Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Debra J. Saunders is dumber than a stump.

She writes:
Yes, I've been through body scans. Yes, I've been patted down, not just at airports, but also covering political events. Yes, I've had to contend with the rare overbearing TSA worker who let the power go to his head. Are these searches intrusive? Sure, but they beat crossing the country in a covered wagon.
Don't give me that "covered wagon" crap, you naïf; the Concorde supersonic jetliner was retired in 2003, partly due to the slump in air travel cause by the brand-new-and-already-a-pain-in-the-ass TSA.

You obviously wouldn't know a "false dichotomy" if a security guard probulated you with one.

31 comments:

Divemedic said...

Can I play this game?

Is sitting in the back of the bus inconvenient? Sure, I have had to give up my seat to a few white men, but it beats having to walk.- Rosa Parks

or how about:

Sure, the new law requiring that we submit newspaper articles to the department of authorized journalism for review before we print them is inconvenient, but it sure beats having to send smoke signals.

Stuart the Viking said...

or

Sure we have to submit our DNA to the citizen beautification project before we copulate, but it sure beats having butt ugly children.

s

Joe in PNG said...

My turn:
"I'm not too fond of being forced to leave Phnom Penh for the countryside, but at least we're not unemployed."
-or-
"The new Government run clinic told me to come back in 6 months to have this lump checked out, but hey, I'm not going to have to pay for the appointment!"

Anonymous said...

OK, I can play, too: "This is called 308 Winchester...."

Which may, or may not, be coming soon to a location near you.

docjim505 said...

[Pat-downs and body scanners] beat crossing the country in a covered wagon.

I suggest that, while this is an exageration, it is not a false dichotomy. Terrorists from some unspecified religion HAVE attacked or attempted to attack our aircraft with weapons they have smuggled aboard, no? If such an attack succeeds, it will very likely cost the lives of everybody on board and perhaps many more people on the ground, correct? A few such successful attacks would effectively end air travel, and we can assume that the terrorists would then attack any other mass transit system (such as the Chattanooga Choo-Choo) that we might turn to, right?

So, it really IS a question of doing what we can to secure the airlines or else travel cross-country by some more time-consuming, individual means.

Please do not misunderstand: I am outraged over the idea of being scanned or patted down like some sort of common criminal just because I want to fly to visit my grandmother in Florida or my friends in Seattle. The unfortunate fact seems to be that we have to sacrifice SOME liberties / dignities in order to enjoy the convenience of flying. We are starting to have a contentious but (I think) healthy national debate about just what we are willing to trade, just how far we are willing to go.

Consider the following. Which (if any) "security" measures do you find achieve an acceptable balance between preserving liberties and preserving lives:

--- No security at all; air travel is inherently risky, and the odds of a terrorist bringing down a plane is so small that I'm not going to worry about it. Anyway, I refuse to let the terrorists win by changing how we live our lives.

--- Pre-9/11 security such as magnetometers to stop people bringing aboard obvious weapons such as guns, large knives, etc.

--- El Al-type security consisting of such things as security "interviews" of all passengers, with scans / searches of people who match a profile and / or give security cause to suspect them. Keep in mind that the same idiots who are presently touching peoples' junk would be allowed to ask them questions about where they are going, why, who they are planning to see, etc. It seems likely to me that an intelligent profile would result in people of certain racial / ethnic / religious backgrounds being subject to routine extra scrutiny.

--- Current TSA security regime: scans and patdowns for everybody!

--- Concentration camp: aggressive questioning of all passengers followed by full body searches, heavy restrictions on what may be taken on the plane (carry-on or checked baggage), heavy restrictions on behavior during the flight, etc. Oh, and armed guards on all planes.

What shall we do?

GunRights4US said...

Thoroughly secure the cockpit, and arm the freakin passengers! Problem solved.

Paul said...

Look at her picture. Probably the only honest transaction she has with another. Course TSA is looking for one thing and Debra is looking for something else.

We we did away with grades the whole world started to head into the shitter.

