The United States of Emergency

Will Ferrell as President Bush

Our Nation is prepared, as never before, to deal quickly and capably with the consequences of disasters and other domestic incidents. -- FEMA Chief Michael Brown, Senate testimony, March 9, 2005

Now that the initial shock of the disaster in New Orleans has worn off, Republicans have mobilized to defend President Bush, who appears to have replaced "I'll keep you safe" with a more nuanced slogan:

I'll protect you -- unless of course your local officials fail you, in which case I'll let you die a horrible death on national TV.

I don't understand Americans who are more concerned about damage to President Bush than damage to the Gulf. He's a lame duck in six months, 12 tops, so politicians who have aspirations beyond Jan. 20, 2009, will soon be abandoning him in droves. Burning your credibility in his defense is like working to rehabilitate the reputation of Michael Dukakis.

Clearly the local and state authorities share the blame for deaths after the storm passed New Orleans, but the whole reason to fund the multi-billion dollar FEMA is because there will be disasters far beyond the scope of states to handle on their own. A category 4 hurricane that devastated 90,000 square miles of three high-poverty states is one of those times.

It should have been mind-numbingly obvious to the federal government by Tuesday morning that huge resources must be marshalled to provide relief, restore order, and rescue survivors. President Bush issued an emergency disaster declaration before Katrina struck, according to Brown in a FEMA press release published two days before the storm:

FEMA will mobilize equipment and resources necessary to protect public health and safety by assisting law enforcement with evacuations, establishing shelters, supporting emergency medical needs, meeting immediate lifesaving and life-sustaining human needs and protecting property, in addition to other emergency protective measures.

This didn't happen, to such a spectacular degree that five days after the storm made landfall, Fox News anchors were reduced to live on-air begging for thousands trapped in misery at the Convention Center and Superdome.

When you hear Bush say "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees" and Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff claim newspapers reported "New Orleans dodged the bullet" and Brown assign relief workers to "convey a positive image of disaster operations to government officials" and send 1,000 firefighters to sex-harassment courses, it's clear that our government is totally incompetent at the mission it assumed after 9/11, the task that became the entire centerpiece of Bush's re-election campaign: We will protect the country and be ready for the next major attack.

Throw the bums out, in any order you like -- either from Bush all the way down to New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin or from Nagin all the way up to Bush.

At a minimum, Bush should fire FEMA Chief Mike Brown and the two people below him on the ladder. None of the three had emergency management experience prior to joining the agency under President Bush, and it shows.

Shortly after Bush won on a tiebreaker in 2000, Saturday Night Live opened with A Glimpse Into Our Possible Future:

President Bush: Hey, America! So, how we all doing out there, huh? Yeah, not so good. I broke the Hoover Dam ... we had that war thing happen. But I mean, who ever heard of a Civil War, anyway? ... the Great Lakes are on fire -- even I know that's not good.

I think we may have reached a point where any other presidential candidate, past or future, would be better at the job. I'm trying to think of a nationally ambitious politician I wouldn't prefer over Bush at this point -- Alan Keyes, Leonard Peltier, even Ralph Nader. Is Lyndon LaRouche thinking of running again?


You, sir, are a douche bag

Douchebag is one word. Why can't Republicans ever get the syntax right?

Because they're uneducated sheep

Bush is a Boner!

The politicians, Bush on down, of republican stripe are changing the news just like they change scientific reports to fit their policies. The real tradgedy is that our much vaunted press, as in freedom of the..., continues to give the republican mouthpieces free rein over what gets published. For example photo's of Bush with NYPD firemen in full gear trotting alongside during a visit to a town in Ms or La last week. No one in the national press points out that the firemen were rerouted by FEMA to be in Bush's photo op from their original destination, New Orleans. I seem to remember news photos of many, many burning structures in New Orleans that day and for days afterward. Just another Rovian, TurdBlossom, propaganda coup at the expense of the truth and suffering people and property in the Katrina path of destruction.

Why can't the people see that it is the local government that failed them. Is it because they don't want to take the fall? Sure it's all President Bush's fault! What a bunch of fools! Get a grip and take control of your own fate.
Most of these people were to stupid to leave, now the rest of us have to give them money to live on. You can't fix stupid and the next thing you are going to hear is it's because they are mostly black that they were left there,get real!If you live in a flood plain below sea level, get out of there and save yourself.

Yeah... and if you don't live on a flood plain then leave before the drought comes. If you live in a plain state leave before the locusts come... If you live in the mountains, leave before the avalanche. If you live in a city leave before the riots burn the place down... 'cause you can't fix stupid, and trust me, I know stupid!

