“The Sky is falling! The Sky is falling!!!” ~Chicken Little
There’s Money In Fear Mongering
If you spend any time on-line or watch certain news channels, by now you’ve heard the phrase, “Jade Helm.” You probably know it has something to do with a semi-clandestine military operation in several States in the South West United States. You’ve also probably heard the phrases, “martial law,” “invasion,” “FEMA camps” and “round ups.”
Those who speak about this subject, often speak with great conviction in matter of fact, “I told you so” terms. Like finally vindicated “prophets of doom,” the day of judgement they’ve long predicted has finally arrived! It’s as though they’ve conflated the movies, “Red Dawn and Mad Max” and taken them as holy writ, a foretelling of the “end times” which are now upon us!
There are rightwing talk shows and YouTube channels devoted to little more than scaring the pants off all who will listen. They combine a mix of flawed eschatology – Biblical “end times” theology – with the latest conspiracy theories, spice it with some racist, “dog whistle” conservative ideology and serve this toxic brew up as if it were a gourmet meal. The beauty of it? Since you cannot prove a negative, it is near impossible to prove them wrong! “The bogeyman is under your bed!” You look under your bed and see nothing more harmful than “dust bunnies,” they’ll tell you “he moved to your closet!” You rush over to your closet, fling open the door then they’ll tell you, “he was too quick for you! He’s back under the bed!”
They get you rushing back and forth, between bed and closet so quickly, you don’t have time to consider, what if there is no bogeyman? In the meantime, a commercial break tells you to buy Gold and Silver or buy nitrogen packed food… and they get paid!
Jade Helm – What Is It?
Map of States where exercise will occur.
Jade Helm is nothing more than a military training exercise to prepare our troops for operating in urban and suburban environments where there are non-combatant civilians. The days of armies lining up on battle lines and shooting it out with one another are largely a thing of the past. International borders are now fixed, Russia’s adventures in the Ukraine notwithstanding, and nobody is really interested in going to the headache and expense of annexing a recalcitrant Nation State into their national boundaries.
Warfare today is asymmetric. Insurgents attempting to take over a country, terrorist cells hiding amongst non-combatant civilians, carpet bombing a city or rolling in a tank brigade would be tantamount to taking a sledgehammer to a spider crawling up your wall. You may not like spiders, but a big hole in your wall? Really???
Our troops need to be able to operate within these environments with surgical precision. They need to be able to work with local governing bodies and their law enforcement personal. They need to be able to interface their intelligence gathering techniques with whatever the locals are able to provide. They need to practice the logistics of resupply and equipment movement in such a way as to interface positively with a trepidatious civilian population. Where exactly would you suggest they practice and perfect these techniques?
No Invasion. No Martial Law.
Let’s take Texas. There are 15 military bases in Texas already. Army, Navy and Air Force. There is absolutely no need for the United States military to bring in additional assets to take over Texas and enforce martial law. If that were their objective, they’d have done it already and they would not have put out a public notice telling you they were coming in July. Think critically!
Remember 2008? We literally were staring into the abyss. Our stock markets were in free fall. Our manufacturing industries were crumbling. Our housing markets were going up in smoke. Major banks were going bankrupt. People were losing their homes left and right. Their entire pensions and retirements were being wiped out. It looked like the end of the United States!
All this was because some idiot bankers figured out how to create profits out of thin air using “derivatives” – Calculus – and “sub-prime mortgages.” It wasn’t just us. Our collapsing markets brought the global economy to its knees. Europe, Japan, even China were reeling. Again, this was over something as innocuous as people not being able to pay the mortgage notes they’d been pushed into by greedy banks looking to make a fast buck.
What do you suppose would happen if the United States, declared martial law and began rounding up citizens in several of its States? How do you think the rest of the country would respond? How do you think the markets would respond? That type of disruption would make 2008 look like a minor hiccup! Wealthy people do not like to lose money! In 2008 while you and I were losing thousands – my portfolio dropped $100,000 – the wealthy were losing billions of dollars. They didn’t like it at all!
You must look at the big picture. Government instability would certainly impact you and I at a local level. Yes, we would quickly be up in arms. However, when the wealthy begin haemorrhaging cash, they pick up their phones and call all those congressmen they own and tell them in no uncertain terms to make it stop!
Alex Jones – Chicken Little Number One!
The “Chicken Littles” of the world – most of them racist – would like to make you believe that our first African-American President could simply suspend the Constitution, declare martial law and begin rounding up all the white people for some payback. Might make an interesting plot for the next dystopian movie, but in reality it’s not possible. The majority of our armed forces is neither Black nor Hispanic. The majority of our Generals and Admirals are neither Black nor Hispanic. Yes, he is the Commander in Chief, but each and every one of them swore an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America. They would not obey an unconstitutional order whomever the President was who issued it.
