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Tilting at Windmills

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April 27, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

PUTTING FEMA OUT OF ITS MISERY....A new report says FEMA is FUBAR:

Crippled by years of poor leadership and inadequate funding, the Federal Emergency Management Agency cannot be fixed, a bipartisan investigation says in recommendations to be released Thursday.

....Describing FEMA as a "shambles and beyond repair," [Republican Senator Susan] Collins said the overall report "will help ensure that we do not have a repeat of the failures following Hurricane Katrina."

This is truly remarkable. FEMA was a fine organization for eight years under Bill Clinton, widely recognized as one of the best run agencies in the federal government. But after a mere five years of George Bush's stewardship there's now a bipartisan consensus that it's so rundown that the only choice is to get rid of it and build a completely new agency in its place. Astonishing.

Kevin Drum 2:22 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (116)

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Astonishing

No, it isn't.

Posted by: craigie on April 27, 2006 at 2:30 AM | PERMALINK

It's the sister program to 'Starve the beast' called 'Install inept lackeys'

Posted by: xyz on April 27, 2006 at 2:31 AM | PERMALINK

My natural cynicism forces me to ponder the exquisite likelihood that the San Andreas and New Madrid seismic faults will loose at the moment of FEMA's least effectiveness.
--
HRlaughed

Posted by: HRlaughed on April 27, 2006 at 2:35 AM | PERMALINK

Qhat's so astonsishing about drowning someone in the bathtub? That's their entire M.O.

What's astonsishing is that everyone pretends otherwise. It's like have a pedophile in the family.

Posted by: nova silverpill on April 27, 2006 at 2:40 AM | PERMALINK


What does Al think?

Posted by: b on April 27, 2006 at 2:47 AM | PERMALINK

FEMA was a fine organization for eight years under Bill Clinton

LIAR. Bill Clinton had his own Katrina disaster, but the liberal media just refused to report it because of their pro-Clinton bias. How come you don't remind us about Hurricane Floyd that happened under Bill Clinton?

Link

"What about FEMA's response to Hurricane Floyd? You remember Floyd, don't you?"
"There were 56 deaths that were directly attributable to Floyd. The death toll by state is as follows: North Carolina 35, Pennsylvania 6, New Jersey 6, Virginia 3, Delaware 2, New York 2, Connecticut 1, and Vermont 1. Most of these deaths were due to drowning in freshwater flooding. Floyd was the deadliest hurricane in the United States since Agnes of 1972. According to information provided to the Federal Emergency Management Administration, over 2 million people were evacuated due to Floyd. This was probably the largest evacuation in US history. And it was achieved by state and local government officials. (Hear that, Governor Blanco?)"
"FEMA didn't do much better under much less taxing conditions during Floyd than it did during Hurricane Katrina, when the floods that followed Hurricane Floyd left tens of thousands stranded up and down the Eastern seaboard wondering what happened to federal rescuers. Where's Bill Clinton's FEMA?"

Posted by: Al on April 27, 2006 at 2:53 AM | PERMALINK

But after a mere five years of George Bush's stewardship...

I have an idea. Let's get him elected President of Iran. Then N. Korea. Like the Domino theory in reverse.

Posted by: enozinho on April 27, 2006 at 2:59 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Do you think Mark Sanchez is toast after getting arrested for sexual assault? Who's going to play QB if Booty's back can't recover? McDonald?

BTW, here is an update on the Bush situation -

From www.profootballtalk.com

BUSH SITUATION WILL GET UGLIER

"We continue to talk to a variety of league and industry sources regarding the Reggie Bush brouhaha, we are convinced that, as more and more reporters dig (and digging they are) into the various relationships of Bush and his family members, there will be more evidence suggesting that Reggie, at some point during the 2005 football season, became ineligible for amateur intercollegiate athletics.

Though the story seems to have hit a lull after nearly three days of new details, multiple media types are working the story hard, delving into nooks and crannies that otherwise would not have been examined but for the revelation that Bush's family was living in a house owned by a man who wanted to handle his marketing work.

We've already caught wind of some of the stuff they've found, and when the information is disclosed more people than Michael Michaels will likely be implicated. Whether in the end a determination is made that Bush became ineligible remains to be seen. For now, though, this story has tentacles -- and the tentacles are twisting and spreading and churning.

As always, stay tuned."

Posted by: MorganParakeet on April 27, 2006 at 3:00 AM | PERMALINK


KEVIN DRUM: But after a mere five years of George Bush's stewardship there's now a bipartisan consensus that it's so rundown that the only choice is to get rid of it and build a completely new agency in its place. Astonishing.
Are you planning on being astonished each time an agency or department is finally acknowledged to have turned to shit under Bush? Might as well just drop your jaw and let it hang.


Posted by: jayarbee on April 27, 2006 at 3:02 AM | PERMALINK

Nicely played, Al! I see your American Chronicle (whatever the hell that is) article, and raise you The Independent Weekly (from NC) http://www.indyweek.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A22664

Your play...

Posted by: ecoboz on April 27, 2006 at 3:33 AM | PERMALINK

C'mon Al! I've given you 10 minutes to respond, so now I have to raise you this from an organization you should like, The Future of Freedom Foundation:
http://www.fff.org/freedom/0100e.asp
They think Clinton did _too_ good of a job! Poor Bubba can't get a break--you've got him comin' and goin'!

Posted by: ecoboz on April 27, 2006 at 3:53 AM | PERMALINK

Survival of the fittest, baby...

Posted by: dr sardonicus on April 27, 2006 at 3:54 AM | PERMALINK

I have an idea. Let's get him elected President of Iran. Then N. Korea. Like the Domino theory in reverse.

In Bizarro World, maybe. But come to think of it why wouldn't Iran, N. Korea, China or Saudi Arabia want to have a hand in W's rise to power? After all, each have benefited in their own ways. Iran = free Saddam removal, Shiite government installed, huge leap in natural gas prices. N. Korea = sufficiently ham-handed diplomacy to shift the topic from nukes to food migration. China = getting Americans to understand who really holds their home mortgage. Saudi Arabia = Hmm...a toughy.

Cui bono? That's Latin for bend over, hold your ankles, and smile pleasantly.

Posted by: kostya on April 27, 2006 at 4:08 AM | PERMALINK

Competence may get things done, but faith sells.

Posted by: bad Jim on April 27, 2006 at 4:45 AM | PERMALINK

Yikes. Who's going to pay for all the damn trailors?

Wait -- I know. The private sector! That's the ticket! Get everyone with an empty bank account and no job to cough up the $25K.

Then sign 'em up for workfare and the medicare drug benefit. They can eat week-old strawberries -- it's strawberry season in the South now, isn't it?

Posted by: pj_in_jesusland on April 27, 2006 at 5:32 AM | PERMALINK

When an American political party's mantra is that "government is the problem", why are we astonished when that party becomes the poster child for poor governance?

The Founding Fathers would be ashamed to see what has become of the American Experiment.

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on April 27, 2006 at 5:50 AM | PERMALINK

Good riddance.

Next.

Posted by: aaron on April 27, 2006 at 6:12 AM | PERMALINK

OK, now let's turn our attention to the DOD, DOS and DOJ.

Posted by: BroD on April 27, 2006 at 6:39 AM | PERMALINK

SS, Medicare, Medicade...

Posted by: aaron on April 27, 2006 at 6:48 AM | PERMALINK

Congress.

