Governor Blanco asked for help; no one gave it

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


On Sunday, August 28, Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco surveyed the lay of the land and shot off a letter to the regional director of FEMA, detailing her assessment of the severity of the upcoming hurricane, and asking for help. Apparently, FEMA’s interpretation of the term “major disaster” is somewhat different than the interpretation with which most of us are familiar.

Today, Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut announced that they will open a bipartisan investigation of the “immense failure” of the government to respond to the consequences of Hurricane Katrina. Many of us would feel better if someone other than Collins and Lieberman were involved in an enterprise that will undoubtedly call for getting tough, but it seems we are stuck with them.

We have only to look at the report of the September 11 Commission to know what happens when the government “investigates” itself. Who at FEMA failed to do what and why will most likely never be known, though we may see one or two scapegoats trotted out to be shamed, while the perpetrators of incompetence are awarded medals. We have been here before.

Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu, in a piece of weary understatement, said: “There was a time when FEMA understood that the correct approach to a crisis was to deploy to the affected area as many resources as possible as fast as possible. Unfortunately that no longer seems to be their approach.”

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest