Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

Thar They Blow ...: FEMA Has Announced a Bold New Initiative: Third Responders

Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

Thar They Blow ...: FEMA Has Announced a Bold New Initiative: Third Responders

Article excerpt

Is there anyone in this country who doesn't believe the recent hurricanes were caused by the oil companies? I didn't think so. They probably used a standard off-the-shelf Hurricane Death Ray invented by a mad scientist. (You know the guy: brilliant, eccentric, still angry about having to go to the prom with his mother. He tested out of most classes in college then got hired by Texaco to develop a secret drug that gives auto executives a rash when they hear the words "better gas mileage.")

To be fair, it's possible the scientist isn't really mad. Maybe he's just a decent man who does evil things because oil executives tied his daughter to a railroad track.

Of course, none of this is mentioned in the recent full-page newspaper ad--"Progress Report from ExxonMobil"--which stated that the company is "working hard" to get their refineries back on line after the hurricanes. Oil executives even gave a news conference and promised to "get right on it." But when they left the podium I noticed they were taking baby steps--you know, heel-toe, heel-toe--and smiling. Definitely smiling.

For its part, petroleum giant BP (an acronym for "Better PR") promised to continue using the color green in its ads.

In the meantime, gas is hovering around $3 a gallon, a far cry from the days when my dad, before he mowed the yard, would send me to the corner service station with a gallon gas can and a quarter. "And bring back the change," he would add, only too aware of the mischief an 11-year-old could get into with an extra 7 cents in his pocket.

THE HURRICANES MAY have subsided, but the winds of blame still blow in the nation's capital. And the only thing the federal government can point to with pride is FEMA's new Third Responders program: 'We don't get there first. We don't get there second. But right after that we get there. Usually."

Fortunately, congressional Republicans have moved quickly and are holding hearings to determine exactly who wasn't to blame, and to identify by name who will not be held responsible. "If this leads to a public vindication, so be it," said one Republican lawmaker, off the record, for fear of being accused of clearing his name prematurely.

Congress was following the strong example set by President Bush who, immediately after the first hurricane, set his jaw and declared a global war on hurricanism. No stranger to courageous resolve, he then promised a rapid federal response in rebuilding the storm-ravaged areas, starting with Trent Lott's porch and Mississippi's casinos. …

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