Monday, November 29, 2010

Lame Duck Shenanigans

Now that you're trying to figure out how to drop that Thanksgiving weight gain, here's an idea for some truly worthwhile exercise: exercise your right to be represented in Congress by telling your Senators and Rep what you think on a couple key issues.

As expected, the liberal Left is making their last big push for sweeping legislation before they get thrown out of office.  President Obama has called for the passage of the DREAM Act, which is essentially going to grant amnesty to millions of illegal aliens.  They desperately need this because they clearly haven't persuaded the vast majority of the nation that their radical Leftist agenda is in the best interests of the country.  By losing the latest election in historic fashion, they know they simply don't have the support they need for their agenda, so they have to manufacture votes however they can.  One way is with magical car trunks on election day, but another is with granting amnesty to masses of illegal aliens in return for their votes.  If you followed my previous blog, you know there is a vast array of reasons for why amnesty is a terrible idea that never ends up benefiting law-abiding American citizens and legal immigrants.  I won't get on that soapbox again at the moment, but I'll probably review it at some point on this blog, too.  For now, let's just look at the economy and point out that there are millions of Americans who desperately need work, and granting amnesty to illegals who are taking jobs Americans would love to have while sucking federal resources (food stamps, free health care, welfare, etc.) is not doing our struggling economy any favors.

The second major vote that this lame duck Congress is looking at is the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell.  The general idea of this is that DADT allows gays to serve in the military as long as they aren't brazenly open about their lifestyle.  Liberal Democrats pretty much hate the U.S. military because it's a projection of American power (which they're ashamed of) and a force for freedom and protection in the world (which they despise), so they're constantly trying to tinker with it and foul it up from the inside out.  Clinton hacked the military budgets to the bone, causing a serious lack of innovation, updates, and personnel (not to mention pay increases) during the 1990s, but Bush brought things back up quite a bit during his tenure.  A few years ago I was told by a former military member that they take it as a fact of life that there will be no raises and precious little improvement in conditions and equipment if there is a Democrat in the White House.  That's just the way it is.  Obama is now trying to make the military a playground for social issues by introducing open homosexuality into the mix.  I can't speak from personal experience (if anyone out there can, feel free to comment or e-mail me), but there are many reasons this is a bad thing.  A look at history will show that once homosexuality is openly accepted and practiced in any military, that military declines rapidly.  While the possible explanations are a subject of vociferous debate, the end results are not.  Another reason is that of unit cohesion - the military is wholly dependent upon hierarchy and discipline, chains of command, and treating everyone the same.  When you introduce open sexual tension into the mix, as well as the politically charged nature of homosexuality itself, all of those things fly out the window.  Also, as we've seen so many times with liberal Left causes, the simple act of legally allowing something is instantly translated into that something being not only allowed but accepted and endorsed.  They're not the same thing, but the Left quickly makes it that way.  So, once this policy is repealed, it will not be long before anyone saying anything negative about homosexuality in the military will be raked over the coals for being a hate-monger.  Will a drill sargeant still be allowed to yell and scream at a gay man like he would at a straight man?  To the Left, no, because that would be hateful and discriminatory.  We've seen this evolution happen before, and there is no reason to think it wouldn't happen again here.  Finally, in what is likely the most telling reason not to repeal DADT, look at the military itself.  The vast majority of what I've read about the subject clearly shows that DADT is a good compromise that protects homosexuals and allows them to serve in the military while still maintaining the rigid structure and discipline that is critical to military success.  If they don't want it changed, Congress should not force it.

Of course, that's the single most defining characteristic of this particular Congress - governing against the will of the people.

So, you know you need to exercise.  Start by dialing the phone and telling your elected representatives NO and NO.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

What the History Books Never Told You: The True Story of Thanksgiving (with a little bit of commentary on the side)

The story of the Pilgrims begins in the early part of the seventeenth century ... The Church of England under King James I was persecuting anyone and everyone who did not recognize its absolute civil and spiritual authority. Those who challenged ecclesiastical authority and those who believed strongly in freedom of worship were hunted down, imprisoned, and sometimes executed for their beliefs. A group of separatists first fled to Holland and established a community.

"After eleven years, about forty of them agreed to make a perilous journey to the New World, where they would certainly face hardships, but could live and worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences. On August 1, 1620, the Mayflower set sail. It carried a total of 102 passengers, including forty Pilgrims led by William Bradford. On the journey, Bradford set up an agreement, a contract, that established just and equal laws for all members of the new community, irrespective of their religious beliefs. Where did the revolutionary ideas expressed in the Mayflower Compact come from? From the Bible. The Pilgrims were a people completely steeped in the lessons of the Old and New Testaments. They looked to the ancient Israelites for their example.

"And, because of the biblical precedents set forth in Scripture, they never doubted that their experiment would work. But this was no pleasure cruise, friends. The journey to the New World was a long and arduous one. And when the Pilgrims landed in New England in November, they found, according to Bradford's detailed journal, a cold, barren, desolate wilderness. There were no friends to greet them, he wrote. There were no houses to shelter them. There were no inns where they could refresh themselves. And the sacrifice they had made for freedom was just beginning. During the first winter, half the Pilgrims – including Bradford's own wife – died of either starvation, sickness or exposure. When spring finally came, Indians taught the settlers how to plant corn, fish for cod and skin beavers for coats.

"Life improved for the Pilgrims, but they did not yet prosper! This is important to understand because this is where modern American history lessons often end. Thanksgiving is actually explained in some textbooks as a holiday for which the Pilgrims gave thanks to the Indians for saving their lives, rather than as a devout expression of gratitude grounded in the tradition of both the Old and New Testaments. Here is the part that has been omitted: The original contract the Pilgrims had entered into with their merchant-sponsors in London called for everything they produced to go into a common store, and each member of the community was entitled to one common share. All of the land they cleared and the houses they built belonged to the community as well. They were going to distribute it equally. All of the land they cleared and the houses they built belonged to the community as well.

"Nobody owned anything. They just had a share in it. It was a commune, folks. It was the forerunner to the communes we saw in the '60s and '70s out in California – and it was complete with organic vegetables, by the way." There's no question they were organic vegetables. "Bradford, who had become the new governor of the colony, recognized that this form of collectivism was as costly and destructive to the Pilgrims as that first harsh winter, which had taken so many lives. He decided to take bold action. Bradford assigned a plot of land to each family to work and manage, thus turning loose the power of the marketplace. That's right. Long before Karl Marx was even born, the Pilgrims had discovered and experimented with what could only be described as socialism. And what happened? It didn't work!" They nearly starved!

"It never has worked! What Bradford and his community found was that the most creative and industrious people had no incentive to work any harder than anyone else, unless they could utilize the power of personal motivation! But while most of the rest of the world has been experimenting with socialism for well over a hundred years – trying to refine it, perfect it, and re-invent it – the Pilgrims decided early on to scrap it permanently. What Bradford wrote about this social experiment should be in every schoolchild's history lesson. If it were, we might prevent much needless suffering in the future," such as that we're enduring now. "'The experience that we had in this common course and condition...'" this is Bradford. "'The experience that we had in this common course and condition tried sundry years...that by taking away property, and bringing community into a common wealth, would make them happy and flourishing – as if they were wiser than God,' Bradford wrote.

