i took the atrios challenge - who's your fema flunky? - and found out that ... I don't have one. and I live in california, which is universally expected to be the site of the next massive u.s. disaster. what we have is an acting director, karen armes.
armes is a career government employee, not a crony, but until 2000 her entire career seems to have spent in budgeting and accounting (with, as jill points out, an undergrad degree in recreation.) her appearance on la's ken and john show (listen here) is a classic case of government apologism, defending fema's catastrophic behavior in new orleans and refusing to promise action during a california earthquake in less than 72 hours. her interviewers ain't buyin' it, as you can hear (link courtesy of l.a. watchdog).
armes has been the "acting" director since last year, when the last bush appointee left. that was jeff griffin, a businessman and former republican mayor of reno. a whole year with an interim leader for the most populous and high-risk state, as well as neighboring states (plus hawaii and some offshore islands)?
maybe they think that, after reagan and schwarzenegger, we like "acting" leaders here in the golden state. we may stay in this holding pattern, with a non-professional at the wheel, until the "big one" hits. I see that atrios' region is led by an "acting director," too. anyone done a head count to see how many permanent regional directors are in place?