Sunday, December 11, 2011

TSA Abuse Whitewashers Sought

Have you been groped, strip-searched, inappropriately fondled, or otherwise abused at the airport by a TSA goon? Senator Chuck Schumer has a solution! In an effort to prevent the victims of state-sanctioned assault from running to the newspapers every time they're forced to remove their clothing to prove that their colostomy bag isn't a bomb, or their breast prosthesis isn't hiding a gram of pot, he is calling for "passenger advocate" TSA employees in every airport.

Their real purpose will be to nip the complaints in the bud, whitewash them, and above all, prevent adverse publicity for the Security State. The new staffers can be at the side of travelers at a moment's notice to assure them that they were not assaulted at all, that they are simply being terrorized to prevent terror, and that the $15-an-hour gropers are trained professionals, after all. 

Rather than have the TSA be put in the embarrassing position of claiming that all the accusers are either psychotic, drunk or pathological liars, the new hires will likely receive a crash course in psychological testing. Hysterical victims will be asked to name the president, what medications they are taking, the year, and to count backward from 100 . Once they flunk their mental competency tests, the TSA propaganda department will be able to give instant analyses and plausible denials about every new allegation the media inquire about.

And, just as soon as the holiday rush is over and the TSA has finished ripping open everybody's Christmas presents in a hunt for weapons and drugs, it will institute a toll-free complaint hotline for manhandled fliers. If you are abused, who you gonna call? Not the police! Not the ACLU! Not the Times! Not CNN!  Call the same people who assaulted you in the first place! The same way the family of any rapist deserves that first courtesy call.

According to Schumer and another New York Democrat, State Senator Michael Gianaris, the proposed in-house airport advocates would be summoned immediately by a passenger feeling he/she had been "inappropriately searched" (as opposed to the vast majority of the ovine public who are just fine with the grope).

When the horrific experiences of three Kennedy Airport passengers were publicized last week, Schumer did what he does best. He inserted his corpus in front of the TV cameras. My first reaction was: "At last! The TSA has gone too far this time and he'll announce an overhaul to the whole sadistic system!"

Well, I was wrong of course. Schumer is the same politician who thinks the NYPD should be searching subway passengers before they're allowed to board trains... in rush hour. As far as the latest TSA outrage is concerned, he had this to say: “While the safety and security of our flights must be a top priority, we need to make sure that flying does not become a fear-inducing, degrading, and potentially humiliating experience."

Schumer and all members of Congress are exempt from the TSA screening, so he has not had the pleasure of degradation and humiliation. The only thing he has to fear is fear itself of losing his own cushy seat. Because we all know that no federal lawmaker, no matter how right-wing lunatic fringe Teapublican, would ever, ever bring a weapon or bomb aboard an airliner.  They take an oath to act in the interests of the American people, you see.

Homeland Security Homeboy.... Chuckie Cheese Schumer

28 comments:

Denis Neville said...

Schumer and all members of Congress are exempt from the TSA screening, so he has not had the pleasure of degradation and humiliation.

“Imagine if the political elites in our country were forced to endure the same conditions at the airport as business travelers, families, senior citizens, and the rest of us. Perhaps this problem could be quickly resolved if every cabinet secretary, every member of Congress, and every department head in the Obama administration were forced to submit to the same degrading screening process as the people who pay their salaries.” - Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas)

If someone can be arrested for groping another person, shouldn't TSA agents also be subject to arrest when they do exactly the same thing?

Congressman Paul has introduced the “American Traveler Dignity Act of 2011” to rein in the intrusive and invasive airport searches by the TSA.

http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d112:H.R.2438:

Paul’s legislation “establishes that airport security screeners are not immune from any US law regarding physical contact with another person, making images of another person, or causing physical harm through the use of radiation-emitting machinery on another person. It means they are subject to the same laws as the rest of us.”

http://paul.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1796&Itemid=60


Contrast Schumer’s TSA abuse whitewashers proposal with the American Traveler Dignity Act of 2011.

Valerie said...

You know, if Ron Paul weren't so committed to disposing of the Safety Net in the U.S., I would consider voting for the guy. He certainly has moral courage and is willing to stand up for what he believes is right, even if it is unpopular with his fellow Republicans. I gotta give the guy credit where credit is due.

I think I wrote once that I had a cousin who could never seem to hold down a job. For twenty years he flitted from one job to the next. After 9/11 he went to work in the airports for TSA. He is now a supervisor. I can't help but think Homeland Security wasn't exactly skimming from the top of the barrel when they were hiring for jobs in airport security.

Fred Drumlevitch said...

