Major Dad 1984

Cursed By A Classical Education

Let's just say that I intend to use this blog to blow off some steam that I might be feeling with the International/National media, my work situation, or maybe even to tee off on the family in a humorous way of course!

1/01/2005

Wow...And Just When You Thought It Could Get Worse...It Does!

If you're a Rush Limbaugh listener...you've probably heard him refer to other talk show hosts using his program as "show prep." The gathering of news worthy of discussion. My method of "blog prep" is to scan the DrudgeReport and WorldNetDaily to find something that I might have an opinion on. Today, this preparation takes me back to one of my least favorite governmental agencies, the Transportation Security Administration.

Here's my source...

Cigarette Lighters to be Banned Past Airport Checkpoints

In the intervening years since 9/11, the TSA has finally decided that butane cigarette lighters and perhaps book matches present a clear and present danger to the American flying public. Even though Richard Reid's hare-brained scheme to take down an aircraft over the Atlantic by trying to "light" his shoe bomb happened over three years ago...now the TSA thinks it's high time to take the "fire" away from the American flying public.

First, I think that this is somewhat akin to trying to close the barn door after the horse is long gone. When terrorists or criminals stage a high visibility crime or act...they can usually only get away with it once. It's like the trick play you'll see on the NCAA football fields or in that rare case, during an NFL game. Trick plays need to be executed amazingly well... because you can usually only get away with them ONCE! I think that the odds of anyone trying to physically "light" anything on board an aircraft is extremely low. Fellow passengers have shown themselves to be incredibly helpful when it comes to instilling a little bit of order when there have been problems aboard civilian flights.

Secondly, if you're going to take away lighters and matches...what else are we going to start taking away? Actually, I'd probably be satisfied with the concept of doing away with carry-on luggage of all kinds. The only exceptions would include a small purse for ladies, perhaps a briefcase for men, and one small bag for babies/children flying (toys/books/diapers/etc). All the roll-on carryon bags would be stored below...with the LUGGAGE! Even with the changes since 9/11, passengers are allowed to check two bags. Far too many people, for their own convenience on the destination end of their trip, do not check bags...and try to carry everything they're taking with them in the cabin. To me...that gives people far too much access to things that they probably ought not have access to during a flight.

To me, every electronic device carried onto an aircraft has the potential to become a dangerous device. Whether it's used to interfere with navigational aids, electronic systems, or is actually a bomb disguised as something else...it's a threat. How do you solve this? No electronics on board the aircraft that are not provided by the airline. I think that the airlines have noodled this one through...having recently flown to the East Coast with MajorMom we watched movies, played games and even tracked the progress of our flight to Newark, NJ on a monitor placed in the headrest of the seat in front of us. Very cool system...and it did help entertain us and burn the three hours it took to fly from Houston. I suppose we could always go back to the days of yesteryear and do something archaic, like read a book.

So, just how should we protect people flying American carriers:

1. Conduct ethnic and racial profiling beginning at the moment a reservation is made. This needs to continue during the check-in process. We have database upon database collecting information on us every day. We need to tap into those databases to check on the identities of everyone getting on an aircraft here in the United States. This would also help round up people that are in this country illegally...or at least keep them off the high risk modes of transportation like civilian airliners.

There are also some crude "voice stress" analyzation tools out there. Have them up and running when the moronic questions (for 99.999% of the flying public) are asked. If you feel better, do the same for everyone...but I still think that in the interest of national security, law abiding Muslims should not fear a system like this, but embrace it as a means of keeping their families as safe as mine. As long as the racial and ethnic profiling does not lead on to improper incarceration or harrassment, what's the problem?

Sir, did you pack your own bag?

Sir, have you left you bag unattended for any period of time?

Sir, are you planning to blow up this flight?

If someone is trying to sneak aboard an aircraft with the intention of bringing it down, I'll bet we get a 'hit' on question number 3. I think that I've referenced El Al in previous posts...from what I understand, they have a VERY effective program ongoing. All airline personnel are trained to observe and pick up on "stressed" passengers through their voice and body language. Let's look at their track record over the hears. I think we can learn a great deal from them.

2. Cause the airlines to "throttle back" on carry-on baggage. There's no need for people to carry anything larger than a laptop-sized case on board the aircraft. I don't want to hear excuses about gifts, paintings, etc. UPS, FEDEX, DHL and even the US Postal Service can get anything you buy shipped to any point on the globe for a reasonable price. Your inability to plan ahead does nothing for me...the gift will have to be late, as it's not coming on board this aircraft.

