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September 26, 2005

Ask the Man Who Owns One
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 09:09 PM *

Thanks to FranW for pointing this out.

Y’all remember Michael “Pad My Resume” Brown? Head of FEMA, a job that he got by being Joe Allbaugh’s college chum? (Allbaugh himself got to be the previous head of FEMA by being Bush’s campaign manager. The number two and three spots at FEMA went to Bush’s advance man and the guy who produced Bush’s TV commercials.)

Remember how Brown’s pitiful incompetence got a whole bunch of people killed, and left thousands of American citizens in wretched circumstances?

Y’all remember how Brown resigned on 12 September, when it was obvious to Ghod and the world that he was so out of his depth than not even a snorkel would help him? We’re talking about a guy whose previous job was running horse shows — and he got fired from that.

Well, what’s he doing for a living now?

Brown Rehired At FEMA

(CBS/AP) CBS News correspondent Gloria Borger reports that Former FEMA director Michael Brown told congressional staffers on Monday that he has been rehired by the agency as a consultant to help evaluate how FEMA responded to the Katrina disaster.

Yep, this bozo, this jerkwater who couldn’t find his ass with both hands, a flashlight, and a pre-printed disaster plan, is back at FEMA. Not only that, but:

Homeland Security Department spokesman Russ Knocke said Brown is continuing to work at the Federal Emergency Management Agency at full pay, with his Sept. 12 resignation not taking effect for two more weeks.

Full pay. Yes indeed. No buddy left behind, that’s the motto of this government.

Brown, if there were a shred of decency left in Washington D.C., would be talking to a grand jury, not consulting at FEMA. Didn’t he already prove that he knows not one solitary thing about emergency management? Unless the “emergency” is Bush’s poll numbers, I guess.

What groundbreaking truths has Brown uncovered? What errors in the Federal response has his expertise revealed?

According to the Associated Press, Brown also said he should have sought faster help from the Pentagon after Hurricane Katrina hit, and blamed state and local officials for failing to order an immediate evacuation of New Orleans, congressional aides of both parties said.

They’re mixing up whitewash in industrial-sized drums.

We are all so screwed.


Y’all who need right-wing sources for this stuff, here’s Fox News:

Brown is continuing to work at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (search) at full pay, with his Sept. 12 resignation not taking effect for two more weeks, said Homeland Security Department spokesman Russ Knocke.

During that time, Brown will advise the department on “some of his views on his experience with Katrina,” as he transitions out of his job, Knocke said.

[MORE Part II]

This isn’t the first time Michael Brown, Undersecretary of Emergency Preparedness and Response, has appeared at Making Light, either in main posts or in comments:

Precisely September 1, 2005

Erik V. Olson

FEMA was a utter clusterfuck. Here’s a little tidbit.

“FEMA director Michael Brown said the agency just learned about the situation at the convention center Thursday and quickly scrambled to provide food, water and medical care and remove the corpses.”

Really? Four days after the strike, and you aren’t watching the refugee centers? WHAT THE FUCK WERE YOU DOING, ASSWIPE?

Then there’s this charming tidbit.

“I don’t want to alarm anyone that New Orleans is filling up like a bowl,” Michael Brown, FEMA’s director, said. “That isn’t happening.”

Uh, pardon me, fuckwad, but you are WRONG.

Another term for it would be “lying sack of shit” September 2, 2005

Michael Brown is a man who has no idea what words mean.

Wheel, Re-invention of September 2, 2005

Take this online course and you personally will be more qualified than FEMA director Michael Brown to manage the Hurricane Katrina response.

Comedy Gold September 2, 2005


The damage done by Hurricane Katrina has been compounded by the huge floods created by major levees giving way. With me is Michael Brown, a major Bush Contibutor and head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Mr. Brown, thank you for speaking to us tonight.

The otters return, and they�re on fire September 3, 2005

Xopher (Christopher Hatton)

Chertoff, Bush, and Brown
Drowned New Orleans town.
You may think it was Katrina,
But these three were much, much meaner:
Chertoff, Bush, and Brown.

(Quite a bit more about FEMA in that thread, including the doctor’s report.)

In This Hour September 5, 2005

Lizzy Lynn

I am wondering: general question here: is the rest of the country, reds and blues, as mightily pissed off and ashamed as we are? I don’t have a TV so I haven’t heard the blah-blah-blah. Is there outrage? Can’t we at least get Michael Brown fired? (W, alas, is out of reach…) Or is the Republican machine even as we speak cranking up to blame this debacle on the state and local officials and on the victims themselves, (including the disabled and elderly drowned in their nursing homes) for presumably not having arranged beforehand to have relatives with a car, a full gas tank, room in the car, the required medicines and oxygen tanks —- okay, okay, sorry. I’ll stop. But I would like to know the answer to my question.

An Open Letter to the President September 5, 2005

State Rep. Karen Carter was right Friday when she said the city didn�t have but two urgent needs: “Buses! And gas!” Every official at the Federal Emergency Management Agency should be fired, Director Michael Brown especially.

In a nationally televised interview Thursday night, he said his agency hadn�t known until that day that thousands of storm victims were stranded at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. He gave another nationally televised interview the next morning and said, “We�ve provided food to the people at the Convention Center so that they�ve gotten at least one, if not two meals, every single day.”

Lies don�t get more bald-faced than that, Mr. President.

Looking ahead September 5, 2005

Xopher (Christopher Hatton)

Michael Brown knew or should have known that there were people trapped at the Convention Center, and that there were many, many people who weren’t there by choice.

Not An Imaginary Story September 5, 2005

James D. Macdonald

There’s a big part of the problem: Three weak links right at the top of the chain.

Words Line Up In Formation And Fail Me September 5, 2005

P J Evans

Michael Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, sought the approval from Homeland Security Secretary Mike Chertoff roughly five hours after Katrina made landfall on Aug. 29. Brown said that among duties of these employees was to “convey a positive image” about the government’s response for victims.

Today’s Lesson (1) September 5, 2005

Lizzy Lynn

You remind me again that while it is entirely appropriate for me to judge competency or stupidity, it is not so easy to guess what is in the heart — and not my business to do so. Michael Brown may be a caring human being, I don’t know. Not my business to judge him. On the other hand, he is an utterly incompetent FEMA administartor and should be fired. That is my business.

All Disaster, All the Time September 6, 2005

But the downgrading of FEMA continued, with the appointment of Michael Brown as Mr. Allbaugh’s successor.

Mr. Brown had no obvious qualifications, other than having been Mr. Allbaugh’s college roommate. But Mr. Brown was made deputy director of FEMA; The Boston Herald reports that he was forced out of his previous job, overseeing horse shows. And when Mr. Allbaugh left, Mr. Brown became the agency�s director. The raw cronyism of that appointment showed the contempt the administration felt for the agency; one can only imagine the effects on staff morale.

