Publisher’s ink: Time machine real solution to air travel

By From page A4 | November 30, 2010


Our youngest daughter joined us on Thanksgiving Day. Her plane ticket was purchased before fares reached the usual holiday spike. The airline industry is an oligopoly. This simply means they can charge whatever they want whenever they can — thus the changing fares.

Passengers are learning the Transportation Security Administration like airline fares are constantly changing their procedures. Passengers are now subjected to physical pat-downs. As if removing your shoes, belts, rings, hats and other clothing in the past wasn’t enough.

I don’t feel comfortable disrobing in front of a TSA agent. And the thought of being groped by one doesn’t make flying sound any more enjoyable.

By explaining the new pat-down procedures Homeland Security Director Janet Napolitano said, “It’s something new. Most Americans are not used to a real law enforcement pat down.”

No kidding! So let’s presume we’re all guilty and treat all airline passengers like suspected felons. I suppose this will divert our attention from being treated like cattle as we are now.

The text message my daughter sent convinced me I made the right decision not flying over the holidays.

“What’s going on?” it read. “They have something that looks like a giant time machine here at the airport.”

Little did she know “Big Brother” installed the new fangled scanning devices in an effort to tighten security at American airports and inflict even more embarrassment on the flying public.

“Don’t worry,” I replied. “It’s just an X-ray machine. It was included in the Obama healthcare bill that no one had time to read. Airlines are now offering low-cost healthcare policies and free X-rays with each ticket purchase.”

This airport security machine works much like the one H.G. Wells writes about in his 1895 novel, “The Time Machine.” Instead of being transported anywhere in time this baby transports you into a modern-day police state.

Almost 10 years after 9/11 and the geniuses at Homeland Security are still trying to get a handle on airport security. After Richard Reid (aka the shoe bomber) tried lighting the fuse on his size 12 Nikes, passengers were ordered to remove their shoes. When an accelerant was discovered in a can of shaving cream passengers were restricted to 3 ounces of liquid.

Let me try to understand. Explosive material is discovered in printer ink cartridges, bombs with timers set to explode over key locations are found and only approximately 70 percent of all luggage stored in cargo holds is scanned. And the TSA decides American passengers need full body scans and pat-downs? Is it me or does anyone else sense these guys are flying by the seat of their pants?

The furor over these unwarranted searches continues to escalate. The Obama administration calls them necessary. That’s interesting. We have an administration telling us they can frisk us before entering an airplane but it’s unlawful to ask a driver for proper identification when stopped by Arizona law enforcement. That of course would be profiling.

Once seated on her flight my daughter sent another text message: “On the plane next to a man wearing a turban.” Up to that point my biggest concern was the pilot’s horoscope for that day.

She was disappointed earlier when security waved her around the X-ray scanner. She wasn’t frisked either.

“I was bummed,” she told us upon her arrival in Sacramento. “I really wanted to walk through that time machine thing.”

“We need to keep the line moving,” the TSA agent told her when she inquired about it.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus! Nashville, Tenn., TSA agents are profiling but I’ll bet you won’t hear anyone admit it. They profiled my 19-year-old squirt.

If word gets out that some Midwest TSA agents are profiling there will be hell to pay. Everyone must abide by these unwarranted stop-and-frisk techniques used by the TSA.

Those folks opposed to profiling remind me of another H.G. Wells novel. Our country could be invaded by Martians like those characterized in “War of the Worlds” and these loonies would be handing out “Give Peace a Chance” bumper stickers.

If there was just some way to re-program those new government “time machines” so that anyone entering them will exit in the year 2010 instead of the Stone Age or the 1960s. This might improve our chances of defeating terrorism.

Richard Esposito is publisher of the Mountain Democrat. His column appears each Wednesday.

Richard Esposito

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