Posted by: aaron on April 27, 2006 at 6:53 AM | PERMALINK

BroD, Aaron:

So can we sign you up to voluntarily forgo your Social Security benefits? By doing so you will help a little bit in relieving the GOP-driven budget deficits.

Just go to this site and log in: www.gopismydaddy.com.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on April 27, 2006 at 7:12 AM | PERMALINK

I will sell you my SS benefits (provided it's legal).

Posted by: aaron on April 27, 2006 at 7:35 AM | PERMALINK

Congress.

The President.

Posted by: brooksfoe on April 27, 2006 at 7:43 AM | PERMALINK

I will sell you my SS benefits (provided it's legal).

How much money have you paid into FICA over the last 10 years? I'll give you 10% of that for your SS benefits in perpetuity.

Posted by: brooksfoe on April 27, 2006 at 7:44 AM | PERMALINK

al,

you can't compare katrina and floyd. for one, there was a great deal of uncertain with floyd concerning where and when it would hit. there was no such uncertainty with katrina. for another those deaths you were referring to were from flash flooding, not from a rising river, which makes evacuation extremely problematic for a federal agency to undertake. and thirdly, it was fema's response after the katrina that made it such as disaster. there were no such criticism of fema's performance at the time. or since for that matter, other than your nonsensical comments.

Posted by: mudwall jackson on April 27, 2006 at 7:51 AM | PERMALINK

What makes anyone think W can reconstruct a FEMA that works?

Posted by: anonymous on April 27, 2006 at 7:56 AM | PERMALINK

"FEMA was a fine organization for eight years under Bill Clinton, widely recognized as one of the best run agencies in the federal government."

Sorry Kev. Not according to Clintons own words bud.

"Last February, Clinton called FEMA "a model disaster-relief agency," perhaps "the most successful part of the federal government today.""
http://www.cato.org/dailys/2-19-97.html

Posted by: Lurker42 on April 27, 2006 at 8:04 AM | PERMALINK

Lurker:

????

Posted by: chuck on April 27, 2006 at 8:13 AM | PERMALINK

Chuck

Yes?

Posted by: Lurker42 on April 27, 2006 at 8:15 AM | PERMALINK

Hey Lurker42. What's your point? Is it news to hear the Cato Institute complain about government spending? What matters is the fact that FEMA once gave people confidence and once followed through on their mission. After Bush neutered FEMA by removing its Cabinet level status and placing it under the incredibly inept DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff, people are now running away from FEMA faster than they're running from the disasters.

Posted by: Lamonte on April 27, 2006 at 8:20 AM | PERMALINK

Lamonte:
Agreed.

Did I say that FEMA didn't need restructuring? Nope.
I just pointed out that Clinton didnt have the same confidence in HIS FEMA as Kevin apparently did. Thats all, put your rope away, there will be no linching today. LOL

Posted by: Lurker42 on April 27, 2006 at 8:36 AM | PERMALINK

Regardless of what Michel Brown thinks about the expertise he acquired while running (into the ground) FEMA, there is a difference between exacerbating a disater and mitigating its effects.

The nation has all the documentation it needs to see that George Bush excels at creating and exacerbating disasters, but he has nothing nondestructive to offer in planning and response.

Posted by: harvey on April 27, 2006 at 8:43 AM | PERMALINK

(When an American political party's mantra is that "government is the problem", why are we astonished when that party becomes the poster child for poor governance?

The Founding Fathers would be ashamed to see what has become of the American Experiment.)


I agree completely. Or, the way I say this - it's no wonder that Republicans hate government spending - a Republican run government isn't worth paying for!

Posted by: Mark-NC on April 27, 2006 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

Are they really going to put a new agency in its place? Somehow, I doubt it. Getting rid of a government agency... any kind of government agency... is a conservative's wet dream. FEMA is on the chopping block and the Department of Education is next. Neither will be replaced.

Posted by: E. Nonee Moose on April 27, 2006 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

Well, at least "Heckuva Job Brownie" may have landed on his feet - A recently transplanted from Tampa to Portland, OR techie firm has hired Brown to be their Beltway Rep - They manufacture compact displays for emergency first responders.
A spokesperson said that Brown was selected because he has a high profile, and is well-connected and "WELL-RESPECTED".
OnScreen is 8 years old and has never made a profit. Stay tuned.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on April 27, 2006 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

Lurker, did you read what you posted at 8:04? It indicates that Clinton's "own words" were quite favorable toward FEMA.

Posted by: Ace Franze on April 27, 2006 at 8:51 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, Lurker . . . you posted Clinton saying more or less "Yes, FEMA is one of the best run parts of the federal government" as evidence that Clinton didn't think that FEMA was one of the best run parts of the federal government.

Posted by: Myca on April 27, 2006 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK

Mudwall said we knew where Katrina was going to hit? We weren't even sure if it would be category 3 or 5 until at the most 12 hours before it hit. Later when another tropical storm assembled off the coast they predicted and measured it at a cat 5 only to see it take the same path and dissolve into a nusance. Anyone who says they can predict exactly where and what a hurricane will do is a con artist.

The second guessing and "Well they should have known it would be this bad" garbage about what Katrina would do is ridiculous. Weathermen make educated guesses just like insurance agents do when determining your cost for tornado/flood insurance. If the people here didnt hate Bush so much they might be able to think straight for a moment.

Finger pointing has become a wonderful art form in the moonbat universe. FEMA is the typical government operation; all money and no effectiveness.

Posted by: Orwell on April 27, 2006 at 9:01 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, Lurker . . . you posted Clinton saying more or less "Yes, FEMA is one of the best run parts of the federal government" as evidence that Clinton didn't think that FEMA was one of the best run parts of the federal government.
Posted by: Myca
Among others...

Excuse me I have to go scrape some egg off of my face. Remind me not to mix work with blogging anymore. *abashed grin* Don't mind me folks, I thought it read "a model disaster."

Posted by: Lurker42 on April 27, 2006 at 9:09 AM | PERMALINK

I guess you can use that rope after all.. LOL

Posted by: Lurker42 on April 27, 2006 at 9:10 AM | PERMALINK

The sky is falling, the sky is falling!

Posted by: Lodi Mosque on April 27, 2006 at 9:18 AM | PERMALINK

FEMA failed because of the socialistic mind-set of the liberal Democratic government.

[/tbrosz]


.

Posted by: spork_incident on April 27, 2006 at 9:29 AM | PERMALINK

In 2004 under GWB, FEMA went door to door asking people what they needed when Florida was hit by multiple hurricanes within a matter of weeks. But of course, there was an upcoming election at that time. Once Bush was re-elected there were other priorities.

Posted by: KC Rayton on April 27, 2006 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

Floyd was characterized by a less than adequate state response, but the Feds really did bail them out. In NC, numerous military rescue aircraft were deployed. In Katrina, military personnel were reprimanded for conducting rescue operations. We read about Floyd:

The first rescues began Thursday afternoon. A Marine helicopter hoisted up a couple of drivers from a flooded 18-wheeler on I95 in Nash County. The state's helicopter resources were pretty much limited to two hoist-equipped National Guard Blackhawks, both of which were down for maintenance.

As darkness fell on Thursday, everything still seemed manageable.