Canary In The Coal Mine
If our government were even contemplating such a foolish thing, they would not test it out in “Gun Toting Redneck Land!” They would first try it in some isolated area on a depressed, predominately minority community. Some place out of the way with people this country historically hasn’t demonstrated concern for. Or, they’d go try it on some Native American Reservation. They certainly wouldn’t start with Texas or Utah. Bad strategy! So you can rest secure, this isn’t the “Mad Max,” “Walking Dead” apocalypse you’ve been getting ready for.
The Walking Dead – Zombie Apocalypse.
What About FEMA Camps?
Actually these are burial vaults for cemeteries
I, like some of you have seen the videos of these alleged FEMA Camps. I have even seen one video of these stacked plastic containers they said were coffins to bury all the people they were planning on murdering. Again, think critically! If you’re going to commit mass murder, you don’t need camps. Furthermore, you don’t need plastic coffins. All you need is a Bulldozer to dig a trench for the bodies and to cover them up. No need to go to all that expense.
FEMA exists for emergencies. No doubt it has been mismanaged and underfunded. However, it is needed. Hurricane Katrina taught us that. Remember all those people in the “Super Dome?” They then moved some of them to a stadium in Texas. Finally they began dispersing them all over the United States. Some even ended up as far away as Alaska. The plan was for them to return once New Orleans had been rebuilt, but some discovered they liked where they were, got jobs and put down roots.
FEMA Camps – clearly too small for such a large scale disaster – are for these types of situations. Why are they out of the way in hard to locate areas? Would you want a camp on your block? They’d have to be located on land the Federal Government owns. Fences and security are for the protection of the people in the camp. None of the pictures of these supposed camps would do much to prevent anyone bent on escape. We have inmates break out of much better secured prisons all the time. Think critically.
A real FEMA camp. Frightening isn’t it?
Right now we’re coming to understand just how dangerous the world can truly be. Let me list a few possibilities for you.
Yellowstone Super Caldera.
Any of the above could happen at any time. They would require moving survivors and caring for them, sheltering, feeding and medical treatment. These are the types of catastrophes only the full resources of the Federal Government can hope to address. FEMA is a pathetic nod at recognition of this need.
The ultimate goal is returning to normalcy. Our government needs people working, consuming and spending money in order for it to exist. Manufacturers need people buying their goods and services. We need farmers planting and harvesting crops. Grocery stores must have groceries. The phone company, cable company utility companies all need you healthy, happy, working and paying your bills. You cannot do that locked in a FEMA camp or under the societal disruption of martial law. Just think!
The lessons of this election? RACISM NO LONGER WINS ELECTIONS! You cannot simply play to white people and ignore all the other groups in our multicultural nation. Non-racist white people are cool with this because they see themselves as Americans FIRST. They embraced their brothers and sisters of all races and sent a powerful message to the less enlightened. WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER! We must never forget this simple truth.
Mitt Romney believed he did not have to release his tax returns. He believed he did not need to give any specifics on anyof his plans to actually fix the economy. He did not lay out any foreign policy agendas. He promised 12 million new jobs – ironically the same number economist forecast would be created if we simply continued on the path we’re on – but gave no specifics as to how he would create these jobs. He said he would repeal “Obama Care,” – a program growing more popular by the day – without saying what he’d replace it with… if anything!
He promised a $5 trillion dollar tax cut. Again no specifics about how he would actually achieve this figure or how it would be paid for. Evidently the”peasant class” doesn’t need to know these things?
Mendacity aka Lying!
Mitt and the truth evidently are not even passing acquaintances. I’ve been around for 55 years now and I’ve seen a few election campaigns. I am familiar with the fact that lying and politics is like ham and eggs, peanut butter and jelly or smoke and fire. When you see one, you assume the other is in the immediate vicinity. However, Mitt Romney’s campaign took things to a whole other level! In fact, there is strong evidence it may have been the “bridge too far,” “the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
In 2008 when our economy was in free fall and our automotive industries were on the verge of collapse, Mitt wrote an “Op-Ed” entitled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.” Without going into the mechanics of the theory of how in certain cases, bankruptcy could be a good thing. I will say, for there to be any chance of a bankruptcy leading to a positive outcome, there has to be some entity out there willing to buy the distressed company, reorganize it and take on it’s debt. Suffice it to say, there were noentities capable of doing this for our automotive industries. Thus, what Mitt was proposing would have been the total end of the American automotive industries. Not just the “Big – 3,” but all the other industries that support and rely on our automotive industries. Put another way? He was proposing manufacturing Armageddon for the United States.
