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The Politics of Hurricane Sandy

What’s projected as a record storm is hitting the Eastern Seaboard, shutting down the federal government, New York City, public transit, highways, and pretty much everything else. Naturally, most of us are asking: What does this mean for next Tuesday’s election.

Well, no normal person is asking that. (Unless you count commenters on Washington Post weather posts as normal. I don’t.) But it’s the latest sensation among political operatives and pundits.

More bizarrely, Newt Gingrich is trying to make hay out of this by observing, ”You’ll notice [President Obama]‘s canceling his trips over the hurricane. He did not cancel his trips over Benghazi.” Because, obviously, an attack on a consulate half a world away demands precisely the same response as a massive weather event directly impacting your location.

Less stupidly, Politico’s Jonathan Allen (“Hurricane Sandy: 5 political questions“) notes that both campaigns have been forced to scrap events in Virginia and many have speculated that storm coverage will force the cancellation of a lot of stretch run political commercials. But Allen figures Sandy helps Obama.

It’s hard to see how the storm helps [Mitt Romney]. The Republican nominee has more than closed the gap with the incumbent over the final weeks of the campaign, taking a slim lead in most national polls. But his national boost hasn’t been mirrored in two pivotal states: Ohio and Virginia. Already Romney had to scrap a full day’s worth of events in Virginia Sunday.

Obama has had to change his schedule, too, but he’s not the one trying to make up ground.

And even though there are multiple schools of thought on how Sandy could affect voters’ feelings about the candidates or the nuts and bolts of getting folks to turn out, it’s still hard to see how the storm could help Romney. That is, unless the government botches the response and voters blame Obama.

[...]

As president, Obama’s best politics are to simply do his job well. On Sunday, he visited the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s headquarters for a briefing, which is pictured prominently on the White House Website. The president, in suit and shirt with no tie, sits between FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate and Deputy Administrator Richard Serino.

“The president will be in the thick of it — which is when he’s at his best,” the Democratic source said. “There is no way for Romney to replicate that.”

In very close elections—and it looks like this will be one of those—any little thing can be seen as a difference maker. Certainly, the storm is scrambling the candidates’ plans for the stretch run. Campaign events and advertising are being affected. The conversation is being changed. George Will likes to quip that nobody pays attention to the campaign until after the World Series ends.* It ended last night. But the media will be talking about Sandy, not politics.

But it’s next to impossible to say how or whether the storm is going to impact the ability to persuade a relative handful of undecided voters in Ohio, Virginia, Iowa, and New Hampshire. Could Romney lose the race because he’s unable to campaign in Virginia and New Hampshire in the final days? Maybe. Then again, an extra couple of days in Ohio could just as easily be a blessing in disguise, putting him over the 270 Electoral vote threshold.

Does a natural disaster give a sitting president the advantage of getting to look presidential? Sure. But Obama has had four years to do that.

______________
*TV ratings would suggest Will is living in the distant past. Regular season NFL games draw more interest than last night’s clinching game.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Mr. Prosser says:

    At this point neither candidate’s campaign strategy is going to make much difference. My concern, and one I haven’t seen much written on yet, is what happens to actual vote counting and early voting ballot protection and polling on election day due to the destruction and disruption from the storm? Will results be challenged in affected states by losing parties? Has there been anything put in place to prevent or minimize any problems?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  2. Just Me says:

    I think about the only thing Sandy can do is keep politics off the front burner.

    Obama may be able to ,look presidential in how he handles any aftermath-visits and the like, but the problem is most of the states being hardest hit are states where he doesn’t have to work too hard to get votes.

    Mostly I see Sandy as a change in media narrative from the race to the havoc caused by Sandy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. C. Clavin says:

    The most important impact is that it should focus people on the danger that Romney poses as CIC.
    20% cuts to NOAA, and NASA. That seems brilliant right now. We are naming storms into the “S’s” and yet we will cut by a fifth their ability to track and predict them.
    And in the primaries Romney said the FEMA “absolutely” should be handled by the states.
    This is just downright foolhardiness on so many levels.
    How intelligent people can support this man is beyond me.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 34 Thumb down 7

  4. sam says:

    TV ratings would suggest Will is living in the distant past.