Yes, the howls of discontent will go up for sure...but if you don't want to trust people, then you have to attack it universally. For the most part, all I'm calling for is for the airlines to enforce the rules and guidelines they already have in place.

3. Increase the protection of our borders both here in the US and abroad. I'm not sure what might be in place in airports that service American destinations...but I think that it would be a good idea for us to have security in those foreign cities as well. Why even allow someone to board a plane entering the United States without knowing who they are?

We also need to get a handle on our southern, northern and coastal borders as well. With a country as large as ours is geographically, we have almost infinite number of entry points. We need to figure out how to keep the borders closed to illegal immigration or terrorist infiltration.

Well, once again, I've taken a longer route than I wanted to...but hopefully I've gotten you to think about knee jerk reactions and solutions to problems. In order to really make the country safer against attacks on our transportation infrastructure or using that infrastructure as potential weapons, we need to look past silly rules banning groups of items from transport on aircraft. We need to figure out how to keep BAD PEOPLE from getting on these modes of transportation in the first place.

See you all on the high ground...or perhaps somewhere between here and El Paso. Yes...headed out of town again, but as always, I'll try to keep in touch. Maybe I'll do a little audioblogging again from the road.

MajorDad1984

Read the rest of the longer story!

7 Comments:

At 2:49 PM, Blogger mostly cajun said...

Back in October I had to make a business-related trip. Due tomultiple screw-ups on the part of the airlines, I had to go in and out of security areas several times.

I thought the process laughable if it hadn't been MY tax dollars paying a multitude of "security" people and MY time standing in long lines shile they made some 80-year old grandmother take off her shoes looking for a shoe bomb.

I saw one guy have to give up his executive Swiss Army knife he'd forgotten in his pocket. 40-ish, blonde, in a $500 suit, obviously HE fit the terrorist profile.

Our airport shuttle was subjected to a vehicle search. I think if I'd loaded on a big black round bomb with a fuse sticking out of the top, they'd have caught it, or maybe five sticks of dynamite with an alrm clock taped to the front. Somehow, the people who did the search did not strike me as particularly adept...

But everybody was very politically correct and totally devoid of humor...

 
At 9:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recently traveled to Belize on a solo hiking treck. When I arrived in country I found a letter from the TSA informing me that my supply of lighters (handy if your camping alone in a foreign country) exceeded the allowed limit (I had a 4-pack)and that the extra lighters had been confiscated. The real punchline is that when I set up camp the first night, I found two additional lighters I had forgotten were in a little used side pocket of my backpack. - Free2Smooze
freemansburden.blogspot.com

 
At 1:13 AM, Blogger Joe said...

I'm reminded of a trip to Japan, before 9/11 - even before all the paranoia about airborne terrorists, the metal detectors were on the highest setting, the personnel watching the x-ray machine were in cubicles utterly focused on their screens and not chatting about what a bastard Scott Peterson is, and all electronic devices were checked for residue of explosives.

Racial and ethnical profiling? I don't think I can even comprehend that...beyond the precedent it sets for prejudice, there are terrorists whose skins aren't brown. Oh and it's quite true the only terrorists to hijack planes are of Middle Eastern descent; but of course, the Turks were the only ones to have committed genocide, until of course the Nazis, the Soviets, the Rwandans, the Sudanese, etc did as well. And there is great harm in racial and ethnic profiling even if it doesn't lead to improper imprisonment simply because, on one facet, the white, anglo-saxon, Protestant children of America will grow up seeing all those with brown and yellow and black skin being eyed with suspicion by the authorities, and it will be beyond them to comprehend the harmlessness of it. So maybe the more mature will know that it's perfectly harmless, but the damages will reach farther than is immediately evident.

 
At 8:38 AM, Blogger MajorDad said...

I'm reminded of a trip to Japan, before 9/11 - even before all the paranoia about airborne terrorists, the metal detectors were on the highest setting, the personnel watching the x-ray machine were in cubicles utterly focused on their screens and not chatting about what a bastard Scott Peterson is, and all electronic devices were checked for residue of explosives.

Joe...and just how did you know this? And how often do you fly these days? Life has changed a great deal just flying for Fortress Hood to El Paso. A great deal of inconvenience for 99.9% of the flying public.Racial and ethnical profiling? I don't think I can even comprehend that...beyond the precedent it sets for prejudice, there are terrorists whose skins aren't brown.

