November 12th, 2008


Had a fun time on Jimmy Kimmel Live!

Today, in addition to being Veteran's Day (have you thanked a veteran for your freedoms today?), was Uncle Frank's 75th birthday. (Yes, Uncle Frank really is Jimmy Kimmel's uncle.) They've been using a running gag on the show from a "behind the scenes" bit we did in 2004 where Uncle Frank thought I was after his job. The gag tonight was that I was supposedly the celebrity guest he remembered most.

It came off pretty well. Frank's a really nice guy, and we greeted each other like long-lost buddies. The director wanted me to play it up, and I had no trouble doing that, because it's what I'd have said anyway (though maybe not quite that exuberantly).

Everyone associated with the show, even the folks who hadn't been there 4 years ago when I was doing it semi-regularly, was really happy I'd come out for the gag, and the party. I was too. I had to cut things too short to make it back in time for my red-eye flight home, but while I was there, I was a part of the family.

I tell people who ask me what it's like to work on Jimmy Kimmel Live! that I have fun doing it, and if they'd call me and ask me to go out there, I would. They did, and I did. I'd do it again, too.

I'm looking forward to seeing the show on tape. I think it will play well on air.
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The First Amendment in an Obama world II

Even the Red Star-Tribune can't suppress this one:

An Augsburg College student and Sarah Palin supporter from Alaska was beaten on election night while walking to her dorm and was called a racist by a group of four young women because she had on a McCain/Palin presidential campaign button, authorities and the victim said.
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A modern-day Gestapo

An anonymous TSA shill wrote, on November 12 at 3:34 PM, in a comment on the TSA blog entry announcing the change to require those with medically necessary liquids to go to the family lane:

These measures may seem arbitrary, capricious, and even ridiculous when we encounter them at the checkpoint. But travelers need to know that they're seeing only a very tiny part of a big picture. We need to be aware that the apparent inexplicable randomness and inconsistency they see at checkpoints is actually part of a well coordinated, carefully conceived, meticulously implemented Security Strategy that has been repeatedly proved highly effective in numerous cases that must necessarily remain classified.

In other words, as the used car salesman said, "Truuuuust me!"

The TSA is the most hated government agency in the United States, displacing the IRS from the perch it's long held. Statements and policies like this, along with a corporate, ingrained refusal to accept that they might possibly be in error, are the reason why.

The TSA realizes that this Security Strategy may have the unavoidable effect of causing confusion, frustration, inconvenience, and expense for many passengers. Of necessity, the published rules are merely guidelines. Their actual (classified) implementation is always subject to change and interpretation by checkpoint officials who are continually updated with the latest robust classified intelligence. Scrupulously following the guidelines is thus the best a passenger can do to reduce the likelihood of an unexpected unpleasant checkpoint experience. But the nature of the War we're fighting unfortunately means that even passengers who do everything they can to obey the published rules may still find that the TSO declares something they are carrying prohibited.

In other words, the screener can make up the rules as he goes along, and there's nothing that we can do about it, so we should just accept the arbitrary, capricious decision and go on about our business.

Sorry, but while that may be how people are forced to live in a totalitarian society, that's not the way America works.

We need to always recognize that what TSOs tell us to do is necessary to protect aviation as part of a highly effective system. And that national security usually requires that the valid reasons behind the decision remain unknown to us and to the enemy. With that in mind, the appropriate response should always be rapid and cheerful compliance. Rather than grumbling, complaining, and demanding "change," understanding and gratitude would make the checkpoint screening experience more pleasant for everyone involved.

The appropriate response to a mugger who points a gun in our faces and demands our wallet should be cheerful compliance, too, I'm guessing he would have us say. Sorry, but when the government, in the person of the TSA screener (sorry, but anyone who demands the ability to arbitrarily and capriciously take our property with no recourse at all does not deserve the term "officer"), says that the rules have changed yet again and while the medication that costs thousands of dollars is acceptable, but the gel pack that keeps it from being destroyed is not, and he's backed up with the full force and power of the United States Government, "understanding and gratitude" are going to be in very short supply.

The failure of passengers to understand the above is the reason for nearly all unpleasant incidents and stress at airport checkpoints.

No. The failure of the TSA to understand the needs of the traveling public that it serves is the reason.

The arguments our anonymous shill makes are those of a secret state police force, not an agency that serves the citizens of the United States. The results of last week's election distress me greatly, but the one bright spot I can find is that maybe, just maybe, the TSA will become an American institution instead of a modern-day Gestapo.
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