Capitalism, fear-mongering by politicians, and exaggerated public fear have completely determined U.S. governmental policies for many years. However, even if that fear should decline to realistic levels of prudence, we would still be stuck with laws passed and executive orders issued at the height of fear, and which would require positive action to remove, with such action unlikely (absent a majority public demand for removal) because no politician want to be blamed should another incident occur. Therefore, the only possibly-effective pressure point is a capitalistic one: a substantial passenger boycott of airline travel — as I have previously advocated on my blog.

While a boycott is what I strongly advocate (and personally do), I have no great optimism that enough Americans will soon be willing to inconvenience themselves by foregoing air travel, let alone that they have overcome their excessive fears. Previously in our national history, Americans, acting with courage, faced dangers that completely dwarfed any danger currently posed by terrorism. But in the past ten years, we have been transformed into a country that quakes in its collective public boots over the prospect of terrorism, even though statistics clearly show that the various ravages of age are what will do most of us in.

Geoffrey said...

Karen,
While I have admired your eloquence and passion in advocating for the 99% and deriding the hypocracy of the conservative right, I'm have always been mystified at your hate for TSA. Terrorists want to blow up airpanes because it captures attention like few other acts. Full disclosure: I did work for the agency for a time. I found the vast majority of the screeners at the airports I worked with to be professional. Most applied for their positions after 9/11, motivated by patriotism and a desire to do something for their country. It is boring tedious work that occasionally nets a security threat. But even if there were few prohibited items found, what is the alternative? Would you really want to fly if it wasn't safe? I wouldn't. The procedures developed are designed to balance security with passenger rights and sensitivities. They change to reflect the best intelligence available on threats. I remember few complaints about screener conduct at the airports I worked with and we had over 1 million passengers a year. They used the backs of their hands in sensitve areas. That isn't groping by any definition. Besides, when physical contact is necessary, it is accomplished by a screener of the same sex as the passenger.
I don't understand the problem.
@ Denis. You may be correct about the political elites now, but when I was working in the agency, we screened members of Congress. They didn't like it but we did it.
I got a chuckle when you invoked Ron Paul on this site.
Come on guys, lighten up. It isn't that bad. There are bigger fish to fry out there than the poor TSA screeners.

Denis Neville said...

@Valerie (and also @ me)

If Ron Paul weren't…

Ron Paul strikes Charles Davis as a hell of a lot more progressive than Obama.

http://dissidentvoice.org/2011/04/ron-paul-a-lesser-evil/

“Ask a good movement liberal or progressive about the two and you’ll quickly be informed that, yeah, Ron Paul’s good on the war stuff — yawn — but otherwise he’s a no-good right-wing reactionary of the worst order, a guy who’d kick your Aunt Beth off Medicare and force her to turn tricks for blood-pressure meds. By contrast, Obama, war crimes and all, provokes no such visceral distaste. He’s more cosmopolitan, after all — less Texas-y. He’s a Democrat. And gosh, even if he’s made a few mistakes, he means well. Sure he’s a murderer, in other words, but at least he’s not a Republican!”

“Put another, even less charitable way: Democratic partisans – liberals – are willing to trade the lives of a couple thousand poor Pakistani tribesman in exchange for a few liberal catnip-filled speeches and NPR tote bags for the underprivileged. The number of party-line progressives who would vote for Ron Paul over Barack Obama wouldn’t be enough to fill Conference Room B at the local Sheraton, with even harshest left-leaning critics of the president, like Rolling Stone‘s Matt Taibbi, saying they’d prefer the mass-murdering sociopath to that kooky Constitution fetishist.”

“…I do have a problem with those who imagine themselves to be liberal-minded citizens of the world casting their vote for Barack Obama and propagating the notion that someone can bomb and/or militarily occupy Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen and Libya and still earn more Progressive Points than the guy who would, you know, not do any of that.”

“…it seems to me that if you’re going to style yourself a progressive, liberal humanitarian, your first priority really ought to be stopping your government from killing poor people…”

“Over half of Americans’ income taxes go to the military-industrial complex and the costs of arresting and locking up their fellow citizens. On both counts, Ron Paul’s policy positions are far more progressive than those held – and indeed, implemented – by Barack Obama. And yet it’s Paul who’s the reactionary of the two?”

Davis asks, “Are liberals more than willing to accept a few charred women and children in some country they’ll never visit in exchange for increasing social welfare spending by 0.02 percent, or at least not cutting it by as much as a mean ‘ol Rethuglican?”

