Are the people of New Orleans a priority?

There has been speculation that the relief efforts to New Orleans have been intentionally slow and limited in the interest of killing off the poorest people in the city. This talk is getting louder in public forums (see for examples). Some are saying that leeves were actually broken to further flooding in poor areas and that Federal efforts have been lax in an effort to allow the most vulnerable to perish.

I don’t want to believe in this type of conspiracy, but honestly, it is hard to not at least consider it in light of all that has happened. The outrage towards the Federal Government on down should be incredible: their hand in this disaster is clear.

For example:
— Where is our National Guard (the people who would normally provide the infrastructure and aid in this type of situation)? They are in Iraq. Priorities?
— Why not air drops of water and supplies to unflooded areas?
— Why were shelters not supplied with food and water?
— As one of the poorest cities in the country, 20% of the residents of New Orleans have no vehicle. However, the buses stopped running several days before the storm. People who relied on public transportation to obtain emergency supplies or to leave town were stuck unprotected.
— A significant portion of the emergency (FEMA) budget was moved into Homeland Security to support the President’s “war” in Iraq. (See more about this here.)
— Military forces were prepared to enter New Orleans as long as two days ago to help handle the violence, yet could not because they had not (and to our knowledge, still have not) been given a Presidential direction to do so.

The reality feels as if New Orleans, irregularless of its status as a vitual U.S. port, the high percentages of vulnerable Americans who live within, and high risk of disaster… despite all of this, there was little to no solid budget, plan, or action for this type of event.