FLYi Bomb Threat

November 19, 2004 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Current Affairs 

I was going through my traffic statistics, and I found someone searching on bombs at airports with today’s date.

I did some digging and found this:  FLYi bomb threat

It seems to be nothing, but it’s worth looking into.  Luckily, my wife flew home from her business trip yesterday.

Death Penalty for Overdue Library Books

November 19, 2004 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Books, Can't Make This Up, Current Affairs 

It used to be a cliche – sentencing someone to death for an overdue library book.

Now, Bay City, Michigan is moving in that direction.  (CNN Story)

The Bay County library system director is asking the Library Board for permission to seek arrest warrants for patrons keeping books past due and ignoring repeated notices.  He also wants to levy criminal fines and jail time up to 90 days.

According to the article, a particularly heinous offender has $1,200 worth of books out (not the fine, the value of the books), most for over a year (and mostly sci-fi – could easily be me).  One has to wonder how much it will cost the county to prosecute him and keep him in jail.  Library fines currently run 5 to 10 cents per day.

This guy is nuts.  I can see wanting to make a point, but there’s gotta be a better way than arresting patrons.  Maybe embarass them in the newspaper?

Chemical Spill Near My Office

November 19, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Current Affairs 

This is taking place 2 buildings away right now.  The spill occurred at 9:45am – or about 2 1/2 hours ago.  The road into our industrial development is closed to incoming traffic – anybody from here who leaves is stuck.

I took a walk next door to the post office and bought some stamps.  There is a single news chopper hovering overhead, and a news SUV was parked at the post office.  (The post office is probably screwed up as well – nobody can get in or out.)

I’ll update if there’s more news.

UPDATE 12:40pm – The link above has a better story now.  Apparently they’ve opened the road again.

Counting Sheep at Bedtime

November 9, 2004 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Can't Make This Up, Life, Travel 

So, I’m lying in bed last night reading before going to sleep.  I still have the police scanner on.

I hear:

“Station 40, respond to the Turnpike mile marker xx.x northbound on an overturned vehicle with possible entrapment.  Use caution for sheep running around on the highway.”

And suddenly my head pops up.  They repeat the dispatch identically.

The story:
Newsday Story

You can’t make this stuff up.

Morals and the Right Wing

November 9, 2004 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Current Affairs 

I’ve been meaning to write a post on morals, and the right-wing’s attempt to control them since Bush’s re-election.  About how the ultra-right “bring back Puritanism” folks feel that they have a mandate after the very close election to turn us all into Bible-thumpers.

However, Michele of A Small Victory said it better in her post “Check your Morals at my Door”.

Michele has it right.  The basic difference between the rational left (not the loony left) and the rational right is this:  The right wants to control your behavior, and the left doesn’t want anybody to control anybody’s behavior.  That’s a simplification, but correct in basic premise.

I prefer the left.

Election’s Over – Group Hug or Fight Harder?

November 4, 2004 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Current Affairs 

I’m worried.

The election is over. I voted for Kerry. I suppose that I could consider my vote wasted, but my state was actually won by Kerry so that really isn’t true. One of the major reasons that I voted for Kerry was a lack of trust in Bush and Bush’s role as a divider rather than a uniter (maybe that’s two reasons).

What we’ve been left with is a polarized country. This election caused such divisions that people were defacing election signs, Kindergarten teachers were telling their charges how their parents should vote, and families and co-workers were having heated arguments. I remember the 2000 election, and the talk wasn’t about which candidate was evil – it was about which candidate was better (or worse, for those who took the “lesser of two evils” tack). Nobody called either candidate a fascist dictator. This year, things were just plain ugly.

This year’s campaigns were about fear. On the Republican side – fear of terrorism and fear of non-conformists (led by non-Christians and gays). On the Democratic side – fear of unemployment and fear of a military quagmire. I watched all 4 Presidential and VP debates – the candidates spent most of their time talking about how terrible the other guy is rather than how good they are or what they will do.

