Public Blaming Locals More Than Bush - But NYT Ignores Finding
Following the resignation of Michael Brown as the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Richard Stevenson files "After Days of Criticism, Emergency Director Resigns."
"Mr. Brown had become a political liability to the White House, even in his constrained new role. Democrats in Congress had been questioning how the administration could retain him in such an important job as director of FEMA after his performance in responding to the hurricane. A poll taken over the weekend by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, a nonpartisan research organization, found that more than 6 in 10 respondents judged the federal government's response to be fair or poor. A variety of polls in recent days have found Mr. Bush's approval ratings at or near their lows, with his support eroding even among Republicans."
That's a selective view. Stevenson ignores a finding thatPew itself points out in its poll summary: That the public has become more critical of the local government response to Hurricane Katrina.
"Two weeks after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, the public has become significantly more critical of the response by state and local governments in Mississippi and Louisiana. Currently, just 34% give state and local governments an excellent or good rating on their handling of the disaster, down from 41% last week. Public evaluations of the federal government's response to the disaster are largely unchanged from last week 37% positive, 61% negative."
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To read more of Stevenson, click here.
Missing the Point on Federal Hurricane Spending
Reporter David Rosenbaum misses some pretty big points in his piece concentrating on how Louisiana's relatively weak standing in Congress could hurt the state's recovery.
In "Lack of Clout in Congress May Hurt Louisiana's Recovery," Rosenbaum and his headline writer invests Louisiana's fate solely in the pursestrings of the federal government: "But these powerful senators and representatives, who could be counted on to pull strings and twist arms, have recently retired from Congress, and the Louisiana delegation today, in the face of perhaps the state's worst calamity, has no one in a position of authority. It is one of two states (Arkansas is the other) where both senators - David Vitter, a Republican, and Mary L. Landrieu, a Democrat - are under 50. The most prominent of seven representatives, Jim McCrery, is the fifth-ranking Republican on the Ways and Means Committee. No one can say specifically what the diminished influence will mean for the state's efforts to get hurricane relief from Washington, but no one who follows Congress doubts that sooner or later the ramifications will be felt."
Later he writes: "The energy bill that Congress passed and President Bush signed this summer included $2 billion over 10 years for coastal protection and erosion in Louisiana, Mr. Tauzin said. In contrast, he said, a similar bill that was passed by the House last year, when he was chairman, and was then blocked by a filibuster in the Senate, had $15 billion to $20 billion for the same purpose."
By focusing on that minutiae, Rosenbaum ignores the broader question of how wisely (or unwisely) the money was spent, an angle the WashingtonPost devoted a front-page story to which showed how during the Bush years Louisiana has gotten more money for Army Corps of Engineers civil works projects than any other state.
Even the Times' hypocriticaleditorial page notes that money doesn't change everything, asking onTuesday: "Has the Army Corps made wise use of the money it has? Louisiana has received about $1.9 billion over the past four years for corps civil works projects, more than any other state. Although much of this has been spent to protect New Orleans, a lot has also been spent on unrelated water projects - a new and unnecessary lock in the New Orleans Industrial Canal, for instance, and dredging little-used waterways like the Red River - mainly to serve the barge industry and other commercial interests."
For more Rosenbaum, click here.
Alessandra Stanleys Fun Feminist Fantasy
In Sundays Arts & Leisure section, liberaltelevision-beat reporter Alessandra Stanley predictably enjoys the new ABC show "Commander in Chief," in which Geena Davis plays America's first female president (Feminist Fantasy: Geena Davis in the Oval Office).
"'Commander in Chief' is a liberal fantasy, but at a time when conservative Republicans rule and Democrats are on the defensive, it's fun to imagine a woman with a feminist agenda in the situation room while her husband decorates the White House Christmas tree.
To read the rest of Stanley, click here.
Joe McCarthy, Vietnam and "A Knock at the Door"
In the Saturday Arts & Leisure, reviewer Charles Taylor checks out "Point of Order," a 1963 documentary of the Army-Joe McCarthy hearings now out on DVD and states: What do you possibly need to make the case against Joe McCarthy besides Joe McCarthy? As adults, we may disdain the childish belief that evil can be seen in a person's face. Try being adult about it while watching the beady-eyed, beetle-browed McCarthy or his frankly thuggish gunsel, Roy Cohn. Viewed at length, McCarthy is the best argument ever for the give-'em-enough-rope school of public destruction."
In the Sunday edition, critic Holland Cotter finds echoes of Vietnam in "40 Years Later, America Is Studying War Once More."
"Americans, heavy sleepers that they are, are waking up to the news that 2005 is looking a lot like 1965. The art world has been snoozing along with everyone else, which is not to say the 1960's haven't been on its mind. Far-out little objects abound, the equivalents of macram and tie-dye but with a noncountercultural art school pedigree. That flower power grew from toxic fields in Vietnam hasn't had much mention. That was 40 years ago. Ancient history. Bad dream."
Finally, on Monday, critic Caryn James comes away impressed with a Lower Manhattan art exhibition titled "A Knock at the Door" Though she notes the show is politicized with tributes to late left-wingers Susan Sontag and Edward Said, she finds criticism of the show more disturbing than the content: "And the anger directed against the show reveals some chilling cultural trends: the devaluing of art as a proper response to 9/11, and the persistent, wrongheaded idea that to question the government is to dishonor the memory of those who died."
Here's what James considers bracing art: "Yet as the straitjacket flag suggests, over all the show is galvanizing and fascinating, with genuine artistic expression. At Cooper Union, there is a row of black and white photographs, fake mug shots of the president, Donald Rumsfeld and others in the administration, a work by Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese that becomes a film-noirish rogue's gallery."
For the rest of Taylor's anti-McCarthy rant, click here.
For the rest of Cotter's review, click here.
For James' review, click here.