Fortunately, President Obama took a different approach and the United States Government stepped in to save our Automotive industries. Mitt’s big lie came into play when he attempted to take credit for what happened by pretending that what the President did was exactly what he was suggesting. No it wasn’t!Mitt never suggested that the Government bail out the Automotive industries.
The lies continued. When our embassy in Libya was attacked, Mitt tried to get as much mileage as he possibly could from it by claiming that the President – yeah, the same President that killed Osama Bin Laden – was either too inept or trying to cover up something, to call it an “act of terrorism.” I’m not sure what he was trying to get at. Perhaps he was trying to say that the President has been faking it with regard to our successes taking out Al-Qaeda’s leadership? Nevertheless, he was severely embarrassed in the 2nd Presidential debate when he was “fact-checked” in the middle of his lie. Turns out there is video tape of the President calling the attacks terrorism the very next day in a “Rose Garden” press conference.
Mitt’s most egregious lie had to be his “Hail-Mary” pass at the end of his campaign where he claimed that Chrysler was secretly going to move the production of Jeeps to China. He released television and radio ads to this effect based on – far as I can tell – absolutely nothing! What he did was force Chrysler to weigh in and call his ads a lie!
This years October surprise was delivered – if by anyone – God! Although tragic, Hurricane Sandy revealed all the lies the Republicans have been telling. The American people saw a President extend his hand in a bi-partisan way to a Governor who was one of the leading attack dogs for the Mitt Romney Campaign. Governor Christie did not have the luxury of playing partisan politics and showed himself to be grateful and appreciative of the Presidents competent handling of the disaster.
A Real President
One of the many lies told by certain Republican nitwits was that the President – who’s mother was white – doesn’t like white people. The American people saw our President holding and comforting a white lady who’d lost everything in the storm and promising her that he personally and the Federal Government would be with her and all those who suffered catastrophic loss, every step of the way until they recovered. This is the way things should be and the way they’re supposed to work.
Ironically, during his primary campaign, the question of FEMA and “Disaster Relief” came up. Mitt’s Response? “We should do away with FEMA and send it back to the States and if possible privatize it. As you might imagine, Hurricane Sandy put Mitt’s position on FEMA front and center. Instead of giving a response or answering the questions, Mitt chose to duck, avoid and ignore the questions of the American People. Evidently, In Mitt-land, we don’t deserve any answers from his majestic presence.
I’M THE WHITE GUY!
When you add it all up. The only real argument Mitt Romney’s campaign delivered was, vote for me, I’m white and wouldn’t you really rather have a white president? That message may have been enough 10 years ago. However, America is different. It is more mature. It is definitely more brown and we are much more sophisticated. You can no longer simply assume that because someone is white, they share your views on race.
I am pleased to report, we have finally reached the place where many white people are not only put off by racism, they’re not afraid to call other white people out for it! If I must say so, the future of our nation is looking very bright indeed. When we all come together, there is absolutely nothing we cannot achieve.
Faced with how a real President responds to a national crisis, Republicans are running around with their hair on fire! One is forced to ask, are they really that unpatriotic? Or is it that their hatred for our first Black President is greater than their love for country or their concern for the welfare of their fellow American citizens?
A Tale Of Two Storms
Woman picks through the rubble of her home after Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina and it’s aftermath is still fresh in our collective psyches. For the first time in our modern technological history, a portion of our nation took on the optics of a 3rd world nation. We seemed powerless to help our fellow citizens and this impotence was hammered home day after day, night after night by our 24 hour news coverage.
Hurricane Katrina Victims signalling for help
We watched as the people of New Orleans – those fortunate enough to make it to their roofs – stood on their roofs, some waving t-shirts, other’s spelling out the word “help” with whatever debris they could get their hands on, all begging for rescue. News helicopters unequipped to be any more than a photographer’s platform, filmed the horror with the unblinking eye of the camera… and we watched. We saw men, women and children endure what none of us could possibly imagine ever happening in the United States of America.
We pride ourselves on coming to the aid of other nations to bring relief and rescue. Suddenly it appeared that we, the worlds last remaining “Super Power,” needed aid. It was a blow to our pride, self-esteem and wounded our delusion of independent self-reliance. The notion of “American Exceptionalism,” was laid bare for the myth that it is.
Michael D. Brown – Head of FEMA under George W. Bush
When Katrina hit, Michael D. Brown – an appointee of G.W. Bush – was the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA. This was a curious appointment because Brown had absolutely no experience in emergency management of any sort! He was a lawyer and a radio personality. The only management responsibility on his résumé was his time as commissioner for the International Arabian Horse Association. Bush might as well have made him “Surgeon General.” He was just as qualified for that position.
