Hurricane Sandy's Calling Card

As a rule, hurricanes don’t make it into the northern portion of the United States, they will usually nip Florida or perhaps Georgia - to make landfall in New Jersey and then go all the way into Ohio is indeed historic. I am used to being in tornado country - however, never thought I’d encounter a hurricane in my backyard - no doubt did those in Hurricane Sandy’s path. There are the brave souls who stayed in their homes when the orders came to evacuate - and later regretted that decision. Those that did not listen, imperiled their own lives, but those who had to rescue them from their folly. Granted, some had nowhere else to go or didn’t have the funds to leave or were physically challenged in wheelchairs or bedridden and couldn’t leave - or a variable combination of the above.

Even hospitals can find their weaknesses such as the one in New York which lost all power due to a defective generator which didn’t work - the hospital had to contact other hospitals to handle their patient load - thankfully other hospitals were able to handle the emergencies. Another are buildings themselves which were never built to handle hurricane winds and flooding. Many will be have to be (including brand new homes) torn down due to obvious structural damage. Since there is now a precedent, new building regulations will have to be written that homes will have to be water and wind resistant to withstand damage by hurricane force winds and flooding as is the requirement of new homes going up in the southern coastal cites. Even older buildings which have stood the rigors of winter in the northern climates and are over one hundred years old have found Hurricane Sandy to be a peril it can’t match - like the old building in downtown Cleveland, Ohio where its walls are buckling and wobbling in the wind. Much as the owner may try to argue otherwise - most likely the building will have to be torn down!

There is an argument going on as to whether manmade global climate shares part of the blame or its simply an accident of nature? My feeling is this is the final wake-up call from the environment saying we must be better stewards of the Earth - after all, one may be able to travel around the globe, but one can’t escape where there is no place else to go! Even the uber rich will have to suffer the consequences eventually - money has no meaning to a storm! These are desperate times for Mother Earth, she’s being poked everywhere to drain the last bit of fossil fuels to burn every last morsel to pollute our atmosphere - and now she’s getting ornery as all hell over how mankind keeps screwing her in all the wrong places. Over a decade ago I mentioned in one of my columns that the Earth’s environment was near or at the ’tipping’ point - well, its tipped. Were we to start today to burn no more fossil fuel and implement clean alternative energy strategies, we will still have to make up for our past. While we are making strides in solar, wind turbine, magnetic, geothermal and hydroelectric - we are still too dependent on fossil fuels to power our world. As it is, the natural gas and petroleum companies can no longer hide the fact that their efforts to extract those elements are damaging the Earth and will eventually leave our progeny in a crisis mode. The best they can do is offer commercials to falsely assure us all is fine in fossil fuel land. Sad to say, there are still some who are buying the message.

There are many prices that will have to be paid for our ignorance as a collective and mother nature will not let us forget it! With Sandy, the doomsday clock clicks four minutes to midnight and all is definitely not well! The perpetrators may make a run for it, but they will not be able to hide for long. The world is headed for a shake it has not experienced before, the weather will be more intense - and it will be harder to grow food, let alone find the materials to make shelter or heat and cool our homes. With forced ’fracking’ the waters will be toxic to bathe in let alone to drink - food cannot grow in poisoned ground water. There is a seed bank on the Norwegian Artic Island called Svalbard in a archipelago - it is often referred to as the ’doomsday’ seed vault, able to withstand a nuclear explosion and other life ending events. This is not science fiction - but the very real belief that at some point the world will cease to exist as we know it. Meditate on this, but realize that most of us will not survive a catastrophic event to make use of this facility.

Our Earth is vulnerable in a immeasurable amount of ways that the average mind is unable to comprehend. It was never intended to be bruised and battered as it has by mankind - Hurricane Sandy is a reminder that nature is more powerful than mankind will ever be. Even the smartest minds cannot comprehend the full wrath mother nature can subject life forms to. Each of us only rent here - we don’t own it - and our individual human lives have a time limit - variable to chance as it might be. We must ask ourselves whether we have a right to cheat our progeny out of their future by the foolish things we do today. We are in the crossroad as I write this - and intelligent decisions will have to be made in which direction we head. I’m not talking political - but of a strictly environmental sense. Our world by necessity rather than chance will need to adapt to the environment around us if we are to survive as a species. And our human existence cannot survive if a whole lot of species of both animal and plant don’t survive without us. For in truth, we can’t survive without them. Consider Hurricane Sandy as sort of the Avon Lady making a call and leaving her card - she has left us a sample of what is to come!

It's Almost Over

I have to imagine that most of us are tired of the campaigning by now - all the commercials on television utilizing lies, half-truths and empty promises by both candidates. This election has been an expensive one for the supporters of both parties and a tiring dance for the candidates. I'm personally getting grouchy about opening up my mailbox with five or ten advertisements a day telling me I should vote for this person or that - or issues one through a hundred...I really feel sorry for all the trees who've lost their existence to become instant garbage which clutters my garbage cans or ends up polluting our streets. Geez, time to put all that behind us soon. I have a feeling Hurricane Sandy will pretty much decimate all those front yard campaign signs.