    Among many other things.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  5. Tsar Nicholas says:

    The chances of the likes of Politico not finding that this hurricane somehow would be beneficial for Obama nearly were identical to the chances of not finding rank poverty, crime, blight and bad public schools in big liberal cities controlled for decades by liberal Democrats.

    Speaking which, I really believe with this cycle that we’re witnessing a cross the Rubicon moment for the liberal media. Even back in ’04 they were not this partisan.

    As far as the storm goes, it won’t really affect anything political, unless Obama loses next week, in which event it’ll be part of the laundry list of cognitively dissonant excuses.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 30

  6. gVOR08 says:

    Naturally, most of us are asking: What does this mean for next Tuesday’s election. Well, no normal person is asking that.

    Why not? Seems a perfectly legitimate question. The storm will last a few days. The cleanup a few weeks. Total damage will be, I have no idea, a billion dollars? If Mitt Romney is elected, he’ll last four years, possibly eight. If he’s elected, and if, as seems likely, he reverts to W Bush policies of tax cuts, deregulation, and foreign wars; he has the potential to do far more damage than any one hurricane could possibly do.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 3

  7. Tony W says:

    The storm may well remind people that folks do legitimately count on government for health and safety issues – there is little debate about that. Candidates who go around describing government as an evil beast that must be starved will not do well under those circumstances.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 3

  8. JKB says:

    @Tony W:

    Well, if Katrina is any indicator, the storm will remind folks that when the Democrats run the government incompetence prevails in an emergency. Nagin (D -mayor) and Blanco (D- governor) screwed the pooch in New Orleans. Especially compared the the Republican governor of Mississippi who had to deal with the actual natural disaster rather than one caused by decades of political corruption.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 35

  9. JKB says:

    Because, obviously, an attack on a consulate half a world away demands precisely the same response as a massive weather event directly impacting your location.

    Let’s see, one required direct and specific performance of the President’s Constitutional duties as Commander in Chief and conduct of U.S. foreign relations, i.e., no vague direction to “secure personnel” but rather specific orders authorizing use of force in a “friendly” foreign country.

    As opposed to a vague after the fact influx of relief personnel to augment local agencies. Personnel already pre-staged with areas of responsibility and well defined policies and authorizations.

    On the upside, it isn’t Labor Day weekend so the federal bureaucrats won’t be on holiday in the middle of this emergency.

    Granted, after what the Dems and MSM did to Bush over Katrina, Obama cannot risk being out of the White House for this disaster.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 30

  10. C. Clavin says:

    the liberal media and benghazi…oh my!!!
    broken f’ing records.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  11. C. Clavin says:

    Oh and Bush’s performance during Katrina was also a liberal media conspiracy?
    Jumpin’ jehosaphat…the nonsense is deep this am…must be the storm surge.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  12. Rafer Janders says:

    @C. Clavin:

    And in the primaries Romney said the FEMA “absolutely” should be handled by the states.

    Here’s what Cliffie is referring to; it’s from the June 13, 2011 GOP primary debate, where Romney said that disaster relief should be done not by the federal government but by the states or, even better, by the private sector:

    Moderator John King: Governor Romney? You’ve been a chief executive of a state. I was just in Joplin, Missouri. I’ve been in Mississippi and Louisiana and Tennessee and other communities dealing with – whether it’s the tornadoes, the flooding, and worse. FEMA is about to run out of money, and there are some people who say ‘do it on a case-by-case basis’ and some people who say, you know, ‘maybe we’re learning a lesson here that the states should take on more of this role.’ How do you deal with something like that?

    Romney: Absolutely. Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better. Instead of thinking in the federal budget, what we should cut – we should ask ourselves the opposite question. What should we keep? We should take all of what we’re doing at the federal level and say, what are the things we’re doing that we don’t have to do? And those things we’ve got to stop doing, because we’re borrowing $1.6 trillion more this year than we’re taking in. We cannot – ”

    King: Including disaster relief, though?

