FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Brownie’s Comic Opera

by MIKE WHITNEY

 

“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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CLARIFICATION

ALEXANDER COCKBURN, JEFFREY ST CLAIR, BECKY GRANT AND THE INSTITUTE FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF JOURNALISTIC CLARITY, COUNTERPUNCH

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.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

February 27, 2017
Anthony DiMaggio
Media Ban! Making Sense of the War Between Trump and the Press
Dave Lindorff
Resume Inflation at the NSC: Lt. General McMaster’s Silver Star Was Essentially Earned for Target Practice
Conn Hallinan
Is Trump Moderating US Foreign Policy? Hardly
Norman Pollack
Political Castration of State: Militarization of Government
Kenneth Surin
Inside Dharavi, a Mumbai Slum
Lawrence Davidson
Truth vs. Trump
Binoy Kampmark
The Extradition Saga of Kim Dotcom
Robert Fisk
Why a Victory Over ISIS in Mosul Might Spell Defeat in Deir Ezzor
David Swanson
Open Guantanamo!
Ted Rall
The Republicans May Impeach Trump
Lawrence Wittner
Why Should Trump―or Anyone―Be Able to Launch a Nuclear War?
Andrew Stewart
Down with Obamacare, Up with Single Payer!
Colin Todhunter
Message to John Beddington and the Oxford Martin Commission
David Macaray
UFOs: The Myth That Won’t Die?
Weekend Edition
February 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Exxon’s End Game Theory
Pierre M. Sprey - Franklin “Chuck” Spinney
Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia
Paul Street
Liberal Hypocrisy, “Late-Shaming,” and Russia-Blaming in the Age of Trump
Ajamu Baraka
Malcolm X and Human Rights in the Time of Trumpism: Transcending the Master’s Tools
John Laforge
Did Obama Pave the Way for More Torture?
Mike Whitney
McMaster Takes Charge: Trump Relinquishes Control of Foreign Policy 
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Decline of US and UK Power
Louisa Willcox
The Endangered Species Act: a Critical Safety Net Now Threatened by Congress and Trump
Vijay Prashad
A Foreign Policy of Cruel Populism
John Chuckman
Israel’s Terrible Problem: Two States or One?
Matthew Stevenson
The Parallax View of Donald Trump
Norman Pollack
Drumbeat of Fascism: Find, Arrest, Deport
Stan Cox
Can the Climate Survive Electoral Democracy? Maybe. Can It Survive Capitalism? No.
Ramzy Baroud
The Trump-Netanyahu Circus: Now, No One Can Save Israel from Itself
Edward Hunt
The United States of Permanent War
David Morgan
Trump and the Left: a Case of Mass Hysteria?
Pete Dolack
The Bait and Switch of Public-Private Partnerships
Mike Miller
What Kind of Movement Moment Are We In? 
Elliot Sperber
Why Resistance is Insufficient
Brian Cloughley
What are You Going to Do About Afghanistan, President Trump?
Binoy Kampmark
Warring in the Oncology Ward
Yves Engler
Remembering the Coup in Ghana
Jeremy Brecher
“Climate Kids” v. Trump: Trial of the Century Pits Trump Climate Denialism Against Right to a Climate System Capable of Sustaining Human Life”
Jonathan Taylor
Hate Trump? You Should Have Voted for Ron Paul
Franklin Lamb
Another Small Step for Syrian Refugee Children in Beirut’s “Aleppo Park”
Ron Jacobs
The Realist: Irreverence Was Their Only Sacred Cow
Andre Vltchek
Lock up England in Jail or an Insane Asylum!
Rev. William Alberts
Grandiose Marketing of Spirituality
Paul DeRienzo
Three Years Since the Kitty Litter Disaster at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
Eric Sommer
Organize Workers Immigrant Defense Committees!
Steve Cooper
A Progressive Agenda
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail