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.


  1. Anonymous7:54 PM

    Very, very well said, hedera (which is now my favorite ivy).

    David Payne

  2. Heddie:

    I think the whole "war on terror" was a plot cooked up by Cheney and his cronies right after 9/11. "How can we use this crisis to further our aims?" The obvious thing about stirring up fear and diverting people when you're rifling their wallets is to convince them they're "in a war"--and then you can institute all kinds of unreasonable "martial law" measures. What's a war on terror--a permanent, open-ended condition with no fixed entity. When does it end?--"when we say it does!"

    With a permanent "war on terror" we could invade any country in the world, suspend all sorts of freedoms (search and seizure, freedom of speech, habias corpus, privacy), all in the name of some vaunted "emergency" which was like a blank check against the Treasury, and our political tolerance.

    What would have happened if we'd never invaded Iraq and Afghanistan? Would we still have our burgeoning deficit?

    I fantasize Bin Laden in one of his primitive caves, chuckling with his subordinates: "Binny, have you heard what they're doing at their airports? Sticking their fingers up between the passengers' legs! Using "x-ray" vision machines!" (laughter all around). This is exactly what they had in mind ten years ago when they dreamed up the jet hijacks. We've done everything--EVERYTHING--they'd have wanted. 9/11 was a total and unmitigated success for Al Queda. Our standing in the world has fallen irreparably, and we find ourselves now confronting our real enemy--China. And the outcome is by no means certain, as it would have been, just a decade ago. The real war is always about money, and China has always known that. That's the war we'll probably lose, not the fake "war on terror."