Thursday, July 03, 2008

And Dream Of Sheep

If this is the best our government and the airline business can do to simply function in their jobs, perhaps both deserve to fail.

It was at this precise moment I lost sympathy for the struggling airline industry.

I don't mean workers like flight attendants, mechanics and pilots, for whom I have the utmost respect. No, I mean the policymakers who are so goddamn stupid they won't back down from red alert over baby bottles and shampoo, which could never have exploded in the first place. As a method of detonation it cannot work. And yet, in February, I was hassled about a cup of coffee. It's nostalgic to say this in 2008, but does anyone remember probable cause and the presumption of innocence?

There's so much wrong with this breathlessly stupid, alarmist, invasive scenario I can't begin to speak rationally about it. I leave the nouns and verbs to others using them far better, but I can say this: a big fucking flashing neon sign of precisely how completely and totally wrong this procedure is is that it's (more or less) introduced to the American public by everyone's pal Matt Lauer. Matt wouldn't steer us wrong, would he? And he sounds so reassuring, we won't even miss our rights protecting us against unreasonable search and seizure! Or will we? Via Jill:
The Justice Department is considering letting the FBI investigate Americans without any evidence of wrongdoing, relying instead on a terrorist profile that could single out Muslims, Arabs or other racial and ethnic groups.

Law enforcement officials say the proposed policy would help them do exactly what Congress demanded after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks: root out terrorists before they strike.

Although President Bush has disavowed targeting suspects based on their race or ethnicity, the new rules would allow the FBI to consider those factors among a number of traits that could trigger a national security investigation.

Currently, FBI agents need specific reasons — like evidence or allegations that a law probably has been violated — to investigate U.S. citizens and legal residents. The new policy, law enforcement officials told The Associated Press, would let agents open preliminary terrorism investigations after mining public records and intelligence to build a profile of traits that, taken together, were deemed suspicious.

Among the factors that could make someone subject of an investigation is travel to regions of the world known for terrorist activity, access to weapons or military training, along with the person's race or ethnicity.

Got that? Your RACE makes you suspicious. Your ETHNICITY makes you a suspect. Whatever you do, don't stand in line at the airport being brown and eating baba ghanoush!

If you read that article carefully, the verbs change. Justice isn't considering turning the FBI loose on innocent Americans. Justice will turn the FBI loose on innocent Americans in September, and it's just too bad Matt Lauer didn't introduce the press conference. He's so reassuring, you know.

Johnny, our Southwest Bureau Chief, reports:
I'm reading about cognitive psychology and gestalt and heuristics and behaviorism and I came across the idea of causation, which posits a necessary relationship between an event and its causative agent. I don't know what any of that means, but causation seems to be the folk wisdom that everything happens for a reason. People only invoke that myth when something bad happens, to talk themselves out of the obvious truth that bad things happen to good people for no reason at all. When I was a younger man, I wanted to talk people out of their religious beliefs. I was young. What do I care what gods people worship? Still, for some reason, this really galls me. According to this dipshit philosophy, I got rear ended all those times and have tortured vertebrae in my neck for a reason. I have epilepsy for a reason. Every misfortune that's ever befallen my family and all my friends was, what, dictated by some cosmic intelligence? For what? To teach us a lesson? To make us appreciate the good times more? I swear to Christ, the next person who tries to comfort me with that foul stinking old chestnut gets a punch in the fucking head.

Don't worry, sweetheart. That misguided, compassionate person is probably being x-rayed into a stupor by Justice as we speak. Just offer him or her some baba ghanoush!



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