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as seen on phillyBurbs.com

Ducting the issues
Who's running our homeland defense these days, Red Green?


To waste time, money and energy in fruitless endeavors, and to spend, spend, spend to get us out of this recession.

Shopping for a shovel early Sunday morning became a real adventure. I keep a small one in my car for emergencies, but there was no way it would make a dent in the projected two feet of snow that was coming.

Hey, I live in an apartment. How often do I have to shovel, and what do I do with it when I don't need it?

Store after store was sold out. I didn't panic, though. I just kept searching until I found one for sale in a nearby hardware store jammed with last minute shoppers like myself.

Now, I have a taste of what it must have been like last week as scared residents across the country went searching for plastic sheets and duct tape because the government warned them a terrorist attack was coming.

I wasn't one of them.

The mere suggestion that duct tape and plastic will ward off a room from a chemical attack makes me laugh.

Who's running our homeland defense these days, Red Green?

I might use duct tape to temporarily mend a radiator hose on my car or hold together stereo wire. But there's not enough silver sticky material on the planet to hermetically seal my bathroom to keep nasty stuff out - or in for that matter.

Heck, the stuff's not even good enough for doing working on an actual air duct.

Yet, rather than have Americans feel helpless, the Federal Emergency Management Agency wants to turn us all into MacGyver. You remember him, the guy from the '80s TV show. The character kept a Swiss Army knife and a flattened roll of the stuff in his pocket, just in case. (Good luck getting on a airplane these days Richard Dean Anderson.)

But unless you can stop an atom bomb from detonating with a toothpick, I dare say you'll be as dead as the rest of us if the worst happens despite your new roll of duct tape. The only difference is, you'll already have your own body bag.

Gina was finally ready to go out on her first date, no thanks to her overprotective mom.

Come on, folks, this advice comes from the same agency that not less than 30 years ago advocated surviving a nuclear blast by simply hiding under your desk.

Duck and cover, my arse. I always figured if nuclear war breaks out, I want to be on the roof with sunglasses on and a bottle of tequila in my hand so I can watch the show.
We've spent billions more on national defense since Sept. 11, 2001, and this is the best solution the geniuses in Washington can come up with? At least Israel handed its citizens gas masks during the Gulf War.

Makes you wonder what this administration is actually applying the duct tape to?  Can you say the economy, education or our long-fractured foreign policy. Let's not forget that Saddam was our friend when he was fighting Iran, and that we supplied and trained Osama bin Laden to fight the Russians in Afghanistan.

Red Green - the newest advisor to Tom Ridge.
As for plastic, with Pennsylvania's Tom Ridge at the helm of our Homeland Defense, why should we worry. After all, serving valiantly in Vietnam and being a "trusted friend" of the president more than qualifies him to run the biggest domestic military buildup since World War II. Doesn't it?

At least I have the luxury of knowing that this snow emergency is real, and that when this storm finally passes, my shovel will be put to good use.

Here are some Web sites with suggestions on what to do with your newly purchased duct tape:

  • 101 uses for duct tape
    The name says it all. Just roll with it baby.

  • www.ducttapefashion.com
    Make your own clothes, never go to the mall again. Be the envy of your friends.

  • Babysitting
    Got a few rolls of duct tape, a blank wall and an annoying baby brother?  You've got hours of fun right there.

  • Wart removal
    I couldn't, wouldn't make this one up.

  • Poetry
    "You can use it on a mouse. You can use it in the house. You can use it here and there. You can use it (most) anywhere."

  • Fix a moon crawler
    It didn't take rocket scientists to figure this out.
    Oops, I guess it did.

  • Fix your broken career
    Hey, it worked for these two guys.

Dave Ralis' Pave The Grass column appears on Mondays. You can send him an e-mail at . To read his previous columns, click here.

Feb. 17, 2003