Editorial Roundup for Sunday – October 02, 2005

• Hurricane Katrina: Heckuva job II• Give a squid a break

Hurricane Katrina: Heckuva job II

St. Louis, Post-Dispatch, Tuesday, Oct.

Former FEMA director Michael D. Brown did as well Tuesday explaining his performance during Hurricane Katrina as he did during the hurricane itself. Fortunately, this time, no one died.

Mr. Brown, who resigned his FEMA post after being relieved of hurricane duty 10 days after Katrina struck on Aug. 29, testified for six hours before a House Select Committee. Alternately combative and defensive, he first tried sloughing off blame onto Louisiana officials, Gov. Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. His biggest mistake, he said, Òwas not recognizing that Louisiana was dysfunctional.Ó

When that didnÕt work, he acknowledged that well, sure, FEMA had had problems, but they were the fault of bureaucrats within the Department of Homeland Security, who slashed FEMAÕs budget and caused an exodus of experienced staff. He said he had Òpredicted privately for several years that we were going to reach this point,Ó adding, ÒI probably should have just resigned my post earlier and gone public with some of these things.Ó

Mr. Brown vigorously defended his own credentials, blaming the media for spreading false reports about his educational and work background. At times he sounded as if he were trolling for a job. He neednÕt worry, particularly given his belief in a limited role for government; in todayÕs Washington, people fail upward.

ÒI think itÕs wrong for the federal government to be in the ice business, providing ice so I can keep my beer and Diet Coke cool,Ó Mr. Brown told the committee.

ÒHow about the need to keep bodies from rotting in the sun?Ó shot back Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Mississippi.

Mr. Brown refused to identify who was responsible for FEMAÕs problems, nor did any of the committee members pursue that line of questioning. Mr. Brown was clearly the sacrificial goat staked out to keep the lions away from the people inside the village. ItÕs one thing for Republicans to roast ÒBrownie,Ó but quite another for them to roast the man who told him, ÒBrownie, youÕre doing a heck of a job.Ó

Give a squid a break

We suppose itÕs a giant leap for mankind that two Japanese researchers managed to take photographs of a giant squid in deep water off Japan. We like the fact that the researchers didnÕt use exotic equipment, just a cheap camera, a fishing boat and stink-bait on a jig, sort of like fishing for catfish in 600 fathoms. And if pressed, weÕll admit that the photos of Architeuthis dux whipping its 20-foot tentacles around trying to get off the jig are thrilling.

But still, canÕt a guy Ñ or a cephalopod Ñ get a little privacy? Bad enough that people climb Mount Everest with numbing regularity each spring, leaving used oxygen bottles, trash and the occasional corpse behind. Bad enough that you find Happy Meal wrappers in the middle of Yellowstone. But now even inky depths of the Pacific arenÕt safe from manÕs intrusive nose.

Our sympathies are with Architeuthis; next thing you know, Leno and Letterman will be calling. In the meantime, the squid should head for Loch Ness.


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