Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts


Our problem in the US seems to be short attention span. We can’t seem to stay angry very long. Lots of people were angry in the months following Katrina, but now, almost two years later, only the people of New Orleans are still pissed off. The rest of the country seems to pretty much have forgotten the criminal—and I’m not using the term figuratively, I mean people should have gone to jail for this shit—bungling that cost hundreds of people their lives and thousands of others their property and human dignity. Of all the impeachable offenses perpetrated by Monkey Boy and his trained chimps and trainers, this is the one that is easiest to understand, most visible, and, aside from the war in Iraq, most egregious. And yet … when’s the last time you saw a news report from New Orleans? When it was happening we got some long-overdue outrage from the reporters covering it. Now, they’ve all gone back to their comfortable beds, happy to be butt-fucked by the people in power for the small price of being allowed to ride on Air Force One and otherwise hobnob in the Monkey House … formerly known as the White House. Congress investigated, others investigated, commissions were appointed, all with the usual result. More study was needed. Mistakes were made … tsk, tsk. Shame on you. Don’t do it again.

I’m not being partisan here, or at least no more partisan than I am by my very nature. Democrat Ray Nagin fucked up badly. The Democratic governor didn’t distinguish herself. The Corps of Engineers, after decades of neglect, is the only organization that actually stepped up, later, and accepted blame for the disaster—though to my mind the blame could be stretched back over decades and many administrations who failed to heed the warnings and failed to fund the needed improvements to the levees. But “Heckova Job” Brownie should be in jail, and his cellmate should be Michael Chertoff. And Bush should have been impeached. The sheer spectacle of where all the high government officials were and what they did while a city was drowning is enough to make you puke. Cuntaleesa Rice shopped for shoes and went to see Spamalot … where she was booed, thank god. Monkey Boy hopped all over the country raising money, giving speeches, smirking, throwing his feces through the bars at his trainers, giving no sign he knew a hurricane had even hit. Cheney shot another lawyer.

Spike Lee is still angry, and after seeing this, you will be, too. He lets the facts speak for themselves, lets the guilty parties hang themselves with their own words. Monkey Boy: “Nobody expected the levees would break.” Nobody but every scientist who took a look at them, and concluded that a Force Three would put NO in a world of hurt, and published their studies that were available to everybody. Fuck, I knew they’d break; why didn’t Brownie and Michael Jerkoff and Monkey Boy?

And as one guy reminds us, “People think we got hit by a hurricane. We got missed by a hurricane. Hurricane went east. We’ve been lied to all these years by the federal government.” He’s right. The hurricane hit Mississippi, where the wind destroyed pretty much everything. What hit NO was not even a Category 5, as most people assume. What hit NO was inadequate levees and the federal bureaucracy.

Spike doesn’t get bogged down in conspiracy theories. Some people living near the levees heard explosions, and there’s an urban legend that the Corps blew them to flood the poor districts and save the rich ones. Spike reports this, and moves on, not taking a position. As someone else points out, “We’ll never know. Nobody did even a little investigation.” Paranoid? Well, blowing the levees is exactly what the government did in 1927. But it’s not 1927 now, right? The feds wouldn’t flood out all the darkies like that today, would they?

Wake up, asshole. Monkey Boy has already taken us well on the way back to 1827.