Democrats & Liberals Archives

Oil and Terror and Storms, Oh My!

Not to diminish how ugly things can get or any of the losses people suffer in summers like these. But, no matter what we see before it is over the number of dead and injured will not exceed the number of people killed annually from more mundane causes. First of all, high oil prices don’t really kill many people, not unless you count the victims of various kinds of slaughter imposed on them by horrible governments wanting to control the wealth oil brings.

Here we only tend to count our own dead, witness the lack of interest here in how many people in Iraq have died in this dirty little oil war. No matter, in another half of a century the oil will be gone and we will be fighting over the scraps of natural gas still available. That is unless we in this nation invent our way out of the fossil fuel trap, a prospect with low odds today. Terrorism has flared up many times in human history. It is a truly ugly but very powerful tactic in wars where one side does what it can to destroy the will to fight of the other without engaging them on the field of battle. Wait a minute, that would describe all wars wouldn’t it?

Terrorism has been as common as war; if you cannot make your enemy terrified of you they never quit fighting, see Iraq today. By the way if you think terrorizing people by dropping five tons of ordinance on them from a plane flying overhead is any less the use of terror to win a war than turning their own airplanes into tall buildings then you are missing a link to the real meaning of terror. Bombs that large don’t convince the people that they land on, they kill them. They scare the hell out of me and I am not a target today, remember “Shock and Awe”? Does the use of bombs on civilians in warfare make us terrorists? No! Does the fact that we deliver them in planes make us better than those who walk in and do it up close and personal? That is harder to argue and I will leave it to those who spend their time dancing on the point of pins where no angels care to tread.

We are an emotional species and I will get some amazing level of hate mail for this essay, oh my! The storms that are coming out of the Atlantic this season seem to target Florida directly. If I believed that God targets people for punishment because of their indiscretions in choosing leadership I could pose a cause for all of this pain. The fact remains that Florida is just in the storm track preferred by huge storms this year. Maybe this pattern is changing due to global warming but no one could prove it even if that were true. All we can say is we wish those poor people could get a break and have enough time between getting hammered to move to another state.

Of course while they were moving they would be more at risk of death on the highway than they are in a hurricane. Over the Labor Day Weekend how many people died in Florida last year without any help from a hurricane? I’ll bet you any amount of money it was more than died from the lambasting of the storm they faced this year. Over forty thousand people die each year on our highways. In a decade that is four hundred thousand deaths attributed to traffic accidents. Quick, what very, very unnecessary cause of death is four times as large annually as traffic? Give up? Hospital care kills over one hundred and sixty five thousand people a year in this country from causes described as “medical accidents”. Of course we curse the trial lawyers and do nothing much else about that. The idea that doctors might occasionally really do something stupid under pressure is not “fair” to those priests and priestesses of “healing”. The idea that we expect too much from the art of medicine also enters into this equation as a hidden variable.

One successful terrorist attack that kills under four thousand gets our government to spend over half a trillion dollars on various measures to keep it from happening again. We are not a rational species. We make a lot of decisions based on emotions. We will elect the next President based on our emotions; it is unlikely to be Kerry because the dominant emotion here today is fear. Bush has linked himself to courage despite the fact that he has shown little of it in his life history. This is an unpopular truth today; it is easier to talk a good war than to fight in a bad one. Bush is great at mouthing the rhetoric of war, but he has avoided real risk in his life like the plague. Nonetheless our emotions are linked to his leadership after 9/11 as if it was heroic. It was mediocre at best and that is being kind. I despise the fact that impugning the courage of the candidate who actually has seen combat has worked so well in this and other campaigns, but that is our emotions being manipulated again. Elections are almost never about the issues, they are about the emotions of the audience in the political melodrama we use to choose our leaders.

So how do you fix it? Given human nature that might never happen; given our constitution that will never happen. We cannot outlaw political advertising on TV, that is unconstitutional but it would fix much of what is wrong with our current system. Ads are clever lies that tell one side of a manufactured story. They cannot serve the truth well, no matter how many times the purveyors of them use “truth” in naming themselves. The destruction of the honor of John Kerry by the veterans group for Bush who perpetrated it was one of the most vile feats of marketing I have ever seen, but it worked didn’t it? He is now behind in the polls and the Republican Convention had nothing to do with it. Fear diminishes all of us almost as much as unbridled anger and hatred. There is a lot of all of them around during this election. I hope it gets better once it is over; otherwise we are in for a very long four years. God bless and keep you all safe from your fear, it is more our enemy than any number of terrorists on this planet. ©Henri Reynard/GoldenBrush Interactive

Posted by Henri Reynard at September 10, 2004 2:41 PM