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    05 September 2005

    Foolish Fratboys Fudged FEMA

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    Bush appointed inexperienced cronies to head FEMA. This could have something to do with FEMA's piss poor response to Katrina.

    From Paul Krugman:
    "Several recent news analyses on FEMA's sorry state
    have attributed the agency's decline to its inclusion
    in the Department of Homeland Security, whose prime
    concern is terrorism, not natural disasters. But that
    supposed change in focus misses a crucial part of the
    story.

    For one thing, the undermining of FEMA began as soon
    as President Bush took office. Instead of choosing a
    professional with expertise in responses to disaster
    to head the agency, Mr. Bush appointed Joseph
    Allbaugh, a close political confidant. Mr. Allbaugh
    quickly began trying to scale back some of FEMA's
    preparedness programs.

    You might have expected the administration to
    reconsider its hostility to emergency preparedness
    after 9/11 - after all, emergency management is as
    important in the aftermath of a terrorist attack as it
    is following a natural disaster. As many people have
    noticed, the failed response to Katrina shows that we
    are less ready to cope with a terrorist attack today
    than we were four years ago.

    But the downgrading of FEMA continued, with the
    appointment of Michael Brown as Mr. Allbaugh's
    successor.

    Mr. Brown had no obvious qualifications, other than
    having been Mr. Allbaugh's college roommate. But Mr.
    Brown was made deputy director of FEMA; The Boston
    Herald reports that he was forced out of his previous
    job, overseeing horse shows. And when Mr. Allbaugh
    left, Mr. Brown became the agency's director. The raw
    cronyism of that appointment showed the contempt the
    administration felt for the agency; one can only
    imagine the effects on staff morale."

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