Pete Riehm
Biden administration protects Americans from balloons but not trains
By Pete Riehm
February 20, 2023

Americans are finding our homeland to be increasingly dangerous. The border is wide open for drugs, human trafficking, and illegal migrants. Crime is out of control. Our shores are apparently undefended from the skies. And while the leftists in government and media are wringing their hands over the elusive effects of climate change and still demanding draconian measures for the long faded COVID hysteria, they are remarkably indifferent to no kidding poisonous contamination.

After the Biden administration contentedly allowed a Chinese spy balloon to traverse the entire country to complete its surveillance mission, the public was shocked by the apathetic indecision and abject incompetence. Trying to minimize the embarrassment, the NORAD commander casually commented unidentified flying objects breaching our air space is somewhat common, and they probably never detect some of them. Do what?!

So after publicly acquiescing to China’s brazen incursion and sheepishly admitting our military is not that meticulous or perhaps proficient at guarding our sovereignty, Americans are stunned. They rightly wonder are we just defenseless? Or perhaps are we simply not willing to defend our homeland?

In response to the mounting backlash and merciless ridicule, Biden’s crackerjack defense and intelligence folks went on a shooting spree to prove they were tough and on the job. In rapid succession, our military shot down three UFOs. Take that, sinister balloons, but the crazy thing is the DOD still doesn’t know what they shot down! In other news, the Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade (an amateur balloon club) lost contact with their balloon somewhere over Alaska.

While all eyes were on the skies, apparently no one was minding the rails. On February 3, a huge 151 car train had some 50 cars involved in a derailment that spilled an extraordinary amount of extremely hazardous and toxic chemicals. Catching fire, these derailed tanker cars spewed noxious gas and smoke into unsuspecting East Palestine, Ohio. Incredibly, Norfolk Southern and Ohio officials decided to do a controlled release of the remaining chemicals and get this: burn them off! Yes, after local animals got very sick and many died from the initial contamination and fire, the solution was to spew more toxic gas and smoke into this hapless community!

For the first couple days, this was just local news as East Palestine is a remote hamlet of nameless middle-class blue-collar workers, so not much interest from coastal elites. However, unlike climate change and COVID scare mongering, this disaster was really poisoning the people. People were actually coughing and getting sick, and then videos of dead chickens, fish, and frogs grabbed public attention. Thankfully, conservative media finally made this a national story and the Ohio and federal governments bungling was exposed.

As the national spotlight took focus, Americans learned that East Palestine had become a war zone, and Norfolk Southern and governments were slow to help and still not really helping. Several cars spilled vinyl chloride, a known carcinogen, and when burned it becomes phosgene gas which was outlawed from chemical warfare in WWI! These poor people were under attack, but they were given no help and mixed signals. Some were told to leave for one day and some for three, but there was no organized uniform response. Why?

Standing among many dead animals, residents were told they could return. No one from the government showed up to test for days, but Norfolk Southern contractors were offering to test people’s properties if they signed a waiver! When the EPA finally arrived, they incredibly first said the water is safe to drink, just ignore the dead fish and frogs. Contamination has now been detected in the Ohio River and Cincinnati shut off its drinking water intake from the Ohio River. How did the EPA miss that?!

It appears pending an investigation Norfolk Southern may be found negligent, but regardless accidents will happen and officials should be prepared to act quicker than watching Chinese spy balloons. It’s hard to believe there were no preplanned responses. There probably are government officials who have a clue, but the common thread is every branch of the federal government lacks competent leadership.

The problem is the Biden Administration selects their political appointees to check certain boxes for equity and inclusion rather than competency, experience, and expertise. They tout EPA Director Michael Regan as the first EPA Administrator to graduate from a historically black university and extol his passion for climate change. Other than his woke climate credentials, Regan does have a background in Environmental Management, and therefore has no excuse for bungling the EPA response.

On the other hand, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has no experience in transportation and showed weak leadership as mayor of South Bend, Indiana. His only qualification for a cabinet appointment was that he is an openly gay man. Buttigieg is again missing in action. He missed the supply chain disruption, the air traffic disasters, and now perhaps the worst train derailment in history. When he does show up, he is obviously clueless and has no sense of urgency to act. He is not a leader, just another self-serving politician.

This catastrophe in Ohio should drive him from office, but it won’t. It won’t because for the Biden administration it’s not about governing, it’s about amassing power and keeping it. They are unconcerned with actual results. They only care about the narrative, and they know with their accomplices in the Democrat Media Complex they will likely control the story. The people of East Palestine are stuck with a contaminated community and doomed to unknown future health issues because they will be long forgotten by the 2024 elections.

“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan” (Proverbs 29:2).

Pete Riehm is a conservative activist and columnist in south Alabama. Email him at or read all his columns at

© Pete Riehm


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Pete Riehm

Born to German immigrants, Pete Riehm grew up in Texas as a first generation American. Working his way through college, he enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve. After graduating from the University of Houston, Pete was commissioned into the United States Navy through Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island. He also earned a Master's Degree in National Security from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas... (more)


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