Monday, May 10, 2010
That was one helluva fortnight we just experienced. There were volcanic eruptions and ash clouds in Iceland, earthquakes in Chile and Indonesia, a slick, slow-motion, Katrina headed for the Gulf Coast, an attempted terrorist car bombing in Times Square, and Nashville drowned. And I was upset because my garage flooded. Millington and Dyersburg got waterlogged too, not to mention the hapless Beale Street Music Festival. The festival organizers have begun including the annual rainfall in the event's promotion. They have attempted to tie in the "Old Faithful" downpour with the folklore of the festival, and the mud is now supposed to be just part of the adventure. Bullshit. No one but a toddler enjoys slopping around in the mud and the veterans of Woodstock are lying about it. This year, the torrential rains had to compete with the wailing of tornado sirens and park evacuations. The Memphis in May folks need to stop pretending this filth-fest will one day turn out all right and go ahead and change the damn dates. Here's a thought; schedule it the last weekend in May. Of course, the portent of international events made the music festival the least of our worries. It seemed as if every type of disaster occurred except a bomb detonating in the Capitol. Oh, I forgot Jay Leno's routine at the White House Correspondent's Dinner.
While the country's mass media was fixated on the Texas League car bomb that some traitorous swine planted in Gotham's theatre district, and dumb-ass politicians and their rabid, radio masters speculated that Obama sabotaged the BP Oil rig to prevent further offshore drilling, Nashville went snorkeling. I remember Hank Williams used to say that he'd see you, "If the good Lord's willing and the creeks don't rise," but who ever believed that they would actually rise? My Music City pals inform me the flooding was devastating, including the suburb of Bellevue where no sane resident would have ever dreamed of wasting money on flood insurance before now. The downtown area and the Country Music Hall of Fame were under water, with several top musical acts, including Keith Urban, Vince Gill, and Rascal Flatts, reporting the total loss of their gear in a rehearsal facility. The human and financial loss has yet to be totalled, but should you wish to help our sister city in her hour of need, a good link is here. The storm that rolled through Memphis emptying Tom Lee Park, stopped rolling in Middle Tennessee, producing what government officials called a 500 year storm, and it will take years for the city to recover. The river bluffs saved Memphis from the worst again. And, by the way, "Yo Kanye," Taylor Swift donated a half-million dollars to flood relief. Let's see you match that.
Meanwhile, a man-made disaster is oozing its way toward our friends on the Gulf Coast, like they need more problems in their lives. Perhaps it's time to ask Governor Bobby "Sox" Jindal, "How's that 'Drill Baby Drill' thingy workin' out for ya'?" Everyone is hating on BP, but if it wasn't them, it would be another amoral conglomerate. Remember the scenes in all those western movies where the wildcatter strikes oil? The reason we call them "gushers" is the same reason it's not wise to drill offshore for oil . This baby is now going to gush for an estimated three additional months before BP can cap it, and just when I was beginning to trust Gulf shrimp again. This immeasurable tragedy will only get worse every day that thousands of gallons of crude oil still spill into the Gulf, and the LA Times reported allegations of negligence by, guess who, Halliburton! Cheney's old firm was in charge of cementing the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, and their work was as professional as the electric showers they installed in Iraq. In remote Alaska, the effects of the Exxon Valdez spill continue to be felt twenty years later. In Louisiana, all the people that used to shuck oysters can now get jobs washing grease off of water fowl. The National Wildlife Federation is on the ground already, and is a worthy organization for bleeding-heart environmentalists to donate money.
It took NYC's finest and the FBI only 2 1/2 days to catch the unibrow bomber. A half hour later, however, and the guy would have been on the way to Dubai. With all this nightmarish airport "security" that we have endured since 9/11, the culprit managed to purchase a one-way ticket, in cash, to the United Arab Emirates, and had his seat back forward, taxiing toward take-off when the plane was halted and he was taken into custody. His first words to arresting officers were, "I've been expecting you," leading some to speculate that this entire escapade was a scheme to test federal officials. If the "No Fly" list proved to be ineffectual, consider that the homegrown malcontent only recently returned from five months in Pakistan, bought a gun in Connecticut last month, and was videotaped stocking up on fireworks in Pennsylvania. Though the bomber's ineptitude has been ridiculed by the cable news stations, this country was only a few I.Q. points short of another major terrorist attack, proving our vulnerability despite the draconian Bush/Cheney policies. Is it difficult to connect those dots between a Pakistani vacation, gun and fireworks purchases, cash for propane tanks and containers of gasoline, and a whole shitload of fertilizer?
On a positive note, many people are now converts to health care reform after a rash of nationwide cardiac infarctions broke out last Thursday after the Dow dropped 1000 points. Now, the SEC is looking for a fat-fingered trader whose decimal point mistake nearly crashed the market. When I was first learning about the stock market from my father, I asked him what was to prevent another crash like the one in 1929? He told me that after the crash, regulations were put in place governing esoteric practices like margin stock purchases, insuring that what had happened leading up to the Great Depression could never reoccur. Satisfied, I rolled over in my crib and finished my nap. Of course, that was before Ronald Reagan was elected president and the era of irresponsible de-regulation began in earnest. I'm still waiting for an entire generation to wake up to Reagan's bogus claim that government is somehow the enemy. The government exists to protect you from your enemies, and right now it looks as if those might be domestic terrorists and unbridled, bare-knuckled, unregulated American corporate interests. My sympathies go out to our neighbors inundated by oil, fire, and floodwater. With stateside friends like these, who needs Al Qaeda?
Thanks to Bill Day for the use of his cartoon.