Democratic Underground

The Top 10 Conservative Idiots
(No. 213)

September 12, 2005
What didn't go right? Edition

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Clueless George wants to know "What didn't go right?" The list of screw-ups is too long to list in one place, but we've got ten of 'em right here. At the top of the list we've got George W. Bush (1) himself, who messed everything up, but somehow (as usual) doesn't seem to realize it. FEMA (2) and its director Michael Brown (3) are also here, as their incompetence equaled that of Dubya himself. Barbara Bush (4) said something royally stupid, and Dick Cheney (5) went mansion shopping. And once again, the "blame America first" crowd (10) turns out to be conservative. Enjoy (if you can) and don't forget the key!

1George W. Bush dumb covering your ass photo-opping screwing the poor screwing the poor
The last two weeks have been pretty rough on poor old Dubya. Apparently his mythical crisis-management skills, honed during the aftermath of 9/11, have turned out to be just a myth (see cartoon here), as he and his administration completely bungled the relief effort. But apparently no one told Bush, as this cringe-inducing discussion with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi illustrates:

Pelosi: Tells Bush to fire FEMA director Michael Brown

Bush: "Why would I do that?"

Pelosi: "Because of all that went wrong, of all that didn't go right last week."

Bush: "What didn't go right?"

Mind you, this is the President of the United States, who is supposed to be the most powerful man on earth, with access to the greatest intelligence-gathering infrastructure ever created -- but somehow he doesn't know what went wrong. If I were Nancy Pelosi, I would have punched Bush right in the smirk right there. (Which, incidentally, is pretty much what Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu threatened to do. Oh, man, I would pay good money to see that.) Of course, it was obvious to everyone who wasn't the President of the United States that damn near everything didn't go right. All I can figure is that Bush's advisors have been so successful in keeping him in his hermetically sealed cocoon that he actually isn't aware of the massive human tragedy. Or else he doesn't give a shit, which is also possible. All he knows is that everything went swell when they had 50 firefighters flown in from Atlanta for that presidential photo op. And the other photo op with the two black ladies was great too, except for that whole having to interact with black people part. And he really showed a lot of compassion when he learned that his friend Trent Lott had lost his house in the storm. Said Bush: "Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house ... there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch."

2FEMA lazy covering your ass screwing the poor screwing the poor
Speaking of "what didn't go right," how about: Every goddamned thing that FEMA tried to do for the last two weeks. No doubt The Buck stops with George W. Bush, but the bureaucratic Keystone Kops who have been stopping, passing, and fucking up The Buck for the last two weeks were FEMA. To give you an idea of how badly they screwed this up, here is a just a small sampling of the utterly moronic choices made by FEMA during the last two weeks, courtesy of DUer peabody71:

FEMA won't accept Amtrak's help in evacuations
FEMA turns away experienced firefighters
FEMA turns back Wal-Mart supply trucks
FEMA prevents Coast Guard from delivering diesel fuel
FEMA won't let Red Cross deliver food
FEMA bars morticians from entering New Orleans
FEMA blocks 500-boat citizen flotilla from delivering aid
FEMA fails to utilize Navy ship with 600-bed hospital on board
FEMA to Chicago: Send just one truck
FEMA turns away generators
FEMA: "First Responders Urged Not To Respond"

(That last one is a direct quote from the FEMA website.)

Now mind you, that is a list of examples where FEMA was faced with a clear choice, and made a conscious decision about how to respond. So, for example, the Red Cross comes to FEMA and says, "Hey, FEMA, we would like to deliver some food," and FEMA responds, "Please don't deliver food, thanks." And the Red Cross is like, "But people are starving." And FEMA is like, "Whatever, dude. I'm the boss here, and I say no food." And the Red Cross is like, "What the hell is wrong with you people?" But the list doesn't include stuff like how they just kinda sat there doing nothing for a few days while people were dying in New Orleans, apparently because ... um ... I don't know ... maybe they just forgot. "Hey, FEMA. We've got a situation in New Orleans. Maybe you should go check it out." FEMA looks up from its desk and scratches its ass and yawns and says, "Yeah, I'll get right on that in a sec," and then returns to playing solitaire and on its computer (because it's too fucking stupid to figure out how to play Minesweeper). And when FEMA finally looks up from its three-day solitaire-fueled stupor, it's like, "Oh, shit! I forgot all about that New Orleans thing!" and it starts frantically running around its office shuffling papers and trying to remember what it was supposed to be doing. And thousands of people are already dead.

