Earthquake weather or whatever…

Yesterday, as Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff was submitting to a public humiliation ritual before a Senate committee, his only punishment for letting New Orleans drown (in other countries, such incompetence would result in dismissal from office and permanent disgrace, but in the land of W, Chertoff will probably end up with a medal), and as word came from New Orleans that yet another body had been found in a flood-damaged house, the Department of Homeland Security's plan for dealing a catastrophic earthquake in California was revealed. Here is the plan: there is no plan. That's right, there is no plan. Despite the fact that FEMA had identified a major quake in San Francisco as one of the top three most likely disasters facing the country, there is no plan. Of course, since one of the other top three potential disasters was a major hurricane hitting New Orleans, and the government had plans for that, maybe no plan isn't really so bad.

And demonstrating the sort of thoroughness in disaster preparation that it brought to Hurricane Katerina, Homeland Security's lack of a plan is matched by its lack of personnel: FEMA region IX, which includes California, hasn't had a permanent director for the past 6 months.

To be fair, Homeland Security isn't doing absolutely nothing– it is reviewing the state's earthquake disaster plan. Which is next to doing absolutely nothing, but not absolutely nothing. The review will be finished in April, which, as you recall from your high school English class, is the cruellest month. Still, let's look on the bright side: Who knows? Maybe Chertoff will get two medals.

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