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THE WHITE HOUSE
In This Installment (09.05.2005):
MICHAEL D. BROWN: DIRECTOR OF FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY (FEMA)
Nominated by George W. Bush as the first Under Secretary of Emergency Preparedness and Response in January 2003, Michael D. Brown wields precisely the kind of distinguished campaign donation history and golf handicap that every President dreams of in a crackerjack disaster expert. As a longtime estates attorney for affluent suburbanites, Mr. Brown brings unparalleled expertise in the drafting of incontestable last wills and testaments. Furthermore, during his nine-year tenure at the International Arabian Horse Association, Under Secretary Brown strived tirelessly to occasionally nod or smile at minority stable cleaners, thereby accumulating a stunning degree of empathy for the challenges facing the downwardly immobile lazy folk who are most likely to bear the brunt of a major urban catastrophe. Under Secretary Brown is pleased to take YOUR questions about his ultra-competent and lightning-fast response to Hurricane Katrina – right here on ASK THE WHITE HOUSE!

Jean-Luc Thibodeaux, from The former city of New Orleans writes:
Many studies had made it clear that the levees in New Orleans will fail for a category 4 or 5 hurricane. Knowing this beforehand, why was no preparation done for a full evacuation of the city or mobilizing the National Guard in anticipation of relief efforts during the couple of days before Katrina hit?

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Michael D. Brown:
Hello there, John-Luke! You know it's really fabulous to be chatting with you here today! I've been so tied up giving non-stop interviews to TV and radio and newspaper people all week, it's great to finally get a chance to sit down at a computer and get all wrapped up in yet another thing that doesn't involve having to actually accomplish anything!

Now about that tornado preparation stuff – listen, if my bosses listened to every so-called "study" that serves up irrefutable evidence of looming disasters, they might actually have to spend money on America's crumbling infrastructure instead of furthering the vastly more important agenda of "giant oil profits and less taxes for us white guys."

As for the levees, I know things have gotten a wee bit moist down there this week, but rest semi-assured that decades from now, you colorful people might once again be tooting your horns and singing your jazzity-jazz songs in the streets. Why, maybe even some by my favorite jazz player: Don McLean.

"Sing it bye and bye, Miss America's Pie... Drove her Chevy to the levee and her Chevy was dry!"

And boy won't you crawdad munchers be happy then!


Omar W. Sickler, from Alloway, NJ writes:
Why did the Mayor of New Orleans not evacuate all hospitals, old folks homes and any other place with helpless people? Is this not a criminal act? He himself left the city!!!

Michael D. Brown:
Thank you for your EXCELLENT question, Omar. God – it's so good to know that there are intellectually curious people like you out there, people who take the time to really think through an issue and come up with their own 100% original insights – whether or not they just coincidentally happen to be exactly the same as the FoxNews.com question of the day.

Obviously, I couldn't agree more that Mayor Nagin has a hell of a lot of nerve for expecting help after the only thing he could be bothered to do was issue an emergency mandatory evacuation and set up two of the largest urban emergency shelters in US History! I mean, just because someone installs smoke alarms and a sprinkler system, then battles a blaze with every fire extinguisher they have, doesn't mean they automatically deserve a speedy rescue once their house is completely engulfed in flames! Right? Talk about playing the helpless victim card! After all, they should have have the foresight to build that house entirely out of asbestos!

As for Nagin leaving the city, I hadn't heard that. But if someone anonymous person is alleging that on the Internet, it's worth repeating here, especially if it makes him look worse than me. Which isn't so hard to begin with – on account of he's part colored anyway.


M B Tucker, from Oak Park, CA writes:
Hi Mike Brown! I'm getting just a little weary of my own career (academic, dwindling resources, more difficult to fund research, etc.). I'd like to make the same kind of career change that you managed (horses to disasters!). Any advice for me?

Michael D. Brown:
Thanks for your question, M.B.! When it comes to your career, the most important thing is to maintain a super-positive attitude. No matter how challenging or complicated the job, simply tell yourself, "I can do it!" Because there's no reason that lacking minor things like education, training, aptitude, or experience should get in the way of your dream to hang out with horsie-riding cowboys or heroic fireman-type guys – especially if you're an affable, pink-skinned doughboy with beady blue rat eyes and a totally awesome Rolodex!

Also, be sure to AIM HIGH! At the very least, you want an executive-level position. Otherwise, you might end up getting clobbered with a measly five-figure compensation package and end up having to actually do hands-on work that wrecks your manicure. Then, once you get a cushy gig with a corner office deep inside some mega-bureaucracy, lie low and make no waves. Oh – and never miss an opportunity to shower your boss with effusive praise. That way, even when circumstances conspire to out you as a posterchild of criminally incompetent cronyism, you can still count on the guy who greenlighted your hiring to cover his own ass by singing your praises!


Jardine Coutios, from St. Paul, MN writes:
If President Bush believes in the culture of life, shouldn't you want to help the people who are dying and suffering in New Orleans?

Michael D. Brown:
Hi there, Jardine! I really appreciate your question, and I want you to rest assured that President Bush, along with everyone else in His administration, is 100% pro-life. It's just that in this particular case, the culture of life we've decided to focused on is, in fact, bacterial. And by that standard, the newly formed Lake New Orleans has been an unprecedented triumph in the defense and propagation of life. Single-celled, fecal-flavored life.


