TSA Lines: Is Feature Not Bug

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Republicans in Congress cut an agency’s budget, then point to the resulting chaos they’ve created and cry, “See! Government doesn’t work! We must privatize!”

Lather, rinse, repeat. Amiright?

The T.S.A.’s work force and budgets have in fact been shrinking. The agency’s rolls have declined to about 44,900 screeners today from 47,000 in 2013, even as passenger travel has increased by 15 percent. But it is also true that it has been plagued by mismanagement and other problems of its own making. An unloved stepchild of the Department of Homeland Security, the T.S.A. has suffered through continual turnover in leadership, repeated misconduct by senior managers, low staff morale and high rates of attrition among screeners.

[…]

Not all the T.S.A.’s troubles can be blamed on missteps by the agency. The dysfunction has been compounded by an earlier 2013 bipartisan budget deal negotiated between Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, and Representative Paul D. Ryan, the current House speaker, to avert a government shutdown.

The deal set the security fee assessed on each segment of a plane trip to $5.60, but called for 60 cents of that fee to be diverted from the T.S.A. to pay down the national debt. This year, $1.25 billion in fees is going into the Treasury instead of paying for screeners and new equipment.

Seriously, we’re diverting funds from TSA to pay down the national debt? That just screams Republican fiscal idiocy, doesn’t it? Republicans keep telling us that “debt is like slavery,” after all. Quit whining America and enjoy your three-hour TSA line. It’s just more freedom!

And gee, I can’t imagine why morale is low, what with folks like TN Rep. Marsha Blackburn constantly attacking TSA employees on everything from their uniforms and badges to alleging “pedophiles and child pornographers” are doing pat-downs.

I try to be nice to the TSA when I travel. They have a thankless job. And honestly, the last few times we’ve traveled, TSA has not been the problem. Our last three trips were to Seattle, New York City and San Francisco — all major international airports — and we changed in O’Hare, D.C., and Dallas. Again: TSA was not the problem. The problem was our airline. The last two times we traveled, there was a “mechanical malfunction” preventing our plane from even getting to the airport. The result was hours and hours and hours of waiting, eventual rebooking of flights, lots of angst and frustration, and a big chunk of our vacation time gone like a fart in the breeze.

TSA was not to blame. American Airlines was to blame. We were kept uninformed about the nature of the delays, instead given new departure updates every hour — only to see that departure time whoosh by just as it approached. Again. And again. Finally we were told our plane is still in Raleigh or wherever because of a mechanical failure (something they’d known from the get-go but hadn’t told us). And even though you’re at a fucking airport filled with planes, they can’t just pull a new one over to the gate. No, that would be too easy. They have to bring one in from somewhere else and that will happen in about three and a half hours and, oh, you’ve already been here for three hours? Sorry and thanks for flying American Airlines.

Seriously, fuck you people. The last time that happened (last month, actually, so yes, the anger is still very fresh) we were at LaGuardia airport, which is like a third world airport. There are literally no services in the American Airlines terminal once you get past TSA. You can’t score a beer or glass of wine, you can’t grab a sandwich. There’s an Au Bon Pain kiosk with cellophane-wrapped sandwiches and soft drinks and people that is it. You know, if you’re going to trap people in a gray linoleum hell for an entire day, at least give us some dang alcohol to soften the blow.

We were actually stuck there for five hours, when we could have been enjoying all that New York City has to offer, if only American Airlines had informed us that our flight was basically cancelled. But noooo. I eventually lost my cool, rebooked us on another flight that went through Washington D.C., whereupon we were ushered onto buses that took us to a different terminal. And helloooo paradise! This terminal was new, had bars, restaurants, air conditioning, there was even blue carpeting, people! I felt like a lost soul who had wandered into an oasis. I had no idea this wonderful place existed at LaGuardia airport. All my life, LaGuardia has been sterile gray linoleum, bags of Doritos, and not enough chairs.

Incidentally, a woman on our flight told us that the exact same “mechanical failure” thing had happened on her last four flights. Either the American Airlines fleet is in serious disrepair, or they’re just trotting out that excuse because they know passengers will accept a delay over a mechanical failure more easily than some other excuse.

Anyway, I’m done with air travel for now. The airlines need to get their shit together. We pay waaaay too much money for airline tickets to be dicked around because you can’t get the actual plane to the airport. I mean, I did my part: I showed up on time. I left enough time for security. I held up my end of the bargain. American Airlines, not so much.

Our next vacation is in August. We’re driving.

12 Comments

Filed under air travel, American Airlines, travel, TSA

Choose Your Enemies Wisely….

… for you shall become just like them:

Boehlert

Gee, whatever happened to single payer healthcare and free college tuition? Now it’s Fox News “scandals” and regurgitated conspiracy theories. Nice revolution you have there.

7 Comments

Filed under 2016 Presidential Election, Bernie Sanders

Tennessee Gun Report

Three accidental shootings, one fatal.

• May 26, 2016:

1- In Murfreesboro, a son was cleaning a rifle and forgot to clear the round in the chamber. He shot dad in the leg. Oops.

2- Also in Murfreesboro, a neighbor shot down this guy’s new drone. And, cue the boo hoos:

A store owner and avid drone operator told News 2 shooting down a drone can be dangerous. He said if the aircraft falls from the sky uncontrollably, it could hit someone or a passing vehicle causing injury or death.

You know what’s dangerous? Sending your drone over a neighbors’ yard, when everyone in Tennessee is armed for Armageddon. The guy is lucky the only thing shot down was the fucking drone.

I hate drones.

• May 25, 2016:

A Nashville 18-year-old with his whole life ahead of him decided to play with a gun, and that made all the difference in the world:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Metro police are investigating the accidental shooting death of an 18-year-old.

DeAndre Kpana-Quamoh had just graduated from East Literature Magnet High School two weeks ago and was ready to compete in the state track championships this weekend.

He also a had a full academic scholarship to Alabama State University.

It wasn’t just DeAndre’s parents that had great things to say about him. In addition to being captain of the track tream and maintaining good grades in school, DeAndre also worked weekends at Inglewood Kroger on Gallatin Pike.

“He was very smart and very talented,” said DeAndre’s boss at Kroger, Clarissa Whitfield. “He could sing, he could run. He was amazing.

That’s why Whitfield said she was surprised when she heard after his shift Sunday night, he went to a friend’s house where there was a gun.

The teens thought it was unloaded, but it went off. DeAndre was shot and died that night.”

Goddammit. Just … goddammit. Magnet school graduate, full scholarship to college, track star, and now all of that promise is gone. Because he went to a friend’s house where there was a gun. And they thought it was unloaded.

Just … goddammit.

• May 21, 2016:

1- Another road rage shooting in Memphis:

According to police, the victim, a 61-year-old woman, told officers a gray Ford F250 pickup truck came up behind her as she was drying underneath the flyover, pulled out a gun and began shooting.

The victim then said she heard a loud sound and a plastic object hit her window, but didn’t break it.

The victim had no idea why the occupants of the truck were upset with her.

The woman was not hurt in the road rage incident.

Police do not have a description of the suspects at this time. They did release the license plate number of the suspects’ vehicle: TN tag number NG2503.

Memphis and road rage shootings, like puppies and cuteness.

2- In Nashville, two teenagers were shot while just one block away, a youth violence summit was underway.

• May 20, 2016:

People just can’t stop getting shot on Memphis interstates.

• May 19, 2016:

1- A Springfield 7-year-old brought a loaded 9mm to school. The gun was found in the kid’s backpack.

Seven years old. I can’t even.

2- Stolen guns in Chattanooga are used in crimes. And where do they come from? The unsecured homes and cars of “responsible” gun owners.

Agent Gibbons said 70 percent of guns taken off the streets in Chattanooga are stolen from local homes and vehicles.

“My son has a concealed license and they stole his pistol that was in the car,” Jerry Yother said.

Pastor Jerry Yother is one of those victims. The gun his family legally purchased is now considered an illegal firearm.

“Even when you think you’re in a safe neighborhood you need to think again,” Yother said.

Until that gun is used in a crime, or recovered from the streets, the ATF said there’s a very small chance Yother will get his gun back.

“Individual caught with an illegal firearm, I would imagine that the purpose of having that illegal firearm is not for any good reason at all,” Gibbons said.

Illegal firearms are used in most of Chattanooga’s shootings and violent crimes

No, Pastor Yother. You’re not a victim. You’re another idiot contributing to the flow of illegal guns. It takes a special kind of stupid to leave your firearm in a car. Hell, in my neighborhood, people break your car windows to grab a CD.

3- This Rogersville man went to Illinois and started firing off his gun because, why not?

• May 16, 2016:

1- From our perennial Gun Report location: Greeneville. Congratulations, you are the state’s GunFAIL capital.

A man accidentally shot himself as he went to bed about 10:30 p.m. Sunday, sheriff’s Deputy Franklyn Morgan said in a report.

Victim Johnny Perkins, 51, of Kitchen Branch Road, told deputies that “he was going to bed and his gun fell off the night stand and went off,” the report said.

2- A Memphis man shot into a car after being rejected by a woman he was flirting with. Unfortunately, he hit her 3-year-old.

