Friday, November 26, 2010


Turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce and butter rolls weren’t the only things associated with Thanksgiving this year. For thousands of air travelers random pat-downs and revealing body scans were put on the menu beside the partial disrobing that is standard fare for the Transportation Security Administration.

A couple of weeks prior to the holiday rush at San Diego’s Lindbergh Field an Oceanside resident named John Tyner caused significant TSA consternation when he refused the newly enhanced security measure that puts thinly-gloved hands in close proximity to what used to be called “the family jewels.” Tyner used a less exalted euphemism—“my junk.”

Tyner recorded this encounter on his cell-phone—an essentially audio reproduction that captures most of the exchanges between him and airport security personnel.

On the one hand you have Tyner—an opinionated fellow who previously checked TSA Internet information to determine (mistakenly, as it turned out) that San Diego International Airport didn’t yet have the vivid-image x-ray machines about which he had health and privacy concerns.

On the other you have TSA officials who go strictly by the book and can’t fathom a person’s unwillingness to comply with a “groin check” of his “inner thigh”—“two times in the front and two times in the back.” Tyner’s comment to his pat-down professional (“If you touch my junk, I’m gonna have you arrested.”) was greeted as akin to a remark about exploding loafers.

The stand-off between TSA and an American citizen unwilling to acquiesce to the latest indignity airline passengers are obliged to endure resulted in Tyner first being told to leave the airport and later advised that he faced a $10,000 fine for leaving without submitting to security procedures.

Apparently the unpromulgated law of the skies is that once a traveler enters the security area, the process must be completed to the satisfaction of TSA—or else. Thus, it would be wise to post large signs at security entrances that apprise folks of this crucial point of no return--something like “Abandon all rights ye who enter here.”

A recent CBS poll provides a countervailing perspective. This random sample of 1,137 adults found that 80% of Americans favor the use of full-body scanners at airports. The poll didn’t ask about “groin checks” or say how many respondents were frequent fliers.

More to the point, over 50% opposed any form of ethnic profiling for security purposes. Apparently these PC clones of “The View” favor the bizarre theatrical performance whereby screaming three-year-olds and immobile grandmothers are subjected to needless and increasingly invasive indignities under the absurd assumption that all terrorists are created equal.

Friday, November 19, 2010


Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch famously quipped that the people had voted him out of office “and now the people must be punished.”

One might say the same of California voters who—apparently enjoying double-digit unemployment, massive state debt, environmental extremism, and unsustainable public pensions—sent Barbara Boxer back to Washington. Indeed, Democrats strengthened their stranglehold on Sacramento and returned almost their entire Congressional delegation to D.C.—by wide margins.

To top it all, the left-coast electorate put 70s retread Jerry Brown back in the Governor’s Mansion. This is the same fellow who opposed Prop. 13 and helped unionize the state’s public employees—a group whose exorbitant retirement benefits have been draining the state dry.

What’s so pathetic about the election results is that voters exhibited a general distaste for higher taxes by voting down Proposition 24—an attempt to reinstate recently lowered taxes on business—and by approving Proposition 26, a measure that requires a two-thirds vote on “fees” previously subject to only a majority vote.

On the other hand, voters were conned by a massive publicity campaign against “two Texas-based oil companies” to overwhelmingly defeat Proposition 23—the attempt to delay implementation of the greenhouse emission law, AB 32. The latter piece of “Cap and Tax” legislation is set to become the largest tax increase in state history—costing an average Californian, by an estimate in the pro-23 voter guide, up to $3,800 dollars a year.

Even voters in Riverside County went along, narrowly, with the massive media war against Prop. 23—a campaign largely financed by industries set to profit handsomely off the economy-killing “greenhouse” measure. So much hot air about hot air.

Riverside County voters also narrowly approved Measure L, a bit of political chicanery designed to protect unsustainable pension benefits for public safety employees. In this case the red herring of local politicians’ salaries and benefits (as in the city of Bell) were used as a head-fake to snooker voters about the real intent of the legislation.

The bottom line of the 2010 election is that the power of public employee unions, combined with a seismic demographic shift over the last five decades (fueled by illegal immigration) has made California the bluest of blue states—a state apparently immune to political change even given massive unemployment and government debt.

The one irony of the election was that despite the string of “progressive” victories,  the proposition to legalize marijuana flopped. Given the direction of the state and the tax-happy proclivities of Sacramento legislators, cannabis may be required to sustain the Disneyesque vision of reality cherished by Cal-voters and their representatives.


After going carefully through the various propositions in the state voter guide, I spied a mailer on my table that sported this partisan label: “Continuing the Republican Revolution.”

A bald eagle was prominently displayed beside an extended quotation that lauded Ronald Reagan’s 100th birthday and his “ideals of limited government, lower taxes, and personal freedom.” At the left top was a cute red, white and blue elephant with a couple of stars dotting the pachyderm.

On the inside were listed CRR’s presumably conservative recommendations. Again, diminutive flag-colored elephants stood at the top left and top right of the page.

A small, unadorned column with miniature pics and names of seven Republican candidates running for statewide office stood in the far left section of the page.

The real message of this shameless deception focused on the statewide propositions that occupied the lion’s share of the mailer’s space. These recommendations were repeated twice—once in the inside page and again, quite prominently, on the back page (which could double as the mailer’s front page).

Moreover, each proposition contained a brief “argument” in its favor. The “No on Prop 20” case was stated as follows: “20 is an elitist attempt to force a new, costly bureaucracy down our throats. The California State Firefighters Association says, NO ON PROP 20.”

One would never guess, based on this “explanation,” that Prop. 20 is about redistricting and proposes a commission of 5 democrats, 5 republicans, and 4 independents to draw district lines without the political gerrymandering that’s made so many races uncompetitive.

The biggest shock was that the presumably “conservative” recommendations on the various propositions (20-27) turned out to be 100% contrary to what one would expect from a “conservative” group.

I checked CRR’s mailer against Jon Coupal’s “Howard Jarvis” voter guide—a group that’s unquestionably fiscally conservative. The “Save Prop 13” recommendations were perfectly in line with conservative positions—and the precise opposite of CRR’s.

A small asterisk next to each proposition ad in CRR’s mailer directs voters to a disclaimer that’s placed (inconspicuously in black and white) next to the mailing address. That disclaimer says CRR doesn’t really represent an official political party and that items with an asterisk have been paid for. Put bluntly and honestly, CRR isn’t what it represents itself to be in the mailer.

Personally, I wonder what brand of cynicism CRR embraces. Is it for money or is it out of ideology that Hart and Associates of Newport Beach chooses to deceive voters?