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I just got a request to put up a BlogAd going to sell FEMA — “Federal Emergency Mismanagement Agency” — T-shirts by this blog. He says he’s giving the profits to hurricane relief (though I’d suggest saying where that will go). After looking into it, I’m inclined to take the ad, but I thought I’d run it by you first. I have no problem expressing opinions about hurricane relief; I’ve done it. I like the idea of people finding unusual fundraisers for the cause (see MeetUp’s hurricane benefits… and the full disclosure is that I sat in on the meeting where that was hatched). My only issue is that I don’t want to give aid to anyone who is exploiting this tragedy. Last night, I was disturbed to see that one of the Google ads that appeared here pushed Hurricane Katrina bracelets — next to “official tsunami relief” bracelets with a reputed donation of $3 each … and a margin of $2. I’m blocking that ad. I think the T-shirt ad is OK but I thought I’d do the bloggy thing and hear what you think. The final decision remains mine.

  • Bill Millan

    I would say, “don’t do it.” Just too easy to exploit.

  • No, that ad is wrong.

    We’re becoming increasingly aware that during a disaster such as this, the government has to listen to the locals, the first responders, the citizen journalists and photojournalists.

    The gov’t is highly inefficient in a situation that hasn’t occurred before–they don’t have a playbook to follow. We shouldn’t cynically close off the lines of communication btw the citizens and the gov’t with snarky attacks promoted by T-shirts, bumper stickers, etc. We need solutions. We have to listen to everyone who sincerely wants to help to figure out what it takes to ensure homeland security.

  • Jim

    All depends how badly you need money Jeff. My vote is no. In your gut you know it is shaky otherwise you would not have posted about it. You would have just run the ad.

  • Ted

    Don’t do it . This is another case of hysteria. No one knows the facts yet.

  • Snarking David

    >The gov’t is highly inefficient in a situation that hasn’t occurred before–they >don’t have a playbook to follow.

    They’ve had four years since 9/11 to get a plan in order. The terrorists are not going to be playing by the “books” so the next attack won’t be something in the playbook.

    It seems the only playbook this administration knows is to lie and smear in hopes of deflecting criticism. They are lucky that the mediawhores in the MSM will let them get away with anything. Case in point:

    >We have to listen to everyone who sincerely wants to help to figure out >what it takes to ensure homeland security.

    So are you saying that four years after the greatest tragedy in the US, this administration still hasn’t figured out how to ensure homeland security? If that doesn’t make you sick what will!

  • Liam

    “I have no problem expressing opinions about hurricane relief.”

    The T-shirt is not really an expression of an opinion is it? It’s a form of joke (or as we’d say in the UK a piss take) that you can parade around in. I don’t think any of the survivors of the disaster would find it amusing.

  • Shalom Jeff,

    My vote is no. Even if only 5 percent of the money doesn’t go to hurricane relief, that’s 5 percent not benefitting those who need it.

    Keep pushing the Red Cross, that makes the most sense to me.



  • So are you saying that four years after the greatest tragedy in the US, this administration still hasn’t figured out how to ensure homeland security? If that doesn’t make you sick what will!

    Exactly. Next time someone starts parroting the GOP talking points on blaming the local and state governments but not the feds, ask them if they’d be as understanding if the disaster in question had happened in their town and FEMA and DHS dropped the ball as badly as they did in New Orleans.

    My political differences with the current administration aside, I had always assumed that when the chips were down the government would come through as it always had in times like these, but to see essential emergency services underfunded and farmed out to partisan hacks with little or no practical experience in saving lives in a crisis situation makes me fear for all of our cities now. And that’s just unacceptable.

  • Neverthless Jeff, I don’t think you should sell the ad. It’s unnecessarily exploitative and demeans the rank and file people at FEMA who were just doing what their idiot boss told them to do.

  • It seems that when the ‘grunts’ are out there doing a really hard job, making it the object of ridicule really goes over the line. Like Jersey, I think having idiots at the top isn’t the fault of the real workers. They’re hot, hungry, tired and thirsty and don’t need the grief.

  • Clara from Paris, France

    As a French citizen, I would say that this is the clue of your welfare problem, I mean individual volontaree help. You must not help this imposing it as the unique way of solidarity. Solidarity must be universal, means for all the same. What about to propose to your gov to dedicace nationally the revenus of 1 working day to NO reconstruction ? That’s what France tried to do after our very hot summer killing so many hold persons. Stop marketing aid.

  • Is the T-shirt maker exploiting a disaster? I’m not sure. What he definitely is doing, is giving people that want to express an opinion on how things are going with Katrina – which we all know isn’t very good – in a ironic fashion, the means to do so. To me, that’s democracy in action, hand in hand with a good sense of marketing.

    And yes, he may earn a few bucks by selling a service that only exists because of this disaster – but so are construcion companies and a big load of plumbers. Is that such a bad thing?

    I don’t think so.

  • And exploitation is the real question. I have no problems with people stating opinions. And I happen to agree with the opinion that we have to push FEMA to be changed and improved; it has dont a bad job. But whether for financial or political gain, I do not believe that this tragedy should be exploited. So that is what I’m grappling with. And I’m finding this discussion to be very, very helpful.

  • CalDevil


    Think it says a lot about how you do things, that you would give voice to your readers on this decision. Ultimately, I don’t have a problem with whatever advertising you accept, even though I might object to its content or placement. It’s your site and I respect wahtever decision you come to. Even if I think it might be in bad taste, I don’t object to the selling of the shirts; although I might be a bit more skeptical about the proceeds and the motives.