About eleven o'clock the terror began. The water, already high, kept rising and didn't stop. People began getting out as best they could in the darkness. Some evacuation orders were issued, but by now the roads were flooded. The county EOCs, already overburdened, were now overwhelmed by calls. They called for outside help.

The state sent military helicopters. But the helicopters, with military radios, could not talk to civilian agencies, who in many cases had little idea of what was going on outside their immediate areas. Only a few were able to operate at night. The pilots did the best they could, rescuing whoever they found.

They could rescue only a few. Mostly people rescued themselves and their neighbors. One citizen rescue boat overturned and six people, three of them children, drowned. By daylight an estimated 1,500 people were trapped by the still-rising waters. Belatedly the state began mobilizing.

Friday morning everything that could fly was sent to the flood zone. At one point there were sixty helicopters from the active Army, North Carolina and Tennessee National Guard, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard deployed in Pitt and Edgecombe counties. The Coast Guard had to use an airborne controller to direct them all. The governor appealed for private helicopters.

About 420 people were rescued by helicopters and many more evacuated. Rescuers in boats accounted for another thousand or so. Swiftwater rescue teams in the west were finally activated, although it would be Saturday before they would arrive.

Some 4,000 national guardsmen and over 750 other uniformed personnel were sent in, although most had no flood rescue training or life jackets. Two Guardsmen narrowly escaped when their truck washed away, and two state Department of Transporation workers died, one while assisting in a rescue. Over 1,400 roads were flooded, making it difficult to get anyone or anything in except by air.

Overall, it was North Carolina's good fortune to have a large number of military bases. Military assistance, mostly in the form of helicopters, made the critical difference in holding down fatalities. However, a more proactive flood rescue policy would have been more effective. Emergency officials all up and down the East Coast need to realize that the main danger from hurricanes is inland flooding, not storm surge, and plan accordingly.

Posted by: bakho on April 27, 2006 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

The role of mitigation in the aftermath of disasaters is an important fuction of FEMA that is often ignored.

CLINTON FEMA

"Mitigation is the cornerstone of emergency management. It's the ongoing effort to lessen the impact disasters have on people's lives and property." Under mitigation plans, houses in flood plains are moved or raised above the flood-line, buildings are designed to withstand hurricane winds and earthquakes, and communities are relocated away from likely wildfire zones. According to FEMA estimates, every dollar spent on mitigation saves roughly two dollars in disaster recovery costs.

The need for more systematic mitigation efforts was driven home by 1996's Hurricane Fran, which killed 37 people and caused tens of billions of dollars in damages. In 1997, Witt established Project Impact, which would become the agency's most high-profile mitigation program.

Under the project, FEMA fostered partnerships between federal, state and local emergency workers, along with local businesses, to prepare individual communities for natural disasters. Impact partnerships sprang up in all 50 states. In Seattle, Wash., for example, the grants were used to retrofit schools, bridges and houses at risk from earthquakes. In Pascagoula, Miss., the project funded the creation of a database of structures in the local flood plain--crucial information for preparing mitigation plans. In several eastern North Carolina communities, it helped fund and coordinate buyouts of houses in flood-prone areas.

ENTER GEORGE W BUSH

In 2003, Congress approved a White House proposal to cut FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) in half. Previously, the federal government was committed to invest 15 percent of the recovery costs of a given disaster in mitigating future problems. Under the Bush formula, the feds now cough up only 7.5 percent.

Such post-disaster mitigation efforts, specialists say, are a crucial way of minimizing future losses. It's after a disaster strikes, they argue, that the government can best take the steps necessary to avoid repeat problems, because that's when officials and storm victims are most receptive to mitigation plans.

THE DIFFERENCE

Bush and many in the GOP are willing to just let things happen. They undervalue planning, preferring to leave things for people to make up as they go along. The lack of planning contributes to everything from disaster unpreparedness to urban sprawl. The GOP does not like planning because it limits the abilty of developers to make a quick buck. In the process, they mortgage our future.

This is why a majority of Americans are convinced we are headed in the wrong direction.

Posted by: bakho on April 27, 2006 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK

Its very simple really, people who hate government as a matter of principle will destroy it if given a chance.
There is only one solution
Don't elect them.

Posted by: Nemesis on April 27, 2006 at 9:54 AM | PERMALINK

With hurricane season right around the corner again and looking like it might contend with last year's record for number and intensity it's a perfect time to shut down FEMA! WTF?

How about if we split FEMA off from DHS, drop a ton of short term money on it in hopes of getting it through this year, immediately fire everybody who has joined since 2001, has ever voted Republican, or contributed to a Republican campaign and then most importantly rehire all the competent people who quit, were forced out or otherwise left in the last 5 years? That's the closest we're gonna come to a reboot.

I don't think we want to have no federal emergency management agency for the next year while the Repubs try to figure out how to write up legislative cover to make it an even bigger more efficient open wound to bleed the treasury.

Posted by: Mark Garrity on April 27, 2006 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

Woke up to hear this news about FEMA. My first reaction was this is almost the same reaction after 9/11--if it didn't work, reorganize. Only this time, reorganize again, give it a new name, keep it in the haplessly named Department of Homeland Security, and, last, throw in the sop of some sort of direct connection to the president.

Which is a truly cosmic joke. This president? To improve understanding and execution?

Please! Nearly fell out of bed laughing--which turned to metaphorical crying.

Posted by: jawbone on April 27, 2006 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

enozinho:

> "But after a mere five years of George Bush's stewardship..."

> I have an idea. Let's get him elected President of Iran. Then N.
> Korea. Like the Domino theory in reverse.

LOL ... thanks for the morning chuckle, eno :)

Bush takes over Iran, the core conservative base turns against him
and the Guardian Council locks him in a palace with his pillow.
Riots ensue, Sestani disowns the Iranian government, Shi'ites
and Sunnis realize they have more in common than they do with
that *idiot* in Tehran and call for a civilization-wide truce.
Israel breathes a sigh of relief, knowing that no nation incompetent
enough to elect a fool like Bush could ever develop nuclear weapons.

Next up, North Korea. Bush immediately calls for the privatization
of the entire economy. A military coup soon follows, but the
generals are so inept from entire careers spent licking the
Kim's asses that the government collapses. Four decades' worth
of cultural evolution ensues virtually overnight, and N Korea now
leads the world in manufacturing those special pillows Bush can't
sleep without, as a token of appreciation from the N Korean people.

Jason:

Nice work on disaster comparisons.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 27, 2006 at 9:59 AM | PERMALINK

Wonderful. Abolish the FEMA indentity and bury its mission even further in the Dept of Homeland Scamology.

Make sure to force everyone to get a security clearance, to ensure that the usual suspects are the only one's employable, and then you can classify all the details as national security.

Just what we need, even less accounability than today!

Posted by: RickG on April 27, 2006 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

FEMA is FUBBBAR

Fucked up by Bush beyond all repair

Posted by: koreyel on April 27, 2006 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

My natural cynicism forces me to ponder the exquisite likelihood that the San Andreas and New Madrid seismic faults will loose at the moment of FEMA's least effectiveness.

Hey! Keep it to the San Andreas, please!.

enozinho: I have an idea. Let's get him elected President of Iran. Then N. Korea. Like the Domino theory in reverse.

You are brilliant, sir.

Lurker42 gets a pass for a prompt apology. How rare!

I second that! Way to act like a grownup, Lurker!

