Mostly about my amusement

Category: Politics (page 2 of 12)

Have you ever caught anyone or anything?

Next time you go to an airport, see if they ask you to step behind a screen to disrobe. Bending down and touching your toes while naked may be optional.

Also the goon examining you? Don’t worry, he promises to not keep that photo he just took with his cell phone of you. You can be assured, if the TSA does catch the alleged offender, they promise that nothing will happen to that person, no one will ever hear about it, and there will be no investigation.

Don’t worry, this always worked in the movies

Years ago, after 9/11, buildings that I worked in had installed airport style x-ray machines. When you came in you put your bag on a conveyor and ran it through the machine. Bored security guards would look and pretend to be interested. I don’t recall 100% but I don’t think you had to run your coat though the machine.

I’m a friendly talkative guys and I got to know the security guards. I stood next to them, saw what they saw while they did their work and when no one was around I just asked them: did you ever find any weapons or anything illegal?

They never caught a thing. I asked them because occasionally even night club security will turn up knives and small-caliber handguns. No joke, while the machines were there they x-rayed thousands of bags and never had one hit.

But there was a press conference so it must work

For many companies the x-ray machines were not about security. Those companies got a significant discount on their building insurance just for having them. Those machines were part of a profit center. Since I no longer have to do this (for years), I’m guessing that the insurance companies wised up to the scam.

The full body scanners installed in JFK are just like that except there is no discount to the airlines, consumers, or airport. It’s one of those things done to advance the idea of Security Theater and does not do a thing to make traveling by airplane safer. It’s not as ridiculous as the bottled water ban (seriously, bad guys wont be able to sell “compromised” water in the concession stands?) but it sure is more expensive.

What makes this more offensive is that to pass through this is to submit to a strip search. The TSA can (and does) dress this up as something else but that’s what it is. Every time you submit to this you are permitting yourself to be strip searched.

It doesn’t matter that their survey show that 98% of the passengers opted to be x-rayed instead of physically molested by untrained guards. The reason it does not matter is that the survey only reflects the passengers desire to get past the security theater portion of their trip quickly.

The TSA respects your rights, now shut up and get in line

NOTE: I would easily wager that 98% of the TSA staff at the airports are professional, polite, and patient. Except for seeing my wife and all other Asians randomly racially profiled in Dallas again, I expect to meet and deal with more TSA professionals. But I also expect to encounter that 2% and strip searches sure wont help.

Here are some questions that would be nice to have answered by example.

  1. What protections does the TSA provide/implement to prevent abuse?
  2. What are the penalties for the convicted abusers?
  3. What is the TSA’s success rate, their hit/miss ratio?
  4. If anyone can opt out (and I hope many do) how will the TSA penalize the people who opted out?
  5. Will opt-outs be accidentally be required to miss their plane?

I won’t submit to a strip search and will not let them scan my children either. If I get physically assaulted patted down by a screener what remedy do I have besides none?

The TSA security guards are not law enforcement, they are not trained police officers. I don’t care how emboldened their TSA shoulder patch makes them feel, they are the equivalent of bank guards.

The SCOTUS handgun ruling

From the New York Time letter page. This is not my letter, but the sentiment is the same.

To the Editor:

Every year, millions of people across the United States willingly have their First Amendment rights to free speech and assembly restricted when local governments hand out permits for parades. The governments decide who can march, where they can march and when they can march, and require them to have a permit.

The recent Supreme Court ruling on the Second Amendment seems to set the right to buy and bear arms above the rights of the First Amendment. It deprives local governments of their right to decide who can carry a weapon, where they can carry a weapon and when they can carry a weapon, and, for all we know today, may lead to a time when people can carry concealed weapons without a permit.

Words are almost always harmless. Unfortunately, guns, by design, are never so.

Zachary I. Gold
Massapequa Park, N.Y., June 29, 2010

That’s what I don’t get. We routinely accept controls and limitations to our constitutional rights and these are done as a “common sense” measure.

No one says “let’s stifle freedom of speech and assembly”, but I can’t get 200 of my close friends for a protest without filing and obtaining a permit.

We have freedom of speech but no one expects that to permit someone yelling “FIRE!” in a crowded theater.

How are guns different? We can restrict some rights but why does the 2nd amendment get a pass on limitations or controls? I know full well that the ruling is about the outright ban on handguns, and is not about “Guns for everyone!” But if the law is re-worded, will it still pass this test?

Why can’t a state regulate that some types of guns are just not allowed?

Thumbnail credit goes to leasepics / Lala Roe for the image.

What would we do without political cartoons?

The second thing I look at on the NY Times website is the cartoons.

Oh, now SCOTUS is concerned about rights. Good thing for Jeff Skilling this case didn’t involve someone being kidnapped and shipped overseas to be tortured.

In addition to President Obama maintaining the worst of the previous administration, his Supreme Court nominee (while qualified) represents someone who is more like Roberts and less like Stevens.