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Filed under gun control, gun violence, Guns, Tennessee

When You Have Something To Hide

Sniveling little twerp James O’Keefe got busted trying to take down one of the conservative movement’s favorite liberal enemies, billionaire George Soros. This time, the ineptitude is truly a marvelous thing to behold, with O’Keefe accidentally laying out his entire scheme on the voicemail of his intended target.

Yet another hit for the fail parade known as Project Veritas, O’Keefe’s “non-profit” by which his dirty tricks are financed. I’ve long wondered why some enterprising journalist — a real one — hadn’t been able to find out who is funding O’Keefe and his band of merry pranksters. Maybe no one is interested; after his early hits on ACORN and NPR, he had less success with intended targets Sen. Mary Landrieu, CNN journalist Abbie Boudreau and Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Even his earlier hits have flamed out, after O’Keefe and an accomplice were forced to pay $150,000 to a former ACORN employee who sued.

At one point it was reported that Foster Friess and PayPal’s Peter Thiel gave money early on. Whether they still waste their money on this clown, I have no clue. Especially when the organization’s actual purpose seems to be Making James O’Keefe Feel Important. So, where does the money come from?

And now I have my answer:

O’Keefe portrays himself as a rigorous journalist who is dedicated to furthering “a more ethical and transparent society.” He refuses, however, to be transparent about who is funding him. According to tax records obtained by PRWatch.org, an investigative watchdog group run by the Center for Media and Democracy, in recent years hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to Project Veritas have come through a fund in Alexandria, Virginia, called Donors Trust, which specializes in hiding the money trails of conservative philanthropists. In its promotional materials, Donors Trust says that it will “keep your charitable giving private, especially gifts funding sensitive or controversial issues.” The records obtained by PRWatch.org also show that one donor, a conservative political activist in Wisconsin, contributed fifty thousand dollars just before Project Veritas undertook a sting of one of his political enemies—a state senator.

This is so precious. Only “conservative philanthropists” would need a fund that actually specializes in hiding their donation. You know, guys, if you have to hide what you’re doing … maybe you shouldn’t be doing it. That’s what mama always told me, anyway.

Also: as it appears Project Veritas is little more than a dirty tricks operation which will take out your political rival for a fee, I can’t help but wonder why they are given tax-exempt status in the first place. Isn’t tax exempt status reserved for organizations providing a “social good”?

Jane Mayer, who wrote this New Yorker piece, asked a similar question. There are many right-wing organizations professing to provide a “social good” which are, in fact, doing dirty tricks for fun and profit. America Rising Squared is one; rather than provide a social good, it appears to exist purely to intimidate private citizens who engage in social or political activism. No wonder the people financing this form of intimidation want their names kept secret.

The question is, how long can this go on? Sooner or later someone is going to get sued (again). A law will get passed, a loophole will get closed.

Until then, watch your backs. No, no… I’m not talking about the people who James O’Keefe is targeting. The way this inept band of Konservative Keystone Kops keeps tripping over their own shoelaces, they’ll take themselves out. I’m talking about you moneybags on the right who keep financing these ratfucking operations. You’re going after private citizens now, not just politicians. We’ll find out who you are and plaster your names all over Twitter. Bwaahaaa.

1 Comment

Filed under conservatives, George Soros, James O'Keefe, Media, media manipulation

But …. Trannies In The Bathroom!

While Tennessee Republicans gnash their teeth and rend their garments over Obama’s transgender bathroom order — even considering holding a special session over the issuethis happened:

32 arrested, included children’s minister, in human trafficking case

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Thirty-two men and women, including a children’s minister, were arrested on prostitution and human trafficking-related charges in Knoxville.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation made the arrests during a three-day operation called Operation Someone Like Me.

[…]

Two of the men arrested, including the children’s minister, responded to ads for what they thought were girls under the age of 18.

WATE identifies the minister as Jason Kennedy for Grace Baptist Church in Knoxville. The church’s website says Kennedy, 46, is a pastor for children from birth through fifth grade.

Court records say he allegedly responded to an ad on May 19 via a text message and was made aware another girl would be present who was underage. A $100 fee for a half hour of sex with both females was reportedly negotiated, according to court records, and Kennedy arranged to meet them at a Best Western.

The children’s minister is further accused of finding out the underage girl was only 15 upon arriving and saying he wanted to have sex with both. WATE reports court documents say he placed $100 on the counter and removed his pants before law enforcement took him into custody.

Would the moralizing Christian Republicans geeked out about gender identity please please please clean up their own houses first, before sticking their noses in who is using which bathroom?