This fear and attack attitude spread into the general populace. I had family members telling me how bad Kerry was and how a vote for Kerry would cause terrorists to attack. In the blogverse, it was even worse. The right-wing and left-wing went at each other day and night (often depriving themselves of sleep to comment) and used each other’s words to fire up their own side. The right saw the left as “moonbats” in need of medication. The left saw the right as fascists trying to re-create the Nazi party.

The election itself came right down to the wire – 68,000 voters in Ohio. It could easily have been 500 voters in Florida again, or 10,000 voters in Missouri. What some right-wingers are calling a “mandate” was really only a 51-48 popular vote, and a narrow electoral win.

So the big question is:

Can we come together again?

For a short while after 9/11, the country came together united. We all flew our flags. We all gave money ($1 Billion in a week!) to support the victims. I even saw it on the road in increased courtesy by drivers. For a short time, we were united as a country.

The war in Afghanistan was supported by most of the country – only the staunchest anti-war people were opposed. This was a response to an attack on US soil and very few questioned it.

The war in Iraq was different. The pool of support for Afghanistan didn’t quite translate into support for the war in Iraq. However, the majority of the populace did support the war in Iraq and their representatives in Congress echoed that point of view. Later, we found that the selling points used to justify this war were not entirely true – by error or deception. The cracks began to widen.

Enter the US Presidential campaign. The Democratic primary process was, in a word, goofy. The Democrats ended up choosing the candidate least offensive to the most people – not the best but the most acceptable to the hard-core party activists. Rather than having candidates drop out as a single leader emerged, we had candidates whittled away as they made errors on the campaign trail (some quite bizarre). On the Republican side, Bush was a no-brainer as the incumbent.

The campaign took a major swing into the mud pit. The Bush campaign repeated their assertion that a vote for Kerry was a request for terrorists to attack the US again. The Kerry campaign asserted that a vote for Bush was a choice to kill US soldiers in Iraq. It got particular bad towards the end where each campaign started making up their opponents’ position – Bush claiming that Kerry was pro-gay and Kerry claiming that Bush would bring back the draft.

I spent the day and evening of Election Day hanging out at the Command Post chat room. I had expected the room to be a source of news – where each of us posted news that we found locally or nationally about the election in order to stay informed. Instead, I found the sewer of name-calling that the campaign itself had been. The Command Post readership is primarily right-wing, but the name-calling came from both sides in equal measure from each participant. Not all of the chatters were nasty, but the nasty ones more than made up for that and 75-90% of the traffic was worthless.

The election ended in a heap or tired, mangled American psyches. All of us have one heck of an election hangover.

The question remains – where do we go from here? In his concession speech, Kerry stated that it is time for America to come back together again. Bush asked Kerry supporters for their backing of his aims (though those aims are unacceptable to Kerry supporters). The only question in my mind is – do they mean it?

I fear that they do not. I can’t see any reason for Bush to reach out to Democrats or even Republican moderates. There just isn’t any incentive, and there is plenty of incentive for the Religious Right to grip the party more tightly than they do now. On the Democratic side, the party is in disarray. There’s just so much infighting that the Democrats can’t even work together to take back the White House. Elements of the Democrats seemed to be setting themselves up to win the NEXT election in 2008 (against someone other than Bush, and probably not Cheney either) rather than winning this one.

On the street, there isn’t any incentive to change either. It takes a big change to shake someone’s thinking processes. 9/11 provided that push, and the country showed it. Iraq provided that push again, and the country entered the division that we see today. I don’t see what is going to shake us out of that mode.

I truly feel that the division will remain until there is a flashpoint. I think we’re headed for a repeat of the late 60’s here without the drugs. If the anti-war people and the people concerned about unemployment and underemployment ever manage to link up, they can be a major force in American life (not just politics – life).

I hope I’m wrong, but I fear that I’m right. We’re not going to be united any time soon.