Kicking the Can Down the Road

Republicans wanted to extend Bush-era tax rates beyond December 31st. Democrats said only for families earning $250,000 (or less) per year. Dems focused instead on unemployment benefits (but wanted those added costs tacked onto the deficit). One news source noted, Democrats are “resigned to a deal” but “not eager to embrace one.”

Each party wants to portray its opposition as the scowling Mr. Potter from It’s a Wonderful Life.

Their posturing follows release of November jobless figures, a report that unemployment hit 9.8% — while some experts admit the actual number may be twice that.

With a Christmas recess weeks away, lawmakers from both parties hope to leave DC wearing their Santa smiles and toting a bag full of “goodies” (false promises) . Recession? Haven’t you heard? It’s over! Crushing deficits? Not to worry … it’s Christmas-time! Continue reading “Kicking the Can Down the Road”

Turn Out the Lights

From the time I married my soul-mate in December of 1969, I knew I’d either become a football fan or a miserable football “widow.” I chose the former. I learned the game, the players and whatever behind-the-scenes NFL scuttlebutt others talked about in my workplace coffee-break room.

In those early days, we lived in Dallas, and with Tom Landry at the helm of the Cowboys, we became enthusiastic fans. We identified with “America’s Team” before the rest of the world knew them by that name.

It was never simply a question of wins and losses nor my competitive drive desiring for “my” team to stay on top. Becoming a Cowboys fan also meant I became knowledgable about other NFL teams. When the Cowboys played the Redskins, I needed to know something about the history of that rivalry. If they played the Steelers, the Broncos or the 49ers, I learned the facts and lore that contributed to my enjoyment of each game. Continue reading “Turn Out the Lights”

TSA Redux

No one in my family traveled by airplane for the holidays, so I wasn’t privy to any firsthand reports of TSA gropings. (These outrages will continue to be reported; this excellent site chronicles the abuse from numerous sources.) … Or, get a load of the video below!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2XhnZlmLGK8]

This TSA video made my blood boil. Any mother who has breastfed a child knows the value of breast milk, and when a nursing mother (who simply requested not to have her breast milk irradiated) is subjected to such maltreatment by TSA mobsters, their behavior is inexcusable and unconscionable!

When I caught brief snatches on the weekend news about the National Opt-Out Day, I didn’t have a chance to check them right away. In general, the reports said the Opt-Out was a fizzle because few people actually opted out. (Based on these initial reports, I was disappointed, though I certainly understand folks being more concerned about getting to their destinations on time than making a statement about the TSA.)

Ah, but the real news appears to be that there was a major “opt-out” — and it was the TSA that was participating!! (I guess there’s no need for the public to Opt Out if TSA just turns off their machines, right? By many accounts, that’s exactly what happened at numerous US airports.)

Bravo! People concerned about their 4th Amendment rights have won the day. I don’t expect this to be the end of it, however. TSA has maneuvered (at least temporarily) away from the immediate backlash in this PR nightmare. Those costly machines may have been turned off last Wednesday, but the machines will be turned on again sooner or later. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty!

Tribute to Lewis

I can’t remember my first exposure to the writings of C. S. Lewis. (It may have been an early reading of Till We Have Faces.) Before ever having read one volume of the Narnia series, I encountered this myth retold. Did I understand the story? Probably not; maybe I identified with Orual’s ugliness? Something about it captured my youthful imagination.

One hundred and two years ago (in far-off Belfast, Northern Ireland), Mr. and Mrs. Albert Lewis welcomed their younger son into this world. Today, I gratefully celebrate Lewis’ life and work. Though I never met him, I have a vivid personal memory of his passing.

I was in junior high school, a disappointed student returning home from school earlier than expected because the school party and dance scheduled for that Friday evening (November 22, 1963) had been canceled at the last minute. (Not a fan of JFK, I admit I was miffed. Why cancel a party in Missouri when Kennedy had died in Dallas?!)CS Lewis Time Coverj8cov1101470908p Continue reading “Tribute to Lewis”

The End Game

Referring to what the TSA euphemistically styles “enhanced screenings,” the wonderfully compliant news outlets in their soft-as-a-baby’s-behind reporting (also, here and here) are now regurgitating the TSA-generated meme that “less than 3%” of the flying public is subjected to the heightened screening techniques.

Wow, that’s a relief! A measly 3% of airline passengers are ceding [unwillingly, for the most part] their Fourth Amendment “right to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures ..!” I mean, it’s not as if the TSA is trampling on the rights of every American, right? You can still take a train, ride a bus and freely travel without fear of government intrusion, right?

Hmm. This video might change your mind about that notion.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2taqlvOlzx0]

Okay, so maybe this video producer is a crackpot. Consider then USA-Today‘s July 2010 article wherein the head of TSA admits rail and subways are his next priority? Continue reading “The End Game”

These Aren’t the Droids You’re Looking For . . .

Imagine this scenario: You’re heading out of town for a long-anticipated holiday with extended family. The trip requires nine hours in a car so — in spite of what you’ve heard/read about new TSA-sanctioned sexual assaults,  er, bureaucratic intimidations, er, safety screenings —  you opt to fly instead of taking the marathon but exhausting drive.