Those Words, Se�or September 6, 2005

Lizzy Lynn

Bring me the head of Michael Brown! (for starters.)

What we did on our vacation September 7, 2005

Charles Dodgson

FYI, FEMA is still keeping volunteer first responders out of New Orleans —- and lest anyone think that’s not policy, it’s being justified right from the top, by our friend Michael Brown.

Rivka September 8, 2005

Steve Eley

On Thursday, September 1, Michael Brown claimed that no one in the federal government knew that there had been people in the convention center for days (a proven lie)….

Can Michael Brown be tried for murder? September 8, 2005

The Greatest Generation September 8, 2005

More about that “blame game” thing September 9, 2005

How Bad? September 22, 2005

And many more. And simliar. All over the place. From right and left.

This administration holds the American people in contempt.

Comments on Ask the Man Who Owns One:
#1 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2005, 09:35 PM:

JH Cristos...... oh, nevermind. I forgot the whole purpose of government is to give Shrub's buddies employment. I've already posted my thoughts on LJ, dragonet2. I've ceased to be astonished, I'm just disgusted. And it's frustrating, because they're willing to cheat to keep office.

#2 ::: Barry Ragin ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2005, 09:42 PM:

Hiring Michael Brown to consult on FEMA's response to Hurricane Katrina is like hiring Jeffrey Dahmer to ghostwrite your next cookbook.

#3 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2005, 09:48 PM:

Well, he should be able to tell them what not to do. That is, if he can figure it out beyond "immediate evacuation".

Excuse me, he resigned in some disgrace; why do they need him as a consultant? What they need is someone who has some experience in planning for disasters, not in planning disasters.

(mumbling various things which can't be used on the air)

#4 ::: kate ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2005, 10:07 PM:

CBS appears to have edited the story somewhat to change those incredibly egregious first two paragraphs. The first version nearly made me step on my cat. (Accidentally, I assure you.)

"Former FEMA director Michael Brown is continuing to work at the Federal Emergency Management Agency at full pay, with his Sept. 12 resignation not taking effect for two more weeks, said Homeland Security Department spokesman Russ Knocke.

CBS News correspondent Gloria Borger reports that Knocke told her that technically Brown remains at FEMA as a "contractor" and he is "transitioning out of his job." The reason he will remain at FEMA about a month after his resignation, said the spokesman, is that the agency wants to get the "proper download of his experience.""

#5 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2005, 10:15 PM:

Hey, let's talk evacuation!

Thousands of buses were offered to FEMA the day after Katrina hit New Orleans by the American Bus Association (you may have heard of some of their members -- Greyhound, Trailways, Coach USA) but (ready for this?) FEMA wouldn't return their calls.

So, who did FEMA turn to for buses to evacuate folks from New Orleans? They had a contract with a private company that happened to be a major Bush contributor. And who did those guys turn to for buses? To a limo company that they found on the Web while the hurricane was in progress.

Read about it here: Booman Tribune; When Cronyism Kills

Here's the original story in the Chicago Tribune (right wing enough for ya?)

#6 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2005, 10:22 PM:

Words fail. This is beyond nightmare.

#7 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2005, 10:47 PM:

Let's talk more about those buses. Maybe Michael Brown can help consult on this one. (All the quotes are from the Chicago Trib article.)

The day the hurricane made landfall, Victor Parra, president of the United Motorcoach Association, called FEMA's Washington office "to let them know our members could help out."

Parra said FEMA responded the next day, referring him to an agency Web page labeled "Doing Business with FEMA" but containing no information on the hurricane relief effort.


Peter Pantuso of the American Bus Association said he spent much of the day on Wednesday, Aug. 31, trying to find someone at [FEMA] who could tell him how many buses were needed for an evacuation, where they should be sent and who was overseeing the effort.

"We never talked directly to FEMA or got a call back from them."

The American Bus Association and the United Motorcoach Association, between the two of them could command around 24,000 charter and tour buses.

#8 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2005, 11:14 PM:

So....once again: Is it possible to recall nationally elected officials?

#9 ::: Georgiana ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2005, 11:21 PM:

Okay, wait, let me see if I got this right. He's going to be the one to decide what went wrong? Or he cam say nothing went wrong at all?

I used to think opposite land was a madeup place but it seems like we all moved there when I wasn't paying attention.

#10 ::: Vassilissa ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 12:04 AM:

I don't get it. I don't understand it.

See, before I had an extremely limited amount of sympathy for Brown. I can imagine landing in a job you're not qualified to do, and completely and spectacularly failing to measure up. I can empathise with the complete awfulness of people's lives being lost to your incompetence.

But it didn't stop there. People were there to pick up the slack, and he didn't let them. (I can imagine not being able to go above for support - Bush isn't competent or fit for his post either - but there were people below (though not his second or third in command, I read now) whom he could have asked. He didn't just passively fail, he actively failed and obstructed others from succeeding.

And now he's a CONSULTANT?

#11 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 12:55 AM:

Many years ago, in response to some spithead who sneared at me for voting, I said that until I had enough money to buy myself a Senator, voting was pretty much my only voice and I wasn't going to give it up.

I never thought about owning the entire executive branch. Wow!

#12 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 01:10 AM:

I assume as a consultant he's getting paid better than he was as a mere lowly civil servant?

Though I think it might be worth paying him millions to promise never again to have any involvement in any planning effort larger than a toddler's pony ride.

#13 ::: Mac ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 02:26 AM:

Great horned owls and little forest brownies.

They wear their corruption like a badge of honor, and rub our noses in it. We've gone through the looking-glass, and I'm not sure how we're ever going to come back through to something resembling reality.

#14 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 02:33 AM:

Wow. It's as though he did exactly what they wanted him to do.

#15 ::: almostinfamous ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 02:48 AM:

wait.... no presidential medal of freedom?

he must be big-time player hatin on George Tenet

#16 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 03:14 AM:

Jettison George.


Oust the Oaf in the Oval Orifice.

Remove the Rotten Rubbish.

Hmm, could there be an acrostic made of it?

Axe the Asshole.

Boot Bowdlerizer Bush.

Chuck the Chimp.

Defenestrate the Dictator. [Divest the Dummy]

Eject the Egregious Evildoer

Force out the Fool

Get George Gone.

Haul the Horse's Ass away

Intern the Idiot

Jettison Jackass George

Lose the Lamer

Move the Moron out

No-op the Nitwit

Oust the Oaf in the Oval Orifice

Push the Putz out

Quit the Quarterwit's Questings

Remove the Rotten Rubbish

Send the Smarmy Slimy Scum down the Sewer

Toss the Turkey

Unhinge the Unctuous Underhanded Uncompetent's Underpinings

Veer the Vermin out

Weigh away the Wargasm

eXcise the Excrement

Yank the Yahoo out

Zero out the Zero

#17 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 03:39 AM:

You forgot, Kick the Kakistocracy...

