There's going to be so much money flowing that Joe Allbaugh might even be convinced to bring his influence-peddling operation stateside again. In fact, if you were ever planning to become a Republican or give money to Republicans, by all means, do it now. Because all of the GOP patronage and pay-for-play operation that we've seen up till this point was probably just a prelude to what's coming.
Just set together a few pieces of the puzzle.
FEMA Director Michael Brown got his job as a political patronage position, with no relevant experience and the last item on his resume getting fired from a job as a manager of horse shows. Last year he was caught giving out FEMA money as political pork with an eye to the 2004 elections. But that shouldn't surprise since people who get hired as part of patronage operations do their jobs as part of the patronage operation. That's the idea.
Now, look at this article from Tuesday's Times about the boom town atmosphere in Houston as people and business from New Orleans flood into the city ...
Oil services companies based here are racing to carry out repairs to damaged offshore platforms in the Gulf of Mexico; the promise of plenty of work to do sent shares in two large companies, Halliburton and Baker Hughes, soaring to 52-week highs last week. The Port of Houston is preparing for an increase in traffic as shippers divert cargoes away from the damaged ports of Pascagoula, Miss., and New Orleans.
Some of this is just the grim irony of politics and geography. Houston is a nearby port town deep into the oil business. It's also the capital of Bushland.
But see where we're going here. We have a thoroughly politicized FEMA, encased within an administration that ran the Iraqi reconstruction in such a way that they managed to give graft and cronyism a bad name. $10.5 billion is just a small down payment on the money that's going to go into draining and rebuilding New Orleans, constructing a much more durable and comprehensive system of pumps and levees around the city, patching up the coastlines of Mississippi and Alabama. And did we mention the important Senate race next year in Florida? And then there's the Port of New Orleans. And the oil facilities in the Gulf.
Of course, if you want to get down into the minutiae, remember it was Joe Allbaugh who got his college buddy Michael Brown the patronage job at FEMA; when Allbaugh got into the Iraqi contracts racket he handed FEMA over to Brown. And the guy that helped Allbaugh set up his new influence-peddling shop out of a wing of his DC office? Right, Haley Barbour, who's now Governor of Mississippi.
Like I said, I bet we see Allbaugh pretty soon deciding that his services are required closer to home.
The White House is already laying the groundwork for centralizing all authority over contracting within the executive branch, which for all intents and purposes means the White House. No oversight. No transparency. Halliburton ready at the trough.
Like a friend of mine said earlier this evening, it really is going to be the biggest slush fund of all time.