Off Topic Messages

Liberal Media Admits Distortions on Katrina

Wed Sep 28, 2005 1:13 am

Unfortunately, bad news sells... at least now the libs are admitting they got it wrong.


Los Angeles Times: Katrina Takes a Toll on Truth, News Accuracy

Rumors supplanted accurate information and media magnified the problem. Rapes, violence and estimates of the dead were wrong.

By Susannah Rosenblatt and James Rainey, L.A. Times Staff Writers


BATON ROUGE, La. — Maj. Ed Bush recalled how he stood in the bed of a pickup truck in the days after Hurricane Katrina, struggling to help the crowd outside the Louisiana Superdome separate fact from fiction. Armed only with a megaphone and scant information, he might have been shouting into, well, a hurricane.

The National Guard spokesman's accounts about rescue efforts, water supplies and first aid all but disappeared amid the roar of a 24-hour rumor mill at New Orleans' main evacuation shelter. Then a frenzied media recycled and amplified many of the unverified reports.

"It just morphed into this mythical place where the most unthinkable deeds were being done," Bush said Monday of the Superdome.

His assessment is one of several in recent days to conclude that newspapers and television exaggerated criminal behavior in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, particularly at the overcrowded Superdome and Convention Center.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune on Monday described inflated body counts, unverified "rapes," and unconfirmed sniper attacks as among examples of "scores of myths about the dome and Convention Center treated as fact by evacuees, the media and even some of New Orleans' top officials."

Indeed, Mayor C. Ray Nagin told a national television audience on "Oprah" three weeks ago of people "in that frickin' Superdome for five days watching dead bodies, watching hooligans killing people, raping people."

Journalists and officials who have reviewed the Katrina disaster blamed the inaccurate reporting in large measure on the breakdown of telephone service, which prevented dissemination of accurate reports to those most in need of the information. Race may have also played a factor.

The wild rumors filled the vacuum and seemed to gain credence with each retelling — that an infant's body had been found in a trash can, that sharks from Lake Pontchartrain were swimming through the business district, that hundreds of bodies had been stacked in the Superdome basement.

"It doesn't take anything to start a rumor around here," Louisiana National Guard 2nd Lt. Lance Cagnolatti said at the height of the Superdome relief effort. "There's 20,000 people in here. Think when you were in high school. You whisper something in someone's ear. By the end of the day, everyone in school knows the rumor — and the rumor isn't the same thing it was when you started it."

Follow-up reporting has discredited reports of a 7-year-old being raped and murdered at the Superdome, roving bands of armed gang members attacking the helpless, and dozens of bodies being shoved into a freezer at the Convention Center.

Hyperbolic reporting spread through much of the media.

Fox News, a day before the major evacuation of the Superdome began, issued an "alert" as talk show host Alan Colmes reiterated reports of "robberies, rapes, carjackings, riots and murder. Violent gangs are roaming the streets at night, hidden by the cover of darkness."

The Los Angeles Times adopted a breathless tone the next day in its lead news story, reporting that National Guard troops "took positions on rooftops, scanning for snipers and armed mobs as seething crowds of refugees milled below, desperate to flee. Gunfire crackled in the distance."

The New York Times repeated some of the reports of violence and unrest, but the newspaper usually was more careful to note that the information could not be verified.

The tabloid Ottawa Sun reported unverified accounts of "a man seeking help gunned down by a National Guard soldier" and "a young man run down and then shot by a New Orleans police officer."

London's Evening Standard invoked the future-world fantasy film "Mad Max" to describe the scene and threw in a "Lord of the Flies" allusion for good measure.

Televised images and photographs affirmed the widespread devastation in one of America's most celebrated cities.

"I don't think you can overstate how big of a disaster New Orleans is," said Kelly McBride, ethics group leader at the Poynter Institute, a Florida school for professional journalists. "But you can imprecisely state the nature of the disaster. … Then you draw attention away from the real story, the magnitude of the destruction, and you kind of undermine the media's credibility."

Times-Picayune Editor Jim Amoss cited telephone breakdowns as a primary cause of reporting errors, but said the fact that most evacuees were poor African Americans also played a part.

"If the dome and Convention Center had harbored large numbers of middle class white people," Amoss said, "it would not have been a fertile ground for this kind of rumor-mongering."

Some of the hesitation that journalists might have had about using the more sordid reports from the evacuation centers probably fell away when New Orleans' top officials seemed to confirm the accounts.

