Wednesday, November 24, 2010


The flap these days (there's always a flap) is over the new TSA "security" procedures, in which airline passengers have to choose between a machine that displays a photo of you without your clothing, and a manual search which is, let us say, intrusive.  This is the after-effect, of course, of last year's "underwear bomber."  Somebody got something through in his underwear, now our underwear must be searched.  Someone has suggested that body cavity searches can't be far behind; I wish I thought they were wrong.

In the first place, this is pointless.  TSA is, as always, fighting the last war.  The next strike may not involve passenger planes at all; in fact, given the crummy security around sea-borne containers, there's no reason why it should.  The infamous toner cartridges from Yemen were shipped as air cargo.  In the second place, this is all in the name of "safety" - there is no safety.  None of us is "safe."  The plane could crash; much more likely, a car could hit us on the way to the airport, or we could die of a heart attack out of the blue.  This whole airport security charade is a massive CYA exercise on the part of the government.  As long as people exist who feel it's their mission to kill Americans, Americans somewhere will be killed.

Americans used to be a brave and enterprising people.  We took risks.  We went to unknown places, to see what was there.  We did things without a safety net.  Sometimes we got killed, but we accomplished a hell of a lot.  We aren't like that any more.  Now we want to be "safe" - unless, of course, someone suggests we should quit smoking, or quit drinking soda pop and eating fast food.  Then we just want it fast and cheap.

There's an old saying in data processing:  You can have it good, fast, or cheap - pick two.  Drinking soda pop and eating fast food is fast and cheap - and it'll kill us a lot sooner than the jihadis will, and a lot more unpleasantly too, if you look at some of the side effects of diabetes.  But I digress - I was talking about airport scans.

There's no reason for airport scans except to give the government a way to appear to be "protecting" us.  They would protect us a whole lot more effectively if they lost the "we're gonna kill the jihadis" attitude and started talking to moderate Muslims about the things we all have in common.  There are a lot of them out there.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Smaller Government

Well, Republicans, you aren't "in charge," exactly, but you have the House back, and you've made gains in the Senate.  You all claim you're going for "smaller government."  OK, put up or shut up.  Let's see you get government off our backs in two significant ways:

Repeal DOMA.  Who marries whom is none of the government's goddamn business.

Repeal "don't ask, don't tell" and let the military sort itself out.  We're losing valuable servicemen and women for no better reason than their sexual orientation.

Get the government out of the bedroom.  If you do that, I may believe that you actually will reduce the size of government.  But I have to see it happen first.