Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 6, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

ALLBAUGH AND BROWN AT FEMA....Russ Baker has a very long investigative report over at the Real News Project about our old friends Joe Allbaugh and Michael Brown. Allbaugh, as you recall, was appointed head of FEMA by George Bush in 2001 and was responsible for bringing his buddy Brown on board to eventually become FEMA's director when Allbaugh quit.

The following paragraph is certainly not the most important part of Baker's story, but it's my favorite. The time is 2001, and Allbaugh has just taken over from James Lee Witt, Bill Clinton's FEMA director:

Allbaugh soon embarked on a Nixonian purge. Acting upon his orders, a reluctant inspector general launched a series of internal investigations, looking at everything undertaken by the Witt administration, including Witts own travel expenses. Nothing of note was found, and on several occasions the I.G. proclaimed his job done, only to be told to keep looking. Allbaugh launched his longest investigation into a headdress that used to hang on James Lee Witts wall, a token of appreciation from a Native American tribe in recognition of his efforts following the Oklahoma City bombing. Someone said it might contain feathers from the protected bald eagle a federal offense but the probe, which even involved the F.B.I., fizzled when they turned out to be dyed chicken feathers.

Brings back memories, doesn't it?

The bulk of the story is about the rise of both Allbaugh and Brown, and what kind of relationship they really had prior to coming to Washington DC as part of the Bush administration. Fascinating stuff.

The full story is here. An executive summary is here.

Kevin Drum 12:53 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (60)

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Comments

Cronyism is a dish best served cold...

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 6, 2006 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

Oy

Posted by: VBJ on February 6, 2006 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

Political blogging must be the easiest job these days. The stories just write themselves.

No wonder Kevin seems to have gone soft on the people responsible for lightening his workload- the Bushistas.

Posted by: lib on February 6, 2006 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

It's all about giving a heckuva blow job.

Posted by: Kenji on February 6, 2006 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

They (Republicans) hounded Clinton for 8 yrs and then impeached him, have taken absolute control of the Congress, Executive, and Judicial branches of government and are still on vendettas against Clinton appointed government employees. Will they ever be satisfied?

Posted by: cq on February 6, 2006 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

It's all about giving a heckuva blow job.

Or even a lousy one.

Posted by: shortstop on February 6, 2006 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

Fucking fuckedty fuck fuck.

Just when you think it can't possibly get any worse, you read something like that.

Is there one single thing these people have done that was actually in the interests of the US as a whole? One? Apparently not.

Posted by: craigie on February 6, 2006 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

If the Clintonites have nothing to hide why would they be afraid of a thorough investigation to ensure they did nothing wrong, unethical, or illegal?

Posted by: Al on February 6, 2006 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

David Mamet: Is there one single thing these people have done that was actually in the interests of the US as a whole?

Do Not Call list. Hell of a legacy.

Posted by: shortstop on February 6, 2006 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

"the interests of the US as a whole"?

That's commie talk, boy. We'll be watching you.

Posted by: Kenji on February 6, 2006 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

A lot of these people chose to work in politics in the days of the wonderful, idealistic Reagan, were offended by the Iran-Contra invesigations, matured doing what they considered tit-for-tat against Clinton, and (I think) are convinced that this is the way politics is conducted.

Coupled with a belief that government incompetence is inevitable, it's how they maintain their self-respect.

Posted by: Lindata on February 6, 2006 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

So typical of the present crop of Republicans. They were so convinced that Clinton was "dirty" that they turned over heaven and earth to get something on him. And found nothing more than the political corruption that abounds in every administration, of either party.

Meanwhile, the Shrubbery makes plans for a power grab.

Posted by: Paul_J on February 6, 2006 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Nothing surprises me about bullet head - In early 01, the Seattle area had an earthquake - Cheney and Allbaugh did helicopter flyovers.
Prior to the earthquake, Seattle was one of seven cities which conducted a Federal program teaching homeowners and business owners how to retrofit. Cheney wanted to lop the program from the budget. So, from the air, Bullet Head and Dickie determined that retrofitting was not cost effective. Allbaugh refused to explain any of this to local reporters. Simply said that it didn't work, even though letters to the editors of local papers said the opposite.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on February 6, 2006 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

That's commie talk, boy. We'll be watching you.

