Archive for October, 2010

Trapped. 298/365The very same day I post about the scam which is daylight saving time, comes an event in my home state of Connecticut, which shines a massive floodlight on yet another scam: The supposed “security” meant to protect us from terrorist attacks. The venerable Hartford Courant provides this incredibly brief story on the incident (WebCite cached article):

State police say a harmless snowglobe in a carryon bag caused a partial evacuation at Bradley International Airport.

State police Lt. J. Paul Vance says a Transportation Security Administration worker spotted something that looked suspicious while screening bags and alerted state police shortly before 11 a.m. Sunday.

Vance says Terminal A was evacuated as a precaution but was reopened about 45 minutes later, after authorities determined the snowglobe did not contain explosives and was not a danger.

Full disclosure: I live near Bradley and have been there many times. What you may not know about it is that an evacuation of Terminal A is NOT a “partial” evacuation. It is a “full” evacuation. That’s because, as of this summer, ALL passenger flights go in and out of BDL though Terminal A. That’s right, Terminal A is pretty much the entire airport! The “old airport,” Terminal B, has been closed for months … and for a couple of years prior to that, only one airline used it, that being American Airlines.

I almost cannot believe the Courant purposely downplayed this event by using this wording — but they did. It’s inexcusable, but not surprising.

The cold hard fact is that airport security is nothing more than “security theater,” intended to make travelers feel as though they’re safe, when they’re not.

Second point of full disclosure: I happened to be traveling during the holidays in 2009, when a young man from Africa shoved explosives in his shorts and tried to set them off on a flight into Detroit (cached article). My return trip included extra security measures ostensibly designed to deal with that (cached). However, I can attest that, had I also packed explosives in my shorts, not one of the “extra” measures they implemented, would have even come close to finding it. All TSA did was add time and complexity to everyone’s travel, without adding so much as a micron of actual, extra “security.”

As CNN’s article on that event shows, the government actually had had all the information it needed to have prevented that young man from getting on the airplane … but they chose to do nothing about it.

And that, Gentle Reader, is what makes all the “security theater” a meaningless exercise. Real “security” means not letting the terrorists anywhere near an airport in the first place. The measures taken to — supposedly — detect weapons and explosives in the airports, are useless, if a terrorist is sufficiently driven to slip it through.

Although “security theater” is most noticed in airports and in aviation, it does crop up in other places too, such as in large-city mass transit systems. The same principle applies to all settings, though: True security lies in keeping terrorists out of public venues entirely, not in dealing with them once they’ve already arrived.

At any rate, authorities tend to go overboard when faced with “suspicious” packages and devices. They say it’s due to being “cautious,” because — it is said — IF the “suspicious” item turns out to truly have been dangerous, but no action had been taken, and someone was hurt or killed, there’d be hell to pay. While this is true, it’s also a fallacious false dilemma. There IS a large middle ground of possible choices between these two extremes; various shades of action that span the continuum between doing nothing and shutting down an entire airport. For example, there’s cordoning off the immediate vicinity of the device, calling in the bomb squad, and carting it away safely, but with everyone kept at a safe distance, with most people able to continue with their business. (Bradley’s Terminal A is a very large building, so there’s plenty of room to work with, if officials wanted.)

The reason that this sort of discreet measure is never taken, is because officials don’t want to use discreet measures: They want everything they do to be seen, to be seen BIG, and to be as noticeable as possible, so that everyone knows they’re doing their jobs. Quietly controlling the situation and removing the device with a minimum of trouble, is the opposite of that, and therefore is unacceptable.

The problem with idiotic hypersecurity debacles such as the snowglobe that closed Bradley International is not merely that they’re laughable or inconveniences for travelers. There are very real costs involved in closing airport terminals. Planes, for example, cannot fly in or out of them; this means airlines must incur the costs of shuffling airplanes and travelers around. Concessionaires cannot sell to empty terminals; this means a loss of business for them. I could go on, but won’t bother … you get the picture.

The “security theater” which has become a national obsession since September 11, 2001 is indeed a scam and a joke … but you need not just take my word for it. Folks much more expert on the matter than I, have weighed in, and they agree. See e.g. this 60 Minutes report on it (cached), as well as this report by The Atlantic (cached).

It’s a sad day when a mere snowglobe … someone’s harmless souvenir … can cripple an entire international airport. Unfortunately this kind of pathetic, laughable sham happens all the time in the US. But it shouldn’t. It’s a scam Americans should no longer tolerate.

