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Battle at The Border: The War Few Discuss in Washington

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Jim Kouri, CPP
September 30, 2005

In today's New York Times, columnist Paul Krugman raises the question of cronyism within the US government. The neo-Marxist economist and darling of the Times' op-ed page readers, using deductive prowess even Sherlock Holmes would envy, has discovered cronyism in the Bush Administration especially within FEMA. That's right, Krugman and the New York Times are blowing the lid off cronyism. Apparently politicicians are hiring people for key positions because they are friends and supporters. I'm shocked! I've got to lie down.

Krugman, of course, points to former FEMA chief Mike Brown to further his argument, carefully avoiding the fact that prior to Hurricane Katrina Brown successfully responded to four disasters. But he does make a point: Mr. Brown's work background and resume do not lend themselves to confidence that he is capable of responding to enormous disasters or terrorist attacks. He's therefore a crony. Let's give Krugman that much.

But this intellectual giant of America's "newspaper of record" has apparently never seen cronyism before President George Bush stole the election from Al Gore, another Krugman allegation. (Although two weeks ago, Krugman was forced to admit that he falsely claimed media recounts in Florida showed Al Gore winning the 2000 presidential election.) In fact, a Lexus-Nexus search indicates Krugman never even mentioned cronyism in his rantings during the Clinton Administration.

He never wrote about Clinton's FEMA appointments such as Buddy Young, whose education consisted of a high school diploma and a certificate in public administration from the University of Arkansas. His emergency-management experience consisted of warning Bill that Hillary was on the way during Bill Clinton's escapades in the Arkansas state house. Or what about Craig Livingstone, Clinton's chief of White House security? His security experience consisted of work as a bouncer at nightclubs and his ability to not get caught as far as hanky-panky in his campaign fundraising for Clinton. Livingtone is best remembered for the mysterious appearance of hundreds of FBI files in the White House. Krugman was MIA during that story. He -- and the NY Times -- had bigger fish to fry -- Rep. Newt Gingrich.

And we also have the biggest crony in the Clinton Administration: Sandy "Pants" Berger. Berger was rewarded with the key National Security Advisor position for his work getting Clinton into the Oval Office. Prior to that, he was a smooth-operating, smooth-talking Washington lobbyist. Mr. Krugman, was Berger not a crony? I mean, the guy was a dud. He got nabbed for a sloppy espionage operation whereby he shoved classified documents into his pants and allegedly into his socks. And we trusted this inept thief with US national security?

Let's be frank, Krugman exposing cronyism today is more about his hatred for Bush than his displeasure over government cronyism. It's part and parcel of the elite media's continuing goal of hurting a president they despise. I agree that we should end cronyism, but let's start with the minority Democrat Party and work our way up through the ranks of the Republican Party. In addition, it's relative as to whom is a crony and whom is not. I'll bet, if I wished, I could make a good case that Paul Krugman is a crony at the New York Times. Cronyism is not the issue at the NY Times; George Bush is the issue.

The latest issue of Newsweek makes my point handsomely. One lead story is really a swipe at Bush. The title says it all: "Government Officials' Overreaction to Hurricane Rita Still Not Enough to Convince American's US Government Is Competent." Now, is that a mouthful or what? Newsweek couldn't even wait till the lead paragraph to criticize the government a/k/a George W. Bush, they do it in the title. Okay, they have a right to make that argument. But in the same issue, Newsweek interviews Fidel Castro's "Little Me," Presidente Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. Chavez has many choice words for Newsweek regarding America's president: He calls the Bush Administration "terrorists," causing one to suspect Chavez's telephone number is on the DNC fax list for talking points.

Chavez tells Newsweek's chief correspondent Lally Weymouth, "� this US Administration � the currentent government � is a terrorist administration...." &nnbsp; Okay, so a communist thinks Bush and the US government are terrorists. No big scoop. Lally, sweetheart, as far as garnering a Pulitzer nomination, you're not even close with that tidbit, so I'd set aside that acceptance speech if I were you.

