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You’ll Get Groped Because Of The Money, Lebowski

I’m traveling over the holiday, so my impending TSA grope is naturally on my mind. But before I share my views on our current state of airport molestation, I need to express my thoughts on each step that led up to this.

In the year immediately following 9/11, airport security understandably tightened considerably. I happened to have been flying a lot in the two years after 9/11. While I understood the need for tightened security, I could not understand the way we went about it. Four security check points were set up from the airport entrance to the gate. This might have made sense if the idea was to stagger the step at which everyone’s bags were screened, but that’s not how it went. I happen to have a middle eastern looking last name (probably because I’m Iranian). I don’t look middle eastern. In fact, I get mistaken for Latino, more often than not. For every single flight that I took for two years, I was “randomly selected” for “extra screening” upon showing my driver’s license. This might not have been completely nonsensical, were it not for the way it was done. I was “selected” at each of the four checkpoints between the entrance and the gate so my bag was checked four times while the other two hundred people boarding my flight carried on bags that were never checked. It was an inane and inefficient system that, in my estimation made us less “safe”.

Let me just say that I’m not opposed to racial profiling. Let me explain what I mean by that, before your head explodes. I am not opposed to scientific methods being used by trained intelligence professionals, in order to determine who merits spending our precious little resources to take a closer look at. When done correctly, racial profiling is an invaluable tool in preventing terrorism. For example, any twenty-something year old male coming in and out of the country from Yemen should be looked at by our intelligence agencies. That person is in the most likely group of people to be radicalized, and their frequent travel to the US merits taking a close look at what they’re up to. At the time of 9/11, there was predominantly one kind of terrorist; middle eastern men in their twenties.

If I’m boarding a plane in 2002 and there’s a twenty-something middle eastern man boarding my flight, I want him checked. Call me an asshole, but that’s whose bag I want checked. I don’t want the old Asian woman “specially screened” because in the history of terrorism, there has never been a seventy year old Chinese woman recruited to bomb shit. Screening her is a waste of time and resources, and the political correctness makes me less secure.

Another thing I don’t want, is to have the same bag checked four fucking times. I don’t care if the person holding that bag is in the “terrorist demographic”. When you check that guys bag four times, you’re telling me and the world that you’re fucking incompetent and you’re making me less secure.

I definitely don’t want a TSA screener profiling anyone. We’re talking about tasking someone that falls into the “unskilled labor” category with keeping our country safe. That’s just batshit crazy. These people make $27,000 a year (I know this because I spent 4 months in 2002 recruiting them), may or may not have high school diplomas, and have a grand total of two days of training for their jobs. These are not intelligence professionals. These are blue collar workers. Don’t get me wrong, I have absolutely nothing against blue collar workers. I’m opposed to giving blue collar workers the type of authority and autonomy that an intelligence professional has earned by investing time in obtaining an education and years training for their job. There’s a reason why we don’t make brilliant recent college grads CEOs right away. Despite their brilliance, they still need years of experience before they’re ready to run a company.

Profiling at the airport would have been understandable for a finite period of time right after 9/11. We were scrambling to improve our national security systems immediately following the biggest terrorism attack in US history. A certain amount of running around like headless chickens would have been understandable. But ten years later? That’s fucking crazy. If your terrorist has made it to the airport, you’ve already failed at keeping the country safe. Terrorism is effectively thwarted by intelligence and policing. Identifying potential terrorists and monitoring their activities before they get to the point of executing their plans is how you stop them.

We had enough credible intelligence on many of the 9/11 hijackers to indicate that they were suspicious. We failed to follow up on that intelligence. We had plenty of red flags go up on Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (the underwear bomber) that we failed to follow up on. The man’s father warned us about him, for fucks sake! In both of these cases, the terrorist should and could have been stopped before ever getting near an airport.

I’m not saying that securing our airports isn’t a necessary part of the equation. It is. But what we’re doing is idiotic. We need to follow the Israeli model of airport security. Here is a great article describing Israeli airport security. They don’t have the long lines and asinine procedures that we do. They don’t have a humiliating and invasive screening process. And they don’t have terrorists boarding their planes.