Firehand said...

docjim, one of the problems in this is that TSA & DHS have now decided that flying isn't a convenience or just a method of travel: it's a 'privilege' for which you give up your rights. AND they want to move on to trains and boats and probably subways, too. I wonder if Saunders likes the idea of having to walk through a scanner and 'nothing we think might be dangerous' every time she wants to use ANY public transport?

By the way, Tam, have you seen this? http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/30286
Napolitano seems to be wanting a list of us 'domestic extremists' who dare object to her little minions actions.

Anonymous said...

Sure, I have to get my travel paperwork from the comrade at the Politburo Office whenever I want to drive to visit an unauthorized travel spot, but it sure beats having to walk there!

Ulises from CA

Old NFO said...

I opted out today and got a refund on my $1100 ticket from United, and I told them exactly why... Now I need to go buy more ammo.

Since I'm already on DHS list as a domestic terrorist since I'm retired military, I guess they'll have to add another check mark in my column with this 'new' requirement...

Anonymous said...

Blogger docjim505 Said What shall we do?
How about the pork chop line? Hand out a chunk of pork chop on a toothpick. Anybody who eats it goes in the quick line. Anybody who doesn't gets the free prostrate check. Might be a little hard on some folks but perhaps they can ask George Soros to fund a domestic version of Et Al.

Tam said...

Anon 8:27,

"How about the pork chop line?"

Yeah, 'cause the imams would never think to hand out a pork dispensation for potential splodeydopes.

DirtCrashr said...

Sure it's freezing outside but Global Warming is really dangerous and we can listen to NPR for free!!

Just My 2¢ said...

Actually, there isn't anything wrong with crossing the country in a covered wagon. This territory is full of folks whose ancestors made the journey. You know what's good about the Oregon Trail?

It weeded out the quitters and the whiners. Wyoming folks know "Cowboy Up".

Tam said...

Just My 2¢,

"...there isn't anything wrong with crossing the country in a covered wagon."

There damn sure isn't... provided that that's what I want to do.

If somebody else wants to make me do it, they can just cowboy up and suck it.

Paul said...

Cowboy up? Check

Wagons West? Check

Just there is no more west. Wagon up I want, just where is the frontier you can breath free again?

Mister_V said...

I am driving home for Christmas this year, because if I were to go the airport, I would probably get myself arrested. I refuse to be forced to choose between my 4th amendment rights against unreasonable searches and my 5th amendment right not to surrender my property (the flight purchased by my ticket) without due process of law. Hey Barack, you want to create jobs? How about creating a few for some of those recently discharged veterans as flight security? See if anyone wants to whip out a box cutter against a vet with an air taser, a can of pepper spray, and a tactical baton.

Frank W. James said...

Docjim505: I have a question WHAT (RIGHTS OR DIGNITY?) WILL YOU BE WILLING TO GIVE UP to fly commercial aircraft after the bad guys start packing explosives and detonators in their body cavities and then use this stuff once they get throught the current TSA procedures and onboard aircraft?

Just asking?...

All The Best,
Frank W. James

Marja said...

So what happened between the late 80's, early 90's and now? Planes were occasionally blown up during the earlier decades too, but things just proceeded pretty much as before anyway. Now every time some nutjob tries something and the security gets tighter. Except it's always just something that would maybe have caught the last guy, leaving plenty of opportunities for anybody with a bit of imagination (as has been pointed out plenty of times: cargo holds are not that well protected, neither are those lines of people waiting to be screened...).

Wouldn't it be nice if it was possible to have 'tight security' flights for those who want them, and just walk into the plane -flights for those who want that?

I suppose the government guys are reacting more in order to be seen doing something, they are scared that if something happens again and they hadn't done anything they might get voted out. So, as usual, it's pretty much up to the public as a whole: protest enough and they might tone down the so called security, but it would probably be at least as important to scream about the right things the next time something happens. If it's more 'they should keep us safe' you'll only get more 'security', lot of something like 'catch them' might work a bit better... Well, I won't be holding my breath. Our side of the Atlantic is probably hopeless by now, and it seems way too many Americans have turned to sheep too.