This next quote in Newsweek is what exposes Lally Weymouth as a hack: Chavez states, "Now, before the hurricane, they knew that Katrina was coming, and the government did not evacuate people. In Cuba, when they know a hurricane is coming, chickens, hens and people are all evacuated." Lally, where's the follow-up question? When hurricanes hit Cuba, to where are these millions of Cubans evacuated? To Puerto Rico? St. Thomas? Jamaica? Venezuela? Miami? Lally, where does Castro stash millions of Cubans? Here's a hint: Cuba is an island. Nevermind the people (notice that the communist mentioned chickens and hens first), what's Castro doing with all those chickens during a hurricane? And, Lally, why is Chavez talking about Cuba? He's the President of Venezuela.

Let's be open-minded. Perhaps we can learn something from Castro about disaster management. Of course, to be honest, Castro doesn't really worry about disaster management (except for where he will safely hide till the danger blows over) because Castro doesn't worry about the news media in Cuba asking meanspirited questions. If they let the cat out of the bag following a devastating natural disaster, the journalists may be evacuated -- permanently. What nonsense it is to even attempt comparing US and Cuban disaster response. Katrina and Rita recovery and rebuilding will cost billions and billions of dollars. I can rebuild Cuba after a hurricane with 30 bucks. The only problem I'd have is in distinguishing hurricane damage from the normal condition of Cuba's infrastructure. "Amigo, that chicken coup goes there and that pile of garbage goes here. Oh, that's not garbage? It's a soup kitchen?"

It didn't matter to Newsweek where they put Cubans during a disaster. What mattered was Lally Weymouth and her keepers at Newsweek discovering an opportunity to bash Bush even if it means using a communist quasi-dictator parroting DNC talking points to do it.

The print media doesn't have a monopoly on the ridiculous and disingenuous. During Bush's press conference in Texas prior to Hurricane Rita, NBC News' own intellectual giant, David Gregory, asked the President of the United States, "Don't you think you'll be getting in the way?"

This is the same David Gregory who speculated that Bush was too slow to react to Hurricane Katrina. Now he found President Bush staying on top of things, and Gregory worries Bush get be in the way. In the way of what, David? In the way of a good Bush-bashing news story? Even Gregory's accusatory tone displays an obvious disdain for our president. I don't recall hearing any journalists asking New York's Senator Hillary Clinton if she feared getting in the way during her photo-ops after Katrina. And when Bill Clinton showed up, there was no media concern with him getting in the way. In fact, they gushed like school girls over The Beatles appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show" in 1962.

I started this column with Paul Krugman, let me end with him. In his article about Bush cronyism, Krugman touts a Clinton lie. Krugman writes, "The lethally inept response to Hurricane Katrina revealed to everyone that the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which earned universal praise during the [Clinton Administration]...." Yep, Clinton didn't get Earth's praise, Martians, Venusians even the Klingons praised FEMA.

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When was FEMA universally praised, Sherlock Krugman? Not after Hurricane Floyd, that's for sure. Remember Hurricane Floyd? That's the one where even Rev. Jesse Jackson took issue with Bill Clinton's FEMA boss because he didn't respond for close to a month to the needs of thousands and thousands of Americans left homeless in the wake of Floyd. And a real crony -- Buddy Young -- was a bigwig at FEMA.

Americans should rethink that "newspaper of record'' stuff as far as the New York Times is concerned. We'd be better off having the National Enquirer as "newspaper of record."

� 2005 Jim Kouri- All Rights Reserved

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Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country.

He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com,, and can be ordered at local bookstores.











Let's be open-minded. Perhaps we can learn something from Castro about disaster management. Of course, to be honest, Castro doesn't really worry about disaster management (except for where he will safely hide till the danger blows over) because Castro doesn't worry about the news media in Cuba asking meanspirited questions.