    Romney: We cannot – we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids. It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids, knowing full well that we’ll all be dead and gone before it’s paid off. It makes no sense at all.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @JKB:

    Well, if Katrina is any indicator, the storm will remind folks that when the Democrats run the government incompetence prevails in an emergency.

    “Heck of a job, Brownie!”

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 0

  14. C. Clavin says:

    Here’s Yglesias on Romney and disaster relief. I was misunderestimated when I sadi 20% cuts.

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2012/10/29/romney_s_fema_cuts.html

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  15. Mikey says:

    I don’t think it will make a whole lot of difference. Most of the impacted states are pretty much decided already. Virginia’s undecideds will probably be paying a whole lot more attention to how quickly Dominion Virginia Power gets the lights back on than anything else.

    The greatest potential impact is in what happens on Election Day if a significant number of polling places are without power. The various state boards of elections do have plans in place, but it’s not inconceivable that a switch to all-paper ballots delays the results until next Wednesday morning at least.

    There’s also the question of turnout–the most-impacted areas in Virginia (NoVA and Hampton) are heavily Democrat. What happens if a lot of those voters are too busy with storm recovery to vote? Would the Republican areas in the western part of the state then gain enough influence to give it to Romney?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @JKB:

    Especially compared the the Republican governor of Mississippi who had to deal with the actual natural disaster rather than one caused by decades of political corruption.

    Yeah, I know. The Corps of Engineers is so politically corrupt. Right.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  17. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mikey:

    Would the Republican areas in the western part of the state then gain enough influence to give it to Romney?

    This storm is obviously colluding with the GOP to throw the election to Romney….

    How does my impression of a paranoid Democrat compare with the GOP reality?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  18. C. Clavin says:

    @ JKB…

    “…Well, if Katrina is any indicator, the storm will remind folks that when the Democrats run the government incompetence prevails in an emergency…”

    As opposed to Republicans who oversaw Enron, 9.11, Katrina…and oh, yeah attacked Iraq???
    Now OBL is dead, GM isn’t, and the BP spill (enabled by the Republican’s at the MMS) was handled as quickly as any similar event in history.
    The facts just don’t match you ideology…which I find absolutely shocking.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  19. C. Clavin says:

    Oh yeah…last Friday night Bill Maher reminded me of Terry Schiavo. Have you noticed that we haven’t suffered under any of that kind of unmitigated bullshit under Obama? That alone is worth my vote.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  20. JKB says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: The Corps of Engineers is so politically corrupt. Right.

    Money was siphoned off at many levels before it got to the CoE.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  21. JKB says:

    @C. Clavin: @OzarkHillbilly:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. JKB says:

    @C. Clavin: @OzarkHillbilly:

    The lesson is don’t put your trust in the government.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 10

  23. C. Clavin says:

    @ JKB…
    Seriously?
    Air Traffic Control has kept me safe everytime I fly.
    I’ve never gotten sick from Government inspected meat.
    I’ve never gotten sick from Government inspected restaurants.
    When the power line outside my house caught on fire the Government run Fire Department took care of it.
    I went to public schools, a State College, and got my Master’s Degree from a State University system.
    Your anti-government rant is stupid, mindless, and like all Libertarian catechisms…doesn’t survive exposure to the real world.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 32 Thumb down 0

  24. Franklin says:

    *TV ratings would suggest Will is living in the distant past. Regular season NFL games draw more interest than last night’s clinching game.

    Good – I hope everyone missed my team’s embarrassing final act.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  25. rudderpedals says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Romney: Absolutely. Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better.”

    I’m skeptical of this claim. Is there any evidence that this is true? Anywhere???

    (Oh that thanks for getting me distracted yesterday. After the wiki article I lost hours hunting the library catalog for Capobeira (sp?) in English)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  26. Franklin says:

    The Republican nominee has more than closed the gap with the incumbent over the final weeks of the campaign, taking a slim lead in most national polls.

    This may be technically true, but the averages have been moving in the other direction over the past 2 or 3 weeks, unless Silver is wrong.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  27. Mikey says:

    @C. Clavin:

    I’ve never gotten sick from Government inspected meat..

