[Marxism] From last night's Keith Olbermann's "Countdown" on MSNBC

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Nov 4 07:52:48 MST 2005

OLBERMANN: Here`s a pop quiz specially designed by the COUNTDOWN 
psychological laboratories which will help you determine if you are 
government management material. It is a simple true-false. True or false: 
If you are the head of FEMA and your deputy e-mails you America`s 35th- 
largest city is drowning, your response should be: Thanks for update, 
anything specific I need to do or tweak? The correct answer, of course, is 

If you want to be in a management position in our government, that`s 
exactly how you should respond to such a dire message. Our third story on 
the COUNTDOWN, oh, and do something else that Mike Brown did. Leave the e- 
mail trail available where a disgruntled Louisiana congressman can get it 
and distribute all the e-mails to the world. Tweak this.

Twenty-five pages of e-mails covering topics from disaster to dog- sitting, 
and intriguing hints that he might have been planning to quit his job even 
before Katrina hit, before he headed up the appalling federal response to 
the worst natural disaster in recent American history. A nice irony, 
considering that he is currently, right at this moment, still on FEMA`s 
payroll. But back to his thoughts then. His priorities seemed pretty 
obvious even before Hurricane Katrina hit.

Friday, August 26th, Brown to FEMA press secretary Sharon Worthy: "Tie or 
not for tonight? Button-down blue shirt?" The following Monday, as 
Mississippi woke up to total devastation and New Orleans started to flood, 
Mr. Brown was once again obsessing about his fashion sense, sharing with 
FEMA deputy public affairs director Cindy Taylor that he got his outfit at 
Nordstrom`s and asking: "Are you proud of me? Can I quit now? Can I go home?"

Later that day he shared more of his news with Ms. Taylor: "If you look at 
my lovely FEMA attire, you`ll really vomit. I am a fashion god." That 
Wednesday, as hundreds of people, many of whom had stayed behind to look 
after their pets, were being rescued from rooftops, Mr. Brown was e- 
mailing either a James Tilly or Tilly James, we`re not sure which, asking 
if he or she knew of a good dog-sitter.

Later that same day, he got the e-mail that inspired the tweak quote. 
Regional FEMA director Marty Bahamonde wrote from the Superdome in New 
Orleans: "The situation is part critical. Thousands gathering in the 
streets with no food or water. We are out of food and running out of water 
at the dome." So Michael Brown wrote in reply: "Thanks for the update, 
anything specific I need to do or tweak?"

On Friday, as survivors were desperately trying to get help throughout New 
Orleans, Brown wrote to former chief of staff of border security for the 
Department of Homeland Security: "Last hurrah was supposed to have been 
Labor Day, I`m trapped now, please rescue me."

By the end of the week, he was no longer complaining about his job nor 
dispensing valuable fashion advice, he was receiving it. Press secretary 
Worthy asking him: "Please roll up the sleeves of your shirt, all shirts, 
even the president rolled his sleeves to just below the elbow. In this 
crisis and on TV, you just need to look more hard-working. Roll up the 
sleeves." Yes, what great advice for a federal official. Don`t actually 
work any harder, just make it look like you are. Your tax dollars in action.

Well, at least Brown is, if not out of the agency, out of power so FEMA can 
start fixing the problems and finding out what went wrong. Or maybe not. In 
response to various government investigations, FEMA has reveal the 
following. It cannot account for all the items it bought on a $12.1 million 
spending spree in the immediate aftermath of Katrina. It cannot answer 
questions about why clean-up contracts have been farmed up instead of given 
to local businesses. Nor why FEMA overpaid contractors for certain work, 
like the roofer who got $2,500-plus for a two-hour tarping job. Nor can it 
answer why thousands of Mississippi survivors are still living in tents 
with winter on the way.

And as to why the initial federal response was so shabby and disorganized, 
you may recall the president promising a month-and-a-half ago that his 
government would cooperate fully with the investigation, and yet his 
administration still has not provided the information requested weeks ago 
by the House Subcommittee on Government Reform, which is heading up the 
congressional investigation.

In fact, the White House has been so slow to respond, that the Republican 
chairman of the committee, Congressman Thomas Davis of Virginia, is now 
threatening to subpoena officials. The New York Times quotes Davis as 
saying: "We are not going to stonewalled here. I will continue to press the 
administration for full compliance with our requests as soon as possible.

But fortunately, everything was fixed in FEMA by the time Hurricane Wilma 
strafed Florida, other than the thousands still living in tents there or 
elsewhere without power. Apparently, as our correspondent Mark Potter 
reports, power in either of the electrical or the political sense of the 



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