Despite crisis fad, sky’s not falling

With all the tools the Internet age has to offer that enable multifaceted, instantaneous communications on any conceivable topic, is it any wonder we perceive everything through the prism of a “crisis”? We flit from one “crisis” to another, with the average life span about one business week .

At the beginning of this month, because there occurred a couple of tragic shootings, we were thrown into another “gun crisis”; two weeks ago, it was the “piracy crisis”; last week, the “torture-memos crisis”; this week, the “swine flu crisis.” Next week, who knows — perhaps someone in some far-off corner of the world will claim to have contracted the bird flu again, and we will transition seamlessly to that crisis; or another peanut scare; or E. coli.

Far more often than not, most of these “crises” could be reduced to manageable proportions without getting our national pants in a wad.

Let’s start from this week. Mexico — a country with a far less sophisticated infrastructure than ours, especially with regard to municipal and rural hygiene — has developed a not-insignificant case of swine flu. This is unfortunate, but it can be handled.
We should offer expert assistance, and urge the World Health Organization to visit Mexico .

Making a leap from a serious but relatively small outbreak in Mexico to a crisis demanding the attention of our country’s public officials, from mayors and governors to the secretary of Homeland Security and the president , adds little .

We do not have a swine flu crisis in this country . Our hygiene infrastructure here is decades ahead of that in Mexico, our farms are run and monitored far more rigorously , and health care available in the U.S. is better than anywhere else.

We can and should take steps to ensure neither a swine flu nor any other disease epidemic crosses into our territory by having our government commit to monitoring and restricting border crossings from Mexico .

Whether it is swine flu, drug-gang violence or some other malady , more effective, consistent and comprehensive enforcement of border and immigration laws will always help.

Of course, holding press conferences and telling people to wash their hands and cover their mouths and noses when they sneeze is politically less risky.

By the way, what happened to the other crises from this month? Despite the continuing nature of the problems underlying the proclaimed crises in gun violence, piracy and torture, the sky has not fallen.

Murder and mass shootings remain a problem, but not a crisis. And there is a solution — enforce laws on the books and allow law-abiding citizens to arm themselves if they wish.
Piracy on the high seas remains a problem, but not a crisis.

And there are solutions — allow and authorize our merchant ships to carry defensive arms. Put more SEAL teams on Navy vessels in the affected areas. And put other nations on notice that American-flag vessels are not to be denied docking rights because they carry defensive arms .

Torture is a problem (it’s also unlawful) but it is not a crisis.

The solution is easy — make clear, as the Obama Administration has done — that our government will no longer torture detainees; and prosecute those who intentionally violated the law.

All of these solutions require the political will to implement them; and the recurrent lack thereof actually is a crisis.

50 comments Add your comment


April 29th, 2009
7:10 am

Fine article, Mr. Barr! Some good common sense and reasoning prevails with you.


April 29th, 2009
7:45 am

go online and look up LCS-2 (littoral combat ship) & you’ll feel better about the pirates – BOY OH BOY! – now there’s something that’ll get your attention!


April 29th, 2009
7:54 am

I understand that Sean Hannity popped off on his show and volunteered to be waterboarded for charity and that Keith Olberman has agreed to donate $1000.00 for every second Hannity can take it and $2000 per second if Hannity admits he feared for his life. What an opportunity for conservatives to prove that waterboarding is not torture. GO SEAN GO!! To make it even better let’s let John McCain waterboard him. What justice. A guy who knows what torture is waterboarding a loud mouthed coward like Hannity. My guess however is that Hannity’s mouth is a lot bigger than his cojones. But he typifies most right wingers. All talk, no walk. When it’s showtime,they, like Dick Cheney when his number was called for Vietnam, “had more important things to do”.


April 29th, 2009
7:55 am

A few good points are made, but I knew no self-respecting Rand fan and libertarian could let the swine flu issue pass without insisting that “immigration” is the core of the problem, and that government CERTAINLY shouldn’t be involved in addressing it.

Epidemics are the #1 most practical demonstration of why centralized government authority is essential, and libertarians really can’t stand that.


