ugly unamericans

I’m pretty sure that my lawn man, Miguel, is a legal immigrant. I’ve never checked papers on him but he tells me that he makes regular trips to and from Mexico. As far as I know, that does not involve a covert middle of the night swim.

On the other hand, I’m not so sure about Miguel’s hired hands. The faces change periodically and when I speak English to them, they usually smile politely and nod toward Miguel who speaks reasonably functional English. I’m guessing that the papers are not necessarily in order on these people and I’m very glad it is not my job to verify that.

I’m not so glad that it soon will be.

In the world as it is about to be, if you do not make it your business to check papers, you will be in jeopardy of becoming an involuntary guest of the federal penal system. I don’t know how risk averse you are, but these new laws will probably have me doing my own lawn again for the first time in many years: the old reliable neighborhood teenager just isn’t available anymore.

I know this from experience. Last fall some teenagers came to my door looking for some leaf clean-up work. I thought it would be good to support the industry of American youth even if it was at Miguel’s expense, so I agreed. They started on the job and since I had to leave, I paid them before they had finished and paid more than they asked for in their inexperienced low job bid. When I returned, the job was about half done and I never saw the budding entrepreneurs again.

Miguel handled the rest of the job.

Immigrants have been handling the jobs that second and third generation Americans would not throughout our history. One of the amazingly stupid things is to consider that we had to have a whole civil war over the forced labor of Africans in the cotton and tobacco fields when “free” labor was readily available were we not too stupid to pursue it. Even before slavery ended, Chinese immigrants were famously tending to the construction of railroads and other laborious jobs on the Western frontier. Irish and German coal miners too are a part of our fabric of unconscious social memories.

I say unconscious because individuals fully aware of the centrality of immigration to the success of our nation would not exhibit the mass stupidity that is rampant. You have seen them on the news too. I heard a seventy year-old lady on the radio who pulled no punches. “I hate illegal immigrants”, she said with a vicious edge. Increasingly they have the sensibility to include “illegal” in front of the word immigrant lest their bigotry show too clearly.

This misdirected anger is very odd because unless you are one hundred percent indigenous American, you too are an immigrant of sorts. It is rather trite to say that immigrants built this country, but as is necessarily the case, trite things became so because of their truth.

We love to think of our modern selves as more enlightened than the bad old days, but illegal immigration is the source of the worst de facto racial exploitation since the Emancipation Proclamation. What makes it so bad isn’t the actual condition of the illegal aliens. There is little doubt that the immigrants of the late 19th and early 20th Century were materially far worse off than the Hispanic immigrants of today. What is so horrible is the intentional complicity of our government in creating a black market in Hispanic labor to bolster our economic health.

Intentional may seem a strong accusation, but the facts compel that conclusion. The notion that we can not effectively control our borders is simply absurd. Examples are easy to come by, but surely none is more relevant than that of the state of security in the post-occupation Iraqi oil fields. And the Soviet Union was famously able to effectively seal borders long before the advent of modern electronic hardware.

To think our present situation to be involuntary is delusional.

Perhaps it is just voluntary ignorance. The facts are there in plain sight such as when it seems just yesterday we had multiple mini-scandals of would-be federal Cabinet appointees that knowingly employed illegals for domestic services. The rich and powerful are clearly benefiting from the existence of the black market in a very personal and direct way. It is no great leap to realize that these same people understand the value of illegal immigrant labor to their key campaign contributors in business.

Nothing new here: just follow the money.

I’d also urge you to follow your instincts in evaluating the moral depravity of people who have for decades turned a blind eye to illegal immigration only to turn around and suggest that illegal immigrants be demonized as felons for nothing more than a political side-show. The very people who have profited most from the presence of illegal aliens are using them a second time for crass political advantage.

Much has been said about the fact that these people are here illegally and have it coming. I simply can not stomach that simple minded rationalization of fundamentally bigoted attitudes. I would ask you to put yourself in the shoes of a Mexican laborer with a family to feed and support. For decades, Estados Unidos has ineffectively guarded its borders and unaggressively pursued illegal residents who want nothing more than to earn some money to send home.

The only thing missing is a formal invitation.

The real question is how do we fairly and compassionately fix a broken system? The answer is certainly not to round up the illegals and deport them for their felonious ways.

The honest and effective solution is to allow an appropriate level of legal immigration from Latin America, but increasing these levels is untenable until we stanch the flow (and exploitation) of undocumented people. The avarice of our ruling class is further exhibited by the undeniable double standard that exists between expanding the H1B visa program for skilled workers while creating an underclass willing to do the dirty work. Instead of asking the world to send us their huddled masses, we invite those having the key skills powerful corporations are seeking and those who are willing to sneak in illegally and work for substandard wages.

This all gives a whole new dimension to Ugly Americans.

I hate to make the economic argument when the moral one is so strong, but perhaps Ugly Americans might respond to such an appeal: sadly, it is the only one that works for many. So I ask, have you given any thought to who is going to be paying the taxes for your Social Security and Medicare support in a few decades? Declining birth rates among European descent Americans tell you that it won’t be our own kids. Have you given any thought to where the labor will come from to continue to grow the American Economic machine? Rising productivity will only take us so far.

Like every important issue of our time, factual analysis and deductive reasoning seldom visit the hyper-politicized forums of inquiry. Time after time we allow political agendas to pervert our national discourse. A return to genuine skeptical inquiry is no more likely on this critical matter than any other.

It is doubly sad that this is so on something so fundamentally American and formerly at the forefront of our social consciousness.

That is decidedly un-American.

And ugly.

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livin’ la vida mocha

That professional football is a business I know all too well. Since the day of the unceremonious firing of the honorable Tom Landry, I have been painfully conscious of it. That singular event muted my rooting enthusiasm permanently, but still I clung to my team.

Eventually, and much like in earlier years, a new crop of Good Guys helped me not to notice the occasional rotten coach or player. You see, I still want to root for the guys in the white hats even if in the real world, perfect heroes are not to be found. The Cowboys were just good enough for my willful disbelief to be sustained.

So imagine my horror when MY football team signed the infamous and odious Terrell Owens.

The day after the Owens signing I saw some idiot wearing a Cowboy’s jersey with his name and number on it. At that moment, I though about how quickly attitudes can change when Character Doesn’t Matter anymore. The new mantra has become “whatever helps my team win is good.”

This fundamental shift in what people look for in their sports heroes set me thinking about all kinds of things. Things like who we, the American people, have become. And the more I contemplated our corporate identity, the more it seemed that Americans have changed over the last four decades in fundamental and profound ways.

Whether Americans or I have changed or not, it is my first responsibility to keep my own house in order. When I stop and reflect, I know that my inability to root for the Cowboys this year is truly inconsequential to my life outside of spoiling a few Sunday afternoons. Afternoons should be more profitably spent anyway.

So in my small quest for self-improvement, I quickly noticed that I needed to find more time for prayer. Since I started a new job some weeks ago, the miles involved in that change caused me to lose access to the Church sanctuary I used regularly during the week. I knew that I was overdue to fix the situation.

To my dismay, looking for a place to pray on a day that is not Sunday has made me feel like TO looking for a football team willing to take him. The difficulty has been shocking. I do not begrudge Churches their locked doors even if I find the realities of good stewardship unfortunate. In fact, my old place of respite was always locked and a very nice lady was always there to let me in when I knocked. But Church after Church was the same experience: locked doors and groundskeepers staring at the strange fool who wanted in the Sunday Place.

I went to a LOT of Churches.

At three of them, at least I actually got to see a kind friendly face. The friendly looks seemed to give way to confusion when I asked if I could use the sanctuary or other chapel for prayer, but each did offer places to pray. The one offering that wasn’t a couch in a hallway was a brightly lit glass walled sitting room next to the entrance of a busy day care facility. Sadly, all three of these churches had nice big sanctuaries sitting dark and lifeless.

There was a fourth Church I snuck into. My intention was not to sneak but there wasn’t a soul around to ask permission of. Perhaps this would be a good place I thought as I entered and sat in a pew. I could not help but notice how beautiful the place was. It was so magnificent, perfect and unused as to feel sterile, almost surreal.

As I prayed silently, two older gentleman entered as well. They were talking loudly and examining the magnificent architecture seemingly oblivious to my presence initially. When I noticed their repeated inhospitable glances my direction as they loudly toured the facility, I did as they wished and left as quietly as I had entered. I skipped my usual practice of dropping a small offering on the way out: it was better to let others pay to polish this edifice of excess.

Slowly then it has dawned on me that even here in the Bible Belt the ancient tradition of going to a holy place for quiet contemplation and prayer is essentially dead. Our Churches have become Sunday Places. Not a place for life, but a place for a weekly fill-up. The signs outside our theaters invite us eagerly to the Sunday matinee.

I have to admit, I am jealous of those who can make it on a single fill-up for the entire week. My mileage is not nearly so good.