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Filed under GLBT, Tennessee

Berning Down The House

What to do with a problem like Bernie? He has no chance of winning the nomination and yet he keeps telling his supporters otherwise. There is no “Bernie Sanders movement,” just the same wealthy, white liberal arts college elites and Hollywood lefties who have always represented the ideological far-left.

He and his surrogates are ginning up resentment and discord on the left, stoking those ideological fires that have unfortunately refused to spark a revolution. But still they won’t quit. They are increasingly resembling a cult, a dangerous and creepy one.

Why? Because the purpose of Bernie Sanders’ campaign is not to elect Bernie president. The purpose is to tear the Democratic Party down to its studs so it can be rebuilt in their Socialist image.

Jamelle Bouie nailed it months ago when he astutely observed that Hillary Clinton is running to lead the Democratic Party while Bernie Sanders is running to remake it.

And I hate to break to the DNC but no, “seats on a key convention platform committee” are not going to make these people happy. Nothing short of a complete overhaul of the Democratic Party back to what they see as its “New Deal ideals” will suffice. Bernie doesn’t want to be president so much as he wants to burn down the house.

I’m not sure this is the way to do that. I’m not sure death threats and lost elections are going to accomplish that goal. But keep dreaming, Berners.

14 Comments

Filed under 2016 Election, 2016 Presidential Election, Democratic Party

Congratulations, Unidentified KS Man! You’re Our 2nd Amendment Hero Du Jour

Oh, lookie. Another one of our safest, most responsible citizens EVAH didn’t live up to their NRA-crafted image. Shocked, I tell you:

Police: Man with concealed carry permit accidentally shoots self, woman at graduation ceremony

A high school graduation in Augusta, Kan., was interrupted on Sunday by a “knucklehead situation,” police say.

Augusta Police Chief Tyler Brewer told the Wichita Eagle that a 37-year-old man with a concealed carry permit inadvertently caused a small automatic handgun to go off inside his sock during the Augusta High School commencement.

“An individual sitting on the southern portion of the stadium had brought this gun into the stadium,” Brewer said. “It was in his sock. It was uncomfortable for him. He went to adjust his sock, and the weapon went off, striking him in the foot.”

According to the Associated Press, the bullet then traveled 50 feet, hitting a woman in her calf.

She has been released from the hospital, while the man is still being treated for a non-life-threatening injury.

Weapons are not permitted on school grounds, and Brewer said he plans to ask prosecutors to file charges.

So let’s count the way this man failed humanity: he brought a gun into a gun-free zone. He had it concealed in his sock. And he shot himself and a bystander.

Slow clap, gun idiot!

6 Comments

Filed under gun control, gun violence, Guns

It’s Always About Disaffected White People

The same disaffected white people who listen to Rush Liumbaugh and rail against “political correctness” are flocking to Donald Trump and his promise to “Make America Great Again.” Problem is, America has always been great … for them:

Which America is he promising to us? If you ask his supporters, they say life has gotten worse for people like them over the last 50 years. It seems safe to assume that, in the eyes of Mr. Trump’s overwhelmingly white male fans, America was greater a half-century ago. Indeed, it was pretty great — for them.

It’s not just that factory jobs were more plentiful or that women and minorities were largely kept from positions of power. Large national programs that radically changed the country kept America great specifically for white men. New Deal-era systems like Social Security and unemployment insurance; rules that demarcated minimum wages and maximum work hours and protected unionization; and the G.I. Bill at the end of World War II substantially transformed the country and created a booming middle class. But they all purposefully left out most women and minorities.

It’s a little-remembered fact that the social safety net, that product of the Great Depression, initially was available primarily to white working-class men. Social Security excluded domestic and agricultural workers until the 1950s — jobs held largely by people of color and women. Ditto unemployment insurance and the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. Gays and lesbians, excluded from the right to marry until last year, of course were denied all of the legal benefits of such contracts: inheritance, property settlement in divorce, insurance benefits, Social Security spousal benefits, etc.

So yes, America has always been great for white men. Particularly straight white men. And these are the folks whining that America isn’t great anymore because they have to share their piece of the pie after 240 years? Get the fuck outta here.

I know this isn’t any groundbreaking news to liberals. I’m just really happy to see the paper of record acknowledge what’s really going on with this “Make America Great Again” nonsense. I’ve heard far too much about “wage stagnation” and “income inequality” as if it’s really economics driving the rise of Trumpism. I don’t think that’s it at all. I think it’s the same old shit that it’s always been: loss of white privilege. The news media seems awfully loathe to call out the racism in our electorate, as if it’s impolite to call things what they are. But there you have it.