April 29th, 2009
7:58 am

It’s not the Govt, BB; it’s our pathetic media. Most major news outlets are in business for ratings and nothing more. Witness our past presidential campaign; yourself and Ron Paul had to fight for every minute of air time against the supposed ‘front-runners’. These ‘crisis’ that you mention are great sellers of laundry detergent for our market media.


April 29th, 2009
8:01 am

Excellent article Mr. Barr. The “Crisis Prism” is the fastest tool for our vapid media outlets to rouse the rabble and to sell the news.
To the First commenter, I don’t Fox is the only one of the Media Oligarchs to be trumping up and reporting on these issues. To say as such is both naïve and indicative of partisan thought. Blame the Bushies is a tired line and long since inapplicable. Rabble rousing and playing on the fear of the masses is a technique that crosses party lines and has been used for ages.

Matt W

April 29th, 2009
8:10 am

Amen. ‘Crisis everywhere’ as promoted and overexposed in the traditional U.S. press (and more frequently now with the U.S. government) is getting harder and harder to rise above. It seems as even the most respected outlets are hopping on board to keep from losing the ratings – shows a lot about how we are all becoming intellectual drones and reactive wimps. Very convenient that the latest ’scare’ comes at a time when PBO needs to divert attention away from backing down on a major campaign commitment to ‘look forward’ regarding our position on pursuit of terrorists and a definitive shift away from pursuing a bi-partisan leadership position. I’m afraid the fad is long established now and is becoming more of a tool to be used consistently to divert our attention away from understanding where real change is needed.


April 29th, 2009
8:49 am

Prosecute ‘em!
by Jack Hunter on April 28, 2009


April 29th, 2009
8:52 am

There’s not an e-mail address on your editorial in the AJC. Although I understand why you would want to hide out, the reader can contact all the other regular local columnists through an email address.

We do have a gun crisis, but each time that crisis threatens to emerge into public consciousness, extremists like you, aided and abetted by the NRA, work diligently to cover it up. I recommend that you read Ms Tucker’s column on the subject.

Her closing comment demonstrates that her perspective on the need to deal with this crisis nationally and with the gravity that the swine flu pandemic is generating is much clearer than yours: “If only we could muster half that hysteria over gun deaths.” Amen. This is truly a crisis, despite all your efforts to divert our attentions from it.

The Snark

April 29th, 2009
9:55 am

A “couple of tragic shootings.” Very clever, Bob. You guys have really mastered the art of using weasel words to mock, belittle, demean or simply downplay serious problems. I bet you’d consider it a “crisis” if it was someone you loved that ended up on the wrong side of those bullets.


April 29th, 2009
10:13 am

Sooner or later people will get sick and tired of being sick and tired and go on with their lives. Don’t waste time watching some news show on TV, enjoy life.

Bob Barr

April 29th, 2009
10:37 am

In perusing comments on my Blog items, I note one, from Steve, dated April 24th, that cries out for a response. Steve apparently was concerned with the photo of me that accompanies my AJC Blog, opining that it makes me look like I’m “wearing an elitist ascot.” Without commenting on whether wearing an ascot is per se elitist (it may very well be), I state in my place that I have never worn an ascot. In fact,my Blog photo, which I thought was not that bad, depicts me wearing a nice, but very standard white dress shirt with blue stripes –hardly “elitist.”

On another blog, from Jim D on April 20th, he indicates an interest in my take on the President “killing” the Chrysler-Fiat negotiations. I actually made a reference to this in an earlier blog, asking the readers who they would rather be in those now largely government-controlled negotiations — Chrysler or Fiat — with the implication being that the Obama Administration has significantly weakened Chrysler’s bargaining strength.


April 29th, 2009
11:54 am

There are only about 2,500 Navy Seals in the entire world. Moving more into this region would put other areas at risk and jeopadize their missions.


April 29th, 2009
11:56 am

The liberals can’t seem to operate without a crisis. As far as the torture crisis if they prosecute any they should prosecute all, including Pelosi and Reid who knew and approved the actions.


April 29th, 2009
12:04 pm

I thought a series of incredibly bad executive decisions were what weakened Chrysler’s bargaining strength. You know, that whole “drive the company into the ground” bit that resulted in them begging for a bailout?

