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[contextly_sidebar id="eHlTYo78qx3ETWRj9xen0VSxqli944a0"]Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder told a congressional hearing Thursday he was shocked and horrified the federal government allowed him and his incompetent administration to poison the children of Flint with all that lead. In testimony Thursday before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Snyder said he was simply appalled to learn that even though he'd seen many reports and complaints about the water, he nonetheless chose to believe his own appointees' assurances that the water quality in Flint was not a serious problem. He waved off numerous calls for him to resign, promising instead that he'd bring the same bold leadership to solving the problem as he did to creating it. In other words, the same song he's been singing at home, only now to a very appreciative Republican-led congressional audience.

For balance, the Republican leadership of the committee brought in EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy so they could blame her for not using the tyrannical power of government regulation to prevent Snyder and a series of emergency managers from poisoning the city's water supply. If only someone had stepped in and forced the Snyder administration to stop ignoring evidence that Flint River water was leaching lead from old pipes! Republicans repeatedly chided the EPA, an agency they want to eliminate, for not doing more to keep Flint safe from state officials; they also called on McCarthy to resign so they could begin the important work of never confirming a replacement.

[contextly_sidebar id="HG5D3ePvwVVWMXGbUYbajWDdkFTBEMOz"]The real bad guys, Snyder told sympathetic Republicans, were the EPA and the so-called experts in his own administration who kept telling him what he wanted to hear: that Flint's water was safe, that there was no need to add anti-corrosion agents to the Flint River water, and that public health researchers trying to call attention to Flint's poisonous water were a bunch of troublemakers bent on spreading hysteria. Snyder now feels very bad for listening to all his yes-men, and is perfectly disgusted the EPA didn't step in soon enough to stop him from poisoning an entire city:

This is a sad event, a tragedy that should never have happened ... Not a day or night goes by that this tragedy doesn’t weigh on my mind. I kick myself every day. This has been the most humbling experience of my life.

The people of Flint should be angry. The experts said over and over again; career bureaucrats, quote-unquote experts. I get so mad, I should’ve never believed them.

Committee chair Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) offered Snyder sympathetic hugs, then turned his anger toward McCarthy, whose agency (an unnecessary burden on America's job creators) should have taken more responsibility for Snyder's actions:

Why do we even need an EPA? ... If you want to do the courageous thing, you too should resign. You had the backing of the federal government and you did nothing. You too should stand down.

McCarthy refused to say she would resign, giving lazy media organizations a chance to point out that mistakes were made at all levels and Both Sides Do It. She also noted that the EPA's response could have been quicker if the federal agency had gotten timely information and cooperation from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), whose officials seemed primarily interested in covering their own asses:

We were kept at arm’s length, we couldn’t do our jobs effectively ... I will take responsibility for not pushing hard enough but it was not the EPA that caused this.

For all Snyder's claims that he was an innocent victim of bad information from the MDEQ and his own advisers, Pennsylvania Democrat Matt Cartwright wasn't buying Snyder's insistence he'd seen media reports on Flint's water, but chose instead to listen to his staff:

“Plausible deniability only works when it's plausible and I'm not buying that you didn't know about any of this until October 2015," he said. "You were not in a medically induced coma for a year and I've had about enough of your false contrition and your phony apologies.”

Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the committee (and Wonkette's Legislative Badass of 2013), acknowledged that Gov. Snyder feels all kinds of awful about the mess everyone else allowed him to make of Flint, but pointed out that some other people may actually pay an even higher price than the cake-sniffing governor of Michigan. When Snyder said, "I'm going to have to live with this for the rest of my life," Cummings snapped back:

Governor, you know what? I've heard you say that, but I've gotta tell you, there are children who've gotta live with it-- the damage that has been done -- for the rest of their lives. It is painfully painful [sic] to think that a child could be damaged until the day they die, and their destiny has been cut off ... so, yeah, you have to live with it. But many of these children will never be what God intended them to be when they were born.

Maybe Snyder should have pointed out that some of those now brain damaged kids could have grown up to be Hitler, so God might have planned this all along. Earlier in the hearing, Cummings also said Snyder's irresponsibility would never be tolerated in the private sector, where the invisible hand of the market would have bitch-slapped him:

What if a CEO ran a company that sold toys laced with lead that children put in their mouths? What if those children were poisoned as a result? And what if that CEO ignored warnings for more than a year as those kids got sicker and sicker and sicker. There is no doubt in my mind if a corporate CEO did what Gov. Snyder’s administration has done, he would be hauled up on criminal charges, the board of directors would throw him out and the shareholders would revolt -- just some of what is happening now to Gov. Snyder.

Fortunately, Gov. Snyder was able to pull himself together enough to offer a long view of the lessons Flint's brain damaged children might learn from the debacle, or could perhaps have learned were it not for the limited IQs and learning disabilities caused by the lead poisoning his emergency managers unleashed on them:

It’s one of the terrible parts of all of this ... There’s a question of trust in government, and there’s good reason for them to ask that question. And that’s going to take a huge amount of time to earn back, if it can be earned back.

Yes, Rick Snyder and his team wrecked Michigan government at every level, so the answer is to be skeptical of government. Vote Republican! Snyder said the process of restoring trust in government should involve experts like Virginia Tech professor Marc Edwards and Flint doctor Mona Hanna-Attisha, two of the genuine heroes of the water crisis whose independent assessments of the danger finally helped bring Flint to national attention. It's awfully nice of him to acknowledge the work they did, considering his administration went out of its way to dismiss them as “anti everything" alarmists who produced dubious data. And in the future, once the EPA is dismantled, no one will have to worry about its failure to hold Republicans responsible for poisoning cities.

[NYT / Guardian / Reuters / Detroit Free Press]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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