#18 ::: tavella ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 05:01 AM:

"Kakistocracy" is truly the word for our current governing thugs, I have to say.

#19 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 08:36 AM:

I knew there was something wrong about the buses. It kept not feeling right. I tried to do some back-of-envelope calculations about buses needed and not there at the time and I concluded that my expectations about public transit must be European and Montrealais and wrong for the US or there would have been thousands more. But in fact there were potentially thousands more, and now I keep thinking that about those people being sent across the city to wait for the buses that weren't coming.

The buses weren't coming, because the people who wanted to help and had buses weren't campaign contributors. Nobody would have shut the Gretna bridge if there were really buses there, so those police wouldn't have been pushed by fear and weakness into doing evil and desperately justifying it to themselves.

I'm down at the point where protests become speechless.

#20 ::: "Charles Dodgson" ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 09:31 AM:

When I heard this, my first thought was "gee, I wonder what dirt he's got, and on who"? For those who missed it, Atrios has a pointer to one possible answer --- it is rumored that Brown was the National Enquirer's source for that story about Dubya's relapse from dry drunk back to the normal kind...

#21 ::: Sharon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 09:55 AM:

perricat said:

Wow. It's as though he did exactly what they wanted him to do.

It looks like he may have. Everyone's seen this?

#22 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 10:00 AM:

"...proper download of his experience..." It would be SOOOO tempting to make scatological jokes with that one.

Hasn't the guy pretty much shattered the Peter Principle and risen way above his level of incompetence? Kind of like the ending of "Blazing Saddles" where Mel Brooks broke not only thru the fourth wall, but also thru the fifth, the sixth, the seventh...

#23 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 10:22 AM:

Well, maybe they've hired Brown so they can ask him what to do, and do the opposite. [/wishful thinking]

Atrios (and the dots, if not the lines from the Philadelphia Enquirer) are suggesting that Brown leaked rumors of el Shrubbo being back on the bottle and is being re-employed to keep him quiet.

Yesterday on the radio, Dear Leader sounded hesitant and lost. Almost as if he's had a swaggerectomy.

#24 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 10:34 AM:

The one thing I kept saying to myself was that New Orleans was in the wrong place, in the logistic sense, miles from anywhere with limited roads in and out of the region.

And there were problems like all the bus drivers in New Orleans wanting to get their own families out.

But theres a difference between a difficult job, and...

Well, words don't exactly fail me, but the stage I've reached now, with Brown being re-hired, just needs four words.

What's the fucking point?

What, short of watering the tree of liberty with the blood of patriots, is there left as an option?

#25 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 10:39 AM:

From CNN this morning:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Embattled former FEMA director Michael Brown says he was initially unaware of desperate conditions at the New Orleans Convention Center because it was not a planned Hurricane Katrina evacuation site, according to a congressional memo.

After learning from television about the thousands of evacuees who gathered at the center, Brown ordered food and water be delivered there. But Brown, who on Tuesday faces a House inquiry into the government's slow response to the August 29 disaster, told congressional aides that "there is no reason FEMA would have known about it beforehand."

Didn't know about it beforehand? It was his friggin' job to find out what the situation was afterward.

That's like not looking for survivors on floating crates and barrrels after a ship sinks because they aren't planned lifeboats.


Brown said Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin "sparred during the crisis and could not work together cooperatively." He also described Blanco as "indecisive" and refusing to cede control of the Louisiana National Guard to federal authorities because "it would have undercut her image politically." Aides to Blanco and Nagin could not be immediately reached Monday night.

Looks like someone is sure playing "the blame game."

But you want to see incompetence in action? Here ya go:

Brown did not take any official notes during conference calls he ran with state and federal authorities and "just assumed that agencies would follow up on taskings resulting from the calls."

You remember that old thing about what "assume" means? Another saying I learned in the Fleet: "You don't get what you expect, you get what you inspect."

No wonder the horse show people fired his dumb ass.

But at least he's loyal and always wears a starched white shirt. So two points in his favor.

#26 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 11:02 AM:

Keep clapping, damn you! Clap harder! Wake up that old lady and make her clap! Oh, she's what? Never mind.

All is WELL!!

#27 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 11:14 AM:

Good news from the Katrina front: the newsies are noticing that they were not doing a good job:

Katrina Takes a Toll on Truth, News Accuracy
Rumors supplanted accurate information and media magnified the problem. Rapes, violence and estimates of the dead were wrong.

#28 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 11:25 AM:

Would someone with good research fu find out who in FEMA is supposed to gather information on disaster situations? Would be worth having for some focused complaints.

#30 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 01:35 PM:

Has anyone here heard any of the tapes one of the people on the conference calls before, during and after Katrina hit in the controls centers.

Because the pieces I've heard, well it's sad; fury making sad. People were trying, they were told things, and they acted on those promises. They were led to believe all sorts of aid was waiting in the wings.

And they were let down. One has a guy pleading for the stuff (palletised generators, bundled with fuel) they were promised. It's very understated pleading, but he's begging.

It's heartbreaking.

And this shit-for-brains, he's getting to have his resignation refused for two-weeks (or he's being hired as a contractor, which is worse) so they can "find out what went wrong." We know what went wrong, cronies were put in charge.

But he's being asked, and blame (for others) is all he has to offer.

Dave Bell: I don't know, but it may come to that.

It may have to.

Gods I need a drink.

#31 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 01:41 PM:

Err, I wouldn't want my charming dialect to be attributed to anyone else but me. Could you run an s/Eric/Erik on the above post? Thankee.

Oh, wait, I'm supposed insult that fuckwad Brown again. Okay, done.

Let's make him the demonstration target for "Why do you kick a man when he's down?"

#32 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 02:11 PM:

Brown seems to think he's done a really good job, and all the problems were someone else's fault. At the moment the CNN poll is showing a very different opinion of this: currently 80+ percent don't agree with him. The disconnect seems to be really large on his side of the looking glass.

#33 ::: Alison ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 02:23 PM:

Okay, so I know that AOL is not the best of news sources and I'm currently sorting through my own Katrina-related disaster so I haven't had time to check the transcript. (Remember Bush saying that all non-essential travel is currently out for federal employees--yeah, bad when you have an independent meeting for federal employees that was supposed to be in New Orleans and got moved to Little Rock that is now going to lose a whole lot of money.)

from AP, via

Brown in his opening statement said he had made several "specific mistakes" in dealing with the storm, and listed two.

One, he said, was not having more media briefings.

As to the other, he said: "I very strongly personally regret that I was unable to persuade Gov. Blanco and Mayor Nagin to sit down, get over their differences, and work together. I just couldn't pull that off."