Cali: Couldn’t agree more on the torture point. ANYONE who knew about it and agreed to it is a criminal and unforgivably anti-American in every way.


April 29th, 2009
12:13 pm

Yes, the sky is falling. This administration is following well in the footsteps of the last one in seizing every opportunity to enhance their power and control over the american public. Bush used 9/11 to shred the constitution and bill of rights and look for Obama to use the financial crisis, the swine flu crisis and every other event to grind into the ground every bit of freedom that is left.

There is no looking to the Republicans to save us either. Their only goal in this is to get re-elected to power so they can continue the fascist march. They have no moral standing to speak of since they are completely unwilling to acknowledge anything wrong with every law that Bush broke, domestic and international.

The plans for forced quarantines and mass forced innoculations should scare every freedom-loving american, but so long as the NFL and American Idol continue to play in High Def, nobody cares. The first swine flu vaccine kids dozens, and the one being produced today is likely just as risky. It is untested and basically just another financial kickback to big Pharma (just wait until you see the destruction of healthcare proposal).

No, the swine flu and everything else that comes up is well within the capacity of human beings to work through and survive. The greatest threat to our success however will be from the power and force that we have allowed government to seize over our lives and our economies.


April 29th, 2009
12:16 pm

We are not waterboarding old ladies and kids off the street…the people being waterboarded are people that are responsible for the murder of 3,000 innocent civilians..the libs just hate the right so much that they will challenge everything whether it makes sense or not.

The Snark

April 29th, 2009
12:19 pm

CALIFORNICATION says “The liberals can’t seem to operate without a crisis.” Is that supposed to be a cogent critism? Do you not think we’re facing an economic crisis? I recall the Bush administration declaring a “terrorist crisis” and using it to justify all kinds of things, including the continuing practice of announcing “threat levels” at airports.


April 29th, 2009
12:44 pm

Yes, Snark, but we have had more issues is 100 days than we have had in the last 100 years. That includes a budget that has become larger in 100 days than it has been in the last 200 years. Where are all the outraged liberals at all the spending? If Bush bought toilet paper for the Whitehouse they needed to get congressional approval, now these same complainers have a blank check. And they are like kids in a candy shop, with MY wallet.

JIm's a Cherry Picker

April 29th, 2009
12:51 pm

Hi Bob,
What’ you’re missing here is that these crises are a function of Capitalism. They are generally driven by media seeing to attract an audience to justify their ad revenue. When they find a winner, they latch on and run it up to maximize their profit…i.e, the people have spoken, and they are interested in the Octomom, so we’ll give them more coverage about her.
That’s Capitalism. Let them eat cake!

Democrap Party

April 29th, 2009
1:07 pm

History repeats itself.

1976: Fear of a great plague
By PAUL MICKLE / The Trentonian

On the cold afternoon of February 5, 1976, an Army recruit told his drill instructor at Fort Dix that he felt tired and weak but not sick enough to see military medics or skip a big training hike.

Within 24 hours, 19-year-old Pvt. David Lewis of Ashley Falls, Mass., was dead, killed by an influenza not seen since the plague of 1918-19, which took 500,000 American lives and 20 million worldwide.

Two weeks after the recruit’s death, health officials disclosed to America that something called “swine flu” had killed Lewis and hospitalized four of his fellow soldiers at the Army base in Burlington County.

The ominous name of the flu alone was enough to touch off civilian fear of an epidemic. And government doctors knew from tests hastily conducted at Dix after Lewis’ death that 500 soldiers had caught swine flu without falling ill.

Any flu able to reach that many people so fast was capable of becoming another worldwide plague, the doctors warned, raising these questions:

Does America mobilize for mass inoculations in time to have everybody ready for the next flu season? Or should the country wait to see if the new virus would, as they often do, get stronger to hit harder in the second year?

Thus was born what would become known to some medical historians as a fiasco and to others as perhaps the finest hour of America’s public health bureaucracy.

Only young Lewis died from the swine flu itself in 1976. But as the critics are quick to point out, hundreds of Americans were killed or seriously injured by the inoculation the government gave them to stave off the virus.