Nagin and Police Chief Eddie Compass appeared on "Oprah" a few days after trouble at the Superdome had peaked.

Compass told of "the little babies getting raped" at the Superdome. And Nagin made his claim about hooligans raping and killing.

State officials this week said their counts of the dead at the city's two largest evacuation points fell far short of early rumors and news reports. Ten bodies were recovered from the Superdome and four from the Convention Center, said Bob Johannessen, spokesman for the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.

(National Guard officials put the body count at the Superdome at six, saying the other four bodies came from the area around the stadium.)

Of the 841 recorded hurricane-related deaths in Louisiana, four are identified as gunshot victims, Johannessen said. One victim was found in the Superdome but was believed to have been brought there, and one was found at the Convention Center, he added.

Relief workers said that while the media hyped criminal activity, plenty of real suffering did occur at the Katrina relief centers.

"The hurricane had just passed, you had massive trauma to the city," said Lt. Col. Pete Schneider of the Louisiana National Guard.

"No air conditioning, no sewage … it was not a nice place to be. All those people just in there, they were frustrated, they were hot. Out of all that chaos, all of these rumors start flying."

Louisiana National Guard Col. Thomas Beron, who headed security at the Superdome, said that for every complaint, "49 other people said, 'Thank you, God bless you.' "

The media inaccuracies had consequences in the disaster zone.

Bush, of the National Guard, said that reports of corpses at the Superdome filtered back to the facility via AM radio, undermining his struggle to keep morale up and maintain order.

"We had to convince people this was still the best place to be," Bush said. "What I saw in the Superdome was just tremendous amounts of people helping people."

But, Bush said, those stories received scant attention in newspapers or on television.

Thu Sep 29, 2005 9:36 pm

And now for a counter-point from the liberal, anti-corporate media group known as "Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting" (FAIR).

http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=2659

MEDIA ADVISORY
Covering Katrina:
Has a More Critical Press Corps Emerged?
:

One of the most noted trends in the media coverage of Hurricane Katrina
has been the aggressive and critical tone some journalists have adopted
towards the White House and Bush administration officials.

A headline at the online magazine Slate read, "The Rebellion of the
Talking Heads" (9/2/05). "Katrina Rekindles Adversarial Media" is how USA
Today put it (9/6/05)—implying, of course, that an "adversarial" press
really existed in the first place.

Of course, this new attitude was not universal. After George W. Bush told
ABC's Diane Sawyer, "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the
levees" (9/1/05), many outlets questioned Bush's nonsensical claim,
pointing out that such predictions were common. But on the front page of
the next morning's New York Times (9/2/05), readers saw the headline
"Government Saw Flood Risks, But Not Levee Failure," which essentially
defended Bush's position.

The Times also defended Bush against critics who thought his reaction to
the crisis was insufficient. A photo of Bush accepting a guitar from a
country singer at an event in Calfornia--the day after the levees broke in
New Orleans and the Gulf Coast had been ravaged--seemed to illustrate that
point. But Times reporter Elisabeth Bumiller took issue with the fact
that bloggers "circulated a picture of Mr. Bush playing a guitar at an
event in California on Tuesday to imply that he was fiddling while New
Orleans drowned." Bumiller's rebuttal: "In fact, the picture was taken
when the country singer Mark Wills presented Mr. Bush with a guitar
backstage at North Island Naval Air Station in Coronado, Calif., after Mr.
Bush gave a speech marking the 60th anniversary of the Japanese surrender
in World War II." Times readers were left wondering what exactly was
wrong with the original presentation.

But Bush's response was not the only one that was criticized. Some
reporters seemed astonished when FEMA director Michael Brown said that his
agency had only heard about the gathering crisis at the New Orleans
convention center on September 1, leaving ABC anchor Ted Koppel to ask him
(9/1/05), "Don't you guys watch television? Don't you guys listen to the
radio?" But two days later, ABC's Cokie Roberts seemed to stick up for
Brown: "Well, I'm not sure who knew about it. Because, you know, nobody
had heard about anything but the Superdome up until that point and I'm not
sure who knew that people were at the convention center. It's on the river
so there was no, there was no directive to go there." Roberts must have
missed earlier media reports regarding the crisis at the convention
center, like a CNN interview with a New Orleans police officer about
moving people to that site on Aug. 31.

