Monday, September 05, 2005

Everything’s Gonna Be OK …

'Cause Dr. Phil was at the Astrodome, and Oprah may still be there today! Or, she may have left for Santa Fe! (And don't forget Ms. Macy Gray ...)

So the Astrodome is serving a dual purpose---not only housing evacuees, but being used as a holding compound for celebrities who see the hurricane's aftermath as yet another stage on which to strut and preen. That's good---it keeps them out of the way in New Orleans, except for Sean Penn, who took along his personal photographer on a "rescue mission" that seems to have been modeled on a Three Stooges short, one with Shemp. According to this story from Yahoo! News:
Movie star and political activist Penn, 45, was in the collapsing city to aid stranded victims of flooding sparked by Hurricane Katrina, but the small boat he was piloting sprang a leak. The outspoken actor had planned to rescue children waylaid by the deadly waters, but apparently forgot to plug a hole in the bottom of the vessel, which began taking water within seconds of its launch. When the boat's motor failed to start, those aboard were forced to paddle themselves down the flooded New Orleans street. Asked what he had hoped to achieve in the waterlogged city, the actor replied: "Whatever I can do to help." But with the boat loaded with members of the Oscar-winner's entourage, including his personal photographer, one bystander taunted: "How are you going to get any people in that thing?"

We'll cut Oprah and Dr. Phil and Macy Gray some slack, since we assume they've come with good intentions, in addition to seizing the opportunity for self-glorification (no doubt that some interaction with show-biz types is a welcome distraction for the evacuees), and we've got to stand up and applaud Harry Connick Jr. for his efforts in New Orleans, even though we've always studiously avoided his muzak.

And while we'd like to declare martial law on Fox News' Greta Van Susteren, we'll have to cut her some slack, too, seeing as how she's become a one-woman Chamber of Commerce for the city of Houston. But wasn't that Van Susteren hectoring Clinton and the elder Bush Monday morning during their press conference to publicize the relief effort they're heading? We're pretty sure that was her asking them about the adequacy of the federal government's response to the hurricane, the federal government that neither of them heads anymore. And we hope that wasn't her, although it sure sounded like her, asking them (as they hurried off stage) what they would say to people in New Orleans who believe the levees were breached on purpose (as in the widespread rumor that powerful humans intentionally engineered the flooding of the 9th Ward to save the French Quarter). Or maybe that was a lady from a LaRouche publication.

UPDATE: We recently wondered where Dick Cheney has been since before the hurricane hit, and two readers, perhaps our only two, pointed out that our vice president has been vacationing in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. A perfect spot to ride out a hurricane, we'd say, as well as the storm after the hurricane.

P.S. There was a story in Tuesday's Houston Chronicle addressing the "rumors of violence" that have accompanied New Orleans evacuees to Houston. We're generally of two minds about this: Having puttered around in the trade ourselves, we still have the mainstream journalist's circumspection about passing on rumors, even in an attempt to establish them as unfounded. At the same time, so much of the world is greased by rumor and speculation that on some occasions it's a moral imperative to raise them and debunk them (or confirm their veracity, although then they've become news). This being one of the occasions.

We had heard the one about two rapes having been committed in the Astrodome; we heard it a couple of days ago, on the street, in front of our house, from a neighbor who said he'd heard at at a church in Humble from someone who had been volunteering at the Dome and claimed "they" were covering "it" up because "they" didn't want to panic Houstonians. According to the Chronicle, it's apparently not true (we can't say the story offered a definitive confirmation of its untruthfulness). That's good. That's what a newspaper can do (in what for the most part has been pretty much a TV story all the way). However, we didn't get the point of quoting verbatim from an email to the newspaper about an unfounded rumor that referred to "those dirty pieces of filth" at the Astrodome.

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