Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Smoke On A Plane

This morning I noticed two letters to the editor in The Post about the diplomat from Qatar who was apprehended by air marshals after someone smelled smoke on an airplane, and he said he was trying to set his shoes on fire. The plane was escorted by fighter jets, 5,000 flights in the air were alerted about a possible 9/11-type attack, the whole thing was an international incident with repercussions still rippling around the world.

One of the letters to the editor suggested that airlines should not allow lighters on airplanes at all. The writer had had his Preparation H taken away from him, and so as an experiment he brought a lighter on another flight, and there was no problem, even though the writer "can think of at least a dozen ways to cause havoc aboard an airplane with a cigarette lighter." The other letter says "How do some Arab diplomats react? 'This never would have happened if Madadi was Swedish.' Won't someone please say it: Blond, blue-eyed Swedes aren't trying to blow up commercial airliners."

Everybody I know has the same opinion about this incident: the guy is an idiot. You don't smoke on planes, especially if your name is Mohammed al Madadi, and you don't joke about shoe bombs, especially if your name is Mohammed al Madadi.

In that light, I feel forced to point out the fact that "this" was nothing. A guy smoked a cigarette in an airplane lavatory and made a bad joke. Do we really need to take further steps to prevent "this" from happening again? Yes, he should have known all hell would break loose if an Arab lit a match on an airplane, yes, he should have waited with the "I'm trying to light my shoes on fire" joke until he was on the ground and hanging with his friends. But look what this incident says about us, that even though we know it was nothing we are treating it as if it were a major national security breach. We are so breathless about what it "could have been" that we are apparently incapable of recognizing the truth, that it wasn't what it could have been, it was what it was. A cigarette and a bad joke.

What we need is a security process that distinguishes between actual threats and guys who need their nicotine at thirty thousand feet. But as long as the public goes along with this sort of security theater, this is what we're going to get. You want to clutch your pearls, the TSA and the press are happy to give the country pearl-clutching stories. You want to be safe, sorry, the country has to get over it and see things for what they are.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


Bad press, including major mockery of the plan by comedian Jon
Stewart, led to President Obama abandoning his proposal to require
veterans carry private health insurance to cover the estimated $540
million annual cost to the federal government of treatment for injuries
to military personnel received during their tours on active duty. The
President admitted that he was puzzled by the magnitude of the
opposition to his proposal.

"Look, it's an all volunteer force," Obama complained. "Nobody
made these guys go to war. They had to have known and accepted the risks.
Now they whine about bearing the costs of their choice? It
doesn't compute..." "I thought these were people who were proud to
sacrifice for their country, "Obama continued. "I wasn't asking for
blood, just money. With the country facing the worst financial crisis in its history,
I'd have thought that the patriotic thing to do would be to try to help reduce the
nation's deficit.I guess I underestimated the
selfishness of some of my fellow Americans."

April 14, 2010 11:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone reading Anon's previous comment should also read this web page; Would Obama Have Soldiers Pay for Own War Injuries?, fact-checking Anon's copy-and-paste from a year ago.

April 14, 2010 11:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


"As reported by the Washington Post and others including Fox News, the Obama administration met with several veterans groups on March 16 and floated the idea of saving taxpayers $540 million by billing veterans’ private insurance companies for treatment of conditions connected to their military service, including war injuries. The Department of Veterans Affairs currently bills these insurance companies for treatment of non-service-related conditions."

by the way, the obama administration is also currently "floating the idea" and holding hearings on seizing everyones 401K balances in exchange for a govt IOU.

April 15, 2010 12:31 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

You think it's "unbelievable" to talk about possible ways to solve the economic depression Bush left America in?

IMHO what's "unbelievable" is believing that doing *nothing* will solve the economic woes left by for America the Bush Administration.

And what's frightening is the condition the GOP left this country in after they were done depleting the US Treasury for the six years they had total control of the US government.

Anone cited:

"Obama administration met with several veterans groups on March 16 and floated the idea of saving taxpayers $540 million "

and added:

by the way, the obama administration is **also currently** "floating the idea..."

No Anone, the idea of having veterans' health insurance pay for their medical care is *not* currently being floated.

The March 16 veterans meeting mentioned in the quote you cited was held on March 16, 2009 and the Washington Post article linked to in the piece that refutes your lies reported that two days after the idea was floated, it was taken off the table.

But thanks for demonstrating the tea baGOP method of stirring up fear over something that was taken off the table last year after *floating the idea* for 48 hours.

Oh, and maybe you missed this quote from that WaPo article cited by that had been published on March 21, 2009:

They ["a diverse group of veterans"] thanked Obama for proposing an 11 percent increase in the budget of the Department of Veterans Affairs and expanding health care to more veterans.

April 15, 2010 8:25 AM  
Anonymous Happy Tax Day said...

"It's Tax Day! Which means it's time for the Wall Street Journal to publish a self-pitying diatribe from a rich man bemoaning the oppression he must endure. This year's contribution, by financial advisor Mike Donahue has all the trappings. You've got the insistence that hard work is solely responsible for his high income:

'Since I graduated in 1983, I have been in straight commission sales and have had many 60- to 70-hour work weeks. No secure salary, no big promotions, no pension—just me profiting though helping others while being subject to the swings of the economic cycle. The first 20 years were tough, but it's finally starting to pay off....

I have more than most only because I've worked harder than most and because I am a saver.'

Really, hard work is the only reason you earn more than $250,000 a year? (Donahue does not say how much he earns, but he does say "the government" is raising his taxes, which is only true if his income exceeds a quarter million a year.) There's nobody who earns less than you who works harder? No chance that innate talent, upbringing, teachers, publicly-funded education, or any lucky breaks had anything to do with your high income?

Next, you've got the assertions that he supports the poor on his own -- or would, if the government didn't steal his money and give it to, um, the poor:

'Why then does the government feel so entitled to take my money and give it to others? Why should I have to carry so many people on my back? Call me cruel. I don't care. I give to whom I choose—but since so much is confiscated (and wasted in the process) I have little left I wish to give.'

Right -- he wants to help the poor but can't because there's nothing left over from his >$250,000 salary after taxes. Obviously, after the upper-income tax cuts enacted under George W. Bush, Donahue immediately started cutting large checks to charity. I'm sure that's the case.

Finally, you have the threats to quit his horrible life as a rich man and see how the liberals like it then:

'My patience and pocketbook are reaching the breaking point. I am not for equal outcomes regardless of effort. I'm tired of being the mule. Maybe I will quit and live on the dole for awhile. I probably even have enough health issues to join the one in seven adults categorized as disabled. I've been poor and I'm not afraid to go back.'

Rich conservatives are obsessed with this idea that they might quit their jobs. Ayn Rand wrote a whole book about this fantasy. Innumerable such threats accompanied Bill Clinton's upper-bracket tax hike, which was promptly followed by an explosion in upper-income growth.

Let me give you a hint, pouting rich people: We're not falling for your bluff. None of you is really going to quit your job and deny the world your precious genius because the Democrats raised your top tax bracket to 39.6%. That's because earning more than a quarter million dollars a year and having to pay a slightly higher tax rate than the average person is not actually such a horrible fate."

April 15, 2010 1:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did anyone see David Fishback and Peter Sprigg this am before the BOE?

April 15, 2010 9:55 PM  

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