April 29th, 2009
1:07 pm

take your pick, the swine flu crisis is either the media attempting to justify its existence (”…if it bleeds, it leads…”) or the gub-ment using the media to advance its interests (national healthcare, more power, more control) via a trumped up crisis (remember the Gulf of Tonkin crisis?). the financial crisis allowed the gub-ment to get into the banking business. the education crisis (in GA) allowed the State gub-ment to get into the gambling business. Even 9/11 allowed the previous administration to get into the democratize Iraq business. swine flu is a reality, 9/11 happened, and the housing bubble did burst. these things happen, but it is more important for Americans to look to see who benefits from a crisis. frankly, I see swine flu as Mother Nature’s attempt to convince mankind to stop trying to play god. viruses happen. it’s how Mother Nature keeps the population in check – unless of course, the gub-ment or Big Pharm think they can reap a windfall.

Democrap Party

April 29th, 2009
1:10 pm

I find it interesting that the president of the United States still doesn’t seem to know how his own airplane ended up scaring NYC.

And then there is this interview with Charlie Gibson.

He admitted to Charlie Gibson that the new capital gains tax has nothing to do with revenue, but instead, “fairness.”

“Move along, folks, nothing to see here……”

GIBSON: All right. You have, however, said you would favor an increase in the capital gains tax. As a matter of fact, you said on CNBC, and I quote, “I certainly would not go above what existed under Bill Clinton,” which was 28 percent. It’s now 15 percent. That’s almost a doubling, if you went to 28 percent. But actually, Bill Clinton, in 1997, signed legislation that dropped the capital gains tax to 20 percent. OBAMA: Right. GIBSON: And George Bush has taken it down to 15 percent. OBAMA: Right. GIBSON: And in each instance, when the rate dropped, revenues from the tax increased; the government took in more money. And in the 1980s, when the tax was increased to 28 percent, the revenues went down. So why raise it at all, especially given the fact that 100 million people in this country own stock and would be affected? OBAMA: Well, Charlie, what I’ve said is that I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness.

There you have it. Barack Obama is not interested in raising revenue to fund the government. He is interested in to keep people from making money — because it is fair.

What’s worse is Obama goes on to prove how terrifically academic he is and has no grounding in real world economics. Gibson challenges him again:

GIBSON: But history shows that when you drop the capital gains tax, the revenues go up. OBAMA: Well, that might happen, or it might not. It depends on what’s happening on Wall Street and how business is going.

Put it to you this way Barry: business won’t be going on at all on Wall Street if you jack up the capital gains tax.

The only refreshing thing in this whole exchange is Obama admitting he is not using tax policy to raise revenue, but rather to distribute fairness across socio-economically divergent pools of people.

Other than that, though, it is scary that the guy just over half the nation thought was qualified to be President has zero sense when it comes to fostering a healthy economy.


April 29th, 2009
1:29 pm

Since a progressive tax structure, with special taxes on the highest-end areas of income (estate taxes, capital gains) are proven to protect the middle class and help overall growth, it seems clear that “Crap” has no idea what he’s talking about.

In case you hadn’t noticed, “Crap,” it was the folly of deregulation, laissez-faire, and trickle-down nonsense that produced most of our current economic collapse. The best way to produce a healthy middle class is to invest in infrastructure spending and tax the bejeezus out of the wealthy.

Tax cuts do NOT pay for themselves, as we’ve seen over and over again. Gibson was, quite simply, wrong.


April 29th, 2009
1:31 pm

“We are not waterboarding old ladies and kids off the street…the people being waterboarded are people that are responsible for the murder of 3,000 innocent civilians”

How is that supposed to make a difference, Steve? Either America has principles or it doesn’t. Torture is anti-American, no matter who we do it to.

Democrap Party

April 29th, 2009
1:39 pm

Copyleft, Gibson is wrong? Ok, and I guess an inexperienced president like Obama, who has NEVER dealt with economic issues, knows more than Gibson? Yeah lady, your logic is flawed.

I bet you still believe in the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus.

What a sad existence your life must be. You sad little woman.

Democrap Party

April 29th, 2009
1:40 pm

Copyleft, ma’am, can you please head back over to Bookmans blog and slobber all over your pansy little liberal comrades?

