Monday, September 12, 2005

Bye, Bye, Brownie!

Mike Brown has resigned as director of FEMA, "to avoid further distraction from the ongoing mission of FEMA." In other words, "to let someone competent take over the job so that more people don't suffer unnecessary misery." Let's hope that David Paulison fits that bill, at least in the interim.

Today is a red-letter day: someone in the Bush administration actually accepted responsibility for his incompetent malfeasance! Will September 12th go down in history as a more important date than September 11th?

Bush highlighted the admittedly admirable fact that he signed declarations of emergency even before the hurricane hit the Gulf Coast. However, the fact that he saw ahead of time what an enormous potential for disaster serves only to highlight his lack of follow-through. If he signed these emergency declarations in advance, why did he and his entire administration take so abysmally little concrete action to mitigate the disaster? Why did it take so long for federal assistance to reach New Orleans, even with a significant head start?

Michael Brown has fallen on his sword, implicitly admitting that his incompetence and ineptitude cost the lives of hundreds (perhaps thousands) of American citizens. Now all we need to do is pass the sword up the chain of command to its incompetent, inept head. Brownie was a buffoon, but the responsibility for putting him in charge rests with the chimpanzee who appointed him.

I want to address one point of unwarranted criticism of the Bush administration and of President Bush personally. The charge has been laid by many, including musician Kannye West, that George W. Bush doesn't care about black people. Nothing could be farther from the truth! George W. Bush is not a racist. He does not care about the color of your skin. The truth is that George W. Bush doesn't care about poor people, and it is a mere accident of history that poor people are disproportionately black. George W. Bush has no less interest in helping poor black people than in helping poor white people or poor albino Puerto Ricans.

Of course, given that David Paulison, the interim FEMA director, is the very same man who recommended that every household keep plastic sheeting and duct tape in its emergency kit to protect against an anthrax attack, I can't say that I'm overly optimistic that FEMA is headed in the right direction. Vice Admiral Thad Allen, the new point person for Hurricane Katrina relief and a career Coast Guardian with over three decades of experience, is a rare ray of hope in a depressingly benighted landscape.