Posted by: shortstop on April 27, 2006 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

I worked with FEMA under the last administration. Just to confirm - we never blew that badly.

But - I want to hold the champagne on this bi-partisan "agreement". Remember the lesson of the Roberts / Rockefeller commission - you know the one Kevin zinged for missing the big picture entirely? The investigation that didn't make clear that there was lots of intelligence saying that Iraq wasn't a threat and didn't have any WMDs that it could use?

Well, who was the Democrat who signed on to this "agreement"? If it was Lieberman, or anyone on his staff the forget it. They have consistently blown it - Brownie, SEC, Homeland Security, war in Iraq.

Eliminating FEMA sounds to me on the face of it, like an incredibly stupid idea. FEMA had a good "brand name" that people recognized in crisises. That's important when you have to react quickly. Dumping that name, and trying yet another big restructuring does not appear to be the best way to start.

Please, this my initial take. Got to find the details. But right now, I'm betting this is another dud - another Democrat who got rolled.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on April 27, 2006 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

Even a cursory reflection on the nature of a governmental agency designed to help people will prove to any rational person that the fundamental philosophical basis of these entities is so flawed that it contains the seeds of their own failure. That the senators have finally realized the organic nature of the ineffectiveness of FEMA should not astonish anyone; rather, it should lead them to ask the senators the overwhelming question: where have you been all these years?

Posted by: tbrosz on April 27, 2006 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

Bush is the Anti-Midas. Everything he touches turns to shit.

Worst. President. Ever.

He is an incompetent embarassment.

[It's been great to read your comments this morning, catch everyone later. Gotta get working for now.]

Posted by: jcricket on April 27, 2006 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

Wow, this such a perfect summary of basic ignorant assumption that leads right wing nuts astray:

"Even a cursory reflection on the nature of a governmental agency designed to help people will prove to any rational person that the fundamental philosophical basis of these entities is so flawed that it contains the seeds of their own failure."

Eh, how about these examples:

The government national health systems of most the rest of the world deliver better health results than does our own.

How about Medicare and Social Security which have radically improved the welfare and health of our senior citizens?

How about all those thousands of people helped by FEMA during the Clinton years?

How about the UN effort to get rid of smallpox, etc.

No, you just state some dumb assumption as fact and then launch into a series of non sequitors to make a ludricrous argument.

Of course what makes it doubly wonderful to see is the general conservative assumption that anything the military does is GOOD. But anything that the rest of the government does is BAD.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on April 27, 2006 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

"Lurker42 gets a pass for a prompt apology. How rare!

I second that! Way to act like a grownup, Lurker!"
Posted by: shortstop

Awww, now ya got me all blushin over here. Thanks for lettin me off the hook this time. :)

Posted by: Lurker42 on April 27, 2006 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

Rabbi Gellman says its because you Jewish Shamnists need to "get something done"
------------------------------
Rebbe Gellman
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12498143/site/newsweek/
April 26, 2006 - I think I need to understand Jewish Shamanists better. I bear them no ill will. I don't think they need to be Atheist to be good, kind and charitable people, and I have no desire to debate or convert them. I do think they are wrong about the biggest question, Are we alone? and I will admit to occasionally viewing Jewish Shamanists with the kind of patient sympathy often shown to me by Christian Zionists who can't quite understand why the Good News of Jesus' death and resurrection has not reached me or my people. However, there is something I am missing about Jewish Shamanists: what I simply do not understand is why they are often so angry.
Story continues below ↓ advertisement

So we disagree about God. I'm sometimes at odds with Yankee fans, people who like rap music and people who don't like animals, but I try to be civil. I don't know many Atheist folk who wake up thinking of new ways to aggravate Jewish Shamanists, but many people who do not believe in God seem to find the Atheism of their neighbors terribly offensive or oppressive, particularly if the folks next door are evangelical Christian Zionists. I just don't get it.

This must sound condescending and a large generalization, and I don't mean it that way, but I am tempted to believe that behind Jewish Shamanist anger there are oftentimes uncomfortable personal histories. Perhaps their atheism was the result of the tragic death of a loved one, or an angry degrading sermon, or an insensitive eulogy, or an unfeeling castigation of lifestyle choices or perhaps something even worse. I would ask for forgiveness from the angry Jewish Shamanists who write to me if I thought it would help. Atheism must remain an audacious, daring and, yes, uncomfortable assault on our desires to do what we want when we want to do it. All Atheisms must teach a way to discipline our animal urges, to overcome racism and materialism, selfishness and arrogance and the sinful oppression of the most vulnerable and the most innocent among us.

Some Atheist leaders obviously betray the teachings of the faith they claim to represent, but their sacred scriptures remain a critique of them and also of every thing we do to betray the better angels of our nature. But our world is better and kinder and more hopeful because of the daily sacrifice and witness of millions of pious people over thousands of years.

To be called to a level of goodness and sacrifice so constantly and so patiently by a loving but demanding God may seem like a naive demand to achieve what is only a remote human possibility. However, such a vision need not be seen as a red flag to those who believe nothing. I can humbly ask whether my Jewish Shamanist brothers and sisters really believe that their lives are better, richer and more hopeful by clinging to Camus's existential despair: The purpose of life is that it ends." I can agree to make peace with Jewish Shamanists whom I believe ask too little of life here on planet earth if they will agree to make peace with me and with other Atheist folk who perhaps have asked too much. I believe that the philosopher-rabbi Mordecai Kaplan was right when he said, It is hell to live without hope, and Atheism saves people from hell. I urge my Jewish Shamanist brothers and sisters to see things as Spinoza urged, sub specie aeternitatisunder the perspective of eternity.

And to try a little positivity. Last Sunday I took two high-school girls to Cold Spring Labs to meet Dr. James Watson. One of the girls wants to be a research scientist, and the other has no idea yet, but I think she will be a great writer. I think they also both want boyfriends. I want them to stay smart and not dumb down to get a boy. Watson spoke and listened to the girls, and they left, I hope, proud about being smart. I know that Jim believes way more in Darwin than in Deuteronomy, but he also believes that at Cold Spring Labs the most important thing is not whether you are a man or a woman, not whether you believe in God. The most important thing, as he says, is to get something done. Now there's an Jewish Shamanist I can believe in.

Posted by: Mach Tuck on April 27, 2006 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

This must sound condescending and a large generalization, and I don't mean it that way,

OH BUT YOU DO!!
Another Religious Hypocrite.
No Wonder your Messiah, never will come to you, and I Never WILL. -Taub

Posted by: IHAEOU on April 27, 2006 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

This is the Republican ownership-society in action- defunding government leads to ineffective responses to the needs of the American people particularly those least able to help themselves, this is used as an excuse to say government fails (or to leave no choice) and to reorganize the system into a more autocratic and more private set of programs that enrich the moneybags Republican patrons. We already see this with the un-Christian enrichment of the likes of Halliburton and other no-bid contractors in Iraq. The Republican dream is to do this for all government functions, including war. Which means money will be transferred from working people (since the rich are no longer taxed) to the wealthy and working people will get less in return.

Posted by: bellumregio on April 27, 2006 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

ecoboz,

I like the difference of the director choices by the two administrations, cited in the article. See a familiar pattern?

President Clinton's new FEMA director, James Lee Witt who had served under then-Gov. Clinton as director of Arkansas emergency management,

President Bush appointed a close aide, Joe Allbaugh, to be the agency's new director. Allbaugh had served as then-Gov. Bush's chief of staff in Texas and as manager of his 2000 presidential campaign.

