If you haven't seen it already, definitely check out the South Florida Sun-Sentinel's in-depth history of fraud and politics at FEMA. They started this series way before Katrina, and their investigations show that this goes way beyond the incompetence or misplaced priorities of any political party or presidential administration (although some have been more egregious than others).

As they write, "The handling of aid to victims of Hurricane Katrina is only the latest in a series of missteps and fraud that has plagued this tax-funded government agency." The paper did an in-depth analysis of 20 recent disasters, and the findings are eye-opening.

It's not an anti-government screed, but a sobering account of how political maneuvering and other dubious factors have frequently over-ridden the public interest -- and hurt countless people in the process.