If You’re Flying American Airlines, You Have My Sympathies

American Airlines: When good airlines go bad

If you’re flying American Airlines soon, you have my sympathies. Their pilots are staging a slowdown/sick out while they work without a contract. Things ain’t goin’ well.

It’s tempting to shake your fist at the pilot’s union when your departure time dies of old age. I feel your pain. When you’re stuck in Tulsa en route to Wichita, your day is already a bummer. But the airline isn’t exactly innocent here either.

American filed bankruptcy last year, not completely because of financial woes, but to abrogate the pilots’ contract. This is common airline behavior. Several, like Continental (pre-United merger) did it several times.

American wanted givebacks from the pilots, big ones. And, they wanted them from a group, like almost everyone in the airline industry (except corporate executives), who’ve been giving back for years. This is common with airlines too.

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A Nation Terrified by Terrorists

Booga, Booga! One step closer and I light my crotch on fire!

Booga, Booga! One step closer and I light my crotch on fire!

Update The Odds of a Terrorist Attack: 1-in-16,553,385 Departures. In other words, it ain’t very damn likely.

It’s been more than 24 hours since an incompetent terrorist set his crotch ablaze aboard a Detroit-bound airplane and few have yet suggested this is Obama’s fault. Quite remarkable. Frankly, I expected the Orly Taitzters would be all atwitter with accusations that Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab was the secret love child of Barack Obama and Bill Ayers, conceived at the local ACORN office.

WHEN WILL YOU SHOW US THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE YOU NIGERIAN DEVIL!

A quick virtual walkabout through the major news sites, finds the usual calls for investigations (as well there should be) and experts evenly divided between those who believe everyone should be bolted to their seats and those who believe there’s little you can realistically do to combat this type of terrorism.

During the Reign of Chimpy the Magnificent, supporters were keen to point out that he’d spread his all-powerful wings of duct tape and plastic across the globe and no terrorist dared set foot into daylight – the rough equivalent of crediting him with protecting you from lightening strikes – as nearly an unlikely event.

However, here’s a little secret – George Bush was mostly just unlucky to be the guy left holding the bag when the deranged videographer from Tora Bora demolished the World Trade Center. Wrong place. Wrong time. Wrong guy.

Of course, he was masterful at capitalizing on that bad luck. He used it to scare the bejeebus out of the nation and turn America into a place that looks a whole lot more like the nations he bragged of vanquishing. Knock-kneed Americans dutifully lined up and told him, “Here! Take anything you want! Puhleeze! Do anything you can to keep me safe on my once-a-decade airline flight! I’m askeered!”

Goodbye Bill of Rights, hello hopping on one foot as you struggle to get your shoes off at the security gate.

Despite the multi-billion dollar databases, despite the huge domestic and international intelligence apparatus, despite trillions spent on daily-double wars, terrorists will slip through. They will slip through if you removed every stitch of clothing, flew in the nude, and banned all luggage. Loons will be loons, but they’re smart and resourceful and they’re invisible needles in a worldwide haystack.

The only practical response to terrorists is to refuse to be terrorized – something a number of today’s polls suggest fear-crazed Americans are afraid to do. Hefty majorities cry for still more security. Many admit  they’ll let the government do anything they want so long as it gives them the illusion of security.

Americans need to wake up to a fact the rest of the world learned 25 years ago. No matter what you do, nitwits wintering over in Pakistani caves have lots of time to figure out how to attack someone and even if they aren’t successful, or just resort to sending a poorly edited videotape of thinly veiled threats, they still scare people. You can’t do a helluva lot about that.

There’s nothing wrong with reasonable precautions. Though people initially resisted them, metal detectors stopped Havana from being a popular destination for vacationing terrorists. It was a good deal.

Removing shoes at check-in? Not so much.

For proof, our newest would-be bomber apparently set off a bomblet made from similar materials security was supposed to guard against. And, he easily defeated the Anti-Maxwell Smart Hide-a-Shoe ® security precautions. He just kept his Hush Puppies on and jumped straight into an embarrassingly crotch-immolating fire.

The TSA requiring passengers remain seated for the last hour of a flight does promote safety, but only because people shouldn’t be wandering around the cabin anyway. Umar had about 9 hours to wander around before he set himself on fire, and he apparently did it while seated anyway. I’m all for banning luggage the size of console color TVs from the overhead bins though. Those are a clear and present danger.

There was a time when America fancied itself free and strong and proud – not to be confused with kicking the shit out of Third-World countries, abrogating the Constitution, and smirking about our High Noon moment on the range. As a nation, we didn’t suffer fools gladly. We hunted them down and vanquished them under fair and legal proceedings. Today you’ll find us under the far-corner of the bed shaking the thing like a berserk Magic Fingers and whining about not bringing terrorists into the country because, well, just because, that’s why!

America, for chrissakes, GROW A PAIR!  This numbskull already got a pretty karmic punishment, he melted his dick. Put him on trial and call it a day.

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