Osama Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

How shocking was it to hear that we’d finally brought down that piece of excrement Osama bin Laden last night? Answer: Pretty damn shocking. And positively surreal. It was so incomprehensible that when a friend told me about it last night, I couldn’t quite understand what it was he was saying. Well OK, part of that was because I’m losing my hearing. But I was so certain that we’d never bag the dreaded Public Enemy No. 1 that when it finally happened, I didn’t believe it because how could it be true? The guy was too elusive, and crafty. and protected. And there was some doubt he even was still alive.

Now that it’s 24 hours later and bin Laden is being safety digested inside some shark’s tummy, I’ve started to think about What It All Means. What my primal feelings of blood lust at his demise is all about. What the instant and cathartic outpouring of celebration in the streets signifies. Mind you, I think it’s healthy, perhaps even necessary.  It feels like a cleansing national exhale, a collective, spontaneous eruption of relief and joy that somehow helps to restore our sense of justice and order.

I always fear that Americans tend to come across to the rest of the world like so many narrow-minded yahoos. It leads me to generally distrust eruptions of nationalistic fervor of the kind we saw explode on Sunday night, mirroring a mob mentality in appearance if not spirit. Again, this time it feels different, that it isn’t jingoism we’re seeing but understandable pride and passion. We got The Bad Guy, and perhaps in some way it paints us again as The Good Guys. Even though, too often lately, it’s been difficult if not impossible to still believe we are.

Is the world a better place without bin Laden in it? Absolutely. Is it good that we killed him? Undoubtedly. Was President Obama bolstered by an act that even Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh had to praise? Without question. Did the President go a long way toward securing his reelection? Assuredly.

I’m also just fine with doing a little gloating over this no matter how many of those “Do not celebrate the violent smiting of mine enemies” quotes get forwarded to me. We’ve all earned the right to dance on this freak show’s grave. And to those Muslims who reason that we have disrespected their religion in burying bin Laden at sea, well, sorry, nothing personal, but this ain’t about religion but good old fashioned retribution. They’ll just have to give us a pass on this one and we’ll make it up to ’em down the road.

So why does all of this still leave me feeling uneasy tonight? Maybe it’s the fact that America’s reaction to the 9/11 carnage from day one has been violence, an eye for an eye, smash ’em, shock and awe, blood, guts, gore. An argument can be made that it’s been necessary to achieve the goals we’ve achieved. But no matter how carefully someone explains it to me, I’ll never fully understand why our retort to a bunch of Saudi Arabian maniacs running planes into our buildings was to invade Afghanistan and Iraq. And then to keep the war fires burning bright for nearly a decade.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t have gone after bin Laden. Quite the contrary, the bastard needed to die. We couldn’t spare him over fear of retaliation. What’s undeniable, however, is that violence has consistently proven throughout history to beget violence. Even a scholarly, brilliant and reasonable man such as President Obama has continued to operate from that same philosophy, preferring diplomacy yet backing the continuation of war and, in this necessary case, assassination.

We have, in other words, responded to al-Qaida in precisely the fashion they expected and perhaps hoped we would. With regard to bin Laden’s killing, it almost can’t help but result in an escalation of suicidal terror from his followers, quite possibly within our borders. So ding-dong, the witch is dead. We have done hunanity a favor by eliminating Osama from this mortal coil. But his death hardly cleanses the Islamic world of homicidal zeallots. Quite the contrary, it almost certainly rouses them from their stupor. Because only those blind to history believe it’s possible to use bullets and bombs to produce peace.

Weight Loss

Nothing Like an Historic Earthquake and Nuclear Fallout Crisis to Kinda Put Things in Perspective

So much for our budget shortfalls, our deficits and our polarizing political prattle — our endlessly entertaining glimpses of Charlie Sheen’s daily mental train wreck. More than 10,000 people are likely dead in Japan as a result of Friday’s unfathomable 8.9 earthquake and subsequent catastrophic tsunami, and suddenly none of our little games of name-calling and ideological one-upsmanship seem to matter anymore.

Now our thoughts are taken up by hoping against hope that what’s shaping up as the worst crisis to befall Asia since WWII doesn’t result in nuclear fallout on an epic scale. Already, we’re left wondering how it might be possible to evacuate and resettle potentially millions of Japanese citizens in harm’s way. That’s not to even mention the monumental destruction of property wrought by this disaster, the thousands left homeless, the swath of death and suffering whose depth can’t yet even be calculated.

What if this were to happen to us? What if an 8.9 shaker slammed Southern California or some other part of the West Coast in a populous area? We’re getting a glimpse of it at Japan’s wrenching expense, but only a glimpse. Hardly anything close to a full measure. Because unlike the U.S., Japan had a far greater level of readiness in terms of its strict building codes and civil preparedness. We don’t come close to matching it. We are, instead, sitting ducks. Thus, a quake scenario of similar strength and magnitude could well mean deaths in the six figures, injuries in the millions, impassable roads, toxic leaks, the disappearance of food, water and gasoline, no electricity, limited or no cellphone and internet service. We’d become an every-man-for-himself nightmare of death, doom and destruction in a blink for an undetermined period of time. Possibly weeks.

So while we’ve all seen plenty of false alarms in the past in terms of the need to be prepared — the Y2K fiasco comes to mind — this should be a lesson that everyone need have enough food and water on hand for a family of four to survive for a week (since you either have that many people under your roof now or will need to help others). Also, boxes of batteries, first aid supplies, water purification tablets, flashlights and satellite radios, a couple of portable toilets, all of that. Because if something like this were to happen, and someday it will, those who are prepared will survive and those who aren’t, won’t. It’s really just that simple.

As we’ve been reminded again with stunning drama, we are but insignificant dots running in circles when Mother Nature decides to make her presence felt. Some shifting of the seismological plates and suddenly lives are rubbed out, homes washed away, buildings and cars tossed around like children’s toys — and a nation thrust into chaos.

We all need to heed the warning. Prep is key. You can’t count on an organized response from the nation, so you need to arm yourself with knowledge, supplies, and a battle plan. That isn’t paranoid or conspiratorial thinking. It’s simply the way to survive in a crisis when all of those around you may be losing their heads — or their lives.

Papa’s Got a Brand New Blog

Yes, ladies and germs, it’s my very own blog on my very own freshly-minted website. For the first time, it’s a site that’s ALL ABOUT ME! Oh yeah, like this is so hugely different than before. Nonetheless, I will be commenting about politics, entertainment and the human condition aplenty. Whether anybody asks me to or not. Duh.

And if you’re wondering why the gratuitous pic of Charlie Sheen here, it’s because I asked him to pray for my blog’s success — and that’s what Chuck sent back. You have simply got to love this man. Or hate him. One or the other.

As my daughter is fond of saying: Peace out.

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