...Mayor Ray Nagin opened up most of the city to returning evacuees last week, but only an estimated 60,000 people are spending the night in New Orleans these days, compared with about half a million before Katrina. The city that care forgot is in the throes of an identity crisis, torn between its shady, bead-tossing past and the sanitized Disneyland future some envision. With no clear direction on whether to raze or rebuild, the 300,000 residents who fled the region are frustrated-and increasingly indecisive-about returning. If they do come back, will there be jobs good enough to stay for? If they do rebuild, will the levees be strong enough to protect them? They can't shake the feeling that somehow they did something wrong just by living where they did. And now the money and the sympathy are drying up. People just don't understand. You have to see it, smell it, put on a white mask and a pair of plastic gloves, and walk into a world where nothing is salvageable, not even the mildewed wedding pictures.
Beyond an island of light downtown, most of Orleans Parish is still in the dark. Of the city's eight hospitals pre-Katrina, only two are open to serve a population that swells to 150,000 during the day. The public school system-destroyed by back-to-back hurricanes-is in limbo while the state considers a takeover and charter-school advocates vie for abandoned facilities. One lone public school for 500 students is set to open this week. The once flashy city has become drab. The grass and trees, marinated for weeks in saltwater, are a dreary gray-brown. Parking lots look like drought-starved lake beds, with cracks in the mud. Within a few hours, anyone working outside is covered in a fine layer of grit. The trees that gave New Orleans such character-the centuries-old live oaks with their grand canopies and graceful lines-are toppled, exposing huge root balls 10 ft. or more in diameter. It's all the more surreal because the Garden District, which survived the flood, is lush and beautiful once again.
The tax base has been shredded, forcing New Orleans to limp along on about a quarter of its usual income of $400 million to $500 million per year. The city has lost an estimated $1.5 million a day in tourism revenues since Katrina, and only a quarter of the 3,400 restaurants are open. Moody's has lowered the city's credit rating from investment grade to junk. The latest insult? The nation's flood-insurance program ran out of money for the first time since its founding in 1968, and some insurers temporarily stopped issuing checks...
When asked about this, she said:
"Watch my results" and then she walked off.
The magazine quotes pollster Bernie Pinsonat who describes Blanco as appearing "dazed and confused" after Hurricane Katrina. Time hits blanco for slowness in calling a special legislative session, and slowness in appointing a recovery commission.
At the bottom with Blanco is Ohio governor Bob Taft and Mark Sanford of South Carolina. Who's the best on the Time magazine list? It cites Arkansas's governor Mike Huckabee, whom the magazine describes as "a consensus building conservative."
Apparently it's "Opposite Day", since vapid and churchy Huckabee - a virulent supporter of massive illegal immigration - would be in my "worst three" list right below Blanco.
A Time interview contains this:
TIME: Did race or class issues play into the slow U.S. response to Hurricane Katrina?
Farrakhan: I was not there but the feeling is that race played a part. There are some I heard on TV saying that levee was purposely busted so that the water would come in on that side. They haven't verified the truth of that but some people think that, and that perception is real until truth either verifies it or dispels it.
TIME: In the aftermath of Katrina the rap artist Kanye West accused President Bush of not caring about black people. Was that a fair statement?
Farrakhan: It was a long time before the president met with the Congressional Black caucus, and he's never appeared before the NAACP. Even though he has put black people into high positions, that has not made black people feel that he is closer to us at all.
Time wants to know: "How Many More Mike Browns are out There?"
They concentrate on three questionable cases:
...Internal e-mail messages obtained by Time show that scientists' drug-safety decisions at the Food and Drug Administration (fda) are being second-guessed by a 33-year-old doctor turned stock picker. At the Office of Management and Budget, an ex-lobbyist with minimal purchasing experience oversaw $300 billion in spending, until his arrest last week. At the Department of Homeland Security, an agency the Administration initially resisted, a well-connected White House aide with minimal experience is poised to take over what many consider the single most crucial post in ensuring that terrorists do not enter the country again. And who is acting as watchdog at every federal agency? A corps of inspectors general who may be increasingly chosen more for their political credentials than their investigative ones...
The last is perhaps the most worrisome; Tom Ridge reportedly tried to make sure the former DHS IG was "his" IG (see Watchdog details confrontations with Ridge).
Back to Time:
...The post-watergate law creating the position of inspector general (IG) states that the federal watchdogs must be hired "without regard to political affiliation," on the basis of their ability in such disciplines as accounting, auditing and investigating. It may not sound like the most exciting job, but the 57 inspectors general in the Federal Government can be the last line of defense against fraud and abuse. Because their primary duty is to ask nosy questions, their independence is crucial. But critics say some of the Bush IGs have been too cozy with the Administration...
I believe that Richard Roeper is the new thin host with Roger Ebert of their movie review television show. He also appears to be a liberal idiot, and he offers up "Say that again? 'Things are going relatively well'".