Here’s something else I learned: watching one of the weekend MSNBC shows, I learned the last Democratic president to receive the majority of the white vote was Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964. Gee, now what happened in 1964? Thinking … thinking

From a presidential perspective, that doesn’t seem to matter: we’ve had several Democratic presidents who managed to get elected without white peoples’ votes. Here’s a nice little run-down. We even managed to have majorities in the House of Representatives and Senate during that time period. So I’m really not too worried about my party losing white voters. If all they want to do is whine about how they have to share their toys, well, let the Republicans have them.

At some point this is all going to change, though. The generation that remembers when they owned the playground is going to die off and a new generation will take over. These will be people who grew up at a time when everyone played together; they weren’t alive at a time when others suddenly got the same rights and privileges they’d been enjoying for decades. That all happened long before they were born. It will be interesting to see what America is like when that happens.

7 Comments

Filed under 2016 Election, 2016 Presidential Election, Donald Trump, feminism, GLBT, racism

Tennessee Gun Report

Two accidental shootings this week. Also: I’ve been meaning to say this for a while now but what the hell is going on in Memphis?

memphis

I mean, it’s EVERY DAY. Chattanooga, too. And yes, there are stabbings, but guns are far more lethal. And what’s up with the increase in the murder rate? I thought more guns would keep the murder rate down?

• May 14, 2016:

Memphis mom of the year nominee waved a gun at five kids outside a community center in an ill-advised attempt to defend her daughter from some bullies. When you have a gun, it seems all other options for problem resolution just fly out the window.

• May 13, 2016:

1- An 18-year-old Memphis teen getting ready for her prom was shot in the chest by her 17-year-old boyfriend. The boy was “playing with the gun when it went off.” Oops.

2- A Columbia man nearly shot an innocent person in a case of mistaken identity:

“I was driving down the road, back home from my mother’s house, when I heard a loud gunshot,” Rogalski said. “It sounded very close to me. It was super loud, like nothing I’ve ever heard before.

“I instantly called my mom, and she told me to find a safe place to pull over my car and see what happened,” the 21-year-old Columbia resident said. “I got out, and there was a bullet in my car.”

The bullet went through the back door on the driver’s side of her car and ricocheted through the passenger’s head rest in the front seat. Her mother, Lori King, rushed down one-lane, unpaved Porters Branch Road toward Old Natchez Trace Road, about a mile away, to find out what happened.

“I felt like I had a target on my forehead,” Rogalski said.

So this woman is driving down a road and is nearly shot in the head. So, let’s find out about the shooter:

As it turns out, it was a case of mistaken identity, Rogalski said.

After waiting for deputies to arrive, another car, similar to hers, pulled up. The person in the car asked Rogalski and her family if they knew how to locate the 22-year-old Temes, apparently trying to collect a drug debt.

“It is believed that due to this fear of being in danger that Mr. Temes has taken to arming himself daily with a firearm,” a deputy’s report on the incident said.

So, was he a good guy with a gun or a bad guy? Hard to tell here. So confusing.

• May 12, 2016:

A Soddy Daisy 18-year-old driving through downtown Chattanooga is shot at by a man in a gold mini van in what’s believed to be a road rage incident.

• May 11, 2016:

Domestic assault, Paris edition. I’m not clear if the couple were arguing over a telephone or were actually on the phone when he shot through the kitchen ceiling at her.

I bring it up because guns are very much a women’s issue. Guns are used in an astonishing number of domestic violence cases, and the idea that women should just arm themselves so they can fire back is just … retarded.

• May 10, 2016:

A Gun Report update: murder charges have been filed against CCW-holder Michael W. Young of Johnson City, stemming from a February road rage incident featured in the March 9 Gun Report. Young gunned down Jesus Mijares in front of his 14-year-old son.

• May 8, 2016:

1- Knox County man target shooting accidentally shoots an innocent person sitting in his car. Ooops:

Robert Mathis, 32, was shooting at a backstop to check the accuracy of the sites on his weapon, when the ammunition went beyond the backstop, travelling down an embankment and through a wooded area striking a vehicle.

Benjamin Fawver, 33, was seated in the vehicle and was struck in the left arm.

Article doesn’t say how far away the car was parked. It’s a pretty sad day when a person can’t sit in their own car without worrying about getting shot by some yahoo target shooting on the other side of the woods, though.

2- Yet another person driving on the interstate in Memphis is shot. This is happening a lot.

Police said it is unclear if the shooting was caused by road rage, but drivers worry that with so many road rage shootings this year, that may have been the case.

Guns in cars, now whose bright idea was that?

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Filed under gun control, gun violence, Guns, Tennessee

This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

Just ….. no.

CNNfail

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Filed under 2016 Presidential Election, media