Rep. Darrell Issa
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA). A recidivist jerk on disaster relief.

As many folks already have read, veteran California GOP Rep. Darrell Issa has emerged as a leading critic of the Sandy Aid bill that was stifled by the Republican House leadership.

The shocking decision to drop the bill led to outrage, particularly from fellow Republicans whose constituencies were in the path of destruction.

On one level, Issa emerging as a lead critic of the Sandy relief bill would appear to be an odd choice. Issa, of course, represents northern San Diego County in the U.S. Congress. Not only is that region less than 75 miles from the San Andreas Fault (which bisects the desert to the east of his district), but it has been the locale for two of the most devastating wildfires in California state history. Both of which, as it happens, burned in his district while he represented the county in Congress.

The most recent one was the firestorm that visited much of southern California in 2007, which destroyed thousands of homes in the districts of Issa and neighboring Republicans Brian Bilbray and Duncan Hunter.

Therefore, for a congressman with such recent exposure to natural disaster to be so flippant about calling for killing a disaster relief bill on the charge of "too much pork" would seem pretty hard to believe. One assumes that his own constituents, faced with rebuilding their lives after the Witch Creek and Rice Canyon conflagrations of 2007, cared little about how many extraneous amendments (if any) were tacked onto the bill. It was this shot from Issa that drew the particular wrath of Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) this morning:

At his press conference, Schumer said he was “infuriated by comments like” Issa’s. “Filled with pork,” said Schumer. “I’d like Darrell Issa to tell the taxpayers of New York…who are all caught up in this horrible storm that they don’t need help — that this is pork.”

Responding to the extra measures included in the bill, Schumer said House Leader Eric Cantor provided an amendment to the bill in the House that would have cut the relief to areas not related to the hurricane that ravaged the tri-state area two months ago.

“That is a false excuse. Darrell Issa just kind of makes it up as he goes along."

If nothing else, however, you have to hand it to Darrell Issa. He is, at least, consistent.

You see, Darrell Issa has put ideology above helping those afflicted with disasters for a very long time.

Consider the last time Issa found himself insulting most of the northeast with his lack of empathy. It was in 2008, and the topic was 9/11.

The California congressman who called the Sept. 11 attacks "simply" a plane crash ran for cover Wednesday under a barrage of ridicule from fellow Republicans, first responders and victims' families.

San Diego GOP Rep. Darrell Issa was under siege for suggesting the federal government had already done enough to help New York cope with "a fire" that "simply was an aircraft" hitting the World Trade Center.

"That is a pretty distorted view of things," said Frank Fraone, a Menlo Park, Calif., fire chief who led a 67-man crew at Ground Zero. "Whether they're a couple of planes or a couple of missiles, they still did the same damage."

"New York was attacked by Al Qaeda. It doesn't have to be attacked by Congress," added Long Island Rep. Pete King, a Republican.

Hell, Issa even used the aforementioned disasters during his tenure in Congress to play ideological games. In December of 2007, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, then the chair of a Domestic Policy subcommittee, convened a meeting in Issa's district to discuss disaster preparedness in the wake of the wildfires. The meeting was held in Fallbrook, a community that lost over 200 structures in the Rice Canyon Fire. In his opening statement, Issa decided to take a swipe at environmentalists, putting them, and not a lack of resources to fight the fires, at fault for the firestorm:
As a Federal officer, I am keenly aware that often, we have been the problem to clearing, prior to a spontaneous event. I hope that we can, in the future, on a bipartisan basis, realize that habitat is preserved by small burns and destroyed by hundreds of thousands of acres burning at once. That is the lesson that the environmentalists, and, in fact, the men and women before us today have learned the hard way, that in an effort to not burn, to save wildlife, we ultimately often lose far more wildlife and, of course, the lives of men and women fighting the fire, and our citizens.
The lesson in all of this: Disaster relief was long thought to be the one thing immune from partisanship. But, in the modern era, because disaster relief involves the spending of government money, the modern GOP is eager to destroy the long-held compact that we will always have the back of our fellow Americans in need. Lest we forget, the Sandy aid bill was rejected by the strong majority of Republicans in the Senate, even before it was dropped from consideration by the House.

If it involves spending money, even if imperiled Americans are in the balance, the Republicans don't want it. Many of them believe it. Darrell Issa is just one of the few boorish enough to say it out loud.

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