A thousand people died and he thinks the biggest problem was that they didn't have enough media briefings? Because talking to reporters would have saved the thousand-some people who died, right? And it would have gotten food and proper facilities to the Superdome, right?

He doesn't regret being incompetant, he just regrets not having greater control over the spin.

#34 ::: Ashni ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 02:29 PM:

I hope you'll forgive me, but this doesn't strike me as a completely ridiculous idea. Here's what I see:

He put in his resignation.
He gave/got 2 weeks' notice.
They are going to spend those two weeks going over his actions during Katrina in sordid detail. This guy has made some of the worst mistakes of the current administration, which takes doing. Many of those mistakes are obvious even to us armchair quarterbacks, but any competent folks left in FEMA are going to want to know about all of them. Imagine a couple of years down the line screwing up during a disaster, and it coming out that Brown made the same mistake in 2005--and we didn't know, because we didn't force him to stick around and "download." Avoiding his subtler mistakes in the future strikes me as worth paying him 2 extra weeks' salary.

Of course, given the current administration, anyone who actually tries to use the information from his "downloading" will probably get fired for competence.

#35 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 02:42 PM:

Many of those mistakes are obvious even to us armchair quarterbacks, but any competent folks left in FEMA are going to want to know about all of them.

But do they really need him around for that? You'd only want a crook/incompetent around if you thought they'd managed to hide something and you couldn't figure out how or where. I don't see Brownie in that class; he really doesn't get it, which says that he's so self-centered ("too much ego in his cosmos") or so dim that he probably would be a failure as a dog-catcher.

#36 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 02:52 PM:
"I know what I am doing. And I think I do a pretty darn good job of it," Brown told the panel.
#37 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 02:56 PM:

I haven't had time to check the transcript.

Nor have I, but Think Progress has begun providing evidence from earlier news stories to refute some of his lies.

#38 ::: ElizabethVomMarlowe ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 03:11 PM:

Ashni, You don't need him employed for that. You just need a court.

#39 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 03:30 PM:

Two weeks notice? Hah!

I work for the Federal government -- and as an admin person, I can tell you that we're supposed to give the government 60 days notice if we are separating, transferring or retiring. And it can take that much time, or more, to file the paperwork to fire a "non-performing" employee...

At some times of the year, those planning to retire are advised to submit their paperwork 3 months in advance of the desired retirement date.

Firing's too good for Brown...anyone got some tar and feathers?

#40 ::: Diana Rowland ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 03:40 PM:

I thought the first picture kinda said it all.

#41 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 03:51 PM:

As Elizabeth points out, you can get the answers to any questions you might have for Brown just by handing him a subpoena.


Ex-FEMA Director Brown Blames Others

By LARA JAKES JORDAN, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - Former FEMA director Michael Brown blamed others for most government failures in responding to Hurricane Katrina on Tuesday, especially Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. He aggressively defended his own role.

Brown also said that in the days before the storm, he expressed his concerns that "this is going to be a bad one" in phone conversations and e-mails with President Bush, White House chief of staff Andy Card and deputy chief of staff Joe Hagin.

And he blamed the Department of Homeland Security the parent agency for the Federal Emergency Management Agency for not acquiring better equipment ahead of the storm.

His efforts to shift blame drew sharp criticism from Democratic and Republican lawmakers alike.

"I'm happy you left," said Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn. "That kind of look in the lights like a deer tells me you weren't capable of doing that job."

Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss., told Brown: "The disconnect was, people thought there was some federal expertise out there. There wasn't. Not from you."

Brown appeared before a special congressional panel set up by House Republican leaders to investigate the catastrophe.

"My biggest mistake was not recognizing by Saturday that Louisiana was dysfunctional," two days before the storm hit, Brown said.

Shall we talk about dysfunctional two days before the storm hit?

I'm going to go back to those buses -- the ones that kept being promised, but kept not showing up.

Let's see ...

FEMA had contracted with Landstar Express America, a Florida company owned by Bush supporter Jeff Crowe, for disaster transportation in a contract worth $100 million dollars.

Not two days before Katrina, when Brownie says he should have figured out that Louisiana was dysfunctional, but one day before Katrina hit New Orleans -- Sunday -- that company that had contracted for one hundred million bucks a year to provide disaster transportation figured out that maybe, perhaps, someone might need transportation, because it looked like a disaster might be shaping up. So -- they did a web search and found Carey Transportation, a limo company whose web site said they had a meetings and events division that could move large groups of people.

Carey Transportation did their best. When Landstar called back on Tuesday, eighteen hours after Katrina hit, after the levees had already broken, to order 300 buses (lessee -- 80,000 people -- 300 buses sounds about right, doesn't it?) they got out their phone book and started calling around. They found Transportation Management Services of Vienna, VA, which specializes in providing transportation for conventions, and hired the buses from them.

And that, my friends, is where the buses that started showing up in New Orleans on Thursday, five days after people went to the shelters, came from.

How was Landstar rewarded for taking a hundred million bucks for disaster preparedness then not doing anything to prepare for a disaster? By having its contract increased to four hundred million bucks. For a hundred million they did a Google search the day before the hurricane hit. For four hundred million maybe they'll call Priceline.

And we're supposed to believe that the big problem was that Louisiana was dysfunctional. Yes, sir, that's sure-enough the problem.

#42 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 04:15 PM:

for i in `jot 1000000` ; do echo "Thanks!" ; done

#43 ::: windypoint ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 04:48 PM:

I don't think he should be permitted to be onsite with people still working at FEMA, discussing what happened, possibly colluding with other people to get their stories straight and avoid any blame. Ideally he would be locked up and only have access to legal advisors and the occasional visitor not involved in the debacle. That is standard procedure in the investigation of any serious crime, to isolate the suspects so that they can't make up lies that are consistent with each other.

#44 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 05:16 PM:

Should this be the Republican's Second Commandment? (The first is: Never say anything bad about a fellow Republican.)

Never face facts; if you do you'll never get up in the morning.
-- Marlo Thomas

Found on a 1996 Kevin & Kell page.

#45 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 05:27 PM:

I got a different quote. Must be random.

#46 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 05:35 PM:

I got a different quote. Must be random.

Oh, so it is. argh.

#47 ::: jane ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 05:38 PM:

This continues to be the biggest cockup since Teapot Dome. And no one has suggested (beyond blogs) that FEMA folk should be brought up on charges for a whole variety of malfeasances.

It is beyond imaginging.

But then what happened in Louisiana HAD BEEN imagined and talked about well before it happened
. . .and nothing was done. FEMA (in Brown's own words) didn't realize how bad things were going to get.

I think they are all sitting around Washington congratulating themselves that only 1000 or so died, not the 25,000 some were guessing, and that's why nothing more is happening to those officials. Like Brown, they think they did their jobs well. Enough.