At least try to hang to your gun rights over there, guys.

Tam said...

I've often said that if you want to imagine America in twenty or thirty years, picture Sweden with NASCAR and better gun laws...

Anonymous said...

> You know what's good about the Oregon Trail?
> It weeded out the quitters and the whiners.
> Wyoming folks know "Cowboy Up".

Bah!

Wyoming folks are the ones who couldn't make it all the way to Oregon.

DaveFla said...

Bah!

Wyoming folks are the ones who couldn't make it all the way to Oregon.


Who would *want* to go to Oregon, with Idaho, MT, WY et al so near?

Tam said...

DaveFla,

"Who would *want* to go to Oregon"

Californians, mostly. ;)

docjim505 said...

Firehand - [O]ne of the problems in this is that TSA & DHS have now decided that flying isn't a convenience or just a method of travel: it's a 'privilege' for which you give up your rights. AND they want to move on to trains and boats and probably subways, too.

I think that what they've actually decided is that terrorism is enough of a threat to justify a lot of bush-league Gestapo wannabes to do whatever they please in the name of "security". Funny that that many of the same people who are doing this were telling us a couple of years ago that terrorism wasn't a big deal. Bah.

In fairness, though, many of the same people who were warning against terrorism then are b*tching about civil rights now...

I take some solace in the fact that we've been through this sort of thing before. Back in the day, our ancestors had an attack of the vapors over a standing army. Then, some tussles with the Indians, the French, and round II with the redcoats convinced them that a modest standing army was something we could live with. Then there was the controversy (on both sides) over conscription during the Late Unpleasantness and World War I. Once again, we found a way to deal with the tension between rights and national security. We'll figure out something in this case; Americans aren't geniuses, but we eventually get it right (Marja speaks to this point).

Frank W James - WHAT (RIGHTS OR DIGNITY?) WILL YOU BE WILLING TO GIVE UP to fly commercial aircraft after the bad guys start packing explosives and detonators in their body cavities and then use this stuff once they get throught the current TSA procedures and onboard aircraft?

If the .gov runs true to form, they'll restrict air travel to people who really NEED to go (i.e. politicians, bureaucrats, and people who are connected), then bail out / subsidize one or two major airlines to provide that service. The rest of us... well, you don't NEED to fly anywhere, do you?

But your question speaks to how we really ought to meet the threat. It's been pointed out in other places that we're a year behind the curve and that we're spending too much time concentrating on keeping THINGS rather than PEOPLE off the planes. How can we keep bad guys off the planes (and out of our country, for that matter) without creating a security regime that would make Kim Jong-poofy hair sit up and take notes?

markm said...

Docjim, in the first place the "junk" scanners will NOT catch the explosive underwear that was the alleged reason for them. Nor will they catch terrorists with explosives stuffed up their rear, and I just don't see the bulk of the American public submitting to amateur proctology to get on their flight...

The new scanners might make it a little less likely for someone to get through with a heavy pistol under their shirt - but only if the idiot watching the screen bothers to look once he/she has determined it isn't a well-built person of the appropriate sex. But if the terrorist isn't a complete idiot, the gun, knife, bomb, or whatever will be in his carry-on - in every test of security's ability to spot such things, far more than 50% got through. I'll bet that even nowadays, for every 20 passengers there's a pocketknife lost or forgotten down the bottom of the carry-on, and most of them have longer, deadlier blades than the boxcutters of the 9/11 hijackers.

Second, TSA has *never* caught an actual terrorist trying to bring through a weapon. They like to list the "bad items" they've detected - but the people carrying those items always seem to be just forgetful, or at worst engaged in some shady business totally unrelated to terrorism or hijacking. No one gets sentenced to a long prison term. Since 9/11/2001, every terrorist plan that got as far as the airport has been thwarted by passengers, not official security.

9/11 didn't happen because lax security let box cutters on the airplanes - it happened because our government spent the last 30 years persuading passengers not to resist hijackers, no matter how ridiculous their "weapon". A planeful of old ladies throwing airline pillows could have thwarted those hijackings.

