I am closely watching the spectacle that is throwing up red flags and giving evidence we already live in a police state.

That our government and its Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has so quickly and seemingly so easily convinced most Americans that its computerized strip searches and repulsive pat-downs are for their own good is breathtaking.  America has rolled over like a puppy to allow this invasive nonsense. And they only wait for the next insidious order to them to give up more freedoms “for your own good” and public order.

How many times do we have to repeat that when we sacrifice our freedoms for safety, we have neither freedom nor safety? That only several ugly incidents of airplane sabotage during a century of aviation could so radically alter flight operations and flying procedures say much about why human beings have been so easily oppressed by nation after nation through time.  There is no debate conducted. There is just heavy-handed government, and money-grubbing vendors and manufacturers so ready to sell their expensive toys for all the airports.

Of course, what is lacking in all the decision-making is the issue of  “probable cause” to justify an action.  Using the Homeland Security’s reasoning that any steps are justified if they save lives,  we should be building concrete barriers along all our city streets to keep cars from going onto sidewalks and killing pedestrians.  We should have taste testers willing to die to work in every restaurant or school lunchroom to ensure that no cook has poisoned the meal and killed someone.   Our parking lots should be guarded 24-7 to make sure no mad bomber has slipped in and put explosives under vehicles.   We need a cop outside everyone’s home to prevent home invasions that could take lives and lead to hostage situations.   And so on.

Homeland Security has been sold a bill of goods, and public policy-makers capitalized on fear to turn airports into fortresses where sweet grandmas and shrieking kids are padded down even though there isn’t a small enough decimal to indicate  the chances they pose a threat in the blue skies.  Obviously, 2001 has created a massive new industry of jobs and equipment, but I suggest it was kneejerk and a terrible step toward our freedoms being taken away forever in a Nanny State become Police State process.

What is so lacking here is an airline industry with a spine.   Given what corporate clout there is in this country, they should threaten an air flight shutdown until Homeland Security backs off its insipid procedures and insist an end to the groin searches and ensure that the x-ray scanners cannot reveal so much.  Their customers are being abused and fondled even if the TSA workers are going lightly.  TSA tries to rationalize thing:  The person monitoring images is in a distant room, cannot see the subject in person, gets pretty used to seeing male and female genitalia, firm and sagging breasts, etc., as if they were doctors or nurses.

The whole rigmarole discourages flying, and surely the airlines have taken a hit by some consumers who have decided a drive to L.A. beats the stress and intrusions related to flying. We have the issues of the Bill of Rights that forbid unusual searches and seizures and exposure to x-rays repeatedly.

We get back to “probable cause.”  Isolated and far-and-in-between trouble shapes our decisions whether to change our patterns and habits or just keep doing things and just taking a chance.    I can tell my grandkids they must stay in the house because there is a chance a tree will fall on them if they play outside. Trees do fall, and they sometimes fall on people. Planes do crash because of lots of factors, including the rare, rare, rare bomb. As intelligent people, we have to look at rarity and our responsibilities and not choose the extreme — and most disruptive — safeguard.

Common sense, a casualty in public decision-making years ago, calls for recognizing the odds of things occurring and fashioning steps to take care of and prevent problems.  As is said so often, we should start by finding out why our enemies might want to hurt us and what actions on our part might neutralize their hostilities and show them that they can benefit by having us around.  We need strong international intelligence, a watchful public and the integrity to not invade people’s privacy with technology and old-fashioned molesting.

I suspect this Thanksgiving, the TSA and Homeland Security will face many travelers with their backs up and who are willing to defy them and create some mischief.  People won’t get on their flights on time and ticket counters will be barraged by customers badmouthing the procedures.  And millions will be thinking, “How the heck did 21st century civilization come up with these  indignities?”  It is up to the public  — people with courage or go-along sheep.

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