Who is the lesser of two evils, Barack Obama or Ron Paul?

http://correntewire.com/lesser_of_two_evils_barack_obama_or_ron_paul_ron_paul

“Why isn’t Obama’s murdering militarism a deal breaker for more of America? After all, his promise to wage peace not war won him the presidency in 2008, didn’t it? Where is America’s conscience, let alone Obama’s? Where is America’s, let alone Obama’s, SOUL?”

Karen Garcia said...

@Geoffrey,
I am sure the vast majority of TSA workers are decent people. It's the agency itself and the mindset behind it that I have a problem with. There are better ways to screen for potential terrorists than subjecting innocent people to invasive searches. The procedures now in place violate the constitutional ban on unlawful search and seizure.

What's to prevent a terrorist from setting off a bomb in a passenger line before ever getting to a TSA screener? What about the terrorist who hides explosives in a body cavity and the rapiscanner doesn't pick it up? Will the TSA then start performing on-site colonoscopies?

Let's face it: this is pure security state theater giving us the illusion of safety.

Anne Lavoie said...

@Geoffrey

TSA = Big Money for the technology related to security and surveillance, which is upgraded constantly. It's another one of those government-corporate money-making, taxpayer funded scams based on fear, fear, fear.

@Denis

I for one am not 'chuckling at your invoking Ron Paul on this site'. It's a free forum for exchange of thoughts, and we value your opinion and the chance to hear your viewpoint because we respect your contributions.

So, go for it, Denis. First it's the Word Police, then next comes the Thought Police. Don't let others try to silence you by laughing or shaming you by calling you a Right Winger. Our voices are about the only power we have anymore.

Of course I happen to agree with you about Ron Paul. I sat down and made a mental list of really important issues to me, and Ron Paul came in way ahead of Obama on all of those, while disagreeing with him on far fewer than I do with Obama. I will not vote for a war criminal, no matter what party he claims.

A key disagreement I have with Paul is his position of giving free reign to corporations, but what difference does that really make? That's what Obama has effectively done for 3 years, loading his cabinet with Wall Street executives and giving away the store to them. The fact remains that there is ample and solid case law spanning a hundred years or more favoring corporations, even IF corporate personhood was somehow reversed.
We need a new constitution to change that.

Obama has already changed his stripes, to a pinstripe suit, while Ron Paul is wearing the same suit he has for decades. He is nothing if not truthful and consistent. WYSIWYG.

Democrats are willing to allow Obama to tradeoff, compromise (with himself), and sellout on our constitutional rights and on key Democratic issues, but Democrats don't want US to do the same by finding a candidate that on balance meets more of our values. For instance, I decided that being able to possibly nominate yet another Corporate Supreme Court puppet doesn't trump EVERYTHING!

And preventing the slaughter and expense of wars, dismantling Empire, and securing our rights is a more worthy goal, on balance to me, than the small risk of having Roe v. Wade reversed. We're going to hold the country hostage to a war criminal and serial constitution violator just in case?

Life is full of real-life tradeoffs, just ask Obama. Well, I am most definitely trading him off, but I haven't locked on to my candidate yet.

Thanks, Denis, for sharing your thoughts on Ron Paul. I am respectfully listening.

John in Lafayette said...

Geoffrey,

Karen beat me to it, but I'll say this, too. The problem is not the people carrying out the policy, the problem is the policy itself.

You see, there's thislittle thing called the fourth amendment to the constitution of the United States, which reads "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause..."

Wanting to board an airplane does not constitute probable cause to suspect someone of criminal activity, pure and simple. No agent of the government has the right to search you - or demand identification - without probable cause at an airport or anywhere else.

Nothing that happened on 9-11 justifies the destruction of our constitutional rights. I refuse to allow the government to use the fear of a hijacking to cow me into giving up my rights. Besides, those rights come from our Creator, not the government, and the government may not deny them. At least that's what our Declaration of Independence tells me.

I don't mean to lecture, but you are wrong to place your safety on board an airline flight above your right to board that flight without being subjected to a search. We are being cowed by bullies. To hell with them.

DreamsAmelia said...

I have been humming "Yule Gruel" under my breath all weekend--brilliant! This will be the new holiday classic for the 99%...

And, may I just say, that from 1968 till about 1993, I flew round trip from D.C. to Texas 2-3 times a year--and it was FUN! The food was exciting because it was "different" and came in cute trays. The vegetarian and low-sodium options that arrived in later years were almost gourmet quality.

No one had earbuds in their ears. I conversed sometimes non-stop for 3 hours with my seat-passenger, who usually took me under his/her wing when I was a minor unaccompanied by a parent.

