Friday, September 09, 2005

Katrina - FEMA is a Joke

"I'm going to go home and walk my dog and hug my wife, and maybe get a good Mexican meal and a stiff margarita and a full night's sleep.'' Michael Brown, former head of FEMA's onsite Hurricane Katrina relief efforts

You do that, Mike. Too bad thousands of Katrina's victims--living and dead--can't do the same, thanks in large measure to your appalling incompetence.

Even before Brown's recall to Washington this afternoon, the jokes were starting. I'm sure you're getting emails too. Some are macabre, in the uniquely American tradition of dealing with untenable tragedy. Some are slick, Ba-Dum-Bum lines from late night talk show hosts -- mostly tweaking the president.

But the one I got today from a dear pal who's worked forever on Capitol Hill is my favorite. Not because it makes you smile, which it does. But because it also makes you think. And it's a way to articulate the anger, frustration and helplessness we all feel at our government's criminal lack of timely response to the plights of Katrina's victims. And at the political Blame Game currently consuming those responsible.

This list from the National Journal Hotline (warning, website open to members only) supplies new descriptions for the FEMA acronym. I've edited and trimmed a few, grouped them conceptually and in a rough timeline. Look the entries over here, then feel free to add your own.

The Joke's On Us
FEMA can stand for a lot. Here are some readers' ideas.

F**k! Evacuate! Move on. Apply blame
F**k Every Minority in America
F**k Every Man and Animal
F**k Everything, Massive Anarchy

Few Emergencies Merit Attention
Flood Evacuation? Maybe After
For Evacuees Missing in Action
Fearing Every Mass Attack
Federal Experts My Ass

Federal Emergency Mismanagement Agency
Fumbling Every Major Attack
Failure to Evacuate and Manage Appropriately
Federal Emergencies Managed Atrociously
Funneling Everyone's Money Away

Federal Excuse-Making Agency
Falsely Exaggerated Management of Accidents
Finally Emergency Men Arrive
Finally Evaluating Messy Aftermath
Failure to Effectively Manage Anything

Flood Event Maims Administration
Feeble Excuses Mounting All over
Foreseeable Election Matter Already
Forget Ever Managing Again
Failure Eventually Means Asskicking
Farewell Emergency Mike, Adios

Here's their favorite, and one of mine too:
Former Equestrian Managers Association.

Now Coast Guard Vice Admiral Thad Allen, who was already overseeing New Orleans relief, recovery and rescue efforts on the ground is in charge. Let's hope he's not a joke.

This just in from my Hill pal:

Yeah, No One "Means" To Insult An Entire Demographic

Rep. Richard Baker (R-LA) was overheard telling lobbyists: "We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did." Baker later explained that he "didn't intend flippancy" but has "long wanted to improve low-income housing" (Harwood, Wall Street Journal, 9/9).

Hooboy. Talk about a real joke.



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6:12 PM  
Blogger R said...

While I believe Brown is clearly incompetent, in fairness to him, his comments were taken out of context.

What he said was, "I'm going to go home and walk my dog and hug my wife, and maybe get a good Mexican meal and a stiff margarita and a full night's sleep. And then I'm going to go right back to FEMA and continue to do all I can to help these victims."


4:29 AM  
Blogger Sally Swift said...

Missbossy, you're certainly entitled to your opinion, but I believe you misunderstood my intent. I didn't take Mike Brown's comments out of context, I simply omitted his final sentence. Not to make him seem oblivious and incompetent -- he did that all by himself.

Instead I chose to highlight the part of his remarks which stood in glaring contrast to the normal lives now (and possibly forever) denied Katrina's victims largely because of our government and FEMA's--and his--clear obliviousness to their plight and incompetence in responding to it.

The last sentence of his quote: "And then I'm going to go right back to FEMA and continue to do all I can to help these victims." is in fact whistling in the dark, and pure obfuscation. Brown was sent back to Washington in disgrace, ostensibly to work on "preparedness for other potential disasters" (source: NYT) ... no way will he be allowed to work on anything related to Katrina, if indeed he keeps his job at all.

I welcome your comments and look forward to more of them.

9:26 PM  
Blogger R said...

Actually I wasn't offering an opinion on your omission. It was a statement of fact. The only opinion I offered was that Brown is incompetent.

4:41 AM  
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