My random thoughts on the world and stuff

Monday, August 30, 2004

In the local paper

Today, I bought a newspaper, which isn't too terribly earth shaking, however, I hadn't read a paper in a few days, and in it, I found both an opinion and a few letters to the editor about a young man that was arrested over the weekend, for clogging up the toilet at a border crossing between Montana and Canada. I'm guessing that this bit of news made a bit of a splash in Sunday's paper, in order for there to have been so much on the opinion page devoted to it. Submitted for your amusement (it was a bit amusing to me) is this bit out of the local paper here.

Port of entry case a tempest in a toilet bowl

In this post-9/11 world fraught with alert warnings and terrorist threats, an important new rule is apparently in place at the U.S.-Canadian border: "Please don't squeeze the Charmin." Or, as Jesse Huffman of Great Falls discovered earlier this month, please don't use enough of the Charmin to clog a federal toilet.

Huffman is a 19-year-old college sophomore who was arrested at the Port of Sweet Grass August 21 and charged with criminal mischief for stopping up a commode at the port's new $24 million facility.
It wasn't federal officials who arrested him, however. Customs Inspector Toby Wilkerson phoned the Toole County Sheriff's Office, which sent a deputy the 38 miles to Sweet Grass to investigate.
We'll pause for a moment so you can stifle your guffaws. The Toole County Undersheriff Don Hale had to do the same when we called him for details.
Despite the humor in the matter, "I stand behind the decision of my officer," Pat Kellegher, Hale said. "He's a 15-year veteran. He was there, and I wasn't."
U.S. Customs officials aren't talking, but according to Huffman the backup was unintentional.
He and four friends were returning from Lethbridge, Alberta, that Saturday afternoon when port officials stopped their car for what appeared to be a random search. The 19-year-old driver of the vehicle was cited for possession of alcohol.
While they were waiting, Huffman said, he asked to use the restroom. He used about a fifth of a roll of toilet paper, he said, then pressed the lever.
When the toilet didn't flush he held the lever down for a slightly longer period, then pressed it a third time on his way out, Huffman said. He said he didn't wait to see what happened.
The next thing he knew a customs inspector approached his group demanding to know: "Who put a roll of toilet paper in my toilet?" and matters spiraled downward from there.
No, it didn't help that Huffman and his friends laughed off the interrogation -- at first, anyway.
Now Huffman faces a maximum of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
"I've never been arrested before ... and I get arrested for taking a dump," Huffman said.
Honestly, are things this slow at the border?
Huffman says that when he offered to try to unclog the toilet, the inspector huffed that wasn't any plunger anywhere in 40 miles.
A $24 million facility and no plunger?
"You may think, well, a couple of kids coming back from Canada, how do they pose a threat to national security?" Hale said. "They themselves don't, but when you have officers running around grabbing mops or whatever they do ... you're taking attention away from their main focus. You see what I'm saying?"
And then he chuckled again, which is what we hope the judge does when this case goes to court.

This is obviously the opinion of the local paper here The Great Falls Tribune. As it was not attributed to any specific author.

Now that you are done snickering, I know I did, when I read this.

Let me show you what a couple of people locally had to say in response to the article which apparently appeared in Sunday's paper (which I didn't get)

Get a plunger
Praise the Lord for an alert border guard. No, we didn't catch bin Laden but we did manage to catch a young man who thought he could sneak an illegal nature's call on those border guards, clog their $24 million facility's toilet, and get away with it.
I'm sure such a wonton, vile crime deserves 10 years, and then there's the excuse the "excessive use of toilet paper."
What's this world coming to? He's just lucky he didn't get misuse of government property. He might be facing the death penalty.
We should start a fund-raiser to get them a plunger and one role of toilet paper.
-- Clyde John

Not funny
After reading about Jesse Huffman being arrested for clogging the toilet at the Port of Sweet Grass, I didn't know whether to laugh or commisserate.
Though I laughed, the situation is not funny. A previously law-abiding student faces a criminal record and embarassment at having his bathroom habits publicized.
I've dealt with customs myself. Living eight miles from the border, I have traveled to and from Alberta often. While most inspectors are professional, some are high-handed and rude.
Most of my friends and neighbors have instances of being poorly treated at the port. It's become a fact of life that you may be hassled. My family doesn't travel to Canada as much as we did before the Homeland Security Act because our port on the prairie now resembles a large military compound.
I find it unsettling that Mr. Huffman was not able to obtain the inspector's name when he asked. If officers can do these things anonymously with protection from their higher-ups, how far are we from a police state?
The article was unclear whether Mr. Huffman was disorderly or suspicious prior to being arrested. Iti may be that he was planning to undermine the United States using terrorist methods involving the commode. I have a hard time believing this is the case.
Is this just another example of our country's widespread abuse of power?
Also, am I the only one who things it strange that a $24 million federal building doesn't come equipped with a plunger?
-- Carly Kleinert

I'm assuming that the fact that he was unable to gain the inspector's name and/or badge number, appeared in the original article. However, both letters do have a point. The biggest point of all is this: Why is there no plunger there? A simple plunger (which is inexpensive at any hardware store) could have circumvented this entire issue. I am stunned by the things that the government gets away with, under the guise of protecting it's citizens.

What's next?
posted by Tyrinza, 9:49 PM | link | 0 comments


I keep reading and listening to the stuff regarding the Bush vs. Kerry race for the presidency.

I have heard enough about the "soft money" advertisers. I personally feel that they should be done away with, they aren't doing as much good as they think they are, and they're hurting both sides of the race. To wit; who actually cares whether Kerry won his medals legitimately in Vietnam? Who actually cares, whether Bush served in Vietnam, or in this country during the "conflict"? Shouldn't the people and voters be more concerned on the issues? Who feels the way to fix the economy and how? What they feel about the war in Iraq, and how to solve that problem? Or.. is it a problem at all?

