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« Quotational Therapy: Part 41 -- Cindy Sheehan, On America. | WILLisms.com | Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 157 -- Hurricanes. »

Politicizing Hurricane Katrina.

Petty partisanship has always been part of American politics. Always.

And people are typically just plain wrong when they assert that the tone of our politics is at an "all time low."

Well, we're now seeing actual new lows from much of the left today. In our history, the opposition has typically dropped the day-to-day pettiness, for a little while, at least, in times of ongoing national crisis. No recriminations. No backbiting. No Monday morning quarterbacking. No crazy conspiracy theories.. For a few days, usually.

Just a few days of unity.

The blame game always comes from the fringe, but even the fringe usually keeps their yappers shut for a few days, or until a crisis situation is stabilized.

We're seeing new, coordinated lows from some prominent partisans on the left. And it makes me sick.

Ken McCracken has a great roundup of the insanity, and offers this graphic that sums up the situation perfectly:


Patrick Ruffini has another great roundup on the "Hurricane of Hatred," noting that the tackiness has emanated not from the fringe but from the Democratic National Committee itself.

And Art Chrenkoff adds more evidence of ridiculousness.

Hugh Hewitt, meanwhile, thinks this may be a "Paul Wellstone memorial/political pep rally" kind of moment. I concur that it should be, but something has changed for the worse since 2002 in our political climate. So Democrats likely won't pay a direct political price like they did in 2002.

It's just absurd, some of these theories. Much of the left is just throwing anything and everything, no matter how trashy or nonsensical or absurd, against Bush, and hoping something sticks.

At least former President Clinton is showing some class. Democrats today have a choice moving toward the next election(s). They can moderate (rhetorically, and image-wise, at least), emulating President Clinton's political strategy of the 1990s; or, they can go down the Howard Dean/Daily Kos/MoveOn.org route. It's their call, and it's not too late for them to turn back from this madness.

It's just so unfortunate for our nation that we have such a worthless and unloyal opposition. Sure, they've brought down Bush's poll numbers and blocked progress on certain issues, but Democrats are deluded if they think they will somehow benefit at the voting booth from this sort of tackiness.


This is the kind of trash I am talking about:


I received this cartoon via email yesterday from the Center For American Progress, which-- led by John Podesta and funded by George Soros-- has become sort of a "shadow DNC," raising gobs of unaccounted-for money through its 501(c)3 & 501(c)4 status, elbowing out Howard Dean to represent Democrats on programs like Meet The Press, waiting in the wings.

Posted by Will Franklin · 2 September 2005 11:11 AM


Somebody posted a comment on my blog about the "Bush underfunded the Corps of Engineers" thing and I was so shocked, I didn't respond.

For heaven's sake, can't they cool it for just a couple of days? It's sickening.

Posted by: Eric Lindholm at September 2, 2005 11:36 AM

It's truly amazing.

Posted by: Will Franklin at September 2, 2005 11:41 AM

Thanks Will. I think of this as my own 'quotational therapy'.

Posted by: Am I A Pundit Now? at September 2, 2005 02:48 PM

The Bush cuts won't even start for another year!...

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at September 2, 2005 03:47 PM

Prior to the creation of the new Department of Homeland Security, FEMA operated on what is referred to as "all hazards" planning. Once the DHS was created, FEMA was downgraded substantinally, and the all hazards concept was abandonded by a more partisan driven DHS focused on terrorism.

The slow response and lack of funding for FEMA is a direct result of President Bush's lame attempt to improve our response to terrorism. And the recent response from a downgraded and lower-prioritzed FEMA has caused many their lives.

In 2000, a PriceWaterhouseCooper report labeled FEMA "the most reinvented government agency" in US history. Under the leadership of then FEMA director James Lee Witt, the organization was transformed from an insurance-like agency to one that embraced the four phases of emergency management: mitigation, prepardness, response and recovery. It also created programs that demonstrated partnerships between businesses and governments to reduce the possibility of death and destruction during a disaster -- such as Project Impact -- one of the first programs cut by the new Bush Administration in early 2001.

Today FEMA is no longer the same agency. Swallowed up by the massive Department of Homeland Security, its personnel battle more law enforcement minded personnel focused solely on terrorism.

FEMA personnel, along with emergency managers around the country, first noticed something was wrong when President Bush made a political appointment for the director position shortly after being elected in 2000. President Bush appointed Joe Allbaugh, a prominent person who worked on his 2000 presidental campaign as the director of FEMA. Granted, Mr. Allbaugh had absoutely no experience in emergency management. None. Zip. Nada. This is exactly the type of political appointment that made FEMA such a poor organization before President Clinton tapped and emergency management professional [Mr. Witt] in 1993.

If you'll recall, before the Clinton Administration, FEMA never really headed up any relief efforts. Major disasters such as the San Francisco eartquake and hurricane Andrew were led by selected cabinet members -- themseleves with no background in emergency management.

So its no suprise that FEMA is being criticized for for its response. Its not the same FEMA you and I knew some five years ago. Its different. Sad, but true.

With all due respect Will, its President Bush who politicized FEMA and has attempted to replace it with the DHS. Again, an agency focused on terrorism, not all hazards -- its not the Department of All Hazards -- its a department in its infancy that is focused only on one type of threat.