    Nevertheless, if you’re asking us to vote, I say wait at least a week. I want to see what FEMA can do now that it has the opportunity. If it succeeds, great, but questions still need to be answered. If it fails in the next week, well then you have your answer.

    It’s been horribly overlooked by almost all observers, but FEMA is designed to go in after a disaster, that is after the disaster creating conditions (tornado, hurricane, earthquake) have moved on.

    One thing that needs to be looked at after this is FEMA’s capability to function while the disaster is ongoing, such as a flood. Of course, FEMA helps people to rebuild after floods and provide relief to those evacuated. As far as I understand, FEMA is supposed to provide relief supplies (food, water, blankets, etc.) after a disaster to areas it can reach, but is not set up as a search & rescue, law enforcement or military operation.

    It appears that with the absolute breakdown in the local government, FEMA could not do its job in NO, especially as flood waters kept rising, shots were being fired and any sense of a civil order was completely abandoned. I don’t remember FEMA having to work in such circumstances before.

    It’s all well and good for those who have political axes to grind or who are just plain frustrated at the helplessness of the NO residents in the days before the entire operation was federalized, to point fingers at FEMA. However, we need to be cognizant of what FEMA’s mission and capabilities are. If they need to be re-addressed in light of this natural disaster (remember, the LARGEST in US history), and I believe they do (I live in a potentially larger disaster area), there is a time to do so. There will need to be a lot of very difficult questions addressed and very old laws revisited as we face this challenge.

    However, it’s not the time when tens of thousands of brave, selfless men and women are working nonstop under exceedingly difficult conditions to provide critical assistance to the hundreds of thousands affected by this natural disaster.

  • Before we elect Ray Nagin President, I’d like to know why he failed to execute the disaster plan that was in effect for his city.

    I’d like to know, you know, before the inauguration, why he left the poorest, most infirm of his city, to drown in a flood while city buses sat there unused.

    FEMA responds to disasters, always has, always will. And there’s a good reason. FEMA had no authority to order the evacuation of New Orleans. City and State officials have the obilgation to ACT BEFORE the coming disaster to ensure the safety of their citizens.

    And these city and state officials failed miserably.

    I think you’ve heard enough about whether you should accept advertising making political points off the floating dead of New Orleans that I don’t need to vote.

  • Simply, I wouldn’t do it, but I wouldn’t hold it against you if you did. (“Ray Nagin for President”??? Pfft!)

    Perhaps you should consider taking the ad in a month it they are still interested. By then, it would be worth it to try to help generate funds in this way. But right now, it’s just too soon, when most people are willing to send cash straight to the agencies. Too much of this money will go to CafePress, and not relief efforts.

  • Ravo

    Wait until the jury is in.

    That shirt gets Nagin and Blanco off the hook as though they were innocent bystanders in this whole debacle

    Certainly, FEMA is the place to begin any federal review. However, the point RightNumberOne makes about FEMA not being allowed to send it’s people into places the city or state has not lawfully secured is backed up by this emergency worker’s statement.


    The FEMA Director on the scene is a lot less in charge than most people think. He has coordination control over all the national assets that have been brought in, as well as control of the military assets.

    But the Governors still retain control of their own state assets and the FEMA Director isn’t going to move until the Governor tells him where any additional assets need to go and in what quantity. They’re not going to let private relief efforts go tear-assing around the area without someone knowing what they’re doing, where they’re going, and if they’re going to be secure.

    The biggest problem FEMA’s encountered is that there was absolutely no security in place at all – even at the Superdome.

    They can’t move civilians in there to feed, water, and treat survivors until they are absolutely certain those civilians arne’t going to get shot, mugged, or raped. Were I the FEMA guy on the scene, I wouldn’t have let a single truck move until I had police and troops in place to assure that my other people weren’t going to get killed by the gun-toting maniacs.

    Had Mayor Nagin or Governor Blanco bothered to simply secure the Superdome – and only the Superdome – relief efforts would be much farther along than they are now.

  • For the love of gravy,

    This thread has absolutely nothing to do with Ray Nagin but FEMA. Give it a rest already. Or are you that desperate to smear anyone *but* the feds on this issue?

  • Pingback: CaNN :: We started it.()

  • For the record, all the profits (outside of what CafePress takes out), I’m going to give to hurricane relief. If there are enough sales, I have already contacted a silk screener to produce them at a lower cost. I did this in addition to money I have already donated to private citizens that are driving to the region to drop off supplies to victims.

    This is purely stating an opinion, and I think as Americans it’s our duty to criticize our government when we feel it hasn’t performed to it’s abilities, as well as praise them when they have performed admirably. In this situation, FEMA and some of the other government agencies have failed us when their charter calls for their action the most — in times of national disaster (as I recall, it’s the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and that should say it all).

    I don’t think it’s fair to call on Ray Nagin and compare him to Rudy Guiliani — 9/11 and Katrina are 2 totally different animals, and Rudy G. had many more resources and an actual infrastructure to draw on, where most of New Orleans is under a toxic soup. And a reminder: New Orleans isn’t the only area where FEMA has failed in response. Much of the Gulf Coast has not seen nor heard of the government agency.

    It’s our duty to hold our leaders accountable. That’s why we have the First Amendment. To do any less would be an insult to our founding fathers.

  • ajf

    King Bastard should be shot in the head.

  • As someone who has faced the same decision with BlogAds, I would be extremely hesitant to reject an ad that expresses a political viewpoint, especially if it was contrary to my own. I agree with publications like The Nation, which are extremely reluctant to reject ads on grounds of propriety when they are some form of political expression.

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