Friday, October 06, 2006

Choking On Garbage In The Name Of Counter-Terrorism

I'm so pissed at the idiotic actions "Homeland Security" has taken in the name of countering terrorism. I've been pissed for a while on behalf of brown people and those of Middle Eastern descent, many of whom have been targeted by this administration's wars. Two weeks ago, while traveling in Canada, I got pissed on behalf of Canadians and Mexicans, our neighbors to the North and South, who have to put up with our mad plans to wall them out. I even got pissed on behalf of those Canadians who muttered, "Let's kick all the Americans out," in response to a news article describing the proposed US-Canadian Immigration Fence, while I was standing next to them, innocently, buying OJ in a convenience store in Vancouver. It's only natural for Canadians to bluster about kicking Americans out of their country when Americans seem so intent upon kicking the world out of our country. I would have probably felt and said the same thing if I was them. But I'm not. Thanks to Bushie, I'm part of the North American behemoth currently casting a shadow across the globe.

I'm pissed on behalf of immigrants in general, who are now often treated with even more suspicion, disrespect and disregard than they were before this latest round of preventive strikes and isolationism began. I'm especially pissed on behalf of asylum seekers who now, in addition to having to demonstrate through excrutiatingly detailed accounts that they have suffered persecution - which is understandable, though emotionally and sometimes practically difficult -, also have the burden of convincing oftentimes ignorant, unkind, Ameri-centric asylum officers that they are not terrorists because they are from Pakistan or Afghanistan, because they wear or wore a headscarf, or because they are Muslim.

I'm pissed on behalf of the 50% of Americans - me included - who don't support Bush who can only nod in sympathy - as if to say, we're with you, not them - when people from other countries tell us that they are boycotting America until at least 2008, which is what a friendly Welsh couple told Raj and I over breakfast at our B&B in Victoria, B.C. America is growing increasingly divided within itself and from the rest of the world. I don't want to be divided from the rest of the world, but that's the posture this administration is forcing upon me.

I'm also pissed on behalf of myself because, during the last few times that I flew, I was unable to bypass baggage claim by packing my belongings economically in my carry-on bag because the administration decided that items as small and innocuous as mascara wands, liquid pens, and foundation bottles could be used to conceal explosive materials. Because of recent "relaxed" restrictions that allow passengers to carry "liquids, gels or aerosols in containers of 3 ounces or less, as long as they all fit into a clear 1-quart plastic bag" I'll be able to carry my make-up with me on my next flight. It's about freakin' time. What exactly did our esteemed government expect the would-be terrorists to do with all that banned make-up? Did they envision 20 terrorists gathering together on the plane and surreptitiously dumping out the contents of their lipgloss containers into the palms of one lucky suicide bomber?

Clearly, all the policy-makers at Homeland Security ("HS") are men. Women know the painstaking effort it takes to get the last bit of mascara out of the tube, or the last smudge of lip gloss, and could have told HS that the idea of a bunch of men huddled together shaking make-up containers in the air in order to get out their explosive materials is highly improbable, let alone ludicrous. And even if they tried it - say, by passing the make-up containers down the aisles to one another - don't you think someone would notice?

Above all else, I'm pissed on behalf of the environment, because Mother Nature is suffering big-time because of the efforts of HS. During the wholesale ban on liquids, passengers in security lines were throwing away water bottles - along with innumerable other containers - by the thousands. With these latest relaxed restrictions, passengers are now able to bring on liquids purchased in the gate area after security, but they will still no doubt throw away their water bottles prior to going through security. Can you imagine how much extra garbage this is generating? Our landfills were already overflowing before "Homeland Security" started running things. God knows what they look like now.

That's just the United States. In Canada, when I went to purchase an OJ in the gate area, I was told that every liquid purchased must be poured into a large paper cup at the time of purchase due to "airport regulations." I was thirsty and hadn't had breakfast so I bought it, and in doing so I tripled the amount of garbage I alone would normally have produced for absolutely no reason whatsoever. Dumping the contents of a plastic container into a paper cup that I could drink in the gate area, but which I had to dispose of prior to the flight, in no way made air travel safer for me or my fellow passengers. To be fair, as this was in Canada I suppose I can't blame HS, although I'm sure their behind it in some way.