Photo credit: Tenineight.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments 4 Comments »

Clock face / Ian Britton / Freefoto.Com / Ref Number: 11-22-54Earlier this spring, I blogged about the fraud known as daylight saving time (DST). Given that it will end in the United States a week from today, on November 7, 2010, I thought I would reiterate the point I made then: Everything that people believe about it, and which is commonly used to justify it, is wrong. Flat-out wrong.

To sum up: It was never established to help farmers, and has absolutely nothing to do with agriculture; it does not save energy, and may actually expend more of it; and it was not invented by Benjamin Franklin (belief that it was, is an anachronistic misinterpretation of a satirical piece he wrote about the Parisians of his own time).

What’s more, there is some evidence that it might be harmful to public health (WebCite cached article).

Oh, and it’s not “daylight savings time,” it’s “dayight saving time” (the word “saving” in that phrase is not a noun, but an adjective, so it shouldn’t be used in the plural form).

It’s long past time we dispensed with the myth-based fraud known as daylight saving time. I’m all for beginning a campaign to petition Congress to end it. Not that it will happen, especially if those in Congress continue to invoke the (false!) mantra that DST “saves energy.” That will definitely be a hard sell: We all know that legislators — at any level — prefer an appealing lie to an uncomfortable truth. At any rate, maybe it’s worth a try, nonetheless?

Photo Credit: Ian Britton / FreeFoto.Com.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Comments 2 Comments »

The Masjid Noor mosque – Huntington, NY – Oct 26, 2010 – Photo: Mona Rivera / 1010 WINSThe Neocrusaders who want to eradicate Islam from the United States continue to beat the drums of their militant Christian-inspired hatred. This week they twice vandalized a mosque in Huntington, NY (on Long Island), as reported by WPIX-TV out of New York City (WebCite cached article):

Hate crimes detectives are investigating after a jar of nails was thrown into the driveway of a Long Island mosque in what’s now the second incident in a week.

According to Suffolk County police, authorities were called to the Masjid Noor mosque in Huntington at around 7:45 p.m. after shards of glass and nails were discovered outside the place of worship.

I suppose the vandals might have been teens just looking to make trouble … but this appears too consciously targeted not to have been cooked up by a Neocrusader. I also suppose they could have done a whole lot worse, as did the Neocrusaders who torched a mosque under construction in Murfreesboro TN.

By the way, the name of this Long Island mosque happens to be very close to one in Bridgeport, CT that had been protested back in August by a bunch of Neocrusaders from Texas, about which I blogged at the time.

Oh, and no, I haven’t failed to notice that it was militant Islamists from Yemen who seem to have tried to send bombs to Chicago synagogues via UPS international delivery (cached article). We’re under siege by militant religionists on all sides.

Photo credit: WINS-AM 1010.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments 2 Comments »

Derby Superior Courthouse, aka Sterling Opera HouseIt’s to be expected, I suppose, given that Halloween is almost here. But the news media continue to waste their time — and that of their readers/listeners/viewers — on stories about “hauntings” and the paranormal. It’s something I’ve blogged on many times already, and there doesn’t seem to be any end to this pathetic journalistic trope. The latest example is one I saw tonight on WTNH-TV out of New Haven, CT, reporting on the putative “haunting” of the Sterling Opera House in Derby, CT (WebCite cached article):

News 8 is with two paranormal investigators checking out one spot in Connecticut some say is haunted, the Sterling Opera House.

Dan Rivera and John Silveira run “Above the Realm Paranormal” which checks out reports of Unexplained noises or shadows or other things you can’t explain yourself.

The Sterling Opera House was built in 1889. It’s undergoing a renovation.

The “meat” of the report is in the video, which is right here:

The problem is that none of this so-called “evidence” proves anything. Gobs of light on photographs? Lens flares. Supposed children’s voices saying “Help me”? Some guy off-camera holding something over his mouth, saying it in falsetto.

Please, spare me the protestations of how “genuine” and/or “sincere” these “paranormal investigators” claim to be. They may be genuine, in which case they’re deluded. They also may not be, which makes them frauds. Either way, not good.

And the good folks at Channel 8 News were taken in by it. For shame. We don’t need any more “haunting journalism.”

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments 1 Comment »

#41 - Impeach ObamaI’ve blogged before about the Right comparing Obama and the Democrats to Hitler and the Nazis. To hear them tell it, the US has already become the next incarnation of the Third Reich. Reductio ad Hitlerums have become so common that it’s almost expected. Well, the Germans have noticed, and Der Spiegel, at least, is telling the American Right to stop already with the Hitlerisms (WebCite cached article):

Many on the American right have developed a taste for including a bit of German history in their stump speeches. Hitler comparisons abound and the Berlin Wall even made a cameo recently. But the flippant references to the Holocaust are ignorant and offensive. And they should stop. …

In this midterm campaign season in the US, German history seems to be everywhere. In June, conservative columnist Thomas Sowell of JewishWorldReview.com essentially argued that President Barack Obama, by requiring that BP pay $20 billion (€14.3 billion) to compensate those harmed by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, was following in the footsteps of Adolf Hitler — and was promptly praised by Sarah Palin and Republican Congressman Louie Gohmert of Texas.

