The Next Phase of Flight Travel

Oh how the press has played this whole Christmas attempted terrorist attack.  First, nobody is denying that this was an attempted terrorist attack.  However,  just when did the US obtain the power to dictate the security programs of other countries.  As I understand it.  They guy flew from Nigeria to Amsterdam, had been checked by their security, and THEN was allowed to board a plane for Detroit.  So what does this have to do with American security?  Am I missing the point here?  This guy was on a PLANE flying INTO the US.  So should we now hire overseas TSA specialiststo now offer another checkpoint for passengers with the audacity to fly to the US. 

Yes, that is the answer!!!  We need to recruit and train US TSA personnel to serve in an overseas capacity.  After all passengers go through the security of say Amsterdam or Heathrow, they could then go through a the new security measure introduced by the US the National Unrestricted Detection Examination or NUDE.  Now passengers will fly nude.  This will cost more now because we will have to separate the sexes and provide for extra heat on overseas flights, but in the name of security why not? 

Are you detecting a sense of sarcasm here?  While I am all for security, I also know that there is a limit as to how much security there can be.  If someone really wants to blow up a plane, they will find a way.  Now, that being said, just what further can be done to degrade travelers.  Case in point,  I flew through Chicago last year, the worst experience of my life flying.  I had flown after 9/11 but this was ridiculous.  Most of it was the airline’s problem.  I ended up staying due to my flight arriving late and my connection taking off without me.  Despite the fact I got to the gate and the flight was siting "right there".  But, I now had the chance to go through security.  I made sure I got a 10AM flight so I could arrive 2 hours early.  Good thing.  As we all like zombies practically disrobed and put everything in a tray.  I felt like I was in one of those horrible futuristic movies and was waiting for Peter Sellers to show up.  Anyway, this 87 year old man in a wheel chair, had to go through security.  Now, I just know I feel so safe about this.  Anyway, they made him get up out of his chair, a feet that one could see was a problem, and made him walk through the metal detector!  Ok, the punchline, he did not have his shoes on and they could not help him so that they could ensure he was "safe" for flight.  And of course the first time did not work so he had to go through a second time.  THE MAN COULD HARDLY WALK!!!  Hence, the need for a wheel chair.  Once through the detector, the security people and a person helped him get his shoes back on and got him through.  Nothing about this is bad for security.  They were entirely professional.  But can anyone else SEE that this is ridiculous!!!  I know that I felt much safer on my flight because that man was disarmed and could not charge the cabin.  I am not advocating less security, but how about security with COMMON SENSE?  What threat did this man possibly have that could have been a security risk?  Ok, check the man out but they did not have to risk his health by making him go through the security checkpoint that way.  They could have used wands (electronic)and not make him risk getting up.  Now, if this is what is mean by security,  I am rooting for the return of train travel.

I understand the need to check everything out, but let’s use a little common sense.  I know I can here the security advocates now, you want to be secure right?  Well, yes but my question in return is just what risk did this man have or serve?  I guess I can feel somewhat comforted in that they did not make him take his teeth out.  That’s next.  And the airlines don’t understand why people don’t want to fly, minus the fact they are never on time.

But, let’s not forget the real issue here.  Security is not 100%.  This was a foreign flight coming IN to the US and what possible way could the US have done to determine the risk of this one person?  I just don’t see it


I’ve now got the new LiveJournal Messenger.

I’ve now got the new LiveJournal Messenger. My Windows Live ID is Sign up now and we can chat!

He Who Has the Gold Makes the Rules

In a stressful economic time were homes are being foreclosed on every block this story cuts to the quick. The story of Bob and Jane Cull described by NPR Weekend Saturday will bring you to tears and question one’s faith in the entrepreneur.

As the story goes, the Cull’s were an upper middle class couple who had decided to build their dream home. A story that sounds familiar to everyone whether we build or buy. They had the fortunate ability to have the time and money to search for their perfect lot to build for five years. They found the plans they wanted and hired a builder. They moved into their home and had been greatly pleased for six weeks. Then the foundation problems began. When a main structural beam weakened, they hired an engineer, who then told them the bad news.

