Q: The Lower 9th Ward is one of the most impoverished areas of the region. Many residents who lived there before felt neglected. What do you say if they today now feel that way, that, well, they’re not back up to snuff, whereas everybody else is much further ahead?

CHAIRMAN POWELL: I say to those people — and I have a sense of responsibility — but one of the things I remember looking at is St. Bernard Parish and the 9th Ward and New Orleans East was some of the most devastated areas as it relates to the storm. If you look at those flood maps, it is dramatic in those areas how much they’re improved.

So, again, that’s the federal government’s commitment, to making sure that it crosses the entire section of those areas. There is some activity going on in the 9th Ward. I go to the 9th Ward often. I see some people going — that area was devastated, as was St. Bernard Parish. They’re a little slower than others coming back, but it’s a result of — I mean, the devastation there was just extraordinary.

— Don Powell, federal coordinator for Gulf Coast Recovery, at an Aug. 28 White House press briefing.

It’s a depression going on. It’s not like the ’20s and ’30s. It’s right here. Let the world know, the depression is on.

— Darrel Ellis, a truck driver, on Aug. 29, standing next to a “recovery celebration” parade near the 9th Ward, pointing to his head and referring to the mental state of residents.

There’s so much of this culture here that is unlike any other city that we have. It’s a feeling that I can’t quite explain, but I love being a part of it.

— Actor Brad Pitt on Aug. 22 touring the construction site of a house in the city’s Lower 9th Ward based on the winning design in a competition he launched to help with the Katrina recovery. In January, Pitt and his partner, actor Angelina Jolie, “purchased an early-1830s masonry mansion in the city’s French Quarter for $3.5 million.”

It is highly probable that there would be many neighborhoods, with block after block of one or two houses restored, surrounded by vacant abandoned houses, no police stations, no services, low water pressure, an unsafe and unhealthy environment.

— John McIlwain, a senior planner at the Urban Land Institute, the Washington research group whose early plan for a shrunken city was rejected by local politicians, on Aug. 27, 2006.

My attitude is this: New Orleans, better days are ahead. It’s sometimes hard for people to see progress when you live in a community all the time. Laura and I get to come — we don’t live here, we come on occasion. And it’s easy to think about what it was like when we first came here after the hurricane, and what it’s like today. And this town is coming back. This town is better today than it was yesterday, and it’s going to be better tomorrow than it was today. And there’s no better place to find that out than in the school system.

— President Bush during Aug. 29 visit to the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School for Science and Technology in the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans, announcing that “[t]he citizens of this country thus far have paid out $114 billion in tax revenues — their money — to help the folks down here.”

There was supposed to be all this money, but where’d it go? None of us got any.

— Clarence Russ, 64, on Aug. 29 standing in front of his home, the only repaired house on his block in the Lower 9th Ward.

People are angry and they want to send a message to politicians that they want them to do more and do it faster. Nobody’s going to be partying.

— Rev. Marshall Truehill, a Baptist pastor and community activist, at an Aug. 29 march to protest stalled rebuilding efforts in the Lower 9th Ward.

Many people in this country are asking whether the fight underway today is worth it. … [W]e responded when radicals and extremists attacked our homeland in the first ideological war of the 21st century. We toppled two regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq that gave harbor to terrorists, defied the international community, and threatened the security of our nation. And now we’re working to help build free and secure societies in their place — and like the past, we will do what we have to do to get the job done.

— President Bush addressing the 89th Annual National Convention of the American Legion Aug. 28 in Reno, Nev.

Don’t fight needless wars; don’t go blundering around in countries where you don’t know the language, history or culture; don’t underestimate the power of nationalism, ethnicity and religion to bind together — or tear apart — people whose interests otherwise seem to diverge or converge; and, most of all, don’t imagine that military force can solve fundamentally political problems.

— Rosa Brooks in her Aug. 24 column in the Los Angeles Times.

“We’d like to report on important stuff,” goes the argument, “but these bozos want Paris and Britney, preferably with Rush or O’Reilly reporting.”

— Eric Alterman in The Nation., explaining Americans’ conception of news.

For me it was just exciting to see fake news catching on like that. We don’t… you know, it’s interesting. I think we don’t make things up. We just distill it to, hopefully, its most humorous nugget. And in that sense it seems faked and skewed just because we don’t have to be subjective or pretend to be objective. We can just put it out there.

— Daily Show host Jon Stewart.

Quotabull is a weekly feature of Scholars & Rogues appearing Thursdays.

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