs to be updated from time to time” for them? Now the scales have truly fallen from my eyes!


  9. Anonymous

     /  May 28, 2013

    Just to keep everyone up to speed, Joplin awaits the signature of Gov. Nixon for ANOTHER $ 14 Million in grants for work on 20th street. This, according to today’s Joplin Globe. And there was a quote by CEO Dave Wallace of the master development company in charge of these projects. When asked if the city was done asking for money he answered “Never say Never.” Don’t get me wrong, I think this sort of stimulus works when an area (or country) is hit by a financial disaster of any sort, whether it be caused by a natural disaster or the loss of industry. But in light of the no votes to Hurricane Sandy by our area representatives, why is this not a story here in Joplin? I guess this is “different” as well. 20th street seems to have survived the Tornado just fine, it just needed to be cleared, which was done over 18 months ago. New signs and street lights have been replaced long ago as well. Now they want to improve the former street, but anywhere else they call it pork, correct? Also, is this no different than a Highway Bill that Repubs fought against?



    • @ Kabe,

      I admit to confusion in trying to track all the tornado financing that’s been going on for the past two years in Joplin. So far as I can tell there has been no accounting for the big finance picture. What I as a taxpayer would like to see is totals for the different kinds of public money, where it’s gone already, where it’s allocated for the future, and what has yet to be allocated. And who is in charge of each pot? And that raises another question. Why do we need a Master Developer when we already had a professional management staff that includes not only a city manager for this burg of 50,000 people, but an assistant manager as well? And how much is the MD being paid, and on what basis? Is his cut a percentage of the aid? I don’t know the answers, I’m just asking the questions here.

      I should add that I do see positive things happening. Rebuilding is proceeding at a good clip and both houses and businesses have a uniformly attractive and colorful appearance so far as I can see. But I still can’t understand why we needed to import talent from Texas to make that happen. Am I being a curmudgeon here?


    • Kabe,

      Great points, all.

      As a defender of socialistic enterprises like government stimulus help, I support spreading the wealth around where it is needed the most. The hypocrisy around here, though, as you suggest, is breathtaking. One minute folks are holding “Obama is a socialist” placards in front of the old Municipal Building in downtown Joplin, the next minute they’ve got their hands out to Uncle Barack wanting more dough for the city.

      In the mean time, the local paper, which endorse cutting things like public broadcasting, doesn’t have a bad word to say about it.



      • Duane – Before my retirement, I worked for a theatre, non profit, local. We applied for and got over the years hundreds of thousands in State, County and Foundation grants to improve our facitliy and our product. There is a regular cadre of people here who are always outraged when gov’t money is spent this way. Today, the city almost worships at our feet – the increase in business downtown has been astonishing and they know it’s in a significant way a result of what we did – bringing in theatre festivals, longer seasons, more offerings, concerts with name acts etc, The city recently worked out that for every person attending our theatre an additional $36 is spent in town.

        Not the same thing of course, just an example of what a positive impact can come when government invests money in communities.


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