One of the primary--and visible--sources of frustration for many reporters
on the scene was the slow pace of rescue and relief support. But not all
reporters were downbeat about the White House's efforts. MSNBC's Chris
Matthews, for example, declared on August 31: "Tonight, under the direct
command of President Bush, the full force of the federal government is
mobilized. A superpower of resources, manpower and know-how heads on an
historic rescue mission to the Gulf Coast." Matthews later added that
Bush "seems very much like the old Harvard Business School kind of guy
that he is, the president of the United States, today, because he
delegated very clearly." The Washington Post editorialized the next day
(9/1/05) that "the federal government's immediate response to the
destruction of one of the nation's most historic cities does seem
commensurate with the scale of the disaster. At an unprecedented news
conference, many members of President Bush's Cabinet pledged to dedicate
huge resources to the Gulf Coast."

In fact, some media figures even offered optimistic predictions for Bush--
a clean slate of sorts. Washington Post columnist David Broder wrote
(9/4/05), "We cannot yet calculate the political fallout from Hurricane
Katrina and its devastating human and economic consequences, but one thing
seems certain: It makes the previous signs of political weakness for Bush,
measured in record-low job approval ratings, instantly irrelevant and
opens new opportunities for him to regain his standing with the public."

At the same time, media coverage has focused on how the White House has
been scrambling to repair its reputation, with top Bush advisers Dan
Bartlett and Karl Rove leading the concerted PR effort ("White House
Enacts a Plan to Ease Political Damage," New York Times—9/5/05). That
strategy was explained to the Times by an anonymous Republican who "said
that Mr. Rove had told administration officials not to respond to
Democratic attacks on Mr. Bush's handling of the hurricane... the
administration should not appear to be seen now as being blatantly
political." That source was granted anonymity "because of keen White
House sensitivity about how the administration and its strategy would be
perceived."

But the very next paragraph would suggest that the White House strategy
would in fact be "blatantly political"--as the Times put it, "In a
reflection of what has long been a hallmark of Mr. Rove's tough political
style, the administration is also working to shift the blame away from the
White House and toward officials of New Orleans and Louisiana who, as it
happens, are Democrats."

That might explain how the Washington Post (9/4/05) managed to report
that, according to a "senior Bush official," Louisiana governor Kathleen
Blanco "still had not declared a state of emergency" by September 3. In
fact, that declaration had come on August 26, as the Post later explained
in a correction.

Apart from that kind of PR spin, the overriding concerns of race and class
should have played a key role in a story where such realities were
impossible to dismiss or ignore. Though some outlets devoted significant
attention to the roles of race and class--particularly in New Orleans--by
some counts it was not nearly enough. A study by Think Progress (9/4/05),
a project of the liberal Center for American Progress, found that stories
focusing on race and class were in short supply on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News
Channel--just 1.6 percent of stories focused on race or class issues.

And certain comments were simply considered beyond the pale. During a
September 2 telethon, rapper Kanye West declared that "George Bush doesn't
care about black people" and that America is set up "to help the poor, the
black people, the less well-off as slow as possible." NBC edited his
remarks for the West Coast feed of the show and issued a press release
distancing the network from his words. NPR reporter Juan Williams,
appearing on Fox News Sunday (9/4/05), also dismissed West's comments:
"There are some people who are going so far as to say this week, 'Oh, the
president doesn't care about black people,' because there were so many
poor black people on the screens around the country as the victims of this
tragedy. Well, I can tell you, I think that's ridiculous. I think that's
kind of spouting off on people who don't know the president, don't know
this administration, don't know the people who work there." Apparently
West would think differently if he knew more White House staffers
personally.

Amidst the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, many mainstream journalists
seemed to display a skepticism towards official statements and government
spinning that has been absent for much of the last five years. While a
press corps that openly challenges the political elite would be a positive
development, readers and viewers should question why reporters who are
demonstrably angry and are covering this story aggressively have been so
rarely moved by other events. What if there was widespread media outrage
about White House fabrications about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction?
What if reporters were similarly outraged by the destruction of Iraqi
cities like Fallujah, where civilians who survived the siege had to live
without power and drinking water?

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, a more aggressive press corps seems
to have caught the White House public relations team off-balance-- a
situation the White House has not had to face very often in the last five
years. Many might wonder why it took reporters so long; as Eric Boehlert
wrote in Salon.com (9/7/05):


"It's hard to decide which is more troubling: that it took the national
press corps five years to summon up enough courage to report, without
apology, that what the Bush administration says and does are often two
different things, or that it took the sight of bodies floating facedown in
the streets of New Orleans to trigger a change in the press's behavior."

