Government and Unions can Take a Bad Situation and Make it Worse

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 27th, 2010

If you Think TSA is Dysfunctional and Unpopular Now, Wait Until it Unionizes

Question:  How do you make a bad situation worse?  Simple.  Add more government.  Or a union.  And if you really want to make things worse, add a government union.

The TSA is not very popular these days.  What with their nude imaging leering and their groping of our naughty bits.  They say it’s for our security.  But it feels more like we’re living in a police state.  But at least we can fire those who cross the line and enjoy these sexual assaults a little too much.  Well, for now, at least (see How to Make Air Travel More Infuriating by John Fund posted on 11/26/2010 on The Wall Street Journal).

But if you think TSA is dysfunctional and unpopular now, wait until it unionizes. This month, the Federal Labor Relations Authority ruled that 50,000 TSA personnel will be allowed to vote on whether or not to join a union with full collective bargaining rights…

Imagine if every change in procedures had to be cleared with union shop stewards. While it is not easy to fire TSA personnel now, just think how difficult it will be to remove bad employees if they are covered by union job protection agreements.

I think I see something questionable in your groin, ma’am.  By the power invested in me, I will need to take a closer look.  We have no female agents available, so I will have to insert my man-hands into your panties and feel around in the name of national security.  But you can trust me.  I work for the TSA.  And if you have a problem with this, tough.  I’m union protected.

If You’ve been Sexually Assaulted, it’s Best that You don’t Wear Pantyliners During TSA Security Screening

Sure, I’m being silly.  I mean, what could be suspicious in a woman’s panties (see Sanitary Towel Prompts TSA To Grope Sexual Assault Victim by Steve Watson posted on 11/25/2010 on Prisonplanet.com)?

I recently traveled via air, and was subjected to that new scanning device. “No problem,” I thought. I was wearing jeans and a linen tanktop, bra, panties, and one camouflage pantyliner.

No doubt common for women to wear bras and panties.  And pantyliners.  Should be no big deal.

These new scans are so horrible that if you are wearing something unusual (like a piece of cloth on your panties) then you will be subjected to a search where a woman repeatedly has to check your “groin” while another woman watches on….

Well, I guess in the name of security we must make some women uncomfortable.  What’s the worst that can happen?  A mild case of embarrassment?

But what ultimately happened is that I was subjected to search so invasive that I was left crying and dealing with memories that I thought had been dealt with years ago of prior sexual assaults.

Oh.  It can be that much worse.  We can traumatize a woman by invoking memories of a sexual assault.  Maybe we should revisit TSA screening procedures.  Come up with something that won’t traumatize people.  Maybe look for bombers instead of just bombs.  Use psychological behavior to narrow down the number of invasive bodily searches.  You know, as long as the collective bargaining agreement doesn’t object, of course.

Doctors to Save Medicare by being Screwed by Government

All right, we know what a train wreck the TSA is.  Surely there are things that government does well, aren’t there?  Well, let’s take a look at a big government program.  Medicare.  The government is cutting Medicare payments to doctors.  The program’s spending is so out of control that these cuts are pretty steep.  How steep?  Enough to make doctors drop Medicare patients (see Doctors say Medicare cuts force painful decision about elderly patients by N.C. Aizenman posted 11/26/2010 on The Washington Post).

Doctors across the country describe similar decisions, complaining that they’ve been forced to shift away from Medicare toward higher-paying, privately insured or self-paying patients in response to years of penny-pinching by Congress.

Not only that, but the system is forcing doctors into specialties, depleting the ranks of the primary-care doctors.

On average, primary-care doctors make about $190,000 a year, kidney specialists $300,000, and radiologists close to $500,000, figures that reflect the income doctors receive from both Medicare and non-Medicare patients. The disparity has prompted concern that Medicare is contributing to a growing shortage of primary doctors.

But can you blame them for going into specialties?  Being a doctor is hard.  All that schooling.  Long hours during residency.  And they’re saving lives.  For which they get paid Bupkis.  Shouldn’t we pay them well after they go through all that hell?

