Fucked New Orleans (An Ongoing Series):
Maybe now they'll let Ray Nagin in through the front door of the White House. Upon winning re-election to the demi-city of New Orleans, Nagin said of President Bush, "You and I have probably been the most vilified politicians in the country. But I want to thank you for moving that promise you made in Jackson Square forward." After listing all the money that's mostly going to contractors and sub-contractors and sub-sub-contractors and illegal immigrants, Nagin continued, "You are delivering on your promise, and I want to thank you for all of the citizens of the city of New Orleans." Yes, Karl Rove must have been mighty pleased to watch Nagin's gleaming bald Super-chrome-dome bouncing light around the room as the Mayor bobbed on Bush's crank. Nagin learned, Rove realized, the price that must be paid in order to receive the good graces of the President's effulgence.

Of course, electing a new mayor of New Orleans at this point is pretty much the same as forming a unity government in Iraq: it's nice to see the processes going on, but, really, and, c'mon, what's the difference? Baghdad's gonna go up in flames, New Orleans is destined for the drink. It's not blind, nihilistic pessimism to say so.

And that's because New Orleans is fucked, yes, it's true, and there must come a time when we accept exactly how fucked it is so that we can figure out what the hell to do with the people there and scattered to the winds. The city's become a sad fat feather queen who, bent over over Abita beer boxes in an alley off Iberville Street, lets pathetic drunks fuck him with their half-erect cocks just so he can feel like he's loved. Goddamn, you think, just stop. It's embarassing to humanity in general.

New Orleans is fucked because the levees are fucked and will continue to be fucked. The levees are fucked because everyone involved in building and maintaining the levees fucked them up. A report by an independent levee engineering team, released last week, says of the failure of the levees, "This unacceptable performance can in many cases be traced to engineering lapses, poor judgments and efforts to reduce costs at the expense of system reliability...It will not be feasible to provide an assured level of protection for this large metropolitan region without first making significant changes in the organizational structure and interactions of the national and local governmental bodies and agencies jointly responsible for this effort."

One of the engineers involved in the study said on CNN this morning that the levees are fucked because the Army Corps of Engineers, to save money, drove cheap pilings for the levee into the soft earth only 17.5 feet. Says Robert Bea of UC-Berkeley, it needed to be 60 feet deep. Which it is now for 800 feet of the more than 20 miles of canal levees. Oh, and instead of sturdy, costlier clay, they used easily dispersed soil. Essentially, for its history, the governments and corporations involved were little piggies who built houses of straw and stick when they needed bricks to keep the wolf from blowing the fucker away.

New Orleans is fucked because there's poison everywhere. In the FEMA trailers (use of which extends far, far beyond New Orleans), the Sierra Club has found dangerous levels of formaldehyde in the air in the vast majority tested. And that's not to mention the fact that the the winds of tropical storms, not to mention hurricanes, will tear through the trailers with all the disproportionate force of a killer whale on a baby sea lion. And the earth itself in New Orleans is filled with a mixture of chemicals and toxins that'll one day have people there longing to breathe the air of Ground Zero in New York City.

It's awfully nice that Ray Nagin wants to have unity in the city, something that's a hell of a lot easier to do with half as many people in New Orleans as last year at this time. But New Orleans is fucked, between bearing the damage of long-term neglect (isn't it time someone realized that doing anything on the cheap, whether it's wars of choice or levees of life support, is just gonna end up fucking over the very people it's supposed to help?) and bearing up for another hurricane season, with a prediction for this year that's pretty much the exact same as last year. New Orleans, that sinful town, now bears the weight of the sins of national incompetence on environmental and urban policies, corporate cronyism, budget cuts and tax cuts, and more. It is a weight that will collapse the Crescent City without the will to put more than a cotton ball on an arterial wound.