November 2, 2012

Perfect Storms…

Category: News — Ira @ 7:10 pm


We are so lost, so lonely, so forsaken, in America: Immense
and savage skies bend over us, and we have no door.

Thomas Wolfe


It wasn’t called the “Perfect Storm,” at least not that I saw or heard. But it might just as well have been. It was labeled all kinds of other dramatic names. 100-year storm. Storm of the century. The Big One. And, of course, it was called by its name. Sandy.

Whatever it was, it sure served up a perfect storm of excited chatter from the weather guys. On TV, on the internet, they stood before vast screens swirling with shades of white and yellow and blue and red. This was the big one. Apocalypse now. We’ve never seen anything like this before. It might be the most devastating storm in all of recorded history. Which is just silly, when you think about it. But that’s what they said.

That storm has now unfolded, has come and gone. And true, it left huge swaths of destruction and devastation in its wake, as could reasonably be expected. That’s what hurricanes do when they hit land. Smash things indiscriminately. Especially puny man made things like houses and businesses and roads and such.

I started taking note of Sandy around mid week. I never watch any news on TV. Except as extreme weather closes in, sometimes. But otherwise, never. I listen to the radio guys, though. And the WHP weather man kept insisting. This was one big storm. Coming right up the coast and then right on in at us. And no. It would not turn out to sea. Because of certain winds and jet streams, it would turn inland. Smash into the coast. This was the big one. Storm of the century. There would be mass devastation. People would die.

Yeah, yeah, I thought. I’ve heard all this hype before. Same song, different verse. You do this stuff all the time in winter, for snowstorms and such. And every year or two, for hurricanes. You make it sound as bad as possible, trot out the very worst things that might happen, and tell us it’s going to. And it’s not that I thought it couldn’t happen. Of course it could. But there’s no way anyone can tell, way out ahead. They can guess. Maybe get it right. But they can’t know for sure until it all comes down.

About the only thing I like about hurricanes is that so far they have left us alone, my friends and me, during our annual September treks to the Outer Banks for Beach Week. It’s been close, a time or two. And one of these years, some spoiler will nail us. It will, because that’s how things even out. But so far, we haven’t had to cancel our cherished slot down on the beach. So I generally don’t have a whole lot of hostility toward hurricanes, because they’ve never done anything to me.

And the uproar persisted as the weekend arrived. Saturday. I slept in. Got up and putzed about. Decided to check the Weather Channel on TV. Yep, they’re yelling, all right. OK. I’ll get ready. Prepare a bit. Losing electricity, that was my one big fear. Lose that, and you got nothing. I checked my two little battery lanterns. Ready to go. Extra batteries on the shelf. Good, there. Now, water. I have no bathtub in my home, so I can’t fill that, like they always tell you to. I have buckets and jugs, though. So I filled a bunch of those. Set them in the porch, just outside the bathroom door. Food. I’d eat out of tin cans if I had to. I got Spam, beans, bread, chips, crackers. Facebook was swarming with Hurricane headlines. Sandy. Worst storm in 100 years. I settled in and watched the late college football games. Notre Dame whacked Bob Stoops’ Sooners at home. Good stuff, there. About time Oklahoma got humbled. And I’ve never had a thing against the Irish.

Sunday. I went to church at Chestnut Street. I wondered. Would we all huddle in little groups and pray for the storm to divert around us? Nah. Not so you’d notice, we didn’t. Sandy was never even mentioned. Pastor Mark preached his regular sermon. Good stuff. Even after church, no one seemed particularly perturbed about the storm swooping in. Guess it was just assumed we’d prepare and be prepared for whatever happened. I stood about, visiting as usual after the service. About this and that, but mostly not about the weather.

And that afternoon, Drudge Report headlines blazed with storm news. 100 mph winds, hitting shore in New York and Jersey and Philly. Philly is a little more than an hour from here. Hope those winds calm down before hitting my house. I scrounged up a few more empty jugs and filled them with tap water. Bought a bag of ice at Sheetz and placed it in my freezer. Settled in again, and watched football and kept an eye on the World Series. Detroit sure turned out disappointing. I was rooting for them. But they couldn’t even pull off one win. That’s the way it all comes down, sometimes. And I settled in around eleven for the night. Tomorrow it would arrive. The Great Storm. I’ll be totally good, if my power doesn’t go down for too long, I figured.

