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Thursday, December 01, 2005 

The Blame Game '92

If you missed FRONTLINE's documentary on Hurricane Katrina, "The Storm," I highly recommend watching it online. At least watch the segment on FEMA's rocky history. FEMA was created by Jimmy Carter in 1979. After a decade of no major natural disasters in the U.S., FEMA became a very low priority under Reagan and Bush, Sr. In fact, it became "a parking lot for political appointees." George H. W. Bush appointed Wallace Stickney, a man with no prior emergency management experience to head FEMA. Stickney got the job because he was John Sununu's next door neighbor. Then, in 1992, a category 5 hurricane hit Florida and FEMA fumbled the ball. It took five days for FEMA and the National Guard to arrive on the scene. Every excuse we heard from the Bush Administration after Katrina the previous Bush Administration invented. Bush pushed Stickney to the side and replaced him with Andrew Card, the secretary of Transportation. Card blamed local officials for not asking for help. And then there is the clip of clips, George H. W. Bush saying to the press, "I'm not going to participate in the Blame Game." Amazing!

"I'm not going to participate in the Blame Game." - George H.W. Bush

In 1994, Clinton expelled FEMA of its political appointees and staffed it with experienced state emergency management personnel. He tapped Arkansas's Emergency Management Director, James Lee Witt to head FEMA, the first director in FEMA's history with emergency management experience. Witt transformed the organization and developed a comprehensive plan to work with local communities called Project Impact that not only saved lives, but saved money. In fact, George W. Bush praised Witt and Project Impact during his 2000 campaign for President. As Governor, he worked with Witt and FEMA and saw first hand how well the organization worked. But, as President, Bush returned to the Reagan/Bush tradition of dumping buddies in FEMA. Even so, most of the Clinton-era FEMA was still functioning on 9/11 and FEMA's response was exemplary. After 9/11, Bush demoted FEMA to a subsection of Homeland Security, cut its funding and appointed an Arabian horse judge its Director. The rest is history repeating itself...

It all jusy makes me want to say UGGGGGGGGGGGH.

How articulate!

Your doin' a heckuva job, Stoney!

(I say that to everyone now because, sadly, it makes us laugh.)

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