    Your experience is not universally shared. A non-trivial number of people have actually died from illnesses they got from government-inspected meat.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  28. C. Clavin says:

    “…A non-trivial number of people have actually died from illnesses they got from government-inspected meat…”

    Compare that to the libertarian wet-dream of no government inspectors and get back to me.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  29. Mikey says:

    @rudderpedals: This is pretty much textbook federalism–if something can be handled at a lower level than the federal government, it should be handled at that level. This is why states have their own governments, rather than being mere administrative divisions of the federal government.

    I think there’s considerable merit to this idea. However, the very important factor is how we determine what those things are. Whether Romney intended it or not, he comes off sounding like he wants to willy-nilly throw everything back to the states.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  30. Mikey says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Compare that to the libertarian wet-dream of no government inspectors and get back to me.

    Are there libertarians who want to eliminate government inspectors altogether? I wouldn’t agree with that at all.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  31. Rafer Janders says:

    @Mikey:

    A non-trivial number of people have actually died from illnesses they got from government-inspected meat.

    The solution, therefore, would be not to have had that meat inspected at all.

    Just like the fact that people still die in house fires even though we have government fire departments means we shouldn’t have the government put out fires, or the fact that even though people still die in airplane crashes means we shouldn’t have government air traffic controllers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  32. Rafer Janders says:

    @Mikey:

    Whether Romney intended it or not, he comes off sounding like he wants to willy-nilly throw everything back to the states.

    You know why Romney comes off sounding this way? Because he said, and I quote:

    Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better.

    And what’s this whether he “intended it or not”? Does Romney mean what he says or doesn’t h…oh, never mind. I know the answer already.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  33. Mikey says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    The solution, therefore, would be not to have had that meat inspected at all.

    That’s not what I meant at all, of course.

    But at the same time, it’s not valid to extrapolate from one person’s experience to the general whole. Saying “all government is good because I’ve never gotten sick from government-inspected X” is just as wrong as saying “all government is bad because a few people have died from government-inspected X.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  34. Mikey says:

    @Rafer Janders: My point was that it sounded like he wants to do it without consideration of what should and shouldn’t go, not that he wasn’t saying one thing while meaning another. It’s pretty obvious he wants to push a lot back to the states, the question is if he’ll do it with proper foresight or just go in slashing-and-burning.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  35. rudderpedals says:

    @Mikey: OK but it does beg the question as to whether the classic Federalism approach of devolution or privatization of Federal services garners good results on the ground vs. comports with the dogma.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  36. Rafer Janders says:

    @Mikey:

    It’s pretty obvious he wants to push a lot back to the states, the question is if he’ll do it with proper foresight or just go in slashing-and-burning.

    Oh, gosh, I can’t imagine which one it would be!

    Still, since he’s a Republican, I can imagine it will be done with the same attention to detail, cool forethought, and careful deliberateness that attended the Iraq War, the hunt for Osama bin Laden, Hurricane Katrina, and the response to the 2008 global financial meltdown.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  37. MBunge says:

    @Mikey: “But at the same time, it’s not valid to extrapolate from one person’s experience to the general whole”

    What the heck is someone supposed to do if not extrapolate from their personal experience? Not to the exclusion of all other considerations, of course, but more people relying on personal experience might help resolve “keep the government out of my Medicare” cognitive dissonance.

    Mike

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  38. Rafer Janders says:

    @Mikey:

    My point was that it sounded like he wants to do it without consideration of what should and shouldn’t go, not that he wasn’t saying one thing while meaning another.

    Re-read King’s question: he was asking Romney specifically about FEMA and federal disaster relief. Romney’s answer was that he thinks that the response to a national level natural disaster is better left to the states rather than being coordinated by the federal government.

    This is, to put it simply, nonsense. The whole point of having the feds handle this is that a large natural disaster is often not confined to one state, but can affect several at the same time, and therefore it is inefficient and, in many instances, impossible for the states as individuals to handle them.