To his credit, following the Katrina débâcle a video tape emerged showing Michael Brown warning George Bush that Katrina “might be the big one.”
Unfortunately, being able to perceive that the light at the end of the tunnel might be a train, doesn’t necessarily mean you know the way out of the tunnel. In short, from my perspective, Michael Brown did the best he could, he was just in over his head.
George Bush in his pick-up truck on his ranch in Crawford, TX. Secret Service wouldn’t let him drive it on the streets.
George Bush had been vacationing at his ranch in Crawford, TX. On the Monday the storm hit, he was attending a ceremony in California. He did not return to Washington until Wednesday following the storm and did not visit New Orleans until that Friday. It was 5 days before he arrived on the scene of what he called “our worst natural disaster in history.”
Unusable FEMA Trailers – Contaminated with toxic levels of formaldehyde.
FEMA under the Bush administration had given a no bid contract to Bechtel. They were to provide trailers to be used to house victims of major disasters until they could return to their homes. The problem was these trailers had toxic levels of formaldehyde. The people who were moved into them became ill. Of course law suits were filed. Needless to say, this gave FEMA a “black-eye” in the view of the public.
To sum things up, the government’s handling of Katrina was worse than a Chinese fire drill. People died who could have been rescued. The perception that the government was ineffective and more hindrance than solution, was reinforced in the minds of many.
When Hurricane Sandy struck we all, I included, expected the government response to be similar. No, I did not think it would be anywhere near as bad as it was under the Bush administration. Cronyism and incompetence simply oozed from the pores of the Bush administration. However the differences in the responses between the Obama administration and the Bush administration have been stunning!
Craig Fugate – Head of FEMA under President Obama
The first notable difference is, when it came time to select a Head of FEMA, President Obama hired the director of Emergency Management from the State of Florida, Craig Fugate. Why? Florida is in the line of fire 6 months out of the year during Hurricane season. Florida gets hit frequently. Thus when he hired Craig Fugate, he was hiring someone with actual experience in crisis management and disaster mitigation. Yes, competence makes a difference.
In the aftermath of Sandy, in the words of Dawn Zimmer, the Mayor of Hoboken, NJ, “I put out a call for help and within 90 minutes, FEMA and the National Guard were here.” The other difference? The day after the storm, President Obama was on the scene, viewing the damage, finding out what was needed and giving physical and emotional comfort to those who’d lost everything. George Bush? 5 days. President Obama? Next day. There is a difference.
A Real President
I’ve heard some make the claim that the President does nothing other than show up for “photo-ops.” The explicit implication – I know, borders on an oxymoron – is that the President is using a tragedy for political gain. While there is little doubt this has happened in the past, with President Obama this is clearly not the case. Sometimes it requires an “Act of God,” to cause people to realize what is truly important.
President Obama meets with Governor Christie in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy
Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey has been an outspoken supporter of Mitt Romney and an ardent, vociferous, bombastic critic of the President. When Hurricane Sandy devastated New Jersey, that was his “come to Jesus” moment. Partisan politics went out the window and Governor Christie found himself in the awkward position of needing the help of the President of the United States for the people of New Jersey. When your home gets blown away, you don’t give a damn which party the person helping you belongs to. You’re just happy someone is extending you a helping hand.
President Obama Comforts Female Victim of Hurricane Sandy
Having a real President show up clearly means a lot in a time of despair. It clearly meant a lot to the people who’d lost everything. When President Obama took that woman in his arms and told her that everything was going to be alright and that our government was going to help her put her life back together, it carried the weight of a President who means what he says and says what he means.
Say what you will about President Obama, there’s one thing that is beyond dispute, whatever he says he will do, he does. He said he would defeat Al-Qaeda, he’s done that. When the question was asked in the primary debates, if he would go into Pakistan to get Bin Laden if he had actionable intelligence, he said he would and he did. He said he would pass healthcare reform, he did that. So when he tells a grieving lady that everything is going to be alright and that the government was going to be with her every step of he way, she tends to believe it and takes hope from it.
Aircraft Carrier turning
What can a real President do? First of all, he can cut through government “red tape” like a hot knife through butter. President Obama gave instructions that he didn’t want any hold ups or impediments to government aid. He can do a lot more. This is what I believe stunned Governor Christie. When the issue came up of helicopters coming in to bring supplies and assist in search and rescue missions, the problem was where to land them. President Obama picked up the phone and ordered 3 aircraft carriers to station themselves off the coast of New York and New Jersey, to act as mobile bases for the helicopters that would be needed.