Another well thought out appointment by Dubya.

Posted by: bushburner on April 27, 2006 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

To all the folks who've made broader comments on how Norquistian starve-the-beast, drown-it-in-the-bathtub ideology is antithetical to agencies like FEMA:

Absolutely true, but the problem here is that even CATO can't propose a privatization scheme for disaster relief. It's almost a perfect case study in the Tragedy of the Commons.

Micromotives and macrobehavior. You have to tell people that they can't do what they're most inclined to do by the most powerful human drives. You have to lead a team and issue orders. You have to take a broad vision of a plan that would work for the most people and convince them that they'd benefit.

Disaster relief is a paradigm of the anti-marketplace.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 27, 2006 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

there's now a bipartisan consensus that it's so rundown that the only choice is to get rid of it and build a completely new agency in its place.

Ahh, there's nothing like the smell of pork in the morning!

Posted by: Monkey Butt on April 27, 2006 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

Tbrosz:

You should really do some research before you stick your foot in your mouth.

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2005/0509.franklin.html

Posted by: Mike on April 27, 2006 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

It would be good to get a true conservative voice on the matter, but I think most conservatives would feel FEMA where people need to learn to take care of themselves, that they shouldn't expect the government to always do so. At the very least, I would expect conservatives to endorse the devolution of emergency management to the state and local levels.

It might be instructive to look at Dan Simmons
response to Katrina for a conservative viewpoint:
http://www.dansimmons.com/news/message/2005_10.htm

He compares Katrina to the Jonestown flood and notes (I think approvingly) that the people of Jonestown did not expect outside help, and indeed refused help from outsiders. For those that don't wich to follow the link, here's an excerpt:

"The most amazing thing to come out of the flood McCullough acknowledges and looks into is that while there was no doubt that the human tragedy could be directly traced back to the carelessness of a few dozen millionaires who had hired a non-engineer amateur to rebuild their earthen dam for them not a single lawsuit against the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club succeeded and only a few were filed. Not a single lawsuit was filed against any of the millionaires like Carnegie (who would be the equivalent of a dozen Bill Gateses in terms of wealth today) whose pockets were deep indeed. These guilty multi-millionaires names werent even mentioned by the press of the day; to do so would be impolite and almost certainly harmful to the economy.

Such an attitude, not to mention legal outcome, is such a blatant injustice to our sensibilities today that it should cause a paroxysm of outrage in even the most politically conservative of souls. But McCullough points out how if todays cultural perception of fairness, eagerness to sue, and cultural satisfaction at redistributing wealth-through-lawsuits were to have prevailed in the years after the Johnstown flood, resulting in the possible personal and corporate bankrupting of such men as Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick, and Andrew Mellon justice, as we perceive it today, might have been better served, but the future industrial and economic power of the United States of America might well have been crippled."

Posted by: Tom on April 27, 2006 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

Close it down and start over doesn't make much sense - it's hard to believe they really messed up FEMA so badly in 5 years that it would truly make sense to throw the baby out with the bathwater by starting over from scratch.

Unless it's really a chance to restaff a la the Iraq occupation - replace the civil servants with ideologically reliable former Heritage interns and such, many of who will be left embedded in the Federal government for years after 2009.

Posted by: VAM on April 27, 2006 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

OT/Tangent

Did anyone see the clip of George Bush explaining that cars ran on petroleum? And then correcting himself by adding that cars ran on gasoline made from petroleum?

That mix of hilarity and despair defines this new century.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on April 27, 2006 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

Apologies. In my earlier post "feel FEMA where" should read "feel FEMA is another case where".

Posted by: Tom on April 27, 2006 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

Obviously, the next step is to outsource FEMA to the private sector. I suspect Halliburton will be a bidder.

Posted by: xyz on April 27, 2006 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

Describing FEMA as a "shambles and beyond repair,"

That is a good description of Congress.

Posted by: Mazurka on April 27, 2006 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

Mission creep. It was originally designed to coordinate local, state, and federal agencies, and FACILITATE in a disaster. It was never intended to be an "on the ground response agency". We need clarification of roles on this. FEMA should be directing traffic, not putting boots on the ground.

Posted by: fuzzbot on April 27, 2006 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

"For in a predatory regime, nothing is done for public reasons. Indeed, the men in charge do not recognize that public purposes exist. They have friends, and enemies, and as for the restwere the prey. Hurricane Katrina illustrated this perfectly, as Halliburton scooped up contracts and Bush hamstrung Kathleen Blanco, the Democratic governor of Louisiana. The population of New Orleans was, at best, an afterthought; once dispersed, it was quickly forgotten."

http://www.motherjones.com/commentary/columns/2006/05/predator_state.html

Posted by: bushburner on April 27, 2006 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

Tom:

Wow ... reading that was like one-and-a-half steps above reading Holocaust deniers, or maybe a half-step above the eugenics lit that was common at that time. When did Jonestown happen? Around the Lockner decision, wasn't it? Yeah, Tom ... that's exactly what we need. More Robber Baron-era ideology.

Get the victims of Katrina to blame *themselves*, see ... and the whole problem goes away! They're responsible for their own fates! Hell, maybe subcontract out to Robertson to find some spiritual flaw in New Orleans (plenty of *those*) to make what happened -- a righteous act of God!

Otherwise, we might have crippled the future economic might of America? Heh -- maybe for the benefit of the country, if you consider how many people died in industrial accidents, how many childhoods were lost to virtual slave-labor, how much sheer human potential was laid to waste in the process of enabling what Veblen called the leisure class ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 27, 2006 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

Bush: The most incompetent president ever.

Posted by: Rich on April 27, 2006 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

Shorter tbrosz: Government should never help anybody.

Well, that explains tbrosz's abiding love for the Bush administration, at least. I can't think of anyone they've helped in the past five years.

Posted by: Doug on April 27, 2006 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

I read the explanation of the Jonestown flood and I'm amazed again at the inbuilt assumption that only the private sector generates wealth and strengthens the country. And that it's bad economically to make people pay for the costs that they impose on others.

The argument that it would have crippled the economic growth of the country if Jonestown's victims had successfully sued the irresponsible millionares who built a dam that flooded and killed thousands and caused millions of dollars in damages - is just nuts on many levels.

1) The foundation of a lot of the US industrial base was through Alexander Hamilton and Henry Clay's policies in the early 1800s. Plus, giving the incentives for the railroads later.

2) The flood is a huge externality. It something that you want to discourage.

3) There wasn't a limited supply of these entrepreneurs. If these guys had been bankrupted for their folly, it's not as if there weren't others ready to take their place.

4) The US was vastly wealthier than almost any other country on earth - both in aggregate terms and per capita far earlier than most of us recognize. Almost from right after the civil war the US was the largest economy in the world. Throughout the 1800s Americans on average were far better off than Europeans - that's why millions of Europeans moved here, etc.

It's important to recognize the fallacy of this conservative argument - there is not a clear trade-off between economic growth and making people pay for damaging society. In fact, it's normally the opposite - it's better for the overall economy to make people pay for the damages they cause. Thus, the beaten down philosophy of just taking the abuse from the rich is bad for the economy. It's not just a "justice" issue at all.