    So yes, Romney’s answer, in the specific context of the question he was responding to, indicated he would do it willy-nilly and without proper foresight.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  39. Mikey says:

    @Rafer Janders: I took it as being more general than that, but after re-reading the question I see your view is the more accurate one.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  40. rudderpedals says:

    @Mikey: Milton Friedman would have opposed government inspectors, arguing that consumers would effect better regulation by suing and winning exemplary damages that over time would dissuade everyone from vending bad meat and more efficiently than govt regulators. OTOH Friedman did not account for tort “reform” and other limits on private enforcement so I think the answer is not clear cut for libertarians who inherit the federalism drive in the quest for freedom from regulation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  41. Mikey says:

    @rudderpedals: Of course, absolutely. And it’s probably more difficult to figure that out than one would think it should be.

    I think as far as pushing things down to the states, there are a few obvious ones. I’m not sure anyone really thinks it would be more efficient to license all drivers at the federal level, for example.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  42. JKB says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Did I say get rid of the government? No, I said don’t trust the government. Don’t trust the police to arrive in time before some criminal kills you or to have an obligation to protect you. Don’t trust the ambulance to arrive before you bleed out. Don’t trust disaster relief to arrive immediately. Don’t trust the government to send help when you come under attack in Benghazi or some other foreign city. Not even if you are the President’s direct representative in that country.

    Government provides some good common services. I would say, with modern communications we could cut back more. Your food inspection is good but with the Internet, a bad meat producer could be outed and put out of business much easier now days via knowledge dissemination. But even though the government provides services, we see time and again, when disaster strikes, when danger approaches, when you are most in peril, you are on your own for a time, unless you’ve got connections. Worse, you can count on the government to demand payment for and their consent of your actions to save your self and others. While they may not always provide assistance, you must alway ensure you’ve got the proper permits and paid the proper fees.

    Again, the lesson is, Don’t trust the government to be there when you need help the most.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 9

  43. sam says:

    @rudderpedals:

    Milton Friedman would have opposed government inspectors, arguing that consumers would effect better regulation by suing and winning exemplary damages that over time would dissuade everyone from vending bad meat and more efficiently than govt regulators

    Assuming there’s anyone to recover damages from. Nobody is going to recover anything from those criminals in Massachusetts.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  44. Mikey says:

    @rudderpedals: Friedman’s position is entirely reactive, while government inspection is ostensibly pro-active–lawsuits could only proceed after people were sickened or had died, while pre-sale inspections aim to keep bad meat out of the market altogether. While we might eventually reach his desired end-state, I don’t think people would be willing to accept the potential damage along the way.

    However, I think there could be benefit to pushing such inspections down to state-level bureaus, which could draw on local resources familiar with local conditions and livestock. (The USDA may staff that way already, though–I’m not that familiar with how it hires people.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  45. mattb says:

    @JKB:

    Your food inspection is good but with the Internet, a bad meat producer could be outed and put out of business much easier now days via knowledge dissemination.

    Right… and the internet did so well to protect those people from getting viral meningitis from a sketchy drug producer violating federal law in Massachusetts.

    Good thing that the FDA’s inspection team has been weakend by years of cutting during the Bush administration.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  46. Rafer Janders says:

    @Mikey:

    I’m not sure anyone really thinks it would be more efficient to license all drivers at the federal level, for example.

    Actually, in terms of efficiency alone, it would be far more efficient to license all drivers at the federal level, rather than having it done by the states. Instead of having 52 different offices and standards, we’d be able to do it out of one office, just as is done with passports. Whatever the merits of having this task done by the states, “efficiency” is certainly not the motive — it merely causes everything to be duplicated 52 times.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  47. rudderpedals says:

    @sam: A major problem with Friedman and libertarian dogma in general it seems to me is that it makes things worth or at best, the changes make no sense unless you have the whole ball of wax – the entire set of law and regulations turned over and replaced by markets unfettered by regulation other than extremely power private enforcement.