"'For this community [so far as it was] was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For young men that were most able and fit for labor and service did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men's wives and children without any recompense,'" without being paid for it, "'that was thought injustice.' Why should you work for other people when you can't work for yourself?" That's what he was saying. " The Pilgrims found that people could not be expected to do their best work without incentive. So what did Bradford's community try next? They unharnessed the power of good old free enterprise by invoking the undergirding capitalistic principle of private property.

"Every family was assigned its own plot of land to work and permitted to market its own crops and products. And what was the result? 'This had very good success,' wrote Bradford, 'for it made all hands industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been.' ... Is it possible that supply-side economics could have existed before the 1980s? Yes. Read the story of Joseph and Pharaoh in Genesis 41. Following Joseph's suggestion (Gen 41:34), Pharaoh reduced the tax on Egyptians to 20% during the 'seven years of plenty' and the 'Earth brought forth in heaps.' (Gen. 41:47) In no time, the Pilgrims found they had more food than they could eat themselves.

"Now, this is where it gets really good, folks, if you're laboring under the misconception that I was, as I was taught in school. So they set up trading posts and exchanged goods with the Indians. The profits allowed them to pay off their debts to the merchants in London. And the success and prosperity of the Plymouth settlement attracted more Europeans and began what came to be known as the 'Great Puritan Migration.' But this story stops when the Indians taught the newly arrived suffering-in-socialism Pilgrims how to plant corn and fish for cod. That's where the original Thanksgiving story stops, and the story basically doesn't even begin there. The real story of Thanksgiving is William Bradford giving thanks to God for the guidance and the inspiration to set up a thriving colony. The bounty was shared with the Indians." They did sit down" and they did have free-range turkey and organic vegetables, "but it was not the Indians who saved the day. It was capitalism and Scripture which saved the day," as acknowledged by George Washington in his first Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1789.

May your Thanksgiving Day be filled with loved ones and joy, may you stop for at least a moment to be thankful for where we live, the blessings of our nation, our freedom, and to God for providing it all.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

That CGI You Saw In Star Wars or Avatar? It's Nothin'

Yes, I'm serious. No CGI you've ever seen in a movie -- no matter how 'big budget' it is -- compares to this. I defy you to identify which shots are real life and which are CGI in this video. It is, quite simply, phenomenal:

To find out which shots are real and which are CGI, select the text in the white space below...

There are no real shots in this's 100% CGI!!!

Follow the link to see a much longer video.

With capabilities like this, the imagination is truly the only limit left! That's so cool it's scary.

Tough S***, America!

I think it would be interesting to catalog all of the new meanings of "TSA", don't you?

Anyway, let's get to some substance.

There are more urgings to continue to opt out of the strip search scanners during this busy travel week. This would cause a much higher number of gropey sexual assaults, which take longer, thus intentionally causing massive delays in protest. The administration is advising against that, of course, but we don't see them going through any of this, so they're hardly the voice of reason here.

In fact, reason is one thing that is sorely lacking. The TSA maintains it's impossible to save or transfer images from the strip search scanners...despite the fact that thousands of such images have been captured.

More lawmakers are pushing for an investigation of these measures. They need to push harder. One even suggests prosecution should be in order for thuggish TSA behavior. Texas Governor Rick Perry suggested that these gropey TSA agents should ply their security skills on the southern border where some security is actually needed.

A career police officer with gratuitous experience with these new security measures offers a well-reasoned suggestion that the combination of incompetence and unconstitutionality will inevitably lead to rebellion, new terrorist attacks, or both.

Another analysis argues that these procedures will actually cause more deaths on the highway.

Fortunately, pilots have now been exempted from these asinine procedures. I guess the TSA finally admitted that there was no danger from fingernail clippers in a pilot's pocket compared to the actual controls of the plane being in the pilot's hands. Brilliant deduction, Holmes. Too bad they won't acknowledge that children, nuns, and frequent business travelers don't present more danger of terrorism than young Middle Eastern men.

Now, some more horror stories...
The sad part is that none of this actually does anything to secure anyone. In fact, get a load of this interview with a genuine security and terrorism expert. Among the golden nuggets are the facts that these scanners wouldn't have caught the underwear bomber last Christmas, and these groping sexual assaults wouldn't catch any serious terrorist attempt, either.

Don't believe him? Enter the Mythbusters (language warning):

Or, did you hear the one about the kid who found a loaded gun clip in the seat back pocket in Phoenix?


You know, it's really sad when this t-shirt design resonates so much that people are making fistfuls of money:

I would say this is reality, but the real scanners don't show the pantyline.

Once again, this policy is an abject abuse of government power. It is a clear violation of the 4th Amendment, and obvious security theater rather than substantive policy. It is precisely the opposite of effective, reasonable, and common sense security, it assumes the worst about law-abiding American citizens while willfully turning a blind eye toward those who present a genuine danger.

It will only change with an increase in the outrage from the American people directed toward Congress. Call your Senators, call your Rep, and demand they act immediately.

I will be very interested to see what happens this weekend with the huge volume of travel. Will a huge number of unaware Americans be shocked to see this behavior first hand for the first time? Will the delays be longer than usual because of the opt-out of the strip search scanners? Will the outrage be ratcheted up a notch, and if so will it translate into action?

While I certainly don't wish these experiences on anyone this weekend, I do sincerely hope that people's eyes will be opened, and that the backlash will be substantial.

We shall see.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Where Do You Get All That There Software?

I have very little software loaded on my computer that cost anything. Aside from Windows itself, Office is the only thing we've paid for, and that was only because we already had the license when I got this computer. I'd be perfectly fine with one of the open source alternatives to Office, just like I'm perfectly fine with open source alternatives to everything else. So where do I get all this wonderful stuff?

First, let's go back a step and answer the question: what is open source software?

There are two main schools of thought on software development. The traditional way is for a company to create their own application, do their own testing, strictly control it, and sell licenses for profit and to continue development. The poster child for this method is Microsoft, with their monolithic and secretive development, their patches, and their obsessive control over everything.

Open source, on the other hand, is just that - the source code for the application is released to the public, and any software developer who wants to take a look can do so. In fact, open source software depends upon it. Whereas Microsoft utilizes paid employees to create, exercise, and test their applications, open source depends upon a multitude of developers (most working for free) who ply their knowledge and expertise to shore up weaknesses in the code, patch security holes, and add beneficial features. Open source software is generally less prone to security problems because the source code is examined and corrected or improved by legitimate and helpful software developers before the hackers have a chance to take advantage of them.

Why does this system work? Partly because a lot of developers want to support the flexibility and fluidity of open source, something that companies like Microsoft just cannot match. Sometimes open source applications are ad supported, which means you can use the software as long as you can put up with the constant nags to buy other software. Most of the time, though, these open source programs will offer a basic version for free, with a paid version containing more advanced features available for a charge. The idea is that if people find value in the free version, they'll be willing to pay for the more advanced version. They're usually right, and the model works.

The biggest danger here is that you have to be able to trust the supplier of this free software. Downloading a free application from some random place on the Internet is a great way to introduce all kinds of virus, malware, or outright hackery onto your own computer.

So, where do you get this wonderful free software while still being safe? I know of several places.

When I need freebie software, one of my first stops is CNet. They have a gigantic library of software, and you can search on keywords or with categories (i.e. Windows, free or paid, audio/video, most downloads, etc.). Many applications there have been reviewed by CNet editors, and you can also look at the total number of downloads (general rule is that the more downloads, the safer it is), star ratings from users, and other information. It's a site dedicated to technology and current gizmos, so they're a terrific source of information. Best of all, they certify that all of their downloadable applications are free of viruses and malware.

My other best source is PC World. This, too, is a techie website with lots of reviews and excellent information, and you can search on keywords or categories. Anything you get from here is safe, and they really know what they're talking about.

Two other options that I've used a lot in the past are SourceForge and Brothersoft. They're not as easily navigated, nor are they as comprehensive in their reviews and recommendations, but I haven't had any problems with malware or viruses from either of them.

If you're looking for applications specifically to be used on flash drives, you have a couple other options. I've used both PortableApps and PenDriveApps before, and I've seen PortableFreeApps, though I haven't used that one yet, so be careful just in case.

Some of the applications I've used (some for years) or recommend include the following:
- anti-virus: AVG, Avira, Avast
- firewall: ZoneAlarm, OnlineArmor, Comodo
- spyware/malware: Spybot Search & Destroy, Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware
- browser: Firefox, Chrome
- utilities/tools: Defraggler, Revo Uninstaller, Comodo System Cleaner, CCleaner
- Microsoft Office alternatives:
- pictures: Irfanview
- audio/video: jetAudio, Winamp, VLC
- other useful freebies: KeePass (securely store your passwords), ImgBurn (burning CDs and DVDs), Format Factory (convert audio/video files to different formats), doPDF or PDF Creator (print to pdf format), FoxIt Reader (pdf reader), DropBox (online storage and sync'ing with your desktop)

I've obtained all of these at some point or other from one of the download websites I mentioned above, for free. The general rule of thumb that I've learned over the past few years is that, for any given application, there is probably a free version out there somewhere. If you know where to look
and if you're willing to do some experimenting, you can probably find it and save yourself some bucks. Have fun, and good luck!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thorough Sexual Assault Update

One last post for the week about this (unless I get a burr under my saddle over the weekend). I just wanted to post a few of the latest TSA horror stories that have bubbled up in the past day or two. Brace yourself...

Rough skirt check leaves passengers in tears

A young woman in Michigan was brought to tears after a rough skirt check by a TSA employee.
WZZM reported:

Before boarding a flight in Grand Rapids, a woman says the search at the security checkpoint was violent, unnecessary and extremely upsetting.

“When I got on the plane all I wanted to do was sob,” says traveler Ella Swift.

Swift was one of an increasing number of passengers Transportation Security Administration officers are thoroughly searching by hand. They call it an “enhanced pat-down.”

Swift says they told her she was singled out because she was wearing a skirt. She says the search earlier this month was very rough and left her in tears.

“The female officer ran her hand up the inside of my leg to my groin and she did it so hard and so rough she lifted me off my heels,” she says. “I think I yelped. I was in pain for about an hour afterwards. It just felt excessive and unnecessary.”

After reviewing the incident, a TSA spokesman says officers involved in the Grand Rapids search acted “appropriately and respectfully.”

Elderly woman with 2 artificial knees describes it as sexual assault
A Chicago woman with two artificial knees set off the metal detectors at Lambert St. Louis Airport this week. The TSA agents then took her aside and groped her. The woman said they touched her “private parts.” She told KMOV reporters, “I felt like I had been raped.”

The woman Penny Moroney described the assault:

I was shaking and crying when I left that room…. (She told agents) I would prefer to use the body scanner and I was told they were not available. (A patdown was the only alternative.) Her gloved hands touched my breasts went between them. Then she went into the top of my slacks; inserted her hand between my underwear and my skin and put her hand up on the outside of my slacks and patted my genital area… I likened it to being raped.

Flight attendant and cancer survivor forced to remove her prosthetic breast
A Charlotte-area flight attendant and cancer survivor contacted WBTV after she says she was forced to show her prosthetic breast during a pat-down.

Cathy Bossi lives in south Charlotte and has been a flight attendant for the past 32 years, working the past 28 for U.S. Airways.

In early August Bossie was walking through security when she says she was asked to go through the new full body-scanners at Concourse "D" at Charlotte Douglas International.

She reluctantly agreed. As a 3-year breast cancer survivor she says she didn't want the added radiation through her body. But, Bossi says she did agree.

"The T.S.A. Agent told me to put my I.D. on my back," she said. "When I got out of there she said because my I.D. was on my back, I had to go to a personal screening area."

She says two female Charlotte T.S.A. agents took her to a private room and began what she calls an aggressive pat down. She says they stopped when they got around to feeling her right breast… the one where she'd had surgery.

"She put her full hand on my breast and said, 'What is this?'. And I said, 'It's my prosthesis because I've had breast cancer.' And she said, 'Well, you'll need to show me that'."

Cathy was asked to show her prosthetic breast, removing it from her bra.

"I did not take the name of the person at the time because it was just so horrific of an experience, I couldn't believe someone had done that to me. I'm a flight attendant. I was just trying to get to work."

12-year old girl traveling without her parents forced through strip search scanner
Recently a 12 year-old girl traveling with friends of the family was separated from her group and forced to go through the naked scanner at the Tampa airport. The girl’s parents say that TSA, “In essence conducted a strip search on a 12-year-old girl without her parents present to advocate for her.” reported on the July incident:

A Baltimore family is raising the issue after their 12-year-old daughter was pulled out of line in Tampa and subjected to what they say was an embarrassing and unhealthy scan. The girl was traveling with an adult friend of the family, not her parents.

“Our daughter was scared and didn’t understand what was happening,” said Michelle Nemphos, the mother of the girl. She declined to give her daughter’s name. “In essence they conducted a strip search on a 12-year-old girl without her parents present to advocate for her.”

She was separated from her friend's parents and, once alone, forced to go through the scanner.

You know what this is? This is a bunch of petty thugs on a power trip with no limitations. With the full force and authority of the federal government behind them, these people can do any vile thing they want to innocent passengers.

I called KCI to ask a few questions myself as a concerned citizen. I ended up speaking to a woman who is supposedly the TSA representative at the airport named Sarah Montera. She wasn't quite snotty, but she was certainly unfriendly and unhelpful. She insisted forcefully that she was a peon and had no power whatsoever. She offered the standard lines that we're hearing in the news, that these procedures are necessary and conducted by professionals. No surprise there. After that I called the KCI Aviation Department, which is actually a division within the city government of KC, MO. Interestingly, when I mentioned Ms. Montera's name, the guy there said, "Whoa, you really got someone high up!" A peon, huh, Ms. Montera? Anyway, the KC, MO guy was very friendly and very helpful, and seemed very interested when I mentioned the ability of airports to opt-out of TSA security, asking me several questions about where I read that information. I'd like to think he may have actually gone to check it out after we talked.

Regardless, he said that even if a private security firm took over for the TSA, they'd still have to follow the same procedures dictated by the federal government. That may be so, but I'll bet you any amount of money that someone who can be fired and/or thrown in prison for inappropriate behavior at the airport checkpoint will be vastly more preferable to the TSA thugs with seemingly no fear of disciplinary action that seem to actually relish groping, strip searching, and
abusing passengers, young and old.

What say you?

Oh, and the Obama administration still thinks you, as an American citizen, should continue to be abused like this. I've had many disagreements with nutjob Rep. Ron Paul, but I've got to give him props for offering a bill to crack down on this insanity:
It’s very simple, it’s one paragraph long. It removes the immunity from anybody in the federal government that does anything that you or I can’t do. If you can’t grope another person and if you can’t x-ray people and endanger them with possible x-rays, you can’t take nude photographs of individuals, why do we allow the government to do it? We would go to jail. He’d be immediately arrested if an individual citizen went out and did these things, and yet we just sit there calmly and say, “Oh, they’re making us safe”.
Sounds good to me!