So why is the American approach so ass backward? Are we stupid or incompetent? Neither (well, not entirely). It’s about the money, Lebowski. We’re geing groped and humiliated because a few people are making a lot of money doing it to us. Michael Chertoff, our barely adequate former head of homeland security is among those making a tidy little profit on this whole deal. He, like everyone else that leaves government, saw an opportunity to make a shitload of money in the private sector so he started the Chertoff Group ten minutes after leaving his government job. The Chertoff Group is a “security consulting firm”. What does he mean by “security consulting firm”? He means, lobbyist for Rapiscan – you know, the company that got paid twenty-five million dollars to install full body scanners in our airports.

He’s not alone. There are dozens of former government officials vying for the hundreds of millions of dollars that are up for grabs in the airport security money trough. Are any of them interested in securing our country in the most effective possible way? No. They’re interested in the money, Lebowski. And how about the government officials that are awarding the big contracts to keep us “safe”. Are they interested in securing our country in the most effective possible way? No. They’re interested in the high paying lobbying job that’s waiting for them after they “award” a company a giant contract.

Our political system is so fucked up that it’s destroying our standing in the world, our economic stability, our national security, and our crotches.

I’m sorry, but if my being groped has to become a profit center, I should be the one making the profit. I should be able to set my terms and my price. And I should be able to pick my own gropers.

Right now I’m a $5 hand job crack whore with a pimp that takes every cent that I make. What do I get in exchange? His assurances that he’s just looking out for me. I just melt every time he whispers, “I’ll take care of you, baby. You’re my #1 ho” in my ear.


The Demon Earmark

I’m already seeing a lot of coverage around republicans and earmarks, Rand Paul and earmarks, and [insert name here] and earmarks. I’m writing this post to beg of you, please put an end to this inane conversation. Please?

Anybody who is anti-earmark is lacking a fundamental understanding of how our government works. If you know one of those people, please forward this post to them because I’m about to break it all down for everyone.

I don’t know what you think you’re voting for when you elect a congressman or a senator, so I’d like to clear this up. You’re voting for someone who will bring home the federal bacon. Yes people, it is your representative’s job grab as much federal money as they can and deliver it to your state, county, or town. Why is this their job? Because it’s the only way that the money gets dispersed to local municipalities. If your representative didn’t pork up every bill that they could for you, there would never be any federal money going into your district, ever!

Here’s the deal; if we didn’t have the pork system that we have, we would have our house and senate voting on each local spending bill individually. Let’s use the senate as an example. When New York needs money to maintain the public transportation  system, and the senate has to vote on whether those funds will be allocated to New York, we would have a situation where 98 senators who don’t don’t give two shits about New York would most definitely shoot it down. This is true of any project in any state. We would have a situation where only two out of one hundred votes give a shit about the project or need. Nothing would ever get approved for funding. In the house, this would be amplified by four hundred and thirty five. Only one congressman would support any given project, because it’s their project. Four hundred and thirty four other people don’t give a damned about your district or its problems.

I’m guessing that after a few dozen failed attempts at obtaining the votes needed to secure a representative’s requested funds, they would adapt, and the horse trading would begin. Okay New York, I’ll vote to give you public transportation funds if you vote to get my funds to maintain my local parks. See how that works? We’d end up in basically the same place we are now, except with much more complex deals being made to distribute the cash.

And on top of that, Americans would be made aware of every single vote. People in forty-nine and nine tenths of each state would be outraged by the passing of any bill. Why would I, in New York, give a flying fuck about subsidizing a corporation in order to entice them to open up shop in California? And within California, Los Angeles, San Diego, Fresno, Sacramento, and Oakland would all be outraged if that money went to Santa Barbara. You think you’re pissed off at they system now? Wait till you see what happens when you “clean it up”.

I’m not saying there isn’t a better way than earmarks. I’m saying that this is the only way we have right now to distribute funds for state infrastructure, parks, and transportation projects among others.

So please democrats and left wing press, don’t spend the next two years perpetuating the same childish arguments about excessive pork barrelers. Grow the fuck up and start pointing out that given our current system, a representative that doesn’t pork up a federal bill is committing political malpractice.