Now, *at last*, I can be glad my grandparents are dead--because I could not stomach the nonsense needed to fly these days--I've tried, once or twice, since 9/11, and my wrath and boiling blood makes Karen's posts look generous towards the security octopus state. I can commune with my grandparents in dreams far more vividly and realistically than having to endure this un-real, delusional TSA insecurity shenanigans....
Saith TSA,
"Snow globes of any size are not permitted in carry-on bags because officers cannot accurately determine the volume of liquid." Oh, dear Grinch, I think you'll have to go study at the TSA for the ultimate Grinch Finishing School!

And, yet, despite 11 years of this "if you see something, say something,"crap, get this: this summer I unwittingly left my suitcase and my daughter's Chuck E Cheese backpack, full of all the birthday gifts she had just received, ipod, digital camera, a rare, out-of-print biography written by my relative, and pretty much the only summer clothes I have ever had for the last 20 years, in the middle of my courtyard, where about 20 neighbors live. (And when I got to the beach, I wrongly assumed I had left them upstairs).

20 neighbors, who all live in the center of the Security Octopus State, 8.5 miles from the White House, passed my suitcase on the sidewalk to and fro for a week, including the neighbors who were feeding our cats. Everyone saw something, but no one said anything. They thought someone was moving, and let it sit out in the rain, until, the day before I returned home, it was thrown in the trash by the condo association.
All was lost, including the dress I was wearing when I hoed my first row of tobacco and plucked my first fresh okra pod...I still mourn some of those items, but it makes me feel all the more kin with the victims of Katrina, Irene, and disasters around the world.

"See something, say something" did about as much for me as it would against any determined terrorist. The rare wackos who do something heinous, like the Oklahoma City bombing or 9/11 are never going to be stopped, but they are *rare.* We needn't give up all our fearlessness, implicit trust, and friendliness for a few deranged folks of _any_ nationality or religion. But, we have. Thus, the terrorists have won, and I will maintain my lifelong boycott of flying--at least sitting at home, I can laugh my a** off reading Sardonicky....

Anonymous said...

I'd like to weigh in on Ron Paul, if I may. Forgive me if I get a little wordy ro off the original topic of the TSA.

Paul's basic premise is a good one: Government should be in the business of maximizing the personal freedom of those who live within its jurisdiction. Of course, having made the decision to allow that maximum of freedom, we have also made the decision to endure things like institutional unemployment and poverty.

We therefore have a moral obligation to ensure that those who are in poverty and are unemployed enjoy the same basic rights to life as everyone else*. Paul believes that, as a people, we have no such obligation. This is where he is wrong. Unfortunately, the lack of such a conviction on his part has policy implications that make it impossible for me to vote for him.

And that's a shame, because he is so right on so many other things like the fourth amendment and our illegal wars, including the war on drugs.

* Where Democrats have gone off the tracks is in their belief that that obligation means promising everyone an income when, in reality, it means promising everyone a job.

Will said...

@Denis,
That April 2011 article you linked from Charles Davis is without a doubt the "funniest" use of dark humor to excoriate Obama--and his utterly clueless supporters--that I've ever seen. Thanks, man!

@Everyone,
Off the top of my head I can think of at least a couple of those supporters who I pray take the time to read it. On second thought, who am I fucking kidding? Like they would ever let something as trifling as the gruesome truth stand between them and their beloved Barry.

John in Lafayette said...

I apologize for not leaving my name with that post about Ron Paul. Anonymous is me.

Anne Lavoie said...

@John in Lafayette

Hi John. I'm wondering if you would read the piece by Charles Davis referenced by Denis:
http://dissidentvoice.org/2011/04/ron-paul-a-lesser-evil/
and come back and tell us how you are able to weigh those issues and still come out in favor of Obama because of the Democratic ideal of a 'jobs right'.

Obama didn't give jobs top priority until the campaign season, and neither did the Democrats. He decided that Health Insurance reform was the most critical issue for him to spend his political capital on. Everyone was screaming for JOBS but nothing happened. Congressional Democrats helped him ram through their priority ACA, a gift to the health insurers. Obama even justified that decision by saying that it was critical to the deficit and the economy. Congressional Democrats went along for the ride.

After you read it, if you can help us understand your position, I'd love to hear it. Otherwise, if the jobs issue really does weigh in as much more important than all the other issues, maybe we can revisit that to see just what the evidence is that Obama will address this in the future and how (ignoring his military jobs plan).

If you don't want to bother, that's ok too, but it would be informative to read your take. Thanks.

Valerie said...

