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September 9, 2005 10:31 AM   Subscribe

Michael Brown, head of FEMA is relieved of duties. After a rocky week and increasing doubts about his background and experience (like a padded resume), Brown gets pulled from FEMA duty. Pretty surprising to see, given that the "CEO President" proclaimed "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job" just a few days ago.
posted by mathowie (216 comments total)

 
A scapegoat. A worthy one, but still a scapegoat.
posted by Billegible at 10:33 AM on September 9, 2005


Looks like he's on his horse back to Washington. Coast Guard Chief of Staff, Vice Admiral Thad Allen is scheduled to take his place.
posted by Jazznoisehere at 10:34 AM on September 9, 2005


Not like he was doing anything anyway. It's nice that someone up there is acknowledging his role.
posted by thirteenkiller at 10:35 AM on September 9, 2005


"Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job," to be precise.

Let's hope this catches on like "the internets" did.
posted by mwhybark at 10:35 AM on September 9, 2005


Wait a minute. I didn't think we were playing the "blame game" yet.
posted by Armen Tanzarian at 10:35 AM on September 9, 2005


Padded resume, huh? What CAN we believe about this guy? Next you're going to tell me that he never really had a basset hound named Roosevelt and a dachshund named Eisenhower.
posted by mds35 at 10:35 AM on September 9, 2005


It's a start. Barely. This is the part that gets me hot:

The Washington Post reported on Friday that five of eight top FEMA officials had come to their jobs with virtually no experience in handling disasters. The agency's top three leaders, including Brown, had ties to Bush's 2000 presidential campaign or the White House advance operation.

What. The. Fuck.
posted by realcountrymusic at 10:35 AM on September 9, 2005


But the article doesn't say that he's losing his job, which should certainly happen, just that he isn't in charge of Katrina stuff anymore. I keep wondering what it would take for Bush to fire someone for dereliction of duty.

I liked this part:
However, a city spokeswoman told the magazine Brown had actually worked as "an assistant to the city manager."
"The assistant is more like an intern," Claudia Deakins told the magazine. "Department heads did not report to him." Time posted the article on its Web site late on Thursday.

posted by OmieWise at 10:35 AM on September 9, 2005


Fine first step. Now how about replacing all the experienced personnel at FEMA that were let go when it was folded into Homeland Security and the budget was axed 6 or 7 times.
posted by spicynuts at 10:36 AM on September 9, 2005


That's unfair! He knew lots about disasters (being one, himself).
posted by mazola at 10:36 AM on September 9, 2005


Billegible: agreed. I won't be satisfied until they fire Mother Nature herself.
posted by esquire at 10:37 AM on September 9, 2005


mds35 writes "Next you're going to tell me that he never really had a basset hound named Roosevelt and a dachshund named Eisenhower."

That's got to be Teddy, right? It may explain why he was so slow off the ball, he wanted to return that part of the US to its natural beauty so that the hunting and fishing would be better.
posted by OmieWise at 10:38 AM on September 9, 2005


I feel like this move is going to be a first step in diffusing/obfuscating any ownership of this fiasco. I'm just being skeptical, but I feel like this is the corner of the rug being lifted.
posted by tpl1212 at 10:39 AM on September 9, 2005


Michael Brown, head of FEMA is locked in the attic of a moldy, half-submerged shotgun shack on North Dupree for four days and made to quench his thirst with the liquid residue from a can of pork and beans and his increasingly thick and yellow urine.


But yeah, it's a tiny start.
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:39 AM on September 9, 2005


So he gets to resign when his incompetence is almost certainly responsible for a bunch of unnecessary deaths? Why am I not placated by this sacrificial lamb?
posted by fenriq at 10:40 AM on September 9, 2005


I'm guessing they had a closer look at his GOP donations and something was amiss.
posted by rolypolyman at 10:40 AM on September 9, 2005


realcountrymusic: this scandal extends to nearly every agency within the federal government, unfortunately, as most of the senior officials in the Department of Education are not teachers; most of the senior officials in the Department of Education are not farmers; many of the senior officials in the Department of Defense are actually civilians, and so on. As recently as 2001, we had a Head of State with no previous foreign policy experience at all.
posted by esquire at 10:41 AM on September 9, 2005


A former mayor of Edmond, Randel Shadid, confirmed that Friday. Shadid told The Associated Press that Brown had been an assistant to the city manager, and never assistant city manager.

this made me laugh my ass off. it's my favorite joke on the show "the office". the one guy always says that he's the "assistant regional manager" and then his boss corrects him and says he's the "assistant to the regional manager".
posted by centrs at 10:41 AM on September 9, 2005


Coast Guard Chief of Staff, Vice Admiral Thad Allen

Am I the only one concerned about how militarized it's gotten? This plus Brian Williams' reporting about how many soldiers and cops are now sitting in a deserted city makes me...well, suspicious.
posted by solistrato at 10:41 AM on September 9, 2005


George Bush doesn't care about Brown people.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 10:42 AM on September 9, 2005


centrs - Exactly my reaction.
Kind of like this guy?
posted by Armen Tanzarian at 10:43 AM on September 9, 2005


now he's free to accept that SCOTUS nomination
posted by matteo at 10:44 AM on September 9, 2005


exactly. in the US, he's this guy.
posted by centrs at 10:45 AM on September 9, 2005


How Reliable Is Brown's Resume?
(1) As mentioned above - "The White House press release from 2001 stated that Brown worked for the city of Edmond, Okla., from 1975 to 1978 'overseeing the emergency services division.' In fact, according to Claudia Deakins, head of public relations for the city of Edmond, Brown was an 'assistant to the city manager' from 1977 to 1980, not a manager himself, and had no authority over other employees. 'The assistant is more like an intern,' she told TIME....'Yes. Mike Brown worked for me. He was my administrative assistant. He was a student at Central State University,' recalls former city manager Bill Dashner. "Mike used to handle a lot of details. Every now and again I'd ask him to write me a speech. He was very loyal. He was always on time. He always had on a suit and a starched white shirt.'"

(2) "'Under the "honors and awards' section of his profile at FindLaw.com — which is information on the legal website provided by lawyers or their offices—he lists 'Outstanding Political Science Professor, Central State University'. However, Brown 'wasn't a professor here, he was only a student here,' says Charles Johnson, News Bureau Director in the University Relations office at the University of Central Oklahoma (formerly named Central State University). 'He may have been an adjunct instructor,' says Johnson, but that title is very different from that of 'professor.' Carl Reherman, a former political science professor at the University through the '70s and '80s, says that Brown 'was not on the faculty.' As for the honor of 'Outstanding Political Science Professor,' Johnson says, 'I spoke with the department chair yesterday and he's not aware of it.' Johnson could not confirm that Brown made the Dean's list or was an 'Outstanding Political Science Senior,' as is stated on his online profile."

(3) "Under the heading of 'Professional Associations and Memberships' on FindLaw, Brown states that from 1983 to the present he has been director of the Oklahoma Christian Home, a nursing home in Edmond. But an administrator with the Home told TIME that Brown is 'not a person that anyone here is familiar with.' She says there was a board of directors until a couple of years ago, but she couldn't find anyone who recalled him being on it. According to FEMA's Andrews, Brown said 'he's never claimed to be the director of the home. He was on the board of directors, or governors of the nursing home.' However, a veteran employee at the center since 1981 says Brown 'was never director here, was never on the board of directors, was never executive director. He was never here in any capacity. I never heard his name mentioned here.'"

(4) "The FindLaw profile for Brown was amended on Thursday to remove a reference to his tenure at the International Arabian Horse Association, which has become a contested point. Brown's FindLaw profile lists a wide range of areas of legal practice, from estate planning to family law to sports. However, one former colleague does not remember Brown's work as sterling. Stephen Jones, a prominent Oklahoma lawyer who was lead defense attorney on the Timothy McVeigh case, was Brown's boss for two-and-a-half years in the early '80s. 'He did mainly transactional work, not litigation,' says Jones. 'There was a feeling that he was not serious and somewhat shallow.' Jones says when his law firm split, Brown was one of two staffers who was let go." [Time Magazine | September 08, 2005
Looks like the White House did a throrough and precise vetting of Mike Brown before appointing him to FEMA.
"Brown's boss at the time, Joe Allbaugh, declared, 'the President couldn't have chosen a better man to help...prepare and protect the nation.'"
posted by ericb at 10:45 AM on September 9, 2005


You shouldn't worry. Coast Guard isn't exactly "militarized." True, they can be ordered to report into a Naval chain of command (I think), but aside from parallel hierarchies, they are decidedly not a military organization.

I'm frankly really happy that a CG flag officer is in charge at FEMA. The CG knows what it's doing.
posted by lodurr at 10:45 AM on September 9, 2005


"Now how about replacing all the experienced personnel at FEMA that were let go when it was folded into Homeland Security and the budget was axed 6 or 7 times."