Getting back to the US, normally I travel with a Nalgene bottle that I refill as I go so that I don't leave behind me an unnecessary trail of waste. This last trip, I knew I was on precarious ground allowing my empty Nalgene bottle to go through security. Sure enough, one officer opened his mouth to make a fuss, but thankfully a different officer shut him down by saying shortly, "It's empty, man." HS has us so paranoid about liquids that even empty water bottles are suspect!

It's all so ridiculous. Yes, the thought of terrorists bringing aboard liquid explosives scares the daylights out of me. But we're not going to counter those threats by over-inclusive bans that provide terrorists with a roadmap as to how to avoid being targeted by our security. Practical issues of counter-terrorism aside, I'm all for policies that make our country, and the world, more secure. But, I don't believe that drowning our country in garbage is going to help us become more secure. "Securing" our nation will be an ultimately pointless endeavor if in so doing HS destroys the very thing it's attempting to protect.

Come to think of it, maybe this is all part of an elaborate terrorist plot? Instead of destroying our economy and killing us all off, they're trying to turn the forces of American consumerism against America! If we bury ourselves alive in garbage, there will be nothing left of America for the terrorists to try to destroy. We'll do their work for them while they're home relaxing in front of their satellite TVs, watching CNN chronicle the whole dramatic story.


Tracy said...

When I traveled this past weekend, I unfortunately had to discard two water bottles that I hadn't finished drinking in order to go through security.

Buttercup said...

That's what I'm talking about Tracy! It doesn't even help to throw out the water and keep the bottle, because when you're traveling you probably don't want to fill up the bottle with airport water - though that would be one possible option.

Bean said...

I disagree completely with your views. I personally like Bush. I think he has handled these tragedy's that America has had to deal with very well. I agree with our troops fighting over seas as well, fighting for my freedoms. I feel the precautions taken by TSA is not only felt by America but worldwide. Seeing that technology is very advanced, you only need a small portion of liquid explosive (which by the way I could go buy at a grocery store and brew up at my home and put in a Nalgene bottle) to blow up a plane and cause harm to hundreds of people.

Second, why are we so torn up on make up?? I don't see any men complaining only woman, why are you so bent on making sure your mascara and eye liner is on straight and you have your liquid concealer for a flight. I say do your makeup prior to going to the airport bring your book, grab a bite before your flight and be grateful that you are alive. TSA is taking such precautions to save your life and protect your well being from terrorists, including white black adn brown people. Ebveryone is a potential terrorist. There is no such thing as trust in this world.

Thirdly, making people throw away their bottles does contribute to trash but it is not TSA's problem to recycle. Then perhaps, airlines should throw on a $5.00 tax for your ticket so they can install recycling bins and services all over right at the security check point, that way trash would not be acquiring and people can just recycle their shit like they should be anyways...When you see a person on the street throw their trash down, do you stop them and tell them to pick it up??? Well, if not then don't complain about these precautions made for our safety.

Finally, I am all for building a 40 foot wall to ban illegal immigrants from Mexico and Canada from coming here. You sdon't like our laws, then get the hell out. On one account, Canada can never be part of anything, when do they ever do anything for a greater cause or any cause in this world...Never, the bitch and whine and come to our country, well, you don't like us, get out.