    @Mikey: I thought your drivers license example was good but Rafers makes me question as to whether it is in that local conditions are not usually so localized as to make driving in one state different than another. Relying on personal experience (so it’s unreliable) I did drivers education in NY City north of 80th St on the east side where the conditions were far different from those in rural eastern Florida in the early 80s where I first took a driving test and was licensed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  48. wr says:

    @JKB: “Your food inspection is good but with the Internet, a bad meat producer could be outed and put out of business much easier now days via knowledge dissemination. ”

    After how many people die?

    What if my wife and (fictional) child die from tainted meat because in your libertarian paradise we decide we no longer need government inspections? How is suing the producer going to bring them back? How is it going to protect someone else’s child from the next corner-cutter? Oh, look, I get a judgment I’ll never collect because the company declares bankruptcy while the owner trots off and incorporates under a new name, doing business the same way. And even if I do collect — so what? I wouldn’t agree to sell the lives of my wife and fictional child for a million or five or ten million dollars — what makes you think handing me that money (or a fraction thereof) will make me whole once your free marketeer has murdered them?

    Geeze, why don’t you take a look at what’s going on with compounding pharmacies these days? They are regulated only at the state level — and it turns out at least two of them have been operating in levels of filth that are astonishing. People are dying from tainted drugs all over the country. Now it’s pretty clear that there are going to be lawsuits. The owners will be sued out of existence, and if there’s any justice, they’ll spend the rest of their lives in jail.

    And what good will that do for the people who died or the families they left behind, or the doctors who carry the burden of having killed their patients because they trusted the wrong company?

    Tell me how that works in your libertarian internet paradise.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  49. Mikey says:

    @Rafer Janders: Perhaps, but at the same time, there’s the problem of the sheer number of licensed drivers in the U. S. which could be overwhelming at the federal level.

    Not that there aren’t big programs like that at the federal level, of course. Everybody has a Social Security number. But they tend to be rather slower to respond than even your state-level DMV.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  50. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @JKB:

    Money was siphoned off at many levels before it got to the CoE.

    You do realize that the money the Corps of Engineers operates on comes directly from the Federal Govt’ and is appropriated by Congress? That Congress tells the CoE what to do? The Corps only gets to decide how to do it? So any siphoning off of money was done by Congress critters?

    Not the Mayor of New Orleans. Not the Gov. of Louisiana.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  51. Jen says:

    This has long been said to be a base turnout election. The impact of Sandy–from an electoral standpoint–matters most in its potential to reduce voter turnout. As has been noted, most of the states potentially heavily impacted are not ones the President needs to worry about. However, Virginia, New Hampshire, and Ohio are all in the storm damage path. The question is, are people who have been without power for a week, with no hot water, going to bother to vote? What will campaigns do about GOTV phone efforts–risk calling ticked-off people asking if they’ve voted yet, or skip the calls?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  52. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mikey:

    I think as far as pushing things down to the states, there are a few obvious ones. I’m not sure anyone really thinks it would be more efficient to license all drivers at the federal level, for example.

    Mike, I agree to some extent but not when it comes to emergency management. As someone else already pointed out, a lot of disasters cross state lines.Also, some disasters are just plain too big for state or local govt’s to respond to. The Joplin tornado is a case in point.

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  53. Mikey says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Disasters that impact several states pretty much define what the federal government is supposed to handle. We can discuss the scope of something like FEMA–should it be a powerful government agency or a smaller unit charged only with coordinating the efforts of state-level agencies?–but getting rid of it altogether would be counterproductive.

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  54. PJ says:

    Can’t wait for President Romney to respond to the first natural disaster of his presidency.

    “I’ve defunded FEMA, so I would advise anyone in the affected area to move to one of your other homes, preferable in another state.”

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  55. Matt says:

    Jesus tapdancing… One of the primary reasons for the foundation of the federal government was to deal with disasters like this. The states need balanced budgets yearly. The federal government is a bridge to handle events like this since they would bankrupt the states. The founders new that and foresaw it. Advocating for moving disaster response to the states is like advocating national defense be moved to the states. It’s monumentally stupid at the structural level and reveals a profound ignorance of our nation and government.