3Michael Brown dumb
But what are we supposed to expect when Bush used FEMA as a way to hand out political patronage to his cronies? According to the New York Daily News, practically all of the political appointees in FEMA are Bush buddies with no experience handling disasters. Deputy director and chief of staff Patrick Rhode worked on the Bush-Cheney campaign. Deputy chief of staff Scott Morris was a public relations guy. But the most impressive resume (at least, the part that doesn't include false information) belongs to FEMA director Michael Brown, who was the commissioner of judges and stewards for the International Arabian Horse Association, which is well known for its depth of experience managing emergencies involving, um, Arabian horses. Like, for example, when a rider gets thrown out of his saddle. Or when a horseshoe falls off. Or when you're taking one of those horse-and-carriage rides in Central Park and the horse takes a dump right in the beginning of the trip and it stinks up the entire experience and maybe even ruins your entire vacation to New York City. Except Mr. Brown did such a shite job in that position that he was fired. I don't know about you, but I've been fired from a job before in my life. Let's just say that nobody swooped in and offered me a position like Director of FEMA. I was more like Director of Sitting at Home Watching Reruns of Jerry Springer and Eating Doritos. But I digress. Apparently in the current atmosphere where national security is the number one priority, it never crossed anyone's mind that perhaps the Federal Emergency Management Agency might be important. (Go figure.) So we get a washed-up horse-show reject in a position of vital national importance. And even after the guy has fucked up New Orleans so bad that even the media starts to notice, the President of the United States says, "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job!" It took nearly two weeks and thousands dead before someone in charge finally sent this moran packing back to Washington DC.

4Barbara Bush dumb dumb dumb
During a crisis when virtually every public statement coming from everyone associated with the current presidential administration was idiotic, out-of-touch, and insensitive, it seems pointless to even try to select one quote as the most idiotic, the most out-of-touch, and the most insensitive. But Barbara Bush, mother of the current president, has made it easy. During an interview last week, she said something that pretty well epitomized the insulated, self-absorbed worldview of everyone involved in this administration. Speaking of the Hurricane survivors in Houston, the Bush family Battle Axe said this:

"What I'm hearing which is sort of scary is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this--this (she chuckles slightly) is working very well for them."

Gee, Mrs. Bush, it does seem to be working out very well for them. I daresay that the people in the Astrodome got a really sweet deal. A massive hurricane leveled their hometown, destroyed their homes, cars, and property, caused them to lose their jobs, left them without food and water for days, and maybe even killed some of their family members. In exchange, they get a fun-filled open-ended field trip to one of America's favorite sports venues (considered by some to be the Eighth Wonder of the World with a new Monsanto "Magic Carpet" system instead of Astroturf, two Diamond Vision screens, a large matrix board, two auxiliary matrix boards and a game-in-progress board!) It's even better than a mansion in Kennebunkport!

5Dick Cheney greed
From the Compassionate Conservatism file: While tens of thousands of Hurricane survivors were left homeless and hungry (that is, if they were lucky enough to not be dead), Vice President Dick Cheney decided it was a great time to go mansion shopping. You heard me right: mansion shopping. These assholes aren't even trying to look like they care anymore. According to the Washington Post, Dick Cheney was checking out real estate in St. Michaels, a tiny resort town on the Maryland's Eastern Shore. Apparently "Cheney's house," which is listed at $2.9 million, "backs up in spectacular fashion to an inlet of the Chesapeake Bay." How charming. But I suppose it is possible that I am being too hard on the Vice President. Given the timing of the purchase, I think there may be something else going on here. Maybe Vice President and Mrs. Cheney were so distressed by the stories of displaced families from New Orleans that they are buying the property in order to use it for emergency housing for hurricane survivors. Yeah, that's the ticket.

By the way, Crooks and Liars has video of someone telling the Vice President to go fuck himself.

6Michael Holdener dumb
On August 30, Lt. David Shand and Lt. Matt Udkow, two helicopter pilots from Pensacola Naval Air Station, were sent on a mission to deliver food, water and other supplies to Stennis Space Center, near the Mississippi coast. After finishing the mission, the pilots picked up a Coast Guard transmission calling for helicopters to help with rescue operations in New Orleans. Unable to get permission from Pensacola because they were out of radio range, the two pilots -- trained in search-and-rescue -- had to make a life-or-death decision. They chose to respond to the call for help. This is just one story of courage and heroism which came out of a terrible tragedy. Thanks to the efforts of Lieutenants Shand and Udkow, 110 people were saved. Upon their return to Pensacola, the two pilots were greeted as heroes and given medals and immediate promotions. No, wait a second. That's not what happened at all. Upon their return to Pensacola, the two American heroes were reprimanded by Commander Michael Holdener, who said their rescue efforts were a diversion. For his efforts, Lieutenant Udkow was removed from flying rotation and assigned to overseeing dog kennels instead. There is something seriously wrong with this country if a genuine hero who saved a hundred people is stuck watching dog kennels, while all the fools at FEMA and the White House whose incompetence cost the lives of thousands will likely escape any kind of accountability whatsoever. Disgraceful.

