20 September 2005

An empty suit brings empty progress

From anchor Brian Williams' blog at
I am duty-bound to report the talk of the New Orleans warehouse district last night: there was rejoicing (well, there would have been without the curfew, but the few people I saw on the streets were excited) when the power came back on for blocks on end. Kevin Tibbles was positively jubilant on the live update edition of Nightly News that we fed to the West Coast. The mini-mart, long ago cleaned out by looters, was nonetheless bathed in light, including the empty, roped-off gas pumps. The motorcade route through the district was partially lit no more than 30 minutes before POTUS drove through. And yet last night, no more than an hour after the President departed, the lights went out. The entire area was plunged into total darkness again, to audible groans. It's enough to make some of the folks here who witnessed it... jump to certain conclusions.
Why Brian, if I didn't know better, I'd say you were alluding to a rather particular conclusion. For instance, that for all the speechmaking and shirtsleeve gladhanding, Dear Leader's concerns focus more on repairing his image, rather than homes, and salvaging his disaster of a presidency, rather than an entire region. Not sure how that could happen after that inspiring Jackson Square address, complete with the obligatory invocation of the the memory of 9/11...
"Republicans said Karl Rove, the White House deputy chief of staff and Mr. Bush's chief political adviser, was in charge of the reconstruction effort, which reaches across many agencies of government and includes the direct involvement of Alphonso R. Jackson, secretary of housing and urban development." -- NYT, 09/14/05
Of course. Put the rebuilding effort in the hands of an architect...of political campaigns. How could anyone draw any untoward conclusions from that?

I suppose we should consider ourselves lucky, given the track record. Rove's been publicly referred to as an "architect" countless times, so the preznit got it half-right. Which is more than can be said for appointing a political toadie horse association commissioner to be head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

17 September 2005

And in Hell, ice fishing, igloo-building, and snowball fights abound...

President Bush, please give three instances when you think you made a bad decision, and what you did to correct it.

"I made some mistakes in appointing people, but I'm not going to name them. I don't want to hurt their feelings on national TV." -- 10.09.04

"Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government and to the extent the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility," Bush said during a joint news conference with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani." -- 09.13.2005
First impression: Wouldn't have believed it, if I hadn't read it on every news outlet.

Then I saw him say it.

If Barbara "This is working well for them (the Katrina survivors)" Bush had been standing behind him, twisting his ear, it would've looked less forced, and more sincere.

Too little, too late, squirmer-in-chief.

Rather than take control, you simply further embarrassed your already humiliating failure of a presidency.

16 September 2005

Brownie, you're doin' a heckuva unearned, undeserved, and unqualified job.

Following his long-overdue removal from Katrina relief efforts, (and before his even longer overdue resignation), Ex-FEMA director Michael Brown had a "candid" email find its way to the public eye:
Brown sent candid e-mail to family


DENVER -- Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown sent a candid e-mail to family and friends this week as he was becoming the center of criticism of the handling of the Hurricane Katrina disaster.

"I don't mind the negative press (well, actually, I do, but I try to ignore it) but it is really wearing out the family," Brown wrote. "No wonder people don't go into public service. This country is devouring itself, the 24-hour news cycle is numbing our ability to think for ourselves," the Rocky Mountain News reported Saturday.

Brown was relieved of his command of the onsite relief efforts Friday amid increasing criticism over the sluggishness of the agency's response and questions over his background.

"It's horrible," said Mary Ann Karns, an Oklahoma lawyer who once worked with Brown in the Edmond, Okla., city government and got the e-mail addressed. "He does not deserve this as a human being."
Newsflash, Brown-eye: the "negative press" is a direct result of your own staggering ineptitude, not CNN. Is the family really getting worn out over the press, or is it more the knowledge that you (foolishly) accepted a critical job you were hopelessly unqualified for, and people likely died as a result? I'd be pretty worn out, too, if I had to look across the dinner table and see your sorry, blank, utterly oblivious face every night.

The man was cronyism personified.

A former horse association commissioner, who, after being forced out amid lawsuits and scandal, got into FEMA through a college friend, and was subsequently appointed director after working for the president's re-election campaign (not to mention, apparently falsifying his resume).

And the man actually had the gall to whine, self-pityingly, about being held accountable for the bullshit charade that was his professional life. When little more than semantics stand between nepotistic, ladder-climbing opportunism and negligent homicide, you might want to take a moment and consider how fortunate you were to luck into said position in the most culpability-averse administration in recent memory.

The Book of Government, Chapter 3, Verse 6-10

The seas chuned and rose. The rains streamed down like the diluvian wrath of a vengeful god. The winds whipped and howled, tearing at every exposed surface. The waters finally became a flood, inundating, drowning, and destroying everything in their path.

And then came disaster.

Lo, and I saw a hobbled, pannicked horse. On it were mounted four blind riders, each with a set of reins, none knowing what to do or where to go. The beast stumbled and fell, while the riders congratulated each other on their ridership. Their names were Incompetance, Ignorance, Arrogance, and Inefficiency and all around them lay suffering and death.
And after all that, the real flood began. Flowing from the administration, and the agencies, and the press rooms, covering the land in a veritable sea of ininterrupted (and, usually, unchallenged) bullshit. Waist-deep and rising.

Time to find high ground, which shouldn't be too hard.

Just go where those other jokers aren't, as much as they try to convince themselves (and us), otherwise.
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