ROMNEY machinations got pushed over by Nature. Mitt’s loudmouths had harped on an ‘October Surprise.’ They promised to reveal something awfully hateful on Obama that would make him lose the presidential election.
Sure, we got a taste of the ‘October Surprise!’ It turned out to be ‘Hurricane Sandy’ instead of ‘Hurricane Romney.’ The former revelled in destruction, making New Jersey and New York its playing field.
Tuesday last, Sandy, which was still at sea, nonetheless sent angry winds in advance to rattle our homes, scaring the daylights out of us. The monster let loose lashing rain pounding our windows, threatening to pierce through and roam freely inside our living rooms.
Helpless, we witnessed its mischief. The electric power held on. The TV channels continued chattering, warning us to seek safety. Sandy finally turned up on land. The dreaded landfall hit Atlantic City, taking in its fold the whole of New Jersey.
The nice old oak that spread its branches over our home, protecting us from the heat of summer swiftly turned nasty. Its branches looked like deadly fangs, ready to attack and come crashing any time. We had no flashlights. The stores were out of them.
All I had were silly little orange Halloween candles. ‘Evacuate’ I said. That was the biggest mistake. On hindsight, one must not venture outside in the midst of a storm. Well, that’s what we did and we almost paid for it with our lives.
We drove through blinding rain, falling trees, live power lines that dangled dangerously on the deserted roads. We saw bursting transformers crackling, raining green and yellow fireworks over our heads. We heard screeching police sirens and screaming firemen ordering us to leave. But where?
Whichever route we took to safety we found it blocked. Not a single car was on the road. Finally when we thought the worst was over and we were approaching our destination, we braked suddenly to find a huge tree blocking our way. We tried moving it, as lightning overhead appeared ready to strike.
“It will be days before you get back your power” we had been warned. Again, I never took this warning seriously. Now, we sleep in the dark, live in a cold, very cold home and twiddle our thumbs as the phone, Internet and TV are silent. So, what does one do? Think. I have been thinking.
All I did when I was in Pakistan was to grouse about power and gas outages. The quality of life back home was all I complained about.
Well, the quality of life in America gets worse than Pakistan when natural disasters hit the sole superpower. Blizzards, tsunamis, tornados, forest fires and hurricanes have become a common occurrence in America.
When the wind blows hard, it takes down with it the overhead power lines, already enmeshed in branches of leafy trees. When the snow falls and covers the trees that still have leaves on them, the heavy branches take down the power lines or fall on passing cars and pedestrians, killing some on the spot.
When hurricanes hit, the ferocious waves knock down homes on the seashore, enter homes far, far away from the sea and swallow the inmates. Forest fires turn centuriesold trees to cinder and leave milliondollar homes in ashes.
America needs to put its rambling old creaky house in order. The roads, bridges, power lines, water supply system, telephone lines are all antiquated. They are no match for nature’s fury triggered by climate change.
Should Romney become the next president, climate change will be a phrase banned in the White House. He has declared that global warming is a myth perpetrated by Obama administration. It’s a mumbo jumbo, nothing more.
Romney has promised to elimi- nate the National Response Coordination Centre that came to people’s rescue during Hurricane Sandy.
“Disaster coordination is one of the most vital functions of ‘big government’ which is why Mitt Romney wants to eliminate it,” said the NYT editorial on the day when Hurricane Sandy hit.
The one thing that New York Governor Cuomo said in a news conference recently was a lesson Sandy had taught him about the existing infrastructure in America. It was really, really old and decrepit, he said. It needs to be fixed and the governor has vowed to do it. But where’s the money?
America spends two billion dollars a week on Afghanistan. Should Romney become the next president, he will take the US to war in Iran and maybe Syria. He has sworn to give the US military trillions of dollars to revamp itself and build more navy ships.
Meanwhile, the media in America has mostly focused this year on same sex marriage, repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ and sex scandals.
Jerry Sandusky, assistant head coach at Pennsylvania University, who would sodomise young boys and got away with it for over a decade, was the big story. The whole summer we heard gory, sick details of this man’s deeds.
The presidential election too took up the media’s attention this year. For months, we were entertained to salacious stories – sexual and financial scandals of the presidential hopefuls. Rarely, did anything of substance come under discussion.
Now with just a few days away from November 6, we don’t even know if the presidential elections will take place as scheduled.
Can you imagine that this could happen in a country where calendars are marked, not months ahead but years in advance?
“This week will be remembered as one when meteorology and punditry became strange bedfellows and a measure of perspective was gone with the wind,” writes Frank Bruni in the New York Times.
Through it all, we continue to get our copy of the New York Times, delivered at our doorsteps. The paper, named after a city that has millions of its residents living in darkness with the prospect of power resuming after ten days; its subways submerged in salt water with dead rats and animals in the flotsam and a huge loss of life and property grinding the city to a halt.