2nd, the Mexicans, a recent study said a majority of gangs in LA are made up of these illegal immigrants that have crossed the border, contributing to death tolls, and evern better the rates are growing higher. On another hand, you have companies hiring these illegals to do work for cheap pay why because they will be paid shit for their work, and the company then avoids taxes for these workers. All under the table. Well, one the companies need to get their shit straight and hire an honest American to work and pay taxes. We have so many people who are honest Americans who don't even have an opportunity to work for anything because of these illegals. It's BS. ONe another hand as well with these Mexicans, they come over here illegally and because they aren't legal, they can be caught on misdemeanors and higher crimes and not be tried because they are illegal and ten on top of that, departed on MY tax dollars...just so they can jump the border tomorrow with a pound of cocaine and distribute these drugs in my country. I say build a wall and don't look back. Keep them all out. In a "60 minute" kind of show it stated 2 Columbian cocaine drug lords have been finally caught and Columbia gave the ok to try them and keep them in America. These guys will die in jail. GReat I think. But along this story as well, they said it is majority Mexicans who transport this shit over the border and distribute it. They cut it with whatever and distribute it to who ever will buy it. I think it is bul shit, I don't want my tax money pauying for them to be imprisoned, but nor do I want a homeless american to go with no job, nor do i want an American to od on cocaine that these Mexicans are bringing over to my country.

People need to start sticking up for what they have and if you don; t like the precautions and laws here, go over to another country and see if you like it there.

Buttercup said...


Very thoughtful, impassioned reponse. Here's mine:

1) I don't put on nor care about make-up on planes. However, that stuff is expensive and it can spill, and I would rather have it with me in my carry on where it doesn't get bumbed around. One of my flights I lost a $26 bottle of eye liner remover, which spilled all over my clothes. It was annoying.

2) I'm all for making everyone, public and private organizations alike recycle, and I do think it's disgusting when people littler on the street, and sometimes I do say something. I'm not blaming the TSA, I'm saying that some of HS's policies are absurd and do nothing to contribute to our actual safety. At the same time, they have negative consequences, such as creating waste.

3) That's not very nice to say about Canada. Also, they don't "bitch and whine and come here." Based on my visit, they seem quite happy to stay where they are in their beautiful, clean, relaxed country. It was very nice. Also, some of our most loyal readers are from Canada. Wordnerd!

4) You can't blame illegal immigrants for taking jobs away from Americans. Instead, blame should rest upon the greedy Americans who hire illegal immigrants and exploit them instead of hiring American workers who cost more.

5) You also can not blame Mexicans for the US's drug problem. There is a huge demand for drugs in America. People make their choice to harm themselves by using drugs. No one holds a gun up their head and says, "Buy Those Drugs."

6) I AM sticking up for what I have here. What we have in this country are wonderful principles of equality and liberty and policies that are undercutting thos principles and what makes (made) America great. America is not going to be a great nation if it pits itself against the whole rest of the world and blames everyone for its problems. It has to take responsibility for things like using a disproportionate amount of power and creating a disproportionate amout of waste, while only having a small percentage of the world's population. America gives its citizens wonderful privileges, and I'm grateful for that. One of those privileges is the right to be self-critical of our Government and to reflect on what's working and what's not.

Right now, I see a lot that is not working, and I find it alarming. Rather than run away to Canada, which would be fun and will happen if we get another Republican elected, I'm staying here for the moment and speaking up for what I believe. I think the promise of a great America is worth fighting for.

Caledonia said...

I'm travelling to the US for the first time next year and all these restrictions is turning our arrangements into a nightmare.

We had to book the meal on the flight because at present we aren't allowed to bring our own food. I would have preferred to take my own food but what can you do?

Restrictions have mostly been lifted on European flights and insanely, passengers travelling to Europe from America are allowed to buy food and drink in the airports to take on their flights!

I'm looking forward to my holiday in Florida though and am not about to let anyone ruin it for me.

K said...

Oh please remove me from your links.

Gypsy said...

Buttercup, all I have to say is "amen" and "ditto" to everything you wrote.

Buttercup said...

Caldonia, I don't understand the rule against food and have not heard that before. The airlines appear to be doing a decent job of hydrating the passengers on the flight, so hopefully it won't be too uncomfortable.

K, You've been removed. I'm curious about your reasons, so if you want to share, let me know.

Gypsy, Right back at 'cha.

gravelly said...