Perhaps I get poor mileage because of the time I spend in the drive through lines at Starbucks. After all, when I want a mocha, I want it quick. Unfortunately, I increasingly find that when Starbucks is not quick, my anger often is. My defense is that it is all a part of my conditioning as a modern. If a website does not appear in a couple of seconds, the back button takes me quickly to Google where I try the next link on the list. For better or worse, we are all living at the speed of the Internet.

One’s tank can get drawn down pretty quickly in Internet paced plastic America.

Americans have become so comfortable with plastic things that we are remaking our notions of even our most fundamental values with the stuff. A prominent nominally Christian evangelist starts their slick television production with the theme, “This is Your Day”. It is no longer God’s day apparently: the world revolves around me.

I can see now that the future really was plastics.

Truly, both the Owens signing and Sunday Places fit our plastic lives perfectly. If MY Cowboys are to win at internet speed, then how they go about it is of little consequence. If I am to be sanctified, then I need to get it done efficiently in the time allotted on my Outlook calendar for Sunday. I want what I want, when I want it.

The greatest concern of franchise owners and ministers is that back button and the cornucopia of choices.

We are so fortunate in America because our Horns are truly full of Plenty. I would not trade life here in the land of Milk Duds and Honey Buns for that available elsewhere—at least not yet. But when I look a little harder and see that the horn is made of polycarbonate fiber and the fruit is enhanced with genetically modified high-fructose corn syrup, I can not help but wonder if life at the speed of electrons leaves too much of the past behind too quickly.

But then, what do I know. I still pop my popcorn in a pan on the stove top when the world has long moved on to microwave packets. I am a true Curmudgeon, I suppose, finding pan-popped more satisfying because it tastes better. More satisfying like football with respectable players. Like prayer on a weekday when I just need it.

Really, is it any wonder at all that microwave politicians leave most of us feeling empty?

it’s a long, long way to tucumcari

Time to beat the dead horse again. And frankly, if Iraq were a horse, that glue pot would have been used up long ago.

But here we are nearly three years after the Mission Accomplished photo-op, and still there is no end in sight. Not that this is at all surprising to informed observers. Way back then when I used the word “decades” to describe what it would take to change Iraq, I was treated as something akin to Benedict Arnold. Three years and hundreds of billions of dollars later, I have seen nothing to change my opinion on what is required to fundamentally alter the social calculus Over There.

Then again, when I suggest that it will take decades, I am assuming we are talking about competent governance of Iraq. That is looking like an unjustified assumption as well.

Yet Iraq-nam has worked out so well, it looks like serious consideration is being given to liberating Iran too. You should not buy the liberation thing this time either. Perhaps it could be adequately explained by jealousy on the part of Emperor W who wants to plant the American flag on more Arab soil than did Britannia at her apex. Covetousness can be such an ugly thing you know.

Unlike many Americans, Rule Uncle Sam simply doesn’t work for me.

The irony here is that I will probably end up opposing the impending intervention in Iran when in fact I have been and remain a strong advocate of containing the Iranian nuclear threat. Unlike the case in Iraq, the Iranian nuclear infrastructure is real and of ominous portent. The West must act, and ideally act in a unified fashion.

But what I can not support is continued ham-handed and unilateral actions under false pretenses. Let us name these coming military actions plainly for what they are-legitimate defensive moves against hostile threats and behave in accordance with honest agendas. The bad news is that we haven’t seen a shred of honesty out of the imperial court since…well, I’m sure there was something they were honest about.

The good news is that limited military action is likely to be effective against the Iranian nuclear infrastructure. The facilities that process uranium hexafluoride are relatively large and immobile. This is perhaps a tailor made opportunity for the military to unveil their “rods from god” system that does not exist. Wink.

An Iraq style invasion of Iran is simply unthinkable now as our reach has already well exceeded our grasp. The panic on world oil markets alone could bring down Western civilization. Something more narrow in time and scope is in order. To pull it off politically, action must be sudden and swift. Done well, such an action could in fact be stabilizing.

The larger problem here is that it is hard to find a soul in this world outside of the American Republican Party Faithful that trust our President to lead such an endeavor. The price of squandering our legacy of international good-will is going to be paid sooner rather than later I fear. We may in fact be in a position where unilateral action is the only viable action because of our recent forfeit of leadership ability.

And if we do not act, be even more afraid of unilateral action by Israel.

Whatever the facts may be or what is actually in the best interests of Americans and the World in general, we do know one thing for certain: this administration will pursue that which is in the best interests of the Republican party first and the rest only if it fits the party agenda. The administration is keeping up the misinformation campaign and doing so with increasing enthusiasm. War is Peace they tell us. Undoubtedly the focus groups are telling them that patriotic platitudes continue to sell well.

Thus the drums of war continue to beat loudly. The martial rhetoric and hubris are getting more deeply infused in our social consciousness with each passing day. Truly, we have become the heirs of Britannia in all the wrong ways. As this mindset deepens, I fear our culture will end up more like Sparta than the Shining City on the Hill and our legacy more like that of Alexander the Great than the America which liberated the world from the yoke of fascism.

We would do well to remember that we indeed follow in Alexander’s footsteps in undertaking to conquer Persia. Unlike Alexander, there is little doubt that militarily, we can do so. With a little luck, perhaps Emperor W’s name will not be cursed in Persia two-thousand years hence as is Alexander’s to this day.

But, I doubt it.

galilean contemplation

My Son’s Christmas present has given me a new perspective on the Universe.

Literally.

Looming over his “library” now is a rather substantial telescope that was the only present on his Christmas list. Dad, of course, is learning a bit of astronomy now too since at his age substantial assistance is to be expected.

Doing astronomy you spend a lot of time in quiet dark places. Just the kind of places that bring on a pensive mood whether you want it to or not.

Try some time to avoid thinking while gazing at the heavens. The wonders of the Universe that lie behind those little pinpoints of light will set in motion the mental wheels of even the most mentally rusted American Idol fan. The big questions are inescapable out under the stars.

One haunting quandary for me is the whole disenfranchised state in which I find myself. It seems like at least once a week I hear a remark somewhere to the effect “if you do not vote, then you do not have a right to complain”. And like a Raven tapping at the door of my cranial chamber, there is that omnipresent deep voice that subconsciously insists that voting is a patriotic duty.

I continue to stand by my right to complain: it is not my fault that there are no candidates for which my conscience will allow me to vote. At a minimum I have a right to complain about that. Since my disagreements are rooted in substantive issues, I do not think abstention fairly takes me out of the substantive discussion either.

But then, of course, there is the Louisiana Defense.

In 1991, Louisianans had a choice in front of them for Governor that is hard to forget: Edwin Edwards, on his comeback from a corruption indictment (actual prison time only came later), and David Duke, a neo-Nazi and former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. It is hard to blame the fine citizens of that State who stayed home on election day rather than forcing a choice between a lizard and wizard.

I too will continue to choose none of the above.

It is significant to my view that I find both of the major American parties equally obnoxious on the issues I care most about: Human Rights, abortion and fiscal responsibility. On the issues alone it is impossible to find someone to vote for that is even somewhat consistent with myself on the critical things.

But my disenfranchisement is much deeper than mere disagreement on the issues.

The rotten core of the problem is that both parties are working against the best interests of the American people. A vote for either of the two major parties is a vote for more power consolidation, more sound bites, and more guests at the Congressional Country Club. In short, voting the majors is voting to continue the course of self-destruction. If I were ever convinced that either a Democrat or a Republican candidate was a real Mr. Smith, I could probably hold my nose on the issues and vote.

And self-destruction is exactly what is occurring. Consider, if you have the courage, the last quarter century of headlines.

Robert Bork. Jim Wright. Iran-Contra. Republican traitors in budget wars. Gingrich quits. White-watergate. Perjury skates. Democrats for the war. Body bags in Babylon. I can’t take it anymore.

I didn’t start this fire. And truly, the full list would be so long that Billy Joel could produce another hit single.

This is just the public corruption side of the analysis. If you look at the substance, it is a hard case to make by those who support the major parties that their loyalty has produced any results. They will make that argument, again and again, but I suggest you consider the facts as they are and not as you wish them to be. Decades of Democratic dominance yielded scant progress on key issues at best. Over two decades of Republican dominance have yielded perhaps even less for their base. Has anyone checked the deficit lately?

What we have instead of substantive progress is an increasing accumulation of power in the hands of fewer and fewer people. When it was Democrats grabbing power, the Republicans wailed. And now, of course, the names are changed but the crimes against Liberty are the same.

Reflection is always a good thing. In the end, I remain unrepentant for refusing to vote for those who are running our formerly great nation further into the ground. I have admitted my not voting really stands for nothing in the greater scope of things, but then my conscience is perhaps a bit less troubled as the wheels are coming off of America.

To ease my conscience further, my goal remains to trouble partisan hearts without mercy. Eventually facts make a difference. Just like with Galileo.

