Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

We know from National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield that FEMA Director Brown and DHS Secretary Chertoff both received electronic briefings on Katrina's likely destructive potential before the storm hit. A knowledgable source suggests asking who else listened in on those pre-landfall briefings.

AP: Bush to lead investigation into his own failure ...

Buffeted by criticism over the federal response to Hurricane Katrina, President Bush said Tuesday he will oversee an investigation into what went wrong and why — in part to be sure the country could withstand more storms or attack.

Bush also announced he is sending Vice President Dick Cheney to the Gulf Coast region on Thursday to help determine whether the government is doing all that it can.

"Bureaucracy is not going to stand in the way of getting the job done for the people," the president said after a meeting at the White House with his Cabinet on storm recovery efforts.

"What I intend to do is lead an investigation to find out what went right and what went wrong," Bush said. "We still live in an unsettled world. We want to make sure we can respond properly if there is a WMD (weapons of mass destruction) attack or another major storm."


TPM Reader GJ checks in ...

Lot of talk going around this town this morning that Pres Bush and the head of the National Weather Service both called Mayor Nagin in advance of the storm to tell him to get off his butt and call in the Guard. They found him at home. I don’t know where this came from, haven’t seen it myself. Sounds like the slime machine. Have you seen any such report?

Bush called Nagin?

An exchange with a reader ...

TPM Reader JS: "Conservative colleague of mine chortling this morning: said he heard on Imus this AM that the reason the poor didn't evacuate from New Orleans before the storm is because they were waiting for their welfare checks. If true, about on par with Barbara Bush. Can it be confirmed?"

TPM: "I think this may be an extremely disfigured version of some factual information. the storm hit on the 29th. people on public assistance get their checks on the first of the month. so there is a lot of anecdotal information that quite a few people who live from check to check had no cash on hand by the end of the month and thus had no money to leave town. so, i guess one could say they "were waitng for their welfare checks" but [that] leaves a rather misleading impression."

AFP, Sept. 2nd, 2005: "[Sen.]Vitter, speaking to reporters at the emergency response center in Baton Rouge, also said he gave the federal government a grade 'F' for its response to the disaster so far."

CNN, Sept. 5th, 2005 ...

Anderson Cooper: Senator, on Friday, you gave the federal government an "F" for their efforts. What grade do you gave them right now.

SEN. DAVID VITTER (R), LOUISIANA: Yeah, first of all, Friday, I gave all of the organized government relief effort an "F," state and federal. I think it's turned a corner, in fact, it began to turn later that day, Friday, when it essentially became an unprecedented military operation, not only National Guard, but major active duty military.

Rep. Boustany (R-LA) got the memo too.

No correction or retraction yet from Newsweek on the Blanco/State of Emergency error, it seems. And no explanation from the Post about whether their version of the canard was the product of an error on the part of their reporter or, as seems more likely, a deliberate piece of misinformation they passed on from a high-level White House source without verifying it first.

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.