Since it annoys me when people complain without offering suggestions for solving the problem, I'll go ahead and reiterate what I think would be the best possible security we could have:

Forget the porn machines, Michael Totten suggests. Use some common sense instead. It works for the Israelis.

They are, out of dreadful necessity, the world’s foremost experts in counterterrorism. And they couldn’t care less about what your grandmother brings on a plane. Instead, officials at Ben Gurion International Airport interview everyone in line before they’re even allowed to check in.

And Israeli officials profile. They don’t profile racially, but they profile. Israeli Arabs breeze through rather quickly, but thanks to the dozens of dubious-looking stamps in my passport — almost half are from Lebanon and Iraq — I get pulled off to the side for more questioning every time. And I’m a white, nominally Christian American.

If they pull you aside, you had better tell them the truth. They’ll ask you so many wildly unpredictable questions so quickly, you couldn’t possibly invent a fake story and keep it all straight. Don’t even try. They’re highly trained and experienced, and they catch everyone who tries to pull something over on them.

Quite so: When I last flew El Al, they began with simple questions: Why are you flying to Israel? To give a lecture? Where? Who invited you? Really? Do you have a copy of the invitation? How do you know them? Really? And you don’t speak Hebrew? None? Why not? You didn’t learn any in school? Why not? It went on for quite some time. Somehow I ended up telling them where exactly I’d gone to kindergarten. That’s not one of those details that would be easy to manufacture on the spot.

The impression I had above all was that they were really paying attention to what I said. They weren’t rude. But I had no doubt they were thinking very closely about whether the details added up.

The root problem here is the political correctness that has infected this nation at the insistence of the liberal Left. That's the first battle we need to win - get back to common sense and decency rather than fear of calling an evil and dangerous spade an evil and dangerous spade. Stop assaulting nuns and children, and start paying VERY close attention to the one demographic that by far presents the most danger to the flying public: Muslims.

Ask Israel. It works.

It will be very interesting to see what happens when millions of Americans attempt to navigate this awful gauntlet over the next week or so. Somehow I'm guessing the anger will only it should. The key is to use that anger in a productive way - call your Senators, call your Rep, call your local airport. Demand action to stop the insanity. We the People can win this one, if we choose to.

The TSA Insanity Continues

Looking for the latest on the strip search/sexual assault lovers, the TSA? You've come to the right place, my friend.

As was mentioned earlier this week, airports have the legal authorization to opt-out of having the TSA provide security. At least one airport (in Orlando) has now taken that step, moving to kick out the TSA. They'll still have to follow the same procedures, but they nevertheless believe a private company will provide better customer service at a lower cost. I would guess more will follow, especially as the heat continues to increase.

The facts on this whole issue are, quite simply, that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is wrong. Wrong in policy (which actually comes from Obama), wrong in methodology, wrong in implementation, and wrong in her communication on the issue.

It should be interesting to see what happens with the Thanksgiving weekend opt-out day. I don't hope for a miserable experience for traveling families, but I certainly wouldn't mind a whole lot of pain for the TSA.

Interestingly, legislators in New York (of all places!) are moving to actually ban the strip search scanners. Excellent! I hope they follow through.

But aren't all these new policies just a necessary evil to provide security for airports? If they actually did provide any additional security, we might have something to talk about...but they don't. Just to illustrate exactly how irrelevant these security measures are in terms of actually providing genuine security, Muslim women won't be subjected to either the strip search scanners or the sexual assaults. Yes, that's right, the one group that really should get the most scrutiny is the one group they're completely ignoring. For purely political reasons, of course. Oh, and also, the Obama administration has essentially told terrorists where all of the scanners are so they can avoid them, anyway. But hey, it's not like male Muslim terrorists would ever hide under those hijabs, would they?

Another GOP lawmaker, Rep. Ted Poe (Texas), is making some noise about how these strip search scanner and sexual assaults are a clear violation of the 4th Amendment. In addition, he added this to one of my personal angsts:

"There is no evidence these new body scanners make us more secure. But there is evidence that former Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff made money hawking these full body scanners," Poe said.

He went on to explain that Chertoff, who served under President George W. Bush, had given interviews promoting the scanners while he was "getting paid" to sell them.

"[T]he populace is giving up more rights in the name of alleged security. These body scanners are a violation of the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures ... There must be a better way to have security at airports than taking pornographic photographs of our citizens, including children, and then giving apparent kickbacks to political hacks."

My sentiments exactly!

Don't believe me when I say this is all security theater purely for show? For an egregious example of just how idiotic these so-called security measures are, get a load of this:

A friend of mine sent me this about his TSA experience. He, unlike most of us, was coming back into the country from Afghanistan on a military charter.


As the Chalk Leader for my flight home from Afghanistan, I witnessed the following:

When we were on our way back from Afghanistan, we flew out of Baghram Air Field. We went through customs at BAF, full body scanners (no groping), had all of our bags searched, the whole nine yards.

Our first stop was Shannon, Ireland to refuel. After that, we had to stop at Indianapolis, Indiana to drop off about 100 folks from the Indiana National Guard. That’s where the stupid started.

First, everyone was forced to get off the plane–even though the plane wasn’t refueling again. All 330 people got off that plane, rather than let the 100 people from the ING get off. We were filed from the plane to a holding area. No vending machines, no means of escape. Only a male/female latrine.

It’s probably important to mention that we were ALL carrying weapons. Everyone was carrying an M4 Carbine (rifle) and some, like me, were also carrying an M9 pistol. Oh, and our gunners had M-240B machine guns. Of course, the weapons weren’t loaded. And we had been cleared of all ammo well before we even got to customs at Baghram, then AGAIN at customs.

The TSA personnel at the airport seriously considered making us unload all of the baggage from the SECURE cargo hold to have it reinspected. Keep in mind, this cargo had been unpacked, inspected piece by piece by U.S. Customs officials, resealed and had bomb-sniffing dogs give it a one-hour run through. After two hours of sitting in this holding area, the TSA decided not to reinspect our Cargo–just to inspect us again: Soldiers on the way home from war, who had already been inspected, reinspected and kept in a SECURE holding area for 2 hours. Ok, whatever. So we lined up to go through security AGAIN.

This is probably another good time to remind you all that all of us were carrying actual assault rifles, and some of us were also carrying pistols.

So we’re in line, going through one at a time. One of our Soldiers had his Gerber multi-tool. TSA confiscated it. Kind of ridiculous, but it gets better. A few minutes later, a guy empties his pockets and has a pair of nail clippers. Nail clippers. TSA informs the Soldier that they’re going to confiscate his nail clippers. The conversation went something like this:

TSA Guy: You can’t take those on the plane.

Soldier: What? I’ve had them since we left country.

TSA Guy: You’re not suppose to have them.

Soldier: Why?

TSA Guy: They can be used as a weapon.

Soldier: [touches butt stock of the rifle] But this actually is a weapon. And I’m allowed to take it on.

TSA Guy: Yeah but you can’t use it to take over the plane. You don’t have bullets.

Soldier: And I can take over the plane with nail clippers?

TSA Guy: [awkward silence]

Me: Dude, just give him your damn nail clippers so we can get the f**k out of here. I’ll buy you a new set.

Soldier: [hands nail clippers to TSA guy, makes it through security]

This might be a good time to remind everyone that approximately 233 people re-boarded that plane with assault rifles, pistols, and machine guns–but nothing that could have been used as a weapon.

Oh yes, this is all for the sake of security!

Ann Coulter, in her own special way, raises some very good points:
Only about a third of all Americans flew even once in the last year, and only 7 percent took more than four round trips. The majority of airline passengers are middle-aged, middle-class, white businessmen with about a million frequent flier miles. I'd wager that more than 90 percent of domestic air travelers were born in the U.S.

If the government did nothing more than have a five-minute conversation with the one passenger per flight born outside the U.S., you'd need 90 percent fewer Transportation Security Administration agents and airlines would be far safer than they are now.

Instead, Napolitano just keeps ordering more invasive searches of all passengers, without exception -- except members of Congress and government officials, who get VIP treatment, so they never know what she's doing to the rest of us.

Two weeks ago, Napolitano ordered TSA agents to start groping women's breasts and all passengers' genitalia -- children, nuns and rape victims, everyone except government officials and members of Congress...

"Please have your genitalia out and ready to be fondled when you approach the security checkpoint."

This is the punishment for refusing the nude body scan for passengers who don't want to appear nude on live video or are worried about the skin cancer risk of the machines -- risks acknowledged by the very Johns Hopkins study touted by the government.

It is becoming increasingly obvious that we need to keep the government as far away from airport security as possible...
She hints at what Selwyn Duke openly discusses in this lengthy but absolutely outstanding column:
With all the bad press the TSA has received recently, we can't be sure if the acronym stands for Transportation Security Administration, Touches Sensitive Areas or Truly Scandalous Attention. But, for sure, its pat downs and sci-fi radiation screeners give many of us another good reason to avoid the increasingly unfriendly skies. Yet while the TSA right now has supplanted the IRS as the bureaucracy we most love to hate, its policies are merely part of a longstanding cultural trend: The failure to recognize that the good of the many outweighs the good of the few.

It's the same reason why certain cities, most notably London, are now surveilling their residents with thousands of video cameras. If you're not willing to administer punishment sufficient to deter all the criminally inclined save a few intractable miscreants, some of whom you can catch, the only other solution is to have an all-seeing Big Brother that can catch all. It's much like treating a cancer: If you cannot target just the affected tissue, the only other solution is to treat the whole body.

Because the former is preferable not just in medicine but also law enforcement, behavioral-sciences specialists long ago developed the method called "profiling." Unfortunately, social-engineering specialists soon after discredited the universal application of profiling with a method called propaganda. Consequently, when we want to administer targeted treatment in the effort to thwart terrorism, we're told that it's "racial profiling" and beyond consideration. This is utter nonsense.

As I have said before, "racial profiling" is much like "assault weapon": It's an emotionally charged term designed to manipulate the public. In reality, there are only two types of profiling: good profiling and bad profiling. What's the difference? Good profiling is a method by which law enforcement can accurately determine the probability that an individual has committed a crime or has criminal intent; bad profiling makes that determination less accurate. Good profiling considers all relevant factors -- age, sex, dress, behavior and, yes, race, religion and ethnicity -- without regard for political or social concerns. Bad profiling subordinates common sense, criminological science and security to political correctness.

Good profiling is also fair. That is to say, it discriminates on the correct basis: If a group -- any group -- commits an inordinate amount of a given crime, it receives greater scrutiny. Period. Bad profiling is invidiously discriminatory. It says, "Hey, if you're male, you'll be viewed with a jaundiced eye. If you're young, then you, too, will be viewed more suspiciously. Don't like it? Take it up with those in your group who commit crimes!" There is no talk of stamping out "sex profiling" or "age profiling." But when we propose applying the same criteria to higher-crime-incidence groups sheltered by the thought police's umbrella of protection, we hear shouts of "racial profiling!" There then are news stories, Dept. of Injustice investigations and people lose their jobs.

Good profiling is also nothing unusual; it's just the application of common sense within the sphere of law enforcement and something we all do continually. If you cross the street upon seeing a bunch of rough-hewn young men walking your way, you've just engaged in profiling. You've also done so if you cut a wide swath around a leashed dog; after all, he may be a very nice pooch, but, since canines are known to sometimes bite, your action is prudent. And it doesn't mean you're hateful or bent on discriminating against rough young men and dogs but simply that you're in a situation in which the cost of obtaining more information would be too great. Consequently, as Professor Walter Williams wrote, "We can think of profiling in general as a practice where people use an observable or known physical attribute as a proxy or estimator of some other unobservable or unknown attribute." He then goes on to write:

Let's look at a few profiling examples to see which ones you'd like outlawed. ...Some racial and ethnic groups have higher incidence and mortality from various diseases than the national average. The rates of death from cardiovascular diseases are about 30 percent higher among black adults than among white adults. Cervical cancer rates are five times higher among Vietnamese women in the U.S. than among white women. Pima Indians of Arizona have the highest known diabetes rates in the world. Prostate cancer is nearly twice as common among black men as white men.

Knowing patient race or ethnicity, what might be considered as racial profiling, can assist medical providers in the delivery of more effective medical services.

Now, should doctors be prosecuted for taking these statistics into consideration when delivering medical care? If not, why would we prosecute law enforcement for considering racial and ethnic factors (along with sex, age and other characteristics) when tackling the moral disease known as criminality?

This brings us back to our current security concerns. The profile here is very specific, as it's a rare person who will sacrifice his life to destroy an airplane. Protestants aren't doing that. Catholics aren't doing it. Nor are Buddhists, Taoists, Zoroastrians or Hare Krishna. In our age, this is a method of people who 100 percent of the time are Muslim jihadists and 99 percent of the time are non-white. And only the idiotic -- or the suicidal -- ignores such correlation.

Now, we all know what kind of suicidal idiocy engenders such blindness: a politically correct brand that panders to the sensitivities of vocal, politically favored minority groups such as Muslims. But what about the sensitivities of millions of Americans who have to tolerate intrusive body scanning and pat-downs and watch their children subjected to same? And the kicker is that when Janet Incompetano (as Mark Steyn calls her) was asked if Muslim women sporting hijabs would have to go through the same full-body pat downs, she equivocated and said, "adjustments will be made where they need to be made" and "With respect to that particular issue, I think there will be more to come." Are you kidding me? Is this Total Recall meets One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest? Muslim women are the demographic second-most likely to commit Islamic terrorism. If they aren't subjected to scrutiny, what is the point (besides "security theater")?

Moreover, why should Muslim's imperative of modesty be respected but not others people's? Not only do devout Catholics place a premium on the quality as well, but millions of other individuals find it very offensive to be exposed in front of strangers and groped. Yet we're told that the very group criminological science dictates should receive more scrutiny may receive less due to political correctness. And if this actually happens, it will be yet another example of de facto Sharia law in deference to an alien culture and dhimmitude for us infidels.

Of course, I realize that Incompetano's equivocation doesn't necessarily mean a Muslim dispensation is in the offing (although I put nothing past leftists), as she might simply have been overcome by the typical liberal reluctance to express unfashionable truths. But is this an excuse? If she expects Americans to tolerate the indignity of intrusive security screening and basically tells them it's tough luck if they don't like it, she has a duty to be just as firm with the over-coddled Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and its minions. And to not be so was a slap in the face to you, me and anyone who has ever fought for our freedoms. How dare she.

To cement this point, I'll say that this is not first and foremost about whether a given security measure is or isn't prudent. It's also unrealistic to think that we can have satisfactory security without some inconvenience. The point is that whatever methods are settled upon -- screening devices, bomb-sniffing dogs, pat downs, etc. -- political correctness must not factor into the decision. But it does, and this robs the government of all credibility. And I, for one, do not take its efforts seriously.

