Saturday, February 11, 2006

Are Dems saying 'Heck of a job, Brownie?'


Joshua Michah Marshall at Talking Points Memo:

If you aren't watching the Michael Brown senate hearings, you just missed a real treat. Sen. Norm Coleman (R), doofus senator from Minnesota, just managed to get his butt kicked by disgraced former FEMA Director Michael Brown.


Coleman tried the standard hearings grandstanding against a disgraced or weakened witness -- a tactic pretty much written into the DNA of every senator and rep. But Brown managed to get in Coleman's face and turn the tables on him.

Crooks and Liars has a video of the exchange and John Amato says "Josh sums it up about right."

(I'd suggest watching that video first before continuing downward...because I'm not up to making a transcript of the exchange)

I guess I didn't get the memo from the DNC (or DLC or NDN or KOS) which must be saying that Brownie did a "heck of a job" during Hurricane Katrina despite being scapegoated.

From Former FEMA chief hits back by Star Tribune's Rob Hotakainen:

In an unusual twist, Democrats - including New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg and Minnesota Sen. Mark Dayton - came to Brown's defense, calling him a scapegoat for the administration.

Scapegoat or not, Michael D. Brown was completely unqualified for his position, and was halfway out the door when Katrina happened (just after the hurricane hit, Brown emailed the deputy director of public affairs for FEMA, "Can I quit now? Can I come home?").

I don't care how much of a wingnut Senator Coleman is. He's completely right in attacking Brown for his pass-the-buck defense and bullshit apologies.

Coleman wanted to know why the thousands of people holed up in the Convention Center went without food and water for days, and Brown responded that he told his "operations person on the ground" to take care of it as soon as he found out, but refused to explain why he didn't follow-up to make sure the people ever got fed.

Brown claimed he gave the order on Wednesday, August 31, 2005.

Here's Brown interviewed by Ted Koppel the following day:

BROWN: Ted, you know, with all due respect to him, we have convoys, we're feeding people. The people in the convention center are being fed, the people on the bridges are being provided with water...

KOPPEL: With all due respect, sir, the people, the people in the convention center are not being fed. Our reporters ...

BROWN: I misspoke, the people in the, the people in the Superdome. I'm sorry, you're absolutely correct. We're getting the supplies to the convention center now. But the people in the Superdome have been being fed, that supply chain has been working, and that has been moving along and those evacuations have been continuous.

As you may remember, Brown tried to lie to Koppel, at first, but then backtracked. The people weren't being fed.

Brown was also interviewed on CNN that same day and said something slightly different:

Federal Emergency Management Director Michael Brown told CNN that federal officials were unaware of the crowds at the convention center until Thursday, despite the fact that city officials had been telling people for days to gather there.

"We just learned about that today, and so I have directed that we have all available resources to get to that convention center to make sure that they have the food and water, the medical care that they need," he said.

A memo taken by a Republican staffer before Brown testified before a House committee a few weeks later is also revealing:

Brown defended himself against charges that he learned from television that thousands of refugees gathered at the New Orleans convention center, where adequate food, water and other supplies were lacking and there was rampant violence.

He said that because the convention center was not a planned evacuation site, "there is no reason FEMA would have known about it beforehand," according to the memo.

This is from an article by the Times-Picayune published on Wednesday night, August 31:

New evacuees were being dropped off after being pulled from inundated eastern New Orleans and Carrollton, pooling with those who arrived on foot. Some had been at the convention center since Tuesday morning but had received no food, water or instructions. They waited both inside and outside the cavernous building.

In October, Brown told Frontline that he "mispoke":

Frontline: On Thursday, [NBC anchor] Brian Williams asks you why you're not air-dropping food and water into the Convention Center, and you say: "Brian, it's an absolutely fair question. The federal government just learned about those people today." Now, you essentially said that you had misspoken.

Brown: Right.

Frontline: But you said it again to [ABC's] Ted Koppel the same day.

Brown: And I'll take you one further. I think I actually said it to [CNN's] Soledad O'Brien, too.

Frontline: So you said it three times.

Brown: I said it three times.

Frontline: How do you misspeak three times? I don't understand.

Brown: I'm not going to make excuses for it. The facts are that we learned on Wednesday around 12:00, 12:20 in an e-mail that I received from one of my people on the ground that the spontaneous evacuation had occurred. People were now flooding into the Convention Center.

