As a child my brother had a pet ferret named Barney. If you're not familiar with ferrets they're sort of like smelly kittens, only with more energy. Ferrets never, ever stop moving.
One Christmas the family watched Barney begin to climb his way up our Christmas tree. This was interesting because, well, ferrets can't climb trees. As he swung, repelled and scratched his way up we were morbidly fixated on Barney's trek to the top knowing it would only end in little ferret tears.
Sure enough when Barney reached the pinnacle of the tree he lost his grip, slipped and bounced down through the tree hitting practically every branch on the way down like some sort of hairy pachenko ball.
As he picked himself up he did was all self-respecting ferrets do in situations such as this: he got mad at the tree and the ground. He arched his back, hissed and let the tree know what for.
This is a characteristic of ferrets: if they run into something in the course of jumping around they get mad at it. On more than one occasion Barney would be hissing furiously at the wall for having the temerity to bump into him. In a ferret's world there are on actions, only reactions.I thought about this for some reason as I read today that the Senate Republicans suggest we should shitcan FEMA because of it's poor response to Katrina:
WASHINGTON - Hurricane KatrinaÂs latest fatality should be FEMA, the nationÂs disaster response agency, a Senate inquiry concluded in calling for a government overhaul to avoid future failures like those the devastating storm exposed.
Eighty-six recommendations by the bipartisan panel indicate the United States is still woefully unprepared for a storm of KatrinaÂs scope with the start of the hurricane season little more than a month away.
Funny, it seemed to do just fine under James Lee Witt and President Clinton. Of course that was a time when disastpreparednessess was taken seriously by our leadership. The Bush administration had begun gutting FEMA even before the September the 11th attacks. They just don't see Federal disasters as a Federal problem. Better that mayors deal with such things. They're closer to the ground and all.
As I look at how Federal disaster management has changed since 9/11 I just have to shake my head. Since the country had successfully faced catastrophic hurricanes before yet failed miserably with Katrina you have to ask yourself what had changed. Rolling FEMA into the DHS and removing the cabinet position was the biggest structural change. Bush's appointment of toadies uninterested in actually preparing for disasters and responding effectively was the other.
So the natural course of action in the face of Republican incompetence is to do away the agency.
Here's an idea: split FEMA back out of DHS, restore it's director to the Cabinet and instead abolish the useless Department of Homeland Security which has proven a boondoggle. It may have been an effective agency had it come into inception under a competent President but it's become nothing but a colossal mess under the boy-President's leadership.
The question at the back of everyone's mind during Katrina was "what if this was a terrorist nuclear attack?" Clearly the Federal government wasn't prepared for any disaster significantant scale. DHS may have been tasked with preparing for natural disasters only as an afterthought but a terrorist attack would fall directly under the department's charter. They, not FEMA, failed in that duty.
But most importantly we need to get rid of the ferrets in charge of all three branches of government. As cute as they are all that hissing at walls isn't going to accomplish anything and it certainly won't keep the wall from smacking them around again.