George W. Bush has just arrived in Austin. Dick Cheney has just survived surgery to both knees. Thank God for the latter, because who would run the country if Cheney dies?
New vid from a helicopter going over Galveston and Houston. Homes south of Galveston, around Surfside, look fine. Even the roofs look untouched. Those who were forced to flee are not going to be so eager to take to the road when the next storm comes.
But what we're seeing is west and south of the main punch. While Galveston city officials expect to announce a tentative all-clear by this evening, and trumpet a "no looting" line, the damage in southwest Louisiana is much more serious. News from those places is much shower in coming.
From CNN: Houston's mayor warns that water is still rising in nearby bayous. In Lake Charles, La., the airport has sustained "severe damage." Live vid from Lake Charles doesn't show real perspective, but it looks scary as hell -- waves and trees, both in motion.
The cable news networks are acting especially schizophrenic this afternoon. Initial reports have Rita being more of a soaker than a screamer, and because most people got the hell out of Houston and surrounding areas, there doesn't appear to be a large loss of life.
So instead of ominous theme music and long faces of despair, we see Miles O'Brien on CNN, helping rescue a dog in Lumberton, Tex. Wolf Blitzer and Fred Whitfield are all yucks and "awws" and then, there's a live shot of white caps surrounding treetops in Lake Charles, La.
MSNBC has two babes on the anchor desk and David Shuster in Beaumont, Tex. Significant roof damage, trees down, but underwhelming when compared to Katrina footage.
Over on Fox, it's all about New Orleans and the "topped" levees. Bill Hemmer is there, discussing devastation (from Katrina) and speculating that New Orleans might start its new era as a city of 200,000 -- less than half of what it was until the beginning of this month.
Also on Fox is famous whore Geraldo Rivera, doing his usual mugging and gesticulating. He's in Port Arthur, Tex., spreading the "good news" that the city's seawall is intact. Twit. A hurricane roared through less than 12 hours ago. He's standing in front of a flooded, impassable street. Quit being a rah-rah boy. Report what you see, not what you want.
Rita is now a tropical storm, with sustained winds of 65 mph. The storm's center is 65 miles SSW of Shreveport. It is expected to move north, then east over the next few days, into northern Mississippi.