Oc­to­ber sur­prise....

The Pak Banker - - Front Page -

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.

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