Third, if the terrorists want to kill hundreds of people at a time, TSA's lines are presenting a perfect opportunity. One Israeli rule is to never let a line build up at a checkpoint; every line is a place for a suicide bomber to strike. But with the way airport security has always been run, it doesn't even take a suicide. Trigger a 3-minute timer, drop your bag in a corner and stroll away. Even if someone spots it, there's no time to do anything about it. At worst, the bomber might get detained long enough for someone to find them in the security videos, and wind up doing 20 years to life. (In Israeli airports, there's allegedly always a nearby armored box to toss suspicious items in before you call the bomb squad, and because they don't let crowds build up, the derelict bag should be spotted immediately.)

markm said...

Docjim, in the first place the "junk" scanners will NOT catch the explosive underwear that was the alleged reason for them. Nor will they catch terrorists with explosives stuffed up their rear, and I just don't see the bulk of the American public submitting to amateur proctology to get on their flight...

The new scanners might make it a little less likely for someone to get through with a heavy pistol under their shirt - but only if the idiot watching the screen bothers to look once he/she has determined it isn't a well-built person of the appropriate sex. But if the terrorist isn't a complete idiot, the gun, knife, bomb, or whatever will be in his carry-on - in every test of security's ability to spot such things, far more than 50% got through. I'll bet that even nowadays, for every 20 passengers there's a pocketknife lost or forgotten down the bottom of the carry-on, and most of them have longer, deadlier blades than the boxcutters of the 9/11 hijackers.

Second, TSA has *never* caught an actual terrorist trying to bring through a weapon. They like to list the "bad items" they've detected - but the people carrying those items always seem to be just forgetful, or at worst engaged in some shady business totally unrelated to terrorism or hijacking. No one gets sentenced to a long prison term. Since 9/11/2001, every terrorist plan that got as far as the airport has been thwarted by passengers, not official security.

9/11 didn't happen because lax security let box cutters on the airplanes - it happened because our government spent the last 30 years persuading passengers not to resist hijackers, no matter how ridiculous their "weapon". A planeful of old ladies throwing airline pillows could have thwarted those hijackings.

markm said...

undamentally, any strategy of banning bad items will fail eventually, and TSA has no second line of defense. The only thing that has saved us so far is that passengers acting against government regulations have stopped several attempts. A much better strategy uses multiple lines of defense:

1. Identify and catch the terrorists before they even get to the airport or other target. The FBI and CIA do some work along this line, but it could be a whole lot more effective - specific warnings about the underwear bomber weren't passed along.

2. A defense in depth at the airport, with emphasis on identifying people acting oddly (as well as suspicious histories, or a suspicious lack of history) rather than searching everyone. That is, people entering the terminal must pass through several checkpoints in series, answering a few questions at each one. None of the checkpoints should take long enough for a line to form.

Most important, and most difficult, the security people must be intelligent and thoroughly trained to spot odd behavior. Israeli security "profiles" but not by looking at race - many Jews look just like Arabs - or forgeable ID's and paperwork, but by looking for unusual behavior and things that don't fit together. Our problem is that you don't get such people by advertising at the unemployment agency. In Israel, it's easy to recruit good security agents; they understand that there's no job more important. Here, we tend to view security agents as somewhere below janitors, and most applicants are of corresponding quality. That's got to change, but the TSA's policies certainly aren't going to improve the public perception of their people.

3. The final line of defense is on the airplane itself. Air marshal's aren't enough; the crew and at least part of the passengers must be ready to resist. Instead, we get pilots reluctantly allowed to take a class to be licensed to carry a gun on the airplane - if they pay their own way to a location that must have been chosen for inaccessibility. And then the pilots aren't allowed to wear their guns off the airplane, and have to jump through hoops to store and secure their guns that seem designed to further discourage anyone from using this option.