----------

http://www.fair.org/

Thu Sep 29, 2005 10:44 pm

We were led to believe there were mass rapes and murders at the Superdome and Convention Center, and the facts just don't mesh with what the "news" reported. And I include FoxNews among those that passed along rumors.

Thu Sep 29, 2005 10:55 pm

Frankly, the lack of violence makes the government's lame response to evacuees even more exasperating.

Check back at the number of times officials fell back on the "murderous savages running wild" excuse as the reason they couldn't get into New Orleans to do their jobs. (Of course, that didn't explain why they couldn't do their jobs in Mississippi either, but they preferred that no one discuss that.)

Now we find out the reason they didn't do anything was simply because they were incompetent -- and, in fact, let chaos breed.

If the government had been on the ground the way it now acknowledges it should have been, there might have been a more coherent, more accurate image of what was going on.

Instead you had dumb-ass Michael Brown saying he didn't even know thousands of people were languishing at the New Orleans convention center until days after we'd all seen footage of the crowds begging for help.

If the cadres of D.C. spokesmen had been deployed to deal with the real problem instead of covering Bush's dead ass, maybe the media would have had better information to draw on.

But of course, that's not the way the political machinery works.

Thu Sep 29, 2005 11:03 pm

Yup, the state and local government did screw up.

Keep drinking the Sheehan kook-aid.

Thu Sep 29, 2005 11:06 pm

It's clear the blame can be spread all over. No need to re-argue that.
Where we go from here is key.

Anyway, a local conservative is citing this NY Times article as interesting.

I'll read it later but here you go:

Fear Exceeded Crime's Reality in New Orleans
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/29/natio ... wanted=all

Fri Sep 30, 2005 12:00 am

Greg I finally read the Time article that was laying around a waiting room.

The bias was obvious. Sure, they pout Blanco in at second..but then they go on to say that the Governer shouldn't have to ask for a government take over....sure...lets forget that silly old constitution.

Funny how the FEMA director tore congress a new assshole with FACTS.

The funniest thing I heard was when the Mississipi congressman gave him an "F-" but yet his solution was to give everybody a full tank of gas??? What a f*cking idiot.

Here is an example of how local government failed..why were there pictures upon pictures of lines of cars going out of Louissiana, but yet the incoming lanes weren't being used at all? We have a state emergency and idiot Blanco can't have the other sides of the roades used..hmmm

Hell in the Time article itself they mention how Blaco didn't want Bush to steal the spolight from her as an excuse to keep control of the operation. Funny how so many continue to blame Bush anyway!

Brown had warned the Governer on Thursday, called the whitehouse on Saturday, and the George Bush himself asked Blanco about a millitary evacuation on Friday before in a memo. That twit said she had it handled. Yeah sure. Her dumbass is ready to shoot people on sight now, but what about when it came to the safety of the people?

Funny how Elvissessions above still doesn't get the concept that FEMA were SECONDARY responders that were to act in tandem with the state. Of course like Brown said...what am I supposed to do, reinstall a local government from the ground up in 3 days?

INCOMPETENTS, and people like ES can't get the concept that Federal Government should take a back seat. We have a duty to act as a republic.

Funny how so many liberal cry about "big business", but yet, want the federal government up their ass at every turn!

Fri Sep 30, 2005 12:11 am

Keep drinking the Sheehan kook-aid.


Five more good Americans dead today with a solemn promise from Bush this week of more to come.

Clearly, anyone who has a problem with that must be a kook.

"Keep the killing line running," that's the sane attitude, I guess.

Fri Sep 30, 2005 12:14 am

FEMA screwed up and continues to screw up.

Look at Houston this week when they had to close the help line down because FEMA still is not prepared for the number of people who need assistance. How can you excuse that?

When exactly does this "secondary response" start?

Fri Sep 30, 2005 1:33 am

I haven't followed the news with Texas lately, so I couldn't say the exact problem there. Besides, Texas isn't near the catastrophe that New Orleans was.

As it stands, my beef is with the New Orleans side, wich I did keep up with.

The Congress stated that Brown should have put more sattelites in....even though there were many key locations where they were put. The problem with setting up IMMEDIATE response is that you would have to put the communications in line with the eye of the hurricane.