Not to mention all the positions cut when Clinton was president. Time to bloat, I mean, refloat FEMA, perhaps hiring someone who knows how to drive a truck.
posted by mischief at 10:46 AM on September 9, 2005


But he's an Admiral! He has a hat and everything!
posted by solistrato at 10:46 AM on September 9, 2005


I look forward to Bush saying that this "resignation" is a "shock" and that he has "nothing but praise" for the "heck-of-a-job" provided by Brownie.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 10:46 AM on September 9, 2005


It looks to me like they are greasing the skids for a resignation instead of firing him. Which is bullshit.
posted by ericost at 10:47 AM on September 9, 2005


He'll be returning to DC just in time for the Freedom Walk! I sure hope he remembers to pre-register before 4:30 pm today. Wouldn't want him to miss out on all the festivities...
posted by Corky at 10:48 AM on September 9, 2005


FEMA Director Michael Brown Has a Wife
posted by billysumday at 10:48 AM on September 9, 2005


By scapegoating I don't mean he doesn't have a hell of a lot to answer for - I just mean that now the White House can conveniently lay ALL the blame on him, and dust any responsibility for any of this off their own shoulders. They're very good at that.
posted by Billegible at 10:50 AM on September 9, 2005


Bush is just grooming Brown for another crony position. Is everyone ready for Supreme Court Justice Michael Brown?
posted by fungible at 10:50 AM on September 9, 2005


So Brown's going to los (win?) the Blame Game for now. I just hope this doesn't succeed in doing what it's intended to do: that is, stop inquiry and criticism of the faults and failings that everyone else is still fully responsible for.
posted by Miko at 10:51 AM on September 9, 2005


"No Arabian horses were harmed in the making of this disaster."
posted by Armitage Shanks at 10:52 AM on September 9, 2005


ericb: Glad that Time's sleuths are all over this. Henry Luce would have been very proud. This "veteran employee" since 1981 of the nursing home is a regular Deep Throat.
posted by esquire at 10:53 AM on September 9, 2005


I just mean that now the White House can conveniently lay ALL the blame on him, and dust any responsibility for any of this off their own shoulders.

If they scapegoat him in the face of his resume problems, don't they have to explain like why they didn't do a little research before hiring him to this position? That seems to be as negligent as his actions leading up to the Katrina situation.
posted by aburd at 10:53 AM on September 9, 2005


Looks like the White House did a throrough and precise vetting of Mike Brown before appointing him to FEMA.

Well, if they let it Gannon, they might as well let Brown in, too.
posted by grateful at 10:53 AM on September 9, 2005


most of the senior officials in the Department of Education are not farmers

Why the hell not? Maybe if we used better fertilizer and had more rain we'd grow smarter kids.
posted by jonmc at 10:54 AM on September 9, 2005


But he's an Admiral! He has a hat and everything!

On NPR yesterday, I heard them talking to "Major so and so, commander of the such and such section of the Salvation Army."

I'm sure he had a had, too. With lots of scrambled eggs on it. [g /]

Coasties are nothing to worry about. If you're worried about militarization, take consolation that they don't seem to like the Navy overly much, from what I've ever been able to determine. Very dedicated people. They were there in force while the wind was still blowing.
posted by lodurr at 10:54 AM on September 9, 2005


... er, I'm also sure he had a hat...
posted by lodurr at 10:56 AM on September 9, 2005


Billegible: Yeah, they're so smooth and competent, what with that failure to conduct basic background check thing and all. The admin. has washed its hands of all blame!
posted by raysmj at 10:57 AM on September 9, 2005


Good thing that's taken care of! Now we can get back to the Important Work of Doing Important Things So You Don't Have To Worry Your Pretty Little Head Off.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:57 AM on September 9, 2005


A scapegoat. A worthy one, but still a scapegoat.

While people deserve blame for putting him in power in the first place, he did fuck shit up himself. A competent person in charge of FEMA could have saved the day dispite bush being on vacation.
posted by delmoi at 10:58 AM on September 9, 2005


esquire-What's your problem with criticism of Brown? You obviously think that criticism of the handling of this disaster is somehow unwarranted (except insofar as we take digs at Mother Nature), but even with that it seems as if Brown did a supernaturally bad job of doing what was supposed to be his job. And, if he lied about his credentials, so much the worse.
posted by OmieWise at 10:59 AM on September 9, 2005


you know, even if he WAS the assistant city manager in edmond, oklahoma, that is just unacceptable as a credential to head FEMA.
posted by centrs at 11:01 AM on September 9, 2005


The way Bush appoints people to positions is like to how I made movies as a kid, choosing my friends for all the roles. Only this isn't backyard wrestling.
posted by Mach3avelli at 11:03 AM on September 9, 2005


Gentlemen, I think we have the next candidate for the Supreme Court of the United States!
posted by blue_beetle at 11:03 AM on September 9, 2005


I think it's time we took another look at John Roberts's resume.
posted by mischief at 11:06 AM on September 9, 2005


I think it's time we took another look at Bush's resume.
posted by OmieWise at 11:08 AM on September 9, 2005


but aside from parallel hierarchies, they are decidedly not a military organization.

Brown will be replaced by Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad Allen, who earlier this week was named his deputy to oversee relief and rescue efforts.

As the Nation’s fifth and smallest armed service, the Coast Guard acts as part of the Navy in times of war or whenever the President directs. Looking at this, who really is overseeing relief and rescue efforts now?

PS, iirc the Coast Guard is older than our Navy

{off topic} waves at matteo!
posted by thomcatspike at 11:10 AM on September 9, 2005


This is what happens when the party in charge places a higher value on money, connections, and ideology rather than knowledge, experience, and commitment.

It really chaps my ass that this is also the party that campaigned on the theme that they could better protect us in times of crisis. Every promise that they have ever made is completely hollow.
posted by wadefranklin at 11:10 AM on September 9, 2005


Does resigning mean he still keeps his nice, fat government pension? I remember they allowed the OG (Original Gropinator) Bob Packwood to resign and he kept his pension which is a fucking disgrace.

Mike Brown should serve jail time.

esquire, you do realize you're now defending a man who has been completely outed as a fraud, right? Why would you do that? What's your position on Jeff Gannon? Respected journalist?
posted by fenriq at 11:10 AM on September 9, 2005


GW Bush should write an update to "The Prince". Most interestingly, that family really wrote the book on how to stay in political power in the post-modern world. Turn the various administrations into corporations where the heads only have to rely on previous business experience and not specialized expertise to do their jobs. Not great jobs mind you, but the ability to do a job if nothing catastrophic happens. Then you have a cabal of the rich and powerful who want to keep you in power for their own personal gain. Most important to the formula is an that so appeals to the middle American they'll do anything to follow it, including the ineptness of the idealogy's leaders.
posted by geoff. at 11:11 AM on September 9, 2005


Well, if they let it Gannon, they might as well let Brown in, too.

Gannon hell, Look at Bernie Kerick AKA the Scanalator. They were goin to put him in Chertoff's job.
posted by delmoi at 11:13 AM on September 9, 2005


geoff: What caliber of "previous business experience" did Michael Brown have?
posted by raysmj at 11:14 AM on September 9, 2005


realcountrymusic: this scandal extends to nearly every agency within the federal government, unfortunately, as most of the senior officials in the Department of Education are not teachers; most of the senior officials in the Department of Education are not farmers; many of the senior officials in the Department of Defense are actually civilians, and so on. As recently as 2001, we had a Head of State with no previous foreign policy experience at all.

esquire: The idea that an agency head doesn't need specialized subject matter experience to run a federal agency isn't new. Bush isn't the only one to embrace the concept of agency head as CEO. But the idea that good management and leadership skills suffices only works when the next level below the agency head has extensive subject matter experience. At FEMA, that hasn't been the case for a while now. And no, senior officials at Ag aren't farmers. They are men and women who have been developing and promulgating agriculture policies for twenty and thirty years - they're not farmers nor are they expected to be. They are administrators with an expertise in agricultural, farm and trade policy, as it should be. Similarly, the senior folks at FEMA - the members of the Senior Executive Service - should be people with experience in developing disaster response policy and procedure at the state and federal level. Currently, they're not.

You shouldn't worry. Coast Guard isn't exactly "militarized." True, they can be ordered to report into a Naval chain of command (I think), but aside from parallel hierarchies, they are decidedly not a military organization.

lodurr: The Coast Guard is absolutely a military organization. In fact, here is the first line of the Coast Guard's mission statement: "The United States Coast Guard is a military, multimission, maritime service within the Department of Homeland Security and one of the nation's five armed services. " (emphasis added) Having said that, they are culturally different than other services, perhaps because their primary mission focuses on savings lives rather than managing violence.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 11:14 AM on September 9, 2005


Mischief: We're gonna find out that Roberts didn't "clerk" for Reinquist, so much as "bring him sandwiches."
posted by klangklangston at 11:14 AM on September 9, 2005


Glad that Time's sleuths are all over this. Henry Luce would have been very proud. This "veteran employee" since 1981 of the nursing home is a regular Deep Throat.
posted by esquire at 10:53 AM PST on September 9


Thanks for yet another shitty, knee-jerk, uninformative post. Do you have evidence that Time's report is incorrect? Do you have evidence that the other reports on Brown's history are incorrect? Because we're all very interested in hearing them. So go ahead: prove all of us wrong.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:14 AM on September 9, 2005


esquire does have a point; it's often true that senior officials don't have direct experience in what their agency administers. But if they're competent administrators, they can at least understand how to get out of the way and let their juniors get the job done.

