Saturday, September 03, 2005

"Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job."

Only when compared to the totally inadequate botch job performance of President George Bush could FEMA director Michael Brown's performance be rewarded with such a vote of confidence.

Of course, only someone as inept as George Bush would have selected Brown for his position with FEMA in the first place. Michael Brown had only three qualifications for any job at FEMA, let alone its directorship. First, he was an assistant to the person responsible for emergency services for Edmond, Oklahoma for a few years in the late 1970s. Second, he is a Republican. Third, and most important, his old college friend, Joe Allbaugh, is one of George Bush's closest political advisors.

Allbaugh was rewarded by George Bush with the cabinet level FEMA leadership roll after his 2000 election. Prior to that Allbaugh served as Bush's Chief of Staff during his tenure as
Texas' governor. In 2003, Allbaugh left FEMA to pursue riches in the private sector, with a focus on the billions that would be made available to a well connected Republican in the rebuilding of Iraq. In March, Allbaugh became a registered lobbyist for Kellogg, Brown and Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton.

Allbaugh brought his old college pal, Michael Brown into FEMA when he took the agency over in 2001. Since his short stint in city government in the 1970's, Brown had been an estate planning lawyer and for the last eleven years of his professional career, he had been responsible as commissioner of steward and judges for an association of horse owners.

What is painfully, even criminally, on display here is the complete lack of concern that the Bush Administration and his Republican cronies have for that actual job of running the government of the
United States. Brown was and is completely unqualified for his job. He is a friend of a political crony of George Bush's. That and that alone are his qualifications.

The Bush Administration has no interest in the "hard work" of running the government of this country. In the case of FEMA, they took a once vital and effective government agency and destroyed it and its effectiveness. Leaving the remains with a political flunky in charge, apparently hoping that nothing bad would happen while they were in office.

Here's how an emergency management professional describes the Bush approach to the work of FEMA:

"The advent of the Bush administration in January 2001 signaled the beginning of the end for FEMA. The newly appointed leadership of the agency showed little interest in its work or in the missions pursued by the departed Witt [James Lee Witt, FEMA director under Bill Clinton].


[2001] it was announced that FEMA is to “officially” lose the disaster preparedness function that it has had since its creation. The move is a death blow to an agency that was already on life support.

In fact, FEMA employees have been directed not to become involved in disaster preparedness functions, since a new directorate (yet to be established) will have that mission.


Those of us in the business of dealing with emergencies find ourselves with no national leadership and no mentors. We are being forced to fend for ourselves...."

Can we survive three more years of Bush's leadership?