Other examples abound. A Tea Party campaign poster in Iowa depicted Obama flanked by both Hitler and Lenin. Conservative talking head and Tea Party heartthrob Glenn Beck can hardly get through one of his Fox News shows without an Obama-Hitler comparison. Palin also accused Obama’s health care plan of including “death panels.” …

During his show on Oct. 5, Glenn Beck said that Obama’s science adviser John Holdren’s concern about the global population and White House health policy adviser Ezekiel Emanuel’s warnings about global warming are “the kind of thinking that led to … the extermination program that eventually led to the Holocaust.”

Der Spiegel goes on to talk about how Germans themselves … apart from one famous example that the article cites … tend to avoid the old reductio ad Hitlerum:

For most Germans, though, the Hitler comparisons are vastly more offensive. It is almost impossible to finish high school in Germany without going on a class visit to a former concentration camp. They are not pleasant places to be. While the sites themselves might now be little more than windswept rows of foundations where hopelessly overcrowded, disease-ridden barracks once stood, the museum exhibits tend to be much more disturbing. Images of trucks full of emaciated corpses, ovens where tens of thousands of bodies were burned, photos of SS commandos on the Eastern Front shooting row upon row of Jews, a canister of the poison gas Zyklon B — all are likely to be on display. …

It would be hard to find someone on this side of the Atlantic who wouldn’t cringe at the ignorance of [Beck’s] statement [about Holdren]. Leaving aside the question as to whether or not one should be concerned about climate change and an overcrowded planet, the kind of thinking that led to the Holocaust was a different one. Hitler wanted a racially pure Germany. People with handicaps didn’t fit. Neither did Jews, Gypsies, Slavs, blacks, Asians, Arabs or homosexuals.

Der Spiegel puts the whole thing into perspective:

The Holocaust was the result of murderous ideological fanaticism of the kind not to be found in leaders forced to face re-election every four years. It was not the result of a policy meeting.

Similarly, back in June Glenn Beck said that children singing for Barack Obama was “out of the playbook … of the Third Reich ….This is Hitler Youth.” One can assume that not all of Beck’s listeners and viewers know what the Hitler Youth was. Beck himself, an astute, if cynical, student of history, certainly does. The Hitler Youth was the ideological training grounds designed to prepare German boys for a glorious career in the SS murdering anyone who stood in the way of the Führer’s dream of a vast and racially pure German Reich. It was not a dictator’s private children’s choir.

One can forgive those like Glenn Beck and his Tea Party followers for hating Barack Obama. The liberals, after all, were passionately opposed to George W. Bush and rarely shied away from hyperbole in their expressions of loathing. But it is hard to imagine even the most hard-bitten Tea Party activist sincerely believing that President Barack Obama wants to systematically murder over 6 million people like Adolf Hitler did.

One of the “justifications” for this sort of reasoning which folks on the Right have offered, is that during the George W. Bush administration, many on the Left made similar accusations about Bush, Vice President Cheney, and the Republicans. They are correct in pointing out this happened — as I noted previously — but they’re wrong about this justifying their rhetoric. It doesn’t, quite simply because two wrongs don’t make a right. That the Left did something it shouldn’t have, years ago, does not grant the Right license to do the same thing, now.

I have no doubt that Tea Partiers and assorted creeps like Glenn Beck will not stop using appeals to Hitler and the Nazis, but it sure seems as though Der Spiegel said something that has desperately needed to be said, for a long time … and did so from the perspective of its native country, Germany, which was home to Hitler, his Nazi party, and the Third Reich.

Photo credit: elviskennedy.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments 1 Comment »

Ken Buck, courtesy of Ken Buck for Senate Web site (www.buckforcolorado.com)It turns out that more than one GOP Senate candidate opposes separation of church and state and believes it to be unconstitutional — even though a long sequence of Supreme Court decisions has decided that it is. The latest Christofascist to make this declaration is Ken Buck, who’s running for US Senate from Colorado, as the Washington Post reports (WebCite cached article):

Colorado Republican Senate candidate Ken Buck has questioned the separation of government and religion, drawing criticism from Democrats who last week chided another tea party candidate for the same view.

