New Orleans

October 10, 2005

BULL CONNOR BULL Last Thursday, at a New York town-hall meeting of the Congressional Black Caucus, Representative Charles Rangel took the stage vacated minutes earlier by Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and declared, “George Bush is our Bull Connor.” This comment is preposterous enough on its own—Bull Connor, the Birmingham police chief who turned hoses and dogs on civil rights marchers in 1963 and became a symbol of Southern racism, would never have had a black secretary of state.

Spent Force
October 10, 2005

Here’s a brief timeline of post-Katrina developments within the conservative movement: On September 15, President Bush gave a speech from New Orleans in which he pledged to spend “what it takes” to rebuild the Gulf Coast. Conservative commentators promptly worked themselves into a lather over what could be the largest domestic spending increase since the Great Society. House conservatives readied an initiative called “operation offsets,” the point of which was to demand some$500 billion in spending cuts to pay for the new Katrina outlays. That was a Thursday.

The Mole
September 26, 2005

The press has spent the past week congratulating itself for awakening from its long slumber. After years of credulously reciting administration talking points about WMD and candy-throwing Iraqis, the corpse-lined streets of New Orleans have spurred reporters to finally get feisty with mendacious officials and slippery politicians. The most celebrated hero of this resurgence is CNN's Anderson Cooper. When Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu congratulated her fellow politicians for their poised response to Katrina, Cooper cried bullshit.

Past as Prologue
September 26, 2005

My street was deserted Sunday, when a couple of friends and I checked on it. A few military types were cutting away at the trees blocking a major intersection nearby, and, at one point, two guys who live around the block stopped by because they saw our cars outside. Beyond that, the neighborhood was a ghost town, just like most of the rest of New Orleans. The people who lived here until two or three weeks ago have gobbled up real estate in Baton Rouge. Or they're holed up with relatives.

After Shock
September 26, 2005

Before a storm sank New Orleans and a pair of Boeing 767s gored the Twin Towers, officials at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) drew up a list. It escaped notice in the months of second-guessing after the September 11 attacks but took on an air of prophecy within hours of Hurricane Katrina's landfall. There were three disasters, fema managers concluded at an August 2001 training session, that Americans should beware above all others: a terrorist attack on New York City, a hurricane in New Orleans, and an earthquake near San Francisco.

Poverty Line
September 19, 2005

How Hurricane Katrina made America pay attention to poverty. 

Return to Paradise
September 19, 2005

At night, the waterfront road at Patong, the most famous beach on the island of Phuket in southern Thailand, resembles a slightly seedy Riviera. All along the strip, paunchy foreign men toss down beers at open-air bars or wander into back alleys with male and female Thai prostitutes. Neon-lit fast-food joints and massage parlors throb with Thai and foreign customers.

Gulf Stream
September 19, 2005

On Monday morning in Baton Rouge, Josephine Bell was trying to tidy her family's living area. "Help me sweep up now!" she yelled at one of her sons, handing him a broom and pointing to a pile of spilled cereal beneath a cot. "I want this area clean!" Bell, her husband, and her two sons had arrived in Baton Rouge eight days earlier, when, heeding the call to evacuate New Orleans as Hurricane Katrina approached, they left their home in the city's Uptown neighborhood and headed, on a special bus, 80 miles west on I-10.

After the Flood
September 12, 2005

A writer reflects on New Orleans's centuries-long "losing battle with nature."

Final Curtain
April 11, 2005

Easter Sunday at St. Peter's Square ought to be one of those perfect collisions of time and place, like Mardi Gras in New Orleans or Thanksgiving in New England. But this year, I happen to be living in Rome during the strangest Easter in memory, when the Pope's mysterious illness completely overshadows even the elaborate pageantry of Holy Week. And so, on Easter Sunday morning, I found myself anxiously standing in front of St.