Tim Huelskamp and the Tale of Two Maps
Tim Huelskamp (FarRightR-Brownbackistan01) has been in the news lately for standing up to John Boehner (NotQuiteSoFarRightR). Last month, Boehner’s reaction to Huelskamp’s constant pokes from the Far Right (which undermined his negotiating ability with the White House) was to kick Huelskamp off the House Agriculture committee, leaving Kansas without a member of that committee for the first time in 150 years. Note, please, that Huelskamp prides himself on being a farmer first, and Huelskamp’s most favorite map (over to the right) is packed with farms, so this hurts him not just in his ego, but in his ability to deliver for his constituents. This past week, Huelskamp reacted by voting against Boehner for speaker.
If this was just intramural GOP infighting, I’d just reach for the popcorn. But it’s not. Huelskamp is a menace, as the folks in New York and New Jersey have learned over the last couple months, and as the people of Huelskamp’s vast congressional district are about to find out in the months ahead. More on that later — first, there’s Huelskamp’s work to derail Superstorm Sandy relief.
At first, Huelskamp whined that Obama dangled FEMA aid in front of New York right before the election in order to get Mayor Bloomberg’s endorsement.
Huh? All those poor naive New Yorkers were sitting there on the fence right before the election, and only made up their minds to vote for Obama after Bloomberg showed them which way to leap? (Has Huelskamp ever met a New Yorker? I can’t swear to this, but I think there’s a law that says dithering people who can’t make up their minds are allowed to visit, but they can’t live there permanently.) New York was such a close state, that Obama felt he had to get Bloomberg’s endorsement in order to win it? (Has Huelskamp ever looked at New York voting patterns?)
More recently, he shifted his whining to say FEMA had plenty of money to pay for legitimate needs, and we can’t afford to toss more pork at New York and New Jersey unless we cut money elsewhere. He and his Far Right compatriots raised enough of a stink that things got derailed and the Sandy relief bill got delayed:
The House had been expected to vote on the package Tuesday night, but GOP aides said that became increasingly difficult as the fiscal-cliff package took final shape.
They said the specter of holding a vote on a federal aid package that included no offsetting spending cuts was politically untenable after the cliff plan, with higher tax rates and no spending cuts, split the Republican conference and could pass the House only with a large Democratic majority.
And even when Boehner later brought up a small slice of the Sandy relief, Huelskamp and the rest of the Brownbackistan congressional delegation all voted against it. All of them thumbed their noses at the Northeast and at their two NQSFR colleagues in the Senate, Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran.
This is the kind of thing that provoked Boenher into channeling his inner Tom Delay and stripping Huelskamp of his plum committee slots. It appears not to have worked terribly well at changing Huelskamp’s behavior, or the behavior of others in the Far Right camp.
Which brings us to Tim Huelscamp’s Least Favorite Map.
It comes to us, like others before it, from the US Drought Monitor office in Nebraska. Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma are at the center of a deep drought that shows no signs of ending soon. The USDA’s weekly look at agricultural conditions noted at the end of December:
. . . patchy, light precipitation on the Plains provided a few areas with beneficial moisture. However, the precipitation had little effect on the region’s long-running drought, which has adversely affected establishment of the 2013 hard red winter wheat crop. . . . In addition to the cold weather in the West, some of the coldest air of the season across the Plains held weekly temperatures at least 5 to 15°F below normal in most locations. . . . At the time of the coldest weather, the central High Plains’ winter wheat crop had only a shallow snow cover for insulation.
A year ago, less than 1/4th of 1% of the state was in “exceptional drought”; today, it’s 36.97% of the state. A year ago, 42.48% of the state was not even categorized as “abnormally dry”; today, the entire state is in a severe, extreme, or exceptional drought.
There’s a lot of ugly on that second map, especially if you are Tim Huelskamp and you lay it on top of your Most Favorite Map. Almost all of the “exceptional drought” conditions are in his district.
And if you are one of those farmers out there, listening to your representative whine about taking care of people who are dealing with a disaster has to make you nervous. As disasters go, droughts are not sexy. Jim Cantore and his Weather Channel friends don’t come and sit in the dry dust for weeks the way they stand in the rain with hurricanes. But droughts are no less disasters, and the costs to recover from them will be huge. When the time comes for getting federal relief, will Huelskamp have burned so many bridges with his colleagues (like Boehner or Peter King) that he won’t be able to help those farmers back home? For that matter, will Huelskamp’s devotion to austerity trump his compassion for his neighbors, and he won’t even try to get aid for Kansas farmers?
If that’s the case, the nervousness back home will turn to anger pretty damn quick.
The Most Favorite Map comes from the National Atlas’s maps of Congressional Districts, and the Least Favorite Map comes from the National Drought Monitor, and both are in the public domain as government work products.