The most commonly repeated words you’ll hear in the next few days are “I can’t believe it’s August.” In my lifetime, summers have always gone by quickly, but as you get older, they go by even faster. This may not be the most memorable summer in history, but the world around us continues to be active and challenging.
The true believers around the country still insist that there is no such thing as global warming, but tell that to the people all over America who have been hit with destructive wildfires, massive flooding and freak thunderstorms that rival anything ever experienced. Those polar ice caps are melting at an alarming rate, but the naysayers still babble about the earth’s natural climatic cycles.
In Washington, the good news is that Congress is going home for a summer vacation. Nothing special is going on there anyway, so we’re better off if the place shuts down for a few weeks. The lunatic fringe in the House of Representatives has found the solution to the country’s problems, after all. They want to stop the use of food stamps and shut down the Public Broadcasting System, and are all for destroying the postal system.
Overseas, the story isn’t much better. Syria continues to be a battleground with no clear winner, and the turmoil in Egypt threatens everyone in the Middle East. All of our presidents in recent years have promoted the idea that we can turn nations with ancient feuds into democracies. So Egypt had a democratic election and the wrong people won. The military leaders always ran Egypt, anyway, so they’ll continue to do so, and the dream of free and fair elections is over.
In case you haven’t put it on your calendar, Aug. 14 is the 10th anniversary of the infamous blackout that plunged our region into darkness. I would guess that all of us can remember where we were on that fateful day, which cost our economy billions of dollars. How did the blackout start? It seems that falling tree branches in Ohio caused a local incident to cascade into a national horror story.
In New York City, there’s an embarrassing comedy show going on in the form of the primary contest to be the next mayor of the most powerful city in the world. It would be funny, if it weren’t so sad, that the news is dominated by the ego-driven Anthony Weiner, whose self-destruction unfolds a little bit at a time, each and every day. The major thing missing from the debate is the discussion of who is the most competent person to run New York City.
My old home town of Long Beach, which was badly beaten up by Superstorm Sandy, is slowly emerging from its trauma. The wonderful boardwalk is being restored and the beaches are crowded, thanks to people like Billy Crystal, who are cheerleading the city back to a normal life. On the dark side, the New York state health commissioner is trying hard to shut down the Long Beach Medical Center, even though it’s located on a barrier island whose residents have only drawbridge-dependent access to any mainland hospital. Sometimes a little power given to the wrong person is a dangerous thing.
The rest of the happenings on Long island are very predictable. The Hamptons are teeming with more people than they can handle, and maddening traffic jams are common. If ever the master planners missed an opportunity, it was in eastern Suffolk County, where the roads don’t move the traffic and old farmland has been overdeveloped. As for the Long Island Expressway, it was and always will be a disaster for the average motorist.
On the bright side, Governor Cuomo has signed a bill into law that imposes stiffer fines on drivers who text and drive. Lots of innocent people are dying on the roads thanks to distracted drivers.
So, one month to go until Labor Day. I will continue to ignore those back-to-school sales announcements and make believe the summer of 2013 will last forever.
Jerry Kremer was a state assemblyman for 23 years, and chaired the Assembly’s Ways and Means Committee for 12 years. He now heads Empire Government Strategies, a business development and legislative strategy firm. Comments about this column? JKremer@liherald.com.