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:
Weekend Edition
July 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Obama Said Hillary will Continue His Legacy and Indeed She Will!
Jeffrey St. Clair
She Stoops to Conquer: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Rob Urie
Long Live the Queen of Chaos
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Evolution of Capitalism, Escalation of Imperialism
Margot Kidder
My Fellow Americans: We Are Fools
Phillip Kim et al.
Open Letter to Bernie Sanders from Former Campaign Staffers
Ralph Nader
Hillary’s Convention Con
Lewis Evans
Executing Children Won’t Save the Tiger or the Rhino
Vijay Prashad
The Iraq War: a Story of Deceit
Chris Odinet
It Wasn’t Just the Baton Rouge Police Who Killed Alton Sterling
Brian Cloughley
Could Trump be Good for Peace?
Patrick Timmons
Racism, Freedom of Expression and the Prohibition of Guns at Universities in Texas
Gary Leupp
The Coming Crisis in U.S.-Turkey Relations
Pepe Escobar
Is War Inevitable in the South China Sea?
Norman Pollack
Clinton Incorruptible: An Ideological Contrivance
Robert Fantina
The Time for Third Parties is Now!
Andre Vltchek
Like Trump, Hitler Also Liked His “Small People”
Serge Halimi
Provoking Russia
David Rovics
The Republicans and Democrats Have Now Switched Places
Andrew Stewart
Countering The Nader Baiter Mythology
Rev. William Alberts
“Law and Order:” Code words for White Lives Matter Most
Ron Jacobs
Something Besides Politics for Summer’s End
David Swanson
It’s Not the Economy, Stupid
Erwan Castel
A Faith that Lifts Barricades: The Ukraine Government Bows and the Ultra-Nationalists are Furious
Steve Horn
Did Industry Ties Lead Democratic Party Platform Committee to Nix Fracking Ban?
Robert Fisk
How to Understand the Beheading of a French Priest
Colin Todhunter
Sugar-Coated Lies: How The Food Lobby Destroys Health In The EU
Franklin Lamb
“Don’t Cry For Us Syria … The Truth is We Shall Never Leave You!”
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
The Artistic Representation of War and Peace, Politics and the Global Crisis
Frederick B. Hudson
Well Fed, Bill?
Harvey Wasserman
NY Times Pushes Nukes While Claiming Renewables Fail to Fight Climate Change
Elliot Sperber
Pseudo-Democracy, Reparations, and Actual Democracy
Uri Avnery
The Orange Man: Trump and the Middle East
Marjorie Cohn
The Content of Trump’s Character
Missy Comley Beattie
Pick Your Poison
Kathleen Wallace
Feel the About Turn
Joseph Grosso
Serving The Grid: Urban Planning in New York
John Repp
Real Cooperation with Nations Is the Best Survival Tactic
Binoy Kampmark
The Scourge of Youth Detention: The Northern Territory, Torture, and Australia’s Detention Disease
Kim Nicolini
Rain the Color Blue with a Little Red In It
Cesar Chelala
Gang Violence Rages Across Central America
Tom H. Hastings
Africa/America
Robert Koehler
Slavery, War and Presidential Politics
Charles R. Larson
Review: B. George’s “The Death of Rex Ndongo”
July 28, 2016
Paul Street
Politician Speak at the DNC
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail