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Civil war within 8 years?

You’ve heard of “The Mouse That Roared.” Sequester is the “Lion That Hiccuped.” Warning: This does not mean America is safe.

Historians have an annoying habit of swinging backwards on new headlines like monkeys, looking for bygone parallels that may or may not tell us useful things. The painlessness of the sequester reminds this amateur historian of the “Phony War,” the eight months of World War II after the Germans swallowed Poland, and Britain and France declared war. The world yawned. Comics in England called it the “Sitz-krieg,” opposite of “Blitz-krieg.”

Are you aware that France, in that lull, invaded Germany? French troops crossed the Rhine from Strasbourg to the German city of Kehl, drove around, took some pictures and then went back home in time for dinner. A hit song in Britain around that time was, “We’ll Be Hanging Out Our Washing on the Siegfried Line.” The Siegfried Line was a German defensive line in World War I! But “Sitz” became “Blitz” soon enough. France surrendered in June 1940. A quarter-of-a-million British troops had to be rescued from the Nazis, by flotation devices ranging from boats to canoes and even inner tubes, from the beach at Dunkirk. British comedy closed shop.

Author Martin Gross has written several best-selling books on the dismal state of America’s finances, beginning years before anybody had ever heard of Barack Obama. His latest is “National Suicide: How Washington is Destroying the American Dream from A to Z.” Gross insists America could cut, not the paltry 2 percent demanded by sequester, but a full 10 percent without serious pain. Gross calls America’s government “dysfunctional” and proves it with documented sagas of, for instance, his investigating of a federal expense nobody had ever heard of. Apparently, there was a taxpayer-supported “Office of Former House Speakers” complete with furniture and four or five employees doing God-knows-what for those who used to be speakers of the House and sometimes weren’t even in Congress anymore! Can you guess how many overlapping “rural” programs Gross found? There were over a thousand, some passed as long as 80 years earlier.

Martin Gross told a national radio audience last week that he expects a Communist-style revolution, civil war and blood in the American streets, all within the next eight years. Gross isn’t running for anything and isn’t trying to sell his four-year-old book. He was a stalwart of the Democratic Party in New York, ran Adlai Stevenson’s campaign on Long Island and was John F. Kennedy’s floor manager trying to win the vice presidential nomination in 1956.

You can’t dismiss such a qualified observer’s predictions merely because they’re so horrible. You owe him a little wine-tasting and blood-testing first.

The most effective answer to national crisis is setting quarrels aside and pulling together. How well do you think America is doing in that regard? Have you ever seen a mature nation behave worse in a crisis?

In New York City there were two blackouts, 12 years apart – 1965 and 1977. In that first one, New York was drenched with honor. Journalists around the world compared the population of New York to Londoners during the Blitz. The second one will be remembered as “The Night of the Animals.” The police couldn’t stop the looting. They didn’t try. They confined their activity to keeping the looting orderly, so different gangs smashing store windows and walking out with sofas, washer-dryers and home-entertainment systems wouldn’t attack one another.

It’s called “deterioration.”

Then you want to look at the role of the media. Are they mischief-making, unifying, or what? The MSM, after more than four years of Obama-rule, are just beginning to call out the White House misstatements, exaggerations and lies. It’s a little late for the calming effect of media impartiality to be of much help. The president has been caught wallowing in worst-case scenarios of pain-to-come and arranging maximum pain in the cutting process. Pretty far cry from an earlier Democratic president who reassured the nation during the Great Depression, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself”!

Next we’ve got to consider the mentality, the intelligence level of the population. One hesitates to insult people by the nation-ful or the religion-ful, but journalists who know Eastern Europe and parts of Africa and Latin America are familiar with those lower-information countries where they name a street after you one day and chase you down it the next. And where the mob-ocratic penalty for insulting a religious figure is death without due process. Any honest chart of American decline would have to note the unfortunate direction in which our civilization is headed.

Also, we’re playing “for keeps.” The feared obliteration of savings, investments, retirement accounts etc., plus the residual emotions of the war-against-the-rich feeding the invidious notion that, “Dammit, the only reason it’s his is that he stole it from us!” – that class-warfare thinking, with ratification from the summit, can lead to short tempers.

I can’t call Martin Gross extreme.

I can only praise him for being right for the past 60 years, and pray he’s wrong about the next eight.