C-130 being loaded
Getting the power back on? We’re Americans. When one State is in need, all of the United States pitch in to help. States all around the nation began rolling crews, equipment and trucks toward our Atlantic seaboard. California sent crews. When President Obama heard they were driving all the way from California to New Jersey and New York, he told them to divert to an airport where he would have C-130 military transports waiting to pick them up, trucks and all. This is what a real President can do. I’m damn glad we’ve got one.
As I write this, we are in the middle of an unfolding natural disaster the likes of which most have never seen. A few hours ago, “Hurricane Sandy” made landfall off the coast of New Jersey. To give you some perspective on the size of this storm, it would take a jet liner 2 hours to fly from one end to the other. As is our custom, some have named it “Frankenstorm.” It is a monster of a storm to be sure. Ironically, this type of storm is predicted and fits perfectly within the oft denied “Global Warming” model of climate scientists. Thus far there are 8.2 million power customers without power.
This is the only light some people have right now.
New York is flooded. Public transportation has been suspended and the Subway’s have been shut down due to the tunnels being full of salt water. Wall Street was closed today and will be closed tomorrow as well. The American marketplace, the engine of our economic system has been suspended while we all listen to a sermon from “Mother Nature.” All our technology, ingenuity and current “know-how,” has been placed in it’s proper perspective by a power greater than ours.
Power Company Truck – Ice Storm
Every State in the path of this monster is experiencing power outages and devastation from high winds and flooding caused by driving rains. It gets worse. A dip in the Jet Stream has allowed a blast of Arctic air from Canada to come down to join the party. Where the moisture meets the cold, you have extremely heavy snowfall and ice formations. Because this storm has hit at a time when leaves are still on the trees, we’re now looking at even more devastation from trees icing up and limbs breaking. The limbs falling on power lines is bound to increase the number of power outages exponentially.
Power Outage and it’s growing
It would be folly at this point to attempt to project the extent of the devastation we’re facing. Thus far at least 48 people are reported as casualties of this storm with more reports coming in. We do know that a hospital’s generators failed. As yet we have no idea what ramifications this may have caused. We are being reminded in the most fundamental way of how truly fragile our technology based society actually is. You turn on the faucet without ever considering that somewhere there is a pump driven by an electric motor, pumping that water into your home. If the power goes down at the pumping station, nothing but a distressing gurgle will flow from your faucet.
We no longer have “ice boxes,” what we have are refrigerator/freezers. Unlike our ancestors who had to spend a good portion of each day, either hunting, gathering or harvesting what they were going to eat each day, we now avail ourselves of supermarkets and grocery stores and buy food for the week. We store it safely in our refrigerators freeing up the hours in our days to pursue careers and other endeavours. When the power goes out, the clock starts ticking and that food we counted on is at risk of being lost. When the power goes out, the most disturbing thing is the absolute silence. You live each day surrounded by that 60Hz hum. You’ve become so accustomed to it, You don’t even notice it. That soft background hum is like the soundtrack to our lives. When it’s gone, the silence is deafening.
The Myth Of Self-Sufficiency
Dave Canterbury of the Pathfinder School. He’s no fool! He teaches survival but it’s a business. He gets paid to teach people how to rough it.
Most evenings, I listen to a radio program called, “Coast to Coast with George Noory.” The show covers a wide range of topics with an ever growing number of guests. There are a few guests who have become “regulars.” Depending on the news du jour, there may be a segment with a guest who’s written a book or has a website dealing with the particular hot topic of the day. Needless to say, tonight there were several guest who are into self-reliance and preparedness.
Survival Lean-to Shelter made from brush. If it comes down to this, you’ve got a lot of problems.
Back in the early 90’s I wrote a piece for a Usenet news group on being a survivalist. It was entitled, “The Realities of Being a Survivalist. (Getting Past the Bug-Out Mentality.)” Much to my surprise it is still around and referred to from time to time. It was written around the time the movie “Red Dawn” was in a lot of people’s minds. Many people had the mindset, that in the event of TEOTWAWKI – The End Of The World As We Know It – the thing to do was grab your “Bug Out Bag,” your guns and head for the hills. Live off the land, hunt and forage for food and survive like a hero from a Mad Max movie.
Sounds exciting, but it’s not very realistic. The gist of my article pointed out many of the fallacies of that type of thinking. For one, I’m not at all interested in running around in the woods with a bunch of other armed people all hunting for that same damn deer. My suggestion was to make your own home your survival retreat. Yes, I preached self-reliance. Food stores, water, a backup generator, certainly the ability to protect yourself and your family, with the added admonition of giving some thought to where you were living and relocate now to a safer, more strategic location. You probably wouldn’t want to be in the heart of a metropolis in the event of a crisis. We’re seeing some of the problems with this unfolding right now.