Where was I? Darn. Mars moved totally out of view.

surgical strike: my mother the jellyfish

I am hesitant to make a post on the subject of bioethics yet again. Another universal yawn induction no doubt. Truly, this is no more shocking than earlier links I have posted, but I get a sense that the pace of genetic tinkering is picking up exponentially. There are literally scores of chances over the last several months I could have posted something along these lines.

In light of the ethical freight train which is undeniably headed our way, it stupefies me that there is such an ominous silence from all corners outside the intelligentsia. The rare news report will contain a few scant but shocking details, an obligatory sound bite from some half-wit talking about “playing God”, and a scientist explaining how essential the development is for the good of mankind.

The details change but the basic script is reliably followed.

I’m a babbling fool for bringing it up again, but I have to ask the question again: how much human DNA does it take before Shelley’s beast is sufficiently human to deserve those same protections? It is a pressing question whose answer has the power to tear apart the fabric of our society. The truth is that neither the humanist/materialist or the theistic/ID gangs have grappled with the issues adequately. Soon, the present opportunity will pass and we will be forced to react instead of taking a measured and sensible approach.

My modest proposal is a simple rule: any human DNA, expressed or otherwise, should give rise to Constitutional protection. This is the only way to potentially keep a lid on things. The only way to keep our few remaining vestiges of human rights law from crumbling under the onslaught of political nonsense which these developments will give life.

Furthermore…

…ah, never mind. I can already hear the snoring.

bridgehead over troubled waters

Almost exactly a year after having written my post entitled premature iraqification discussions of troop withdrawal are again a hot topic. At that time I was seriously concerned about the possibility that the administration would perform some sort of cut and run under political duress.

Thankfully my concern was unfounded. But now it is a new year and time to examine the situation and to see why the withdrawal did not happen and will not happen any time soon.

I will not waste your time with the official version of why we remain. You can read that in any newspaper. And the opposition position is equally artificial, disingenuous and available.

Rather what I would like to consider is the facts.

First, as an aside, let me point out that I am not saying that this administration will not pull some troops out and call it a withdrawal or “draw down”. After all, this is the crew that boldly declared Mission Accomplished some two and a half years ago. No matter what actual course we take there is little of which I am so certain as the ultimate declaration of victory by this President and those of his party which will attempt to assume his mantle.

But the facts continue to be rather stubborn. American deaths continue to mount and the grim reaper’s roll call will continue as long as we are present there. Islam is fundamentally hostile to foreign rule and nothing is going to change this in a time frame measured in anything smaller than decades. Because of the mounting political pressure, some kind of withdrawal is inevitable before the next election, and the question is only what form and shape it will take.

If you think that complete withdrawal is a possibility, forget about it. The reason we will never entirely leave Iraq is buried in our real purpose for being there in the first place.

Iran.

It has been clear at least since the end of Gulf War One that the real threat to world peace in the Middle East was not an emasculated Iraqi regime, but the Islamic Revolution. Recent headlines highlight the problems which a powerful Islamic State can cause. Of course, Iran is not the only threat, just the biggest and the one with the greatest chance of striving toward a greater Islamic State.

Iraq II is not about terrorism and never was. There is little doubt remaining in this Curmudgeon’s mind that the major reason for occupying Iraq was to create a permanent Western bridgehead at the center of this volatile region.

That bridgehead until recently had been Saudi Arabia. But events there have rendered our reliable forward logistics area problematic in the future. Hostility to the House of Saud continues to grow as does the world’s appetite for their oil. And Diego Garcia is too small and too remote to facilitate a significant modern military embarkation.

I can not even say that such a base of forward operations are undesirable. Whether we like it or not, the modern world runs on oil. If the oil stops flowing, modern civilization grinds to a halt. Or ceases altogether as a result of the social disorder a closed spigot would spawn. However obnoxious you may find the idea, the West must be prepared to keep the spigot open and to do so by force if necessary.

Forward bases in the less occupied regions of Western Iraq are just the ticket.

It is not a bad motive to want to insure the continued existence of modern civilization. Truly that which renders all of this so incredibly obnoxious is all the deception. Since we have gotten in the bullying business in extreme form already, perhaps it is time for a little honesty? Perhaps we should draw a perimeter of some size on a map of western Iraq and add a Fifty-first star to our flag? I doubt that Americans would get killed in any greater numbers.

John Adams should certainly consider his copious work on the topic of Factions vindicated by the present mess. It was during the Clinton reign that the methodology of all campaign all the time was first made overt. Those in charge of this formerly great nation continue to operate in continual campaign mode and the bridgehead must continue to be made politically palpable.

