Tuesday, October 30, 2007

FEMA... Fake Emergency Media Affairs

This isn't California.

This is Des Moines, Iowa yesterday.

As someone at the scene described the fiery mayhem, "from a distance, it appeared that a volcano had erupted...."

But it wasn't a volcano, it was a raging fire at Barton Solvents, Inc., and fortunately no one was injured. The fire was contained although for hours two Interstate highways were closed as exploding 55-gallon drums of chemicals were launched like missiles, and the black smoke from the billowing fire could be seen from 30 miles away.

Nothing could have brought home more forcefully to those of us far removed from California the devastating force and the sheer magnitude of their wildfires, which as of yesterday had destroyed more than 2,000 homes, killed 14 people and blackened 809 square miles from the Mexican border to Los Angeles. And, six fires are still not contained. Unimaginable.

In both fires, the firefighters performed heroically. And, when it comes to managing large fires, measures in California.... reverse 911 phone system and state and local coordination, communication and planning for fires.... are the Gold Standard. The White House declared a presidential emergency within minutes of receiving the paperwork from FEMA, thus releasing vital recovery funds.

Another thing the California fire brought home, is how the White House.... desperately looking for good news.... elbows their way into a success story.

Last Wednesday The Decider flew to California to take front-and-center bows.... declaring that the people of Southern California "can rest assured that the federal government will do everything we can to help put out these fires."

Actually, FEMA has a "limited role in responding to wildfires." (WaPo)

That's why the fake press conference by FEMA last week as a forum for tooting their tiny tinny horn is so out of place in the face of the professional and heroic performance of the California emergency responders.

This "press conference" was called to update the "media" on FEMA's response to the California wildfires.... but the people asking the softball questions of the deputy administrator were FEMA employees.

"Real reporters, who couldn't get to the news conference because it had been called 15 minutes before it started, telephoned in but were allowed only to listen. No questions." (WaPo)

Of course FEMA's deception was exposed, and there followed a lot of finger pointing, and reprimands are "very probable." Hopefully the media tracks this disgraceful charade down to its author.... but it won't be easy. In this administration the buck stops way down the line.

What is most troubling about this FEMA sham is the glimpse of how we, the hapless electorate consuming the "news," are being managed by the administration. Hopefully the media will take this as a wake-up call, and get behind every "official" story and press briefing issuing from the fetid breath of the White House propaganda machine.

How many more times will we be led down the path of, "Heck of a job, Brownie."

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