The truth is that we don't just have security theater but, sadly, war-on-terrorism theater. We launch foreign military campaigns while leaving our back door to Mexico -- through which terrorists and WMDs can pass -- unsecured. We even announce the charade, by calling the conflict "the war on terror." As Ann Coulter once pointed out, using this euphemism is much like having called the WWII conflict with Imperial Japan "the war on sneak attacks." Terrorism is a method, not an enemy -- Islamists are the enemy. And if we're too effete to even name names, it's no surprise that we won't identify groups.

What I've expressed here is just common sense, but it will remain uncommon unless we experience a cultural transformation. Until the politically correct must keep their death-cult ideology to themselves for fear of scorn, social ostracism and career destruction - the very tactics they've used to silence others - nothing will change. We will continue to exhibit a lack of seriousness about what is a life-or-death issue, a failing that will lead to an inevitable outcome: a mushroom cloud over an American city. When that happens, it will have been enabled by those who gave us our cultural mushroom cloud, ushering in a cold winter of lies and preventing people from seeing the light. And come that time, I hope we remember to thank them appropriately.
I've said it before, and I'll say it till the cows come home: a little profiling will go a LONG way! The insanity continues, at least for now. Until the American people demonstrate such anger that the Obama administration is forced to back off. Pick up the phone and call your elected representatives; if you're feeling really productive, call the TSA office at your local airport and gripe at them, too. The more anger and frustration we can heap on them, the better.

And keep coming back...I'll keep on top of the developments.

Standing Up For Ol' Glory

Okay, I'll take at least a momentary break from the TSA nightmare to something that's much more least, at the end.

Cody Alicea, a 13-year old middle school kid in California, rode his bike to school flying the American flag. Being California, the school suddenly demanded that he take the flag off his bike because it caused 'racial tensions', and would no longer be allowed on school property.

Um...what?! How can a school in America ban the American flag for any reason, let alone for causing racial tensions? And on the week of Veteran's Day, no less?? California is nuts, and hopeless.

But, the American people came to his rescue, bringing an incredible amount of pressure to the school until the administration relented and allowed the flag back on his bike. To celebrate the victory, hundreds of vets and others met at a rally to support his courage, and they all escorted Cody to school...with very large American flags on their bikes, of course:

It saddens me greatly to see that permission for a school kid flying the American flag has to be a victory to be won. What is happening to this country?

Nevertheless, the response from good, patriotic Americans really helps restore my faith in the American people. Our elected leaders and school officials is another story, but as long as John and Jane Doe out there continue to act out American values, there's hope.

Bravo Cody, and bravo to the Californians who stood by him!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Yet More TSA Abuse Info

This is still gathering steam, so I'm going to stick with it. Also, this is something that will affect literally every man, woman, and child that steps on a plane in this country right now, and I suspect many of them will be just as angry about this as I am. Information is power, so this is information that everyone needs to understand and be aware of, especially if you have travel plans anytime soon.

So how bad are things getting? I suspect they've been bad for a while, but the public awareness is just now starting to get raised, and more people are speaking out about their mistreatment at the hands of the government.
It's one thing if it's just nameless citizens like you and me who have to suffer these assaults, but as more and more reporters, officials, and other folks who have a platform from which to speak have to go through them, the word is getting out. That's what's happening to increase the heat and the pressure, and that's what needs to continue happening to force a change in this policy. By the way, if you're flying soon, don't wear baggy clothes - that'll get your junk felt up without the benefit of having a layer of clothing between your groper and your afore-mentioned junk. No, I'm not kidding! That appears to be standard procedure now. Want some other horror stories? Have you heard the one about the TSA agents who literally exposed one woman's breasts in public during her sexual assault, and then laughed and teased her about it? True story.

At least one DA is threatening to prosecute overzealous TSA gropers. Funny, I think that these pat-downs sexual assaults are, by definition, overzealous groping. This guy is going to be busy, but kudos to him! In fact, the lawsuits are starting to add up. That lady who involuntarily flashed the entire airport? She's suing the crap out of the TSA. So is a businessman and frequent flier who's furious about the whole thing, and demanding only that they don't do the strip search or sexual assaults without reasonable cause. That doesn't sound so ridiculous, does it? Pilots are suing, as is John Tyner, the 'don't-touch-my-junk' guy from San Diego. I hope they all win; someone needs to restore some sanity here!

The head of the TSA, John Pistole, appeared before the Senate yesterday to testify, and it sounds like they were largely stupid about the whole thing. Clearly, they aren't the ones experiencing the strip searches or sexual assaults, although Pistole did offer to have them groped on the floor of the Senate. I assume most declined because that's the sort of thing that happens in their offices, not on the Senate floor. Anyway, most of the Senators expressed irritation that they're receiving hundreds of angry phone calls from constituents every day. You know what that means...dial even more! Let's make it thousands of angry phone calls every day! At least some on the House side are on the case, though:

We'll come back to one very important piece he mentioned in just a moment, but let's stick with the Senate for a moment. Missouri's very own Claire-bear McCaskill seemed thrilled at the new policy, lovingly referring to the sexual assaults as 'love pats'. I wonder why the interviewer didn't ask her how she felt about her kids getting them? I wonder if she'd have a different answer.

On top of the physical invasions, more evidence is coming out that the scanners produce more radiation than is safe, especially for frequent fliers. I'm way out of my league on the science of these things, but it seems clear to me that at the very least, there are legitimate questions that have unsatisfactory answers right now.

And what about the question of this policy's Constitutionality? In that perspective, what is the attitude of the TSA types? Eh, we really don't want to violate your rights, but we're going to do it anyway.

In addition, here are just a few other concerns that I've thought of in the past 24 hours or so:
  • If TSA agents are shoving their hands down passengers' pants and coming into direct contact with their 'junk', are they changing gloves after groping each person? Aside from the obvious nastiness, there is a legitimate concerns about transmitting diseases from one person to another.
  • Do they seriously expect us to believe it is not possible for these images to be saved? These machines are built with a test mode in which the images have to be saved...otherwise, how would the operators know if the machine has been installed properly? Also, we've seen repeatedly over the past couple years how these images somehow appear on the Internet, printed out in the hands of TSA agents (asking for autographs). And, if you think about it just a little bit, wouldn't it make sense to hang onto those images in the event that terrorists do manage to take over the plane? Wouldn't the government want to study them? Puh-lease don't give us that bull about images not being saved or retained.
  • What about cancer survivors or victims of rape or sexual assault? Can you imagine what it must be like to have to be subjected to this treatment if you have an experience like that in your past?
  • If my kids' school teachers touched my kids like this, I'd bust my butt to have them fired and thrown in jail. Then how is it somehow acceptable for a TSA worker to sexually assault my kids like this?
I'm sure we could keep going, but these are just a handful that came off the top of my head or in conversations about the subject today.

I have to wonder at what point the TSA workers themselves will refuse to do this stuff. I realize they're just trying to do their jobs, but when one's job involves sexually molesting a child, wouldn't that cross some kind of line for most normal people? I don't understand why we haven't seen any 'defections' from the ranks of the TSA yet. Have they been threatened with prosecution, too?

