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September 18, 2005

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Well, (ABC with George S) Cokie Roberts was creeped out by the so-called 'stagecraft' and George Will by the so-called 'substance'. Sam Donaldson pointed out that stagecraft was the substance, and of course the Houston displaced people loved it. who wouldn't? whatever it takes, money is no object?

Donaldson pointed out yet again that had Bush not fucked up in the first few days, this speech doesn't get made.

And Brooks says it was 'masterful'? What an empty suit.

PS My favorite was when they mentioned that MoDo and Rich panned the spoeech (no surprise there, said conservative Cokie from N.O.). They didn't even bother mentioning what Brooks thought. How appropriate.

Fareed Zakaria just skewers Bush as the prime example of "Readers Who Will Not Choose." That about sums it up. Another money quote: "Today's Republicans believe in pork but they don't believe in government. So we have the largest government in history but one that is weak and dysfunctional." A devastating piece. Hat tip to Laura Rozen.

yo, Brooksie: here's a definition of masterful:

Thirty-five percent (35%) of Americans now say that President Bush has done a good or excellent job responding to Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. That's down from 39% before his speech from New Orleans.

The latest Rasmussen Reports survey shows that 41% give the President poor marks for handling the crisis, that's up 37% before the speech.

His piece ticked me off because it is just SO wrong.

So what's Brooks's take on Mr. Masterful's actual handling of leadership since the delay in Katrina's aftermath. Is it even slightly different than when he was on vacation? What, for example, is he doing to clean up these messes?:

FEMA's Woes Were Merely the Beginning

• Months ago, the Small Business Administration created a data processing system that was meant to revolutionize its delivery of disaster loans. But the system has stumbled badly because there haven't been enough new computers or staff trained to use them, and the central computers have been strained by the workload.

• Officials at the Department of Education are only now beginning to address questions over who will pay what costs for educating tens of thousands of schoolchildren displaced by Katrina. Meanwhile, school districts inundated with evacuees have had to open shuttered schools and order portable classrooms.

• Federal officials responsible for programs designed to help the poor are tangled in questions about rules that vary from state to state. Families that received welfare in Louisiana, for instance, may not be entitled to payments in Texas, where they have been resettled. And almost everywhere, funds for programs such as Head Start were stretched thin before Katrina hit.

• FEMA has continued to stumble, leaving tractor-trailers packed with ice and water intended for evacuees sitting out of position for days or sending them to places that had no need. And the agency's rushed efforts to deliver evacuee housing points up a lack of foresight and planning that could have long-term ramifications. ...

FEMA spokesman James McIntyre, speaking from Baton Rouge, La., said some firms had received $100-million contracts to prepare sites and housing for about 200,000 evacuees.

But Joshua Schwartz, a professor at George Washington University who specializes in government procurement, sees the rushed bidding process as yet another sign of disarray and a lack of preparation.

FEMA routinely negotiates contracts — set up in advance, usually under competitive bidding and designed to be activated when an emergency hits — for goods it knows will be needed in the wake of an emergency. These include water, ice, tarps and medical supplies. Schwartz said the fact that FEMA needed to rush contracts through for housing and site work suggested continued flat-footedness.

"I think a creative agency that was doing a good job would have had some arrangements in place, because we do have modular producers and we do have a mobile home industry," Schwartz said.

Yes, and a real leader would be doing something with those rolled-up sleeves beyond speeches designed to boost himself in the polls. Masterful? Ye gods, how the language has been debased.

I keep thinking back to this passage Pat Lang quoted a while back:

"FARS News Agency reported on September 6 that the Islamic Republic Guards Corps [IRGC] spokesman said: "When the White House is [too] miserable to deal with a natural disaster, how can it enter into military confrontation with a [powerful] country like the Islamic Republic of Iran that has the valuable experience of an eight-year sacred defence [Iran-Iraq war]?"

Mas'ud Jazayeri said: "Unlike the impression it gives, America's management and leadership power is like a balloon that can be deflated very easily." He said what happened during America's military actions against Afghanistan and Iraq confirmed his statement. He added: "The incompetence of America's self-made giant in Iraq shows the inefficiency of the US Defence and State
Departments and security apparatus more than the strength of the opposite side."

Asked whether America would take military action against Iran, the IRGC spokesman said: "A small mistake by America will turn each of its states into a crisis zone. Mismanagement and severe psychological problems that occurred during Hurricane Katrina openly explain that other countries have the power to turn different parts of America into war-hit zones at any point
of time. ...

"Insider information reveals a lack of coordination among military, security and political bodies of America. This information can help others deliver a blow against the US and cause many damages. Therefore, predictions of the collapse of America and its turning into a number of smaller states is
completely realistic and possible from practical and logical points of view.... Never forget one thing about that incident [September 11, 2001], and that is the fact that the US president and other official fleds and took a shelter.""

- FARS News Agency, Iran

This continued incompetence is costing lives and livelihoods. But it also totally undermines that goals that people like Brooks were trying to accomplish with their little Iraq invasion. Iraq was supposed to prove that we are all-powerful. But when we can't even get ice to people who need it, that myth crumbles.

Of course, Iraq didn't do any favors for our myth of omnipotence either...

btw, the Rasmussen poll shows more base defections (we've talkied about this the night of the speech).

The spending plan has not been well received by conservative voters--just 43% favor the huge federal commitment partisan while 37% are opposed. This is especially striking given how supportive the President's base has remained throughout his Administration.

The President's reconstruction plan is favored by 66% of liberal voters. Still, only 10% of liberals give the President a good or an excellent rating for handling the crisis.

The parallels between Iraq and NOLA are remarkable. Destruction, no plan for the aftermath, contracts to Halliburton...and praise from sycophantic conservative pundits David Brooks-who knew that the White House was embedding "intelligence" assets in the media?

Wish I could find the comments of NO residents who had lights go on near their stores thanks to the generators Bushco brought in for the speech. They were not amused when the lights went off after the President left. Rich had it right: Katrina pulled the White House curtain back to reveal a snake-oil salesman.

Read The New Orleans Times-Picayune.

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