Also there was many (I forget the name) dinners ready for people to eat. There were 18,000 per trailer, and there were up to X trailers in the area. The problem was with coordination, not lack of food or water. They had millions of gallons of water as well as hundreds of thousands of food trays.

Useless when you consider a local government who virtually did NOTHING.

Elvissessions why is it that you point a finger at the federal government FIRST and not at the local Police and Fireman who fled the scene..or helped to loot???

Brown stood his own quite well, and it was obvious that even I got him wrong. When he was in front of Congress, time and time again he presented FACTS, and just like on here, there was name calling in response.

Brown was an intelligent person who was more then competent to do the job. He did more then anyone in this time of crisis, and had his advice been listened to, there could have been a more thorough evacuation, and many of the senseless deaths could have been curbed.

They kept asking Brown...Why didn't you coordinate??? If local government is NON EXISTENT, then how the hell are you supposed to coordinate any kind of effort? What is he supposed to do...command the troops himself??

I still don't see how Brown is the first one to be grilled. The F*cked up rationale of some kills me. Why is it that so many are gung ho about taking the freedoms away from your state? How about pointing the finger where it should be???

Governer Blanco and Mayor Nagin sat around with thumbs up their asses complaining about the administration, yet doing NOTHING to ensure their people's safety. The system didn't fail, it was the leadership at the local level that did.

Fri Sep 30, 2005 1:46 am

Oh incidently Elvissessions, there is always going to be complaints. FEMA has a big job on their shouldiers, but RITA has been handled much better. Why..because there is a better local government that utilizes the help provided by the useless government program.

I couldn't care less if FEMA is dismantled. Power should be with the State not the federal government. FEMA is just an excuse of States to get lazy with disaster preparation.

Louissianna did NOTHING to prepare themselves for the floods that they knew were gonna happen. Blaming FEMA is just and excuse to shift anger. Sadly a good man resigned, and yet Mayor Nagin and Blanco still exist. FUBAR.

Fri Sep 30, 2005 2:33 am

Oh, let's not quarrel; we've been getting along so beautifully.

For my part, I'll agree with my Republican Texas congresswoman's remarks (an enviable 92 on the conservative voting report card, by the way) to Michael Brown: ""I don't know how you can sleep at night. You lost the battle."

Let's leave it at that.

Fri Sep 30, 2005 2:57 am

Genesim wrote:
Why is it that so many are gung ho about taking the freedoms away from your state?... Governer Blanco and Mayor Nagin sat around with thumbs up their asses complaining about the administration, yet doing NOTHING to ensure their people's safety.


A very astute observation. It's long been the attitude of the Socialist-leaning Left that personal (including local government) responsibility is overrated. They would prefer one giant federal tit to both suckle from and bitch to and that's that.

Fri Sep 30, 2005 4:01 am

Well, I hardly see how a conservatives who so readily champion
federal power in the foreign policy realm can be so quick
to be in favor of small government all of a sudden in the event of an national domestic emergency, but alas, these are the contradictions
of our federal-state system. I respect it even intellectually (sort of)
but wonder if we are getting it right as far as "getting the job done."

Personally, I think the notion of state and local power was long ago usurped ( in so many important ways), so I wonder how much of this stance in genuine, but I do
know that many conservatives in fact are seriously wary of large federal government in many ways. Still, the GOP is largely seen as the "big
guns" - the heroes- and I suppose Americans wanted that , too. Like it
or not, a chink was taken out of the President's aura of "Protector."
Anyway, the second term is always tough for Presidents should they
be so lucky to earn a second bout.

Genesim, thanks for taking a look at the TIME article. Like I've
told you, I've come around to seeing the levels of failure all around.

I really think Governor Blanco was in way over her head and speaks
as if she's "Mrs. Rogers." At this late date, no one should be elected who cannot also act like an old-fashioned take-charge leader .Mayor Naygin (sp?) was also not up to the task,
given that bus situation and various other ills, like that Police Chief Compass who just had to resign. Really, New Orleans and the great
Lousiana was a basket-case of corruption and can hardly hold merely
the feds to blame. (That "Levee Board" itself took a "The Band on the Titanic"-like approach
to their sole purpose.)

I agree that there's a pent-up "Let's Beat Up on Bush" party under way,
coupling with other bad news that he can't control, but I don't think
the federal response was that sterling either as Elvissessions points out.