And to liberal voters that are pissed off at the jackasses that were elected last week – don’t harp on your friends for voting for Rand Paul, who turned out to be a hypocrite. You should instead point out that of course, Rand Paul was going to be hypocritical. He’s not the asshole. The person that voted for him based on his promise  to shrink government is the asshole for falling for the same, tired unicorn they always vote for.


Another Disastrous Concession; Tax Cut Edition

David Axelrod just confirmed that Obama is going to cave in on tax cuts for the rich. I’m feeling demoralized, to say the least. This is another example of unnecessary acquiescence that hurts America, by Obama. We can file this one with Van Jones, Shirely Sherrod, and ACORN.

Look the strategy on this one should have been very simple since most Americans, democrats and republicans alike, are opposed to this. Democrats should have done nothing but ask republicans, “How are you going to pay for this?” like simpletons, stuck in broken record mode. That’s all they should be saying about anything. Regardless of what the question being asked by the reporter is, every single democrat should respond with, “How are republicans going to pay for the tax cuts they didn’t pay for the last time around?”. If the question is, “How about those Giants?” The reply should be, “How are republicans going to pay for extending the tax cuts for the rich?”. PERIOD. No other words should be coming out of their mouths until republicans cave.

Another prong of this strategy should be for Obama to continue the praise that he offered to Ronald Reagan during the campaign. Breathe, breathe, and hang in with me for a second. Obama should repeatedly exclaim that he intends to set tax rates where the great and wise Ronald Reagan set them. Over and over, in perpetuity, Obama should be regurgitating out the “Great and wise Ronald Reagan” line.

You wanna know where Reagan had the top tax rate? It was at 50%. Do you wanna know what we’re talking about today? We’re talking about going from 36% to 39%! Are you fucking kidding me with this shit? Off the top of my head, if that 3% difference we’re debating equates to 3/4 of a trillion deficit dollars over the next ten years, I’m going to go ahead and say that if we went back “the great and wise Ronald Reagan” rates, we would be able to raise roughly enough to pay off Bush’s deficit in five years.

This wasn’t a hard fight to win but once again, Obama didn’t even try. Axelrod claimed that they didn’t want to “jeopardize” the middle class tax cuts in order to fight to let the disastrous Bush tax cuts expire. That’s the kind of bullshit false choice that makes me extra, supersized bitchy.

Let me go a step further. I want to raise the corporate tax rate back to 91%, where it was under Eisenhower. That was the tax rate that got us out of the great depression. It works well because it forces companies to reinvest profits, rather than to let their executives pocket the money. Personally, there’s nothing that the government can squander that money on that would be less offensive to me than watching Paris Hilton snort it. Watching the government spend that money on $400 toilet seat covers would be less disgusting to me than watching Lloyd Blankfein spend it on anything. Yeah, I’m the jackass.

Guess what Obama? That extra 3% that you’re letting good old Lloyd keep is ultimately going to be spent on spanking you with his wallet in the 2012 election. Nice move, jackasses. You have once again managed to fuck the country and fuck yourselves.

I can’t imagine why 29% of democrats that voted in 2008 stayed home in 2010.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – You BLOW, Obama administration!


Only 51 Days Left For Obama’s Testicles To Drop

That’s right, if Obama doesn’t grow a set in the next 51 days, he will undoubtedly be roadkill for the 730 days that follow. 51 days is now long he has until the 112th congress, laden with republicans takes over.

Let’s be honest, he’s been a giant pussy for the past twenty two months. Personally, I don’t think that he has it in him to be an ass kicker. I believe that he’s fundamentally a professor, not a leader. He’s conciliatory by nature which is fine, but a leader knows when to pull out the sticks because the carrots aren’t getting the job done. And once he set that “door mat” precedent, everybody started stomping on head (and agenda). Blue dog democrats and republicans all started acting like they were elected to lead the country because they knew that Obama would fold every time.

Obama has one last chance to turn this around, but he has to do it during the lame duck session. He’s lucky in that, he has more than a chance – he has a golden opportunity. He can do something bold that will cost him no political capital at all. And more importantly, it won’t cost him one thin dime in political contributions to him, or increase political contributions to republicans because corporations and wall street don’t have a dog in this race.