My husband, who never throws anything away, used the backpack he had as a boy scout as his carry-on luggage a couple of years back. He flew from Seattle to LA and the LA to Sydney. When he went through the Australian equivalent to the TSA check in Sydney, they found a pocket knife squirreled away in a pocket of his pack - clearly left during his boy scout days. It makes me wonder what is the purpose of all this money and indignity if the machines and personnel missed a knife at TWO major American airports.

@DreamsAmelia

My daughter, too, has lost two snow globes and playdough whilst travelling through customs. When I questioned the supervisor about the playdough, showing him that it was NOT listed on the airport website as something not to be taken on board a plane, he told me it could be plastik.

@Geoffrey

And while I am sure there are good people working for TSA, my experience is that they aren't, as a whole, a particularly bright or friendly group of people - and I travelled through 9 airports on my last trip to the U.S. I suspect, because it must be a terribly mind-deadening job and their selection criteria is going to favour very patriotic Americans - the no questioning type of patriot - this might be why the personnel I have come in contact with haven't been like you.

Valerie said...

I read Paul Krugman’s article on the decline of democracy in Europe. (BTW – Karen Garcia comment alert in the comment section of this article.) He writes on Hungary’s governing center-right party:

“Fidesz won an overwhelming Parliamentary majority last year, at least partly for economic reasons; Hungary isn’t on the euro, but it suffered severely because of large-scale borrowing in foreign currencies and also, to be frank, thanks to mismanagement and corruption on the part of the then-governing left-liberal parties. Now Fidesz, which rammed through a new Constitution last spring on a party-line vote, seems bent on establishing a permanent hold on power.

. . . Fidesz is relying on overlapping measures to suppress opposition. A proposed election law creates gerrymandered districts designed to make it almost impossible for other parties to form a government; judicial independence has been compromised, and the courts packed with party loyalists; state-run media have been converted into party organs, and there’s a crackdown on independent media; and a proposed constitutional addendum would effectively criminalize the leading leftist party.”

I don't know about you but to me it sounds an awful like the United States. Like Hungary we are 1)suffering because of banking and large scale borrowing 2) mismanagement and corruption on the part of the governing left-liberal party 3)the Right bent on establishing a permanent hold on power 4)gerrymandering and 5)making it impossible for other parties (for us a third party) to form a government 6)judicial independence compromised 7)courts packed with party loyalists 8)media converted to party organs 9) criminalizing the leading leftist party (for us the Occupy Movement. )

And as always, the REAL treasures are in the reader comment section. A commenter named Mancuroc had a great link to a Canadian radio show on Iceland which held a referendum and decided (by REAL democratic majority) NOT to bail out their dirty bankers and to default on loans taken in their name. It is a really great show.

I am fascinated with Iceland but have found it difficult to find good articles. There seems to be an unspoken embargo against Iceland for not accepting austerity (as Ireland did) and I can only assume the global plutocracy is demanding Iceland be totally isolated. Here is the link – http://www.cbc.ca/thesundayedition/

Anonymous said...

@Valerie,

Yes. The Krugman article was frightening, wasn't it. I suppose that's why he is voting for Obama.

Ned

John in Lafayette said...

Anne:

I'm sorry if I gave you the impression that I favor Obama. If it comes down Obama/Paul I'm not sure what I'll do, but whatever it is, it won't be to vote for either of them.

Every time I get to thinking I may just hold my nose and vote for Obama in November I come across another article like the one you referenced and I'm brought back to my senses.

Obama doesn't care one bit about unemployment, that much is plain. None of the remaining candidates in either of the two major parties is even talking about getting people back to work. It's disgusting.

My feeling is the government ought to see to it that everyone who wants a job has one. Again, this comes from my belief that, having chosen an economic system that assumes institutional unemployment, we also must choose to use the power of the government to provide jobs when our "free market" system won't.

To Ron Paul my position is anathema. Obama, on the other hand, pays lip service to the notion of putting people to work, but when he had the chance to actually pass a stimulus bill, the only thing he stimulated was the banks.

I'll probably write in Kucinich. True story: Four years ago I was living in Las Vegas and attended the Nevada Democratic caucuses. Of over 1,000 people at our local high school gym, I was the ONLY one who cast his ballot for Kucinich.

Valerie said...

@Ned,

You missed my point which was that America is not that much better off than Hungary. And guess who I blame for that? - The corporate politicians including Obama who has a starring role.

And while I find Krugman OK - I am not one of his disciples. For one thing, Krugman is a Free Trader. I think Free Trade is a hoax that has hurt – well . . . pretty much everyone except the giant corporations which have used it to exploit desperate people and the environment. And, as you point out, he supports Obama.