That's why I have to type this stuff in the dark.

shortstop:
and yet, as you agreed last night, even the Do Not Call list could be improved.

Karl Rove: Worst President Ever.

Posted by: craigie on February 6, 2006 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

I was just damning Bush with so-faint-the-hound-can-barely-pick-it-up praise, craigie.

Sort of like leaving a two-cent tip would send a stronger messages than just stiffing the server (mostly that the tipper is an ass, but still).

Posted by: shortstop on February 6, 2006 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Al,

No doubt you raise this same argument when your doctor prepares to give you the annual prostate exam.

"Geez, doc, why are you only using one finger for 15 seconds, when you could use your whole fist for 15 minutes. Anything less wouldn't be a thorough examination."

Best Wishes,
Seamus

Posted by: Seamus on February 6, 2006 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

Well, they came up with dyed chicken feathers. Personally, I'm amazed they didn't find some way to take Witt down with that. I mean, they managed to take out Murtha, Kerry, and Cleland for the crime of disstinguished military service...

Posted by: theorajones on February 6, 2006 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

So does this mean that after all that puffery, the feathers are actually chickenhawk?

Posted by: Jon Karak on February 6, 2006 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

BTW - This slime your predecessor trick at FEMA was also used by the White House directly.

Anyone else reminded about those "White House was trashed by the Clinton staff" stories right after the transition? (You know, the stories with the "W" missing on all the computers.) Anyone remember that the GAO (Gov't Accountability Office) later determined that there was no basis for the stories?

The stories worked wonderfully as PR though. They instantly got the press off the stories of those pesky Florida "did he really win" stories. Managed to trash the Clintons - and made the new gang look so responsible.

Thought I'd remind folks...

Posted by: Samuel Knight on February 6, 2006 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

All I want is for the Bush Junta to receive a fraction of the scrutinty that Clinton and his people got. It won't happen with this Congress, but when the time finally comes, the depths of corruption will be stygian...

Posted by: Mr. Bill on February 6, 2006 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

I really, really wish it would be as easy as forcing people to sit down and read what these people have done and are doing. But then, even I'd get tired of it after a while, as it would likely take any person several days on end.

Posted by: Brian on February 6, 2006 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

More evidence this administration is the most corrupt in the history of the United States. What little evidence that was ever found against a Clinton official is inconsequential, compared to these criminals.

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on February 6, 2006 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

I was just damning Bush with so-faint-the-hound-can-barely-pick-it-up praise, craigie.

Yes, I'm feeling a bit too literal today!

Posted by: craigie on February 6, 2006 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

"Do Not Call List"

Well, their Leave No Terrorist Behind on the job training program of IED development appears to be exploding, er expanding hourly.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on February 6, 2006 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Managed to trash the Clintons - and made the new gang look so responsible.

I remember that story--it was a Rush Limbaugh driven thing, wasn't it?

So much for the 'daddy party' being in charge.

More like the 'creepy daddy who wears plaid and can't stop jiggling the change in his front pockets party.'

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 6, 2006 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

Hard to believe how small and fearful these people are.

Posted by: Jake on February 6, 2006 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

Let me rephrase that so as to be more analogically precise:

"Hey doc, I'm certain I don't have cancer. In fact, I'm so certain that I'd like you to skip the typical finger test and move right on up to the whole hand procedure. Make sure you poke around in there for a good long time, so nobody thinks I'm trying to hide anything."

Toodles,
Seamus

Posted by: Seamus on February 6, 2006 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

It's all about giving a heckuva blow job.

Or even a lousy one.


Lousy blow job???