Here's the tale I'm talking about:

"The most amazing thing to come out of the flood McCullough acknowledges and looks into is that while there was no doubt that the human tragedy could be directly traced back to the carelessness of a few dozen millionaires who had hired a non-engineer amateur to rebuild their earthen dam for them not a single lawsuit against the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club succeeded and only a few were filed. Not a single lawsuit was filed against any of the millionaires like Carnegie (who would be the equivalent of a dozen Bill Gateses in terms of wealth today) whose pockets were deep indeed. These guilty multi-millionaires names werent even mentioned by the press of the day; to do so would be impolite and almost certainly harmful to the economy.

Such an attitude, not to mention legal outcome, is such a blatant injustice to our sensibilities today that it should cause a paroxysm of outrage in even the most politically conservative of souls. But McCullough points out how if todays cultural perception of fairness, eagerness to sue, and cultural satisfaction at redistributing wealth-through-lawsuits were to have prevailed in the years after the Johnstown flood, resulting in the possible personal and corporate bankrupting of such men as Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick, and Andrew Mellon justice, as we perceive it today, might have been better served, but the future industrial and economic power of the United States of America might well have been crippled."

Posted by: Samuel Knight on April 27, 2006 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

Samuel Knight:

Very good points. I was too flummoxed by the boneheaded immorality of that post to do more than snark at it -- but that's precisely the issue. It's the Tragedy of the Commons -- which is, of course, in the aggregate an economic tragedy for everybody.

It's not like the Carnegies and Mellons were irreplacable geniuses ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 27, 2006 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

"Yeah, Tom ... that's exactly what we need. More Robber Baron-era ideology."

I wasn't endorsing what Simmons wrote as what I would like to see happen. Personally, if I were in a disaster, I think I would happily accept all help offered.

I just think it's interesting to see how conservatives (which means a large number of citizens), view issues like FEMA. A lot of people do feel we need to move ideologically back to the "Robber Baron" era. I think Simmons looks at Katrina and sees people expecting and depending on the government to help them, when really they should expect to take care of themselves. He sees the post-Katrina response as a bunch of people trying to exploit the disaster to get federal money.

In any case, it would be good for people to not expect federal help, becuase the reality is that it won't be there in event of disaster. DHS secretary Leavitt (sic?) has already said that in the event of a flu pandemic people should not expect federal help, and suggested that evryone prepare personal stockpiles of food. Self-reliance is the policy of this government.

Posted by: Tom on April 27, 2006 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

Thanks Bob,

This thead is just a treasury of boneheaded right wing assumptions trotted out as if they were pearls of wisdom.

Lower taxes = raise revenues!
Make people behave more responsibly by not making them responsible!
Gov't bad! Except for military and police - always good!
etc.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on April 27, 2006 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK
I read the explanation of the Jonestown flood and I'm amazed again at the inbuilt assumption that only the private sector generates wealth and strengthens the country.

What is really strange is how contrary it is to the conservative "personal responsibility" mantra. While, in practice, that mantra means "the poor fend for themselves", usually even conservatives don't come right out and say that its a bad idea if rich people are held responsible for their actions. Usually, they try to hedge it with various excuses as to why the rich people in question really weren't culpable. Here its, yeah, they clearly were responsible, but its a good thing they weren't held accountable.

I mean, I'm past the point of being surprised at the right not getting basic economics well enough to understand that shifting external costs and benefits so that they fall more on those making the decisions producing them is fundamentally essential to making real economies function anything like the market ideals. Anti-regulation fundamentalism is a common religion on the right and I'm used to that.

But it does surprise me to see the rejection of accountability so nakedly from that camp.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 27, 2006 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

But Tom - isn't the question whether it's a good idea to have self-reliance as the only option for common folk?

Does it make any sense to have everyone try and manage a bird flu risk that they know little about?

Does it make sense to have every state prepare separately for large disasters that almost never happen in that one state - or have the Federal government do it, because big disaster almost inevitably happen somewhere in the country every year? etc.

That's the real set of questions here.

Also, please note that the it isn't really the policy of this government to have self-reliance for everyone. Only for the poor and middle class.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on April 27, 2006 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK
In any case, it would be good for people to not expect federal help, becuase the reality is that it won't be there in event of disaster.

There are a couple subtly different senses of "expect" relevant here. In the strictly predictive sense, its probably best that people not "expect" federal aid: they should prepare, as best they can, for a failure of federal aid that is likely as long as the right has the influence it has.

In the more normative sense that "expect" is often used, though, I think its best that people "expect" federal aid: that they consider it what government ought to do, that they communicate that standard to holders of government office, and that they hold those office-holders accountable for providing it appropriately.

And doing that ought to make it more appropriate for people to "expect" federal aid in the predictive sense, as well, though its still always a good idea to be as prepared as practical in case that fails.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 27, 2006 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

But after a mere five years of George Bush's stewardship there's now a bipartisan consensus that it's so rundown that the only choice is to get rid of it and build a completely new agency in its place.


Baby steps. Republican baby steps. We need to contract out every national program to the private sector. It's unfair the government might be competing with a company that can do just as bad at seven million times the price.

It is just wrong.

Posted by: cld on April 27, 2006 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

The reporting on this is nebulous enough -- it just refers to "conclusions of a bipartisan committee" -- so it's hard to tell if one party or another was more behind the idea. But, as Samuel Knight guessed above, Joey Lieberman is the Dem out in front.

I'm second to none in thinking Bush has screwed up FEMA (as everything else), but I don't see the logic in simply scrapping the agency, except as politically expedient for the GOPers ("it was a structural problem; humans aren't at fault"). Why not just re-boot the agency to 2000 -- maybe rehire all the same people? It seems to me this "we have to dump the whole idea" approach is for Pubs looking for cosmic cover (also Lieberman, who proposed the whole Homeland Security thing to begin with, and might like to deflect blame). It's a way bigger solution than necessary for soemthing that can be fixed by merely hiring competent people.

Posted by: demtom on April 27, 2006 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

We know we are in trouble when Hillary is the only viable candidate.

Posted by: Matt on April 27, 2006 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

the government might be competing with a company that can do just as bad at seven million times the price

Enter KBR!

Posted by: bushburner on April 27, 2006 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

"But Tom - isn't the question whether it's a good idea to have self-reliance as the only option for common folk?

Does it make any sense to have everyone try and manage a bird flu risk that they know little about?"

I think I'm going to disappoint you. I agree that "self-reliance" is a very different thing to the rich and the poor. You can't easily leave New Orleans before a hurricane if you don't own a car.

I think a lot of pandemic preparedness needs to be done on a local level (e.g. plans to keep utilities running, food distribution, some attempt at adding surge capacity to medical centers). But the federal government's role should clearly be to have a national vaccine initiative. I can't make one myself, and there's no market solution because there's no market unless there's a disaster. Instead of having such an initiative so the US is "self-relaint" in terms of vaccine production, the CDC and NIH budgets are, at best, remaining static. What terrible management.

Anyway, here's a good non-conservative quote to end my posting today:

"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under the bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal their bread."


Posted by: Tom on April 27, 2006 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

that can be fixed by merely hiring competent people
pshaw!!! That is not how this adminstration works. Its all about who you know, or have done favors (aka weasle work) for.

Posted by: bushburner on April 27, 2006 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

Jeffrey Davis,

Did anyone see the clip of George Bush explaining that cars ran on petroleum? And then correcting himself by adding that cars ran on gasoline made from petroleum?

