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A group of people were walking to and fro, from Mobile to New Orleans, and they fell into the hands of a robber named Katrina, who beat on them with waves and winds and floods, stripping them of everything they owned, leaving them half-dead in the New Orleans Superdome.

Now by chance, a journalist passed by with a television camera in hand. He took riveting shots of the victims so that viewers all over the world would know about the plight of these people. And when it was the journalist's time to face the camera, he wondered, "Where is the government?"

Similarly, a group of local politicians came to that place. And when the journalist shoved a microphone in their faces, they angrily asked, "Where is the government?" They apparently had forgotten that due to corruption and political infighting, they had failed to adequately prepare their regions for what everyone knew was an inevitable catastrophe. But apparently they weren't talking about their government.

Then along came the federal government, its President beating his breast confessing frankly that the government's relief efforts indeed were "unacceptable." Nonetheless, the creaky wheels of bureaucracy had finally started to churn. Food and supplies were finally making their way to the victims, National Guard troops were arriving to quell the bedlam, and engineers were making progress on the levees.

Finally, a bus pulled up beside the Superdome, and beckoned the victims to get in, which then drove 350 miles to the Houston Astrodome, to a scene that was anything but mud and muck. Nothing luxurious, to be sure, but clean and working plumbing and medical personnel, and plenty of food and water.

And a New York Times journalist, who noted that these victims had formerly been living ...

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