Posted by: arkie on February 6, 2006 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

Samuel Knight makes an important point with the "trashed the WH" and "removed the Ws from the keyboards" reminder: just HOW MUCH TIME AND EFFORT was spent by the entire Cheney Cabal on "initiatives" like this during their first, oh, I dunno, say, 8 months in office?

Perhaps Condi wasn't lying when she testified that no one could have imagined terrorists hijacking planes and flying them into buildings -- they were all too busy trying to figure out how to continue to smear Clinton.

Posted by: The Confidence Man on February 6, 2006 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

"Well, they came up with dyed chicken feathers."

A possible illegal gift from Tyson Foods?

Posted by: arkie on February 6, 2006 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

Meanwhile, some good questions for the honesty adminstration

Posted by: craigie on February 6, 2006 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

arkie, yeah, think newly installed braces.

Posted by: Keith G on February 6, 2006 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

That article is excellent but the content is so awful I can barely stomach it. My head is actually reeling right now.

Posted by: Greg on February 6, 2006 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

I would guess that the full story about the resonsibility of FEMA has not yet been written. What you see trickle down are the results of scattershot reporting by biased journalists who have an axe to grind. The reporters' irrational hatred of the President and their misunderstanding of the basic laws of economics and science does not help matters much.

When the truth finally comes out, a lot of people will be quite astonished.

Posted by: tbrosz on February 6, 2006 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

Is Bush going to give back the 100,000 dollars he got from that guy he doesn't know.

Posted by: GOP liar on February 6, 2006 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

Scattershot. trbroz.

Oh, yes, please.

Posted by: CFShep on February 6, 2006 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

Good one T-spin, you give the best Blow Job Rush has ever had.

Posted by: GOP liar on February 6, 2006 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

.. but the probe, which even involved the F.B.I., fizzled when they turned out to be dyed chicken feathers.

Yeah but did they test the feathers for semen stains?

Posted by: koreyel on February 6, 2006 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

koreyel on February 6, 2006 at 2:36 PM:

Yeah but did they test the feathers for semen stains?

Won't happen; human-animal hybrids have become recently popular with the current administration, remember?

BTW, good one, fake tbrosz...'tho you're starting to sound more like rdw.

Posted by: grape_crush on February 6, 2006 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

If the Clintonites have nothing to hide why would they be afraid of a thorough investigation to ensure they did nothing wrong, unethical, or illegal? - Al

Gee, umm... If Bush has nothing to hide, why would they be afraid of a thorough investigation...

Posted by: Crissa on February 6, 2006 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

...'tho you're starting to sound more like rdw.

Interesting. I have never read rdw.

Seems like one type of idiocy is indistinguishable from the other.

Posted by: tbrosz on February 6, 2006 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

The reporters' irrational hatred of the President and their misunderstanding of the basic laws of economics and science does not help matters much. -tbroz

I would really, really, like to see the science behind this statement. Totally. Where's the methodology which would be able to point towards these conclusions?

Posted by: Crissa on February 6, 2006 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

There's no better way to describe Allbaugh than...scumbag. Maybe douchebag.

These two guys symbolize Crooks, Cronies, Corruption, and (in)Competence.

The 4 C's.

Posted by: Jimm on February 6, 2006 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

I would guess that the full story about the resonsibility of FEMA has not yet been written. What you see trickle down are the results of scattershot reporting by biased journalists who have an axe to grind. The reporters' irrational hatred of the President and their misunderstanding of the basic laws of economics and science does not help matters much.

Hm. They should be "re-educated", right, by the fine folks heading up NASA efforts, who think the accumulated research and work of cosmologist is nothing more than an opinion? And that it should be given equal time with religion?

Yeah, guess that'll help a lot....

With this much correlation, I think we CAN conclude causation....

Posted by: gwangung on February 6, 2006 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

Confidence Man is leading to the big question: who was in office the 8 months before 9-11?

Thus, who should take responsibility for it?

Posted by: Samuel Knight on February 6, 2006 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

So did they give Bush back his chicken feathers?

Posted by: peBird on February 6, 2006 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, the link doesn't work. Is realnews down?