“The argument that doctors literally can’t afford to feed their kids [if they take Medicare’s rates] is absurd,” said [Robert] Berenson [a Commissioner of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, an independent congressional agency]. “It’s just that doctors have gotten used to a certain income and lifestyle.”

Easy for a government bureaucrat to say.  But look at the life of a doctor.

But, “the whole system would need to change. … I graduated medical school $100,000 in debt. I worked 110 hours a week during my residency for $30,000 a year and sacrificed all through my 20s. And even now, you’re still seeing people all day, with meetings and paperwork at night, on top of the emotional side of worrying when the patients you care for aren’t doing well. This is life-and-death stuff. And I feel like that should be compensated.”

This doctor failed to mention the lawyers constantly nipping at the heels of doctors.  And malpractice insurance ain’t cheap.

Doctors are Paid too Much?!?  Have you seen what Members of Congress Pay Themselves?

All right, let’s take a closer look at some of these doctors’ critics.  Members of Congress pay themselves pretty damn well.  And they don’t save lives.  Or work hard.  They get a lot of time off.  Lots of travel.  Lots of perks.  We can describe doctors as angels of mercy.  We describe a lot of these politicians, though, as scum of the earth.   And look at their salaries (see Boehner under fire: First cut should be lawmakers’ salaries by Jordy Yager posted on 11/5/2010 on The Hill).

The base pay for House and Senate lawmakers is $174,000, while majority and minority leaders each make $193,400 per year.

A run of the mill member of Congress makes almost as much as a doctor.  Considering what little a member of Congress does for that paycheck, who out there can say this is fair?

Unions and Government

The problem with unions and government?  They make life for the average Joe that much harder.  They protect their own.  And force others to pay for their elevated lifestyles.  And they abuse their power.  Always have.  And always will.  At least nothing in history has suggested otherwise.   

It sure gives you a warm fuzzy when you think about Obamacare coming down the pike, doesn’t it?

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The TSA’s Obsession with our Genitals Borders on the Ridiculous and Threatens our Security

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 20th, 2010

You don’t Touch a Stripper’s Genitals because it’s Wrong and Could Spread Infectious Disease

When I was a younger man I visited a strip bar or two.  And one thing about young men when they consume vast amounts of alcohol, they get handsy.  They’ll do things that can get the men with the thick necks over to you and bounce you out before you know what’s happening.

Back then (and probably now), you looked but didn’t touch.  Mostly.  Sometimes you could touch.  But there were limits.  Butt cheeks.  Some boob.  But no naughty bits.  Well, maybe some naughty bits.  Some strippers would let you bury your face in their breasts while you did the motorboat.  But you kept your mouth shut.  Because some other guy might have just been where you are now.  And you don’t want to swap spit with strange men. 

Some rules were a little more lax than others.  Depending how slow the night was and how drunk your stripper was.  But one thing you didn’t do was make genital contact.  If the guys with the thick necks caught you doing that, they’d ask you to leave.  And I don’t mean in a polite way.

Why?  Strippers could spread some nasty diseases that way.  One stripper with Chlamydia could infect a lot of men who could in turn infect a lot of women (wives, girlfriends, one-night stands, etc.).  That’s why bouncers will throw you out.  Because genital contact in a strip bar is like a flashing neon sign that says, “Shut us Down.”

Don’t Put that Gloved Hand Down my Pants.  I don’t Know Where it’s Been.

So genital contact with strangers is not a clean thing to do.  Infectious disease-wise.  Even strip bars that have nude or semi-nude women dancing in dark rooms with loud music systems and smoke affects will police any genital contact with extreme prejudice.  Because strip bars are responsible.  Unlike the TSA (see Woman says her Lambert security screening was sexual assault posted 11/18/2010 on KMOV St. Louis).

Moroney explains “Her gloved hands touched my breasts…went between them. Then she went into the top of my slacks, inserted her hands between my underwear and my skin… then put her hands up on outside of slacks, and patted my genitals.”

The TSA wears gloves.  Because they don’t want to catch anything when they run their fingers through our naughty bits.  But the question that begs to be asked is this: are they changing those gloves between searches?  I mean, how do we know where that gloved hand has been?  Looks like catching a cold on an airplane may be the least of our health worries when flying now.

