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Lance Simmens Headshot

Cheap Thrills and National Security

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You have to excuse me if I laugh, but all this public consternation over TSA pat-downs is silly. And it seems to me that those who scream the loudest are the very people who no one in their right mind actually wants to pat down anyway. I mean, look at Americans, they quite possibly might be the most untouched and uptight collection of overweight, out of shape, curmudgeons on the planet.

My guess is that if you conducted a survey, you might find an overwhelming majority of those doing the complaining to be among the most sexually repressed, confused, intellectually and physically lazy, indignant and hypocritical waste of human ignoramuses alive. You know the same people who attend Tea Party rallies and consistently vote against their self-interest. They are the people who reject change, pine for the good old days, when white was white and black was black and each knew their place. These are the same people who yearn for the pre-Civil Rights era when all in America was wonderful, like the television and movies portrayed it.

Of course, these are also the people who yelled the loudest after 9/11 about the need to exact revenge and feed the national security apparatus so as to prevent this from ever happening again. So what is a president to do? Beef up security and the people scream. Let security lapse and the people scream.

If only you could just profile the terrorists and pat them down -- that would be fine. Of course what makes the terrorists so damn effective is their ability to adapt to changing circumstances, so once they figured out who was being profiled they would use the system against us. Those sneaky terrorists, they just don't play fair.

Now this should come as no surprise, this attitude of indignation and entitlement. If our parents were the Greatest Generation, we most certainly are the Greediest Generation. The very same people who are never satisfied when sacrifice is required are the ones who when asked how to curb the excesses of government spending merely snort that you just need to reduce waste, fraud and abuse. It's very simple, you see; just eliminate the bad spending, you know, all the stuff that goes to other people.

Former Louisiana Senator Russell Long was famous for bellowing on the Senate floor, "don't tax you, don't tax me, tax that man behind the tree". A highly successful political platform indeed, but as the economy crashes and burns and unemployment stubbornly remains high, the political witch doctors and shamans babbling such nonsense will at some point be held to a standard of production, in a very real sense just like the private sector whose altar they worship at.

And if you are convinced that there is some form of ideological purity that is to be lauded in their seemingly sincere amateurism, think again. The knee jerk retort to every public policy issue is to ask the American people, consult the people, do what they wish, despite the fact that human nature is to want things without paying a fair price. We are a consumer society, a materialist culture mesmerized by cheap goods. We crave the bargain and ignore the true costs of goods, services, and resources. Hence, coal is good because it is cheap, natural gas is good because it is plentiful, and hence cheap, Wal-Mart is great because everything is made in Bangladesh, or India, or China and it is, well, cheap.

So while we strangle ourselves in search of short-term cheapness, the world is passing us by and then we rail against those who have cheated, obviously, because we are the rightful heirs to the throne of world domination. And as global warming exacts a very high cost indeed it is simply convenient to ignore it, after all because of our strategic geographical position on the planet it is and will have far more serious consequences for others before it affects us.

Incredibly, however, these very same advocates of public consensus also conveniently ignore the public when it suits their fancy. So despite an overwhelming public consensus on issues like Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal two-faced warriors like Senator John McCain simply shift gears to appeal to more study, and of course the favorite recourse of spineless politicians to demand that everyone agree 100 percent consensus becomes the new standard.

This has been a favorite of climate change deniers for years now; find one scientist, or even someone who pretends to be a scientist to disagree with the other thousand and you have a ready-made controversy. It is the age-old shell game employed by public policy analysts and political figures when confronted with thorny legal issues; merely shop around until you find a legal opinion to justify your position.

So this is current political environment we find ourselves in as we gear up for the next Presidential election. I do not know if pat-downs and screening will make us safer when we fly, but I am willing to submit to either or both if it increases my chances. If not, what in the world have I lost, intrusion upon my privacy? Give me a break, these civil libertarians did not object when we started illegal wiretaps post 9/11, why start now? Besides, you just may make some TSA employee's day, once again a cheap thrill, it is the American way!

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