Monday, January 28, 2008

Pre-State of the Union News of the Day

I'm getting ready for the State of the Union to start. I imagine that I might have a thing or two to say about that at its completion. However, at the moment I have a few other items from today's news I want to discuss.

1. First Caroline this weekend-- and now Ted Kennedy throwing support toward Barack Obama. This is good news, and it just makes me feel good to hear JFK invoked on behalf of Obama, especially by a Kennedy. (seeing as I've done it once or twice myself.) As Obama himself said, he knows what the Kennedy family means to the heart of many Americans. This endorsement is big, especially for many tried and true Dems, heading into Super Tuesday. This endorsement is big for those of us inspired by his message of change and hope.

What I don't get is this response from NOW. What the hell? Are they really of the mind that if someone stands behind women, and women's issues that they MUST vote for Hillary just because she is a woman? And their insinuation that not voting for her makes you anti-woman. Oh please. I'm once again feeling a little bit perplexed and frustrated with feminism... and again in spite of my strong "feminist" tendencies. I am increasingly feeling I really don't have a whole lot in common with today's feminists. (Or maybe it's yesterday's feminist who are unable to adjust to to the needs and demands and respectable realities of this day and age.)

Kennedy's endorsement of Obama is not a betrayal of women. Talk about over simplifying an issue. I think one of the comments posted to this story said it best: Saying Kennedy is sexist for not endorsing Clinton would be like Jesse Jackson accusing anyone who won't support Obama of being a racist. Yes, it will be monumental when Obama or Hilliary make it into office. Yes, it will be a historical moment. But this election is not about race or gender. I wish people would just get over it already. But, if they had, I suppose these potential presidents wouldn't be holding the power to make history in such a way.

2. TSA, they're trying to further scare us and assuage us with reassurances that they are looking out for us- all at the same time! And the media is just helping them along in this continued manipulation of the American public. In this story CNN explicitly states that they were invited by the TSA to accompany a test in which a TSA "red team" operative managed to sneak a fake bomb into the Tamp airport. CNN explained off this invitation seemed to be offered as a means of explaining away any potential complaints that terrorists might learn new tricks from the story. No mention of why they were invited, now or at any other point.

I don't even know where to start. I guess my first issue with this story is whether or not it has any validity as news. I hate to sound like a crazy left-wing conspiracy theorist, but is it really any coincidence that the Tampa airport failed the test on exactly the day that a major news outlet happened to be along for the ride? That seems unlikely.

"Look! Americans LOOK! We're working really hard to keep you safe, we are conducting these tests across the country and retraining every agent who fails. We are being vigilant to keep you safe. But KEEP IN MIND...AGENTS FAIL! You must be afraid. That guy with a bum back might actually be carrying a bomb. Be vigilant!"

OK. Look. I hate to be cavalier about the the grand specter of terrorism . I don't doubt that it is real....only how real.

I mean, come on, why did the TSA invite CNN along? Has it been too long since TSA has stirred up the psyche of American travelers? Just a little too long since they took away our 4oz toothpastes and full nalgene bottles?

Now we're supposed to be afraid of people with bad backs? TSA is about to start further torturing every American who might be blighted by the aches and pains of middle-age, surgery and athletic injuries? Is that the next step?

The agent in the story indicated that there were "relatively unobtrusive" ways that the garment could have been checked. But he didn't indicate what those methods were. And relative to what? A strip search? Is it really worth harassing millions of disabled travelers more than we are all harassed already with "relatively unobtrusive" measures-- is that really going to fend of the specter of impending attack? Any more than the "relatively" unobtrusive measures of making mothers removing sleeping infants from strollers?

The article also pretty clearly indicates that "cultural sensitivities toward handicaps" inhibit many agents from being too invasive, is a bad thing. Come on people. What is this world coming to?

Isn't harassing hippies with sticker clad, water filled nalgene bottles, harried business travelers who just want to carry their toiletries on board so they don't have to check their bag and mothers with babies strapped into car seats going far enough...too far even? Do we really need to make people start removing their orthopedic garments and aids just to be sure that every single person is not a terrorist looking to exploit the (poorly developed) cultural sensitivities of the average Joe who happens to be a TSA agent.

No offense meant to TSA agents, in my previous statements, or the ones to follow. I've had run ins with a few genuinely nice agents. regardless of the attitude with which they great us I also recognize that they are just doing they're jobs....just like the rest of us. However, if anything, these people need more training toward cultural sensitivities, not to be trained away from them.

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