Electric. It’s what we depend on every day, to power pretty much everything we depend on. It’s so woven into our lives that we don’t even think about it until it’s not there. And life without it sucks, really. I can’t think of a better word than that. Yet, I kept telling myself, where I come from, we didn’t have it. Not at all. Never. And I wondered. How long could I exist without it? I don’t mean comfortably. I mean just exist. Could I revert? I didn’t want to know. I had food enough. Water enough. But how long could I last without electric, without losing my mind? I dug around for a few books. No power means no TV, and more importantly, no internet. No Facebook. No emailing. And, of course, no writing on my computer, either. I scrounged up a few Thomas Wolfe favorites to reread. And some P.G. Wodehouse books I’ve been kicking around. Power goes out, I’ll read. By lantern light, like I used to years back.

Monday. Overcast morning, the skies were spitting. It would come sweeping in at noon, they said. At the office, the phone rang sporadically. Not a lot going on out there. I watched the headlines. DC was getting hammered. All federal offices were closed. Good. The longer that cesspool is shut down, the better off we all are. If we can survive without the Feds for two days, why not the whole year? Facebook was buzzing. And even as the storm approached, the partisans couldn’t help themselves. Romney would shut down all federal financial aid for those poor hurricane victims, one lady sniped. Her friends swooped in and Oooohed, and Ahhhhed. He must be a bad man for sure. Some guy stepped in to defend Romney on the comment thread. He was instantly dismissed as being not a very good Christian. So cold hearted and all. I gape at such posts in disbelief, sometimes. Who are these people, who think like that? But it’s none of my business, really. So I’ve learned to bite my tongue a lot, too.

The chatter was good and lighthearted, mostly, though. I saw the notice that my gym was shut down, through Tuesday, at least. There goes my workout. I wondered if the whole thing wasn’t just a bit overhyped. Sure, it was blowing like crazy out there. Rain swept sideways along the ground. But we had power. Shouldn’t those business-closing decisions be made after events occurred, after the storm smashed everything, instead of before?

Well, Graber was open, and we stayed open. Around mid afternoon, I sent some people home. Just me and the yard guys remained. Not that much was going on, but still, you stay open when you can. At five, I headed home on the most deserted highways I’ve ever seen in Lancaster County. The winds swept sheets of rain across the pavement. Here and there, water roiled right over the road. Big Blue and I cautiously picked our way through. And then we were home. I settled in and hunkered down, fully expecting nothing less than the power would go at any second. Keeping a lantern close by, I surfed Facebook. Friends from the east and west and south posted updates right along. Lights are blinking, one said. Here too, said another. Then, there goes the power. We’re in the dark, here. And I waited for that inevitable blinking, for the darkness to close in on me.

It never did. Amazingly, nothing happened. The power stayed on in New Holland. And by 8 o’clock, I was watching a couple of visibly deflated local weather guys admitting that the storm had crested. The worst was over. At 8 o’clock. No gloom and doom, or people to rescue in this area, sadly. “But our warnings are still in effect,” they said sternly. “Stay inside. Don’t go anywhere unless absolutely necessary. And always stay away from downed power lines.” Yes, of course. Sorry it didn’t come down like you had hoped. But I’m liking it a lot. That’s what I thought. Monday Night Football coming right up.

Sure, Sandy was a bad hurricane. The worst in 100 years, in New York City and on the Jersey Shore, maybe the worst ever there. Just unbelievable devastation, with staggering loss of property and some lives, even. They’re struggling now with the after-effects, and will be struggling and rebuilding for a long time. But for me, and for most people in the surrounding areas, the storm of century turned out to be a little hiccup, really. We got through fine, with few effects and little damage. Just as we would have gotten through fine without all that hysteria from the media.

It’s been suggested that I might be a “storm denier,” whatever that is. Maybe I am. It’s never fun to see a big old hurricane come roaring up the coast. I try to tune it out, all the noise from all the hype, yes. So if that makes me a storm denier, so be it. That doesn’t mean I don’t prepare. It just means I take what I hear with a healthy dose of skepticism. And not panic. What will come will come. You don’t have to proclaim Armageddon to tell me a disaster might be approaching.


There’s another kind of perfect storm bearing down on us. One that will wreak havoc and destruction far worse than any Sandy could ever dream of. This storm makes me particularly grumpy, because it’s a lot harder to prepare for the aftermath. It will unleash upon the land next Tuesday. It’s called “the presidential election.”

It’s the most important election in our history, of course. Just like they all are, every four years. How that claim can be made with a straight face, again and again, escapes me. But somehow it always is, and somehow people always fall for it. I’m not knocking anyone, here. Believe what you want, be who you are. Do what you choose to. I’m just telling it how I see it. And don’t come knocking on my door proselytizing. It won’t work. Oh, and one more thing. If you actually believe the problems facing this country can or will be solved through the current terminally corrupt two-party political system, you are seriously deluded.