When Elena Kagan is confirmed, there is no hope that SCOTUS will oppose expansion of the president’s power when national security is used as the excuse.

Tom Toles gets it right

Once again, Tom Toles nails it.

I especially get a kick from Sarah Palin complaining and editorializing about President Obama. The oil spill is a mess, but instead of getting together and fixing it, the radical right is just trying to score cheap points.

Arizona, where fear lives and becomes law

I’ve never been to Arizona and thanks to their new law, odds are I will never go. Yesterday Governor Jan Brewer signed into law a federal immigration bill to make it illegal for immigrants to not carry their papers. Yes, the states think they can pass federal immigration policy law and I guess they can.

From the New York Times article:

The law, which proponents and critics alike said was the broadest and strictest immigration measure in generations, would make the failure to carry immigration documents a crime and give the police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally.

My wife is a naturalized citizen and many of my friends are too. Unless you have American Indian blood in you, odds are you are from a family of immigrants. Many people in the United States speak with an accent from being fluent in a foreign language.

In about 90 days that accent can cause a police office in Arizona to demand to see your papers. If you don’t have them or don’t produce them, then you can go to jail for being a suspected illegal immigrant. My wife is Asian but hey, the supporters of this bill claim that racial profiling will not be used so we’re all suspect and will need to carry our papers.

Not producing your papers will be a crime in Arizona. Do you think the people of Arizona really had this in mind when they were called a “Red State”?

This new law is firmly based in fear. Arizona is on the border of Mexico and they 100% do have a problem with illegal immigration. Innocent ranchers have been murdered and the killers are suspected to illegal immigrants from Mexico. Even that Anti-Maverick Senator McCain is spewing fear based rumors. No surprise there, since his time is almost up and he’ll spout whatever lies he needs to get re-elected.

Illegal immigrants are blamed for insurance fraud (thanks Senator!), lack of health care coverage, the current condition of schools, and sometimes even spreading leprosy. The bad economy? It’s the illegal immigrants fault.

That’s a nice bogey man to have and I can’t wait for the “Stop Illegal Immigrants” propaganda posters. I’m not really surprised: Arizona also has a bill on the table that is aimed at denying that President Obama is an American citizen, and they lie about that too.

This is not the solution. If the Federal Government can’t protect the border then bring back the National Guard and solve the problem. It won’t do anything to reduce the murders or save the state economy but at least it will get the border protected.

In the United States we have protests, we disagree publicly and loudly, we go where we want, read what we want, and we never ever show our papers. Or if we don’t show our papers, we don’t go to jail for that reason. Some other excuse is used.

But soon if you don’t show your papers in Arizona you’ll go to jail. Thanks Arizona, but I’m not willing to bring my family to a state like that.

Strangely enough, I don’t watch enough TV

I have been busy at work these past two weeks and I normally don’t watch much TV. But this episode of The Daily Show from March 18th makes me wish I’d at least DVR’ed this show.

Jon Stewart is not really a political hack and he does make fun of everyone. That’s his job and calling him a liberal operator is really funny since his show is on Comedy Central. He’s a comedian for crying out loud.

I don’t watch Glenn Beck because I don’t agree with him and I don’t like his Morton Downey, Jr. shtick. The few times I have seen clips of that clown on other shows, it’s really obvious that he’s afraid that someone will call him out on his ignorance. Even on Bill O’Reilly he tries to out “intellectualize” other people. The interview video clip with is great; he’s explaining to O’Reilly what a liberal is?

I don’t like O’Reilly either (he was rude to someone who I grew up admiring in an interview) but I do respect him in the sense that he does the math and understands what he’s talking about. Bill O’Reilly just makes the decision to skew the facts for his point of view. That’s fine and it’s just political commentary. While many people won’t like the comparison, Rachel Maddow does the same thing. In my opinion, she’s just more polite, rational, and reasonable.

Glenn Beck is a shrieking maniac. He is just an entertainer that deluded people into believing that he’s a savvy political commentator. He’s honest enough to tell people that he’s doing it just for the money, but once the roller coaster ride is over, he ends up in the dust bin with all the other flash in the pans. The fact that people mistake him for a political leader is scary.

He’s as smart as an 80’s talk show/variety host desperate for ratings and Jon Stewart, whose job is just to be funny, does great work making fun of him.

Politically, this is a really fun week

David Frum demonstrates that he gets it. Political cartoonists get it (Danziger’s was too good to not show).

GOP? Nope. Senator McCain? Nope. Democrats probably do get it but it’s a long way to November and there is plenty of time to let the bully on the block take their lunch money.

The GOP had the opportunity to participate and they did get involved with amendments. But it was all an act since no matter how bipartisan the Obama administration got, the GOP was just wasting time.The Democrats had the votes and the GOP thought they did not have the spine. Now the GOP platform is to hope that the country implode before November.

There are many rational discussions about what’s wrong with the bill. But so far the GOP only panders to the gun totting racist fear mongers. Which is what you do when you care about getting the votes instead of getting the job done.