Matthew, from Jacksonville, FL writes:
What do you say to those who suggest that race and social class were a factor in FEMA's slow response to bring aid to the refugees of Hurricane Katrina?

Michael D. Brown:
Matthew, I want to assure you that race and social class have had absolutely NOTHING to do with how long it has taken to deliver supplies. What people need to understand is that mounting a response to an event such as this takes time. Specifically, it takes time to identify the Republican areas that need aid, and even longer to determine which Democratic areas are too far gone to bother saving. Once that part is over with, aid gets delivered lickety-split!

And Matthew, please remember that it's like the President said: at the end of the day, people from all walks of life have suffered. Some have lost their beachfront mansions with magnificent front porches that once harbored "Strom Thurmond for President" cocktail parties, or even had their beloved yachts tossed around like toys. So it just strikes me as a little callous when people fixate on a few thousand feeble, dehydrated grandmas trapped in sweltering attics, sitting around waiting for some kind of welfare bailout from I don't know who. I mean, FEMA. You know what I'm saying? I mean, talk about your CLASS WARFARE!!!


Mortimer S., from Battle Creek, MI writes:
Since the majority of the so-called victims of the hurricane were career criminals waiting for the looting opportunity of a lifetime, how can you justify spending taxpayer money on their relief?

Michael D. Brown:
Good afternoon, Mortimer! It's a fair and valid question you raise. One that I'm sure millions of other voters are asking themselves, too. And I certaingly understand and appreciate your reticence to have your increasingly smaller tax burden squandered thusly. But truth be told – cities like New Orleans represent a ripe and economy-boosting harvest for America's all-important corrections industry. That's right – you may not have heard it until now, but one of the MANY silver linings of Hurricane Katrina is that the needs of two traditionally opposed populations are suddenly and serendipitously symbiotic. Prisons need hundreds of thousands of black tenants, and New Orleans looters need dry shelter. If you ask me, it's a match made in heaven!

Now that I've explained the big picture, I'm sure you'll agree. Thanks, Mortimer!


Cheryl Wallace, from Sparr, Florida writes:
Why can you not organize pet rescue at the same time as people rescue? I have a better idea. Why not permit people to take their pets with them on the buses and keep with them through all of this misery and suffering? Do you know that Americans spend more money and time on their pets than people in other countries do on their children? Well it is true so ripping these pets out of the arms of their sobbing owners is not in the best interest of the people. Make a change and please make it for the people to keep their pets with them.

Michael D. Brown:
I genuinely appreciate your concern, Cheryl. As the former President of the Arabian Horse Association, I too am a pet lover, and like you, take shameless pride in America's grotesque pampering of domesticated animals while millions of children live hungry and impoverished around the world. Fortunately, I can assure you that virtually all of the purebred pets were safely evacuated in their owners' imported cars prior to the hurricane's arrival. As such, people like us can take great consolation in knowing that the doggy and kitty holocaust currently unfolding on the Gulf Coast is, at least, limited to animals whose pedigrees (or utter lack thereof) are roughly equivalent to those of their owners. We're talking real glue factory material here, Cheryl. As such, I think my current animal policy makes sense – if for no other reason than consistency's sake.


Ima Weez, from Milwaukee WI writes:
Dear Mr. Brown: Given the number of dead bodies and raw sewage within the flood waters covering New Orleans, how do you propose to restore the potability of New Orleans' drinking water supply?

Michael D. Brown:
I have to admit, it's going to be a long and difficult operation, Ima. There will be many filthy, unpleasant phases that other people will execute while I write memos in my air-conditioned office. But right now, I'm focused just on Phase One, which involves sealing breeches in the levees so that the city can be drained and the immediate bulldozing of black neighborhoods can begin. And luckily for America, I'm surrounded by a crack team of "outside the box" thinkers here at FEMA, who are ready and willing to kill two birds with two stones. As a result, beginning tomorrow, we'll begin chaining all those otherwise worthless corpses floating through the streets of New Orleans into super-absorbent bundles, and using them as sandbags to seal the Lake Pontchartrain levee.

But don't worry – as a prodigal disaster manager, I have already anticipated the public's one and only misgiving about this plan. And in the highly unlikely eventuality that we run out of corpses, I have already received a personal assurance from President Bush that he can generate as many more as we need – flown in FedEx Priority Overnight from the Baghdad Green Zone.


Andreas Piani, from Rome, Italy writes:
What emergency management lessons have you learned from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina that would be useful in the event of a "Big One" hitting California?

Michael D. Brown:
Goodness – a question all the way from Rome! Well Andreas, I'm hesitant to draw any conclusions until I get a final body count, but I can tell you what's been hardest for me throughout this whole ordeal: the waiting. It's not easy just sitting around waiting for other people to get things done while you conduct interview after interview after press conference after photo op. Which is why I've decided that if I ever have to do this again, I'll make sure to bring a fiddle to pass the time.

And come to think of it, as a Roman, if you could possibly tell me where I can get one like your heroic former leader Nero used to play, I'd be most appreciative, Andreas!


Michael D. Brown:
Unfortunately, I'm getting word here that my publicity privileges have been suddenly and inexplicably revoked. It seems my uncanny ability to engender confidence in my boss the President is no longer needed. And that's OK by me, because since there are still fresh hurricanes forming down south, I'm sure that millions of America's patrio-paranoia junkies will rest much easier knowing that I'm doing the job that I perform so fabulously well!

Thank you very much, and good afternoon!

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