And I'm not trying to make excuses here. But you get into this cycle -- you're being asked questions. And what people don't see behind the scenes is that I'm still running a disaster. And after an [interview] take finishes, I don't sit and say: "How did I do? Did I answer it right?" I'm either signing a document, giving someone an assignment, making something happen, working on about 12 hours of sleep. And I simply misspoke three times.

And when I go back and look at those, I understand why people can now look at that tape and say: "Brown's saying he just learned about that? He really must be an idiot." I simply misspoke. I knew about it 24 hours before, and I should have said, "We just learned about it 24 hours ago, Brian."

Frontline: I just don't understand how you would misspeak three times about that situation.

Brown: Well, I'll tell what we'll do. Next time there's a really big disaster, we'll put you in charge of it. We'll not give you any sleep, and we'll put you on this side of the camera. And we'll pepper you with questions for a couple hours at a time and see how tired you are.

Perhaps Joshua Michah Marshall believes Michael Brown kicked butt on Frontline, too, because his "big moment" in the Coleman exchange was when he attacked the Senator for being an arm-chair critic in the same martyr-man manner.

(To be fair, I'm not sure if Senator Coleman was correct when he claimed that Brown's official order to send food and water to the Convention Center waited until Friday, but "under oath" or not I wouldn't believe a fucking thing that Brown says in his defense, also, Michael Chertoff, director of Homeland Security, has also done his share of lying/misspeaking with respect to the Convention Center.)

As investigative journalist Russ Baker put it in an email sent to promote a comprehensive article about Brown and his predecessor, Joe Allbaugh, "Why did senators at today’s hearing not ask Michael Brown how he had come to be FEMA director in the first place?"

Squirrel away a few hours this weekend to read Baker's incredible article, Unholy Trinity: Katrina, Allbaugh and Brown, at his Real News Project Website.

Baker's an old school type of journalist. He digs and digs and digs, and then digs some more. I've worked with Baker on a few things and it just astonishes me how much legwork he does for his articles...especially the countless interviews he conducts with players, sidekicks, and anyone else that might add to the story. And...jeez...does he have a gift when it comes to getting people to open up.

Baker cares about the truth, and though I've disagreed with the conclusions in some of the articles he's written - particularly the ones on 2004 election results in Ohio - I admire his willingness to rake the muck where ever it lies, rather than practice the kind of bullshit punditry practiced by most liberal A-list bloggers who view everything with a partisan perspective.

Brown says a few things sort-of against Bush and suddenly he's the man.

No matter what, Republicans that currently hold office can never, never, never be complimented or considered because they have to remain the "enemy."

And liberal Democrats like me who admire many things about...say...Senator John McCain are considered right wing tools by the liberal A-list bloggers even though nearly every fucking one of them is to the right of me on pretty much every social, economic or strictly political issue.

It didn't used to be like this.

Liberals used to be able to think for themselves and agree to disagree at times.

But now anyone - journalist, blogger or blog reader - that dares to call out the almighty circle jerk A-list bloggers, some of whom are tied to centrist Democrats and the usual suspect politicial consultants, as they emulate far right wingnuts and stifle the true lefty voices in the blogosphere, is attacked, ridiculed or just plain ignored.


I ain't ever gonna shut up about it...even though my words - ever since the blogosphere deserted the black voters of Ohio in November of 2004 - have done little but cripple my hit counts and ruin my chances of getting the golden links at A-list blogs that some of my finest work most definitely deserved.

Although I'm thrilled to be employed at Raw Story, it's really upsetting that the better I get at investigative blogging and journalism, the more my readership at this blog drops.

While I have no idea how many people read me on RSS feeds...most weeks I get less than a 1,000 hits here.

Is there really no audience for good, old-fashioned journalism?

Why does everyone in the blogosphere seem to be strictly partisan?

Although I always write with a liberal perspective, I'm not blogging and reporting just to help the Democrats win elections.

Heck...much as I admire's not like America was paradise when the Democrats were in power.

I appreciate all the love and links I get from my closest blog buddies...but I must be the only blogger around whose hits have decreased even as their stature has risen.

Nearly every fucking day...this blog contains stuff that people won't be able to find anywhere else...but since I dig dirt on all sides I guess that means there's hardly anyone that wants to read me.

(whelp...for whatever reason if you're might want to copy-and-save these last several paragraphs because when I wake up tomorrow - in hopefully better spirits - I might just end up deleting them).


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