Still trying to blame. Nice. Repub or Dems are to blame on this one. This is how it is, help the peeps that are in need and stop worring about the freakin' future president.

Not casting blame. Simply commenting on the fact that natural disasters can happen on a state-wide level anywhere in the country, and while action is of the utmost importance now, we MUST also acknowledge that when a disaster of this scale occurs, there is no state or local authority that can put the pieces back together on its own. The fix requires the help of the entire nation, STARTING WITH THE FEDERAL EMERGENCY SERVICES FOR WHICH WE HAVE ALL PRE-PAID.
And, finally, if we are all to "get a grip and take control of our own [lives]" then we must begin with the fundamental safety -net for which we are all responsible, and from which we all should be able to expect aid in our time of need--- our federal government (i.e. FEMA and military)
If our resources are being spread so thin that we can no longer afford to staunch the wounds caused by such disasters, then perhaps we need to rethink the manner in which we allocate the funds and resources that we have.
If the problem is mismanagement... then we need to rethink the management team.
As for help.. I am helping, right now, in my community, finding shelter for people and raising funds, but why should I limit myself to action? We have the gift of thought as well. My thought is this:
We should all be proud to help when we are needed, but our time, talents, and wallets will eventually dry up on work that could be made unnecessary with appropriate forethought and planning.

Sorry meant to attach my name to that last one, I hate it when people sign "visitor."

The real truth about all of the after math is if we don't stop the blame game and start helping anyway we can we are going to slipt this country in two. I don't care if your rep. or dem. if all you do is talk about how bad you or how bad this country is the terrorist wil't had to do anything. If things stay the way they are this country will fall off the face of the earth. I know for a fact that some so called americans would love that and are enjoying this right now

Blaiming the President for a natural disaster is craziness! First to respond must be the local goverment and then FEMA. The Governor of louisiana refused help at first and caused a delay in assistance, if you must blame anyone start there! Then the local black thugs that are shooting at people who are there to help them. Who wants to go in to a area where they are shooting at you!

You say defending Bush, I say reminding you he's not the only person in charge of making things better when an enormous natural disaster happens. Nagin and Blanco had more to do with the response and evacuation problems, but no mention of them here. It's as if you're more interested in slagging the pres than genuinely examining the problems to improve disaster preparedness in the future.

Being angry is understandable, just not helpful. I'd hoped that Democrats would have learned by now that they actually have to be for things, not just against Bush. This attempt to blame a hurricane's effects on the man furthest from the action is going to be yet another political disaster if liberals don't get serious.

As I wrote in the piece, clearly the local and state authorities share the blame for deaths after the storm passed New Orleans.

But they're not my problem. I don't live in Louisiana and couldn't throw those bums out if I wanted to.

I'm more concerned, personally, with having partisan hacks and incompetents in charge of the nation's security.

sir YOU are the partisan hack.

When the nation was being attacked by terrorists, Bush waited. He sat in a chair and read a story about a goat. Then he flew around the country all day while Rudy Giuliani acted like a leader.

When the gulf was being devastated, Bush waited. He kept to his vacation schedule, went to a ceremony and a fund raiser.

There is nothing partisan in Cadenhead's post. These are the facts. Guiliani was a leader; Bush is not a leader. When disasters strike, when the nation needs him most, Bush waits - or worse, he runs.

Because Giuliani is a social liberal (lived with a gay couple, is pro-choice), the Republicans will never let him be their national candidate. Instead, we get the ignorant, cowardly Bush and his incompetent cronies (Brown).

This attempt to blame a hurricane's effects on the man furthest from the action...

You got that part right, at least.

If it's true that preparing for and responding to catastrohic events is a local responsibility, then why are these rat bastards wasting money with FEMA and DHS? Let's cut the pretense and give the money to the locals.

"When the gulf was being devastated, Bush waited. He kept to his vacation schedule, went to a ceremony and a fund raiser."

And on that tuesday said in part to the Veterans of WWII :

We must stay the course in Iraq to keep the oil out of the hands of Osama and his buddies. In addition, if we fail, it will give them a place to train more terriorists and give them a big boost in recuit cause they will have beaten us there....

Yikes is this guy serious and are those that support him deaf, dumb and brain dead...

We have gone from Imminent threat, regime change,,, to est. democracy ,,, to ok ...ok we really came to get your oil....

and btw george YOU sir; by your very occupation of the second most holy region in islam are the best recuiting tool al qiada could possiblly want and as you spoke You are providing live fire training in urban warfare to the terrorist against the most lethal fighting force this world has ever known... while the army and marines are stuggling to attract new recuits...

friends we are in uncharted waters through the looking glass with this man.