Posted by: Tripp on February 6, 2006 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

Is there a complete on-line list of the various scandals, blunders, and criminal activities of the Bush administration?

I've been reading about so many of these that not only do I have outrage fatigue, I can't remember the whole history.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on February 6, 2006 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

(fake)tbrosz on February 6, 2006 at 3:02 PM:

Interesting. I have never read rdw.

Good for you...Reading rdw is like smoking cigarettes; you're better off if you never start either one...If rdw is actually a parody, then someone has way too much time on their hands...

Seems like one type of idiocy is indistinguishable from the other.

IMHO, (real)tbrosz hasn't mainlined the kool-aid like rdw has...Still, your imitation is top notch.

Posted by: grape_crush on February 6, 2006 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

The link is incorrect. The correct link (to the full story) is:
www.realnews.org/rn/content/index1e49.html?option=com_content&task=view&id=11&itemid=9

Posted by: Jim on February 6, 2006 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK
id they give Bush back his chicken feathers? Posted by: peBird
Yes, there is an entire feather duster's worth protruding from his backside. Posted by: Mike on February 6, 2006 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

"The stories ... Managed to trash the Clintons - and made the new gang look so responsible.

Thought I'd remind folks..."

Hmmm, remindin' folks. Sounds like more commie talk. We'll be watching you.

Posted by: Kenji on February 6, 2006 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

Jim at 5:51, thanks for the correct link. But does anyone know the correct link for the "Executive Summary"? I saw it this morning when I clicked, but when I wanted to show my husband I get a "Server Not Found" message. I googled and couldn't find the picture anywhere.

Posted by: Emily on February 6, 2006 at 7:18 PM | PERMALINK

I found the Executive Summary. I wanted to read the whole article, so I'm glad we've got that, but the picture on the exec. summary is priceless. You can see it here
http://realnews.org/rn/content/index.html

Posted by: Emily on February 6, 2006 at 7:57 PM | PERMALINK

As the article notes, the downfall of FEMA was not purely cronyism (although that was a a large piece of it). But also the notion that FEMA had been "too successful" and that its functions should be given over to poilitically-friendly charities.

Posted by: Ed Tracey on February 6, 2006 at 8:10 PM | PERMALINK

I've had it with the ultraliberals on this site who who malign the insightful commentary of tbroz. After all, Katrina may have seemed bad, but the rain lasted only about 2 days. It's a scientific fact that if not for the election of George Bush and the prayers of his supporters, it would have been 40 days and 40 nights of rain flooding every city in the world. How do you think FEMA would have dealt with that?

Posted by: Alex on February 6, 2006 at 11:27 PM | PERMALINK

Nothing surprises me about bullet head - In early 01, the Seattle area had an earthquake - Cheney and Allbaugh did helicopter flyovers.
Prior to the earthquake, Seattle was one of seven cities which conducted a Federal program teaching homeowners and business owners how to retrofit. Cheney wanted to lop the program from the budget. So, from the air, Bullet Head and Dickie determined that retrofitting was not cost effective. Allbaugh refused to explain any of this to local reporters. Simply said that it didn't work, even though letters to the editors of local papers said the opposite.

Posted by: http://www.phytolink.net/Vocabulario-especifico.html on February 7, 2006 at 6:34 AM | PERMALINK

The post at 6:34 AM is by an ASS from Seattle who runs poker online - Likes to have street people pass out flyers around Seattle - pays them virtually nothing and brags about throwing them bones. Yuppie lives in Belltown and is garbage.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on February 7, 2006 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

If the Clintonites have nothing to hide why would they be afraid of a thorough investigation to ensure they did nothing wrong, unethical, or illegal?

Hardly a day goes by that Bush doesn't appoint another independent prosecutor.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on February 7, 2006 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Is anyone planning to fix the links in the story, so that other people won't have to wade through the comments to get to them?

Posted by: Capt. Jean-Luc Pikachu on February 7, 2006 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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