Wednesday, January 20, 2010
© Copyright 2010, The Ultrapolis Project – May be used freely with proper attribution. All other rights reserved.
Naked for Nothing
Body Scanning to Invade Privacy for an Expensive Illusion
As anyone reading stories about the Christmas Day ‘underwear bomber’ incident knows, that incident has become the latest catalyst to generate acceptance of the use of body scanning devices. These devises essentially show you naked to the TSA security folks at the airport as you pass through the scanner. These machines will reveal genitalia, breasts, and buttocks in fairly good detail, as well as any prosthetic devices, surgery scars , or any other personal body attachments that may be present (think incontinence bag, etc.). Oh yes, they will also reveal any metal knifes or weapons, or metallic ignition devices, you may be carrying on the exterior of your body. It will not detect ceramic knifes or other weapons made of materials not detectable by the scanner. Nor will it reveal the presence of any kind of weapon stored in a body cavity. While in Germany there have been some protests on the implementation of these devices in some airports, the reception this time around in the US, in contrast to the past, is one of surprising acceptance. A recent poll revealed that 75% of Americans are now good with being virtually stripped searched every time they travel, and the assurance that these pictures will not be stored by some unscrupulous TSA agent for personal use, or for publication on the web or elsewhere (and if you believe this cannot go wrong, we can’t help you). We now subject ourselves to a humiliating disrobing of shoes, belts, and coats, as part of our bargain with security. Does anyone think any future bomber now considers shoes as an option for carrying explosives? As usual, we are yearly spending hundreds of millions, and inconveniencing (and numbing to indignities) just as many people, while focused on the LAST method that was used by an aspiring terrorist. Grannies, children, disabled folks, all will be scanned, but we will not focus our attention on the characteristics shared by the airline terrorists we have encountered so far. By contrast, Israel’s national airline, a major target for terrorists in the 1970’s, has now for decades used a more obvious method of terrorist prevention, with 100% success.
Incidentally, it is unclear how safe will be constant exposure of radiation for frequent travelers.
It is highly likely the next terrorist in line is already considering ways to get around these scanners, and one option already used with some success last year in Saudi Arabia is the rectum. Of course, when that alternative is used with success in America, we predict with 100% certainty that there will be people willing to accept body cavity searches in exchange for the illusory promise of 100% air travel safety. For too many, there is no indignity too vile to accept as a price for the pretense that freedom has no risk. But we do overstate our case against the body scanners by saying they are for nothing. The companies that make them, now lobbying Congress, will reap billions in profits.
About Martha Coakley…
Deserved to Lose, But for a Different Reason
Whatever your politics may be, there was a dark side little mentioned about District Attorney Martha Coakley. There are reports in the media that she hired press consultants to raise her public profile while handling cases that came before her. In one particularly sinister incident, apparently her advisers suggested she would score political points by continuing to jail an accused child molester. Problem is, the man is, by all sane accounts, innocent. The Massachusetts Parole Board (one of the toughest in the country) voted 5-0 to release on the grounds of lack of evidence of the crime, and the "extraordinary if not bizarre allegations" on which he and his mother and sister had been convicted. Author Dorothy Rabinowitz, who has written numerous articles on the miscarriage of justice that occurred in the home of the Salem witch trials, pointed out in the Wall Street Journal that “Superior Court Judge Isaac Borenstein presided over a widely publicized hearing into the case resulting in findings that all the children's testimony was tainted. He said that ‘Every trick in the book had been used to get the children to say what the investigators wanted.’ The Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly—which had never in its 27 year history taken an editorial position on a case—published a scathing one directed at the prosecutors ‘who seemed unwilling to admit they might have sent innocent people to jail for crimes that had never occurred.’" But, you see, there are no political points for taking the side of an accused child molester – guilt or innocence notwithstanding.
As for her electoral loss to the, semi-unknown, semi-nude Cosmopolitan poser Scott Brown, and the damage that will do to the Obama’s health care reform, Obama himself, and the Democrats in general: Healthcare: stopped in its tracks as it is now. Democrats will suffer fallout, but much of it will fade by November. And, President Obama will suffer in the short-term – but as we noted last week, he has time to turn it around after 2010. This is not the fatal blow to Obama that many are claiming. This may, in fact, force a course correction sooner, saving his presidency. This assessment is based on polls showing that independents are abandoning the Democrats and Obama in droves. Will Obama respond in 2010 as Clinton did in 1994? That’s the big question – for later this year.
… And John Edwards
How the Media Have Turned Against the Golden Boy
The New York Times Magazine published a devastating excerpt on Edwards from the book Game Changer. Whatever the reliability of the account, it does show what can happen when you are no longer of political value.
May be used freely with proper attribution. All other rights reserved.