I can't believe that the Democrats are screwing this up, too. Such a clear failure of leadership, but the Dems focus on all the wrong things. No one in that party can put together a message. Depressing.

I also find it depressing that so many people need to blame the whole mess on one person. Trying to do so makes everyone look stupid. This was a spectacular, multi-layer screw up.

And doesn't LaRouche run in every election?

That's fantastic logic, Eric.

I love how Bush is the bestest leader in the whole universe, protecting the nation from harm, yet he's not responsible for anything.

If I'm not mistaken, Eric's a fellow Democrat.

I don't see an effort among Democrats to blame the entire thing on one person. Most Democrats have been vocal about the need for an independent investigation that would cover the federal, state, and local response.

There is a focus on Mike Brown, but every day brings a new revelation that shows why he had no business running FEMA. Today's papers report that he faked his resume and was never a distinguished professor or assistant city manager.

Even if Eric's a Democrat, that doesn't excuse the "we can't blame this on one person" argument. It's nonsensical.

He seems to be saying that the president could not possibly be held to account for everything that happens on the enormous ship of state.

Yes, he can.

Let's clarify what it means to "blame Bush." Does it mean that he is personally responsible for the hundreds of mistakes both large and small in the emergency preparations and response? Of course not. Does it mean he's responsible for mistakes at the local and state level? No.

But he should be expected to recognize that there has been a systemic failure and take immediate measures to correct that failure and prevent it from happening again. It doesn't require a another goddamn independent commission.

Most importantly, he should send the signal down through the enormous administration that he sits atop of that incompetence will and will be met with pain of death, and that each level of management will be held to account for mistakes made by subordinates. Check out this post on how FDR responded to the Pearl Harbor attack.

Bush has done none of that, and yet he's allowed a free pass by Congress, the media and seemingly most of the public.

This sort of thing will happen again and again - 9/11, Iraq, Katrina - until he does... Acts of God and terrorists will not wait for George to pull his head out of his ass.

I'm not affiliated with any party, though for the last few elections I've held my nose and voted Democratic.

The point, Sven, which you seem to have missed, is that many people are to blame.

Local emergency planning really does fall to the mayor and governor. The president recognized that a serious disaster was brewing, and made took some action to prepare, as did FEMA and the DOD. Where the president failed (again) was in seeing the chaos forming and doing nothing.

By Tuesday, it was clear the city was in a state of civil unrest. At that point, the Federal government had a responsibility to federalize the operation, and to mobilize force as well as food and water. That was the President's tragic, complete failure here.

His zeal for appointing political cronies is well known and not confined to Brown. He should be made to account for this, certainly.

But, surely, you see the difference between "the President shares some blame" and "this is the president's fault."

Ah, see! Sven and I do agree.

I'm afraid that as with leadership, Mr. Bush isn't terribly good with accountability. I wouldn't expect that to happen.

It is interesting that Sven brings up FDR. I've been thinking about both Roosevelts lately. It is so, so sad to compare FDR's wartime leadership with Mr. Bush's, or to imagine how the current president would handle the circumstances that brought Theodore Roosevelt to power.

A stark contrast, indeed.

many people are to blame.

I understand that, Eric. Some of the stuff the state and city did was downright criminal, like spending $7.5 million on a evacuation traffic study and not one thin dime on a plan to get the poor out of harm's way. We should all be asking ourselves what our own local governments have been up to.

We could even blame ourselves for the denial and deep-seated racism that allowed several hundred thousand people to be consigned to death before Katrina hit. It wasn't like it was a big secret that this would eventually happen.

All of this should be examined. And yes, Nagin and Blanco should be keelhauled. But let's be realistic. Nagin now presides over an essentially empty plot of flooded land. Blanco needs to pull her head out of her ass, but unless you live in Louisiana what she does from this point forward ain't going to affect you and I much.

George Bush - the man who has now presided over not one, but three, of the top 10 fuck-ups in American history - still sits in the White House. This is the man we are depending upon to deal with a nuclear-armed North Korea. With al Qaeda. With a Middle East threatening to fall into chaos. With Iraq. With the reconstruction of the Gulf Coast. With a tottering economy and a colossal budget deficit... not to mention the all the unforseen dangers that could befall us at any moment.

That's why the locus of national attention, or "blame," should be directed at George Bush. Until he's held to account - which will force him to hold his adminstration to account - we're all a grave risk.

He looks like Chevy Chase with dyspepsia.

The election was stolen from Al Gore, but by the Grace of God, Truth shall prevail.

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