So I suspect that the current campaign slogans about a drawdown are nothing more than trial balloons just as was the case a year ago. Just another probing by the political savvy to determine the exact contours of what will sell to the masses of functionally illiterate people known as the American public.

But cheer up: an election is coming. The choice will be clear for the “informed” voter exercising their “responsibility” to go vote. We will again have our chance throw the bums out. A chance for redemption through regime change.

And you KNOW the party that brought you Vietnam can turn this thing completely around.

living in the eye of the storm

An old elementary school joke familiar to all is distressingly relevant to the tragic events unfolding in New Orleans. This schoolyard classic involves a vocabulary quiz, a revolving door and what was called a “fat woman” in a less politically correct time. The punch line was something to the affect that the door nearly dis-assed-her.

Sadly, that is probably the most thought most Americans have ever given to disaster planning.

Some of us are thinking about it. Big Business has been very active in what is known as business continuation planning for several decades. As a result of legislation imposing personal liability on Directors and Executives for failure to plan adequately and insurance premium rate pressure from property insurance underwriters, business has had little choice but to get serious about the future even in spite of the quarterly earnings focus. The 9/11 attack should have woke the rest of us up to the perils of catastrophic disasters and invoked a vigorous preparedness response.

What we got instead was a new ineffective bureaucracy, the Department of Homeland Security.

The failure of this Presidential administration to achieve any kind of readiness over the past four years could not be plainer than it is in the wake of Katrina. There has, of course, been copious coverage on the slow and poor emergency response from FEMA and other organizations charged to answer national distress calls. This is certainly an important topic and deserves substantial attention. There is a lot of information to digest there and I’m sure plenty of relevant stories yet to be told both of heroism in the face of inadequate resources and the incompetence which helped produce the situation. Steadfastly focused by the media on these juicy stories, the American people will as usual miss the greater significance of what is playing out before their eyes.

Missed entirely will be the big picture: the breakdown in social order that occurred when civilization ceased to exist. While the lurid facts of rape, robbery and irrational violence have made headlines, the broader implications deserve serious consideration.

Consider if you will the misfeasance of the government in allowing four years to pass without any serious effort to educate American citizens on how to react in disaster situations. Four years of rhetorical frothing without any apparent attempt to actually plan for the aftermath of an event of this scale.

I suppose that if this administration could not foresee the social breakdown caused by its military invasion of Iraq, it should not surprise us that they could not foresee that natural disasters could have the same effect here at home.

Immediately after 9/11, I remember discussions with a lot of people concerning what would happen if we have another 9/11 scale event. The number one concern in the minds of everybody I talked to was the prospect of civil unrest. The possibility of the total collapse of society around us is very real and this above all else should be what terrifies us about Katrina. Though the problem is both obvious and real, this administration has produced much noise and little else.

I for one am not so naïve as to attribute this mess to unforseeability. While the specific scenario that has permanently changed the face of the Crescent City was perhaps hard to detail, the risk of living below sea level on the Gulf of Mexico was well understood. When The Big One finally hits California we will probably call it unforeseeable no matter what the facts might say to the contrary.

I suppose that if you are one who can not foresee the inevitable large scale disasters of varying scope and nature, then perhaps you are also inclined to give the administration the benefit of the doubt on this one. I view recent history and history generally as teaching that mankind will continue to endure a succession of large scale disasters.

In my short span on this globe, we have had the New York City blackout, the Arab Oil Embargo, Hurricane Andrew, Mississippi River flooding, the San Francisco earth quake and 9/11. What these disasters are cumulatively showing us is that our social cohesion is at an all time low. And even were it not, anyone who has seen Deliverance can tell you that bad things can happen even in America when one is sufficiently removed from civilization. Or in the case of Katrina, when civilization ceases to exist.

Armed with ordinary schoolhouse knowledge, there is simply no excuse for not being better prepared. We live in an era that is truly on the edge in a more real way than at any time since the Great Depression. Thinking about a nuclear device detonated in Houston Harbor should give you serious pause as to the viability of America in the aftermath. Just follow the pipelines and see how quickly our world of material excess could go dark.

And this is just one scary scenario out of a multitude.

Viewed soberly it is clear that there is no substantive difference between what has happened in New Orleans as a result of Katrina and what would might have happened there in the event of a dirty bomb attack. Katrina has exposed how vulnerable America remains.

Unfortunately, this is no schoolyard and the joke is on you and me.