Integrity Check For Homeland Security: Profiling At The Boston Marathon Bombing

...unless the government feels like it, in which case it's just fine. Got that?

…unless the government feels like it, in which case it’s just fine. Got that?

Shortly after the bombs went off in Boston, we were told that a “person of interest” was in custody and undergoing questioning. As detailed in a New Yorker piece, the young man who was apprehended and interrogated for five hours became a person of interest for one reason and one reason only: he “looked like a terrorist.” He was a Saudi national with a foreign name, and despite the fact that he was wounded in the blasts and acted no differently from any of the other horrified victims in the crowd, he was detained and his apartment was searched. Ultimately it was determined that he was innocent of wrongdoing, and he was released.

Oops! Never mind! Have a nice day!

Except I was under the impression that this practice, which is racial profiling beyond any question, was something this administration and the Dept. of Homeland Security rejected philosophically and practically. It is wrong, and it doesn’t work—or so those of us who are sick of going through invasive and time-consuming screenings at airports are told when we dare to suggest that there may be a better way than feeling up six-year-old girls and senile old men in wheelchairs. The conduct of agents and law enforcement officials in apprehending the young man for his garb, name and the color of his skin shows either that our government doesn’t really believe what it is telling us about profiling, or that it is willing to discard its human rights principles when the pressure is on. Which is it? I see no third explanation Continue reading

Final Ethics Verdict on TSA’s Feel-Up Pat-down

I was flying this week, and the security procedures were smoother than ever. Now I am certain that my molestation at check points last year was unethical, and have sufficient evidence to conclude that it was based on government incompetence and willful disregard for my comfort, dignity, and rights.  I am also wondering, more than ever, if the ardent, supposedly liberal defenders of the indefensible feel-up pat-downs have learned anything about the dangers of blind government obeisance and partisan loyalty. I hope so.

The saga so far: Continue reading

Wait…This Is MY Fault????

We should be ashamed of ourselves.

I have complained, more than once, about the naked greed and obvious incompetence displayed by the airlines charging $25 or more to passengers who check luggage. The results of this reverse incentive are that people carry on too many, and too large bags, boarding takes longer, and flights are delayed. Passengers talk about the idiocy of the policy all the time. So do the airline attendants. Anyone can see how dumb the policy is. The smart approach would be to charge for anything carried on other than a handbag or briefcase, and make checked luggage free. Boarding would be faster and there wouldn’t be passengers using the sneaky (but effective!) trick of carrying a piece of luggage through security only to check it at the gate at no charge when the airline personnel makes the routine plea for passengers to free up luggage bin space by doing so. Continue reading

“Lie of the Year”? Hardly.

PolitiFact, the political fact-checking website, has once again announced its “Lie of the Year”:

“PolitiFact editors and reporters have chosen “government takeover of health care” as the 2010 Lie of the Year. Uttered by dozens of politicians and pundits, it played an important role in shaping public opinion about the health care plan and was a significant factor in the Democrats’ shellacking in the November elections. Readers of PolitiFact, the St. Petersburg Times’ independent fact-checking website, also chose it as the year’s most significant falsehood by an overwhelming margin. (Their second-place choice was Rep. Michele Bachmann’s claim that Obama was going to spend $200 million a day on a trip to India, a falsity that still sprouts.)”

This tells us a lot about PolitiFact. Continue reading