Desperately Needed Food Supplies
There are a lot of people in New York. In a day or so, they’re going to need access to food and fresh water. With transportation shut down and limited, bringing supplies to that many people is going to present a problem the likes of which may rival or surpass the problems caused by Hurricane Katrina. One thing in favor of the denizens of New York, the administration of President Obama is much more competent than that of George Bush. Nevertheless, it may be weeks or even months before New York and the rest of our eastern seaboard is back to normal.
Nobody ever thinks about toilet paper. How much do you have stored up?
Yes, self-sufficiency is good. Having supplies on hand is a great idea and everybody ought to have enough on hand to last at least 72 hours without assistance. A week or two would be even better. However, let’s be realistic. We cannot maintain our quality of life on our own. “No man is an island.” Even if you have a generator, eventually it is going to run out of gas. With the power out, if you can make it to a gas station, those pumps will not be working. How much food can you store? Toilet paper? How long can you stay or would you want to stay if you could not flush your toilets? Is it winter? How long do you think it will take for your apartment or home to reach the same temperature as it is outside? Is it summer? How long can you go without air conditioning? Excessive heat can be just as dangerous as freezing cold.
Ayn Rand High Priestess of the Virtue of Selfishness. Darling of Paul Ryan and Guru of the Republican philosophy
The Republican ideology of the virtue of selfishness begins to fall short when faced with the reality of the survival of a society. For years now the Republican mantra has been, “Government is the problem.” They’re right! Bad government is the problem. They fail to make this distinction. There is a reason human beings invented government. We exist today and have achieved what we’ve been able to achieve, even with all the setbacks and missteps, because we learned that working together in a coordinated fashion increased our chances for survival.
It was a hard and rugged life out on the frontier. There was nothing glamorous about it.
Species who’s survival strategy focused purely on distinct individual achievement are no longer here. They’ve gone extinct. Wolves hunt in packs, whales swim in pods, fish swim in schools, bees, ants and other insects have hives and colonies. The coordinated efforts of a group increases efficiency and effectiveness. In our recent history, early 1800’s, the era of the self-reliant outdoors-man, frontiersman, the average lifespan was just 40 years old. Think about that for a moment. You reached 40 years of age and died of the natural cause of old age. Why? Life was hard. It was brutal. It was dangerous. Your caloric intake was low. You suffered from malnutrition. You died.
The things we enjoy today and take for granted come to us because we’ve learned to work together much more efficiently than at any other time in our recorded history. We have become a society of specialists. We make the education of all our children mandatory. Not just the aristocrats or plutocrats. Allour children. Why? Because genius and innovation are not the exclusive province of the privileged and wealthy. We develop all minds both male and female.
We realize that you cannot be a productive, contributing member or society if you’re tethered to your home, armed to the teeth to repel thieves, robbers and invaders. Thus, we have professional police officers and if need be a military. You do not have to rely on folk medicine and remedies handed down by your family traditions. We have hospitals, emergency care facilities and emergency response personnel. They are specifically trained to quickly and efficiently respond to all medical emergencies.
Gas main exploding in a residential neighborhood.
Should some disaster strike, or your home or business catch fire, we have professional firemen and first responders. In times past, should your home or business catch fire, or some natural disaster befall you, you were largely on your own. To be sure, some of your neighbors may have come to help after they saw to their own needs, but professionals with equipment they were not! Because of our combined efforts – coordinated by Government – to care for and meet the needs of everyone in our society, we have experienced progress heretofore unknown in recorded human history.
Climate Change Anyone?
Notice a trend?
The Lunacy in the way the Republicans and the so called conservative movement, have dealt with the issue of “Global Warming” has been simply appalling. They have treated this issue as though the planet is sick and you can go shop for a doctor until you find one that will give you the opinion you want to hear. Scientist after scientist has sounded the warning. “We’re in serious trouble if we don’t do something now.” “We’re nearly at the tipping point.” I’m sure you’ve probably heard all the warnings. They haven’t exactly been keeping things a secret. The prescription has not been that severe. Reduce our use of fossil fuels. Invest in more wind and solar. Incorporate hydro-electric wherever possible. Develop wave powered tidal generators. Increase batter efficiency. Increase fuel efficiency standards in automobiles to bridge us over.