The Snark

April 29th, 2009
2:02 pm

CALIFORNICATION: The crises that President Obama has been battling during his first 100 days were waiting for him on Inauguration Day. Anyone with a newspaper or television knows exactly what they were. I’m still trying to figure out what point it is that you think you are making. Obviously you don’t like the President. But your attempt to justify your dislike by suggesting that he is creating crises is pretty lame.

Democrap Party

April 29th, 2009
2:20 pm

One more thing, the Democrap Party can HAVE all the RINOS in the GOP! Take Mccain, Graham, Hagel and every other RINO!

It’s interesting that the dems claim victory on Specter YET Specter was a democrat to begin with. Democrats have total control. It will be the democrats demise.


April 29th, 2009
2:49 pm

I see Democrap has nothing to offer but insults and sneers, instead of facts and evidence. How sad that his little brain seems incapable of reason.

Another picture-perfect member of the rabid (and clueless) right. Sad, sad, sad….

Chris Broe

April 29th, 2009
2:53 pm

Democrap Party

April 29th, 2009
3:45 pm

Copyleft, I provided my opinion and provided a clip from last years debate where Obama Hussein clearly has no idea how the economy works. It was YOU who fired the first insults at me.

You ma’am are a clear indication of just how idiotic this nation has become.

Democrap Party

April 29th, 2009
3:53 pm

Copyleft, one more thing. I have noticed you on Bookman and Wootens blogs before. You do a lot of name calling yet here you are acting all high and mighty. Hypocrite.


April 29th, 2009
3:54 pm

Really? Someone calling himself “democrap” complaints about hurling insults? That’s funny.

Now, try again: Where did Obama indicate that he has no clue how the economy works? Because disagreeing with Charlie Gibson isn’t it. Gibson was wrong on this point, as the evidence clearly shows.,9171,1692027,00.html

So let’s hear it: Where did Obama display economic ignorance? Not just disagreement with supply-side fantasy, mind you (that’s already a proven fraud), but actual ignorance?


April 29th, 2009
4:37 pm

Dont worry. Obama will fix this also. He will walk across the Gulf of Mexico and heal all the beaners.


April 29th, 2009
11:03 pm

Thank you Bob for helping put all these myriad crisis’ into rational perspective. I hope that you will get a national platform to speak from by the next election.

Fight On,


Democrap Party

April 30th, 2009
10:03 am


1: 6.3 million people are out of a job.

2: The car companies are going bankrupt and are owned by the lazy greedy auto unions.

3: The dollar is collapsing right now.

4: The deficit is 3 times as large as Bush or Clinton COMBINED!

That’s how I know President Teleprompter Hussein is clueless on America.

Oh, and Time magazine also declared God is dead. Yeah, that made a lot of sense. IF the tax cuts didn’t work then why was the economy strong in the 80s, 90s and for most of Bush 41 presidency.

Just 2 years ago unemployment was at 4%. THATS THE LOWEST RATE IN AMERICAN HISTORY!


April 30th, 2009
10:11 am

Yes, the economy is indeed in bad shape. I agree. The Bush Depression has had a huge impact, and it’s not over yet.

So how does that prove Obama’s ignorant about how the economy works? He’s been taking steps to fix the Bush Depression ever since he was sworn in!

“The economy” was NOT strong in the 80s; certain selected sectors of it prospered, while others ballooned in unsustainable bubbles (leading to the early-90-s recession) and others simply sank–like the wealth gap and middle-class household incomes, for example.

The 90s growth was due partly to Clinton’s tax INCREASES, and partly due to the Internet boom–which, like all the rest, had its inevitable collapse.

And the economy wasn’t “strong” throughout the past eight years, either; the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts did NOT create new jobs, as Bush promised, and the median household income remained stagnant. The unemployment “rate” depends on how you measure employment–wedging in part-time jobs, often held by people working MULTIPLE jobs to pay the bills, reflects a rosier picture than actually exists.

I know that “Tax Cuts Cure Cancer” is an article of faith among the supply-siders, but it just doesn’t work out that way in reality.

Democrap Party

April 30th, 2009
10:35 am

Copyleft, LOLOLOLOL!

you wrote: The 90s growth was due partly to Clinton’s tax INCREASES, and partly due to the Internet boom




The 80s, as recorded by history, was a great time for America. Reagan brought this country back from Jimmy Carter stagnation of the late 70’s.

