As one of the commentors on that article put it, this isn’t actually a test — which would be done at oh-dark-thirty. This is a demonstration. Of power. And fear.
Odd, too. The old Emergency Broadcast System (EBS), which has been around since the cold war, relied on the discretion of the broadcasters (which, granted, could be fallible). The upcoming shutdown is the first nationwide use of EBS’s successor, the Emergency Alert System (EAS), which is centralized. One man, the Big Boy himself, has the power to activate it, and he has delegated that power to the always-competent and of course democratically elected [/sarcasm] head of FEMA.
EAS has been around nearly 15 years — before many people were even aware of some newfangled thingie called the Internet. And they’re just getting around to “testing” itnow?
According to the FCC website:
The EAS is a national public warning system that requires broadcasters, cable television systems, wireless cable systems, satellite digital audio radio service (SDARS) providers, and direct broadcast satellite (DBS) providers to provide the communications capability to the President to address the American public during a national emergency. The system also may be used by state and local authorities to deliver important emergency information, such as AMBER alerts and weather information targeted to specific areas.
… So the capital-P President needs to address every TV zombie and Limbaugh listener during a national emergency? Might we ask, “Whuffor?” This ain’t the day when Roosevelt comforted our grannies and grampies with his famous Fireside Chats. We are just a leeeetle bit smarter and more skeptical of power now. And the dangers we face today are no worse than we faced when the USSR and USSA held each other as nuclear hostages under the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction.
And if you want to see “fallible” on a grand, nationwide scale, just put something in the hands of FEMA. Yeah, that’ll work out real well.
So really, ya gotta wonder what they’re thinking.
And oh yeah … they forgot the Internet. Now shutting down that would be an interesting project …