by Ted on September 3, 2005

1. There are still incentives available for donors to hurricane charities. Eszter has given away all of her books, but requests for CDs have been entirely manageable, and I’m very happy to keep burning them. Jane Galt has kindly offered to send everyone who donates $100 a homemade pound cake. For $250, she’ll write a blog post about anything you like, besides her personal life.

2. Amanda at Pandagon has a Texas-specific list of ways that people can help. According to this news report, both the Astrodome and the Convention Center are accepting volunteers. I’m going to find out.

3. I don’t think that there’s anyone in America (besides, maybe, the President) who’s satisfied with FEMA head Michael Brown right now. His previous experience was as an estate planning lawyer. He’s a GOP activist with no previous qualifications in disaster management. His last private-sector job, before becoming the head of FEMA, was as the commissioner for the now-defunct International Arabian Horse Association, where he was asked to resign from his position. I believe that a diarist at the Daily Kos realized this first:

The man responsible for directing federal relief operations in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, sharpened his emergency management skills as the “Judges and Stewards Commissioner” for the International Arabian Horses Association… a position from which he was forced to resign in the face of mounting litigation and financial disarray.

And the Boston Herald is backing it up (via Josh Marshall):

Brown was forced out of the position after a spate of lawsuits over alleged supervision failures.

“He was asked to resign,” Bill Pennington, president of the IAHA at the time, confirmed last night.

Soon after, Brown was invited to join the administration by his old Oklahoma college roommate Joseph Allbaugh, the previous head of FEMA until he quit in 2003 to work for the president’s re-election campaign.

I don’t know what to say. TheAdministration had absolutely no business putting this man in this position. But I’m completely unable to understand why Brown accepted this responsibility.

4. A few heartbreaking, gut-punching links from Making LightJohn Scalzi’s Being Poor and Respectful of Otters’ Why The Aid Wasn’t There



JR 09.03.05 at 1:11 pm

I am waiting to find out what Brown was doing during the days before Katrina hit. On vacation? Sitting in terror-related meetings? Doing fund-raising?


John 09.03.05 at 2:47 pm

Why the surprise over Brown? Head of FEMA is (most of the time) a relatively low profile patronage appointment so, surprise surprise, it went to one of Bush’s bagmen. Isn’t that how the system works?


Ben P 09.03.05 at 4:21 pm

Maybe thats how it works in the Bush administration.

The previous head, I think his name was James Witt, was considered an expert and had done a very good job revamping the organization. Indeed, the Gov. of Lousiana just appointed Witt to head relief efforts – post Katrina, mind you – for the state.


Susan 09.03.05 at 5:44 pm

re: Brown, I’m hoping that one of the few bright spots is that we might eventually have a national discussion about cronyism and how giving pals high-level gov’t positions can be disasterous.


Robin Green 09.03.05 at 7:13 pm

Unfortunately, there is a fashionable dogma in certain quarters these days which states that you don’t need to know anything about engineering to manage engineers, you don’t need to know anything about medicine to manage hospitals – and you don’t need to know anything about anything to manage a national government’s emegency management infrastructure – you just need to be a “good leader”.

It may be near-impossible in general to prove that someone does not have the required “leadership qualities” for a job (which is an incredibly vague concept). It is likely to be far easier to prove that they did not have any experience of the work that the organisation is supposed to be doing.

In this case, however, I guess Brown is supremely inappropriate for the job in all respects – he lacks leadership abilities, he lacks experience, and he is presiding over shockingly cruel policies such as excluding the Red Cross from the city.


jet 09.03.05 at 8:06 pm

From listening to the police scanner for days, I think it is plainly obvious that communications was a disaster. At one point it took 45 minutes for a police call for assistance from taking fire to get back to the main FEMA et al channel. I have no idea what all went wrong, but I have a feeling a lot of dicks need to be fed to the fire.

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