This began their 13 year odyssey. The Cull’s obtained a lawyer and started legal proceedings against their former builder, Perry Homes. Now in Texas, the legal system is never for the average person. Texas is renowned to forego legal protection to ensure a healthy business climate. In this case, the Cull’s went to arbitration as the law demanded. They won and the builder was instructed to pay the Culls a settlement of $800,000, remarkable by Texas standards. However, the builder just happened to be the richest and most politically connected builder in the state. Rather than pay the settlement he spent his money by stalling. He mis-used the legal process by appealing, and appealing, and appealing. At the same time he was contributing to the campaign funds of Governor Perry (no connection to the builder), State Supreme Court candidates, George W. Bush, and was the largest single contributor to Swift Boat Veterans for “Truth.” The case finally ended up before the Texas State Supreme Court, whose membership did not have the temerity to recuse themselves due to a conflict of interest. It doesn’t stop there. The owner of Perry Homes was able to lobby for and obtain passage by the Texas Legislature a law to ensure more protection for homebuilders. Yes, you heard it right for the builder not the owner. And it gets better, the attorney for the Cull’s home builder who continued to appeal this case and mis-used the legal system is now the head of the new agency created to ensure the protection of homebuilders.

Meanwhile, the Texas Supreme Court in a phenomenal miscarriage of justice voted 5 to 4 to throw out the $800,000 Cull judgement stating that the case should not have gone to arbitration and sent the case back to court. Hence, after 13 years of court challenges, the Cull’s now have to start all over again, possibly with the same state agency just created and headed by the attorney hired by Perry Homes to appeal their case.

At a time when America continues to measure the ramifications of the mortgage crisis, this incident just cries out for justice. The Cull’s went through the entire process as prescribed by law at the time and 13 years later they can’t sell their home because it would not pass inspection. In addition, they cannot afford the hundreds of thousands of dollars to fix their dream home. All is not completely lost. They do get to begin their case again. Hopefully, they will obtain their judgement and all the money it took to appeal the case and the cost the opposition put in appealing the case. Perry Homes knew they were wrong, yet they continually appealed their case to stall and prevent paying the judgement. Talk about frivolous lawsuits. This is not only frivolous it’s ridiculous. I wonder how much Perry Homes paid in legal fees to appeal. I bet it would have been cheaper to pay the judgement. Meanwhile, the Cull’s home is falling down around them. What can you expect out of a state that follows the golden rule, ” he who has the gold makes the rules.”

Bi-Partisanship: I don’t think so

The New York Times Reported as of Sunday Febrary 8, 2009
quote in article by Sharon Otterman

"Significant differences exist between the House and Senate versions of the stimulus package, primarily over tens of billions of dollars in aid to states and local governments, tax provisions and programs for education, health and renewable energy. Even so, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle said that they expected fast action on the bill, perhaps even getting it to President Obama’s desk by week’s end.

The bill produced through negotiations in the Senate late Friday night and into Saturday is a $827 billion package of government spending and tax cuts. It cuts some $40 billion in aid to states from the House version of the bill and scales back President Obama’s signature middle-class tax cut. The Senate plan also creates new tax incentives to encourage Americans to buy homes and cars within the next year.

Just three Senate Republicans have pledged to support the measure — Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, Susan Collins of Maine and Senator Olympia J. Snowe of Maine. But their votes are enough to lift Democrats over the filibuster-proof number of 60 votes needed to pass the bill."

For those of you not familiar with Senate procedure, you may find this a surprising thing "bipartisanship".  Especially since there are 58 Senate democrats (at last count).  One mightthink that one could get things done with a majority.  Well, the Senate is an old antiquated machine.  Senators have much more power than representativves.  Once a Senator is recognzied on the floor, he/she can talk until they feel like stopping, not so in the House.  Hence, since a new tool has developed in the last 30 or so years to ensure that bills get passed.  It si called a "Unanimous Consent Agreement", heretofore UCA. 

A UCA is a tool whereby the majority leader works out in detail every step of procedure for passage of a bill, including when amendments will be introduced and how long for debate.  Yes, a UCA can limit debate, because it contains a set of rules agreed upon.  It also takes 60 votes to institute a UCA.  Otherwise, the rules are not binding.  Consequently, this is why the Senate is such a slow body.  It takes more than a majority to get things done.  Also, it illustrates how a determined minority, in this case the Republicans, and disrupt the whole process.

