Many right-wing pundits have made the case that during New Orleans’ mandatory evacuation the city should have fired up the school and metro area buses and loaded folks up and taken them out of town. I think that’s a good deal of Monday morning quarterbacking. Pre-disaster, where exactly are you going to bus tens of thousands of people? The logistics are complex, daunting, and well-beyond the capacities of most city governments. THIS IS WHY FEMA EXISTS. There are things that the citizens and their local governments cannot do—build roads, provide emergency services, etc.—and for this we pay tax dollars to the federal government.

If you read the below-linked articles, what will come disturbingly clear is that the federal government is no more prepared to execute its basic functions than they were on 9/11. Imagine—it’s not hard—that the New Orleans levees had been breached through terrorist act. Would the federal government’s response have been any more rapid or coordinated? Remember: They had about a week of warning regarding Katrina’s approach, and the did emergency drills on exactly this scenario in 1994.

The truth is the Bush administration gutted FEMA, made it part of a woefully managed Homeland Security Department, and sprinkled it with bumbling political appointees. If FEMA were an isolated thing it would be bad enough. That it represents the quality of the work done by the ever-in-denial Bush Administration in virtually every area of government ought to be cause for weeping, for the tragedy of New Orleans is that ignorance, ineptitude, and imbecility by people in authority can cost lives. Under the Bush presidency we all have reason to fear.

The big disconnect on New Orleans, wherein CNN gives you the official version of events followed by reality.

Mayor to feds: ‘Get off your asses’ — a frank conversation with the mayor of New Orleans about the FEMA’s work and the rest of the federal (lack of) response.

They Knew What to Expect. Wired‘s damning article about just how bungled the Federal government’s response has been.

Brown pushed from last job: Horse group: FEMA chief had to be ‘asked to resign’ — Who’s in charge of FEMA? A GOP activist with “no significant experience that would have qualified him for the position.”

Homeland Insecurity. When FEMA was doling out dollars for it’s brand new Pre-Disaster Mitigation program in 2002, why did Louisiana get bupkis?

Disaster in the making. “…since 2001, key federal disaster mitigation programs, developed over many years, have been slashed and tossed aside.”

Flood-control funds short of requests. US Army Corp of Engineers requests $27 million for New Orleans, Bush offers $3.9 million, Congress gives $5.7 million.

Editorial blasts federal response. The Times-Picayune of New Orleans gets it right: “Every official at the Federal Emergency Management Agency should be fired, Director Michael Brown especially.”