Texas is the land of cattle, oil, Dallas socialites, Rick Perry, a desire to secede, and conservative leaders like Ted Cruz and Louie Gohmert. Texas is also one of many right-wing states that refuses to expand Medicaid because the powers that be (staunch conservatives all) cannot stand President Obama. The decision to refuse Medicaid expansion cost Texas billions of dollars, and left over one million Texans without access to health insurance. And who can forget Texans who, every few months, express their fervent desire to secede? Heck, Texas Republicans almost had to vote on secession about a month ago; that’s how serious the movement has become. Independent Texas! Wait…the what virus? Zika? Oh holy Jehovah, we need money from the feds!
The Zika virus, named after the Zika Forest in Uganda, is spread primarily by a specific type of mosquito. Once bitten, the symptoms include conjunctivitis (pink-eye), fever, rash, and joint pain. However, the Zika virus can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly, along with other severe fetal brain defects. There are at least 388 confirmed cases of Zika in the continental U.S. as of April, most of which involve travelers.
Which brings us to a letter Dan Patrick, the lieutenant governor of Texas, sent to President Obama. Dated June 6, the letter asks for federal money to combat the Zika virus should it arrive in Texas. Patrick writes:
Implementation of the state’s response is hampered by the uncertainty of federal funding. The state’s Public Health Emergency Preparedness federal funding was recently cut by $3.6 million, which is coupled with the uncertainty of receiving any federal funds for Zika in a timely manner, further exacerbating the state’s challenge in responding to this potential public health disaster.
Whoa, hold on there, Sparky. Your very own presidential candidate and Dr. Seuss aficionado, Ted Cruz, hates the government. He hates the EPA. He hates the judicial branch of the federal government. Ted Cruz’s name is on that letter. Louie Gohmert’s name is also on that letter. You know, Louie Gohmert. The guy who told a woman who aborted her 20-week-old brain-dead fetus she should have carried to term, just in case. The guy who, in 2015, said he was “astounded” more people were not demanding President Obama’s impeachment. Rep. Blake Farenthold also signed the “we hate the federal government until we need the federal government” letter. If you have forgotten who Farenthold is, he is a right-wing birther. In 2013, Farenthold got into a rather heated argument with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews over Ted Cruz’s eligibility to run for president, which turned into this:
“Listen, we’ve had this discussion on President Obama,” Farenthold said.
“Is this too complicated?” Matthews asked. “We’re talking about Cruz. Stick to the point, congressman.”
“He’s as eligible as Obama is,” Farenthold said.
Perplexed by that answer, Matthews sparred with Farenthold for another two minutes on the Obama issue, leading to this request.
“Can you repeat after me: he was legitimately elected president,” Matthews said.
“President Obama was elected president,” Farenthold replied.
“Legitimately,” Matthews said.
“The people elected him! Yes!” Farenthold exclaimed.
So he was a natural born-citizen,” Matthews pressed.
“I didn’t make that judgment when he was brought in,” Farenthold said.
“Well, everybody watching knows what you’re doing,” Matthews concluded. “You’re dodge balling.”
These are some of the politicians who signed Dan Patrick’s letter to President Obama, begging for federal money to combat Zika. I have a theory on this, by the way. It’s a little twisted, but I think you can follow it. Zika affects pregnant women. Texas is pro-fetus to the point of obsession. Fetuses are more important than actual people. Therefore, Medicaid expansion is stupid, because actual people might be helped, but groveling to a federal government you hate, and a president you hate, for money to fight Zika makes perfect sense since Zika might hurt fetuses.
Texas, along with many other states, has faced cuts in federal funding to emergency management programs. According to the Obama administration, these cuts were necessary due to Congress’s unwillingness to approve a $1.9 billion package to combat Zika:
The across-the-board funding cuts are part of a complicated shift of resources that the Obama administration blames on Congress and its refusal to approve the White House’s $1.9 billion emergency request to combat Zika. In early April, officials announced a stopgap measure that moved money originally intended for the government’s Ebola response.
A right-wing Congress refused to approve the Obama administration’s emergency request, but now, Texas wants the Obama administration to make an exception, and approve their emergency request. Right before they secede.