At this point, I think stock is being taken over the notion of how we
ought to respond to such things the "next time." Even Hurricane
Rita saw President Bush (as much out of political reality) taking a more
aggressive and rapid approach, itself an acknowledgement that whatever
the city-state-federal lines, the Bush Adminstration realizes that the public
is not interested in the vagueries of jurisidiction but action - especially in
a time of growing insecurity about the ecoonomy, the war, and things
like the Avian Bird Flu. :shock: This being post -9/11, none of us
were encouraged. (I think I'll pick up some extra-duct tape tommorrow!
:oops: :shock: :lol: )

But seriously, and I'm very concerned on this issue:what I have found interesting is that both storms have finally prodded
all major cities and surrounding metropolitian areas to reconsider
and re-plot how they should respond to any (inevitable) terrorist
attack. Seeing the highways all backed up and folks running out of gas did not give me any comfort, nor did the mad rush for food or
the sluggish governental response - all levels. I hope my fellow Elvis fans here in the states have marked "National Preparedness Month" (I think it's beprepared.org ) by 'getting ready.'

Finger-pointing / Accountablilty is one thing, but I hope as Americans (I don't mean that to exclude anyone) these scenes have made us all think about
what we would/ will do for our families when / if the time comes.

Out of curiousity, are my fellow FECCers (anywhere ,come to think of it)
doing anything differently "just in case"? We used to snicker,
but Tom Ridge was right: Get yourself some duct tape!

"Have a Happy"! :D

Fri Sep 30, 2005 5:05 am

Yes a better America is a welcome thought. Fixing the problem is what is most important. Now...for that pesky problem. How about the fact that Texas just maybe has a better local government. Might have something to do with the more "aggressive" approach that Bush has taken.... For me I see no difference. The presidents job then and now is not to be anymore then a nuisance.

Well, I hardly see how a conservatives who so readily champion
federal power in the foreign policy realm..


Your damn right. Do you think I want Governer Blanco deciding the fate of a nation? The presidents job is to keep national security in mind. The States job is for localized matters. That is the difference.


to be in favor of small government all of a sudden in the event of an national domestic emergency, but alas, these are the contradictions
of our federal-state system.


I dont' see a contradiction. Bush left the power to the governer..and she freely screwed up. I am absolutely for small government in respect to state policy.

I respect it even intellectually (sort of) but wonder if we are getting it right as far as "getting the job done."


So what is the alternative? For me, if you want Bush to all of a sudden take over, then you are going to have to change the constitution. The "getting the job done" would be to punish those most directly involved. You have to start with the first responders...THE STATE GOVERNMENT. Until that is scrutinized, then yes our system is completely lost.

I will be the first to admit that Federal Government is not effecient when it comes to deciding how a state should run itsself. That is how it should be. We act as a republic and the rest shall fall into place. 9/11 has been compared to New Orleans time and time again, yet there are not even in the same level in anyway shape or form.

Fri Sep 30, 2005 5:31 am

I'm not surprised that you and I at least agree on making a better America." It can sound corny, but it's exactly what has to be done.

Still, the state and local governments are very much dependent
on federal tax dollars. It's hard to imagine that either is some kind
of Jeffersonian ideal. After all, during the Great Depression, the
localities were unable to address the demands placed upon them
and the federal government, rightly or wrongly supplanted the localities.
States like Louisiana, Mississippi, and others to this day probably receive
a disproportionate share of federal projects and largesse when one
considers their actual population density.

I'm also not so sure that the locals are "better" at defending themselves.
Gov. Blanco is a text-book example of why we need strong federal
leadership. The states have never been something to take much stock in,
and likewise with cities like New Orleans which grow corrupt in a way
that our federal government serves to check.

There already is serious talk about clearing up any legal roadblocks
that will prevent the feds from taking decisive action. That Civil War-era
statue itself has been put into focus as something that just doesn't make
sense in 2005.

We're the United States. Let's rebuild and get our act together.

Too much partisan squabling (on both sides) will play into Americans'
cynicism. To the degree that Katrina reminded folks of the
poor (particuarly the the rather backward "underclass" as conservative Charles Murray wrote about in a provocative essay columnist in today's Wall Street Journal), then it's a starting point on whole other issues.

The news this fall (having long forgotten the missing "Natalie Holliday in Aruba" case) reminds me of that period after 9/11, when America
for a time "got real." We need to be.