Meet Joseph Allbaugh

Steve Kaparski sent me a bunch of links about former FEMA chief Joseph Allbaugh that I then used to dig up more information about a man who epitomizes the three signature traits of this administration: economic darwinism, crony capitalism, and profiteering.

First this column from Michael Hiltzik at the L.A. Times:

New Orleans is, or should be, the graveyard of the conservative ideology that government is useless. An American city is reduced to Third World desperation as people who own nothing scrounge for necessities in a sea of waste and federal officials offer lame excuses about how their disaster plans would have worked fine had there not been, you know, a disaster. The president, at the head of a global power that can't get its own troops or supplies off their bases to reach the needful, whines, "The private sector needs to do its part."
This deplorable performance has deep roots. Joe M. Allbaugh, a Bush campaign hack without any crisis management experience who was named director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, disparaged federal disaster assistance as "an oversized entitlement program" before Congress in 2001. The public's expectations of government in a disaster situation, he said, "may have ballooned beyond what is an appropriate level." He advised stricken communities to rely for help on "faith-based organizations … like the Salvation Army and the Mennonite Disaster Service." ...
Cynicism on such a scale is self-perpetuating. Determined to portray government as little but an intrusion into people's lives, this gang made it irrelevant to hundreds of thousands of victims of Hurricane Katrina — thus giving them, and us, good reason to be cynical after all. [LINK]
Ne'er a truer word was said, but let's stick with Allbaugh for now -- just so we can be clear about how this cycle of cynicism works.

Tired of living on a paltry government salary, this little piggy then went on to head New Bridge Strategies, LLC, a company whose tagline reads as follows: "Helping to Rebuild a New Iraq." Just in case that isn't quite shameless enough, the PR copy on its website makes the company's mission painfully clear: "New Bridge Strategies, LLC is a unique company that was created specifically with the aim of assisting clients to evaluate and take advantage of business opportunities in the Middle East following the conclusion of the U.S.-led war in Iraq."

I can only assume that Chairman and Director Joseph Allbaugh must have done a stellar job of offering "the very best advice and guidance available" to Halliburton because he was hired in March by its subsidiary Kellogg, Brown, & Root. Here's what the Washington Examiner had to say about it:
Allbaugh, a close adviser to Bush during his Texas days, registered to lobby on behalf of Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR), Halliburton's construction and engineering subsidiary. Allbaugh's wife and partner at the Allbaugh Company, Diane Allbaugh, is also listed on the registration, which was filed last week with the Senate Office of Public Records.
In a statement, a spokeswoman for Halliburton said Allbaugh had not been commissioned to do any direct lobbying.
"KBR hired Joe Allbaugh as a consultant to provide strategy support for our Government and Infrastructure business," the statement read. "Mr. Allbaugh has not been tasked with any lobbying responsibilities."
But Allbaugh's lobbying disclosure form says the company will "educate the congressional and executive branch on defense, disaster relief and homeland security issues." [LINK]
Disaster relief? Turns out disaster relief is okay as long as it is an over-sized corporate entitlement program. That must be why the company was asked by the Navy to help clean up after Katrina:
The US Navy asked Halliburton to repair naval facilities damaged by Hurricane Katrina, the Houston Chronicle reported today. The work was assigned to Halliburton's KBR subsidiary under the Navy's $500 million CONCAP contract awarded to KBR in 2001 and renewed in 2004. The repairs will take place in Louisiana and Mississippi. ...
Since 1989, governments worldwide have awarded $3 billion in contracts to KBR's Government and Infrastructure Division to clean up damage caused by natural and man-made disasters. Earlier this year, the Navy awarded $350 million in contracts to KBR and three other companies to repair naval facilities in northwest Florida damaged by Hurricane Ivan, which struck in September 2004. [via Halliburton Watch]
So let's review. We slash funding for agencies like FEMA because relying on the government for disaster relief is a terrible idea -- and such a waste of our precious taxes. We instead pay a lot more of our taxpayer money to private corporations like KBR to do a lousy job. It's a very odd definition of 'small government' even by conservative standards. But at least dear Joe got himself a hefty pay raise, courtesy the American public.

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