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September 9, 2005

follow the money

I have a question for those that are more research-minded.  Probably by now you've heard of FEMA head Michael Brown, and the whirling shitstorm that follows him around questioning his competence and his credentials.  (I would link it up for you, but you could probably Google "porn" and still get a couple good "Fire Brownie" sites). 

As it stands now, the narrative is that Brown is a partisan hack with a history of ridiculous jobs at which he has failed and who has followed Bush around like a junkie follows the pusherman, taking scraps in the form of sinecures for which he is unqualified.  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  This morning I heard that Time is going to run that he fudged his resume. 

But the one thing I haven't heard is how much being the head of FEMA pays, seeing as how the Bush pilot fish operate exclusively from greed.  Which then raises the question of how much the job used to pay.

Because it's not as glaring an example of patronage unless the salary is artificially enlarged.

I know that chances are slim that any of you have the time/inclination for finding this information, which wants to be free, but yet I brace for action!

Posted by mrbrent at 10:27 AM

September 8, 2005


I'll interrupt the gloom and outrage for an unsolicited shill.

My soundtrack for the past week and a half has been the album "Sounds Like Space", by a band called Magneto.  It has been quite the soother.

I'm years out of the loop for the very good stuff, so I heard a single ("Machine") on one of them Internets radio stations, tracked them down and plunked my electronic greenbacks.

For those of you of a certain age, I will describe it as "The Spinanes goes on a blind date with My Bloody Valentine, they make out, but MBV doesn't call the next day."  For everyone else, I'll say Magneto is sometimes moody, sometimes crunchy, yet goes down smooth like sweet sweet bourbon.

You can buy it here.  Band homepage is here.

(Oh, you book publicists: thank you for the review copies I've received.  However, my momma always told me, if you don't have anything nice, etc.)

Posted by mrbrent at 5:33 PM

little mystery

This is a link that you will see a lot today.  Bob Harris unearths a confusing situation concerning which parishes of Louisiana were subject to presidential decalaration of emergency at what time.  Go read for the full version.

It may seem like minutiae, this close reading of documents, but it comes with a map, which is pretty arresting.  And Bob isn't railing at invisible snakes -- he goes pretty deep into research to look for a reasonable explanation.  And finds none.

Remember that in moments as vivid as the moments of the past ten or so days, little discrepancies and factoids fall pretty quickly down the memory hole while the Official Account is forged.

So, yes, I'd like to see an official explanation of this.  Otherwise, I'm just a warehouse of the wackadoo, and that's no fun at all.

Posted by mrbrent at 12:19 PM

don't hate the playa, hate the blame-game

When I wrote this, I was joking.  Sure, I thought there would be a few "blame game" sightings -- a brief trial until the GOP realized use of "blame game" doesn't so much muddy the discourse as it does infantalize it.

Hoo boy, I was wrong.

For a quick belly-laugh, give a quick glance to excerpts from yesterday's press gaggle, starring Scotty McClellan, which contains the debut of the use of "blame game" as a verb.

Hopefully today some Congressman or other GOP functionary will go crazy with the adjective "blame-game-ity".

And I concur with Dan G: there is also much amusing cross talk and stonewalling accompanying the grammar-rape.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:54 AM

September 7, 2005

faces of FEMA

Immediately previously, I glancingly linked to a story about how FEMA is requesting that media do not photograph the dead in New Orleans.  Here's a follow-up.

It's an easy story to skip over, as, well, I'd really rather not see pictures of the dead.

But the fact that FEMA would make such a request is a little bit head-scratching.  Relevant questions:

Umm, why?  We have a freedom of the press.  Unfortunately, the fact that there are corpses floating in what used to be the streets of certain neighborhoods of New Orleans meets even an idiots standard of news, inasmuch as the streets didn't used to have water standing in them, the corpses used to be possessed with the breath of life, etc.  Granted, no one wants to see a loved one in this state, but that's a reality of news.  And I see no reason that the fourth estate should be prevented from performing their duties so someone's feelings don't get hurt.

Unless, of course, the feelings we are talking about are the feelings of FEMA itself.  Perhaps FEMA would not like these photos taken, or these stories reported, so that the world is not reminded of the very real results achieved by FEMA this past ten days.  Well, sorry, dudes, but the cat-blogging doesn't happen but on Fridays.

Additionally, I'm not familiar with the authority that FEMA is trying to wield here.  Among the long list of events that FEMA is tasked with protecting Americans from, I'm pretty sure that "upsetting images" is not tucked away in there.

But I'm glad that the search and rescue efforts, and the job FEMA takes even more seriously -- that of covering FEMA's ass -- affords enough spare time to attempt to abridge the freedom of the press.

Who watches the watchmen that try to intimidate the other watchmen into not watching?

We do.

Hat tip and read more at Americablog.

Posted by mrbrent at 8:16 PM

the sizzle and the steak

This is probably a bit of the neurochemical hearsay, but this is how I think I remember it.