From 2001 to 2003 Bush was dealing with something called NINE ELEVEN! Maybe you have forgotten that little bit of history. Had it not been for 911 we would have had 8 years of economic boom.



April 30th, 2009
11:10 am

You’re partly right, “Crap.” Tax increases OR cuts do not “make an economy great.” In fact, they have a fairly minor impact compared to much more powerful affects like industry-specific booms and busts, interest rates, and infrastructure spending.

Tax cuts simply aren’t the all-powerful magic that supply-siders like to pretend. Click the links I provided you; do some reading and you’ll see.

As for what we “would have had if things were different”–well, anyone can play Let’s Pretend.

Fact: The way employment rates are measured does not reflect the new reality of too many people working multiple part-time jobs, without benefits, and is therefore not a meaningful measurement.

Democrap Party

April 30th, 2009
12:02 pm

Copyleft, if you think that you are insulting me with the use of “crap” think again. We’ll just have to agree to disagree. I have more important work to do than to sit around and argue with someone who denies fact and reality.


April 30th, 2009
1:36 pm

So you concede defeat. That’s fine, I accept.

After all, when one side offers evidence and other, only insults….

Well, better luck next time! (grin)

Democrap Party

April 30th, 2009
2:15 pm

Copyleft, were you abused as a child? The reason I ask is because people with low IQ’s, due to physical abuse, can’t comprehend what a friendly debate is all about. I did not concede anything. I simply pointed out that neither you nor I could come to an agreement. Meaning, you think I am wrong and I think you are wrong.

Bottom line: You’re a small minded monkey boy who was beaten as a child. Ha ha. Have a nice day.


April 30th, 2009
4:27 pm

Murder and mass shootings are not a crisis? More than 121,000 Americans have died from gun violence in the last four years. I’d call that a crisis.

Democrap Party

April 30th, 2009
5:54 pm

William, deranged idiots are the problem. Not guns. Deranged idiots are a crisis.


April 30th, 2009
9:38 pm

Democrap Party, deranged idiots are mostly harmless–as long as they don’t have a gun.

Democrap Party

May 1st, 2009
10:08 am

William wrote: deranged idiots are mostly harmless–as long as they don’t have a gun.

Yeah, and how do you explain the 911 hijackers(airliners) and Timothy McVeigh(fertilizer)????????

Ted Bundy(knives), Jeffery Dahmer(forks and knives) and John Wayne Gacy(knives)

Yeah, deranged idiots are harmless aren’t they William?


May 1st, 2009
9:50 pm

Don’t forget the guy in Japan with a truck and a knife.. and the crazies in Japan with NERVE GAS and the guy in the netherlands with a car…. guns.. not that dangerous in the grand scheme of things and easily replaced. We should thank god they use guns and not bombs, everyone loves to focus on Colombine and the guns not realizing that if the bombs had gone off hundreds would’ve died.


May 1st, 2009
9:52 pm

Also, it seems the anti-gun crowd is best at siezing upon emotional arguments about the (relatively few) victims and running with it. Hell, they even wrote doctrine on the subject. It’s no surprise that every major piece of gun control legislation passes after a tragedy of some sort, regardless of the crime statistics at the time (we’re near a multi-decade low right now, thanks), they tend to ignore those facts.

After all, they can’t all be winners.

Nathan Loewen

May 7th, 2009
4:06 am

Bob, I like you, I really do, but Ron Paul could have done a better job at arguing against the government’s involvement in “crisis” situations.
The government needs to step out of research in regards to diseases and such. And while we’re at it, why not stop jailing and discouraging those who use organic herbs to remedy the body? Regardless of what your opinion of that is, I think we will all agree that persecuting such people is at the very least, un- constitutional.

However, I would love to see a team of those who support using herbs and the body’s natural healing functions on an equal- level research field as those who work for big- time DRUG companies (who give politicians money, and whom politicians have money invested in). How is injecting something that never was supposed to be in your body into you going to help anything? Your body will do the same as the soil that farmers spray chemicals on for years is doing right now: become useless. How are you going to fix any problem when you only target the symptoms of that particualar problem? That also applies to politics.