I used to read Krugman more but now I usually just go there for the reader comments.

And even if I admired someone who is going to vote for Obama, it doesn't mean I will do the same. I can think for myself and am not afraid to differ with people I respect.

Geoffrey said...

@ Karen
You raise some valid points. Who is to say how much of the "security theater" has deterrent value. It is always difficult to measure what didn't happen.
As far as setting off something in a line of passengers; that doesn't have the same psychological effect as imagining the last moments of 150 passengers at 29,000 feet.
There are methods for addressing the surgical scenarios you suggest. I doubt they would be welcomed by any of us. My perception is that the attempt to employ more advanced technology has been to make screening less intrusive.

@John
I would direct you to the Federal Appeals Court Decision of July 11, 2011, which said, “As other circuits have held, and as the Supreme Court has strongly suggested, screening passengers at an airport is an ‘administrative search’ because the primary goal is not to determine whether any passenger has committed a crime but rather to protect the public from a terrorist attack.”
It would seem that your interpretation of the 4th Amendment is not accurate for this purpose. Airport screening is not a criminal search.
You also have me confused. I thought you were talking about the 4th amendment in the US Constitution. There is no mention of a "creator" in the US constitution. I'll confine my concept of rights to the US constitution as I have no direct knowledge of your source.
I would also suggest that the families of over 3,000 people would disagree with you and that something transformational did happen on 9/11.
The framers wrote the constitution as a living document. That is a good thing because I doubt that the founding fathers could not have envisioned 19 religious fanatics flying planes into buildings.
Finally, I and I alone will decide if I want to put up with a little screening and thus place flying ahead of my rights. You do what you want to. Not to lecture though.

@ Anne
You may very well be right.

@ Valerie
Thanks. For many of us it was important work. Especially when you knew some of the people that died that day. The endlessly repetive nature of the job and its effects on people is something I know the agency is trying to address. I flew a few weeks ago and my interactions were positive. I hope yours are better in the future.

Jay - Ottawa said...

I heard the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's interview of Iceland's President Olafur Grimsson when it aired. It's in Hour One of the program at this site:
http://www.cbc.ca/thesundayedition/

Iceland under Grimsson's leadership defied the financial market system. He is regarded as a heretic by other world leaders. He let the big bank in his land fall instead of propping it up the only way he could, by emptying the pockets of everyday Icelanders.

Did his approach lead to the end of history in Iceland? Has it become the Cuba of the North? Quite the opposite. Listen to him describe how Iceland recovered from the Great Recession faster than anyone in Europe or North America. If only all the other Serious People around the world had done the same.

Do you suppose Iceland would grant refugee status to the millions in the US without jobs, down to the last penny of their nest eggs and underwater in their homes? Then again, there's no subway to Reykjavik, so we'd have to run the gauntlet of the TSA one more time.

What it boils down to, according to Grimsson, is a county's choice between (a) democracy or (b) the financial market system. Obama bowed down before the FMS. Iceland chose democracy and, thanks to financial support from unexpected sources, is doing quite well, thank you.

As for Ron Paul, I suspect Charles Dickens had someone like him in mind when he portrayed Scrooge -- before the Ghosts of Christmases Past happy ending.

Ron Paul wants to stop the wars because they cost money, not because they kill and maim people. He's OK with starving, freezing and sickening people to death at home, once again, because it costs money to address such problems. This is the perfect formula for unleashing centrifugal forces that would turn one great nation into a collection of feudal duchies of not so benign neglect.

Forget the Corporate Front Party (composed of Republicans and Democrats). Their Tea Partiers and Yellow Dogs are dragging us into a new Dark Age.

Take a look at Ross Anderson who, today (Tuesday) will declare his candidacy to lead the Justice Party. Here's a link to the "Guardian" describing Rocky Anderson's radical third way:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/dec/12/rocky-anderson-radical-third-way?newsfeed=true

DreamsAmelia said...

Dear Valerie--augh.(re: playdough) I almost want to say, "don't you wonder what they DO with all these confiscated treasures?" except I don't want to know the answer!
If all these items are potential bomb-making material, aren't you literally handing a bomb-making kit right to the TSA--no shopping needed? Yet, as you say, maybe only dullards take the job, so no twisted-sister mad scientist would, impromptu, fashion a bomb while bored on a break at the job....

Democracy Now had a long interview with Rocky Anderson this a.m., launching the debut of the Justice Party for the 2012 Presidential election. I almost shudder to say he seems genuine. For so did Obama, once upon a time. But Mr. Anderson's first interview is inspiring in the same way I get pumped by Bernie Sanders, who has rarely disappointed me.