7 Tom DeLay hypocrisy partisanship
Believe it or not, there has been some news that is totally unrelated to Hurricane Katrina. Long-time Top 10 favorite Tom DeLay was once again in hot water. Last week a grand jury indicted Texans for a Republican Majority, a political action committee founded by Tom DeLay, on charges of accepting illegal corporate money. Three of DeLay's political buddies had been previously indicted on related charges of money laundering, unlawful acceptance of corporate political contributions, and making corporate donations. According to the Associated Press, the Texas Association of Business was also charged in a scheme to funnel "massive amounts of secret corporate wealth" into Texas campaigns. Somehow The Hammer avoided indictment himself, although a complaint was filed with the House Ethics Committee last year. Unsurprisingly, the committee has so far neglected to take any disciplinary action against DeLay. It's yet another example of the Party of Personal Responsibility failing to hold any of its own members responsible.

Oh, and while we're on the subject of Tom DeLay, don't miss this quote. Speaking to a group of young hurricane survivors in Houston, DeLay compared their situation to being at camp, and asked, "Now tell me the truth boys, is this kind of fun?" Yeah, Tom, it's a real blast.

8Dick Morris excessive spin excessive spin
While 9/11 was perhaps the worst thing to happen to the American people in decades, it was undoubtedly the best thing that ever happened to George W. Bush. In the years since that terrible tragedy, when the rest of America was in shock, Bush was cynically mining a rich political vein by robotically repeating "9/11 ... bring it on ... 9/11 ... war on terror ... 9/11 ... dead or alive ... 9/11 ..." over and over again, thus diverting attention from his utter failure as president long enough to steal another four years in the oval office. With his second term off to a rocky start, it looks like Bush needed another September Miracle to get his presidency back on track, and Dick Morris is here to show the way. Once again, Bush is poised to turn our suffering into political gold. Says Morris: "A disaster like Katrina is just what a president needs to anchor his second term and give him relevance and popularity far into his tenure." Apparently in Dick Morris's bizarro world, having bad shit happen to the country is the best thing that could possibly happen to a president. So far in the aftermath of the Hurricane, Dick Morris doesn't seem to be right, as Bush's approval ratings have sunk to an all time low. But if 9/11 is any indication, Bush might still be able to turn this to his advantage. Which would just go to show how messed up our country is right now. Consider the following: Thousands of Americans die because of your incompetence (twice) -- you're relevant and popular. Eight years of peace and prosperity -- you get impeached.

9Rush Limbaugh racism racism
It has been suggested that the lack of urgency and/or compassion from conservatives in the wake of Katrina might have something to do with the fact that most of the victims were black. (I know, I know. You're shocked that anyone would even suggest such a thing. Conservatives? Racist? No way!) Just in case there is any question here, Rush Limbaugh has provided some damning evidence while talking about New Orleans on his show. Courtesy of Crooks and Liars, here is a brief mp3 of Rush Limbaugh mispronouncing the name of New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin:

Click to hear Rush Limbaugh show his true colors. (mp3)

You heard it right, he said "Mayor Nayger." Freudian slip or intentional smear? You be the judge. Either way, he's a flaming racist asshole.

10Kooks who Blame America for Katrina religious nut religious nut religious nut
Why is it that conservatives (and certain unnamed Democrats) seem to get off claiming that it's liberals who "blame America" when bad things happen, even though it is almost always their fellow conservatives who are pointing the finger after a national tragedy? If you remember, four years ago uber-kook Pat Robertson blamed "the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians, ... the ACLU, People For the American Way -- all of them who have tried to secularize America" for helping to cause 9/11. In the wake of Katrina, the second massive national tragedy of the Bush Administration, once again conservatives are pointing the finger of blame squarely at their fellow Americans. Michael Marcavage of Philadelphia blames The Gays (there's a surprise), because there was supposed to be a gay pride parade in New Orleans around the time of the Hurricane. Steve Lefemine, an anti-abortion activist from Columbia, South Carolina, has a different idea. He insists that "God judged New Orleans for the sin of shedding innocent blood through abortion." How does he know? It's simple, really. He was looking at a weather map, and in the swirling vortex of Katrina he saw some clouds that looked like a fetus. Realizing that he had discovered the secret key for reading the Will of God, Mr. Lefemine looked deeper into the swirl of clouds and declared that responsibility for Katrina also lay with "Snail shells, the Whirlpool dishwasher company, and some Cinnabons - the kind with the white frosting, not the kind with the nuts on top." But American religious kooks weren't the only people claiming that the Hurricane was some sort of divine retribution. According to Muhammad Yousef Mlaifi, a Kuwaiti official (yes, the same Kuwait whose ass we saved in the early 90s): "The Terrorist Katrina is One of the Soldiers of Allah ... It is almost certain that this is a wind of torment and evil that Allah has sent to this American empire." Sounds like some religious extremists here in America have a lot in common with the religious extremists we're supposed to be fighting against. See you next week!


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