Water Boarding an Enemy Combatant is Wrong but Hitting a Lady in the Vagina is Okay?

You don’t dare touch a stripper’s genitals.   Or do this (see Enhanced pat down leaves Grand Rapids airline passenger in tears posted 11/18/2010 on WZZM 13 Grand Rapids).

“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.”

You do this in a strip bar and not only will they bounce you, but the guys with thick necks may take you out back.  For a good ‘talking to’.  It’s one thing for a drunken guy to cop a feel, but it’s another to hit a lady in the vagina.  That just ain’t right.    At least the 3 terrorists we water boarded were caught trying to kill Americans.

Profiling isn’t Racism if it’s Anecdotal

A lot of people are asking if we’re any safer from all of this genital groping.  Well, no, we’re not.  But we’re being politically correct.  And our government apparently feels that is more important than our security.  But the people are ready for some politically incorrect profiling (i.e., stereotyping).  Hey, if we can laugh about it in the movies, we ought to be able to handle it in real life when our lives are at stake (see Don’t touch my junk by Charles Krauthammer posted 11/19/2010 on The Washington Post).

In “Up in the Air,” that ironic take on the cramped freneticism of airport life, George Clooney explains why he always follows Asians in the security line:

“They pack light, travel efficiently, and they got a thing for slip-on shoes, God love ‘em.”

“That’s racist!”

“I’m like my mother. I stereotype. It’s faster.”

If you haven’t seen the movie, Clooney’s character clocks more air miles than most people do in a lifetime.  The point being that observational experience may NOT be stereotyping.  It may just be anecdotal.

That riff is a crowd-pleaser because everyone knows that the entire apparatus of the security line is a national homage to political correctness. Nowhere do more people meekly acquiesce to more useless inconvenience and needless indignity for less purpose. Wizened seniors strain to untie their shoes; beltless salesmen struggle comically to hold up their pants; 3-year-olds scream while being searched insanely for explosives – when everyone, everyone, knows that none of these people is a threat to anyone.

The ultimate idiocy is the full-body screening of the pilot. The pilot doesn’t need a bomb or box cutter to bring down a plane. All he has to do is drive it into the water, like the EgyptAir pilot who crashed his plane off Nantucket while intoning “I rely on God,” killing all on board.

If you want to stop terrorists, we should try to stop people as well as bombs.  But not all people.  That would be grossly inefficient and divert resources.  We need to observe the behavior of those who are similar to those who have actually carried out terrorist attacks. 

We should treat them like people returning from Canada into the United States.  Talk to them.  Observe their body language when they answer.  Listen to the sound of their voice.  Are they breathing rapidly?  Sweating?  Avoiding direct eye contact?

We need to ask them questions.  Start general and get specific.  Is the person you’re visiting married?  What’s his wife’s name?  What color is her hair?  Their children names and ages?  Where do they shop for groceries? 

We need to ask questions based on their previous answers.  If they say they’re visiting friends from college and are going to the ‘big game’, ask some questions about the team that’s playing.  Or the college.  Or the city.  If this person is up to no good, a good questioning will out him.

During WWII, we caught a lot of Germans wearing American uniforms.  They spoke clean English.  No hint of an accent.  But they didn’t know American slang.   Or who won the World Series.

The TSA and their Advanced Body-Imaging Systems are no Match for a Determined Suicide Terrorist

With the tightening of Security, the bad guys are resorting to more and more suicide attacks.  This requires less sophisticated bombs and timers/detonators.  And a suicide bomber can hide a bomb where no one or nothing can find it.  Up the rectum (see Convergence: The Challenge of Aviation Security by Scott Stewart posted 9/16/2009 on Stratfor).

One of the most recent suicide attacks was the Aug. 28 attempt by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to assassinate Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Nayef. In that attack, a suicide operative smuggled an assembled IED containing approximately one pound of high explosives from Yemen to Saudi Arabia concealed in his rectum. While in a meeting with Mohammed, the bomber placed a telephone call and the device hidden inside him detonated.