I detest politics. I detest both political parties in this country. And I am sick to the point of beyond exhaustion of the whole thing. The rah, rah, the marching “troops,” the blind partisanship, all of it. It’s all a vacuous exercise in abject futility.

Politics is a disreputable, dishonorable and despicable profession. And hard boiled partisans of both parties are, well, I’ll bite my tongue a bit, here. To say this much: Their guy is God and the other guy is the devil. That’s how they see it. And they will brook no criticism of their guy. None. Still, many of those partisans are very fine people, and many of them are my good friends. Except when it comes to this one issue. Then they’re simply unhinged.

I keep an eye on the race because it’s impossible not to, from all the noise around me. Whiplash from starkly opposing posts on Facebook, thousands and thousands of status updates, enough to drive you batty. (Well, I guess I do my own share of political postings, but I skewer both parties.) Wave after wave of incessant radio ads. I don’t watch much local TV, so I’ve been spared the commercials, mostly. Thankfully. And I don’t know who will pull it out, Obama or Romney. And no one else does, either, despite all the pontificating you hear. Whoever wins, the other side will scream bloody murder. Fraud. That’s how the system works now. Like two street gangs in a deadly struggle for power, using whatever means necessary. Which is exactly what it is.

The race could go either way, I guess. The servile, sycophant fawning mainstream media keeps braying that it will be Obama, of course. Those guys retain not a shred of professional credibility. They not only support Obama, they actively go out of their way to cover up his scandals and his failures. They sing hosannas to the Messiah. It’s sickening to see and hear.

Here’s my take on both candidates. (If you’re an Obama partisan, keep reading. He’s the president, so he goes first. I’ll get to Romney soon enough.)

If Obama wins a second term, the US economy will simply collapse. I don’t know when, maybe a year, maybe two. The man has no concept of how a real economy works. Big government and bigger government, those seem to be the only options he knows. And the business world is holding back, from fear of his socialist policies. Fear of his vile massive boondoggle that is ObamaCare, which in and of itself will destroy lives and countless small businesses. I work for a small business. And people are not spending money, because of Obama. They’re scared to. And businesses are not expanding because they’re scared of Obama. I can tell you that fact first hand. You can’t plunder the producers forever. The golden goose will die. There is no free lunch. There will never be a free lunch. We are pretty much in Atlas Shrugged territory, here.

If Romney wins, an economic boom will be unleashed upon the land. And things will surge, at least short term. The inevitable will be delayed a few years, but the inevitable will still come. But far more troubling, Romney is a Republican. And Republicans love nothing more than to plunge madly into another senseless, brutal, absolutely immoral war. He will do that. Attack Iran, probably. Something Obama, to his enormous credit, has staunchly refused to do. The Imams there have been designated as our current boogeymen. They’re mad and evil, all of them. And as a reflection of their leaders, all Iranians are mad and evil too, including the masses of innocent civilians. That’s how propaganda works.

Perpetual war is the health of the state. And I am stridently, passionately anti-war. Like my father was all his life, and still is. I’m not a pacifist, like he claims to be, though. I will leave you in peace, but if you come at me to harm me, I will use whatever force necessary to defend myself. But when it comes to war, I see it as he does. I’m there, with him. I just arrived through a different door. Funny, how that big circle works sometimes.

It’s irrational, and it’s so far from what Christ taught, the insatiable blood lust for war that afflicts many if not most American Christians. It’s shameful, the mindless braying. Real people are dying, and they cheer and sing. But the Lord will hear the innocent blood that cries to Him from desolate war-ravaged lands far away. From the killing fields in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Libya and the whole Mideast. Those are His children, too, the ones killed by US bombs. As are the ones who starved or died from lack of medicines because of US sanctions. Those are His children, too, the ones maimed or incinerated by US drone strikes. (And yes, Obama is killing indiscriminately with drone strikes, too, as the partisan Left cowers in craven silence.) All blood is red. It doesn’t matter who is shedding it. God will never bless an aggressor nation. Especially not a nation that engages in such indiscriminate civilian slaughter. He will not, because He is Love. And love and murder are incompatible in any honest frame of reference.

So there you have it. Those are your options. In this election you have a choice, all right. Two parties. Two candidates. It’s a choice between the destruction of our economy at home, or the blood and death, the senseless slaughter of people far away who have never done a thing to harm us. What price, our own economic comfort? What price, the slaughter of innocents we don’t know and will never know? What price, love?

It’s a devil’s bargain, either way. Take your pick. Choose your poison. Because when it comes to these two candidates, those are the only choices you have.