What the Republicans did was turn to their own scientist – most on the payrolls of the energy industry – who say, “Global Warming” needs to be studied more. Or, “we’re not sure how much of this is caused by man.” Really? You’re kidding me right? It’s like that commercial that says, “4 out of 5 dentist agree…” and they turn to that 5th dentist for advice. We simply cannot afford this.Too much is at stake. Remember the GOP convention where they were chanting “Drill Baby Drill” as though it were some Buddhist Mantra? I want you to hold that in your mind and hear it as you look at the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy.
Two huge lies. The first is, that the global supply of oil determines your price at the pump. The price per barrel is set by oil speculators who are trading oil futures like Day Traders trade “penny stocks” on the Stock Market. It’s pump and dump. They don’t give a damn about consumers, they’re in for he quick kill and you pay for their profits.
Coming to a National Park Near You?
Lie number two: We can drill our way to lower energy costs. The United States has a little over 2% of the World’s proven oil reserves. We consume roughly 20% of the World’s oil. Do you see a problem? I do. Simply put, if we were at peak capacity we’re not able to produce as much oil as we consume. It’s like being behind on your mortgage and coming up with the brilliant idea that going through you couch cushions looking for change, will solve your problems. The humor is muted by the tragic reality. You’re going to lose your home. If you were lamenting to me that you were facing foreclosure and I asked you if you’d checked your couch cushions for change, I’m pretty certain you’d have to suppress an impulse to bust me in my eye. Hell! I wouldn’t blame you if you did! I have the same impulse whenever I see or hear a Republican talking about “drill baby drill.”
The reality is, our planet is heating up. How many “100 year storms” have we had in the past decade? They’re coming almost every two years now aren’t they? Coincidence? I don’t think so. To those who lamely try to make the argument that “Man” is not involved, look at it this way. If you were coming down a mountain and you tapped your brakes and they went all the way to the floorboard, what would you do? Would you throw your hands in the air and say, “oh well, there’s nothing I can do. Might as well floor it and go out in a blaze of glory?” Or would you down shift and try the emergency brake? Would you look for a place to drag your car along the side of the mountain to slow and stop it?
The Republican Lie
Republicans have as one of their confessions of faith, “Government is the problem.” “We want Government so small you can drown it in a bathtub.” What about now? When disasters strike like Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Katrina, Mt. St. Helens erupts, Earthquakes, God forbid, Yellowstone’s super Caldera lets loose, you’re going to want Government there with all the resources necessary to return our lives to some semblance of normalcy. this is why we pay taxes. This is why whom we elect is so critically important!Everybody complains about taxes… until their home is under 6′ of water or on fire. When your child gets lost in a National Park while you’re out on a picnic, you couldn’t afford the cost of the search and rescue effort that the government – we the tax payers – will mount to reunite you with your child.
Irony – It’s a Bitch isn’t it?
If your home is on fire, you don’t want the fire department to show up with a clipboard and ask you, “will this be cash, check or charge?” Same thing if you were having a heart attack. These things we take for granted, are the very services that cause people to want to live in our country. No matter whom you are. No matter what you’ve done. If you’re in trouble, society will come together to save your life and help you get back on your feet. We call it “Our Social Contract.” It is what makes us Americans. There is a cost associated with this contract and we cover this cost by paying taxes.
Ever hear the phrase,”all roads lead to Rome?” There is a reason for that expression. The Romans knew that to build and maintain an empire, they needed to be able to quickly move and supply their armies to any location within their empire. Thus they built roads. These roads made marching easier and faster. They made it possible for wagons with supplies to accompany their armies. People spend a lot of time talking about the Roman phalanx, armament and use of the short sword to explain their military success. True their tactics and use of equipment played a large part, however the most important part in my opinion were the roads they built that increased their logistic efficiency and made it possible for reinforcements to quickly arrive on the scene of a conflict.
Collapse of a bridge in Minneapolis in 2007
At one time, we knew this. At least we acted as though we did. We spared no expense to connect our country, first with rail lines and with the invention of the automobile, our interstate highway system. Our roads made commerce possible and caused towns and cities to spring up and grow along these thoroughfares. Power lines, roads, rail systems, bridges all these things make up parts of our infrastructure. If we do not maintain them, they will crumble and fail. It always costs more to rebuild something than it does to maintain it. Don’t like paying taxes? Think about this the next time you’re crossing a bridge. Saving money can be expensive.
When Katrina struck, the Levees broke.
How expensive? Hurricane Katrina really wasn’t all that bad by the time it came ashore. It had greatly weakened. The problem was the levees. They knew there was a problem with the levees and in fact money had been set aside to address this problem. However, instead of that money going to fix the levees, because of decreased revenue caused by cutting taxes, that money went to take care of other things. A levee is sort of like a parachute. You can fly 1,000 times and never need one. However, when you do, you need it to work. Again, infrastructure like those Roman roads, gets ignored until it crumbles or is no longer there.