If you were a farmer...and had chickens out back in your chicken coop...and night after night 'something' was killing your chickens....would you try to kill the local pack of dogs you see around your farm sometimes...or would you set traps for squirrels? My God! The horrors of profiling!Oh and it's quite true the only terrorists to hijack planes are of Middle Eastern descent; but of course, the Turks were the only ones to have committed genocide, until of course the Nazis, the Soviets, the Rwandans, the Sudanese, etc did as well.

Where did we make the wild turn towards genocide? All I want to do is to create a funnel like system that starts with everyone...and might add a little more inconvenience to people that look like Apu on the Simpsons and have a last name of Al Moussad. Rather than inconvenience EVERYONE equally...I want to play the odds on this one.And there is great harm in racial and ethnic profiling even if it doesn't lead to improper imprisonment simply because, on one facet, the white, anglo-saxon, Protestant children of America will grow up seeing all those with brown and yellow and black skin being eyed with suspicion by the authorities, and it will be beyond them to comprehend the harmlessness of it.

You are challenging my critical thinking skills...but using all the wrong words. You say that there is great harm in racial and ethnic profiling. Your proof? You cannot erase the memories of 9/11 from the children that lived through it...lost parents, family and friends in the attacks. You certainly SHOULD NOT erase it from the history books.

You talk about the colors of skins...funny that we seem to have to hide behind that...in this world of diversity. Don't we try and draw attention to the differences between the races when teaching diversity? I think we'd do soooo much better if we would just raise kids to ignore the issue of color altogether...however, in a situation where your chickens have been killed, you have to start somewhere.
So maybe the more mature will know that it's perfectly harmless, but the damages will reach farther than is immediately evident.

I believe that the rest of us are being asked to put our civil liberties behind the needs of the country. I would think that everyone will have to sacrifice a little bit.

Since nobody wants to listen to what I have to say about locking down the borders, ports, and other avenues to the American Easy Street...I'm just going to have to be a little bit abrasive.
MajorDad1984

 
At 10:39 AM, Blogger Jim said...

MajorDad,
As the new year begins, I will try to focus on our common ground. You are right that some people have no business being searched as a rule. My 90yr old grandmother can't even take off her shoes without our help, a full search would be too humiliating for her- so she doesn't travel.

Now, if the homeland people only focus on people of color, that's bogus too. There are plenty of white nuts. A little common sense is in order- male, youngish, from places known to have problems with us...if these folks get a little more attention it won't hurt them.

 
At 3:45 PM, Blogger Joe said...

I've a few things to say, but as for closing down avenues of entry? Yes, I agree that we could at least enforce our immigration laws. Those alone would have kept quite a few of the 9/11 hijackers out of the country, if I'm not mistaken.

Flying - I often fly to out-of-town regattas for rowing (I believe I did so four times last year). I happen to bring a waterproof amplifier and timer that is used in racing boats so the coxswain's voice can be heard. I have taken this steel-encased object, full of wiring, with an electronic timing device built into it, through American international airports multiple times without a request for an explosives test or even a second glance from any security personnel. I even carried in my hand so that I wouldn't be bothered with unpacking it because I expected security personnel to demand that I surrender it. As for Texan air security, I must beg ignorance. But at a major international airport, my sneakers were very well x-rayed, so I have no doubt that Texan airports are equally thorough with footwear. Spurs can be dangerous (I couldn't resist).

Chickens - You can set traps for wolves, but that doesn't mean Lassie won't get caught by accident.

Genocide - What I said about genocide was an example of jumping to conclusions based on race. The Turks were the first to commit genocide, just as the first terrorists, as we have come to define them, have all been Muslim. But the Turks were simply the first, not the only; therefore we can't limit our guard against terrorism to simply Muslim individuals, just like Jim said.

9/11 - I think one of the great tragedies of that event, besides the thousands needlessly killed, is the powderkeg of racism that it touched off. There's a sizeable Iraqi-American community near where I live, and it's a little disconcerting when mothers tell their kids not to trick-or-treat there. There's no reason to erase it from the history books; it stands as a monument to the great hatred of man by other men, just as auscwitz and bergen-belsen and buchenwald and all the others stand.

Civil liberties - They say terrorists hate everything America stands for. I believe America stands for the freedom of the people to walk the streets without fear, to board their planes without being suspected for terrorism just because their given name is Mohammed, to not have their phone calls recorded without a court order, all freedoms that are the prizes of the war on terror. If we give them up, the terrorists have won; if we uphold them in the face of ignorance and hatred, we will win. This isn't a war about lives; if lives were to be wasted, there are plenty of belligerent nations to hold massacres in with guided bombs. It is about defending the liberties that past patriots have died for, and not to surrender them to anyone for any reason, whether he is a terrorist or a president.

 
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