Throughout all of this, there are three things that really, really, REALLY burn me up about this. First is the most obvious fact: the one demographic group that needs the most strenuous security attention is the one group that has been given an exception to pass through without getting the strip search or the sexual assault. Yep, Muslims can beg out of both. Political correctness has to stop here, because the sheer bass-ackwardness of this situation is breathtaking.

Second is the fact that former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who initiated the policies that have been expanded into our current insanity, is now working for a company called's actually Rapiscan, but what's the difference...and guess what their big money maker is? ***drum roll***

Strip search scanners.

The government is spending hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to install 1,000 of them in the next couple years, and he's going to rake in the dough because of it. Personally, I think this guy should be in prison. Call it insider trading, call it aiding and abetting of millions of counts of sexual assault of minors, whatever. LOCK HIM THE HELL UP and make an example out of him - the American people should not accept such flagrant disregard for their privacy and Constitutional rights (you know, the 4th Amendment, the one preventing unlawful searches and seizures, for example), ESPECIALLY not so some vile political hack can make himself rich.

[On a side note, someone else who has profited handsomely from these scanners is George Soros, who coincidentally has publicly said he wants to dismantle America, has many direct links to Barack Obama, and who thinks that the brutal police state of Communist China is just the gosh-darned best form of government there is. Just so you know.]

Third, in terms of providing actual security, it's all irrelevant anyway.

It's the same kind of trade-off TSA implicitly provided when it ordered us to take off our sneakers (to stop shoe bombs), and to chuck our water bottles (to prevent liquid explosives). Security guru and scanner suit plaintiff Bruce Schneier calls it "magical thinking . . . Descend on what the terrorists happened to do last time, and we'll all be safe. As if they won't think of something else." Which, of course, they invariably do. Attackers are already starting to smuggle weapons in body cavities, going where even the most adroit body scanners do not tread.

In fact, terrorists have already conducted attacks where the bombs are literally implanted inside their bodies. Neither the strip search scanner nor the sexual assault is going to find that. And what about pets? What's stopping a psycho from stuffing his cat full of C4 and carrying it onto the plane in plain view of everyone? Heck, if we're talking about legitimate security concerns, how about the fact that many airport uniforms and IDs are stolen every year? What's stopping a terrorist from conducting an attack under the guise of being a pilot or flight attendant or mechanic? What's stopping a terrorist from hopping the chain-link fence around an airport and simply walking up to the rear of the terminal buildings and tossing a bomb on board or sticking one onto the bottom of an engine? This could go on for quite some time. The point is to illustrate that these measures are excessively intrusive and arguably illegal while doing nothing to actually improve security.

This is unacceptable in every conceivable way.

I came across two outstanding articles today that I really wanted to share because they have some outstanding perspective on the situation. First is Jennifer Abel from the U.K. Guardian:

Listen to this: "My freely chosen bedmates and doctors are the only ones allowed to see my naked body or touch my genitalia." For a sane person in a sane country that's the ultimate in "no shit, Sherlock" statement. But not where I live.

Not the United States of America. Not since 11 September 2001, when the government reacted to an attack on its citizens by lashing out against the very citizenry it claims to protect. No bureaucracy better embodies that reactionary principle than the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), whose contempt for American citizens has grown so great that they now require we submit to government agents either photographing our, to them, visibly naked bodies or groping us in molestation-style patdowns if we ever want to fly again.

I'm sick of the craven cliches TSA apologists have cited these past nine years:

"They protect us from terrorists."

No, they impose pointlessly superstitious security theatre, trample Americans' constitutional rights and make foreigners feel sorry for us. TSA protected nobody with its infamous "bathroom bans" after last year's Christmas terror attempt; rules like "keep your lap empty and your hands visible at all times" only demonstrated the agency's willingness to treat ordinary citizens like serial killers in supermax prison.

"You gave up your rights when you bought an airline ticket."

I never gave up any rights. The government stole them while cowards egged them on.

"TSA agents are just doing their jobs."

A lousy apologia and historically ignorant to boot; the civilised world established at Nuremberg that "just following orders" cuts no ice. And my fellow Americans are realising "it'll stop terrorists" cuts none either, at least not to justify low-grade sexual harassment as standard behaviour for government agents.

It's not hyperbole to call the enhanced patdown a low-grade sexual assault; if you don't believe me, go find some woman's boobs or man's balls, start cupping and squeezing them according to new TSA standards, and count how many offences you're charged with. Last month, an agent openly admitted that the purpose of the aggressive new patdowns was to intimidate people into choosing the nude scanners instead.

And Homeland Security director Janet Napolitano justified this Hobson's choice – and abandoned all pretence of being a "servant" accountable to the public – in an insufferably arrogant column she wrote for USA Today, burying outright lies beneath eye-glazing bureaucratic prose. "The imaging technology that we use cannot store, export, print or transmit images," she claimed – though this was proven untrue almost as soon as the scanners were put in use; last August, US marshals admitted to storing 35,000 images collected from one single courthouse – some of which have now been obtained by the website Gizmodo under a freedom of information request.

"Rigorous privacy safeguards are also in place to protect the travelling public."

You can't claim privacy points when ordering people to let you either see them naked or feel them up.

"The vast majority of travellers say they prefer this technology to alternative screening measures."

No, the vast majority realise Napolitano's gone too far this time, and the backlash has finally begun. November 24 – the eve of the Thanksgiving holiday, and one of the busiest flying days of the year – is National Opt-Out Day, whose organiser Brian Sodegren calls for all Americans to refuse the nude scanners and insist the patdown be done in full public view, so everyone can see how law-abiding travelers are treated in the Land of the Free. Sodegren points out the obvious:

"You should never have to explain to your children, 'Remember that no stranger can touch or see your private area, unless it's a government employee, then it's OK.'"

Similarly, the group We Won't Fly calls for my fellow Americans to "Jam TSA checkpoints by opting out until they remove the porno-scanners!"

I've flown only three times since the inception of the TSA, and only when I couldn't avoid it: two business trips and a funeral I couldn't drive to. But I won't fly on vacation; and last winter, when I thought I'd need to cross the Atlantic, I made reservations in Canada – a 450-mile drive to the airport, but worth it to avoid the TSA.

I'm not alone. Industry leaders reportedly met with Napolitano to express their concerns; as one executive with the US Travel Association fretted, "We have received hundreds of e-mails and phone calls from travelers vowing to stop flying."

Airline executives are rich. Maybe they've got the clout to stop TSA bullying. Napolitano clearly doesn't care if ordinary Americans quit flying altogether; at Ronald Reagan National Airport, she openly offered "travel by other means" as the only option for people who won't submit to the new TSA probes.

That's what we've been reduced to in America: security measures lifted from bad porn plots, and hoping this latest outrage inconveniences enough rich guys with political connections to get it repealed.

Second, and the most disturbing to me, is this editorial from the Washington Times:

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has crossed the line. As if subjecting millions of Americans to X-rated x-ray scans and public groping sessions weren't bad enough, the agency now threatens $11,000 in fines against anyone refusing to submit to humiliation at the airport.

Oceanside, Calif., resident John Tyner found this out after he posted on YouTube a video of his degrading encounter with TSA screeners. Mr. Tyner's catchy phrase, "If you touch my junk, I'll have you arrested," spread quickly, thanks to attention provided by the Drudge Report. TSA was not amused, and an official announced Monday that Mr. Tyner faces punishment for leaving the airport without submitting to the high-tech or low-tech molestation options.