Hardly any really good managers are better at the line tasks than the people that report to them; that's not what's important. The good ones are good at leadership and know how to tell when they're being bulshitted. And most important, they actually care about what they're trying to do.

And often first-hand experience isn't necessary. It's good, but it may not be necessary. A lot of senior old-FEMA folks were probably not former first-responders. A lot of senior policy people at Dept Agriculture aren't farmers, but rather have trained to become experts on agricultural policy. I'd like it better if they had first hand experience with farming, but sometimes it doesn't matter.

The key point that just about everyone agrees on is that there are a lot of really unqualified appointees in the Bush regime. I don't think that pushing specific and explicit requirements for qualifications is a workable answer. What needs to happen is that the government needs to be run by peole who give a shit about the country and its people. Other than the obvious (vote the assholes out, which may or may not solve the problem), I don't know how we get that kind of change in ethos at the top level. Bushite cronyism and lysenkoism have done so much damage that it will take a long time to un-do it, if it can indeed be undone.
posted by lodurr at 11:15 AM on September 9, 2005


Esquire: The head of the Department of Ed might not be a teacher, but the head of FEMA was a disaster.
posted by klangklangston at 11:16 AM on September 9, 2005


Yay. Rah. Color me unimpressed. Can you say "scapegoat", boys and girls? I knew you could. Now, if they were to actually DO anything about replacing the qualified and experienced people who were in FEMA before it was absorbed by "Homeland Security".... (I feel real secure right now, don't you?)

Just another play in the blame game. "We removed this incompetent person from this position of importance. (We have no idea how he got appointed to it.) LOOK! The Winged Victory of Samothrace!"

Putting a Coastie in charge of the effort makes sense.... Coasties tend to get things done first and then worry about whose fault it was later. It may, however, backfire on the administration, as Allen makes it obvious exactly how incompetent Brown and the rest of the gang were. We can hope.
posted by jlkr at 11:17 AM on September 9, 2005


Brown's getting Tenetized
posted by aaronscool at 11:18 AM on September 9, 2005


The Coast Guard is absolutely a military organization. ... Having said that, they are culturally different than other services, perhaps because their primary mission focuses on savings lives rather than managing violence.

That's all I was driving at. I didn't mean to suggest they didn't have military hierarchies; I was just suggesting that they don't make me worry about "militarization" as much as it would if they appointed, say, a Naval admiral.
posted by lodurr at 11:19 AM on September 9, 2005


PS, iirc the Coast Guard is older than our Navy

Actually the coasties just celebrated their 215th birthday in August. The Navy's 230th will be in October. Some of the different sources that the Coast Guard is derived from are older though.

All that being said, I've never had anything but an excellent working relationship with the coasties...good people, do their job well.
posted by tetsuo at 11:20 AM on September 9, 2005


rolypolyman, kobs come cheap...he only gave around a grand.
posted by rzklkng at 11:21 AM on September 9, 2005


This is reminiscent the poor vetting of Bernie "One Scandal Away from a Medal of Freedom" Kerik, when he was nominated to run Homeland Security.

What went on with Brownie's selection? Someone figured, "Hey, that guy helped out with the campaign. He has a law degree. Give him a job!"

One of the problems with Bush is that the State of Texas doesn't really require the governor to DO anything. Thus, Bush really didn't have an inner circle of administrators that he was confident enough to take with him to Washington, and the cabinet got stacked with former campaign advance-men, holdovers from the Nixon and Reagan administrations, and other close friends of Bush.
posted by deanc at 11:22 AM on September 9, 2005


I'm frankly really happy that a CG flag officer is in charge at FEMA. The CG knows what it's doing.

I third that.
posted by tkchrist at 11:23 AM on September 9, 2005


Klangklangston: thanks for repeating that joke for the second time on this thread. Sometimes I skip down to the bottom without reading every entry in between. (That did not happen this time, but it very well could have.) Your decision to reprise that little chestnut could have been a life-saver.
posted by esquire at 11:23 AM on September 9, 2005


This is a very positive step. The Coast Guard has a long and distinguished history of bravery, competence and professionalism. It's the first bright news in a long time.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:27 AM on September 9, 2005


Errr....jobs. Now, his buddy Allbaugh, on the other hand...

On a side note, I blogged this today:
Ooops. Think Progress summarizes the inconsistencies in FEMA boss Mike Brown's resume.

Me-thinks it's high time that all of the "rangers" and "pioneers" that Bush has appointed to federal positions *PDF, who are unqualified to work representing the United States and especially those that safeguard the American people get their qualificatons reviewed.
posted by rzklkng at 11:27 AM on September 9, 2005


esquire, you do realize you're now defending a man who has been completely outed as a fraud, right? Why would you do that? What's your position on Jeff Gannon? Respected journalist?

"Jeff Gannon's ability to work as a journalist is fatally compromised by his sexuality. The only answer is for all members of the press corps to be virgins."
posted by Armitage Shanks at 11:27 AM on September 9, 2005


Your welcome, Optimus Chyme. Do you have a macro that spells out "knee jerk" when you read something that you don't like, or do you actually take the time to spell the words each time? The post had nothing to do with the accuracy of the news reporting and everything to do with the purpose: if you are really as interested as you claim to be about whether Brown was director or executive director or trustee or whatever of a nursing home in 1981, then you should try to take a big-picture view and find better ways to occupy your time than focusing on petty stuff. You could develop software for that macro I mentioned, for example, and then it would not take you so long to be such a grouch on the internet.
posted by esquire at 11:27 AM on September 9, 2005


Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again!
posted by mortisimo at 11:28 AM on September 9, 2005


So he was an "assistant to the city manager" rather than "assistant city manager." They've put Gareth Keenan in charge of FEMA....
posted by crank at 11:29 AM on September 9, 2005


This is only going to get uglier. As Slate pointed out, Brown's Chief of Staff and Deputy Chief of Staff were campaign organizers/strategists for Bush.

Fine first step. Now how about replacing all the experienced personnel at FEMA that were let go when it was folded into Homeland Security and the budget was axed 6 or 7 times.

There's a great Washington Post article today about this very topic. And by "great", I mean "depressing".
posted by mkultra at 11:29 AM on September 9, 2005


Why do you want to hire folks experienced with disaster management when your goal is to amend FEMA from an "oversized entitlement program" back to its "original intent of Federal disaster assistance... to supplement State and local response efforts."
posted by aburd at 11:29 AM on September 9, 2005


Emergency Declared 8/26 by White House

This was the executive response to the coming emeregency. Brown is named in this executive order, and the lack of response is why he is releived of his duties.

But look at that whole order. "...emergency protective measures, including direct Federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent Federal funding." That kinda sucks for FEMA, are they supposed to negotiate with local and state people for the other 25% while people are dying?
posted by joecacti at 11:30 AM on September 9, 2005


esquire: Any reason you're acting like such a gigantic douchebag? Is Brown a friend of yours or something?
posted by wakko at 11:30 AM on September 9, 2005


That's the only kind of behavior I've ever seen from esquire. Lame and inept wisecracks.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:34 AM on September 9, 2005


FEMA chief relieved of Katrina duties

That is the opening sentence of the article. No where did I see that he has been relieved of duty from FEMA. Nor did I hear that on the news when I was home for lunch.
He is going back to Washington to do "other" duties.

The word resign doesn't even appear in the linked article of the FPP. Is there another article stating otherwise?

The Coast Guard used to fall under the DOT and was moved to DHS post 9/11. Anyone who is fooled into thinking that they are not a military organization needs to rethink their position. I have served with people in the CG and learned much about the CG from them. They are a decidely military organization, just one that usually has a less military function here at home.
posted by a3matrix at 11:37 AM on September 9, 2005


No where did I see that he has been relieved of duty from FEMA.

If you aren't working on Katrina issues at FEMA right now, what are you doing?
posted by aburd at 11:39 AM on September 9, 2005


It surprises me not...shades of another Republican president declaring his minion an "American hero" and then firing him the very next day...remember Ollie North?
posted by alumshubby at 11:39 AM on September 9, 2005


Omiewise/Fenriq: My problem is that I am not sure what happened in New Orleans. I know that a hurricane caused suffering and destruction, but I do not know -- and do not have any reasonable basis for knowing -- how much of the suffering or destruction could have been prevented or ameliorated. It might be that I am not reading the right sources, but I have not seen anything in The Washington Post or the Wall Street Journal or in the dozen-odd web sites that I scan every day indicating that the extent of the destruction should be attributed to FEMA, or to any failing by Brown. I am not saying that FEMA was not to blame, but I am not aware of any facts that I feel like I would be able to take to a jury that could get me a verdict; if I learn of some, then my assessment will change.

I am not talking about the general complaint that more could have been done sooner. That is true of any disaster, whether natural or otherwise. I suppose that Louisiana or New Orleans or Orleans Parish or the federal government could have reinforced levees to prevent their breach, but I have no idea whether that is correct or not. The only certainty I have about what caused the destruction is that a hurricane was the sine qua non, and that the hurricane could not have been prevented.

It is possible that the people who have been calling for Brown's resignation, jailing, impeachment, etc., know more about specific acts of malfeasance than I do. If that's the case, then I'll likely agree that he should have resigned. And it's also possible that people who are caling him a fraud have more evidence of specific misstatements about his qualifications -- not this director-of-nursing-home-in-1981 nonsense that Time is investigating -- but really saying that he was capable of a job qualification that he was not. If that's the case, I'm open to the argument that he should not have succeeded Allbaugh, or that he should not have been appointed to any position within FEMA in the first instance.

In the meantime, all the calls for putting Brown in a dirty cell and similar hyperbole are just mob-mentality ugliness as far as I am concerned. And running articles about whether he did poorly as an undergraduate or whether other Oklahoma lawyers like him is just kicking a guy when he's down -- piling on. That's my answer.
posted by esquire at 11:41 AM on September 9, 2005


mwhybark:
"Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job," to be precise.

Let's hope this catches on like "the internets" did.


"Go fuck yourself, Mr. Cheney," is the new "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job."
posted by Sinner at 11:42 AM on September 9, 2005


wakko and sonofsamiam: yes. Gigantic douchebag for not piling on Brown. Very witty riposte. You two should start a vaudeville act and tour the country.
posted by esquire at 11:43 AM on September 9, 2005


Live feed interview with Thad Allen right now on WWL (2:43 pm EST)
posted by Corky at 11:43 AM on September 9, 2005


Gigantic douchebag for not piling on Brown. Very witty riposte. You two should start a vaudeville act and tour the country.

You're not a douchebag for defending Brown, you're a douchebag because you act like a fucking douchebag. See quoted text.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:44 AM on September 9, 2005


My Hurricane Katrina (Corrina? - Whatever) expose now has a title: My Pet Scapegoat.
posted by mctsonic at 11:46 AM on September 9, 2005


Your [sic] welcome, Optimus Chyme. Do you have a macro that spells out "knee jerk" when you read something that you don't like, or do you actually take the time to spell the words each time?

I'm pretty sure this is the only time I've used the phrase "knee-jerk." If I have used it before, it was a long time ago, and I can't find it. So once again you say something dumb without any evidence to back it up.

You have never posted anything of merit: no solid links, no real ideas, just the contrarian position. If a member of the administration killed a puppy on live TV you'd claim he was making pumpkin pie.

The post had nothing to do with the accuracy of the news reporting and everything to do with the purpose: if you are really as interested as you claim to be about whether Brown was director or executive director or trustee or whatever of a nursing home in 1981, then you should try to take a big-picture view and find better ways to occupy your time than focusing on petty stuff.

The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency lied about his credentials to the Senate and is now responsible for an unimaginably horrible response to a devastating natural disaster. He had no business being in that position and people are dead who should not be. Is that petty?

You could develop software for that macro I mentioned, for example, and then it would not take you so long to be such a grouch on the internet.

Keep avoiding the question; it's working out so well. Do you have evidence that Brown's claimed history is legitimate or are you just making stuff up? Let's have it.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:46 AM on September 9, 2005


In the recently completed press conference announcing Brown's heading back to D.C. DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff said that he was sending Michael Brown there to "keep an eye on the bigger picture" and to be ready to respond to any other "natural or manmade disasters" that could pop-up at any time. Great. I'm feeling real safe and secure just about now.
posted by ericb at 11:47 AM on September 9, 2005


If you aren't working on Katrina issues at FEMA right now, what are you doing?

Chiling with GW back in the crib in DC I guess. Either way. Being relieved is not resigning. It is never safe to assume anything.

I recall a saying when I worked for Grumman Aerospace some 15 years ago. Fuck up and move up. GW praised this guy on national tv the other day, now maybe he will resign and GW will accept it, but don't count your chickens.......

Could be he is slotted for somthing even bigger. Maybe he will head up NASA next. /sarcasm
posted by a3matrix at 11:49 AM on September 9, 2005


In the hierarchy of governmental dismissals, reassignment is pretty mild. This is one step harsher than giving the Coast Guard de facto control of the operation but leaving Brown nominally in charge. It's a couple of steps less harsh than having him announce his resignation "to spend more time with his family," and it's far less harsh than actually firing him, which hardly ever happens.

This in no way, shape, or form represents accountability, but it's certainly a good idea to have someone clueless out of the way and let someone capable take over.
posted by anapestic at 11:50 AM on September 9, 2005


Now that he doesn't have to worry about the relief efforts, he'll be able to roll back into D.C. to pick up his Medal of Freedom.
posted by mullingitover at 11:51 AM on September 9, 2005


thanks for the live interview link, Corky. Thad Allen is a guy who looks and acts like he'll get results.
posted by pmbuko at 11:53 AM on September 9, 2005


Gigantic douchebag for not piling on Brown

What a good idea. Let's send one down to flush out the Superdome.


eh-eh-eh-eh
posted by CynicalKnight at 11:55 AM on September 9, 2005


esquire, you seem to be practicing a great deal of denial on this. You want to say that we don't reall know anything about cause or reasons for the failure, but we really do. We know for example that FEMA failed in several ways that badly exacerbated the impact of the hurricane; we know that they did not perform their primary function: Coordination of disaster response. They simply failed at it.

Maybe that's not their primary function anymore. (Though I'm sure someone could cite charter text to the contrary.) If so, someone (maybe FEMA) should have told the various governors and the Northern Command and c., so they could have gotten on their horses and ridden in, instead of waiting for FEMA's direction.

Yes, Brown is a scapegoat. But it's hard to argue that he shouldn't be fired. He's incompetent, a liar, and should never have been in charge of a mission-critical agency like FEMA in the first place. Maybe you're right -- maybe the head didn't need to be someone with emergency management experience. But shouldn't it have at least been someone with management experience?

The evidence suggests that the Bush administration has been making many of its appointments based on the idea that it doesn't really matter if they're competent. This is the kind of thinking that caused decline in the British Empire. (Alas, its origins are clear -- it's straight out of Harvard B-school in the '70s. No, as I've said, the manager doesn't have to be better at the job than his subordinates. But he really should at least understand what they're talking about.)
posted by lodurr at 11:55 AM on September 9, 2005


"Brown will head back to Washington from Louisiana to oversee the big picture, [Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff] said .... 'Michael Brown has done everything he possibly could to coordinate the federal response to this unprecedented challenge' .... Chertoff suggested the shift came as the Gulf Coast efforts were entering 'a new phase of the recovery operation.' He said Brown would return to Washington to oversee the government's response to other potential disasters. 'I appreciate his work, as does everybody here,' Chertoff said." [Associated Press | September 9, 2005]
posted by ericb at 11:56 AM on September 9, 2005


Krauthammer's take on Katrina (and Brown).
posted by loquax at 11:57 AM on September 9, 2005


Esquire
Everyone else is seeing how FEMA has totally screwed up and that brown, as head, is responsible. If you choose not to credit those sources, too bad. Everybody gets to decide who they believe and you are in the minority on this site. So suck it up. Perhaps if you didn't read Bloated Plutocrat monthly as your only source of news you might get a large dose of what is going on out there.

Plus,
Optimus is right, you are a full blown troll who contributes nothing. Instead of a part-timer, talented amateur or popinjay like Mefi's other neocon apologists. You are useless and you are outed as such on a daily basis. I don't think anyone should be banned but you deserve a nice solid full on ignore.
posted by Divine_Wino at 11:57 AM on September 9, 2005


esquire, I can respect taking a wait and see attitude but there is a tremendous body of evidence that shows pretty clearly that Mike Brown botched this, his first big event as the head of FEMA.

And now it turns out that he falsified information on his resume and that's is somehow not relevant? The guy's a liar and incompetent and, as such, should be punished for it, not by being removed from the current crisis but by being indicted and convicted of negligence and fraud. Wanting him to serve jail time for the, apparently, willful deaths of people awaiting evacuation in New Orleans isn't mob-mentality, its called justice.
posted by fenriq at 11:59 AM on September 9, 2005


esquire, are you aware that Brown said twice, on National TV, on Thursday the 1st, that FEMA had only then learned of the thousands in the convention centre with insufficient supplies?
posted by jikel_morten at 11:59 AM on September 9, 2005


aburd: If you aren't working on Katrina issues at FEMA right now, what are you doing?

Duh! Brown has been promoted to the crucial job of rebuilding Trent Lott's house so Bush can fly in for a "Mission Accomplished BBQ."

Also, Brown has not been replaced by Thad Allen. That was a typo. Brown has been replaced by Tim Allen.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:59 AM on September 9, 2005


Not relieved of duties -- pulled off of Katrina duties. There is a difference. If there was a major disaster today that involved you and your loved ones, Michael Brown would be there for you... or not.

So, if Michael Brown is doing "a heck of a job" according to Bush, why did the Department of Homeland Security pull him off of the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts?!

Why does the Department of Homeland Security hate America?
posted by insomnia_lj at 12:02 PM on September 9, 2005


You know how if someone is just totally broken and laying on the floor hyperventilating a little bit with that clear snot all over their lip and they've just totally lost everything and their lives will be fucked up forever and they look up at you with big tear reddened eyes and just mouth 'help me', and you want to, but you also kind of also want to kick them in the face for being such a pathetic wimpy piece of shit?

That's why they hate America.
posted by Divine_Wino at 12:09 PM on September 9, 2005


The passive language of the headline, carried through in the story, doesn't inspire much confidence that anyone is actually in charge, does it?

I get that people who run the business aren't always the most experienced or most expert in their field. The problem is that it appears that Brown's degree of inexperience might have had something to do with his failure to judge the magnitude of this disaster--not to mention that his role with respect to the goals of the organization (which sounds not unlike Clarence Thomas at the EEOC back in the day) seems to have been geared toward getting the federal government out of the disaster management business.

My favorite line: I'm going to go home and walk my dog and hug my wife and, maybe get a good Mexican meal and a stiff margarita and a full night's sleep. And then I'm going to go right back to FEMA and continue to do all I can to help these victims You know, because he's worked harder than anyone and deserves some relaxation before putting the victims first!
posted by troybob at 12:10 PM on September 9, 2005


Re: Qualifications. I don't expect the head of a particular agency to necessarily be a reknowned expert in that field (though, in general, it's a pretty good idea, and I can't see why you'd ever have an excuse for not finding someone who hits both marks among the 400 MILLION Americans). I do, however, expect them TO BE ABLE TO LEAD.

In any organization, when there's a crisis, I expect the senior exec to step up, get everyone together, and announce "here's the plan, and who's going to execute it". Simple marching orders clarify a lot.

I have yet to see that from FEMA, DHS, or the White House, for that matter.
posted by mkultra at 12:10 PM on September 9, 2005



posted by Rothko at 12:12 PM on September 9, 2005


(though, in general, it's a pretty good idea, and I can't see why you'd ever have an excuse for not finding someone who hits both marks among the 400 MILLION Americans)

Actually, it's only 297 million.

You see, esquire? That's what we call "supporting evidence."
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:13 PM on September 9, 2005


you also kind of also want to kick them in the face for being such a pathetic wimpy piece of shit?

"Rep. Baker of Baton Rouge is overheard telling lobbyists: 'We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did.' [Wall Street Journal - requires subscription | September 8, 2005]
posted by ericb at 12:14 PM on September 9, 2005


From loquax's Krauthammer (*shudder*) link:

Let's be clear. The author of this calamity was, first and foremost, Nature (or if you prefer, Nature's God). The suffering was augmented, aided and abetted in descending order of culpability by the following:

[...]

6. The American people. They have made it impossible for any politician to make any responsible energy policy over the last 30 years -- but that is a column for another day.


See, it's YOUR fault!

(S@L, if you're reading this- note the proper use of ellipses...)
posted by mkultra at 12:14 PM on September 9, 2005


Esquire: You're confused about what I posted. You'll note that while Jonmc made fun of you for your mistake ("education" for "agricutlure"), I made fun of Brown.
If that's the caliber of reading comprehension you bring, no doubt that has something to do with why you can't seem to find anything that would indicate Brown should resign.
Like, I dunno, not knowing about the Superdome?
posted by klangklangston at 12:15 PM on September 9, 2005


ericb: appalling.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:15 PM on September 9, 2005


This is what happens when the party in charge places a higher value on money, connections, and ideology rather than knowledge, experience, and commitment.

posted by wadefranklin at 11:10 AM PST on September 9 [!]


Yes, definitely the connections bit in action here. I was amused to read in The Economist:

"The best illustration of this is its boss: Michael Brown spent nine years at the Arabian Horse Association, before finally being eased out and joining FEMA as general counsel, brought in by its previous head, his college room-mate."

What can I say? It's very important who you room with these days.
posted by slf at 12:16 PM on September 9, 2005


esquire: See what I mean? You're a gigantic douchebag.
posted by wakko at 12:16 PM on September 9, 2005


If you aren't working on Katrina issues at FEMA right now, what are you doing?

Opening paycheck envelopes, signing the back, and depositing?
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:17 PM on September 9, 2005


Like, I dunno, not knowing about the Superdome?

I think it was the Convention Center he didn't know about. I still think he has no business being the boss of FEMA, but I reckon he knew about the Superdome: they play football there, after all.
posted by anapestic at 12:18 PM on September 9, 2005


And the WSJ has the following update on their website:
"Baker explains later he didn't intend flippancy but has long wanted to improve low-income housing."
posted by ericb at 12:19 PM on September 9, 2005


no doubt that has something to do with why you can't seem to find anything that would indicate Brown should resign.
Like, I dunno, not knowing about the Superdome?
posted by klangklangston at 12:15 PM PST on September 9


Actually, that was the Convention Center he was unaware of.

(Confidential to esquire: that's "supporting evidence.")
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:19 PM on September 9, 2005



posted by ericb at 12:22 PM on September 9, 2005


"Asked if he was being made a scapegoat for a federal relief effort that has drawn widespread and sharp criticism, Brown told The Associated Press after a long pause: 'By the press, yes. By the president, no.'"
posted by ericb at 12:24 PM on September 9, 2005


All of this is the goddamn librul media's fault.
posted by ericb at 12:24 PM on September 9, 2005



Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad "Baby-Specs" Allen
posted by odinsdream at 12:29 PM on September 9, 2005


Giant Douchebag for not piling on Brown


This thread needs an enema!
posted by CynicalKnight at 12:33 PM on September 9, 2005


Hats off to you, equire. I count 15 posts in this thread addressing you personally. Oops, 16 now. < /noise>
posted by Aknaton at 12:34 PM on September 9, 2005


dioesquire: My problem is that I am not sure what happened in New Orleans... I am not saying that FEMA was not to blame, but I am not aware of any facts that I feel like I would be able to take to a jury that could get me a verdict; if I learn of some, then my assessment will change.

Assuming you're not using a figure of speech, perhaps your standards in a FEMA chief are too low. They seem to be along the lines of "as long as you cannot be proved a criminal, you're doing a fine job."

Can't you separate the question "should he be fired?" from "should he go to prison?" Nevermind the people here blowing off steam of what they would like to see happen to him; why do you present the idea that he must be proved something in a court of law or else he is utterly blameless?

What about Brown makes you think he deserves such the benefit of a doubt? Certainly not his resume; certainly not his job performance. So, what?
posted by fleacircus at 12:35 PM on September 9, 2005


I don't know that I agree that we shouldn't put specific experience requirements in place for these kind of positions.

Maybe we should, at least for positions where people's lives are on the line. "Adminstrators" might do equally well in real estate or at the Ag Dept, but knowing what to do when you run FEMA seems to be something you can't handle just by being a "good manager." Which by the way, how do you define? "He has some basic management skills" leaves a lot of room for mediocrity or just cluelessness. I couldn't have got hired to my piddly little job on the strength of that. "He/She knows something about medical emergencies, city/state/national infrastructure, casualty rates, natural disaster statistics, etc." doesn't seem too much to ask. They don't have to be some superhuman combination of doctor/organizer/meteorologist/terrorism expert.

And at any rate, why don't we want to promote hiring people from within these agencies to run them instead of a crony system? Surely there is someone at FEMA right now more qualified to run the show than these Bush clowns. Is there no way to push for a system that gives them a chance at the top spot?
posted by emjaybee at 12:36 PM on September 9, 2005


I don't care if Vice Adm. Thad Allen has 'baby-specs,' a big wart on his nose, or sports a feather boa (come on, aren't you hoping just a little bit that conservatives start taking a cue from hero Renquist and add 'my fair lady' touches to their work outfits?); if he's someone who is qualfied to get the job done, i wish him well.
posted by troybob at 12:40 PM on September 9, 2005


It just seems to me that Brown's appointment went something like this:

"Hm, we need to give this guy some sort of job for all his support. He's a good guy, a stand-up guy."

"Well, we haven't had a national emergency in a while, so he should be fine here."
posted by wakko at 12:44 PM on September 9, 2005


I think Bown's appointment had less to do directly with Bush and more to do with his former roomate, and previous head of FEMA, Joe Allbaugh. This guy was Bush's chief of staff when he was governor of Texas, campaign manager in 2000 and is very close to Bush. Slate refers to him as the "disaster pimp". When Allbaugh left FEMA to cash in on other Homeland Security opportunities and become the Chairman and Director of New Bridge Strategies (Iraqi rebuilding investor), he gave his job to his buddy Brown, and qualifications were unnecessary.
posted by sophist at 12:45 PM on September 9, 2005


ereshkigal45: "managing violence"??!??!!!
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:46 PM on September 9, 2005


The 9/11 attacks either changed nothing, or made things worse. Quite clearly the U.S. is less able to respond to national emergencies now than it was back in the pre-DHS days. I'm sure many will claim that we just need to give the new agency time to get it's act together. But to me it seems we're going in the wrong direction. We've added another layer of bureaucracy to an already ponderous federal system.

If disasters causing the deaths of thousands of Americans don't cause some change in our country, if it doesn't increase security and safety, nothing ever will. And while 9/11 indeed did bring change, it turns out to be the exact opposite of what we needed.

More directly - After 9/11 and Katrina it should be obvious that we've placed too much power and responsibility in the administrative branch of government. They have failed us, shown grievous dishonesty, and put personal motives and ideologies ahead of our safety. When forced to face obvious systemic failures, they have made the problem worse. The system of checks and balances built into our constitution has been run off the tracks by an administrative branch with too much power and authority.

The government should be reformed to limit the power of the administrative branch. Placing too many departments and agencies under the administrative branch has made it ineffective, while at the same time allowing it to dodge accountability and obfuscate.

A new constitutional congress should be formed by the people to bring our government more in line with the realities of the 21st century.

1) Give less power, and less broad responsibility to the federal government. Powers and responsibilities should be narrow and specific in scope.

2) The office of president should be considered the nation's representative rather than the nation's leader.

3) The title "Commander and chief" should be eliminated.

4) Several agencies should be taken out of the administrative branch and either placed under the legislative branch, or under a new governmental branch.

In short, the administrative branch should be gutted untill it is no longer recognizable.

On 9/11 we found out that our government was doing a miserable job of protecting us from disasters which had been widely predicted. Now, after the Iraq war and hurricane Katrina we find that their internal efforts to fix the problems have only made them worse. If we allow our government to continue fixing it's own problems, we do so literally at our peril. We the people must rise up and retake control of a government which has now firmly established it's record of failure, waste, and mismanagement.

We owe it to ourselves, our children and the future of our United States to reform the government so that it serves and protects rather than fumbles and wastes.
posted by y6y6y6 at 12:48 PM on September 9, 2005


HE HASN'T BEEN FIRED. This means, if a major catastrophe happens in your city tomorrow, guess who's going to be in charge?

At least now we know what the government's plan is for the next terrorist attack: a)Seal all city borders and b)Treat everyone in it as criminals.
posted by fungible at 12:50 PM on September 9, 2005


Glad that Time's sleuths are all over this. Henry Luce would have been very proud. This "veteran employee" since 1981 of the nursing home is a regular Deep Throat.

This is classic giant-douchebag logic. The article shows that the man appointed to one of the most important life-or-death positions in our nation has multiple bald-face lies on his resume - not "padding" like "I said 1985-1989 when it was really just 1985-1987" but lying about significant discrepancies (e.g. the difference between "intern" and "manager," between "student" and "professor," between "director" and "never heard of him") - and Giant Douchebag, Esq. pretends it's all a tempest in a teapot focusing on one anonymous source. Again I gotta say it: Classic.

Too bad the rest of us can actually read the article to verify the giant douchebaggery. But congrats on the trolling, that seems to be working out well for you.
posted by soyjoy at 12:55 PM on September 9, 2005


Is there no way to push for a system that gives them a chance at the top spot?

....a bureaucracy that rewards results and encourages promotions based on merit? Well, here's hoping to see that in this lifetime.

I admit to almost feeling sorry for Brown at a few points over the last week. He just looks so feckless. And then I consider that the man allowed himself to be placed in a position where he was responsible for the safety of millions, knowing all the while that he was woefully unqualified, and my sympathy evaporates somewhat. And then you get a comment like his response to "do you feel that you're being blamed" and he says "...by the press, yes." Oh, poor little martyr.
You know what I blame this on the breakdown of? Society.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 12:56 PM on September 9, 2005


DeLay to evacuees: 'Is this kind of fun?'
"U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's visit to Reliant Park this morning offered him a glimpse of what it's like to be living in shelter.

While on the tour with top administration officials from Washington, including U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao and U.S. Treasury Secretary John W. Snow, DeLay stopped to chat with three young boys resting on cots.

The congressman likened their stay to being at camp and asked, 'Now tell me the truth boys, is this kind of fun?' [Houston Chronicle's DomeBlog | September 8, 2005]
Mr. Delay, allow me to introduce you to Barbara Bush.
posted by ericb at 12:58 PM on September 9, 2005


Bush appoints a Spectacular Fuck-Up to head FEMA. As a result of this action, people die needlessly in Louisiana and Mississippi. Could this be called a "Violation of Public Trust?"
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 12:59 PM on September 9, 2005


Tom DeLay should really be forcibly sodomized with a cattle prod for a ten days and then asked if it was "kind of fun". What a contempible mistake of a human being.
posted by fenriq at 1:03 PM on September 9, 2005


ericb - Jesus. Time for someone to compile all the quotes illustrating how the rich assholes are incapable of understanding what the poor are going through.
posted by soyjoy at 1:04 PM on September 9, 2005


Fuzzy Monster: "Could this be called a "Violation of Public Trust?"

Actually, it's called "business as usual."

1) Appoint Spectacular Fuck-Up
2) People Die Needlessly
3) Profit
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:05 PM on September 9, 2005


Brown's Senate confirmation hearing as FEMA's deputy director, chaired by Senator "Joementum" Lieberman (DINO-Connecticut), took 42 minutes (transcript).
posted by kirkaracha at 1:05 PM on September 9, 2005


Interesting point made elsewhere on the Internets:
"I believe there is a constitutional aspect of the Brown fiasco which has been overlooked, which is that the Senate's advise and consent faculty cannot operate when they are given false information about nominees.

I think this could rise to the level of an impeachable offense, IF there is a demonstrable pattern of the White House nominating people with false statements in their resumes.

...The Brown nomination, on top of the Kerik nomination, show that the White House either doesn't vet people thoroughly at ALL, or it colludes in lying to the Senate about nominees."
posted by ericb at 1:07 PM on September 9, 2005


Great comment y6y6y6.
posted by loquax at 1:07 PM on September 9, 2005


The congressman likened their stay to being at camp and asked, "Now tell me the truth boys, is this kind of fun?"

They nodded yes, but looked perplexed.


Even children know better than to fuck with the Hammer.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 1:12 PM on September 9, 2005


...most of the senior officials in the Department of Education are not farmers...

Well why the hell not?
posted by herostratus at 1:13 PM on September 9, 2005


Kid to Delay at Houston's Reliant Park shelter
"Hey, ugly fat fuck, shove it. My Mom drowned...I was without food and water for days. I was abandoned on the roof of our home for four days...and the Coast Guard wouldn't allow me to take my pet dog. Yeah - this is really fuckin' fun, you asshole!
posted by ericb at 1:14 PM on September 9, 2005


But wait. There's more!
http://thinkprogress.org/2005/09/06/fema-deputies
posted by Postroad at 1:15 PM on September 9, 2005


ereshkigal45: "managing violence"??!??!!!

Yes. It's considered the core competency of professional military personnel.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 1:15 PM on September 9, 2005


But wait. There's more!

I bet journalists are right now digging into the backgrounds of all of Brown's FEMA deputies.
posted by ericb at 1:17 PM on September 9, 2005


You know, i dislike Delay a great deal and welcome anything that exposes him as an ass. But really, he's making the 'isn't this kind of fun' comment to kids and not to a general audience of victims. I could imagine anyone in the situation, in any party, of any degree of compassion, thinking that maybe it's not so bad to try to ease the pain these kids must be under by helping them make a little bit of light of the situation. Even people embedded in tragedy do this so as not to be overwhelmed by the magnitude of what is happening. Parents do this with kids as well, to take some of the pressure off. I'm not saying it was effective; I'm just saying that it's something that more likely comes from concern (or appearance of such) than an attempt to universally belittle the magnitude of their situation.

There is plenty of legitimate stuff to criticize in how this disaster is being handled. Talk about Delay's record and how the current situation is affected by it. Talk about his real motives for visiting the shelter. But it rather drives me crazy when people, on my side of a view or not, latch on to something like this out of context to get play out of it, counting on some knee-jerk emotional anti-intellectualism.
posted by troybob at 1:20 PM on September 9, 2005


By the way, New Orleans is now confiscating guns whether stolen or not.

ericb, yep, that's pretty much what I was thinking. My idea of fun and DeLay's don't even occupy the same universe.
posted by fenriq at 1:21 PM on September 9, 2005


A new constitutional congress should be formed by the people to bring our government more in line with the realities of the 21st century.

And if this were the United States of New England, you could probably do interesting things like that. Because I just checked my TV Guide, and I don't see anything remotely like that on the horizon.
posted by nervousfritz at 1:23 PM on September 9, 2005


I [heart] Tom Delay.
posted by OmieWise at 1:25 PM on September 9, 2005


"I just checked my TV Guide, and I don't see anything remotely like that on the horizon."

Then we're still asleep on the couch. The TV remote has slipped out of our fat, limp grasp. And "Reality TV" plays on.
posted by y6y6y6 at 1:26 PM on September 9, 2005


Even people embedded in tragedy do this so as not to be overwhelmed by the magnitude of what is happening. arents do this with kids as well, to take some of the pressure off.

troybob, very charitable of you and all, but you do see the difference between a parent in the midst of the situation saying that to their own child and Tom Freaking Delay saying it to someone else's child, right?
posted by soyjoy at 1:29 PM on September 9, 2005


It's Raining Florence Henderson, tell it to Halliburton!

Oh, wait...
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 1:30 PM on September 9, 2005


From a CNN viewer's e-mail message:
FEMA = Failure to Effectively Manage Anything.
posted by ericb at 1:30 PM on September 9, 2005


The congressman likened their stay to being at camp and asked, 'Now tell me the truth boys, is this kind of fun?'

Dope! they're in a shelter - not making tents & forts with their bedding in their parents living rooms.

Plus don't most kids hate camp - guessing delay's brain was relaying:I was a loner at camp or cool no school.

three young boys resting on cots.
Though for a lot of boys being stuck in bed all day is teh worst.
The politicians at this time would be better off talking with their eyes for now, mouth shut and all ears.
...next I'll hear he's asking the boys, do you like movies about gladiators?
posted by thomcatspike at 1:31 PM on September 9, 2005


...and the Coast Guard wouldn't allow me to take my pet dog...

The Coast Guard took pets. Other rescuers did not.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 1:35 PM on September 9, 2005


Here is Brown on being fired! He doesn't know why!!
http://www.breitbart.com/news/2005/09/09/D8CGUQN88.html
posted by Postroad at 1:41 PM on September 9, 2005


i'm just saying--not to characterize delay's intentions in making this statement, whether they were good-hearted or revelatory of some deeper insensitivity--that i could imagine any well-meaning person who is compassionate toward children saying something like this with only the best intentions. just because people are predisposed (which could be argued is delay's own fault) to believe that he was being insensitive does not make it objectively true.

and really, this kind of thing is petty, rush-limbaugh territory and i think it undermines one's larger argument.
posted by troybob at 1:42 PM on September 9, 2005


From what I've heard, the Coast Guard are doing a tremendous job.

One CG rescuer spoke of a buddy who kicked in a window, cut his leg wide open, used the curtains to tie it off, and then proceeded to rescue those trapped inside.

He also mentioned rescuers coming back with black eyes after quelling scuffles among those they were trying to rescue.

I've got nothing but respect for those guys.
posted by lyam at 1:43 PM on September 9, 2005


Metafilter: petty, rush-limbaugh territory and i think it undermines one's larger argument.
posted by OmieWise at 1:44 PM on September 9, 2005


The poor districts are underwater, but the city's elite fared better. They got less flooding, many brought in private security, and some are living in their homes with supplies of food, water and generator fuel being brought in.
posted by caddis at 1:46 PM on September 9, 2005


think it undermines one's larger argument.
Yea, like this
DeLay then moved on, chatting with others, including a local IRS representative.
What the people haven't suffered enough than having the taxman involved.
posted by thomcatspike at 1:46 PM on September 9, 2005


Read all about it! White House thinking invaded by reality! Read all about it!
posted by clevershark at 1:47 PM on September 9, 2005


Brown is clearly just a scapegoat. They'd never appoint someone who was dishonest about his past accomplishments and a failure at virtually everything he's ever attempted to such an important position.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:52 PM on September 9, 2005


Brown pulled off important duties? It's a start. Now, let's move on to Condi, Rummy, Gonzalez, Chertoff, etc. etc.
posted by telstar at 2:01 PM on September 9, 2005


Hey ditto on the Coast Guard love. They are almost exclusively dedicated, responsible and hard working people who save lives and don't make a big fuss about it.
posted by Divine_Wino at 2:02 PM on September 9, 2005


y6y6y6 : A new constitutional congress should be formed by the people to bring our government more in line with the realities of the 21st century.

As much as I appreciate the sentiment, fucking with the constitution right now is a horrible idea. As polarized as the country is, and given the grip organization continues to hold on the populace, I don't at all trust those in power to produce a better constitution than the one we have right now.

The founding fathers had foresight like we'll never see again in politics in our lifetimes. The fact that the constitution didn't mention God bordered on heresy...and it still would. I can easily see the separation of church and state being demolished if those in power right now had an opportunity to craft a new Constitution. I can see Orrin Hatch, Tom DeLay, and George Bush rolling out of the capital building with a new Constitution in hand, saying "Yee-haw! Mandatory sunday school attendance is in Article 1, muthafuckas!"
posted by mullingitover at 2:05 PM on September 9, 2005


Hey ditto on the Coast Guard love. They are almost exclusively dedicated, responsible and hard working people who save lives and don't make a big fuss about it.

And the Coasties are incredibly hawt.

They are so gonna get laid after this is all over.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 2:06 PM on September 9, 2005


"...and also, we're gonna have a King! Jesus personally told us to add that part in there!"
posted by mullingitover at 2:07 PM on September 9, 2005


Esquire, I'm curious. Your user page says that you're an attorney in DC. Do you work for the administration?
posted by anapestic at 2:17 PM on September 9, 2005


Has this link been posted today? The NYTimes article describes the behind-the-scenes struggle within the Cabinet and Bush Admin regarding the politics of assisting.
posted by Miko at 2:35 PM on September 9, 2005


"I don't at all trust those in power to produce a better constitution than the one we have right now."

Which is why I said the "the people" over and over. Those in government should be excluded from the new constitutional congress. Beats me how we should go about that, but it seems like a good way to head off open revolt or violent revolution, which seems to be the direction we're moving in.

Polarization is increasing in this country. Opinions are less likely to be cause for discussion and more likely to be ideologies worth fighting for. As our government continues to fail us, our two party system makes things worse very quickly.
posted by y6y6y6 at 2:47 PM on September 9, 2005


Padding your resume to get a position you're unqualified for:
Wrong.

Padding your resume to get a position upon which people's very lives will depend, for which you're unqualified:
Fucking self-centred asshole

Having thousands die, partially as a result of resulting incompetence:
They relieved him of duty? That should only be the first step, and a long way from the last.
posted by -harlequin- at 2:55 PM on September 9, 2005


You forgot to add "Priceless."
posted by alumshubby at 3:04 PM on September 9, 2005


you do see the difference between a parent in the midst of the situation saying that to their own child and Tom Freaking Delay saying it to someone else's child, right?
posted by soyjoy at 4:29 PM EST on September 9

at a photo-op no less, sending the cheery message to all of America that the evacuees are fine! Really! They are having fun!!!

So back to Brownie.

How did he get the news? I would love to think he got a phone call from the President:

"But, but, Mr. President, just last week you told me-- you told everybody-- what a great job I'm doing."

"I know, Brownie. But Chaney hates being told to go fuck himself-- especially when the cameras are rolling and he has to pretend he doesn't care. So Dick complained to Karl and Karl told me you have to get out of the public eye for awhile.

"Listen, it won't be forever. Just come on home and then maybe take yourself a little vacation. You are a hard worker-- all my people are hard workers-- and it is time you had a little rest. Do a little fishing, maybe. Then when you come home there might some new disaster for you to take charge of."

"You are not firing me, right? Because I know what I'm doing now. You should see. I got the money, I got the men. Things are really cooking-- all the papers are saying so."

"Well, exactly. I can't fire you, Brownie. You're the most experienced person we've got at FEMA now. Just get away from all the publicity for awhile. That's all."
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:08 PM on September 9, 2005


Those in government should be excluded from the new constitutional congress. Beats me how we should go about that, but it seems like a good way to head off open revolt or violent revolution, which seems to be the direction we're moving in.
Stop payment on their paychecks...think they would work for free?
posted by thomcatspike at 3:11 PM on September 9, 2005


Here is Brown on being fired! He doesn't know why!!
http://www.breitbart.com/news/2005/09/09/D8CGUQN88.html

posted by Postroad at 1:41 PM PST on September 9 [!]
Of course he doesn't.
posted by mazola at 3:13 PM on September 9, 2005


I love that study, mazola, and I'd lost the links to it. Thanks for posting it.

Yep, it's just a case of "stupid is as stupid does." Says a great deal about why the world is the way it is.
posted by zoogleplex at 3:25 PM on September 9, 2005


I can't read these Katrina threads anymore. They make me shake with rage.

enuff said.
posted by Skygazer at 3:28 PM on September 9, 2005


I guess esquire has moved on to the Padilla thread. Hit-and-run, hit-and-run. Maybe he does work for the administration.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 3:30 PM on September 9, 2005


You know how if someone is just totally broken and laying on the floor hyperventilating a little bit with that clear snot all over their lip and they've just totally lost everything and their lives will be fucked up forever and they look up at you with big tear reddened eyes and just mouth 'help me', and you want to, but you also kind of also want to kick them in the face for being such a pathetic wimpy piece of shit?

That's why they hate America.


Divine_Wino: nice example of not being a full-blown troll who is useless and deserves full-on ignore. You are a real credit to this discussion.
posted by esquire at 3:35 PM on September 9, 2005


Optimus: well done. You are doing a fine job as cop of the universe. Now please stop bothering me, mm'kay?
posted by esquire at 3:37 PM on September 9, 2005



Before the official announcement that Vice Admiral Allen was taking over Katrina duties from Brown, he'd already been scheduled as a guest on Fox News Sunday.

posted by amberglow at 3:37 PM on September 9, 2005


Optimus: well done. You are doing a fine job as cop of the universe. Now please stop bothering me, mm'kay?
posted by esquire at 3:37 PM PST on September 9


You came in here and derailed the thread with unfounded, baseless bullshit. You were asked by several people to defend your position with actual data and thus far you have failed to do so in any way.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 3:43 PM on September 9, 2005


Divine_Wino: nice example of not being a full-blown troll who is useless and deserves full-on ignore. You are a real credit to this discussion.

Anybody want to start a telethon to buy this esquire sombrero del culo an economy sized clue?

A leader of an organization is responsible for what that organization does on his watch. That's waht being in charge means. What's so hard to understand?
posted by jonmc at 3:46 PM on September 9, 2005


as far as im concerned, having brown sent back to washington was a move meant to satisfy our society's thirst for revenge.

i suspect there is going to be blame for everyone involved once this terrible screw up is investigated thoroughly.

the media began reporting that brown had been removed...implying that he was fired as the director of fema.

its all in the way the media present the facts........which is why im so skeptical.
posted by msthinker at 3:56 PM on September 9, 2005


It's OK, Brownie is gonna be in charge of the Ophelia clean up and recovery effort.
posted by fixedgear at 3:57 PM on September 9, 2005


he'd already been scheduled as a guest on Fox News Sunday.
Coincidence?
With NO under water and the posibility areas of it may stay that way. Who would you want to communicate with for a well informed interview at this point? As many of the previous speakers, politicians, had no proper training here. Then if the same area stays under water into the future, it does seem the Coast Guard or auxiliary would be patrolling it as are most lakes.

Though knowing the magic of Hollywood - they already guessed that.
posted by thomcatspike at 3:59 PM on September 9, 2005


the media began reporting that brown had been removed
Before reading the headline in the news about that - I read Powell slams hurricane response.
That was my reasoning for Brown’s dismissal.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:04 PM on September 9, 2005


let's see if this guy actually knows how to do anything--i doubt it.

...
Leaders also prove their mettle by how they learn from mistakes. Apparently, all the hoohaa we've been listening to on a loop over the past five years about 9/11 changing everything was crap. ...
... officials realized that Hurricane Katrina had exposed a critical flaw in the national disaster response plans created after the Sept. 11 attacks. According to the administration's senior domestic security officials, the plan failed to recognize that local police, fire and medical personnel might be incapacitated.

The same people who never imagined that planes could fly into buildings apparently never imagined that a terrorist attack or natural disaster could incapacitate local first responders. Dear God. has there ever been a more incompetent administration?
I know it's not polite to bring this up, but the DHS has received $95.5 billion dollars over the last three years. I think we need to ask what they've been spending it on because I can't see any results.
It appears to me that the lesson that the Bush administration took from 9/11 was that we needed to prevent terrorists from ever hijacking airplanes and flying them into the world trade center again. I think we can feel confident that that will not happen again. After all, there is no world trade center to fly into.
Other than that, we are more vulnerable than we've ever been before to every other disaster scenario both manmade and natural --- they simply can't imagine them. This is the faith based, best case scenario, Peter Pan government. They literally believe that wishin' and a-hopin' is a plan. ...

posted by amberglow at 4:07 PM on September 9, 2005


...And the liability now should rest entirely with the White House. They were not tricked into hiring someone who lied about his qualifications. They made the appointment with a total lack of interest in any qualification other than loyalty, and as this article suggests, may have been complicit in the exaggeration. ...
posted by amberglow at 4:13 PM on September 9, 2005


let's see if this guy actually knows how to do anything--i doubt it.
I hope {fingers crossed} that being under the Navy and with the connection to the Marines. No person will be left behind...
posted by thomcatspike at 4:22 PM on September 9, 2005


Anybody want to start a telethon to buy this esquire sombrero del culo an economy sized clue?

Economy size? Institutional at the least, if not industrial size. Call Jerry Lewis, man! Quick!
posted by loquacious at 5:23 PM on September 9, 2005


I don't think even Jerry could help, el loquo. But I'm dead serious about this part of my comment: A leader of an organization is responsible for what that organization does on his watch. That's waht being in charge means..

All the bosses that I've had who I liked and respected most held that attitude, both with those under them and with themselves, and my jobs were of far less consequence than this guys. What's happened to that mode of thinking?
posted by jonmc at 7:52 PM on September 9, 2005


Can we assume that this decision to distribute funds to the evacuees through direct deposit set up online was one of Brown's last?
posted by dilettante at 7:57 PM on September 9, 2005


now that brown has been been removed, the media is in the process of investigating the next scapegoat, my bet is that it will be the gov......they will go easier on the mayor, hes someone average people can relate to, not the type of guy that people love to hate.

is this fair?
posted by msthinker at 8:17 PM on September 9, 2005


So Brown was given his job for cronyistic loyalty to Bush Inc., not because he was qualified in any way? Huh. This cronyism thing is starting to sound familiar. Maybe this problem is prevalent all over?

msthinker asks if scapegoating "top" politicians is fair. I'll answer that with a question: until the American people get up on their hind legs and throw the bums and their crony machines out, can we expect any better than an occasional scapegoat sacrifice? We might consider ourselves lucky they're not giving Brown a medal for this.

dilettante's comment is interesting. How many distraught and already-poor evacuees have memorized their checking account number and their bank's routing number, even if they did manage to salvage their legal IDs? How many poor people even have checking accounts? (Google's HTML rendition of that PDF here.)
posted by davy at 8:41 PM on September 9, 2005


he's not even a scapegoat--he still has his job. Bush has never ever fired anyone since he became Pres. (there'll be a resignation tho soon--"nanny problem" or "to spend more time with my family")
posted by amberglow at 8:45 PM on September 9, 2005


But look at that whole order. "...emergency protective measures, including direct Federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent Federal funding." That kinda sucks for FEMA, are they supposed to negotiate with local and state people for the other 25% while people are dying?

joecacti, that is the reimbursement formula being made available to the local governments by the feds, not FEMA, which has a normal agency budget provided by Congress. If the Parish President orders rock trucked in to close a levee, he knows that DC will pick up 3/4 of the tab. Actually, in the "major disaster" zone along the coast, the feds will pick up 100%; and businesses and individuals can also apply for relief. That's the difference between those two declarations.
posted by dhartung at 9:00 PM on September 9, 2005


Meanwhile...

Al 2008?
posted by soyjoy at 10:22 PM on September 9, 2005


I have outrage fatigue too bad to garner much more than a "Meh." anymore.
Even if Cheney bit the head off some Katrina survivor, I say it's about par for the course.
posted by Balisong at 10:33 PM on September 9, 2005


Are they still going to bronze him?
posted by homunculus at 10:37 PM on September 9, 2005


Late to the Party, but I have been thinking about this "scapegoat" label and am not so sure it fits. Why keep Brown on? Unless what Rove is looking for is a lightning rod. The temptation is so great to call for the incompetent's head, but we must stay focused on the top, on the people who hired the guy.
posted by pointilist at 11:06 PM on September 9, 2005


*snicker*
posted by Smedleyman at 12:05 AM on September 10, 2005


It's pretty clear that esquire is done with this thread, and that questions asked of him by me, anapestic, OmieWise, fenriq, and others will continue to go unanswered. This has happened in several threads over the last week. A few shitty drive-by comments that are - objectively, mind you - factually incorrect, and then off to hide somewhere.

Esquire, you are a coward, and you are intellectually dishonest. If you are Brown's best defender, then he is in deep, deep shit.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:26 AM on September 10, 2005


This has happened in several threads over the last week.

'Don't feed the trolls' usually doesn't take this long to learn, does it?
posted by troybob at 11:02 AM on September 10, 2005


oops, did i say that out loud

actually, that was a bit harsh...but you can see that the whole personal attack and response thing can really derail the larger conversation, and maybe the best thing to do with future equires is to ignore them, and they'll disappear when they don't get the attention they need...i get pulled into it as well, so i'm not one to talk or anything...
posted by troybob at 11:07 AM on September 10, 2005


Looks like we have another Medal of Freedom winner in Mr. Brown!
posted by nofundy at 3:33 PM on September 11, 2005


Breaking news: Embattled FEMA chief Michael Brown resigns.
posted by ericb at 11:59 AM on September 12, 2005


I hope the dead haunt him for the rest of his miserable life.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:07 PM on September 12, 2005


"Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Mike Brown said Monday he has resigned 'in the best interest of the agency and best interest of the president,' three days after losing his on-site command of the Hurricane Katrina relief effort.

'The focus has got to be on FEMA, what the people are trying to do down there,' Brown told The Associated Press"

So, Brownie, where ya' gonna go?

I'm going to Margaritaville!
posted by ericb at 12:11 PM on September 12, 2005


Petition to the Senate to legislate a 5-year moratorium on private consulting hires for senior-level officials employed by federal agencies (dailykos)
posted by amberglow at 6:07 AM on September 13, 2005


Interesting petition but the reference to FEMA makes it clear that this is nothing more than retaliation against Brownie and thereby seriously reduces its ability to effect any change in the Senate. It might make people feel good to sign it, but I doubt it will motivate the Senate to action in its present form.

The counter-argument to such a measure is that it would severely limit employment opportunities for people after their stint with the government is over and would thus dissuade the most qualified people from taking the jobs (and I am not talking about Brownie here). For instance lawyers whose practice it is to conduct business with an agency are often tapped for agency positions. They are frequently well suited to the task as they are familiar with the agency, how it operates, the political issues etc. Taking the the job is almost public service as it drastically cuts their pay. After they leave the agency the only job they are suitable for is essentially their old job conducting business with the agency. The proposed rule would eliminate that option. Who would take an agency position if it would leave them without a career when they left the agency?

There are already some laws in place to protect against conflict of interest. Enforcement could be better, and to enhance enforcement perhaps better disclosure rules would help.
posted by caddis at 7:11 AM on September 13, 2005


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