Living On The Edge Of Tornado Alley

Anyone who lives in Tornado Alley cannot help but shudder at the awful death and devastation in Joplin, Missouri, where more than a hundred people are confirmed dead, many others are missing, and huge amounts of property damage has occurred because a king-hell storm took dead aim at the city.  We sympathize with the people of Joplin because we know that what happened there could just as easily happen here.

Columbus, Ohio is at the eastern edge of Tornado Alley, that wide swath of America stretching from Texas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska across the Midwest to the western edge of the Alleghenies.  In Tornado Alley, severe storms are an inevitable and scary part of the late spring and summer months. You notice the sky growing absurdly, impossibly black.  You watch for the severe storm warnings, with the lurid colors on the Doppler map showing areas where the killer storms are brewing, and you hope and pray that the storms bypass the residential areas and wreak their havoc in some woodlands or an unfortunate farmer’s field.  And typically, the storms do pass by.

So, you tend to become a bit cavalier about the possibility that the awesome power of the storm might find your home or your neighborhood, and you don’t go to the basement or take the other simple precautions that authorities strongly encourage.  I confess that I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t pay much attention to the tornado sirens or severe weather warnings.  But there is a reason why people use weather references as a metaphor for unpredictability.  You just never know what a storm is going to do.  I wonder how many people in Joplin thought this storm was going to be like all of the others they remember, until they realized that it wasn’t going to be like all the others — and by then it was too late?

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Have Tooth, Will Travel

Dennis Kucinich, currently a Democratic Representative from Ohio, is getting ready for his next congressional race — which may be in Washington state.  In Ohio, as in other states, redistricting is occurring on the basis of the 2010 Census population figures.  Ohio is going to lose two seats, and apparently one of the seats on the chopping blocks is Kucinich’s district.  As a result, he’s looking for a new place to get elected, and liberal Washington, which is adding a seat, caught his eye.

Kucinich has always been unconventional, from his disastrous days as Cleveland’s “Boy Mayor” in the 1970s to his recent, ill-advised decision to sue the House cafeteria when he purportedly suffered dental damage biting into a veggie wrap at a House cafeteria and then to reach a hasty settlement when he was inundated by bad publicity.  I suppose looking to run in another state is unusual, but in my view if Kucinich runs in Washington it actually exposes him as just another politician.  He’s not really looking to fight for the people of Cleveland, which has been his pitch to date; instead, he just desperately wants to get elected again, even if it is in some faraway state to which he has no meaningful connection.  Like many politicians, he’s convinced that it is crucial that his views are heard on the big stage in Washington, D.C.

It’s pathetic to see former crusaders like Kucinich exposed as office-hungry political hacks, but it is a familiar story.  If Kucinich does seek election in Washington, it will be interesting to see how his tired act is received by voters in the Pacific Northwest.