Saturday, September 10, 2005


I live in Los Angeles. In the 20th Century, this city was hit with three major Earthquakes, and was on the receiving end of major shakes from several more that managed to happen too far away to cause real damage. (My father was around for the 7 point something that hit Tehachapi in the 50s, and while it didn't do major carnage in LA, it certainly made people wet themselves.)

I've been to San Francisco, a city that was destroyed by an earthquake in 1906, and majorly messed up by one eighty years later.

I live in a state where seismic activity is a fact of life, possible at any moment, and totally unpredictable. LA or San Francisco could be hit with a magnitude 8 tomorrow -- or both cities could be spared for another ten or twenty or thirty years.

And... both cities pop up frequently in terrorist scenarios. "Bomb Plot at LAX". "Destroy the Golden Gate Bridge." "Major Ports in Danger."

Y'know what? If the "evil doers" dropped a nuke at the Port of Long Beach, or even downtown, or blew up the Golden Gate Bridge, or exploded the east bay, the longterm effect on the lives of millions of Angelenos or San Franciscans would be... a bit, but not much. Because, ultimately, huge numbers of people would live. Not without fear and inconvenience, but without having their homes fall apart over their heads.

On the other hand... unleash a c. Alaska 1964 Earthquake near either place, and the mess would be... well, can you say Katrina squared? And, like a terrorist attack, it would happen without warning, possibly in the middle of the night... or the middle of the day... but once it started, every single person in range would only have luck and good construction in their favor.

Personally, I'd much prefer that our government be planning for the seismic act, and not the human act. Why? Because, honestly, no number of crazed jihadists, no matter how well armed, can do all that much damage to human life or infrastructre. Horrific as it was, 9/11 only killed 3,000 people, and only destroyed three or four bulldings. Admittedly, no west coast quake has killed that many, but only because our building standards are so high. (A year to the day after the Northridge quake, a tremblor of comparable size in Kobe Japan caused far more damage and killed far more people, because they didn't have quite the same standards -- oddly enough, considering that Japan has at least three perceptible earthquakes a day.) Then again, last time we had a big quake out here, it was under Bill Clinton's FEMA, and his people knew what the hell they were doing. We had aid rolling into town literally before the dust clouds had settled, back in '94.

Now, note several things I've mentioned above -- strong federal aid, and strict building codes. Both are things that our current government would much rather do without because, well, they just cost rich people money. If they had their druthers, I have no doubt that BushCo would gladly roll LA building codes back to pre-1933 standards, SF building codes back to pre-1906. Why? Because it would cost their rich friends in the development biz a lot less to build.

And cost countless tens of thousands of people their lives in the next major quake. But, hey, they were probably poor anyway, and couldn't afford to get out ahead of time. So fuck 'em.

Fuck 'em? Nah. Our rulers can all go fuck themselves. I've had enough of them. Not a one of them deserves to serve in office a single day more -- not the president, vice president, cabinet; not Congress and not the Senate. They have failed their employers -- we, the people. All of them, every last one of them.

The First Amendment gives us the right to petition our government for redress of grievances. And since our lame Senate and Congress don't have the cojones to start impeaching the bastards in charge, I say it's time that We, the People, start to do it ourselves. All it takes is enough signatures, enough outrage. We don't have to wait until January 2009, or even November 2006, to get rid of them. The pen truly is mightier than the sword, as long as we follow the rules and take action.

Time to clean the slate, dump everyone in power, and start over. We need an 8.0 magnitude earthquake in politics; we need a seismic event to rid Washington of the useless, kiss-assing, PAC-owned milquetoasts who pretend to represent us. We need a change to save ourselves. We need to take action, before nature does it for us again. We need to make sure that Katrina will never, can never happen again in this country.

We need a purge. There are 290 million of us, and only about 560 of them. For the gambling types, that's 517,857 to 1. Pretty good odds, I'd say. Better than the chance of winning the lottery, except that the house is in our favor.

And, honestly, the best way to run this country would be this: every citizen over the age of 18 is eligible, by lottery, to be elected to the Executive, Legislative or Judicial branch for a term of six years. It's like jury duty -- you can't get out of it, but at least you get the current salary (plus cost of living increases) for the job. We pull the handle, we put the people in, and away we go. Hey... we can't possibly do worse than what we have now but, thanks to concerned people without connections to any big money folk, we would do a lot better. And it's the ultimate term-limit: once you've done a job in a particular branch of government, you're excused from that branch for the rest of your life.

That is truly representative Democracy in action. Or at least representative government. Hey, if we can try people by a jury of their "peers", we can govern them the same way. Right?

But, in order to do that, we all -- the People -- have got to change the Constitution, and add a 28th Amendment with teeth. It starts with: Impeach them all. They deserve nothing less. And we deserve everything more.

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