Duck and Cover! Again
After 9/11 first responders - police and fire personnel - became national heroes. Glowing in the reflection of their brethren who died trying to save people in at the World Trade Center, first responders nationwide were universally lauded and, since then, lavishly funded. Police and fire departments from LA to Dog Patch have been force-fed money like geese being prepared for foie gras.
It’s all supposed to make us feel safer. But are we?
The short answer is, no. Of course it’s more complicated than that. There are millions of variables, every one of them unaffected by money spent on first responders. For example, where will you be when the next terrorist attack comes? If you are within a couple of miles of ground zero the day a nuke goes off all the first responders in the world won’t save your be able to save your fricasseed ass.
What about those who do survive? First responders will have their hands full with the living and that's where we will get our money’s worth, right?
“When asked during the campaign debates to name the gravest danger facing the United States, President Bush and challenger Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) gave the same answer: a nuclear device in the hands of terrorists…..But more than 3 1/2 years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the U.S. government has failed to adequately prepare first responders and the public for a nuclear strike, according to emergency preparedness and nuclear experts and federal reports.” (Full Story)
All those billions of dollars spent on first responders and where are we? Well, still right where we were back in 1954 when I was in grammar school and we practiced the state-of-the-art nuclear survival technique -- hiding under our flammable wooden desks.
I’m not kidding. We are no better off. Doubt me? Well then go to the web site funded by some of those Homeland Security billions and see for yourself.
Here’s your “new” government-sponsored survival plan for a nuclear attack taken directly off that site: (annotations are mine, not that you would be confused by them.)
1. Quickly assess the situation.
(No shit. In nuclear-explosion-terms “quickly” computes to about one tenth of a second. After that any further “assessing” would be limited to counting how many appendages are still attached to your smoking carcass.)
2. Consider if you can get out of the area or if it would be better to go inside a building to limit the amount of radioactive material you are exposed to.
(This is the “cover” part of your new survival plan. They don’t mention ducking because they probably assume you ducked during the “assessment” phase of this procedure. If you didn’t then you won’t need the rest of this anyway.)
3. If you take shelter go as far below ground as possible, close windows and doors, turn off air conditioners, heaters or other ventilation systems. Stay where you are, watch TV, listen to the radio, or check the Internet for official news as it becomes available.
(Turn off air conditioners? Haven’t these people seen the films of nuclear blasts? The nuke would have “turned off” all that stuff long before your trembling fingers reach the switch. And “check the Internet,” now there’s a wonderfully useless piece of advice. Assuming the electricity was still on in your flattened and/or smoldering city, just what would you find on the Internet? “Yo dude, did you see that Flash?” and “In times of stress, Viagra, more important than ever!”)
A Ready.gov graphic shows how someone a city block from a nuclear blast could save his or her life by walking around the corner. Right. Run this piece of advice by the citizens of Hiroshima or Nagasaki. They might suggest changing that to “someone in a neighboring city.”
Look, sorry to break the news but all this money spent the near-deification of first responders is pure placebo affect. Sure those men and women risk their lives daily for which they deserve both our admiration and thanks. But when catastrophe strikes, be it an earthquake, a tsunami or WMD terrorist attack, first responders will make about as much difference as a band aid on a sucking wound.
With the next Big One hits, first responders in large cities will be immediately overwhelmed. Sirens will wail, ambulances will roll, and fire trucks will scramble in every direction. But the size of the job facing them will dictate that most city dwellers will wander around for days before they get any help.
Then there’s all those tiny police and volunteer fire departments in rural towns that are now chockablock full of government provided high-tech disaster gear from nuclear/biological space suits, to machine guns.
Townships thousands of miles from the attack will come alive as their first responders jump at the opportunity to try out all that expensive stuff the government has lavished upon them. It will be a scene right out of The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming, in Dog Patch.
(Trust me on that one. I ran the weekly newspaper in a small rural town served by a volunteer fire department and I can tell you, it will be something to behold the next time something big comes down.)