#48 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 08:30 PM:

He doesn't regret being incompetant, he just regrets not having greater control over the spin.

Why should he regret being incompetent? He's still getting paid. He'll get a nice cushy job somewhere when the contract gig ends.

The problem most people have is they simple cannot imagine this level of corruption.

Note Operation Offset.

Most people would simply think that the Republicans are out to gut everything we stand for. You're not thinking corrupt enough.

The real point is to gut everything we stand for, implement another tax cut, and then say "Sorry, we simply can't afford to rebuild New Orleans."

Those thinking that this will get them thrown out of office have forgotten who counts the votes.

#49 ::: Lizzy Lynn ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 10:49 PM:

Brown has not been fired because this administration values loyalty above every other quality or character trait -- way above competence or anything approaching competence. As long as Brown doesn't lay responsibility for this debacle at the feet of anyone higher up the food chain -- and so far he has been careful not to --they will protect him. They will keep him loyal by making sure he is never held accountable in any real sense. Retaining his services for whatever bullshit reason they want to give and PAYING him (with our money) assures him that he is not vulnerable. [BTW, anyone else notice that Cindy Sheehan was arrested this weekend during the protests in Washington? Yah. She poses a real danger to the republic.]

You see, it doesn't matter to them how you and I feel about it. They have already written us off.

Historical note: Genghis Khan also valued loyalty above all traits. And he makes Karl Rove look like Heidi.

#50 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 10:56 PM:

Historical note: Genghis Khan also valued loyalty above all traits. And he makes Karl Rove look like Heidi.

After reading McCullough's Masters of Rome series, I figured that Rove might possibly be the only one of the lot who would survive classical Roman politics for more than about two days. Him I give maybe a week. The Romans were playing for keeps.

#51 ::: Lizzy Lynn ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 11:34 PM:

P J said: After reading McCullough's Masters of Rome series, I figured that Rove might possibly be the only one of the lot who would survive classical Roman politics for more than about two days. Him I give maybe a week. The Romans were playing for keeps.

Cheney might deal for a while. He's a pretty good player. The rest of them (Rumsfeld, Rice, Wolfowitz, etc -- forget it.) On the Democratic side, Senator Robert Byrd is a survivor; I never underestimate him. And I think Bill Clinton would make it for a while. I don't know about anyone else. Howard Dean would last 30 seconds.

I kind of like this game...

#52 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 11:54 PM:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency will reimburse churches and other religious organizations that have provided shelter, food and supplies to the victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

The payments with taxpayer money would mark the first time that the government has made such payments to faith-based groups at a time following natural disasters, the newspaper reported, citing FEMA officials.

#53 ::: Lizzy Lynn ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2005, 07:28 AM:

Jim, re your last post: a friend of mine is on his way to the Gulf to volunteer for the relief effort. The Red Cross pretty much told him: don't come yourself, send money. Presumably the boots-on-the-ground stuff is being handled by other people, including such excellent organizations as The Salvation Army and Catholic Relief Services. As long as there is adequate accounting and so on, why should these organizations not be reimbursed for expenses?

#54 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2005, 07:50 AM:

Lizzy Lynn --

Because there will not be adequate accounting in any way, shape, or form. Jim just got done documenting that they think 100 mil for a Google search is just dandy.

The Bush administration is a pure looting operation, plain and simple.

Jane --

What makes you think an accurate casualty total has been reported or is being collected?

The question of total casualties went off the air and has stayed off the air with disturbing thoroughness.

#55 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2005, 08:14 AM:

The trouble is the the tag "faith-based groups", while it might also label such reputable organisations as The Salvation Army, is Rovian Newspeak for the right-wing, quasi-fundamentalist, groups that have to be paid off for electing the Bushistas.

Maybe there will be money going to the Salvation Army, and many of the churches can be honest about recovering expenses, but some "faith-based groups" has as much chance of attaining the Kingdom of Heaven as there is of gettinmg an elephant through the eye of a needle.

#56 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2005, 09:27 AM:

If you recall, during the event FEMA had posted a list of Places to Send Money for hurricane relief. Number one on the list was the American Red Cross. Number two on the list was Pat Robertson, who has a long history of questionable financial dealings and using charitable contributions for his private ends.

#57 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2005, 10:24 AM:

Part of the justification for cutting taxes and services is that the faith-based community should be encouraged to take on the burden.

Now we reimburse them out of reduced tax revenues while projecting massive further infrastructure cuts?

I don't think so.

#58 ::: Tracie Brown ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2005, 10:47 AM:

... we're supposed to give the government 60 days notice if we are separating, transferring or retiring. And it can take that much time, or more, to file the paperwork to fire a "non-performing" employee...

He's not an employee, he's a political appointee. The rules are different. For better or worse. Boy, are the rules different. It may take a while to go through the proper procedures to fire that "non-performing" (civil service)employee -- usually because no one starts properly documenting the non-performance until it has gone on much too long -- but a political appointee can be fired on the spot. Or more usually, forced to "resign" or "retire" with a short period of "notice" in the hopes that no one will catch on that the appointee has actually been fired. No one is ever fooled.

I'm appalled to share the same last name with this slug, but the good Mormon folks at assure me that we're not related, except in the sense that we are all decended from Adam and Eve.

#59 ::: Diana Rowland ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2005, 11:18 AM:

Graydon said: What makes you think an accurate casualty total has been reported or is being collected?

The question of total casualties went off the air and has stayed off the air with disturbing thoroughness.

Maybe in other parts of the country, but down here the casualty count is in the paper every day with how many bodies were found the day before. I can give first-hand on-the-ground testimony that the casualty count, at least in St. Tammany Parish where the eye of the storm went through, is far far lower than was initially estimated. We truly thought that it was going to be at least a thousand dead here, and when I was working on the search and recovery teams we had 500 body bags ready and waiting just for the neighborhood I was working on. We found zero bodies in my search grid, to our huge relief and surprise. So far, we have 8 storm-related deaths in this parish. I believe it is slightly over 800 in Orleans and St. Bernard. Now then, we are still going through the debris piles, but it's still not going to come anywhere near the initial estimates.

#60 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2005, 11:22 AM:

Anyone who wants to see Brown lying under oath can do so here.

This does raise the question, though: If the man is too incompetent to know that he's lying, can he still be charged with perjury?

#61 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2005, 01:37 PM:

Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., said Wednesday that while Brown made mistakes, so did others. "He can't be the scapegoat. First responders are local and state, and the governor and mayor did a pathetic job of preparing their people for this horrific storm," Shays said on NBC's "Today" show.

Protectionism in action! (Not that the governor and the mayor did a great job, but Brown seems to have been missing or sleeping that weekend, while the governor and the mayor were trying to get help.)