The time to focus FEMA and the DHS towards all hazards planning is now. Yes, the possibility for another terrorist attack is imminent, so too is another hurricane, tornado, wildfire, earthquake or tsunami on American soil.

Posted by: Steven D. Rivas at September 2, 2005 07:32 PM

Moving FEMA towards a focus on terrorism is hardly 'politicizing' it - had Bush not moved toward greater responsiveness in meeting terrorist acts he would have been called derelict in duty.

We are only three days or so into the worst natural catastrophe this nation has ever faced.
I sincerely doubt that an emergency management plan or bureaucracy working at peak efficiency would have made one damn bit of difference now. It is far too premature to state already that FEMA has 'failed' or that Allbaugh is incompetent.

You are playing with politics here and not the facts, because the facts are simply not in yet.

Posted by: Am I A Pundit Now? at September 2, 2005 07:47 PM

On MSNBC, the reporter had some field worker from FEMA on the air for a report. The guy seemed to be emotionally and physically drained. The MSNBC reporter kept asking the FEMA guy questions aimed at placing the blame. "The news stations had pictures before FEMA did. Is FEMA really that unresponsive?" "Has the response been slower this time than in previous disasters?" "How would you categorize the magnitude of the problem? Catastrophic? Moderate?" "Who's to blame for the lack of responsiveness?" After a few minutes of this ambush, I couldn't take it anymore, and changed the channel. I would think that with the level of destruction there, it would be near impossible to communicate or coordinate anything.

Posted by: Mark Martin at September 2, 2005 08:27 PM

/05 3:05 P.M. - (AP) BATON ROUGE: The former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency joined the Louisiana government Saturday to help direct the recovery from Hurricane Katrina.

James Lee Witt, who ran FEMA from 1993 to 2001, said he will stay as long as he as needed.

"He will sit at the table for me, and he will be my voice at the table," Gov. Kathleen Blanco said.

Louisiana officials are getting stretched too thin and need help, she said. "I like to hire the smartest people in the country," she added.

Witt has more than 25 years of disaster management experience. He was appointed to head FEMA in 1993, after President Clinton took office. FEMA had been strongly criticized in 1992 for its slow response to Hurricanes Andrew and Hugo; after Witt took over, it won praise for its vigorous reaction to Midwest floods and the 1994 Northridge earthquake in Los Angeles.

Blanco said that when she told Mike Brown, FEMA's current head, that she hoped to hire him, "he said, `That is absolutely the right thing to do. He will make a huge difference."'

At the National Hurricane Conference in March, Witt said putting FEMA under the Homeland Security Department hurt its ability to deal with natural disasters.

Posted by: S. D. Rivas at September 3, 2005 03:55 PM


Working in Texas, Allbaugh helped shape the governor's office response to natural disasters such as tornados, floods and hurricanes.

"Texas is a training ground in disasters. You name it, we get it," Miller said.

Although not a requirement of his job, Allbaugh sometimes joined state emergency workers as they surveyed disaster damage. In 1998, he joined them in a helicopter flyover to view the wreckage from 1998 floods in the San Antonio area that killed 30 people.

"It was one of the worst floods we ever had," said Tom Millwee, state coordinator of Texas' Emergency Management Council.

"The thing I appreciated most was his very clear and concise guidance" in helping determine the use of state resources, such as deployment of National Guard troops and search and rescue teams, Millwee said.


Statement Of Joe M. Allbaugh, Director, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Before The Appropriations Subcommittee On VA-HUD And Independent Agencies, United States House Of Representatives, March 6, 2002

"Since 1992, in all manner of horrific natural disasters like the Northridge Earthquake and Hurricane Floyd and also in response to the Oklahoma City bombing and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the FRP has proven to be an effective and efficient framework for managing all phases of disasters and emergencies. The FRP is successful because it builds upon existing professional disciplines, expertise, delivery systems, and relationships among the participating agencies. FEMA has strong ties to the emergency management organizations - fire service, law enforcement and emergency medical communities - and we routinely plan, train, exercise, and operate together to remain prepared to respond and recover from all types of disasters.

As you are aware, FEMA's budget request is for appropriations totaling $6.44 billion. A significant increase from the 2002 budget, the bulk of this funding is requested to dramatically enhance the homeland security preparedness capabilities of our nation's first responders. In addition, this budget will fully fund FEMA's core operations for responding to disasters and continues to emphasize empowerment and personal responsibility as they pertain to disaster preparedness and mitigation.


Transfer of the Office for Domestic Preparedness to FEMA
Of the $3.5 billion funding request, $235 million represents the President's request that the Office for Domestic Preparedness (ODP) be transferred from the Department of Justice to FEMA. With this proposal the President has shown true leadership in his willingness to address a long-standing problem -- the need for central coordination among the myriad of Federal programs dealing with terrorism preparedness.


In the post-9/11 environment, we can ill afford to wage turf battles that in effect protect the inefficiencies of the status quo. We must instead focus on the merits of a proposal that seeks to address duplication, shore up gaps, eliminate confusion and reduce complication."

Posted by: Giacomo at September 5, 2005 07:48 AM