Thursday, September 15, 2005

Points Of Perception

I listen to thePacifica Radio Network on my way home. Our local speak-truth-to-power station is KRCL out of Salt Lake. If I get to the end of my day and it hasn't been as crappy as it could have been I make sure to tune in for "Democracy Now". Just the thing to make a happy man slit his wrists on a fine autumn afternoon.

In the run-up to their recap of the Senate Judiciary Committee's confirmation hearing for Judge Roberts, Amy Goodman and some guy whose name I didn't get maundered on about Dem primary politics in New York City and then moved on (no pun intended) to discuss statements made today by Michael Brown, who recently resigned as head of FEMA in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

I will not paraphrase their conversation; I couldn't afford to pay that much attention to them. A trip to the corner store in Provo traffic is a life or death matter when BYU is in session. If you can imagine the witch scene from Macbeth, except there's only two witches and one of them is a querulous guy with a Brooklyn accent and the other one is the lady who shouts at you in the grocery line when you don't stack your cans separately from your refrigerated items, you know what I was listening to.

I got the impression that Mr. Brown had damned the Feds in general and the administration in detail.

(Disclosure: Anyone here who has listened to Pacifica knows that the threshold for coverage IS damning the (Republican) Feds in general, and the administration in detail. No news here...)

I got home and whipped my time card off to the other members of my team and then rang up Instapundit and found this post that in general confirms my general take on the response to Katrina. I checked Drudge next, and saw this article covering the statements Mr. Brown made today.

please read the whole thing. I make it a point to run through any Times product verbatim once, then go back and read it again, ignoring the editorial content presented as news.

Some graphs that jumped out at me:

"In his first extensive interview since resigning as FEMA director on Monday under intense criticism, Mr. Brown declined to blame President Bush or the White House for his removal or for the flawed response.

"I truly believed the White House was not at fault here," he said.

Where did Goodman find any indictment on the part of Brown?

"The account also suggests that responsibility for the failure may go well beyond Mr. Brown, who has been widely pilloried as an inexperienced manager who previously oversaw horse show judges."

That one is for people who didn't want to read the entire article. This is editorializing combined with a puerile cheap shot from where I stand. To me Brown's story seems to illustrate more his dilemma as a bureaucrat caught between a wholly ineffective local political infrastructure and his higher headquarters at DHS and the administration who, in my opinion, were caught flatfooted by the total lack of competence at the state and local levels.

You have to read all the way to the bottom of the page for the best stuff, though:

"Mr. Brown acknowledged that he had been criticized for not ordering a complete evacuation or calling in federal troops sooner. But he said the storm made it hard to communicate and assess the situation."

I'd dearly love to find a transcript of the press conference or interview this article was based on. Mr. Brown doesn't have the authority to order evacuations, nor does FEMA appear in any chain of command for deploying troops.

I believe that if fault for failure is ever fairly assigned, the onus can only land in Louisiana. The federal response was just that - a RESPONSE conforming to the requests (or lack thereof) that should have come in timely fashion from the state.

All the bullshit about the Army Corps of Engineers blowing up levees, Bush hating black folks, and the Feds/FEMA in some way being responsible for New Orleans and Louisiana chucking their emergency response plans doesn't even rise above the background noise of Left politics any more, for me. Recovery response in this case meant getting hundreds of thousands of displaced persons rescued or relocated, moving in tons of supplies and personnel into a flattened, flooded area slightly larger than the UK, and then wading through the moonbats and their media folks anxious to find the next cross on which to hang GW. It was never going to happen overnight, and has so far played out better than I expected.

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