Thursday, October 20, 2005

While New Orleans Drowned

"Sir, I know that you know the situation is past critical," The FEMA Regional director (at the Superdome) wrote to FEMA chief Mike Brown, on August 31st.

The response, from Brown's Press Secretary came three hours later:

"[Mike] needs much more than 20 or 30 minutes [to eat his dinner, at a Baton Rouge restaurant]..."

"We now have traffic to encounter to go to and from a location of his choise (sic), followed by wait service from the restaurant staff, eating, etc. Thank you."

Should Mikey-boy have had a sit down dinner at a restaurant of his "choise" while thousands were running out of food and water at the Superdome?

I don't know. Should Bush have continued to listen to "My Pet Goat" being read while thousands died on 9/11?

The insensitivity of these people boggles the mind. Hundreds of local officials dropped everything they were doing to help those in dire need after Hurricane Katrina (and after 9/11). Meanwhile, the Feds lagged behind, valuing photo ops and fine dining over people's lives (anyone get the name of the restaurant Mike Brown was at? Did he order an appetizer??)

Anyone who blames local officials is an absolute idiot. I'm sorry, but it's true. A CITY GOT WIPED OFF THE FACE OF THE PLANET. If this isn't an instance when maybe the federal government should get involved, I don't know what is. Does a whole state have to be destroyed before the Feds respond? Oh... actually, put the landmass affected by Hurricane Katrina together and you have a state-sized area right there. Shouldn't we expect more? State governments get their operating budgets from their residents. The Federal Government gets its funds from all of us. Shouldn't the Federal government be better equipped? Should the members of the federal government, at least, maybe... grab a sandwich or something instead of sitting down at a restaurant? Jesus. Let's not be partisan for a moment here and just recognize that something is seriously wrong when people in charge sit on their asses.

But hey, Mike Brown was hungry. GWB didn't want to worry the young-uns.

Gimme a break.


Chef Bouillon said...

OK. Seriously, it's not completely the feds and it isn't completely the locals either. There is plenty of fault to go around here. You say that the federal govt gets money from "all of us" and the state only gets money from their own residents. Keep in mind a couple of things. First, the federal govt GIVES states money to prepare for national disasters. If that money isn't used properly, it isn't completely the fault of the feds. Second, technically federal funds should go for the benefit of the whole, as (as you stated) those funds are from the whole. The feds shouldn't step in PRIOR to disaster and offer money that isn't necessarily needed but IS the money of the rest of the union. I think that it is a reasonable assmption on the part of the large federal govt that the local officials will take care of their own. Finally, you say that the feds lagged behind but again, technically, the feds could not get involved until specifically requested. They were repeatedly told that it was under control.

Granted, it was obvious to everyone what was going on was not right. It was also obvious that the feds should have insisted upon getting involved much much earlier. And it seems obvious that Mr. Brown should have gotten his ass up from din-din to actually do something. But regardless, now we are ALL going to have to foot the $200 billion bill for this reconstruction.

I guess my point is simply that you can't place blame for the entire mess at any ONE person or organizations doorstep.

Adam said...

My apologies, what I meant to say was that anyone who SOLELY blames the local officials is an idiot. So, yeah, I'm an idiot. Plenty of blame to go around. Obviously, local officials had their problems too. But it upsets me that some people have insisted the feds aren't to blame (or that their actions are excused by the local government's missteps). Stories like the one I cite above show that the people in charge aren't exactly responsive to the degree we should expect. Hindsight is 20/20, but for the head of FEMA to take a leisurely dinner while recieving dire reports shows a horrific lack of concern. (it seems to me that when this government receives multiple messages talking about disaster, and one message saying everything is fine, they choose to believe the latter) Anyone who watched CNN knew the levees were failing... why didnt the feds? I should hope the federal government would react a lot quicker the next time a major american city faces its demise.

Chef Bouillon said...

Ah, well. I can agree with those sentiments.

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