NPR senior news analyst Daniel Schorr says that the government's "strange paralysis" after Hurricane Katrina has resulted in a widespread loss of confidence in government agencies and officials -- and more significantly, with the whole concept of the role of the federal government.
"Michael Brown, the blithering idiot in charge of FEMA - a job he trained for by running something called the International Arabian Horse Association - admitted he didn't know until Thursday that there were 15,000 desperate, dehydrated, hungry, angry, dying victims of Katrina in the New Orleans Convention Center.
Was he sacked instantly? No, our tone-deaf president hailed him in Mobile, Ala., yesterday: "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job."
It would be one thing if President Bush and his inner circle - Dick Cheney was vacationing in Wyoming; Condi Rice was shoe shopping at Ferragamo's on Fifth Avenue and attended "Spamalot" before bloggers chased her back to Washington; and Andy Card was off in Maine - lacked empathy but could get the job done. But it is a chilling lack of empathy combined with a stunning lack of efficiency that could make this administration implode.
When the president and vice president rashly shook off our allies and our respect for international law to pursue a war built on lies, when they sanctioned torture, they shook the faith of the world in American ideals.
When they were deaf for so long to the horrific misery and cries for help of the victims in New Orleans - most of them poor and black, like those stuck at the back of the evacuation line yesterday while 700 guests and employees of the Hyatt Hotel were bused out first - they shook the faith of all Americans in American ideals. And made us ashamed.
"Thousands more bedraggled refugees were bused and airlifted to salvation Saturday, leaving the heart of New Orleans to the dead and dying, the elderly and frail stranded too many days without food, water or medical care.
No one knows how many were killed by Hurricane Katrina's floods and how many more succumbed waiting to be rescued. But the bodies are everywhere: hidden in attics, floating among the ruined city, crumpled on wheelchairs, abandoned on highways.
And the dying goes on at the convention center and an airport triage center, where bodies were kept in a refrigerated truck."
By Ceci Connolly
Washington Post Staff Writer, Saturday, September 3, 2005;
NEW ORLEANS, Sept. 2 -- "Debbie Brooks has never been to Ethiopia, but after two interminable days spent atop a stretch of Interstate 10 here, she now knows what it means to be starving under a baking sun, watching family members deteriorate by the hour."I have lived that experience now," she said Friday afternoon from the patch of concrete she, her father and aunt have called home since dawn Thursday. "This is like the Third World."Barefoot children in diapers. Scraps of cheese. Soiled blankets. Elderly in wheelchairs, ankles swollen. A rusted bicycle tipped on its side. One portable toilet.Here in this asphalt camp, more than 300 African Americans who could not escape Hurricane Katrina said they have all but run out of food, patience and, in some cases, medicine. They climbed the exit ramps that run alongside the Superdome under the mistaken impression that rescue teams were on the way.That was two, three, even four days ago for some."
"IN the scene that is in some peculiar way the climax of Michael Almereyda's fascinating new documentary, "William Eggleston in the Real World," Mr. Eggleston, a bespectacled, bemused-looking 60-ish man, says to Mr. Almereyda: "Whatever it is about pictures, photographs, it's just about impossible to follow up with words. They don't have anything to do with each other."
He is, in the gentlest possible manner, trying to deflect the filmmaker's persistent attempts to draw from him more telling reflections on photography, the elusive art of which he is, as it happens, one of the world's greatest living practitioners. (His 1976 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art was a landmark: the museum's first one-man show of color photography.) Confronted with theory, metaphor - any kind of verbal formulation of his artistic activity - Mr. Eggleston politely but firmly digs in his heels: "Art, or what we call that," he continues, "you can love it and appreciate it, but you can't really talk about it. Doesn't make any sense."