The term is not used lightly. Under 18 U.S. Code Section 2244, " 'sexual contact' means the intentional touching, either directly or through the clothing, of the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh or buttocks of any person with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade." It's no coincidence that TSA initiated sexual-contact pat-downs after fliers began to refuse the pornographic scanners. There can be no question that when threats of civil punishment are used to ensure compliance, those encounters with the TSA lose their status as a voluntary transaction. It's even more outrageous that these unnecessary searches are being conducted on children.

There's also no doubt that some rogue TSA agents seek self-gratification at the expense of passengers. In January, a TSA agent planted white powder in the bags of passengers, according to documents posted on the Smoking Gun website. Apparently, scaring members of the public into thinking they were being busted for smuggling drugs made for a good "joke." The new screening rules open yet more opportunities for the worst elements at TSA.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano insists that anyone who has a problem with the state of affairs simply shouldn't fly. Unelected bureaucrats like Ms. Napolitano - known across the blogosphere as Big Sister - have no business making decisions that touch upon such a fundamental right as the ability of innocent citizens to travel freely. In Ms. Napolitano's view, Americans wishing to visit family and friends across the country exercise a privilege granted by the government. Air travel is no longer a free transaction between a member of the public and an airline.

Once freedom at airports is "locked down," it's inevitable that TSA will next target buses, trains and the Metro. After all, al Qaeda has attacked each of these modes of transportation in other parts of the world. Strict controls on internal travel is the hallmark of a police state.

No matter how invasive TSA searches become, there's no guarantee anything the agency does will prevent a terrorist attack. A balance must be struck between reasonable security measures and the maintenance of a free society. These decisions cannot be made by Obama administration officials without involving the public in the discussions. Many Tea Party candidates standing for election earlier this month promised they were going to "take our country back." Stopping TSA would be a good first step.

A police state, anyone? Welcome to Obama's America.

I, for one, believe the American people will win this one, and with the rising anger toward the TSA and the federal government, I suspect it may not be too long before that happens. Still, this is something that requires action from everyone. Pick up the phone and call your Senators and Representative, and demand that they do something to stop the madness now.

The sooner millions of Americans take a stand, the sooner the TSA stops violating us 'for our own good'.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

More TSA Insanity

Sorry, I just can't help but follow up with some more information on this.

Some Germans had a very novel idea for a protest of this madness - stripping down to their skivvies and wandering through the airport en masse. Now that's
making a point!

Anyway, the guy from San Diego that I mentioned in the previous post is John Tyner. His forethought allowed him to capture the audio of his entire ordeal on his cellphone. He posted it, it went viral on the Internet, and guess what happened? They Joe-the-Plumbered him. That's right, he's now under investigation. For liberals, transparency and truth are really damned annoying, and anyone who insists upon those things needs to be destroyed.

Regardless of the increasing heat, the Obama administration isn't budging:

Janet Napolitano — US Secretary of Homeland Security — has a word of advice for all of you who want to take an airplane but who don't want to have your genitals groped by a TSA agent: It's my way or the highway.

Talking at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Napolitano said that TSA's body scanners don't violate passengers' privacy rights. She also said that "if people want to travel by some other means," they have that right.

True. But should we have to? Is it really unreasonable to expect some measure of privacy and common sense when flying?

Proponents continue to maintain that these images are viewed by someone in a separate room (so they can't see the hot chicks/studs and specifically direct them into the strip search scanner) and that the images are deleted immediately after being viewed. That is simply not true. Gizmodo posted 100 images this morning from one of these scanners in Florida (of the 35,000 that were saved). Sure, they're low resolution pics, but if it's this easy to save and post these pictures, then it will be just as easy to do so with the high resolution strip search pics. Is one of these pictures of you or your family on vacation?

It appears that the GOP is moving on this, at least a little bit:

Did you know that the nation's airports are not required to have Transportation Security Administration screeners checking passengers at security checkpoints? The 2001 law creating the TSA gave airports the right to opt out of the TSA program in favor of private screeners after a two-year period. Now, with the TSA engulfed in controversy and hated by millions of weary and sometimes humiliated travelers, Rep. John Mica, the Republican who will soon be chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, is reminding airports that they have a choice.

Mica, one of the authors of the original TSA bill, has recently written to the heads of more than 150 airports nationwide suggesting they opt out of TSA screening. "When the TSA was established, it was never envisioned that it would become a huge, unwieldy bureaucracy which was soon to grow to 67,000 employees," Mica writes. "As TSA has grown larger, more impersonal, and administratively top-heavy, I believe it is important that airports across the country consider utilizing the opt-out provision provided by law."

Hm...very interesting...! More:

[The TSA has] gotten completely out of hand. And like lots of fliers -- I [Byron York] spoke to him as he waited for a flight at the Orlando airport -- Mica sees TSA's new "naked scanner" machines and groping, grossly invasive passenger pat-downs as just part of a larger problem. TSA, he says, is relying more on passenger humiliation than on practices that are proven staples of airport security.

For example, many security experts have urged TSA to adopt techniques, used with great success by the Israeli airline El Al, in which passengers are observed, profiled, and most importantly, questioned before boarding planes. So TSA created a program known as SPOT -- Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques. It began hiring what it called behavior detection officers, who would be trained to notice passengers who acted suspiciously. TSA now employs about 3,000 behavior detection officers, stationed at about 160 airports across the country.

The problem is, they're doing it all wrong. A recent Government Accountability Office study found that TSA "deployed SPOT nationwide without first validating the scientific basis for identifying suspicious passengers in an airport environment." They haven't settled on the standards needed to stop bad actors.

"It's not an Israeli model, it's a TSA, screwed-up model," says Mica. "It should actually be the person who's looking at the ticket and talking to the individual. Instead, they've hired people to stand around and observe, which is a bastardization of what should be done."

In a May 2010 letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Mica noted that the GAO "discovered that since the program's inception, at least 17 known terrorists ... have flown on 24 different occasions, passing through security at eight SPOT airports." One of those known terrorists was Faisal Shahzad, who made it past SPOT monitors onto a Dubai-bound plane at New York's JFK International Airport not long after trying to set off a car bomb in Times Square. Federal agents nabbed him just before departure.

Mica and other critics in Congress want to see quick and meaningful changes in the way TSA works. They go back to the days just after Sept. 11, when there was a hot debate about whether the new passenger-screening force would be federal employees, as most Democrats wanted, or private contractors, as most Republicans wanted. Democrats won and TSA has been growing ever since.

Yet another thing the GOP needs to address immediately. Also, maybe it's time to call your local airports, too.

The last time I flew out of KCI, the strip search scanner was optional, and I chose not to utilize it. I didn't even get the previous pat-down at the time. We're taking a flight over the Christmas season, and I'm pondering deeply how to handle this if it's now required. I'd be happy to entertain suggestions, though I'm not going to do anything that would get us booted from the plane/airport. At this point, I think I would obviously and in full view of the TSA agents make a show of taking out my cellphone and video recording everything they do to me and my family, including (if necessary) explaining why it is that they think my kids need to be strip searched or sexually assaulted. Let's get it on the record, shall we? I dunno if that's worth anything, but it's the best I've come up with so far.

Your thoughts?

But wait, but gets worse. Much worse, in fact. Today we see that the policy apparently includes authorization to allow TSA agents to put their hands down the pants of passengers!

I sure hope that's a mistaken rumor that gets debunked in the coming days! Either way, this insanity is an unacceptable invasion of privacy and decency and absolutely MUST stop. NOW. I called my Congressman yesterday to suggest that Congress needs to stop this insanity; I would urge you to do the same.