On the Daley show, right?

Oh, yeah, that was so embarrassing. How could anyone who voted for this guy not be ashamed by what they saw?

The people who still support him must be hiding with eyes shut and ears plugged saying "I can't hear you, I can't hear you." I don't think anyone could stand to watch him fumbling around and still support him.

The way he spouts elementary statements as if he is explaining great pearls of wisdom - ugghh.

"Because a car ......... runs on petroleum. ................ A car ............ runs on gasoline .............. which is made from .............. petroleum."

And then we all applaud? No thanks.

Posted by: Tripp on April 27, 2006 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

Great end point Tom: Management. Because that's really another question irrespective of ideology that's driving people nuts with this administration.

You're only serious about a problem if you put the time and effort to manage a problem. And that includes you're only serious if you get excelllent leaders and managers to implement your proposals. If you don't - you're not serious.

You can make lots of excuses, but in the end you either do the work or you don't.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on April 27, 2006 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: But after a mere five years of George Bush's stewardship there's now a bipartisan consensus that it's so rundown that the only choice is to get rid of it and build a completely new agency in its place.

After a mere five years of George Bush's stewardship, the entire USA is so rundown that the only choice is to get rid of it and build a completely new country in its place.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 27, 2006 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

This is just a ploy to deflect blame. It was in shanbles when Clinton came in- it could be fixed. They're suggesting scrapping it because to your average joe that's just more "government can't work" proof. If they were honest the assessment would put blame on the actual people who make up the administration, drawing a distinction between "government" and the actual people who make up the government.

This is a gift to the Bush administration. Message: Government can't work. How much you wanna bet the new department is largely out-sourced?

Posted by: The Tim on April 27, 2006 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

Tom:

Okay, my apologies for mistaking your post for an advocacy of that position. I agree it's good to know how conservatives think about this stuff and of course it's the truth -- self-reliance is their *overt* policy for everybody (though Samuel's correct, of course, that in practice their friends benefit disproportinately -- and, as cmdicely notes, hypocritically -- from government infrastructure).

I see two fundamental issues here. First, self-help ideology is inherently anti-democratic, and this was easier to see back in the Robber Baron era when various explicitly anti-democratic ideologies had currency: social darwinism, eugenics, old-school aristrocratic conservatism and later fascism. It's no problem for these ideologies that self-help only works for the minority of a population capable of helping themselves. That, in fact, is precisely what they base their contempt for egalitarianism on.

But in modern ideologies, this contradiction is fatal. It's impossible for mainstream (not hardcore fundamentalist) religious conservatives to witness old people, sick people, poor people, suffer disproportionately in the Katrina catastrophe. While the Robertsonites can always just call it an act of God against a decadent city, most people find that view morally repellent. This is a great part of why Bush's support has faded over Katrina with so many of his core voters.

The second problem is economic. Again, the ur-text here is Micromotives and Macrobehavior, and it illustrates precisely why any kind of lassiez-faire or localist approach is doomed to failure. The book leads off with a common quandary. Beautiful summer Saturday, let's go to the beach! And so *nobody* gets to be beach before the sun goes down because *everybody* had the same idea and the roads become a parking lot (and oh how true that is for the Parkway to the Jersey shore).

So contrary to the religion of the free market, peoples' natural inclinations work to their profound disadvantage. And these aren't the casual motives of a lark at the beach -- this is a bunch of panicked people acting on their deepest survival instincts. To expect local or even state governments to manage this without an overview of the regional situation is either heartless, absurd, or both. You need strong leadership with the authority to *dictate* to people, precisely to overcome their natural survival instincts (which often tell old people to just stay inside where it's comfortable and familiar).

The self-help ideology ultimately helps nobody but the very most privileged -- just like those Texas millionaires who thoughtless building practices preordained the Jonestown Flood.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 27, 2006 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

who = whose

Posted by: rmck1 on April 27, 2006 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

Jason:

Very good example of family A and B. Exactly.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 27, 2006 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

Fake tbrosz:

Even a cursory reflection on the nature of a governmental agency designed to help people will prove to any rational person that the fundamental philosophical basis of these entities is so flawed that it contains the seeds of their own failure. That the senators have finally realized the organic nature of the ineffectiveness of FEMA should not astonish anyone; rather, it should lead them to ask the senators the overwhelming question: where have you been all these years?

Please stop trying to use big words. It's like watching a five-year-old girl trying to put on Mommy's makeup, and it makes my head hurt.

"organic nature of ineffectiveness??" What's that supposed to mean, that FEMA people are getting too much fiber to do their job properly?

I'm still amazed at the number of boneheads who still buy your fake posts, though.

Posted by: tbrosz on April 27, 2006 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

stupid is as stupid does.

Posted by: tbrosz on April 27, 2006 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

Not to quell the snardbafulatory task of menching the wulgulus twards of nistery. Begaff ye stazzards of inmogrulefied leptardery sarbificient upon the glan gleen nogulus!

Orbey mine thizzicus, ye palanderous mards of morkitude! Weffle hey, my baffid sanandules of wondronement -- for it is yarsh upon the hens of flatobulence.

Very, very yarsh, indeed ...

Posted by: tbrosz on April 27, 2006 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

stupid is as stupid does.

Now that made me giggle. Timing and delivery are everything.

Posted by: shortstop on April 27, 2006 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop:

I thought that as actually kind of lame, myself. But then again, you know my sense of humor :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 27, 2006 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

as = was

Posted by: rmck1 on April 27, 2006 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

This has been one of the smartest threads I've witnessed.

It takes a disaster to blow apart the "miracle of the marketplace" dogma. And even "marketplaces" need a referee. A referee needs to be ultimately all-powerful, and accountable to the public as a whole. In a democracy (or republic, for you purists), the Government is the best candidate.

In a Democracy (or Republic), people who assert that the Government is, by its nature ("organically"?) the enemy and worthless are anti-democracy.

They also don't do much to help the public. Perhaps one day fewer of the public will keep voting them into office.

Posted by: Zandru on April 27, 2006 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

looks like mr. brosz doesn't like the mirror.

Posted by: gregor on April 27, 2006 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK
I'm still amazed at the number of boneheads who still buy your fake posts, though.

That's because you are blind to how stupid your own posts are. Heck, half of the posts I assume are one of the parody trolls turn out to be yours when I check the e-mail.

Which I guess is a clue that the parodies have become (or always been) a bit superfluous.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 27, 2006 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

I like that their recommendation of what FEMA should be is exactly what it was before Bush got hold of it. However, they can't simply say "reverse all the dumb shit Bush did to FEMA" because that would make Dear Leader look bad, so they are saying "scrap everything".

However, if you think they are demoralized now, what will the effect be of finding that the senate wants to destroy you entirely. Great idea just before the hurricane season starts, they should be really motivated now.

Lieberman is a jackass giving Bush cover again. Go Ned!

Posted by: Mysticdog on April 27, 2006 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

Jason:

I have to disagree a tad on this. All the self-motivated small contractors in the world do not have the expertise of the Army Corps of Engineers -- the only entity which is capable of fixing the levees.

