Red State/Blue State

With friends like FEMA, then who needs enemies?


A political discussion between Red State conservative Dave Simpson – a former reporter, editor, publisher and columnist – and Greg Bean, Blue Stater and executive editor of GreaterMedia Newspapers. Let us know what you think.

Dear Greg:

I know you joinme in being relieved this week by the news that FEMA was on the job when the government shot down that dying satellite.

The whole operation reportedly cost from $40 million to $60 million, which I’m sure you agree is chicken feed when it comes to government. For government, that’s the change that falls out of its trouser pockets when it gets undressed at night.

The chances of being hit by a piece of dying satellite were estimated at 1 in 1 trillion, but just to be safe, FEMA dispatched six “rescue teams” around the country, covering the “you’re doing a heck of a job, Brownie” front.

On NBC, space reporter Jay Barbree warned us not to breathe the brown cloud of hydrazine if we happen to be that 1 in 1 trillionth person, and, instead of winning the lottery, the dying satellite falls in our backyard (that would be my luck), because the stuff makes your lung cells seal over and then the next day, you die.

But, not to worry, though, Greg, because even if the dying satellite fell in your backyard, FEMAwould be on hand lickety split with one of those formaldehyde-contaminated trailers that they’ve been using in Louisiana and Mississippi ever since Hurricane Katrina.

You’ll recall that those trailers made news about a year after the hurricane, when it turned out that about 1,000 of them were stuck in a muddy field somewhere, not being used. Now we find out that about 35,000 of them also contain five times the normal level of formaldehyde. Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu cited the “gross incompetence” of FEMA, and even the post-Brownie FEMAdirector called the trailers “flimsy and cramped.”

The good news, however, is that formaldehyde takes a lot longer to kill a guy than hydrazine, Greg. So hiding in a formaldehydey FEMA trailer after a dying satellite hits your backyard would save a guy’s life, all thanks to government, even though government put the satellite up there in the first place.

The other good news for you Blue State guys is that by sheer land volume, there’s a lotmore Red State land for dying satellites to hit, which could help you in the November elections, but probably not, because FEMA was doing such a heck of a job with its six rescue teams.

I know you’ll blame formaldehydey trailers on Republicans, Greg, but I think there’s a larger issue here. As your mainsqueeze candidate Barack advocates expanding the role of government, I think it’s fair to look at how government responds to problems. If you ask me – and I’m older than you, so you have to listen tome- the “gross incompetence” is bipartisan. The whole darned critter stinks.

It’s something to think about, Greg, as we consider turning health care and “running the economy” over to your Big Government pals. It’s worse than stamp machines at the post office that don’t work.

So, have at me, Greg, but to quote Bill O’Reilly, I’m just “lookin’ out for you.”

Sincerely, Red State Dave

Dear Dave:

According to CNN, we apparently got that defective satellite on the first try, and theMissile DefenseAgency agrees that our sea-based interception cost what you claim, most of it for the missile we shot off. That sounds like a whole lot of money, and it is, but let’s look at this thing from a different perspective.

I know you’re a do-it-yourself home-improvement type, so let’s say that in your basement there’s a brand new Rockler Powermatic Model 66 Cabinet Saw that cost more than your first car, let’s say $3,000. The thing will do a lot of jobs, from ripping fence rails to fine miter work for crosscutting, but you haven’t had a chance to use the beast yet.

Then, you find you need to trim an inch off a two-by-four to replace a board that fell off in your garage. You could probably trim that board with your $10 hand saw, but you think, “What the heck, I’ve got a $3,000 saw in the basement. I might as well fire it up.”

So you do, and you cut the board, but here’s my question. Did it cost you $3,000 to cut that two-by-four with a piece of equipment you’ve already paid for and have sitting around in the basement?

That’s what my wife would say (and believeme, she says stuff like that fairly often), but we guys know what’s really going on. Simply put, there’s no point having cool tools in the basement if you never use ’em. And when it comes to home-improvement technology, there’s no such thing as overkill.

I figure it’s kind of the same deal with the Navy shooting down that satellite. We had all those missiles sitting around that we’ve already paid for.An opportunity presented itself, so why not shoot one off and see if it works? Why wait for the thing to crash in Nebraska all by its lonesome?

I don’t know about you, but I feel a whole lot better knowing that if atmospheric conditions are absolutely perfect; if the waves aren’t too high; if the satellite flies through a specific, minute patch of infinite space, and we can draw a perfect bead in the 10-second window of opportunity, we can blast a defective satellite from its orbit.

And if we ever want to shoot down someone else’s satellite, say one of China’s, we’ll be able to do it – as long as all those complex factors are in alignment. I’ll bet that worries the dickens out of our Chinese friends, don’t you?

FEMA, now, is a horse of a different color. I’ve been mad at them since Katrina, and I get madder every time I read about all those unused trailers stored in a big government facility near theNew Jersey Turnpike, apparently leaking formaldehyde. If we really wanted to keep people like China and Russia in line, we’d forget anti-satellite missiles and threaten to send them about a thousand FEMAteams and 50,000 toxic trailers as “humanitarian outreach.” Talk about negotiating with a big stick.

And by the way, I hear pieces of that satellite (or another one) may still fall to earth at some point. I suggest we tighten the chin straps on our helmets.

Keep looking skyward,

Blue State Greg

You can reach Greg Bean at gbean @gmnews. com. Dave Simpson can be reached at