I know, at this point you’re wondering what brought on this hallucination and how is it that I can type in my current state. But I assure you that I haven’t lost it. The issue is simple.

President Obama must sign an executive order to repeal DADT (don’t ask don’t tell). There is no reason on the planet why he shouldn’t do it. The majority of Americans are for repealing it. Depending on which poll you look at anywhere between 59% and 79% of Americans are for repeal. Neither percentage can be achieved with republicans and independents supporting repeal. Military leaders under the age of 70 are for repeal. The only segment of the population that are against repeal are serving as republican representatives, or are geriatric veterans who were around to oppose blacks serving in the military. Repealing DADT doesn’t cost corporations or Wall Street anything, so they haven’t put any money into opposing the idea.

Obama has nothing to lose here, and everything to gain. Repealing by executive order will seem strong. It’s a complete no-brainer. If he seems strong now, the public is likely to get more excited about him again. And the opposition, whether it’s vultures in his own party, or the newly empowered republicans who have been steam rolling over him for nearly two years will think twice about blatantly dissing him.

If Obama expects to get anything done in the next two years, he has to single handedly repeal DADT. He has to set a new tone, or he’s toast. And let me be clear what I mean by toast. He’ll be legislatively dead in the water. I still stand behind my prediction that he will get a second term, but that will just mean four more years of not doing anything meaningful.


MSNBC Sounding A Little FOXesque

I noticed something strange (and subtle) on MSNBC last week. Something reminiscent of FOX News. I may be jumping the gun in being an alarmist, but I believe these things are important to point out and watch closely.

I heard both Maddow and Olbermann refer to Eric Cantor as the speaker of the house last week. This was odd since his taking over as leader of republicans in the house is far from a foregone conclusion. He did announce his intention to run for the position but as far as I know, Boehner isn’t voluntarily stepping down. Cantor just announced his intention to go after the position of speaker last Wednesday, so there’s no chance of having inside information on how the vote is going to come out this early in the game.

This may seem innocuous at first glance, but two commentators on the same network making the same statement is not a coincidence. Are they both just making an assumption? Or are they attempting to create a well crafted narrative a la Fox?

There has been a back and forth lately between MSNBC (and the “professional left”) and Jon Stewart over the Rally To Restore Sanity that Stewart and Stephen Colbert held in DC two weeks ago. Left leaning pundits are upset that Stewart seemed to imply an equivocation between the angry left and the loony right. Olbermann (among others) took exception to that equivocation by asserting that Fox just flat out makes shit up while MSNBC “enthusiastically” comments on reality based issues. Bill Maher threw his two cents in on Friday. You can watch it here.

I mostly agree with Olbermann and Maher. There is a big difference between expressing outrage over something that is happening and making shit up in order to manufacture outrage. When Countdown is on, the only thing that Olbermann makes up is his opinion of the topic he’s discussing. When anyone at Fox News is on, they make up insane bullshit like…oh, let me see if I can come up with something…oh, got it…The president is going to India and he’s taking one tenth of our navy and 200 million dollars (a day) with him. There is a very clear difference between the two sides.

I wandered off into bringing all of that up because I don’t believe that Fox started off with “death panel” and “34 navy ship” whoppers. I believe they started small by creating seemingly innocuous narratives. When those stuck, they began to snowball until they managed to create an alternate reality for their viewers.

This “Speaker Cantor” thing on MSNBC isn’t nothing. It feels like the start of something. At the very least, it’s worth watching MSNBC with a slightly more critical eye.

I would hate for MSNBC to turn into Fox’s counterpart. And I would hate to watch the creation of a “loony left”, worked up by false narratives fed to them by people that were once trustworthy.

Your credibility is on the line here, MSNBC. Please don’t go down this bad road.


Random Election Musings

I (like you) have some thoughts on what happened yesterday and what it means, so I thought I’d share.

First let me start with the two states that I believe made the biggest mistakes yesterday. Florida and Kentucky fucked themselves, but good.

Rand, Rand, Rand. The big question now is, will he stick to his principles? If he does, then both Mitch McConnell and Kentucky are fucked.