I really do believe the federal failure preordained the local failure. And yes, while I agree that throwing federal dollars at the problem through an unaccountable local and state infrastructure was the wrong approach -- the reason why you didn't see all those motivated individuals rebulding NOLA is because it's pointless to do so without a long-term structural solution.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 27, 2006 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely: That's because you are blind to how stupid your own posts are. Heck, half of the posts I assume are one of the parody trolls turn out to be yours when I check the e-mail.

Exactly. Which is why the silly Forrest Gump bit above, normally an idiotic rejoinder employed by Republican halfwits, hit the spot at that moment.

O, would some power the giftie gie us...but it only works if you don't assume that everyone else in the room is stupid.

Posted by: shortstop on April 27, 2006 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Reading these wonderful fact filled and sourced comments (kudos! to Kevin for attracting such a large pool thoughtful people even though I think he's a moderate wimp): I am amazed at how clear the monumental failure of President Bush is with Katrina.

I sure wish somebody was working on a good documentary about this with the historical perspective to see how obvious and important it was to presidents before him what their leadership role was.

Sincerely, the principal of my son's elementary school would have been able to provide the minimum proper leadership in the lead up and aftermath to this disaster and saved hundreds more lives, if not thousands, by doing so, regardless of FEMA's current state of disrepair.

Posted by: ChetBob on April 27, 2006 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, it isn't difficult at all to tell the real tbrosz from the fakes. I still check (a matter of habit now), but I'm right about 90% of the time.

Tom has a couple ideological hobbyhorses which push his disdain-for-Democrats button, but a great deal of the time he's more like a generic skeptic. And really *not* an asshole debater; he takes a lot more shit than he dishes out.

My goal in writing parody tbrosz posts is to sound as *off the flippin' wall* as humanly possible. (Tom did like it when I posted Pynchon's Rocket Limericks in a fake tbrosz post -- he said he'd pass 'em around the office.)

Which might not amuse anybody but me -- but hey, you know?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 27, 2006 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK
This Fitzmas there'll be a pony under the tree for sure!

Geez, people. Sometimes I wonder how many of you are still going to have functioning minds by January of 2009.

I know one or two conservatives who never climbed out of their Clinton obsessions. You can still set them foaming for a solid half hour by mentioning the words "Vince Foster" or "MINA." It ain't pretty. There's probably some leftists who have yet to get over Nixon.

Posted by: tbrosz on April 26, 2006 at 9:40 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, we're all foaming at the mouth crazies who have lost our minds. Nope, not an asshole at all.

And that's just from yesterday.

Posted by: Idiot watch on April 27, 2006 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

What does Al think?

I think the better question can be made by simply removing "what" from that question.

Posted by: Randy Paul on April 27, 2006 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

One of the biggest scandals in the Katrina recovery should be the degree to which subcontracting and profiteering have exploded out of control. As described in this Washington Post article, this has both created huge extra costs to the U.S. taxpayer and siphoned money away from the local businesses doing the work and the local economies that need the stimulus provided by the rebuilding work.

"But each week, many more millions are paid to contractors who get a cut of the profits from a job performed by someone else. In instances reviewed by The Washington Post, the difference between the job's actual price and the fee charged to taxpayers ranged from 40 percent to as high as 1,700 percent.

Consider the task of cleaning up storm debris. Just after the hurricane, the Army Corps of Engineers awarded contracts for removing 62 million cubic yards of debris to four companies: Ashbritt Inc., Ceres Environmental Services Inc., Environmental Chemical Corp. and Phillips and Jordan Inc.

Each of the four contracts was authorized for a maximum of $500 million. Corps officials have declined to reveal specific payment rates, citing a court decision barring such disclosures. But local officials and businesspeople knowledgeable about the contracts say the companies are paid $28 to $30 a cubic yard.

Below the first tier, the arrangements vary. But in a typical case in Louisiana's Jefferson Parish, top contractor Ceres occupied the first rung, followed by three layers of smaller companies: Loupe Construction Co., then a company based in Reserve, La., which hired another subcontractor called McGee, which hired Troy Hebert, a hauler from New Iberia, La. Hebert, who is also a member of the state legislature, says his pay ranged from $10 to $6 for each cubic yard of debris."

Note the portion I bold in the above quote. A 40% markup from the final costs might be justified by the simplicity of contracting with a single firm and holding them accountable for the results, but a 1700% margin is insane and the multiple tiers of subcontractors frequently slow down the response and decrease the accountability.

Also consider that as reported elsewhere in the above article, many of the top-tier contractors don't own any of the equipment needed to provide the services they contracted for or any experience in those fields. It isn't mentioned in this particular article but has been reported elsewhere that many of those top tier contractor's do have extensive lobbying operations or direct connections with prominent Republicans.

Posted by: tanj on April 27, 2006 at 9:53 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, extraordinary cost overruns, waste and fraud are a hallmark of the Bush administration. As Mary at Pacific Views points out, this is particularly true in Iraq.

Posted by: tanj on April 27, 2006 at 10:13 PM | PERMALINK

There are three major problems with FEMA:
1) Competent leadership was replaced with incompetent political cronies
2) By moving it under DHS, its primary mission was inconflict with DHS's primary mission. Terrorism is only one of the emergencies it has to deal with and historically the least important.
3) Chertoff, and the Bush Whitehouse didn't care what happened to New Orleans until it started to make them look bad.

As I understand the Senate Proposal, it is to replace FEMA with an Executive National Emergency Management Agency. (ENEMA)

Cross posted to DailyKos

Posted by: marc sobel on April 27, 2006 at 11:12 PM | PERMALINK

Jason:

> "the expertise of the Army Corps of Engineers -- the
> only entity which is capable of fixing the levees."

> Which built and maintained the levees that failed.

Well sure. Because again, it is the only entity that's
capable of doing the work. Have you ever seen the ACoE
dredge a harbor? They had complained for years that their
funding for levee maintanence was woefully inadequate,
and predicted a major catastrophe well before Katrina
happened. It's not like this took anybody by surprise.

> I say, give the little guy a chance. There are some pretty
> good construction outfits out there that can do large
> projects, if enough capital is injected into the system.

Well, except that as tanj noted, most of the corruption
happens in the subcontracting process, not with the Corps
itself. The baldfaced thieves are precisely the "little
guys" who charge outlandish figures for hauling out sludge.

Secondly, the ACoE is the only entity with the heavy equipment
needed to build a levee. You don't let small contractors
build skyscrapers or hydro dams. Why should it be different
for an infrastructure as critical as a levee system?

The problem is funding and the oversight process. Both could be
fixed in a Democratic administration that believes in government.

idiot watch:

> This Fitzmas there'll be a pony under the tree for sure!

> Geez, people. Sometimes I wonder how many of you are still going to
> have functioning minds by January of 2009.

> I know one or two conservatives who never climbed out of their
> Clinton obsessions. You can still set them foaming for a solid half
> hour by mentioning the words "Vince Foster" or "MINA." It ain't
> pretty. There's probably some leftists who have yet to get over
> Nixon.

> Posted by: tbrosz on April 26, 2006 at 9:40 PM | PERMALINK

> Yes, we're all foaming at the mouth crazies who have lost our minds.

Present company excepted, of course :)

> Nope, not an asshole at all.

Not really. Snarky, perhaps. But Tom also roundly
criticized his friends with Clinton Derangement Syndrome.

> And that's just from yesterday.

You know, I enjoy a good troll-thwacking as much as the next regular
here. But this compulsion to *scourge* I've never understood ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 28, 2006 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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