You arrive at the airport and bypass the ticket agent (being the savvy traveler you are, you’ve printed your boarding pass the night before). You don’t think of yourself as a Zombie, but you feel like one as you take your place in the mile-long, slithering line that edges ever-so-gradually toward the dehumanizing security checkpoint.

Government-issued ID in hand along with your boarding pass, you conduct a last-minute inventory for any incidental metals on your person. Satisfied you’ve done all you can — you’re intentionally wearing flip-flops, no belt, no underwire bra, no watch/necklace/belly ring, etc. — you move forward, reminding yourself to isolate the laptop before placing your bag on the conveyor belt that goes through the scanner. Continue reading “These Aren’t the Droids You’re Looking For . . .”

TSA = Stranger Danger

Can’t help but continue to cogitate on this TSA screening nightmare (see my previous post).The outrage, tales of indecencies committed, frustrations and absurdities continue to be recounted in lurid and nauseating detail.

The TSA website laughably defends their recently implemented “security” measures, claiming:  “A primary goal of TSA is to treat all passengers with courtesy, dignity, and respect during the security screening processes.” (Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, doesn’t it?)

Yes, I can imagine serious-faced, properly licensed and qualified authorities serving up identical reassurances as multitudes of Jews and other undesirables were ushered onto cattle cars headed for their final destination (i.e. death camps).

I would argue the TSA screening practices have little to do with courtesy, dignity or respect. Rather, their intent seems to be to discourage airline travel. (I mean, it’s already worked in my case!) Continue reading “TSA = Stranger Danger”

Interesting Times

Nobody seems to know for certain where the phrase “may you live in interesting times” originated. No matter. During more than a month of absence from posting here, I have come to understand those six words are as much curse as blessing.

A pre-election day trip to Philadelphia reminded me of the vast differences between Benjamin Franklin’s time and ours, but the trip also reinforced a nagging sense that Tyranny remains the same in every age.

Consider the current flap (links here, here, here) over full-body scanners (FBS) newly installed in airports. Maybe the picture to the left offers a clue about what comes next?

On Thursday evening (10/14), my mother and I arrived at STL.  We entered the Southwest terminal with plenty of time to spare (or so we thought). Neither of us knew much about FBSs … much less that they were in place. No more than a handful of the multitude in line with us knew either!

People in front, behind and to either side in the zig-zag security line expected, like my mom and me, to board flights set for departures around 7 p.m.. Long story short, most were still standing in line past the appointed hour of departure! (Remind me, please:  what’s the point of an “A” boarding pass??!) The culprit:  a so-called “rapid scan” FBS. Continue reading “Interesting Times”

Battle of the Bulges

A couple weeks back, my Beloved and I were emptying some items from the back of my car. I was in front of him, and he remarked offhandedly:  “You should probably invest in a bra that fits.” I was too busy with other things to waste time being upset by his observation, but in the ensuing days, the remark has resurfaced in my memory.

On reflection, my response might have been something like:  “Aren’t you glad you don’t have to wear a harness every day of your life?” Or, “It’s supposed to be tight enough to do the job.”

Truth be told, once I looked in the mirror (from the possible angle he would have had), I had to cede his point. My Victoria’s Secret undergarment covered (and supported) the requisite areas, but there was no denying the unattractive bulges. (How would I know? When do I look at myself from the back side?)

The words “disgusting tub of lard (DTOL)” are hardly complimentary for anyone, least of all when one thinks of one’s self. While I don’t fill my chair like the cartoon woman above, my bra is (admittedly) almost as poorly fitted. Further, I acknowledge my problem isn’t just the result of a poorly fitting undergarment. Some aggressive personal action is in order:  regular exercise, better eating habits, etc. (No, I’m not considering liposuction or a backlift … never heard of that before, but apparently it’s a popular option.) Continue reading “Battle of the Bulges”

Who Are the Real Experts?

File this in the Are You Kidding Me? or the No Wonder the World is in Such a Mess! folder. Your choice. April 30, 2010 was SpankOut Day USA … and I missed it!

Clearing off my desk this week, I ran across a pamphlet from the National Child Protection Training Center (NCPTC). Headquartered at Winona State University in Minnesota, they also have a regional center partnership with the Northwest Arkansas Community College (near my corner of the world).

The pamphlet’s description of SpankOut Day USA informs the reader this day was established “… in 1998 to give widespread attention to the need to end corporal punishment of children and to promote non-violent ways of teaching children appropriate behavior.” Who knew? I still had children living at home in 1998.

Certainly, child abuse is a despicable thing. (Is there anyone in the civilized world suggesting child abuse is okay?!!!)

But I think it’s fair to ask:  when did we establish a consensus spanking equals violence? Let’s go back to the word’s origin. In the 13th century violence was defined as:  “physical force used to inflict injury or damage.” I’ll say it emphatically — a loving parent who employs spanking exercises measured physical force, and never to the extent nor for the purpose of inflicting injury or damage! Continue reading “Who Are the Real Experts?”