#62 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2005, 04:14 PM:

When we ponder Brown's tenure recall that this is the code for appointees, "I serve at the pleasure of the President."

Which says all that needs be said.


#63 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2005, 04:28 PM:

Mike "Bend Over" Brown?

Maybe he's the guy who's holding the booze bottle for Georgie.


Teddy probably would've survived in Rome. He's survived all sorts of things the past 50 years--a cheating scandal at Harvard; the deaths of his three older brother in government service, one dead in WWII, the other two assassinated; a plane crash which broke his back, Chappaquidick and uncharged vehicular homicide, allegatiosn of substantial substance abuse (constitution of a OX! see "survived broken back" above also), a messy d/i/v/o/r/c/e annullment from someone who had apparently fallen far into a bottle and couldn't get out (spouses in a marriage with a lot of drinking need to have the same physiological/psychological tolerance for alcohol abuse?); decades of vicious attacks and being singled out as targeting by those ideologically committed to ranting nonstop at "liberals," and considerable family tragedy beyond the loss of the three older brothers. He's survived in the US Senate more than 40 years.

#64 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2005, 05:11 PM:

A little more light on the situation:

FEMA hurricane response puts spotlight on political patronage jobs

Maybe they will confirm fewer of these people now, or at least ask more questions.

#65 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2005, 06:25 PM:

while Brown made mistakes, so did others

I said it on the DeLay thread and will repeat as needed. My mommy didn't let me get away with "but everybody's doing it!" What is it about becoming a public figure that makes them think it's now ok?

#66 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2005, 06:42 PM:

Brown wasn't up to the job. That's clear. But I don't want him to be the fall guy. The man who put him in the job has to bear the responsibility. There are more Mike Browns stashed around Washington, I'm sure -- resume padded incompetents with diploma-mill doctorates on their walls whose only qualification is that Bush owes them a favor -- waiting for their turn to become the weak link in whatever chain is supporting ordinary Americans.

I'd also like to hear what questions Joe Lieberman asked Mike Brown -- and what the answers were -- during his grueling 42 minute nomination hearing.

#67 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2005, 06:53 PM:

Lizzy: Your friend may not have been trained, or may have had some other disqualifier; one of mine arrived in Baton Rouge a couple of hours ago (barring mishap), after waiting a couple of weeks from 1-day training to posting.

I am seriously unhappy with sending tax dollars to religious organizations, but I have to ask: how much sheltering did the reactionaries do? As I understand it, the money is specifically for costs of providing longer-term-than-expected temporary shelter for refugees; IIRC, groups like Focus on the Family don't have much property in which they could do this. I'm sure there are some churches in the area that I'd be ashamed to admit are in this country; the question is how many, and whether they'll end up getting more of their expenses back than more liberal ones.

#69 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2005, 08:58 PM:

CHip: What bothers me about is the hypocrisy.

The guys in charge say they (the Gov't) can't help people, and they add that it's not their job to provide that sort of help.

But now they want to pay for the stuff they say they aren't supposed to be doing. Further, nothing says a church can't beg for help, have no real loss, and then rack up a profit on "charity."

It's wrong.

#70 ::: Lizzy Lynn ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2005, 12:06 AM:

Lizzy: Your friend may not have been trained, or may have had some other disqualifier

Au contraire, he was trained by the RC, which then told him, You're on your own, here's what you need to bring with you, good luck.

Nuff said. I am more concerned about Brown and all the Browns out there. (Nice that the FDA head resigned though. You all saw that, I hope. Wonder why...) I love to see the Bushadmin squirm. But reality intrudes; specifically, the fact that the Democrats have no clue how to take advantage of this and no real alternative to whoever the Republicans are grooming for 2008. Kerry? I don't think so. Not much hope here.

#71 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2005, 05:57 PM:

Lizzy, the cab driver who brought me home from leaving my van at MAACO (now derusted and repainted) opined that the Democrats will put up Hilary.

(The one who picked me up to go get the van wanted to talk about how bad marriage is.)

#72 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2005, 08:48 PM:

Care to hazard any guesses at how the crowd of Browns will deal with the flu pandemic?

It seems likely to be something other than well, somehow.

#73 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2005, 09:10 PM:

Lizzy, everybody. Here are a couple of reasons it's been hard for some people to volunteer through the Red Cross.

1 -- Early on the Red Cross wasn't being allowed into the places they were most needed, and so Red Cross Central marked down the number of volunteers they could use. It took my kid a week to get training and a week and a half more to get sent. I guess they finally realized that there were a lot of places that needed help (our area has the added "problem" that there's always a lot of volunteers to process for disasters).

2 -- The Red Cross apparently defines itself as an emergency outfit exclusively, meaning that when a situation is ongoing, there comes a time when the Red Cross starts pulling out. Frank has some thoughts about that.

So, anyway, if you want to go down and help, and Red Cross won't sign you up, there's always Habitat for Humanity.

#74 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2005, 09:17 PM:

Am I missing something here? I was under the impression that our gov't was cutting expenses in the social upkeep area because they felt churches can take up the slack (it is just an impression). Now, the gov't wants to reimburse churches for taking up the slack.

Just what am I missing in this equation? Information, probably. Logic... most definitely.

#75 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2005, 11:41 PM:

Lin, what you're missing is that right-wing Republicans want to replace our secular separated from church state with a religious state, and they will use any opportunity to push us in that direction.

#76 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2005, 07:57 AM:

Found this on a science discussion mailing list I mostly lurk on (the definitions of both 'science' and 'discussion' do get stretched ... recently they have been compiling a list of double Australian place names, like Grong Grong, Bong Bong, Wagga Wagga, Woy Woy, for instance.) I thought it might provide a somewhat lighter subject for discussion. Or at least just a quiet chuckle or two.

Peter: On another list, we have been arguing about the fictional characters who would be best suited to forming a triumvirate to lead FEMA, but then we decided to add a few historical figures as well.

Teams included Milo Minderbinder, Rooster Cogburn and Francis Drake. Or Ada Lovelace, Florence Nightingale and Edward Teller. Or Good Soldier Svejk, any Scottish engineer of the 19th century and Napoleon Bonaparte. Who would you like to see there?
Ivan: Quintus Fabius Maximus Cunctator
I was also wondering if anything in this might get called "Questionable Content" :)

#77 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2005, 10:58 AM:


I'm regretful that I didn't save a copy of the webpages of the Southern Baptist Conference's national missionary website that discussed that organization's Mission in New York City which was sited across the street from one of the former non-twin-towers collapsed World Trade Center buildings. The webpage unabashedly said that the reason for the mission and the location of its siting was to use the offer of disaster relief aid as bait for bringing people inside and get them coming back to be evangelized and converted. The funding profiles was less than half aid such as food and assistance for shelter and clothing and support for providing aid (costs of people who were working at the mission, and such, doing aid support), and more than half for conversion and proselytizing activities includes materials preaching Southern Baptist Christianity and support of people doing evangelizing as opposed to food and shelter support.