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  56. michael reynolds says:

    @rudderpedals:

    Skeptical. Okay. Here’s the video: link

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  57. Mikey says:

    Watching Maryland Governor O’Malley on TV right now announcing early voting in the state of Maryland that was supposed to start tomorrow, won’t start tomorrow. He says they’re going to try to figure out when to make up the time.

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  58. michael reynolds says:

    Let’s devolve the Centers for Disease Control to the states as well. I can’t see any downside.

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  59. Mikey says:

    @michael reynolds: You mean aside from the 50 separate potential escape incidents of mutated zombie rhesus monkeys carrying highly-contagious ebola?

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  60. michael reynolds says:

    @Mikey:
    Or those super-smart apes that took over the Golden Gate bridge.

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  61. Mikey says:

    @michael reynolds: Well, super-smart apes built it, didn’t we?

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  62. rudderpedals says:

    @michael reynolds: Skeptical is too passive-aggressive. I’m ready to pick up the phone and straightaway call shenanigans on Romney’s claim that it’s always better to devolve. I see plenty of examples of federal success and state failure every day around town and around my home.

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  63. Tony W says:

    Delegating such responsibilities to the states is not even good business! Imagine trying to run a nationwide food-supply system and having to create 50 separately manufactured & labeled products just for U.S. distribution (and that doesn’t even count the non-State territories). This is ultimately why even those on the Political Right agreed to disband the Articles of Confederation in favor of a more Federalist system.

    Today it is merely populist red meat for low-information voters when the Right claims that they want the states regulating everying – they only say it because they know that it will never happen.

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  64. stonetools says:

    This election season is like a constant re-run of beating conservatives over the head with “What have The Romans ever done for us”:

    Damn the federal government! What are they are good for except raising taxes and piling up debt? What’s the federal government ever done for us?”

    ” Disaster relief? ”

    “Well of course disaster relief and air traffic control and interstate highways -the highways go without saying, but apart from that , what’s the bloody federal government ever done for us?”

    ” The National Weather Center”
    “The Center for Disease Control”
    ” The Veteran’s Administration”
    “Land grant Colleges”
    “National Water Projects. Without that in northern California , we would not have had the wine” .
    “Ah yes, the wine.”

    ” All right, apart from all that, what has the federal government ever done for us.”
    ” Brought the Internet?”
    “Shut up!!”

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  65. stonetools says:

    I can’t wait for Republican Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia ( who Doug and likely James both voted for) to spurn federal disaster aid and say that the state of Virginia will handle disaster relief on its own. Waiting for those good Republicans Kasich and Christie to stand by Romney and say the same.

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  66. Davebo says:

    Geez people get over meat inspections. Here’s a clue. Your meat goes bad long after federal inspection due to lousy food safety practices at super markets and restaurants.

    Is this really news to anyone? Don’t you guys watch Restaurant Impossible as well of all the other ones?

    Heck the first 10 minutes of that show is as gross as the first 10 minutes of “Bones”.

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  67. Mikey says:

    @stonetools: Would that be the same Bob McDonnell who told Eric Cantor and other House Republicans that conditioning federal relief for last year’s Hurricane Irene on “offsetting budget cuts” was a stupid idea?

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  68. Davebo says:

    what’s the bloody federal government ever done for us

    Well today would be a good time to note the National Hurricane Center. It’s good for more than just a breeding ground for future local weathermen in areas likely to be affected.

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  69. mantis says:

    It’s a good thing natural disasters confine themselves within state lines.

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  70. stonetools says:

    I note that right wing blogs have STFU about citizens not needing the help of the federal government and have been pretty quiet about Romney’s remarks on FEMA.
    I imagine that in a couple days they will be back out criticizing the federal government about being slow in offering help that citizens are not supposed to need.

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  71. Hopeahead says:

    @C. Clavin: @OzarkHillbilly: This disaster reminds me how dependent we are on each other and how we need to support and care for each other. It demonstrates how democracy is the onlyworkable government.A ruling class of corporative rule or rule of the rich benefits only the few . Millions of people, dependent on each other with rights to our planet are democratic democrats

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