As I follow the intriguing debate here about Ron Paul, the main problem is the president is NOT a legislator! The wild wish list and list of problems people think can be corrected by one single president is far out of bounds of the scope of the presidency. Theoretically, the Congress should be the most activist branch of the 3 branches-but currently the Supreme Court, and yes, the presidency indeed are. Activist Presidents like GWB then bolster the expectation that starting all sorts of wars with fabricated veneer of legitimacy is within the scope of power--House Rep. John Conyers held totally non-covered by the press hearings in 2007-8 about "The Imperial Presidency," to explore all the ways GWB expanded the presidency--All congressional hearings are archived on the U.S.Congress' own (taxpayer funded!) website in video format---it was a jaw-dropping series of hearings, almost like a parallel universe to watch them...but, obviously, simply excised from the political debate, thus never entering the lexicon of the proverbial "American people."

Krugman, rightfully, complained recently on his blog that he sometimes feels like he is in a dream where you are screaming and no one can hear you. There are many excellent congresspeople who are in a similar position, and get unfairly lumped into the category of rich and out of touch, when in fact they are trying their best to reclaim government for you and me, the average fleshly, non-corporate person. This is why I feel somewhat fatalistic about the political system, because transforming congress seems more important, and less possible, than shuffling the prez placeholder. The Pres of any party becomes a punching bag for the opposition, thus distracting the congress from truly accomplishing anything besides making the him a 1-term prez. Or else the Dems accede to all Repub wishes, thus making the 2 parties Right, and Ultra-Right, as an article referenced here noted.

Anne Lavoie said...

If any third party candidate dares to try to 'steal' any of 'their' votes, the two corporate parties are going to come down hard on that candidate, behind the scenes of course. Being kept out of the national debates is the first step and the corporate media will do their part. Heck, Jon Huntman might as well be a third party candidate. I heard that ABC News kept him out of the debate on Saturday, saying he didn't poll high enough. The real reason was that his IQ was probably too high and would make the rest look bad.

Is it any wonder it's so hard to find anyone willing to run as a third party candidate? He/she will be demonized for his entire life if it is perceived that s/he 'stole' any of 'their' votes. That's their mindset and the line they feed their loyal follows. Just ask Ralph Nader. We still hear that line, even all these years later.

Considering that Obama is barely looking electable, he needs every vote he can get, so his team is not going to be happy with any third party candidate, no matter how obscure, who threatens their dim prospects. Especially one that appeals to the base that he threw under the bus right after his election.

No, they won't take kindly to the prospect of Rocky Anderson gaining, I mean stealing, even one vote they think they own. I fully expect them to try to cut a backroom deal of an ambassadorship offer to get him to go away, plus the usual legal maneuvers to keep him off the ballot. I just hope he goes public with it if he is the victim of any dirty tricks. Discerning minds will definitely want to know.

Since the establishment will attempt to lock him out of the process, maybe the Occupy movement can help move him along.

Rock 'em Rocky!

John in Lafayette said...

Geoffrey:

The US Supreme Court has been wrong in the past (see: Dred Scott, Citizens United), and they are wrong in holding that airport screenings are administrative searches. Assume for a moment you are bringing marijuana on a plane. If the screeners find it will you not be subject to arrest? The marijuana is not a threat to the safety of other passengers.

The rights with which we are endowed by our Creator are mentioned in the Declaration of Independence, as I'm sure you know. The Bill of Rights is an attempt to codify those rights, and as such is not comprehensive. That's why we have the ninth amendment.

You may feel free to decide which of your rights you want to jettison whenever you like. You may not feel free to do so with my rights. Enjoy your life of fear, my friend. Some of those 3,000 were friends of mine, and I can say with a fair amount of certainty that they would not appreciate their memories being used to gut the constitution.

John in Lafayette said...

Geoffrey:

One other thing. I'm not opposed to the searches per se; only to the notion that it's the government conducting them. The airlines, as private entities, have every right to outline the conditions under which they'll allow people to ride on their planes.

It's an entirely different story, however, when one's liberty is put at risk. Then there are certain things the state may not do, and one of those is search you without a warrant or probable cause.

If there truly was such a thing as a purely administrative search - whatever that may be - there wouldn't be a problem, I suppose. But when an agent of the federal government stops me and searches me without any probable cause, he is overstepping his bounds. If a police officer were to stop you on the street without any probable cause, search you, find a gun, and then arrest you, the fruits of that search would be thrown out. Why are things different at an airport? There are many, many other crowded places - subway stations, baseball games, the Tournament of Roses Parade - where thousands of people could be killed by a person with a bomb. Are warrantless searches OK in those places, too?