The linked pages included articles about how Southern Baptist missions in New York City had successfully converted someone from Roman Catholicism to Southern Baptist, and other material of can't-think-of-the-term-it's -the-sort-of-term-to-describe -the-articles-in-Parade-magazine -and-in-Reader's-Digest-which-are-all
-how-they-get-spiritually-uplifted-and-such manner, --ah, inspirational reading is what I want,-- with the inspiration being all of the type of how happy and fulfilled and energetic and self-actualizing of themselves and others the missionaries are and how fulfilled the converts are being born again into Southern Baptists and all enthused and suffused with enthusiasm and doing Good Works and furthering the goals of converting the world and bringing a Southern Baptist theocracy and the Second Coming to earth, etc.

Anyway, all the aid that group, at least, provides, has ulterior motives--they're not doing it for the sake of the physical well being and benefit of the people they put out meals for, they're doing it because it's an opportunity to start conditioning people to know them and get used to them being around and to then shift over to more direct proselyzing activities. It's like having the Mob host dinners and contribute to the neighborhood as a precursor to the Mob muscling in and trying to take over.

#78 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2005, 11:30 AM:

As annoying as I personally find the SBC (and I live in Nashville, where the SBC sunday school publishing board covers a couple of city blocks with its operations), it's a mistake to conflate the relief efforts, or intentions, of local congregations with those of the national organization. Most of the local and individual effort is being done by people who are prompted by the same basic motives as other volunteers: compassion and a sense of duty--the feeling that their beliefs oblige them to make the effort to assist others.
Local religious organizations can be very effective at delivering relief--they know the area, they often have useful facilities like commercial grade kitchens, vans, and assembly halls, and they tend to have in-place communication set-ups like phone trees and such. In a bad enough situation, we'd be fools to rule out help from a church just because we didn't like their national organization, or from a mosque because of 9/11, or from any other group because of whatever. If it's bad enough, you can't afford to ignore effective help, regardless of source.
Also, it's worth keeping in mind that the SBC doesn't speak for all Baptists, any more than Opus Dei speaks for all Catholics (in fact, given the highly fragmented nature of Baptistland, even less so). We also shouldn't consider the motives and words of the SBC's central committee (there's a nice Baptisty name for them, but I don't know what it is) as representing those of either individual congregations or individual Baptists, any more than Wayne LaPierre's words and motives are representative of either individual gun owners or even NRA members.

You have no idea how hard it is for me to write that about anyone or anything even remotely connected with the SBC, but fair is fair. Neither the bad points of the SBC, nor the perversion of religion used by this administration to aid in its agenda should blind us to the fact that local religious congregations can be effective sources for disaster relief, or that their national organizations can provide valuable support for their efforts.

#79 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2005, 12:45 PM:

But, there were local congregations such as Jimmy Carter's which voted with their feet, and left the SBC for e.g. the United Church of Christ, was it, out of rejection of the tenets and values and actions of the SBC as a whole.

I as an outsider can't see where the national SBC agenda and the local congregations have values and agenda disconnects wherein the aid isn't a baited hook and I strongly object to any payment of taxpayer money for such baited hooks; I'm from a religious tradition where individuals tend to have their own particular views and generally tend to be expected to make up their own minds regarding values and conforming; there tend not to the equivalent of national platforms in Judaism, there tend to be some guideline-type statements for various branches of Judaism and discussion of them regarding what tends to be believed and such, but it's up to the individual and their own conscience and perspectives and perceptions regarding individual value and observance and much of belief, and the arguments go back thousands of years (see e.g. Hillel versus Shammai, 2000 years ago, which has an audit trail of a lot of writing involved forward to today!)

But anyway, I have very mixed feelings regard SBC aid--on the one hand, aid's important, on the other hand, I don't -trust- aid that has an identification of "SBC" the same way I wouldn't trust the honesty and above-boardness of a business that Karl Rove and his buddies or the now-in-jail-for-a-long-time former head of Tyco were principals of, and object to having any money from me invested into those businesses doing services!

There's a spectrum involved in "Doing Good Works" regarding the motives of those who do them. One of my issues with SBC tenets types is that they don't separate out sectarian proselyzting from -anything-, they regard it as organically part of their life, that they do Good Works because is it a Biblical prescription, and that their definition of Good Work evangelism is part and parcel of feeding people--that the soul must be nourished commensurate with the body.

It's a relative of the issue regarding why no wine with grape content in it from non-Jews gets to be kosher, it's because thousands of years ago, the process of making wine was considered intrinsically tied into religious rites and devotion--the making of wine was a religious act or set of actions, and often included rites and rituals performed, consecrating the wine to one or more deities of the religious tradition(s) of the people making it. Therefore, the resulting wine had been consecrated to that deity and those deities, and consuming such wine, was an act of worshipping that or those dieties--which conflicted directly with the prohibition against worshipping other gods, in Judaism.

With the mindset that providing food and other assistance is a religious act of devotion, that means that the people partaking of that aid or assistance de facto are involved in being celebrants of that religiious rite and ritual, that the hosts have set up, as a religious rite demonstrating their religious devotion and observance.

Going back to thread months ago that TNH had in this forum, it's not in some ways that much difference from being expected to be the audience and participants in fetishists' BDSM scenes enacted in public, being present where they are engaged in their scene they're making the people present, be participants, willingly or not, in their scene activity.

The arrival of the concept of secularism is a relatively new one; historically most societies have had e.g. state religions. The idea that the state should have a separation with the state being officially non-sectarian and not being controlled by religions or a religion and not having a state religion, is a piece of modern culture mostly. There have been philosophies questioning sectarianism since at least the Pythagoreans, but that was not the Greek mainstream, that was the ancient Greek equivalents of a movement of extreme skeptics, and there was I think much unhappiness with them and their questioning of religion.

The position of those of minority or no religion in a culture with a state religion varies considerably, from extreme repression and suppression up to and excluding death sentences for being a heretic or nonbeliever, to tolerance and even degrees of official state protection and excusal from various specific activities and duties mandated for upon members of the state religion.

The doctrine of SBC is tantamount to declaring support for SBC being a state religion in ways, because one of the goals is to unify the world as SBC and impose SBC religious orthodoxy upon everyone--there is a dynamic involved where the official legal stance in the US Constitution is one of religious freedom, and I seem to recall wording in the SBC doctrinal material which is paying lip service to that legal status, while simultaneously calling striving to convert of the entire country and the entire world and impose SBC orthodoxy and discipline throughout.