There is a danger here for both the Democrats and the Republicans.  Less than a week after becoming President, the President went to Capital hill to talk with Republicans.  Now, this is an ineresting relationship, one that shows that an insider knows what to do.  The danger for the Democrats is that if the Stimulus bill does not pass they will be seen as too partisan and the economy may get worse.  The danger for the Repbulicans is that if they are seen as obstructionist, they could be in danger of becoming the minority party for another 50 years. 

Clearly, what has worked in the past, will not work now!  Tax cuts for the rich and powerful do not trickle down to the rest of us.  What we need is "percolate up politics" and that is what is occuring now.  What may be needed, and Political Scientists are watching this, is a rule change in the Senate.  This would irrevocabley change the structure of the Senate, but it may be needed to get that chamber back to a workable body.  The Senate is a representative body, at present, and the old institutional rules may need to be altered.  I know watch what you wish for.  However, it the Stimulus bill does not pass, one may begin to question the value of the Senate as an institution. 


World History

This letter is in response to Frank Harris at the following link,0,5299511.column

Once again the Middle East situation has come to the forefront of politics. Sounds to me like after 8 years of non intervention in the Israel situation, politics is returning to normal. Every President since . . . . . , FDR, has in some way had to address the international problems of the Palestinians and the Israelis. Perhaps the public is not as shocked at this latest incident is because after 8 years of preemptive policy failure, the return of “normal” politics is remarkable refreshing. However, the problem remains that now due to the failures of Afghanistan and Iraq, America is not as strong as it was in the past. Therefore, the change that may occur will be the decreased reliance on the US to help broker problems and the increase of the European nations in their political capital.

The US due to its responsibilities in the Middle East, has ignored the growing influence of the European Union and their member states. This is one trading partner to reckon with. Already the Euro has become the currency of choice and now the possibility of new forays into foreign policy are possible. While this is not something to be feared, it is something to watch as the US will need to rebuild its good will.

Right now, there is a power vacuum in Washington. Obama does not want to get tied down to the policies of the failed Bush administration. Hence, he is, wisely or not, taking a page from FDR and other president’s elect. Say nothing, as it can tie you to someone else’s failed policy, and do nothing, since you lack the power to do so anyway.

Let’s put this in perspective. Israel has been attacking Gaza for attacks made in Israel. However, let us not forget that this is a situation of their own making. They have blockaded Gaza not allowing any goods or people in or out. The incident of the border wall being demolished a few weeks ago out to jar some memories. So, rather than deal with the legitimately elected Palestinian authority, Israel had decided to take a page out of the US play book, preemptive war. It is a legacy of the Bush Administration that we will now have to deal with.

My Entry

New test

Harold Texas School, The Scene of the Next School Shooting

As a citizen of the United States and avid listener to As It Happens, I was greatly moved and incensed at the 19th century Wild West mentality of the superintendent of the Harold Public Schools. Sometimes you just want to be able to reach out into the radio, in the middle of a broadcast, and give the interviewee a big dope slap.
First, the big worry of the superintendent was safety of the faculty, never mind the children. Here they are out in the middle of Harold Texas un protected from the 8th grader who has not finished his home work. Hmm times have indeed gotten tough for teachers. Instead of worrying about the safety of students, they are selfishly worrying about the faculty. While the faculty may need to have some protection regarding the odd dodge ball at recess, one has to wonder isn’t this killing the preverbal flea with an elephant gun. It may do the job but what about the mess afterwards.
Secondly, I am waiting for the next shoot out to occur at this school. Now depressed and disturbed students who cannot get guns from their parents will now be able to get together and overpower the English teacher in the middle of their lesson on Julius Caesar and take the gun away. If they didn’t have access to guns before, they now have even more access. And if you think students don’t know where teachers keep their belongings, I would take a poll. Most students do know where teachers keep their wallets, purses and other personal belongings.
Finally, why,if there is not any law enforcement close enough to the school, don’t they higher a security guard, like most schools. Well the superintendent answered that question, they would have to higher someone? Yes, they would have to actually higher someone and pay them benefits. Well, now I understand why! I mean heaven forbid we would actually have to put someone on the staff full time.
So I thank the As It Happens for providing the in depth story of another incident of American idiocy. It makes me feel so much safer now to know that our children are being treated like inmates in a prison. The only thing missing now are the high fences and barbed wire. A next step in the Texas educational system.

Mike Green
Norwich, CT