My phone went crazy in my pocket today, buzzing like a giant insect and making a sound very similar in tone and annoyance factor to the noise made by my radio during an emergency broadcasting system test. At first, I thought I might be having another episode, so I was relieved to learn that it was just a test of the new Presidential Alert System for wireless devices.
Oh, that’s nice… Wait… the WHAT?
Oh, sweet mother Mary and Joseph! Do you mean to tell me that the U.S. government just gave President Trump unfettered access to text me? That can’t be good.
Looking into the news story, it turns out the Department of Homeland Security posted a reminder about the test on Twitter on Tuesday. I guess Twitter is how all branches of the government now communicate. They apparently attempted to reassure phone users that their numbers are not being shared with anyone. Umm, yeah, not being shared with anyone except YOU GUYS!
Reading further, the story said, While users can choose not to participate in messages of missing children and natural disasters, they are required to receive presidential alerts, which are sent out at the direction of the White House and activated by FEMA.
Rules outlined in a 2006 law states that the White House can issue a presidential alert only if the public were in peril, or during national emergencies. The alert cannot be a personal message on behalf of the president.
Well, that’s a relief! It can’t be a personal message from the president. But wait a minute… it says I’m allowed to opt out of emergency messages regarding natural disasters, but not out of messages from the president about national peril, which will come from FEMA? Correct me if I’m wrong here, but FEMA is our natural disaster organization. They are in charge of stepping in during a natural disaster and making it much worse.
So what other situations beside natural disasters could require the president to need to get in touch with me immediately? What will constitute “public peril” with our revolutionary new alert system?
I mean, the entire free world is obviously propped up and functioning only because of the amazing democracy and general badass-ness of the United States. So, ostensibly, anything that could upset that delicate balance of our constitutional liberty would then threaten the stability of our government, thereby threatening the stability of our entire nation, thrusting each and every citizen into peril. I mean, what would constitute more public peril than the crumbling of the governmental foundation we rely so dearly upon?
Truth be told, this new development wouldn’t be nearly as concerning if it was happening on another president’s watch. A quick search on the history of the cell phone tells us, surprisingly, that Richard Nixon could have been the first president to use a wireless Presidential Alert System.
The first call from a handheld mobile phone was made all the way back in 1973 on a Motorola phone, which was the approximately the size of twenty-six iPhones duct taped together. It took ten hours to charge and had a call time of just thirty minutes. That didn’t matter, though, because it was so heavy you could only hold it to your ear for a minute and a half.
Nixon could have sent out wireless emergency messages, but they would have only been received by three Americans – two Motorola executives and their golfing buddy who received one as a gift when they got tired of calling each other.
Cell phones have been improving on an exponential pace ever since, as has cell phone ownership, so later presidents would have had a progressively bigger audience. Still I think the Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush 41, and Bush 43 administrations would probably have been conservative in its use, had it been around. I’m not so sure about the Clinton presidency. I think we all might have received emergency presidential photos of his interns, asking us to rate them in overall hotness.
We know for sure that the Obama administration could be trusted with this newfound power of communication, because the news story tells us that the wireless alert system actually launched back in 2012, and as far as I know, today was our first Presidential Alert.
Something makes me doubt it will be our last.
We know the first tweet ever sent was in 2006. I’m not sure when the first presidential tweet was sent, or if it was from Bush or Obama, but I do know when the latest presidential tweet was sent. About thirty seconds ago. The next one will be along any minute.
I’m assuming there was a constitutional amendment in the works requiring all citizens to follow the president on Twitter, but now that point seems to be moot. Anything that affects the White House will trickle down to affecting the whole country, right? The citizens need to believe in their leader in order to have a strong country, right? I mean, even someone attempting to besmirch the president’s good name could constitute public peril if it was allowed to get out of hand, right!?
Fire up the texter, boys! We’ve got Presidential Alerts to send.
Maybe all the alerts go through FEMA because her name is Stormy?
See you soon,
Copyright © 2018 Marc Schmatjen
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