And please forgive me if I get a little carried away with my language. I do not mean to impugn either you or your motives. We simply disagree.

Kat said...

@Denis-- thanks for the link.
@Jay-- I don't believe that Ron Paul's stance on ending the wars is based solely on money. He has made some eloquent statements on the sheer lunacy of our anti terrorism policies which only engender more hatred of the US. He seems to be the only mainstream candidate that is not interested in ginning up fears of Iran too.
I also believe that Paul is not quite as coldhearted as you say Was he not the only candidate that said that TARP funds would have been better spent bailing out homeowners?
Corporate power unchecked is a dangerous thing, but coporate power unchecked and aided by government is even worse.
It is strange that the topic of Paul came up, because yesterday when I read Glen Greenwald's piece on non military uses of drones I did think "Ron Paul looks better all the time".
Of course, Rocky Anderson looks like a dream. And-- he really can deliver a speech. But, a lot can happen in the next year. And, if it comes down to the lesser of evils, I have to say that Obama ain't even that.

Anonymous said...

@Valerie

No, I did not miss your point. I was rather hoping you might consider what happens when the right wins elections. No doubt we agree on the disastrous effects. I just marvel that you think Rocky Anderson or Ron Paul may save this country from a similar fate.

As to Ron Paul....you can't beat his foreign policy but his health, and all domestic policy is more than lacking. Remember, he'd let the guy without insurance die.

I do wonder what the reaction will be the day after Obama loses the election. Will it be a celebration? And if you choose to celebrate, will it be because Obama has been defeated, or because you look forward to lower taxes, privatization of social security, Medicare vouchers, and an ever closer relationship with Israel (and whatever that may bring)

Ned

Valerie said...

@Ned

We have had this conversation before, many times. You are voting for Obama because you are afraid of the alternatives. I believe we will never get anything better than a corporate sell-out president unless we demand more from the DNC. Quite frankly, if Obama loses, I won't celebrate and if Obama wins I won't celebrate. Either way, the 99% lose; either way the plutocracy will become more deeply entrenched and we will be ten steps deeper into plutocratic dictatorship.

And you and others in the Lesser of Two Evils camp can blame people like me for Obama losing but I blame Obama and, quite honestly, I blame people like you who have made it clear to the Obama Camp and the DNC that no matter how badly Obama sells out his constituency, you will vote for him. You should have taken a stand and had the courage of your convictions once it was clear that Obama would continue to sell out the middle class in favour of the corporations. Obama has counted on people like you being so blinded by your fear of the Republicans, that you will embrace a president who has sold you out at every turn.

Don't blame me for having the integrity to vote for a better person. Obama has dismissed his base as if we were a joke. He has given us NOTHING. So he shouldn't be whining about the fact that we - as any sensible person with self-respect who has been ignored and derided would - will take our vote elsewhere.

Let it go, Ned, you and I will never agree on this issue and no amount of you repeating your Lesser of Two Evils mantra is going to make a difference.

@All

I believe if they leave a third party candidate out if the debate - which I expect they will - that we will see an Internet revolution around politics. It will be like it was when the MSM ignored the Occupy Movement. The MSM, as their corporate identity demands, will marginalise a Third Party Candidate and the Internet and blogs will pick up the slack.

I think our Democracy is teetering on a cliff. Surely those of us who value it have in us to take a courageous stand and fight this one last battle.

Valerie said...

@Jay

Thanks for the link to the Iceland story - As the Occupy Protesters say, "This is what democracy looks like!"

Quite the contrast to Europe and the United States.

@Geoffrey

You have only one message, "Be afraid!" Any psychologist will tell you that fear is a terrible reason to do anything. I causes people to make bad decisions like trading their freedoms and civil liberties so that terrorists "who hate us for our freedom" won't attack us.

The truth is, if we really want Middle Eastern terrorists to leave us alone, we should get the hell out of the Middle East and stop trying to manipulate their governments and politicians so we can get the oil in that part of the world. We should do what Jimmy Carter tried to do a quarter of a century ago and get off fossil fuels and on to alternative energy.

Same with China (I realise I am drifting a little off topic here but bear with me.) You don't like China's growing economic power and the influence it has on America? Stop buying stuff made in China! Stop allowing corporations to manufacture in China and ship it back to the U.S. with no penalties. Make it cool to boycott Chinese and other Third World - non-fair trade products. Make it financially better for the American corporations to build factories and products in the U.S.