Airport Insecurity

First, there were hijacked planes which were flown into buildings housing the financial center of our country as well as the Pentagon; the result was heightened security in airports despite having already dropped the ball. Next came the shoe bomber who was stopped by attentive passengers; the result here was screening for explosive devices in the shoes of every passenger boarding a plane. Shoe screening has been an inconvenience to air travelers while no known explosive footwear have been detected since. Then there was the liquid explosive plot consisting of 3 men on a flight from the UK to the US; this time liquids were banned except in quantities in 100mL bottles and fitting in a 1 quart bag . Again, no further liquid bomb plot has been revealed by any government, and the criticism that the many 100mL bottles can still hold explosive liquid that could potentially be grouped together for a catastrophic blast.

This past Christmas a powder-based explosive was attempted to be detonated during the last hour of a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit by a Nigerian man; Like the shoe bomb plot, this attacker messed up the detonation and some fast acting passengers stopped the fire that had started. Screening failed. The bomb failed. Thanks to some good luck, nobody died. The solution this time around? Keeping passengers seated in the last hour of flight and without access to carry-ons. Because the bomber this time tried to detonate the bomb during the last hour. Does anyone really think this will prevent future attempts of terrorism? Every attempt has brought new methods, and each response simply inconveniences passengers. Ok, so now the last hour of flight means no getting out of your seat. That means the next time around the bomber will just trigger the weapon during the first hour of flight. Or the second hour. Or the third. This elaborate dance of government security making adjustments, and terrorist groups changing their tactics hasn’t led to a more secure society. Just one of greater hassle to travelers and increased paranoia among passengers about their safety as well as support of racial profiling due to the similar religious and ethnic backgrounds of the attackers.

According to the Los Angeles Times, a Bakersfield airport was shut down after “hazardous materials” were found in luggage. This hazard was detected to be TNT. Turns out there were really several Gatorade bottles filled with honey. Apparently the owner is a gardener and the detected chemicals that caused the alarm may have been from his gardening. So ultimately, many passengers were delayed, lots of money was wasted, and all because some security equipment detected, incorrectly, explosives from bottles containing honey. Now there are claims sprouting up from several people (claims that have been made many times before) that the screening technology is faulty in the highly expensive equipment that was purchased by the government to stop bombs from penetrating security. Where are the standards which the government should have held the companies from which they purchased the equipment? Are there any real incentives for the government to be honest with the people in regards to the level of security that is useful? Why not tell the public about the attempts that are stopped by security? That way those clever politicians in Washington can claim transparency as well as effective security. The reason the government wouldn’t want to release this information? Because there aren’t enough stories of prevented attacks to make the many cases of harassment and inconvenience worthwhile. Thus, we get to bankroll the annoyance that is airport security, ineffective though it may be, and are told by our elected officials that we should either be happy at our security or angry at wasteful spending and should replace the TSA before they unionize. Nonsense in, nonsense out.


Broken Promise or Broken Party?

The train wreck that we call the healthcare reform debate took another flip today when C-SPAN called on Congress and President Obama to allow them to televise the final negotiations of the healthcare bill that is currently planned to be discussed behind closed doors. The network is specifically citing Candidate Obama’s promise to “[bring] all parties together, and broadcasting those negotiations on C-SPAN so that the American people can see what the choices are.” In other words, C-SPAN is trying to inject some life into its dead network that no one watches unless their remote breaks while channel-surfing and the TV is stuck on that channel.

Now, all of a sudden, there is talk all across the media and the blogosphere that Obama is a liar and is breaking promises left and right. For instance, there is Scotty Starnes who says:

“Of course Obama, and the Democrats, never wanted C-SPAN involved in all those behind closed-door meetings. They didn’t want Americans to see the big deals between the Obama administration, big PhRMA, the insurance companies and the Unions. They didn’t want Americans to witness the bribes being paid to Democratic whores and all those earmarks added to obtain the 60 votes needed to pass this fantastic pile of shit the Democrooks call health care reform.”

Understandably, there are some people upset that a politician is not living up to all his promises. Shocking, right? But let’s all slow down and take a careful look at this, because maybe we don’t have to pick up the pitchforks and light the torches just yet.

Before I get to Obama, I want to address some aspects of Starnes’ assessment of bribes being paid by the insurance companies to the Democrats. First, you are using Fox News as a source? That makes your article worth deleting right there. Second, what sane, non-ignorant person would assume from all of this that it is the Dems in bed with the insurance companies? I’m not saying they are completely innocent angels, but it was the Republicans that kept trying to kill healthcare reform by spreading rumors like fetus farms, mandatory abortions, “pulling the plug on grandma”, and death panels. I don’t recall Republicans voting in favor of a public option meant to compete with insurance companies. Mr. Starnes, if you have a response to this, then I would like to hear it, because I am really confused by your view of the healthcare debate.

Now back to Obama lying. Yes, technically this would be considered a broken promise if Obama turns down CSPAN’s request to televise the healthcare negotiations. But when you look back at the promise, there is more to it than just televising the discussion. This was supposed to be a bipartisan discussion. There were supposed to be constructive ideas coming from both sides of the aisle. This was the main idea behind televising the debate; to see both parties contributing their ideas to a bipartisan bill to insure all Americans and provide them with affordable, quality healthcare. But the Republicans balked. Nay, they were suspended for conduct detrimental to the nation. Everything we have heard from the GOP and their surrogates have been along the lines of “We agree we need reform, but…”. They didn’t like the idea of a government-run plan. They didn’t like the idea of a public option that would cover 5-10% of Americans. They didn’t like the idea of putting more restrictions on healthcare companies. They didn’t like the idea of expanding Medicare. To sum up, they didn’t like the idea of any reform. So now they are being excluded from the final negotiations by the previously cowardly Democrats, since all of the crap they have thrown out at the public about healthcare has been to scare the public from favoring any reform.

So what choice does Obama have? He can have the negotiations televised, but it would only enforce the fact that this is a partisan bill because the Republicans want no part of it. Not only would Republicans resent him and the Dems even more, but the Democrats would look more and more like a divided party. If the Republicans have one thing going for them, it’s the fact that they are sticking together as a party. Too bad their party ideals are fundamentally backward. But if the Dems struggle to put together a healthcare reform bill with a public option without any Republican interference on national television, then this whole idea of government transparency will just backfire on the Democrats and could cause a major schism.

At the end of the day, Obama has to make a political decision: Sacrifice his integrity and break a promise, or threaten his party’s chances of winning key mid-term elections by showcasing a possible division behind Democratic doors? Remember, this is politics and it’s always about winning the next election. And if you want to be mad at Obama for breaking a promise, fine. But make sure you don’t let the Republicans off the hook for this one. Good news is that they worked together on this little f@#$-up.

The Search is Over

In this time of perpetual questioning and global uncertainty, society longs for a voice. A voice of reason, and voice of rebellion. A voice of strength, a voice of compassion. A voice of progress, a voice of stability. But most of all, a voice of truth. We have all searched for this voice across our world, but time and time again we return home disappointed and discouraged. But today begins a new day, for you have found it. Right here, you will find what you long for. We cannot promise you will like what we say or how we say it, but we promise you this: What we write and what we say will be genuine. We are not here to specifically push a liberal agenda or a conservative agenda, a democratic agenda or a republican agenda, a socialist agenda or a capitalist agenda, a white agenda or a black agenda or a latino agenda or an asian agenda. We are here to push the human agenda. We are all in this together, and only together can we save ourselves.