Let’s start with Mitch. He’s is going to have some major problems getting Rand on board with some of the republican party policies. It’s going to be fun to watch McConnell walking around with a perpetual migraine for a while! Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think for a second that Rand is as principled as his father. It was apparent during the election, that Rand just parrots what he’s heard from his father his entire life. Add to that the fact that he doesn’t appear to be very bright, and you end up with someone that will eventually walk away from their so called principles. We saw him back away from his more insane beliefs during the election. People with strong beliefs don’t do that. If I strongly believe something to be true, then I explain it as long as I have to in order to show everyone that I’m right. I wouldn’t slink away from my principles because they’re costing me votes. Rand will eventually conform, but it will be fun to watch that “breaking in” period.

Kentucky is fucked because that running water they’ve become so accustomed to will stop running if Rand sticks to his guns. You see, for every dollar that Kentuckians pay in federal taxes, they get $1.82 back. Little Randy hates the federal government, and he hates federal taxes. In his little utopia, Kentuckians would stop paying federal taxes and instead, pay a 25% sales tax. Let’s think about this for a moment, shall we? Kentucky is so fucking piss poor, that they need nearly twice as much federal money to operate than they pay. How much money does Rand think poor people spend? Does he think that his constituency can spend enough to generate enough tax dollars to offset what his state gets in federal money? Is he out of his fucking mind? There isn’t even a Ferragamo  or a Chanel store in Kentucky! This is not a population with money to throw around! IDIOT. But on the upside, this is great news for me! I only get seventy-nine cents back for every dollar I pay in federal taxes. If Rand refuses to take the money, I may get my twenty-one cents back. California and Illinois can likewise keep the money they’re sinking into Kentucky. WooHoo!

You’d better start digging wells for water, Kentucky. And start working out, because those buckets full of water are going to be heavy to carry. Especially when you have to carry them through fields and dirt toads.

If you’re lucky Kentucky, you won’t get what you voted for and Rand will completely abandon his dumbass principles and you won’t get what you deserve for being so fucking stupid.

Moving on to Florida. WOW, are you guys stupid! Your Governor elect (Rick Scott) is the all time the biggest practitioner of medicare fraud ever. He has the distinction of heading the company that was successfully prosecuted for perpetrating the biggest medicare fraud in US history. His company plead guilty to fourteen felonies. The fines were 1.7 billion dollars. Since fines (as we learned from the Angelo Mozilo situation) are generally a fraction of what was stolen, I can only imagine that Scott stole the equivalent of Bolivia’s GDP!

And you know what, Floridians? Rick Scott used the money that he stole from you to fund his campaign. He bought you with your own money. Nicely done, idiots. But I’m sure that having Scott run the state that is the biggest consumer of medicare is going to turn out just fine. What could possibly go wrong there?

Let me pause for a moment here to inject some positivity into this post. Here’s a little tidbit for those of you that get queazy hearing (or saying) the words “Speaker Boehner”. There may be a little bit of relief in sight. There are grumblings within the republican party that Boehner won’t be voted into the position of leader. Eric Cantor is likely to lobby for that position. If he does, he has a good shot at getting it. This will ease our pain a little, and free up some cocktailing and spray tanning time for Boehner.

Now back to states that fucked up. I have to give California an honorable mention here. Kudos to them for staving off crazy Carly and mean Meg, but they blew it with prop 19. Legalizing marijuana is the only way to cripple the Mexican drug cartels. They earn 78% of their revenue from marijuana sales. If just California (the world’s eighth largest economy) legalized marijuana, it would be devastating to the cartels. And let me say that if prop 9 had passed, Monsanto (who have been working on genetically modifying pot for decades now) would open up marijuana strip malls all over California over night. Don’t get me wrong, I’m in no way, shape, or form pro-Monsanto. I know that they’re the embodiment of evil. But I have every confidence that Monsanto would succeed in killing the Mexican cartels, where two governments have failed. I hate to say it, but I would be rooting for Monsanto in this fight. Not that they’re not immoral thugs that are killing us, but at least they’re not killing us violently. And through education, we ultimately have the power to take down Monsanto. We are powerless to do anything about the drug cartels.

In the end, I would say that the big winners in this election were Goldman Sachs and the Mexican drug cartels. We, the people were the big losers.