Privatizing Profits, Socializing Costs
David Cay Johnston – Author of “The Fine Print.”
In his book “The Fine Print,” David Cay Johnston lays out how we’ve arrived at our sorry state of affairs. We have deified the private sector to the point we damn near worship corporations as gods. We have allowed such aphorisms as, “the business of America is business,” or “what’s good for business is good for America,” to filter into our collective psyche. We accept these pronouncements as divine truth. We do not question them or actually analyze them. Perhaps we should. First of all, the government of the United States is not nor should it be considered a business. When the Constitution speaks about “promoting general welfare,” it is not talking about corporations or business interests. It is talking about the welfare of the citizens. Quite often what is best for corporations is terrible for citizens.
To paraphrase Sherlock Holmes, “the game is afoot!” It has been afoot for quite awhile now. Step one in the game plan? Promote the idea that taxes are bad and that they’re too high. This part is easy. When you tell people they’re paying too much, who is going to disagree? Everybody has been convinced that paying more for something than you have to is a sign of a mental defect.
Step two in the game plan? Convince the State that the “private sector” can provide the same services cheaper and more efficiently. Has anyone ever studied this leap of faith? Yet, because you’ve got the citizens up in arms over paying taxes, this suddenly looks like an attractive alternative. Utilities which used to be owned by the commonwealth have been turned over to private companies. Of course, they’re going to need some assistance and incentives in the way of tax abatements, but hey! It’s off the State’s books. Did you catch that? “tax abatements?” What that means is these companies won’t be paying State income taxes. Thus, the revenue of the State has just been decreased. The State also has lost control over vital parts of our infrastructure.
Here’s what this means. One of the reasons Hurricane Sandy has caused over 8 million people to be without power, is because, power lines have been knocked down by the high winds of the storm. There is a really simple solution to this. Bury the damn lines!Because power companies are now privatized, they’re not interested in incurring the cost of burying the power lines. What’s in it for them? If they cannot justify the cost – translation: make a profitburying the lines – it’s not going to happen. Had the power lines been underground where they should be, our power grid would have been largely unaffected by Hurricane Sandy.
Isn’t it interesting that Mitt Romney wants to get rid of FEMA?Right now when people’s lives and the restoration of their property hangs in the balance with FEMA standing between them and total unrecoverable loss, Governor Romney wants to get rid of FEMA. Hear him in his own words.
Just as he showed abysmal judgement when it came to – in his words – “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt!” Drawing from the same arid well of wisdom, he has prescribed doing away with FEMA. I don’t know how to say this any other way… but the man is a dangerous idiot!
Hurricane Sandy Destroys Republican Ideology
I am not a religious man, but it seems that some form of divine intervention may have occurred. “October Surprise?” This one may have come from higher up than we’d like to consider. For the past four years, Republicans have been trying to paint President Obama as divisive, partisan and refusing to work with Republicans. The reason they’ve been so successful in selling this nonsense is that their base only watches FAUX News. In point of fact, President Obama has alienated his own progressive base by reaching out to Republicans.
The Affordable Care Act called “Obama Care,” went before the U.S. Supreme Court over one issue. That issue was “the individual mandate.” The “individual mandate” was a Republican idea. Republicans have added “poison pills” to Bills and proposed them. When President Obama has said, “okay, we’ll do it your way,” they then turn and vote against the very Bills they’ve written and proposed.
President Obama with an extremely grateful Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey
The devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy has made it necessary for Republican ideologues such as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to have to put aside partisan politics and seek Federal Aid from the President of these United States. Right about now, Chris Christie is damn glad that Barack Hussein Obama is the President of these United States. He has been effusive in his praise of our President. One can only imagine how things might have been had the Republicans acted like grown-ups from day one and participated in governing instead of collecting tax payer checks for doing nothing?
The Monk, Monastery, Basket and Rope
A traveller visiting an ancient monastery was surprised to discover that the only access was by an elevator up the side of the cliff in a basket pulled up by a rope. As he rode up he noticed that the rope was frayed. He turned to the old Monk and asked how often they replaced the rope? The Monk replied, “each time it breaks.” This describes the way we currently handle business.
Rather than raise taxes and spend the money maintaining, repairing and improving our infrastructure, we will wait until it breaks. Had the levees in New Orleans been fixed and maintained as they should have been, the flooding from Katrina would have been minimal. The loss of life would have been greatly decreased. If our power lines were buried underground as they should be, we’d have very few power outages.
Had the Republicans extended their hands in a willingness to work with our President, instead of coming to him in their time of need, imagine what things would be like today.