Simply handing out a knife or club to each passenger that came through with no notable oddities in behavior or paperwork would have stopped the 9/11 hijackings cold. Beyond that: We trust pilots with a much bigger weapon, so the only requirement for wearing a sidearm should be a decent score from a shooting range. I'd allow anyone with a current CCW license to carry in the airport and on the airplane, provided only that a database check confirms their ID and license, and that they load with frangible bullets. I'd allow - and if practical require - all law enforcement officers who are in good standing to wear their sidearm when travelling. And any military member who is considered responsible by his commander should be issued a weapon whenever traveling on orders or on leave (with commanders who regard very few of their troops as sufficiently responsible hauled in to answer why they can't train them better).

markm said...

undamentally, any strategy of banning bad items will fail eventually, and TSA has no second line of defense. The only thing that has saved us so far is that passengers acting against government regulations have stopped several attempts. A much better strategy uses multiple lines of defense:

1. Identify and catch the terrorists before they even get to the airport or other target. The FBI and CIA do some work along this line, but it could be a whole lot more effective - specific warnings about the underwear bomber weren't passed along.

2. A defense in depth at the airport, with emphasis on identifying people acting oddly (as well as suspicious histories, or a suspicious lack of history) rather than searching everyone. That is, people entering the terminal must pass through several checkpoints in series, answering a few questions at each one. None of the checkpoints should take long enough for a line to form.

Most important, and most difficult, the security people must be intelligent and thoroughly trained to spot odd behavior. Israeli security "profiles" but not by looking at race - many Jews look just like Arabs - or forgeable ID's and paperwork, but by looking for unusual behavior and things that don't fit together. Our problem is that you don't get such people by advertising at the unemployment agency. In Israel, it's easy to recruit good security agents; they understand that there's no job more important. Here, we tend to view security agents as somewhere below janitors, and most applicants are of corresponding quality. That's got to change, but the TSA's policies certainly aren't going to improve the public perception of their people.

markm said...

3. The final line of defense is on the airplane itself. Air marshal's aren't enough; the crew and at least part of the passengers must be ready to resist. Instead, we get pilots reluctantly allowed to take a class to be licensed to carry a gun on the airplane - if they pay their own way to a location that must have been chosen for inaccessibility. And then the pilots aren't allowed to wear their guns off the airplane, and have to jump through hoops to store and secure their guns that seem designed to further discourage anyone from using this option.

Simply handing out a knife or club to each passenger that came through with no notable oddities in behavior or paperwork would have stopped the 9/11 hijackings cold. Beyond that: We trust pilots with a much bigger weapon, so the only requirement for wearing a sidearm should be a decent score from a shooting range. I'd allow anyone with a current CCW license to carry in the airport and on the airplane, provided only that a database check confirms their ID and license, and that they load with frangible bullets. I'd allow - and if practical require - all law enforcement officers who are in good standing to wear their sidearm when travelling. And any military member who is considered responsible by his commander should be issued a weapon whenever traveling on orders or on leave (with commanders who regard very few of their troops as sufficiently responsible hauled in to answer why they can't train them better).

docjim505 said...

markm,

We are substantially in accord. However, I suggest that there is danger in this:

Identify and catch the terrorists before they even get to the airport or other target.

How shall we do this? Wiretapping? Electronic surveillance? And by what law shall we stop suspected terrorists getting to the airport? We have "no fly" lists now... and it seems that nobody knows how names get on them. We balk at the government hiring a pack of bumbling fools (er, "future union members", I should say) to grope us and look at our electronically-denuded bodies. Shall we let the government sic hoardes of nameless, unaccountable investigators on us, perhaps to pack us off to durance vile because "they have reason to believe" that we plan some mischief on an plane or train? I read today that DHS is shutting down websites for "piracy" without warrant, much less court ruling.

We have a serious security problem. Unfortunately, we are learning that the remedy - a more powerful government - is often as bad as the disease.

Firehand said...

Doc, the weenie in charge of TSA has actually stated he thinks flying is a privilege; and he's treating it as such.

I'm sure the fact that the crap they're doing gives them even more control over peoples' lives is just coincidental...