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Barry Crimmins

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political satirist Barry Crimmins

FEMA imposes strict media rationing Saturday, October 27, 2007

FEMA imposes strict media rationing

FEMA officials prepare to face media

What if they held a press conference and nobody came? FEMA answers the tough rhetorical question!

According to today's New York Times "The Federal Emergency Management Agency staged a fake news conference this week, with agency staff officials, pretending to be reporters, peppering one of their own bosses with decidedly friendly questions about the response to the California fires, the Department of Homeland Security acknowledged Friday."

That assessment is rather severe. Maybe FEMA was just cashing in on the popularity of fake news programs such as The Daily Show, The Colbert Report and Lou Dobbs Tonight and so it called a Tuesday press conference on such short notice to expressly preclude actual reporters from attending. Ever-prepared for contingencies, FEMA officials then served emergency duty as reporters and also helped relieve the public's hunger for fake news.

How'd they do? Well according to FEMA officials posing as public servants, quite well, thank you!

A senior FEMA official, posing as a media relations officer, said,"It was as if they anticipated every question we wanted to be asked and knew exactly what questions not to ask."
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Some concerns have been raised about how ethical it was for FEMA officials to pose as reporters. The agency responded with trademark vigilance and assigned FEMA officials to pose as independent investigators to take a fake objective look at the incident.

At a hastily called press conference to discuss the fake press conference, a FEMA official, posing as a FEMA official, was asked by a FEMA official who is also a veteran reporter impersonator, to assess the agency's performance in getting to the bottom of the matter. He responded candidly, "Thanks for asking! It's as if you're reading my mind. The agency performed flawlessly. We expect all involved to soon receive Presidential Medals of Freedom."

But another report surfaced saying that FEMA officials posing as independent investigators sharply rebuked FEMA officials posing as accountable public servants.

Fake presidential press secretary Dana Perino, posing as a human being, praised FEMA for its forthrightness in dealing with the affair. She also gave the agency high marks for its use of in-house personnel as reporters. "This choice, made under deadline pressure, saved the American taxpayers a lot of money. Here at the White House, we regularly use private contractors as fake reporters and I assure you, they don't come cheap!"

Perino went on to laud the agency for "... running a successful drill in preparation for the day, when for purposes of national security, all media coverage of government affairs will be handled by government officials. Let's not forget that FEMA is first and foremost part of the Department of Homeland Security."

***

In other news related to the California wildfires, the Times ran an analysis of Bush's attempt to revisit New Orleans by way of San Diego. Ill go to my grave insisting that if Katrina had hit Florida instead of Louisiana, with that particular mayor and that particular governor, the outcome would have been different, said Pete Wehner, a former domestic policy adviser to President Bush.

Yes seeing how Florida isn't surrounded by levees less structurally sound than the Bush-Cheney foreign policy, I imagine things would have gone a bit better.

That and the fact that  Louisiana residents unaffected by the hurricane probably had a harder time getting funds than Floridian non-victims who received $31 million of undeserved dispersals after Hurricane Frances, apparently as an advance reward for helping re"elect" W in 2004.

Still, this estimate represents daring conjecture. Guessing Republican President Bush would have done more to assist his own brother, Republican Governor Bush, than he did assisting Democratic Governor Blanco required the steely nerve a veteran Bush functionary.
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The Times piece continues: There have been unfair swipes taken at President Bush on this issue for two years, and remember that he is the one who stepped forward and said, Ill take responsibility, personal responsibility for the federal response,  Ms. Perino said Friday in an interview. But that does not let state and local responders off the hook for being responsible for their part as well.

Even though Bush took responsibility two years ago but it's now clear that he doesn't want to hog it so he's generously trying to pass it along to others. What a stand-up guy!

Two years of unfair swipes at a man about his responsibility for something  for which he took responsibility! Who could imagine a worse injustice!

Wasn't it enough for the people of New Orleans to suffer through Katrina? Must they also subjected to watching their president feel discomfort?

To summarize: Bush traveled to California to dump on Louisiana; FEMA officials burnt  $90 a barrel midnight oil to script and cast a press conference praising federal and local response in California; old Bush hands have, um, surfaced to revise the Katrina record and W sent out his press secretary to remind us he took responsibility for the federal response but then implied the bigger problem was the local and state response. And to think they say Bush isn't engaged!

But seriously...
Obviously state and local officials have culpability for their failures during Katrina. But then, they were literally in the middle of it. One can only wonder how Bush would have responded had the White House been under water during the storm and its aftermath -- I mean other than by ducking Cindy Sheehan, playing golf, ignoring the National Weather Service warnings and hanging out with B-list country singers.

There hasn't been as chickenshit a response to something since 1982 when Ronald Reagan held a press conference to take full responsibility for the terrorist massacre of American Marines in Lebanon, which he then blamed on "ground commanders."

But considering what Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush have done to the federal treasury, it would be a bit much to expect them to respect our currency enough to permit a buck to stop with them.

Finally, grim reports are trickling out of Southern California that migrant workers were left toiling in fields by ranch owners as the wildfires bore down on their properties. There were apparently no formal efforts to evacuate these human beings and there is fear that many more will be discovered as charred remains. So with all the talk of how there was no looting, how about some praise for the vilified 'illegal' aliens? They were abandoned to hellfire and damnation and still chose not to rob their persecutors. And you can bet when the wealthy look to rebuild their posh haciendas, they won't be asking for workers to identify themselves as people were asked to identify themselves at emergency shelters this week. The only reported case of theft came at Qualcomm Stadium, where five so-called 'illegals' and an American born child were arrested and deported for stealing from a mountain of food and clothing that was meant for displaced gringos and only displaced gringos. After all, who wants Starbucks after a Mexican has handled the beans?
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updated: 14 years ago