Buck’s opponents have been circulating a clip of him from a 2009 GOP forum in which he won applause from a conservative crowd at Colorado Christian University when he said the Constitution doesn’t require church and state to be separate.

“I disagree strongly with the concept of separation of church and state. It was not written into the Constitution,” Buck said on the video. “While we have a Constitution that is very strong in the sense that we are not gonna have a religion that’s sanctioned by the government, it doesn’t mean that we need to have a separation between government and religion.”

As with Christine O’Donnell, who spewed similar views during a debate, Buck’s campaign is defending his words:

Buck hasn’t said anything public recently about the issue. His spokesman, Owen Loftus, said Wednesday that Buck’s belief stands.

OK, so now we know Ken Buck is a Christofascist, if not a dominionist or Christian reconstructionist.

All I can say to Mr Buck is this: Hey Ken, if you want this American to become a Christian, you’re just going to have to make me one. Go ahead. Do your worst. I dare you to give it your best shot. I’m ready for whatever you decide to do in order to force me to become the Christian you think I must be.

In case anyone is not clear on the matter, as I explained previously, separation of church and state IS most certainly Constitutional … not merely because the Supreme Court has decided it is, but because that’s what the writer of the First Amendment, James Madison, himself said it meant!

Photo Credit: Buck for Colorado Web site.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments Comments Off on Another GOP Candidate Disavows Separation Of Church And State

Clint McCance Facebook postings, screenshot, courtesy of The AdvocateAn official from an Arkansas school district used Facebook as a platform for his religiously-inspired hatred of gays. The Advocate reports on his vile comments:

While schools across the country are taking action against bullying and suicide, a board member of an Arkansas school district is using his Facebook page to encourage “queers” and “fags” to kill themselves.

Clint McCance is a board member in the Midland school district in northern Arkansas. Responding to a call to wear purple last Wednesday to support LGBT youth, McCance wrote the following message on his Facebook page: “Seriously they want me to wear purple because five queers killed themselves. The only way im wearin it for them is if they all commit suicide. I cant believe the people of this world have gotten this stupid. We are honoring the fact that they sinned and killed thereselves because of their sin. REALLY PEOPLE.”

As one might expect in the heart of the Bible Belt, McCance’s hateful comments earned some support from other hyperreligious lunatics:

Initially, six people “liked” McCance’s message. He also received supportive comments, though some challenged his statement. A commenter wrote, “Because hatred is always right.”

At least one person challenged his Christianity:

McCance responded with, “I would disown my kids they were gay. They will not be welcome at my home or in my vicinity. I will absolutely run them off. Of course my kids will know better. My kids will have solid christian beliefs. See it infects everyone.”

That’s right, demanding that gays kill themselves because they “sinned” is decidedly Christian. Right?

Need I point out, though, that according to strict Christian doctrine, everyone is guilty of “sin,” as McCance’s own Bible says:

But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:21-26)

The Biblical solution for “sinners,” then, is NOT for “sinners” to kill themselves, but rather, to have faith in Jesus. Thus, McCance quite obviously contradicts scripture and is being un-Christian.

NPR reports that McCance has been quizzed about his comments, but has fallen back on an old dodge, and others around him are avoiding the subject entirely (cached article):

McCance didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment Wednesday left on his voicemail. But he told the Arkansas Times that the issue had been “blown out of proportion” and he planned to issue a statement later Wednesday. Officials at the Midland School District said Superintendent Dean Stanley was out of the office and not available for comment.

I’m not sure how an admonition for all gays to kill themselves could possibly be “blown out of proportion,” since it’s a fairly extreme statement all by itself. But hey, when you’ve been caught saying something horrifically hateful and are embarrassed by it, it’s much better to try to deny having said it, or that what you said means what you said, than just to admit you said it, concede it was wrong, apologize for it, and then move on.

That is, after all, the Christian thing to do. No?

Update: During an interview with Anderson Cooper on CNN, Clint McCance apologized — sort of — and promised to resign his position (cached article). His “apology” was more along the lines of a non-apology apology; he apologized for having hurt people, but never admitted that the philosophy he’d expressed on Facebook was a vile, repugnant and immoral one that no one should espouse.

I predict he will become a martyr to the Religious Right: He — or others, or both — will claim he was “run out of office,” that he was “persecuted for being a Christian,” that his “free speech rights” were violated, and so on. It will all be a package of lies, of course, but it will be compelling to the rest of the Religious Right, because any suggestion of “persecution” is inherently appealing to them … as has been the case with Christianity since its origin. Christianity is, after all, a martyrs’ sect, founded on the career of a martyr. I further predict he’ll run for a higher office in a couple of years … very likely for Congress.

Photo credit: The Advocate.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments 2 Comments »