The bottom line: Just as it was when be stood nuclear eyeball to nuclear eyeball with the Soviet Union there is no defense against a nuclear attack, just useless feel-good advice. Al Qaida claims it has a few of the old Soviet suitcase nukes. Now North Korea has both nukes and the means to hit the Western US.
And so once again it’s duck, cover and then pray you are out of range. (Oh, and when the dust settles, don’t be startled by that guy in your front yard in the bio-suit, helmet, night-vision goggles, the ground-to-air radio pack and machine gun. It’s just volunteer battalion chief Barney hot on bin Laden’s trail.)
Now, Something Real
Good news, for a change. Congress is poised to do something that might actually make us safer.
“A House and Senate conference now taking place has included the requirements, which apply to all 50 states and other jurisdictions that issue licenses, in a supplemental appropriations bill for Iraq, aides involved in the process said on Monday. The draft legislation will be completed in the next few days and is all but certain to pass.” (Full Story)
This is important, so listen up. I am talking to my fellow liberals here. Pandering to Hispanic voters by allowing illegals to get state driver’s licenses is wrong. Any votes scheming politicians get for supporting illegals will be wiped away the first time a terrorist once again uses a driver’s license to get on a plane or into a facility and kills a bunch of innocent legal American citizens.
(Remember, the 9/11 terrorists had 12 driver’s licenses between them. One was of them was stopped on the way to the airport for speeding and was not arrested because he had a legal driver’s license. Duh.)
Fact: Conservatives are not always wrong. Fact. Liberals are not always right. Get over it. This time conservative James Sensenbrenner Jr., Republican of Wisconsin, fought through the hypocrisy of his own party and the numbskull political correctness of many Democrats and got this measure through.
Remember to thank James Sensenbrenner the next time you flash your driver’s license to get on board a plane. Once this law goes into effect that little action will no longer be just a symbolic waste of time… a kind of ID version of “duck and cover.”
Faith-based Soldiers for Bush
President Bush (read Karl Rove) has long sought a more diverse Republican Party, one that could lure blacks and Hispanics into a dominant conservative bloc. It’s working and you and I are paying the bill. You will find the reference to it buried in the budget under the name the “Compassion Capital Fund.”
Yes boys and girls, God might be a Christian and, while his son might have been able to make wine out of water and divide fish and loaves, faith-based Christians need money and lots of it to get their job done. And there’s no pile of money bigger than the one found in the federal temple.
“A religion-based fusion of politics and policy, the fund is the president's most tangible effort to help those he calls the "armies of compassion," small religious groups with shoestring budgets that care for the downtrodden. Over the last three years, it has spent $100 million to train such religiously motivated foot soldiers, and in some cases to give them small grants, on the theory that a bit of managerial coaching will mobilize new healing platoons.” (Full Story)
Among God’s self-appointed hall-monitors getting a hunk of your money is Nueva Esperanza Inc., one of the largest contracts of the 44 religious groups chosen to provide the training to smaller organizations and distribute the federal cash. With $7.4 million, it has worked with 180 small programs from Miami to Seattle, making the Rev, Mr. Cortes one of the most prominent Hispanic evangelicals in politics.
"I'm not red, and I'm not blue," Mr. Cortes said in a recent interview. "I'm brown. This is what I tell politicians. You want an endorsement? Give us a check, and you can take a picture of us accepting it. Because then you've done something for brown."
Excuse me Mr. Cortes, and your ilk. But I was under the impression that religious groups are exempt from taxes only as long as they stay out of politics. I guess laws like that only apply to non-Christians and non-Hispanics these days. You guys can praise the lord right to the bank and still meddle in politics. And, while illegal immigrant from Somalia probably can’t get a driver’s license illegal Jose can and, according to you, not only should get one, but deserves to get one.
This is not a racial issue, though opportunists on both sides would love to make it into one. Nor is it an anti-religious thing, though I readily admit I consider all that stuff little more than organized superstition.
It’s about commonsense. And clearly something has gotten all twisted up when it comes to both religion and immigration.
Readers Sound Off
Letters From Readers on the White House Correspondents' Dinner Here
By Stephen Pizzo
Raconteur at Large