The fact of the matter, is that terrorism has been going on in the world, for a very long time, and this country didn't really give a flip about it, until it came to American soil, and wasn't a terrorist of our own making; Oklahoma City for example.

What about the ecomomy? What's wrong with it? Is outsourcing to other countries really the problem? If it is the problem... what about Kerry/Heinz? Most of their businesses are located outside this country. They blame Bush for that problem, how is it Bush's fault or problem that the Heinz corporation does the majority of it's manufacturing out of the USA?

What are the issues that matter?

Further, how is it big news that there are thousands of protestors in New York City protesting the Republican convention, when there was no mention of any protestors at the Democratic Convention? How is that the major networks opted not to cover the Republican convention, when there was major airtime for the Democratic one? Is it because our media is skewed? Of course they are. Every major media outlet is skewed.

How many people that are voting for president in November, even remember, that the electoral college is who elects the president of this country? How many people actually think that their vote matters in the long run? How many people will remember history, in that, not all popular vote candidates win the presidency? Very few, I suspect.

I've heard it said that the mud being slung during this campaign is worse than some others by far. Personally, I think that we should go back to the times when disputes such as this were settles at 20 paces. Sure, our VP suggested that someone in Congress should go do something unnatural with themselves, but have we forgotten that in the past (our history) that these sorts of things went on all the time in Congress? The wording was a little less repugnant than it is today, but the message is the same. Why is it that Tereasa Heinz-Kerry telling a reporter to "go shove it", is big news? Is our news so dull, that reporters and the like, must find little nit picky things to bother with? Do we not have enough things going on, of national or international importance that the wanna-be first lady's comments to a reporter is something significant? Or, is the point, that the wanna-be president has little or no control over his wife, and what she says, and how that will make him look publically? What was the real message, or the real meaning behind making a big deal out of that?

Just my random thoughts on this election period.

posted by Tyrinza, 9:20 PM | link | 0 comments

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

I found this in the local newspaper

Left-Wingers attack FBI's investigative techniques

The New York Times, American Civil Liberties Union, anti-Bush protestors and Muslim activists are all apoplectic over the FBI's efforts to prevent violence and terrorism.
Agents are -- gasp -- knocking on doors and asking questions. Based on these basic intelligence-gathering actions, the civil liberties alarmists are convinced that the constitutional sky is falling.
On Monday, the Times published a front-page story that painted FBI agents as jack-booted thugs bent on scaring the pants off of innocent, do-gooder college kids.
A Tuesday Times editorial bemoaned how "six investigators recently descended on Sarah Bardwell, a 21-year-old intern with a Denver antiwar group, who quite reasonably took away the message that the government was watching her closely." The editorialists concluded: "The knock on the door from government investigators asking about politcal activities is the stuff of totalitarian regimes."
Oh, give me a break. Getting shocked with cattle prods for practicing one's faith is the "stuff of totalitarian regimes." Getting locked up in an iron madien for losing a soccer match is the "stuff of totalitarian regimes."
Answering a few questions about possible domestic terrorism is the stuff of responsible citizenship.
Agents are not targeting every tattooed Bush hater and handcuffing every pacifist grandma in an insidious effort to chill free speech. They are simply trying to be what every hindsight hypocrite has asked them to be: proactive and preemptive.
The fact is that many anti-war groups have been tied to extremist guerrilla tactics and pro-violence movements.
The Ruckus Society caused massive rioting and destruction in Seattle in 1999. In a militant call to arms published last spring across left-wing Internet sites, infamous environmental thug Craig Rosebraugh called on his antiwar colleagues to take "direct actions" against American military establishments, urban centers, corporations, government buildings and media outlets.
In Oakland, "peaceful" protesters exercised their "free speech" by attempting to shut down a port involved in shipping military supplies to soldiers duing wartime.
The "Black Bloc" organization is instructing protesters to trick bomb-sniffing dogs on New Jersey Transit lines and New York City subways in an effort to create "maximum disruption" and drain police resources.
Is the FBI -- which much grapple with the prospect of another international terrorist attack on American soil, as well as havoc from domestic terrorists -- supposed to turn a blind eye to these past actions and future plans?
By the protesters' own admission, federal investigators are simply asking specific questions about whether demonstrators headed to the Republican National Convention in New York City are planning violence or other disruptions, and whether they have any knowlege of such plots.
Some of those who have been questioned by the FBI say they were "harassed" and scared by armed agents who visited their homes. Boo hoo.
What do they want the agents to do? Would showing up in clown suits with squirt guns in their holsters make them feel less frightened? These are serious men and woman doing serious jobs in serious times. Grow up.
Similar complaints about the FBI meanies are coming from Muslim leaders and ACLU lawyers who are incensed that agents from the 2004 FBI Threat Task Force are asking Muslims questions about possible terrorist plots.
"These large dragnet interviews that really focus on people because of their ethnicity or religion are not productive investigative techniques," complained Parastou Hassouri, an immigrant rights specialist with the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey.
Where, pray tell, does Hassouri suggest that the FBI go to gather information about Muslim extremists? Madonna's Kabalah prayer meetings? Bob Jones University? The Christian Science Reading Room at the mall?
These same hysterical groups who lambaste the FBI for it's "aggressive" behavior now will be the first to roast the bureau for intelligence-gathering laxity if something castastrophic happens before the November elections.
You just can't win with these whiners.

This article was written by Michelle Malkin a nationally syndicated columnist. I'm sure there's some copywrite thing I'm breaking by putting it here, but it was amusing and correct, and I just couldn't resist sharing.
posted by Tyrinza, 10:54 AM | link | 0 comments