Perhaps under an SBC theocracy the evacuation of the Gulf Coast could have been implemented more expeditiously and harmoniously and effectively, and there would have been large stockpiles of food and potable water at places like the Convention Center and Superdome, and/or the people taking refuge would have had supply kits to bring with themselves evacuating--I seem to recall that the doctrine calls for members to have supplies for emergencies, and be communally involved.

Hmm, that brings up the issue of what is a community and what responsibilities do the member have to one another? In village settings where there is a high degree of social interrelation and involvement in day to day life for all of work, play, and homelife, there is deep knowledge of the habits and actions and probable actions and likely location and the status of the fellow villagers. That knowledge and association means that in a crisis people can be organized and action taken in a more organized fashion that occurs in large cities full of strangers to one another whose daily affairs can take them an hour or more away to work, school, play, etc., and where the neighborhood might fail the definition of community as regards involvement and assocations and familiarity and such.

Consider World Science Fiction Conventions as a community, for example. People come in from as far away as the other side of the planet, and whose who work on conventions, tend to know one another, and fall into almost automatic work-together patterns, and say things like, "Find Ted, he has the artshow layout plans."

(Ooops, that's not correct, it's not "Find Ted," it would be, rather, "Ted has the artshow layout plans, call Treasury and see if he's over there"

FEMA today doesn't have that. The "effective communications" it lacked included local/"situational" knowledge, along with the physical working equipment and protocols (and again, knowledge, protocols include not only things like TCP/IP but also "numbers to call in order when the following things happen") and point-to-point communications links that allow Person A in Location X to talk to Person B in Location Y.

The knowledge includes knowing to ask for Person B--the knowledge indicted in the example above, there is an international knowledge base -about- running science fiction conventions, and various of the people who are nodes of metadata information regarding who has expertise and knowledge and materials in what or who are the most likely people to know it or how are likely to know who knows what, are present in this forum.

FEMA is -supposed- to be a font of metadata and acumen and resources human and material and infomrational for organizing and implementing disaster response operations.

Brown and the other patronage recipients, however, appear to have been devoid of metadata knowledge, interest in it, situational information and ability/interest in gathering any, and devoid of ever having themselves been an emergency on-site responder. Compare that with Bill Frist, who went through med school training and including I presume having worked under med school treat-ER-patients conditions, and thus with at least that emergency/first responder training.

#80 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2005, 01:35 PM:

Paula, there are a lot of reasons why individual congregations may not have broken with the SBC, besides the fact that they have bought into the agenda of the current group in power. There's sentiment, there's the hope that more moderate voices can someday prevail, there's even the sheer cussedness of refusing to be run out of one's organization by people one despises.

As for being in a sort of mental lock-step within the organization, Baptists, Southern or otherwise, are one of the most famously contentious groups in Christianity; there's a saying to the effect that Baptists and Democrats are a lot like cats: the noises outsiders take to be fighting are actually the sounds of multiplication. Certainly there are plenty of Koolaid drinkers among that group; there are also plenty who are not.

I have mixed feelings about re-imbursement of religious groups in these situations; when it comes to donated funds and materials, which in many cases the donaters plan to take as tax deductions, it's not appropriate; when the organization has given over exclusive long-term use of a facility to the relief effort, whether it was a church camp used for housing, or a building used as a distribution center, or for offices, then I think they deserve the same consideration as other, secular donors. It doesn't seem fair that they should, in such circumstances, be treated differently--they could have used the facility for other purposes, and it will be subjected to the wear and tear that always results from use, as well as the cost of utilities used.

#81 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2005, 03:42 PM:

Possibly relevant (and boy, would I like to see the higher-ups in DC tested!):

Study: Adept Liars' Brains Are Built Differently

#82 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2005, 03:53 PM:

Even more than sentiment and hope, there's money. A lot of the more moderate SBC churches can't afford to split away; they're only surviving because of the subsidies the Convention sends their way.

#83 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2005, 04:12 PM:

One of the "free features" at the WSJ is "Katrina Response Slowed by Misinformation" wherein it's claimed the reason for the slow response is the stories about widespread looting and violence. Funny: those stories were widespread until after FEMA actually got there - two days after Katrina hit. Now, how could stories two days later slow the response in the first 24 hours?

#84 ::: dichroic ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2005, 06:37 PM:

The only thing that bothers me about targeting Brown is that he becomes a convenient scapegoat for every one above him. Yes, he was criminally incompetent and needs to bear the blame and shame. But so was his boss Chertoff, who in an NPR interview on that Thursday, when the rest of us had been hearing about the Convention Center for a couple of days, claimed on national radio that he had no report of that situation.

And of course there's Bush. I wonder whatever happened to Truman's "The Buck Stops Here" sign? Or that grand old military tradition of holding the commander on whose watch it happened responsible for a foul-up? And surely there must be a government policy legislating the hiring of competent people, somewhere in the anti-patronage laws.

#85 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2005, 01:33 AM:

One of the key metrics on someone in a exective position is the caliber and the accomplishment of the person's subordinates and what they accomplish further out in time. There are metrics for professors that involve what their students achieve, in assessing the professors' influence and accomplishments. A professor whose students don't do anything notable in their careers doesn't get much respect as an educators. The strong distaste for "Queen Bees" and their male counterpartis, is that they don't help other people develop careers, they actively squelch other people's career opportunities and sabotage their getting recognized, rewarded, and offered opportunities to succeed and excel.

Now look at the record of Schmuck's misadministration. The person who was in charge of acquisition for the White House, it is, got arrested last week for misdeeds. There was that lying Iraqi who was so highly regarded by the Misadministration and regarded in Iraq as a lying swindling cheat, and then got repudiated by the Misadministration when he proved to be a lying swindler after all.

There's l'affaire de Plame with Rove and Libby suffering not even a public negative word from the Schmuck. There's the promtion of that sectarian bigot jerk, Lt. Gen. Boykin. There were Ashcroft's actions, and Gonzales' regarding throw out the Geneva Convention and such. There's the quack appointed Surgeon General, and the hacks at the FDA. There's the conversion of DACOWITS into a Familee Val-yews focus on Familiee organization loaded with the likes of Queen Bee misogynist bitch Elaine Donnelly, when Congress set up DACOWITS as the Defense Advisory Committee of Women in the Service... now if focuses instead on wives of servicemen and their children... not that I think there shouldn't be a commitment to that quality of life of military members' family life, but there is a huge difference between the concerns of someone -in- the military who's female, and the concers of military dependents.

Appointment after appointment after appointment has seen ideologues with no professional experience let alone expertise, for the postion occupied, placed into the US Government positions that are supposed to have responsible, cognizant people in those positions to run things. Cronyism, not competence, is the measure of the Bush Misadministration.

#86 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 01:09 PM:

On Miers:
Jonathan Chait: Cronyism as a core value

This explains why so few people are enthusiastic about her: we can see that she isn't the right person for the job (left and right both).

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