I'm one of those who has voted early. I know which candidates and issues I support and I've made my political voice heard.  I'm a realist though and realize I'll win some and I'll lose some when the votes are tabulated. I can see myself sitting in front of the large screen monitor cheering and swearing as the results trickle in and the commentators make their changing predictions. Me, I'll be taking it all in as I enjoy potato chips dipped in roasted garlic hummus while enjoying a nice amount of Pinot Noir California wine in my CBS TV mug. Yep, I'll be a little 'buzzed' before the evening is over and a little embarrassed the morning after of my election night antics - well that and a possible hangover!-)

So who did I vote for President? Well, having worked convention coverage over the decades during my radio news years, I know one can't believe all the promises - and being privy to what goes on when the cameras and mikes are supposedly off - reality slips in from time-to-time. We get a lot of tape that never makes it to the airwaves - and naturally networks and local station have vast archives they can cull to see which elected officials keep their campaign promises and those that don't! Also know in the past, I've voted for Republican candidates, Democratic candidates as well Independents - I don't usually vote a party line. However, the GOP has stuffed their running choices with some really bad warm bodies in the last and current Presidential campaign - plus the GOP and their Tea Party subsidy have tried every trick in the book to steal this election. Choice was easy this year, Barrack Obama. I know, some will cheer and some will jeer...just remember, one of our rights is having an independent mind!

When Barrack Obama took office our nation was on the verge of depression - second only to the Great Depression of the 1930's. We saw domestic automakers headed into bankruptcy and the massive job losses that go with it. Wall Street was collapsing and people were losing their homes in record numbers. Healthcare all but locked out the poor and medical costs were sending middle class families into bankruptcy. Then we found ourselves in  a major war based on lies. 'No Child Left Behind' was doing just that - leaving children behind. Our industries were watching their jobs head to Asia with little chance of return. We went from a budget surplus in the Clinton years, only to be driven in debt in the George W. Bush years. And in the remaining seven years, head terrorist Osama Bin Laden ran free!  It was a terrible time for the United States before  Barrack Obama was sworn into the office of the Presidency.

As it is, during his first term, the President found himself slogging the muddy politics of the Republican and their subsidiary, the infamous Tea Party whose political representatives signed the Norquist Pact whose only interest was to defeat Barrack Obama from a second term as President - they've fought him on every issue all the way while ignoring the nation's business and that of its people! The GOP fought against the auto bailout bills but supported attempts to save Wall Street.  They fought efforts to end American military involvement in Iraq and currently attempts to end it in Afghanistan. We've lost four thousand service personnel in Iraq and continue to lose lives in the Afghanistan conflict. Meanwhile while funding the wars our infrastructure is aging and coming apart at the seams. Currently monies go to industries that don't need our help while continuing to pollute our air, land and water. Time ticks as fossil fuels dry up and our underground fresh water supplies are slowly turning toxic as oil and natural gas companies frack away pumping chemicals into the ground as it seeps into the fresh water we drink.

Even with the cards artificially stacked against Barrack Obama, the President has made strides for our country. He brought about a new heath initiative often referred to as Obama Care which has helped families get the care for loved ones - including coverage for those with pre-existing conditions. His administration has worked hard to strengthen consumer protection laws. His efforts have saved the domestic auto industry from bankruptcy and with it good paying American jobs. He has also caught and finished off Osama Bin Laden through the efforts of brave Navy Seals as well bringing down many of the master terrorist's cronies. And he is championing our efforts to mainstream clean self-sustaining clean energy technology for the future.  He also champions women's rights and is a firm beleiver in encouraging and supporting higher education initiatives as well protecting the rights of unions - for if there were no unions, there would be no middle class!

Republicans have been very fanatical in protecting the rights of the richest 1% on the backs of the middle and poorer classes. They are for controlling women's bodies and curtailing their reproductive rights as well fighting equal pay for equal work. The GOP and Tea Party have brought the United States to the brink of bankruptcy purposely to poison and embarrass the Obama Administration.  Some conservative senators have said that rape was an acceptable act and part of life using God's name in vain. Currently they are trying every effort to cheat and intimidate minorities out of their right to vote. Its a very dirty disgusting business! Mitt Romney's views change on the fly as he is willing to say anything to get him votes - making promises he can't keep and stirring the caldron of racism. If one is not scared of this - They Should Be! Mitt Romney if he is elected will only benefit the interests of the uber-rich, while the 99% will be forced to pick up the tab. People will lose their Social Security and Medicare benefits - those on them now and those of future retires. He has said his administration will end student grants and low interest loans. He will also cut off all funding to the Public Broadcasting System and to their affiliate stations. Lets be serious about something - by making higher education more difficult to achieve, we deprive this nation of future doctors, nurses, researchers, engineers, teachers, administrators and many other professionals that have made this country great - and  how long can the United States survive if its heart and soul are cut out? I'll guarantee you - not very long! And its a hell of a difficult thing to pull back from an abyss!

There are so many things I can say on this subject - but there simply is not enough room or time. America is only strong as its weakest link. The world itself is in constant flux - both physically and politically. If we are to survive as a nation, we need to care about each other. A more intelligent nation is a  less violent nation and produces great leaders in all the sciences. And if we fail the least among us, then we will all fail as well!