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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Bob Kaiser thinks they should look into it ...

Berkeley, Calif.: The Post published an incorrect report that the La. Governor had not declared a state of emergency about a week after she had. A White House source was cited. Why didn't you check this? Do you know why the White House provided false info? Were they that clueless or that dishonest? I think The Post owes us some answers about its own work and the White House on this.

Robert G. Kaiser: This seems a fair point to me. I'm sitting here answering questions so can't immediately find out what our plans are, but I hope they include revisiting this matter for our readers' benefit.


From an online Q&A this morning at the Post website.

Ivo Daalder is right. Michael Brown's non-dismissal dismissal is a day late and a dollar short. Actually, we're two weeks into this, so it's two weeks late. The responsibility for putting a nincompoop in charge of federal disaster relief doesn't rest with the nincompoop. It goes right to the top -- to the person who put him there.

Pew Poll: "Bush's overall job approval rating has slipped to 40% and his disapproval rating has climbed to 52%, among the highest for his presidency. Uncharacteristically, the president's ratings have slipped the most among his core constituents Republicans and conservatives."

Some possibly encouraging news.

Over the last couple days I'd noticed that news accounts were reporting finding relatively (and obviously that's 'relatively' heavily underlined) few bodies in New Orleans. There was the sobering discovery of 30 bodies at the nursing home reported yesterday. But with estimates ranging from 10,000 to 25,000 dead you'd expect higher numbers even at this early stage.

And this morning there's this off the AP wire: "Authorities said Friday that their first systematic sweep of the city found far fewer bodies than expected, suggesting that Hurricane Katrina's death toll may not be the catastrophic 10,000 feared."

Obviously, the numbers are certain to be horrific even if they're far less than 10,000 dead. And there's a whole swath of less-reported-on outlying areas which will yield up their own dead. But our collective eyes tend to glaze over once we start talking about numbers of dead in the thousands. So let's note at least this possible sign that the loss of life may not be quite as extensive as we've feared.

We've all heard about studies FEMA commissioned last year to test out and put together a comprehensive disaster response plan for New Orleans. Here are some key excerpts (just posted at the TPM Document Collection) from the contracts FEMA put out for those studies, which make clear that officials at FEMA had a very clear understanding of what would happen if a Katrina-like storm hit and that at least tens of thousands of people would not be able to evacuate in time.

Late Update: Also, see this new piece out from the AP's Ron Fournier. The Hurricane Pam simulation predicted 61,290 dead and the necessity for federal officials to intervened regardless of go-ahead from the locals.

Become part of our timeline project!

We've just updated our TPM Hurricane Katrina Timeline, working mainly from a thick stack of emails we received from readers, then confirmed and posted. You can see where we are at that link above.

Now, we need your assistance with our second round of updating. And let me try to be clear about just what we're looking for.

We're putting a heavy emphasis on chronology. We're trying to compile a record of just when particular events happened -- as in specific times on given days. So for instance you'll see under August 26, our final item is Gov. Blanco's declaration of a state of emergency; under August 27, we have Gov. Barbour declaration of a state of emergency in his state. But just when did those declarations happen on each day. As nearly as the time can be ascertained we want to know. So if you have details, confirmed by links to press or government websites, let us know and we'll update.

Other examples: when were the holes ripped in the Superdome on August 29th? When on Thursday September 1st did Mayor Nagin issue his "desperate SOS"?

Go down on our list and see events we don't have times for and see if you can find them. If we can't find the exact time, then the time it was first reported is a good second best.

And of course, more facts. We've got a decent list together now. But on the critical days from Sunday through Wednesday lots of government orders went out, lots of people were put in motion, press conferences were held. Look over our list, find other key points we haven't included and let us know about them -- as always, we're looking for specific facts, with links to back up the fact asserted.

AP: "President Bush's job approval was at 39 percent, the first time it has dipped below 40 percent since AP-Ipsos began measuring public approval of Bush in December 2003."

Allbaugh client Shaw Group bags two $100 million Katrina rebuilding and recovery contracts.

Another TPM Reader, JW, responds to <$NoAd$> the Times article ...

I read the Times article before getting to TPM this morning and as I read the section you quote and the rest of the piece what became obvious to me is that the staff work for the executives was abysmal on all sides. First of all the Feds, and I mean FEMA especially, should have had a check list of the things that must be in place: proclamations made, signatures, documents, forms etc. Second, the governor should have had staff people telling her what was needed and making certain that everything was prepared and in a folder if not weeks and months in advance certainly in the days before the storm hit. And if the state people did not have everything in place the FEMA people should have had senior experienced staff people knowledgeable in the machinery who could speak to their counterparts and to the Governor and the President or at least to Andrew Card and make sure it all happened. For that matter why isn't there a kit or a plastic weather tight box that all of this stuff can be placed in and sent by Fedex to the governor with explicit instructions at the onset of this kind of thing. Or even better a kind of two week out of the box course that all governors and presidents (and staff ) take at the beginning of an administration that covers what to do in case of emergency.

I mean this stuff should never have to be made up on the spot as if no one had ever seen an emergency before. In fact, as I think of it wasn't this the rationale put forth for the Homeland Security Department in the first place? I was never enamored of the plan even though it was a Democratic idea and now I am less enthusiastic but I don't think there is any putting that genie back in the bottle.

Joe Allbaugh on why he made Michael Brown Deputy Director of FEMA. From today's Oklahoman ...

Allbaugh said Brown was his first hire after being tabbed to head the emergency agency.

"I hired him solely on his ability as a strong ethics attorney," he said.

Later that year, Brown played a major role in the agency's response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Allbaugh said Brown headed up operations in the Washington office while he was in New York.

The deputy director's slot was vacant during that time.

"I decided he was the right person to become the deputy of the agency," Allbaugh said. "He was the logical person."


A strong ethics attorney who'd just gotten canned from his last job because of ethical <$NoAd$> improprieties.

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