In an environment where militant operational planning has shifted toward concealed IED components, this concept of smuggling components such as explosive mixtures inside of an operative poses a daunting challenge to security personnel — especially if the components are non-metallic. It is one thing to find a quantity of C-4 explosives hidden inside a laptop that is sent through an X-ray machine; it is quite another to find that same piece of C-4 hidden inside someone’s body. Even advanced body-imaging systems like the newer backscatter and millimeter wave systems being used to screen travelers for weapons are not capable of picking up explosives hidden inside a person’s body. Depending on the explosive compounds used and the care taken in handling them, this method of concealment can also present serious challenges to explosive residue detectors and canine explosive detection teams. Of course, this vulnerability has always existed, but it is now highlighted by the new tactical reality. Agencies charged with airline security are going to be forced to address it just as they were previously forced to address shoe bombs and liquid explosives.

Advanced body-imaging systems such as backscatter and millimeter wave systems?  Why, these are the imaging systems that produce the nude images that have infuriated the flying public.  The very machines that they say are imperative to our safety.  But what good are they if they won’t detect a bomb in a rectum?  For that matter, what good is an aggressive pat down that won’t detect a bomb in a rectum?  You know what would probably give this guy away, though?  His behavior (see the same Stratfor link).

A successful attack requires operatives not only to be dedicated enough to initiate a suicide device without getting cold feet; they must also possess the nerve to calmly proceed through airport security checkpoints without alerting officers that they are up to something sinister. This set of tradecraft skills is referred to as demeanor, and while remaining calm under pressure and behaving normal may sound simple in theory, practicing good demeanor under the extreme pressure of a suicide operation is very difficult. Demeanor has proven to be the Achilles’ heel of several terror plots, and it is not something that militant groups have spent a great deal of time teaching their operatives. Because of this, it is frequently easier to spot demeanor mistakes than it is to find well-hidden explosives.

In the end, it is impossible to keep all contraband off aircraft. Even in prison systems, where there is a far lower volume of people to screen and searches are far more invasive, corrections officials have not been able to prevent contraband from being smuggled into the system. Narcotics, cell phones and weapons do make their way through prison screening points. Like the prison example, efforts to smuggle contraband aboard aircraft can be aided by placing people inside the airline or airport staff or via bribery. These techniques are frequently used to smuggle narcotics on board aircraft.

Obviously, efforts to improve technical methods to locate IED components must not be abandoned, but the existing vulnerabilities in airport screening systems demonstrate that emphasis also needs to be placed on finding the bomber and not merely on finding the bomb. Finding the bomber will require placing a greater reliance on other methods such as checking names, conducting interviews and assigning trained security officers to watch for abnormal behavior and suspicious demeanor. It also means that the often overlooked human elements of airport security, including situational awareness, observation and intuition, need to be emphasized now more than ever.

Profiling will work.  And has worked.  The Israelis use it.  And they should know a thing or two about keeping bombers off of airplanes.  From the ticket purchase, to the security line to the boarding gate, someone should be asking questions and observing.  And only those they flag should we pull aside for enhanced security screening.  And then and only then, should we violate their naughty bits

It’s Better to Offend a Few than Sexually Batter Everyone

Sexually battering our women and children may seem like tough safety precautions.  But it’s humiliating.  Unclean.  And most important of all, ineffective.  It reminds me of a MAD Magazine cartoon I read long ago as a child. 

A banker was explaining their impenetrable vault to a prospective depositor.  It had every possible advanced security feature you could imagine.  Then the prospective depositor asked what the unplugged electrical cord lying on the floor outside the vault was for.  The banker cleared his voice and said meekly that it was the plug for the super-secure vault.  And that someone must have tripped over the cord and pulled it from the outlet.  But to assuage any doubts the customer had, he assured him that they normally secured that plug to the outlet with a piece of scotch tape.

And this is what the TSA has given us.  A super expensive, complex and invasive security program that some guy with a bomb up his pooper can easily defeat.  Instead of studying behavior, the TSA plays with our genitals.  And tries not to offend people who ‘look’ similar to past terrorists.

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