$26 for make-up thrown away, water bottles thrown away: 911 survivors would have gladly given that to have their loved ones with them today.

Buttercup said...

Gravelly, Obviously. My point about the all-liquid ban was that it was over-inclusive, not effective, and in addition, was having the consequence of creating a lot of unnecessary waste.

Bean said...

Buttercup, I have many reasons, you said you would call me but I have yet to hear the phone ring. I think I have made my points clear and it upset sme that my sister doesn't understand. Regarding flights: I think any member of the flights that went down on 9-11 would have gladly given up food, water, makeup, and dealt with the airplane meals, as well, sure it would be a pain in the ass to fo throught all their luggage but they would been fine witha delay and they would be here to tell you that today.

That's fine that some people are canadian, but the Canadians that I have met constantly complain about the US, one is in my office, and I say go home then or deal with our laws.

Mexicans and drugs...hmmm? if you knew anything about the addiction that cocaine, heroine, etc actually does to your brain, you would not stand their ignorantly and tell me that these addicts have a choice. Yes they would have a choice if these illegals weren't able to cross the border with it. It is completely the illegals FAULT for America's downfall with drugs. If drugs weren't here than it would be easier for people to say NO! flat and simple. You go and try to tell that addict, that "no one put a gun to your will be the most ignorant statement and I will guarantee they won't give you the time of day because of your disrespect and ignorance.

I wish all immigrants would be deported from the US, or they would have to poay taxes, be a real citizen. I w2ish that all immigrants carrying drugs to my beautiful country would get the maximum for there crime.

And I wish that those who were aboard those planes on 9-11 were here to tell you, that they wouldn't give a damn, if they gave up a bottle of water, makeup costing ($500) to be alive today. Tell it to their families. There is no price that I could ever place on my life and taht goes for all my material things.

I would be richer if I lost everything as long as I was alive!

Bean said...

Thank you Gravelly. I am glad that you agree that those people would give it up to have their lives. There is no price for a life!

Buttercup said...


The reference to "K" was to the author of a Yoga Coffee Blog who asked to be removed from our blogroll. I was curious about her reasons.

Regarding your points. I understand them and I also understand that counterterrorism is an emotional issue because people immediately think about 9/11 and all of the lives that were lost.

Of course a human's life (any human's) is worth more then the inconvenience of packing your make-up in checked baggage. I never suggested anything else. What I was saying, and I believe you did not understand me hear, is that my opinion is that the policies being used by homeland security to prevent 9/11 do not seem to be particularly designed to address terrorism. They are both over and under inclusive (meaning, they target some activities that might be terrorist potentially, many that don't, and miss many activities that could be used by terrorists).

We should be able to talk about and criticize our country's efforts to counterterrorism openly, though it is an emotional subject. That's my response on the counterterrorism point.

Regarding drugs, I completely disagree with you that illegal immigrants are to blame for America's drug problem. For example, take the upper-middle class kids in our high school that we grew up with, about 30% of whom were doing pot. They wanted to do pot, talked often about how doing pot was the greatest thing ever (idiots), and would have done pretty much anything to get it. They were not intimidated into buying it, and they were not addicted in the sense that they couldn't stop. They wanted to smoke and they did it. Many talked dreamily of going to Amsterdam wher they could buy pot brownies in cafes.

In terms of your point on immigration, that you think all immigrants should be deported or pay taxes...? Immigrants do have to pay taxes. Illegal immigrants don't pay taxes, but many of them would give up almost everything to be legal immigrants and/or citizens here. I don't think the situation is as black and white as you are making it. And what immigrants are you talking about? Are you talking about people who have fled persecution who are hear now seeking asylum? Are you talking about children born in the U.S. whose parents are illegal immigrants? Are you talking about individuals who come here because they want a better life and work incredibly long hours for little pay just to have the "privilege" of staying in this country for a few more months...?

The problems are complex but a call to deport all immigrants (such as our father for example) sounds a bit lacking in compassion and over-simplistic.