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.

May 05, 2016
David L. Glotzer
Welcome to Fortified Europe: the Militarization of Europe’s Borders
Adam Szetela
Beyoncé’s “Formation” and the Boutique Activism of the Left
Bruce Lerro
Lost at Sea: Left Liberals Have No Party
Paul Cochrane
Hot Air in the Saudi Desert: a Kingdom in Descent?
Brian Terrell
My Visit to a Las Vegas Jail
Judith Deutsch
The Military’s “Securitization” of Climate Change
Phyllis Bennis
Kunduz Bombing: Proof the Pentagon Should Not Be Allowed to Investigate Itself for War Crimes
Chad Nelson
When Compassion is Terrorism: Animal Rights in a Post-911 World
Dan Arel
Making Sanders’ Dream a Reality Through Political Activism
Kent Paterson
Ten Years Later: Reflections on the Legacies of Immigrant Spring
Serge Halimi
Why Firefighters are Against Free Trade
Andrew Stewart
Green Bernie or Green Party Machine?
Binoy Kampmark
Yuri Gagarin in Space: the Politics of Cosmic Discovery
Hayes Rowan
This Naming of Things
May 04, 2016
Kshama Sawant
It’s Not About Bernie: Why We Can’t Let Our Revolution Die in Philadelphia
Conn Hallinan
Baiting the Bear: Russia and NATO
Joshua Frank
Hanford’s Leaky Nuke Tanks and Sick Workers, A Never-Ending Saga
Paul Craig Roberts
TIPP: Advancing American Imperialism
Ted Rall
Hillary to Bernie Supporters: Don’t Vote for Me!
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton and Wall Street’s Neoliberal War on Latin America
Leslie Scott
The Story of Jill Stein: Putting People, Peace and the Planet Before Profits
Ann Garrison
Building the Greens Into a Mass Party: Interview with Bruce Dixon
Tom Clifford
Crying Rape: Trump’s China-Bashing
Lawrence Davidson
Getting Rid of Bad Examples: Andrew Jackson & Woodrow Wilson
Ellen Brown
Bank of North Dakota Soars Despite Oil Bust: A Blueprint for California?
Nelson Valdes
Is Fidel Castro Outside or Part of Mainstream Thinking? A Selection of Quotes
Jesse Jackson
Don’t Send Flint Down the Drain: Fix It!
Nathan Riley
Help Bernie Keep His Halo
Rivera Sun
Remembering Nonviolent History: Freedom Rides
Clancy Sigal
Rachel and the Isolationists: How Maddow Blew It
Laura Finley
Changing the Conversation About “The Woman Card”
CJ Hopkins
Coming this Summer … Revenge of the Bride of Sophie’s Choice
May 03, 2016
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy Resumé: What the Record Shows
Michèle Brand – Arun Gupta
What is the “Nuit Debout”?
Chuck Churchill
The Failures of Capitalism, Donald Trump and Right Wing Terror
Dave Marsh
Bernie and the Greens
John Wight
Zionism Should be on Trial, Not Ken Livingstone
Rev. John Dear
A Dweller in Peace: the Life and Times of Daniel Berrigan
Patrick Cockburn
Saudi Arabia’s Great Leap Forward: What Would Mao Think?
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Electoral Votes Matter: Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders vs Donald Trump
Chris Gilbert
Venezuela Today: This Must Be Progress
Pepe Escobar
The Calm Before the Coming Global Storm
Ruth Fowler
Intersecting with the Identity Police (Or Why I Stopped Writing Op-Eds)
Victor Lasa
The Battle Rages on in Spain: the Country Prepares for Repeat Elections in June
Jack Rasmus
Is the US Economy Heading for Recession?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail