The Gulf Coast may have turned the corner in its recovery efforts: Mike Brown has gone back to Washington. His onsite post will be assumed by a Coast Guard officer who has seen disasters other than his own performance up close before.
Brown said through a spokesman that he was planning to leave FEMA after the hurricane season, anyway. Did the Prince of Darkness think leaving Brown to serve his nefarious purposes at FEMA any longer would be too obvious? A few weeks ago, this blog commented on how the Nineties and the Aughts were beginning to resemble the Fifties and the Sixties, partly due to government’s inability to be trusted, or to do anything right. While not absolving state and local officials in New Orleans, Brown had become the face that represented the government’s lack of initiative, compassion, and having a clue. Whether Brown really had planned to leave, or if that’s a last-minute cover story, Friday’s move can only be viewed as holding the door open for him.
Brown’s accomplishments as FEMA Administrator were defined when he said he was unaware people were stranded in the Superdome and Convention Center. Camel drivers in East Al-Boumfukk, Libya, knew thousands of people were living under conditions so bad that Sudan was taking up a collection to help them. Even staunchly conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer suggested in Friday’s column that Brown should have hired a few twenty year-old interns to watch CNN and keep him posted on developments as they occurred.
It might have been a coincidence, but Brown’s reassignment came within a day of the Mexican Army entering the United States for the first time since 1846, bringing water treatment plants and mobile kitchens. Is that depressing to anyone else? No insult intended toward Mexico’s generous and humanitarian gesture, but don’t we have any of that stuff? How can any American government official look himself in the eye the next time he criticizes Mexicans for illegally crossing the border? “We saved your pale asses, gringo. Now you see why we going in through Arizona and California. New Orleans makes Tijuana look like Monte Carlo. We won’t even drink the water there. Gives us Napoleon’s Revenge.”
FEMA did their best to keep out the Mexicans, along with the Canadians, Swedes, Germans, and probably several other countries. The Swedes had a state of the art emergency communications system loaded up and ready to fly in; they were told to hold for over three days because FEMA wasn’t ready to receive it. Mike Brown doesn’t know thousands of people are dying in the Dome and the Convention Center, and we don’t need an emergency communications system.
Better aid has begun to flow in. Thanks again to the Mexicans, who used their years of experience to show the rest of the world how to evade American government officials trying to deny them access to this country. And before I get chastised for once again being too hard on France, let’s appreciate their contribution. An elite French commando team snuck into New Orleans late last week to share their centuries of experience in mass evacuations.
For those of you who consider me to be a persistent bleeding heart liberal pussy, here’s the link to Krauthammer’s excellent op-ed piece of September 9. I have little argument with anything in there.