Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Appointments Do Matter

On Sunday, CNN's Aaron Brown was interviewing the mayor of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, about FEMA's response to the disaster in his community.

"What is FEMA?" the mayor asked.

Since the interview was playing out over disaster footage, you had to read Brown's dismay from his voice as he gulped and slowly spelled out the acronym for the mayor: "Federal Emergency Management Agency." Between the lines, it sounded like, "shit, I've embarrassed this poor, dumb, backcountry..."

"Oh, I guess I've heard of them," the mayor deadpanned, later clarifying that he was "being facetious."

We learn from Talking Points Memo via Cleversponge, that the FEMA director Michael Brown has a less than stellar resume in emergency management, apparently having been encouraged to resign by his previous employers from his job overseeing horse show judging.

Tyler debunks Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt's warning of the risk of "typhoid and cholera" as a result of contaminated water in New Orleans. Leavitt, a former insurance man and governor of Utah, is another HHS secretary whose human services credentials seem based primarily upon enacting "welfare reform."

Now the ex-CEO of Halliburton is being sent to whip things into shape, and Michael Neumann wonders whether the snipers actually hastened a serious rescue effort.

Patronage didn't start with the Bush administration, but surely over the past five years we have never seen a more repellent gumbo of political cronyism and profiteering coupled with a simultaneous disrespect for government and those midlevel servants who dedicate their lives to public service. What better way to strangle government than to staff it with unqualified short-timers?

Isn't it curious the administration seems during this domestic crisis to have toned down the flag waving and appeals to patriotism? They must realize there's no flight deck or contrived backdrop that can cover up massive failure in our own backyard.


Blogger Charlie Quimby said...

CNN reports that a FEMA evacuation flight landed at the "wrong Charleston."

FEMA alerted Charleston, S.C., health officials that a flight would arrive in half an hour carrying as many as 180 evacuees.

But the plane, instead, landed in Charleston, West Virginia, 400 miles away.

This should fuel both the "government can't help you" and the "Bush appointees screwed up again" partisans.

9:29 AM  

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