Brownie’s Comic Opera



“I’m extremely concerned that the ability of our nation to prepare for and respond to disasters has been sharply eroded It’s like a stake has been driven in the heart of the emergency management of this nation.”

James Lee Witt, former FEMA Director

Michael Brown’s B-rated performance before the congressional investigative committee provided some welcome relief from an otherwise depressing week of bad news. It was like watching Suzanne Sommers play Lady Macbeth; poor Brownie was in way over his head.

The ex-FEMA chief stuck close to his Karl Rove script and didn’t give an inch to the blustery congressmen. He growled and snapped at the questions; bristling with indignation one minute and then faking compassion the next. All the while, he kept passing-the-buck to everyone within a 200 mile radius. It was a pitiable presentation with Brown refusing to answer even the easiest questions without first consulting his army of lawyers.

While Brown was testifying, the new casualty figures from Hurricane Katrina were pouring into the various news outlets, pushing the death-toll upwards to the 1,000 mark.

“You killed a heck-of a lot of people, Brownie!” That should be worth something to the folks in the administration who value such achievements.

What’s striking about Brown is his total inability to give a damn’ about the people who died because of his incompetence. His deadpan testimony was an example of “the banality of evil”; just another callous defense for criminal negligence and bungling.

“You’re a cold fish, Brownie.”

The congressional inquiry followed the predictable lines of a Washington whitewash; “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Brown, of course, was fitted with the leper’s rattle as expected, but in many ways he defended himself quite admirably. He cleverly shifted the blame to Governor Kathleen Blanco and Mayor Ray Nagin for allegedly obstructing the relief effort and delaying the delivery of food and water to traumatized victims. In fact, the record shows that the administration intentionally withheld aid to coerce the Governor to surrender control of New Orleans to the Feds. Brown, however, like Bush, doesn’t mind fudging the truth if it saves his own hide.

Brown’s most revealing remarks came in response to questions about, “what would you have done differently?” Ironically, his biggest regret was not the loss of life or his failure to provide assistance to the people in his charge but, rather, that he “failed to set up media briefings”.

That’s right, “media briefings!?!”

Brown figures that if he’d taken control of the media-storyline, he would have been in a better position to manage public perceptions. In the Orwellian world of the Bush administration, shaping public opinion is the paramount duty of leadership. Even the blue-faced corpses stuck in the New Orleans muck can be breezily disregarded if they don’t appear on the TV or in the newspapers. As it happens, the media got carried away and actually printed the news for once. Will wonders never cease? No wonder Brownie was so distraught.

The larger issues in Brown’s testimony won’t be explored by the mainstream media. In truth, FEMA is a phantom; a public relations hologram that conceals an empty-shell of an agency. It was dismantled under the Homeland Security Bill so that the money could be diverted into projects for spying on American citizens and filling the pockets of Bush constituents. Nothing exists of FEMA except the name and a clever PR scheme to hide the facts from the American people. A careful look at what has taken place in the aftermath of Hurricane Rita proves that this is true.

As for Brownie, his career-prospects have never looked better. The invitations are pouring in from Larry King, Jay Leno and countless other TV talk-shows. There are even rumors of him leading the upcoming Mardis Gras parade as the Grand-master. Just picture pasty-faced Brownie strapped to a float comprised of human excrement scraped from the floor of the Superdome winding his way down Bourbon Street, blowing kisses to his adoring fans.

In Bush’s topsy-turvy America even failure looks like triumph.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He can be reached at: fergiewhitney@msn.com










We published an article entitled “A Saudiless Arabia” by Wayne Madsen dated October 22, 2002 (the “Article”), on the website of the Institute for the Advancement of Journalistic Clarity, CounterPunch, www.counterpunch.org (the “Website”).

Although it was not our intention, counsel for Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi has advised us the Article suggests, or could be read as suggesting, that Mr Al Amoudi has funded, supported, or is in some way associated with, the terrorist activities of Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda terrorist network.

We do not have any evidence connecting Mr Al Amoudi with terrorism.

As a result of an exchange of communications with Mr Al Amoudi’s lawyers, we have removed the Article from the Website.

We are pleased to clarify the position.

August 17, 2005


MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

Weekend Edition
November 28-30, 2015
Majd Isreb
America’s Spirit, Syrian Connection
Weekend Edition
November 27-29, 2015
Andrew Levine
The Real Trouble With Bernie
Gary Leupp
Ben Carson, Joseph in Egypt, and the Attack on Rational Thought
John Whitbeck
Who’s Afraid of ISIS?
Michael Brenner
Europe’s Crisis: Terror, Refugees and Impotence
Pepe Escobar
Will Chess, Not Battleship, Be the Game of the Future in Eurasia?
Vijay Prashad
Showdown on the Syrian Border
Colin Todhunter
Class, War and David Cameron
Jean Bricmont
The Ideology of Humanitarian Imperialism
Dan Glazebrook
Deadliest Terror in the World: the West’s Latest Gift to Africa
Mats Svensson
Madness in Hebron: Hashem Had No Enemies, Yet Hashem Was Hated
Walter Brasch
Terrorism on American Soil
Louisa Willcox
Grizzly Bears, Dreaming and the Frontier of Wonder
Dave Lindorff
Gen. John Campbell, Commander in Afghanistan and Serial Liar
Michael Welton
Yahweh is Not Exactly Politically Correct
Joseph Natoli
A Politics of Stupid and How to Leave It Behind
Karl Grossman
Our Solar Bonanza!
John Cox
You Should Fear Racism and Xenophobia, Not Syrian Refugees or Muslims
Barrie Gilbert
Sacrificing the Grizzlies of Katmai: the Plan to Turn Brooks Camp Into a Theme
Rev. William Alberts
The Church of “Something Else” in “an Ecclesiastical Desert”
Mark Hand
Escape From New York: the Emancipation of Activist Cecily McMillan
Ramzy Baroud
Forget ISIS: Humanity is at Stake
Andrew Gavin Marshall
Bank Crimes Pay
Elliot Murphy
Cameron’s Syrian Strategy
Thomas S. Harrington
Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe and the Death of Ezra Schwartz
Gareth Porter
How Terror in Paris Calls for Revising US Syria Policy
Michael Perino
The Arc of Instability
Yves Engler
Justin Trudeau and Canada’s Mining Industry
Tom H. Hastings
ISIS and Changing the Game
Lars Jørgensen
Vive la Résistance
John Halle
A Yale Education as a Tool of Power and Privilege
Norman Pollack
Syrian “Civil War”?: No, A Proxy War of Global Confrontation
Sheldon Richman
Let the Refugees In
James Anderson
Reframing Black Friday: an Imperative for Déclassé Intellectuals
Simon Bowring
UN Climate Talks 2009: a Merger of Interest and Indifference
Ron Jacobs
Rosa Luxembourg–From Street Organizer to Street Name
Aidan O'Brien
Same-Sex Sellout in Ireland
David Stocker
Report from the Frontline of Resistance in America
Patrick Bond
China Sucked Deeper Into World Financial Vortex and Vice Versa, as BRICS Sink Fast
James A Haught
The Values of Jesus
Binoy Kampmark
British Austerity: Cutting One’s Own Backyard
Ed Rampell
45 Years: A Rumination on Aging
Charles R. Larson
Chronicle of Sex Reassignment Surgery: Juliet Jacques’s “Trans: a Memoir”
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
CounterPunch’s Favorite Films
November 26, 2015
Ashley Nicole McCray – Lawrence Ware
Decolonizing the History of Thanksgiving