While the east coast faces the gargantuan task of even beginning to contemplate where to begin to clean up, dig out, and recover from the wrath of Sandy, some politicians spin on, safe in their dry havens far, far west of the disaster...
Out in Iowa where the corn and asshats grow tall, Republican Steve King decided to hold forth on the subject of aid to those in need.
"I want to get them the resources that are necessary to lift them out of this water and the sand and the ashes and the death that's over there in the East Coast and especially in the Northeast," King said during a Tuesday evening debate in Mason City, Iowa.
"But not one big shot to just open up the checkbook, because they spent it on Gucci bags and massage parlors and everything you can think of in addition to what was necessary," he said later, referring to Hurricane Katrina.
Gucci bags and massage parlors.
Yes, that's definitely what those still awaiting rescue are thinking about. As they sit on their roofs, or wait trapped in apartments surrounded by four feet of water; as they mourn relatives lost when trees crashed into their homes or when debris hit them outside; as they try to process their entire neighborhood having been torched to the ground or their homes moved completely from their foundations - they console themselves with visions of Gucci bags and yank jobs dancing in their heads.
It is stunning to me that this horrific set of natural events which have decimated lives, destroyed dreams, and left entire states reeling is being played off as some money making scheme to be thwarted.
I have news for you Steven - when our lives were ripped from under us by Hurricane Iniki, and we faced the future not knowing how we would meet it, our thoughts were about a crib for our baby, not a Gucci bag for me. We were worried about underwear, not the gratification of what was under it.
WE. LOST. EVERYTHING.
That is not hyperbole, that is not exaggeration to make a point. That is truth. We had each other and a 3 month old baby. We had the destroyed remnant of a house. We had carpet ripped from the foundation.
We had our lives RIPPED FROM THE FOUNDATION.
Our FEMA loan literally got us back on our feet. We were able to find an apartment, buy a crib, a bed to sleep in, clothing, diapers, bottles.
At no point were we shopping in Neiman Marcus for our clothes or some high end baby store for Culley. Her crib was a white rectangle. Nothing flashy, no hardwood stained a deep cherry. Designer labels? That's a laugh. Think Walmart, JC Penney, outlet stores.
Are there those who will misuse funds they may receive? Of course. There are bad apples in every pie, Steven. Hell, look around you, in your state. Seems my tax dollars subsidize an awful lot of unnecessary corn, and worse, pay farmers to NOT grow certain things. Are you checking on them to insure they are not sporting designer overalls or visiting Miss Yankywank down at the local Happy Ending?
No, you're not.
The money we received from FEMA came through an application process, and we HAVE TO PAY IT BACK. Yes, at a low interest rate, and yes, over the course of many, many years. But it was not free money. And I still maintain a record of every receipt for every dime of that money spent.
People are hurting, Mr. King. People do not even know which way is up this morning, let alone when they will be able to flush a toilet or turn on a lightswitch (if they even have those things left standing).
They need our help. They need our compassion. They need our generosity. And they need the programs, like FEMA, which are thankfully in place to help Americans HELP AMERICANS.
You want to crack down on misuse of funds, Steve? Sweep your own doorstep, as my mother always says. Your state is a prime example of people content to suck at the teat of government.
And YOU represent THEM.
(For the record, we did get back on our feet, and through hard work, family sacrifice, and dedication are now able to breathe easy. And while I could afford to tag myself with Coach, Hermes, and Gucci, I still carry a $10 purse from TARGET, and I am still thankful every day for FEMA being there when the winds blew our lives off course.)