It looks like Brierney One is angling for some of that super secret WalMart PR scratch. Today he is discrediting the federal government, in his typically ham-handed way, by repeating the "talk" that in the wake of Katrina, WalMart should take over FEMA:
"This was the only place we could find water those first days," said Rashan Smith, who was shopping with her three children at Wal-Mart on Saturday. "I still haven't managed to get through to FEMA. It's hard to say, but you get more justice at Wal-Mart."
That's the same assessment you hear from public officials in Louisiana, and there's even been talk of letting Wal-Mart take over FEMA's job. The company already has its own emergency operations center, where dozens of people began preparing for the hurricane the week before it hit by moving supplies and trucks into position.
Of course, we've all heard that truck story by now so it's up to Brierney to pull out some new stops. And kudos for him to try one that even the wingnuts can't get behind in any serious numbers: It's Clinton's fault!
I realize that Scott would not be a popular choice with Democrats. They concede that Wal-Mart and other private companies were far better prepared for Katrina than FEMA was, but they say FEMA would work fine if it were under the control of a virtuous, compassionate public servant - someone, as Bill Clinton suggested, like himself.
Clinton looks back on the 1990's as FEMA's Age of Pericles. "I think we did a good job of disaster management," he said on ABC's "This Week." While criticizing the Bush administration for leaving poor people stranded in New Orleans, he said that he and his FEMA director, James Lee Witt, had been especially sensitive to the needs of poor people because of their own backgrounds.
But if they cared so much, why didn't New Orleans ever work out a feasible way to evacuate poor people? FEMA had a golden opportunity to plan it during the 1990's. The threat of nuclear war had receded and terrorism wasn't yet a priority, so the agency's biggest concerns should have been an earthquake in California and a flood in New Orleans.
But it was too busy dealing with the record number of other "disasters" that Clinton declared - an average of one a week, which meant FEMA was mailing out checks for every flash flood within range of a major media market. Upstate New Yorkers suddenly became incapable of coping with the cost of snow removal.
I don't have time to research the claims Brierney is tossing out here. I spent a half an hour or so on Google and haven't been able to find any information that suggests that under Witt FEMA handed out frivolous payments for made-up disasters. But I'm not getting fed information straight from the Hive. I did find a lot of information about "Project Impact," which emphasized pre-disaster planning. Google that to see for yourself exactly how useless FEMA was in the 90's, when it was run by grown-ups. But I wouldn't recommend wasting the half an hour I did taking Brierney's bait.
Snidely, he goes on to complain about the waste in big gumint:
How often do you suppose someone at Wal-Mart headquarters dispenses $500,000 and doesn't bother keeping track of it? The company can tell you the precise location of every thumbtack in its inventory. It's legendary for tracking every transaction and pinching every penny.
I swear, it's impossible to write about Brierney without using the phrase "you horrible, dishonest man" at least once. Apparently he's forgotten about Tom Coughlin. From Mick, here's a long excerpt to jog your memory and provide the proper context for Mr. Coughlin's transgressions:
Nor could it have helped that one of its executives helped himself to fistfuls of money by pretending he was using it to fight unions.
A federal grand jury in Arkansas is still investigating whether Thomas Coughlin, Wal-Mart’s former vice-chairman, has been orchestrating a covert, illegal campaign against union organisers within Wal-Mart’s 1.7 million workforce. Mr Coughlin, who was sacked in March, explained fake invoices put through company accounts as a “union project” fund. The “project” allegedly included paying employees to identify who the pro-union people were.
Wal-Mart says it is co-operating fully with the investigation and insists it has found no evidence of anti-union skulduggery among its senior employees. There is no evidence to suggest that anti-union tactics have been employed.
That last graf needs a little explanation.
a) Wal-Mart is ‘co-operating’ not because it cares if its managers engage in illegal activities to stop unions (it in fact encourages such behaviour in its Manager’s Handbook) but because they think he didn’t. They think he embezzled the money and used it to buy a big new house, among other things. Had he used the money for an illegal anti-union campaign, they would have patted him on the back and given him a raise and probably a promotion for showing ‘initiative’. But instead they turned him in to authorities because
b) they couldn’t find any evidence that Coughlin’s anti-union campaign ever existed. (That’s what the last sentence means. It emphatically does NOT mean that there’s ‘no evidence to suggest that anti-union tactics have been employed’ by Wal-Mart as a whole. There’s a ton of such evidence. That sentence only refers to this particular instance, specifically Coughlin’s supposed activities.) They concluded that he had dared to steal from them. This is not to be tolerated, of course. Stealing—from employees, customers, investors, and government at all levels—is Wal-Mart’s sole privilege, so you might say they caught Coughlin poaching on their territory. They’re simply treating him as they would treat any competition: they’re crushing him.
But hey, maybe Brierney's onto something. With WalMart's rampant corruption, union bashing, poverty wages, rotten healthcare plans and racist and sexist hiring policies, the Enemy of the People would make a seemless transition to impersonating BushCo's idea of what a federal government agency should be.
Related: Add the suspension of affirmative action to the list of neocon objectives in the brave new world of Gulf Coast reconstruction:
The Labor Department has temporarily suspended government requirements that its contractors have an affirmative action plan addressing the employment of women, members of minorities, Vietnam veterans and the disabled if the companies are first-time government contractors working on reconstruction in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
While employment lawyers said it was not clear how strong an impact the exemption would have, the move comes as President Bush has tried to address the perception of unfairness in the government's response to the hurricane.
Under the rules that normally apply to companies hired by the government, businesses with more than 50 employees working on contracts for more than $50,000 must develop an affirmative action plan. But according to a memorandum on the Labor Department's Web site, dated Sept. 9, the goal of the exemption in the case of recovery work associated with Hurricane Katrina is to reduce the burden of paperwork on government contractors and so encourage more companies to jump into assisting with rebuilding from the storm damage.
"It is not simply a paperwork exercise," said Shirley J. Wilcher, deputy assistant secretary for federal contract compliance in the Clinton administration who is now the interim executive director of the American Association for Affirmative Action. "It is the basis for companies to be mindful of their obligation not to discriminate."