From my misspent youth of conspiracy theory: was it not widely thought among the legions who, like me, were pasty and wearing an antennaed colander on their heads, that the true purpose of FEMA when it was formed was not to protect the populace from the disasters of Biblical proportions, but rather to either (the friendly version) ensure the continuity of government in the face of discontinuity or (the less friendly version) lay the infrastructure of the coming tyranny of the oligarchs.

Honestly, I've done no research to confirm my recollections.  No Google, not even a Yahoo!

It's just an interesting thing, in the sunshine of your mind, to sit and remember the crackpot theories, and then hold your nose and head in to the daily immersion of disturbing stories of the federal response to Katrina.

No, I'm not trying to dig the colander out of the closet and try it on or anything, but if the motherfuckers could do the job of saving lives as well as they can the job of treading PR water, there would be a whole lotta people who would not be otherwise dead.

Posted by mrbrent at 1:08 PM

stonewall, now with "desperate" flavor

The great thing about the political crisis the Bush Administration is facing -- you know, the one about their incompetent disaster response and the resulting thousands of deaths -- is that you run into people you haven't seen in years.

For example, if you need a GOP stalwart to throw up a little chaff, who do you turn to?  Why, you turn to The Hammer, whose frightening visage has not been seen so much lately, partly because of his ethics "problem", and partly because babies cry when they see it.

And he says all kinds of odious things, as usual.  A lot of the "this was a failure at the local level" stuff, just like Barbara Bush (oh wait, her gig was more "It's just poor people, what's the big deal"), but he also enages in the logical GOP extension of this:

He added that Alabama and Mississippi did a much better job of responding quickly than Louisiana.  Alabama and Mississippi have Republican governors.

I'd like to remind Rep. DeLay that an active search and rescue is ongoing, so if he might like to take himself off in the corner and shove something up something, or maybe even something himself, we all might be better off.

Or else Scotty McClellan might get all mad that DeLay is playing the "blame game" and Scotty wasn't invited.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:50 AM

September 6, 2005

the president just called us a dumbhead

If you watch closely, you will see a lot of Republicans today using the phrase "Blame Game", and talking about how they don't want to play it.

Which is funny, because any grown man or woman who would say the phrase "blame game" out loud -- or, better yet, instruct the loyal GOP soldiers to do so -- sounds about the right emotional age to like playing.  Playing with dolls, toy soldiers, you name it.  Then it's cookies and milk, and time for their naps, so they don't get cranky!

It must be something they all learned from the "terrible piano lessons of 9-11", because they sure as shit didn't learn how to, you know, respond to disasters or anything.

Posted by mrbrent at 5:51 PM

hello yahoo!

Nothing like a little speculation from the Yahoo! Regularly-Shaped Headline Aggregator to start the post-Labor Day Back To Work:
• Doctors may be helping sick children die

Also, doctors may be sneaking into your fridge at night and drinking all your cranberry juice.

Or maybe it's not the doctors helping the sick children die, but rather the chimneysweeps.

Only time will tell.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:02 AM

September 5, 2005

bring me the backlash

It's now one week after Katrina's landfall.  From conversation with my like-minded friends, the apocalyptic rage has subsided to an entrenched bitterness.  To sum up, I would say that it is a bewilderment that the Bush Administration is as incompetent, as riddled with a callous disregard for American lives, as we always thought they were.

And now the Administration will go on full-court defense, which they are very good at.  I'm sure some portion of the population will be convinced in a week or so's time that the disaster was allowed to assume Biblical proportions because the governor of LA and the mayor of NO stubbornly refused the desperate offers of assistance of FEMA and President Bush specifically, which offers were pouring in as early as July of 2002.  And this portion of the population will hold on to this fiction tightly, despite the absolute lack of evidence therefor and the profligacy of evidence to the contrary, because this fiction is central to that other fiction that lets them sleep at night, that Bush is a Good Man, that he will protect the country from terrorism, and, at the very least, the weather.

These people are addled, of course -- once I thought them despicable, and now I only pity them.  They are merely manipulated into supporting a vision of America that is as spiteful and bullying as they themselves are, in their reluctantly-admitted ideal versions of themselves.  Prospering at the expense of the unwitting, delighting at the misfortune of the unfortunate.  Now America is a lot closer to their vicious little Dream-America, so they can all go have a Coke and a Smile.

And naturally there will be white noise to the effect that the criticism of the breakdown of disaster response at the federal level is only motivated by what they like to call "Bush-hatin'", which is like the "Clinton hatin'" from a decade ago, but performed by hippie communists instead of the upright and the righteous.  But this counter-charge is bullshit ad hominem; it's sticking your fingers in your ears and, "La la la la I can't hear you."

Some of us may well hate George Bush.  I do, but not on principle.  I hate him for what he's done.  But the lurch in our stomachs does not come from hating George Bush.  It comes from wishing that he didn't have to destroy New Orleans and thousands of innocent lives in order to reveal his hatefulness to the world.

Face it:  when Geraldo Rivera has to shore up federal rescue efforts, you stop and wonder how secure you really are.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:29 AM