Thursday, December 31, 2009


The decade that brought us Y2K and the growing uneasiness, among the more zanier elements of the population. It's the decade that gave us internet primacy and the birth of the professional internet. Incorporation of technology in our lifestyles reached seamless new heights. And the old dazzle of corporate television waned on, imploding into reality show obscurity.

Overall, it was a decade wrought by dramatics. There was glam in the rise of SUV Hummers and the jolt of the coming of age of gay acceptance. There was decadence in the lavishness of corporate pleasure and even greater deceit and pomposity in the great halls of power. There was terror and the aftershock and the aftermath from it we now know.

The rise of laptops and cell phones certainly changed us, for better or for worse, although I tend to believe the latter. And although the American nation spent the entire decade sitting in the den of treacherous wolves while being sabotaged in a top-down Ponzi scheme, a mild social evolution took place. Questions seemed more important than before. Authority never seemed so crooked and evidently rigged. The bad guys kept on winning, while most kept counting precious dollars shredded away on the rising prices of wheat, milk, corn and meat. Nothing could be taken as absolute anymore. Attitudes mellowed and some of the former 'rules' of the game no longer exist. Yet, while this instance produced certain positive change, there remain lamentable losses due to this new embodiment of Americana.

The peak and fall of the development of suburbia signnalled a new age and 'urban renewal' in the form of gentrification irked millions and uprooted thousands. A decade of lost opportunity and unfulfilled dreams was it in some ways. The shutting down of America and her proud business establishments was more than disheartening, gutwrenching really. Even worse, the intelligence of the nation faced continual insults and the movie industry's made-in-Hollywood trademark factory movie complex marched intellectual filmwork off the screen.

But not all I've mentioned was bad. Much good still rocked the '00s, it just got a little harder to find.

Nevertheless New Year's Eve promenades on and the passion, heartache and joy of the '00s will pass. The decade will continue in modern memory as a pivotal era in the history of mankind. But either way, its victores and pitfalls are now enshrined. May the 2010s carry on.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Enhanced: Security State

As the aftermath of the attempted Christmas Day plane bombing sizzles on, an internal debate is raging amongst populace and ruling class alike over the lessons learned by this foiled plot. While much of the political commentary provided by CNN, the New York Times and the BBC focuses on the security breaches by alleged hijacker Farouk Abdulmutallb, few have dared discuss the motivations behind the attack.

And in the wake of the hatched plan, the conversation turns to the failure of security. In evaluating this topic, however, the analyses given by the so-called "experts" fail to pass the bar.

With reports indicating that the Nigerian born student acted in response to U.S. bombings in Yemen in early December that killed nearly 100 (reportedly including many civilian deaths), no newscaster will discuss the importance of such motivation in preventing future similar attacks.

While President Obama announced a comprehensive TSA airport security review in both intelligence-related and physical screening procedures shortly after the attempted bombing, it is unlikely even with more restrictive procedures that the American public will be made any safer.

To pursue a response-activated strategy that is guided by the principle we must retroactively address possible threats by insulating ourselves with another 'layer' of security is pure fallacy. If anything, more invasive physical screening procedures for average Americans will distract from true threats. With a "stay-the-course" foreign policy continued into the 2010s, threats remain possible and likely.

It is clear terrorism became a political football long ago. But as it continues in a new era, there appears no end to the Democratic-Republican enforced use of it to scare the people, then coddle them in an effort to break their will. By discouraging simple freedoms and introducing new humiliating screening procedures, which are at best, invasive of privacy and morally dubious, the American government is clear in its message of retributive action against the People, who are evidently blameless in the intelligence security breach which occurred on Christmas Day.

After investigation, Farouk Abdulmutallab was actually on a terror-watch list but was not flagged before boarding his flight. Clearly, there was a failure of screening on the front line intelligence level, which remains the best tool for authorities in the modern War on Terror. However, when this very list does not serve its purpose and the suspect's fathers reported him to authorities over two months prior to the incident, questions arise as to the viability of international security. Some have even suggested Abdulmutallab was helped to board the plan without holding a passport, aided by a well-dressed and explanatory American. While unsubstantiated, it certainly adds to the questions of how Abdulmutallab passed through security and who may have assisted in the act.

Simply put, security is not perfect nor will it ever be close to it. It is especially true with an organization as inefficient as the federal government running it. To expect the government (honestly folks, only so limited) to protect every person pre-emptively from any violent act in any part of a giant nation of 300 million people is absurd and untenable.

Just imagine the attempt! Stationed police and screeners at every private business or public place, all in efforts to "prevent terror". How far does this faulty paradigm have to go? What type of sane society would ever accept this arrangement!?

Stereotypically, the government has again decided to collectively punish an entire nation for one failure of airport security in a foreign land. Clearly, the failure here occurred due to negligence on behalf of Dutch and Nigerian authorities, not those working at the TSA. Mind yhou, the whole incident even ended prior to the plane touching down in Detroit, Michigan. And at that, the heroes of the failed attempt at terror were in fact those who will now be punished retroactively.

Without recourse or even a frank public debate, it appears the sheltered security-obsessed screening bureaucrats will win the day with morally-misguided and further repressive screening. Passengers have to contend with possible passage of a federally-backed "Rules of Behavior" enforced in all airports and all planes nationwide, and perhaps internationally. As Peter Greenberg of CBS reports, the more extreme of the privately-implemented security reforms in recent days include provisions prohibiting passengers from accessing any carry-on items for a whole hour prior to landing.

As old Aunt Ethel will be scolded and shunted for trying to finish that last page of the chapter in that paperback romance novel, little time will be left to deal with real possible threats who've been flagged by intelligence communities.

Meanwhile, political commentators call for mandatory full-body image screening for each person boarding aircraft in the United States, and this time with no "pat-down option". For those who are unfamiliar with full-body image scanning, the machine takes amazingly lifelike X-ray body photographs, seeing entirely through all clothes and producing a real nude image, with genitalia and facial images later blocked out from the generated picture.

Yet, it remains hard to believe agent Jim won't be looking even for a split second at grandma's kahoonies or little Tommy's rear. To assure against this possibility, the TSA has assured the American public no images are ever recorded and that all private parts are scrambled.

While it's likely there will be some compromise on this highly debatable front, security will be tightened in upcoming times and the American people will face greated frustration with the TSA. Fronted by the Department of Homeland Security as a self-appointed agency, the TSA is too laughably a creature of its own creation. 'Til that creature seriously catches up with reality and the reckoning of Americans, it is assured to drown in its own inept mediocrity and ineffectiveness.