Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

Archive for July 21st, 2009

Black and white bigots have more in common with each other than with us.

Posted by sanityinjection on July 21, 2009

My inspiration today comes from this story about opposing protests by black and white racists in the town of Paris, Texas. The New Black Panther Party protest was allegedly over the dragging death of Brandon McClelland. That in turn motivated about a dozen Klansmen and skinheads to counterprotest.

Reading about McClelland’s death, I search in vain for a racial motivation. The mere fact that McClelland was black and the suspects (against whom charges were dropped because of lack of evidence) were white does not make it a racially motivated event, especially since the victim and the suspects were friends who had been drinking together. But it made me ponder the fact that both the black and white racists are more similar to each other than they are to the rest of us. For starters, they both see race and conspiracy  behind absolutely everything. They both have an interest in causing controversy and making mountains out of molehills in order to draw attention to their causes. They even share the same goal of separating whites and blacks.

The idea of this commonality was suggested decades ago in the novels of Allen Drury. In the sequels to his Pulitzer prize winning novel Advise and Consent (still required reading for anyone who wants to understand how Washington really works), Drury wrote of an uneasy alliance between black and white extremist groups, together with a pro-Soviet peace-at-any-cost outfit, all working to undermine a strong American foreign policy. While the grouping was arguably far-fetched, the speeches made by the leaders of the groups revealed that they were in fact flip sides of the same coin.

It’s enough to make one fantasize about marooning them all on a desert island together.


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The time for flyers’ rights is now.

Posted by sanityinjection on July 21, 2009

I’ve been beating up on Democrats a lot here lately. I feel that it’s important, though, to acknowledge them when they get something right. So the hero of this post is Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV). Rockefeller is the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee which also covers transportation. His committee is set to vote on a budget bill to fund the Federal Avaiation Administration (FAA) for two years. Included as part of that bill is a measure which would require airlines to let passengers off of any plane that is delayed for more than three hours.

Naturally, the airlines are fighting that requirement because it will lead to more delays and cancellations and cost them money. And normally, I would be sympathetic to an industry opposing heavy-handed federal meddling.

However, in this particular case, what the airlines are stubbornly refusing to acknowledge is that this is a basic health and safety issue. Airplanes’ life safety systems – ventilation, sanitation, climate control –  are not designed to function for long periods of time sitting on the ground. We would not allow criminal prisoners to be restrained in a chamber the size of an airplane under similar conditions for three hours, yet the airlines can force paying customers to suffer those conditions to preserve their bottom line.

The only reason we do not already have such a regulation is that until recent years it never occurred to anyone that an airline could treat its paying customers in such barbaric fashion. That is, until the horror stories of 2006-2007 in which passengers were kept on board some flights for as long as 10 1/2 hours. (At that point, as a passenger I would happily create a disturbance in order to get arrested and be removed to more humane conditions such as a holding cell!)

According to the Department of Transportation, in the 8 month period from November through May, 578 flights sat on the tarmac for more than three hours. While that is a tiny percentage of the millions of flights over that period, that is small comfort to those who were passengers on one of those flights.

I commend Senator Rockefeller for including this provision in the budget bill and hope it will become law as soon as possible.

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