Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

These guys are always one step ahead of you.

Back on Monday I told you how the Bush crony catastrophe contracts bonanza would be so big it might even tempt Bush fixer Joe Allbaugh to bring his influence-peddling racket back stateside.

Well, as TPM Reader JV points out, that ship's already sailed.

This article from the September 1st edition of the Post noted that Allbaugh was already in Louisiana "helping coordinate the private-sector response to the storm."

Now, if you figure that an article that appeared on the September 1st was probably reported out on Wednesdy August 31st, perhaps this is one of those cases that show how the public sector just can't match the pace of the private sector, seeing as Allbaugh seems to have beaten most of the folks from FEMA, the agency he ran before handing it off to Michael Brown, into the disaster area.

I also must confess that I'd been so focused on Allbaugh's Iraq operation, that I had lost track of what he was up to on the domestic rain-making activities.

First, there's Blackwell Fairbanks, the outfit he set up with Andrew Lundquist, the guy who ran Vice President Cheney's energy policy task force. And then of course there's Allbaugh's main shop, The Allbaugh Company, the one Haley Barbour helped him set up along with New Bridge Strategies, the Iraq venture.

I figure he's in Louisiana wearing the Allbaugh Company hat, seeing as how a few months back he signed on as a lobbyist for Halliburton subsidiary KBR to "educate the congressional and executive branch on defense, disaster relief and homeland security issues."

I had heard it suggested by a knowledgable source that a White House representative was listening in when National Hurricane Center Chief Max Mayfield gave that briefing to Brown and Chertoff before Katrina hit.

But according to this August 30th article in the St. Petersburg Times, on Sunday the 28th, Mayfield arranged a video conference call with President Bush himself at the Crawford Ranch during which he explained the hurricane's force and destructive potential.

Perhaps this is common knowledge. But I hadn't heard it before. And it would seem to leave little question that the president himself knew the critical information from Mayfield before Katrina even made landfall.

Said Mayfield, according to the Times: "I just wanted to be able to go to sleep that night knowing that I did all I could do."

(ed.note: Special thanks to TPM Reader BP for the tip.)

Does anyone have a tape measure?

Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, said the administration is "getting a bad rap" for the emergency response.

"This is the largest disaster in the history of the United States, over an area twice the size of Europe," Stevens said. "People have to understand this is a big, big problem."

From AP.

Late Update: Stevens' size of Europe quote has now been pulled from the piece, as of about 10:38 PM.

The real story about the Brown memo below is, How did it get public? The knives, or rather, not the knives, but the long knife seems to be out for Michael Brown now.

But really, who put this joker in the job? And his number two? A Bush campaign advance man. His number three? A Bush campaign "media strategist".

Who appointed these guys?

Off the AP Wire: "The government's disaster chief waited until hours after Hurricane Katrina had already struck the Gulf Coast before asking his boss to dispatch 1,000 Homeland Security employees to the region — and gave them two days to arrive, according to internal documents. Michael Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, sought the approval from Homeland Security Secretary Mike Chertoff roughly five hours after Katrina made landfall on Aug. 29. Brown said that among duties of these employees was to "convey a positive image" about the government's response for victims. Before then, FEMA had positioned smaller rescue and communications teams across the Gulf Coast. But officials acknowledged Tuesday the first department-wide appeal for help came only as the storm raged."

Not certain what to make of this -- but it's an interview with a local mortuary director in the Shelbyville (Tenn.) Times-Gazette. The mortician, Dan Buckner, is part of DMORT (Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team), which is a volunteer wing of the Department of Homeland Security called in to set up morgues and process bodies in major domestic disasters. And he's been deployed to Gulfport, Miss. Bucker tells the paper that "DMort is telling us to expect up to 40,000 bodies." And he goes on to say that that number does not "include the number of disinterred remains that have been displaced from ... mausoleums."

(ed.note: A note of thanks, if that's the word, to TPM Reader EO for the sobering tip.)

On the Al Franken show this afternoon I mentioned this article from today's Salt Lake Tribune which tells the story of about a thousand firefighters from around the country who volunteered to serve in the Katrina devastation areas. But when they arrived in Atlanta to be shipped out to various disaster zones in the region, they found out that they were going to be used as FEMA community relations specialists. And they were to spend a day in Atlanta getting training on community relations, sexual harassment awareness, et al. This of course while life and death situations were still the order of the day along a whole stretch of the Gulf Coast.

It's an article you've really got a to read to appreciate the full measure of folly and surreality.

But the graf at the end of the piece really puts everything in perspective, and gives some sense what the Bush administration really has in mind when it talks about a crisis. The paper reports that one team finally was sent to the region ...

As specific orders began arriving to the firefighters in Atlanta, a team of 50 Monday morning quickly was ushered onto a flight headed for Louisiana. The crew's first assignment: to stand beside President Bush as he tours devastated areas.

You can't make this stuff up.