Thursday, August 31, 2006

More "Forward into the Past"

Our fine friends at the TSA are once again protecting us from the last "attack", instead of doing anything to protect us from the next one. We're all aware, by now, that as a result of the foiled terra plot in the UK (and our British cousins are quite pissed at Dubya and his cronies for making various statements that will make it difficult for the British to secure convictions), TSA has now banned most liquids, gels, and so on.

"Yeah," you ask, "but what can be done to protect us from the next attack? We don't know what they're gonna do, or when or how! We have to be lucky 100% of the time, they only have to be lucky once!"

Well, that's true, to a certain extent.

Several well-known security experts (like Bruce Schneier, whom I've cited before) have suggested using psychological profiling techniques (not racial or ethnic, psychological) to weed out potential troublemakers. El Al, the Israeli national airline, has been doing this for years. Their security people look for behaviors that indicate nervousness, fear, etc. It has worked out extremely well for them - there hasn't been a highjacking involving an El Al flight in something like 30 years.

The problems with applying such techniques here are significant, but not insurmountable:
  • First, we have to ensure that the Bushistas, with their emphasis on the "A-rab menace", don't allow the screening criteria to deteriorate into racial/ethnic profiling;
  • Second, we have to ensure that training contracts are given to appropriate, qualified companies. This does NOT include Bechtel, Carlisle, Halliburton, and the rest of the usual war profiteers;
  • Third, it will require significant retraining for the TSA screeners (many of whom don't need to be in their jobs in the first place, but don't get me started on TSA'a half-assed screening of their own damned screeners). I doubt the TSA (or DHS or FBI, for that matter) has the expertise, resources, or even interest to make it successful;
  • Fourth, the 60%+ of us who don't trust the administration will have to resist the (natural) impulse to jump on the first glitches -- and there will be some, inevitably -- and start screaming that once again, the Bushies have fucked up. I'm sure they will, mind you; that's as certain as Dumbya mangling more of the English language before he returns to life-long exile in Crawdad.

Even if we don't want to try to retrain everyone to look for signs of trouble (other than possession of nail clippers and Evian), there are some steps we can take to make life a lot safer a lot quicker:

  • Force the chemical and energy industries off their collective asses and start making some serious progress in securing their respective facilities. Same thing with ports: fewer than 6% of the shipping containers coming into the US are inspected in any fashion. Chemical plant security is a joke: recent articles in the NY Times, for instance, showed open, unmanned gates into freight yards handling hazardous loads (no link cause I just have an undated clipping from the physical paper). Energy plants -- with the exception of nuclear facilities -- fare little better: your average coal-fired plant's perimeter is as porous as SpongeBob's fanny. Nuke plants are a little more secure, but, again, their training is seemingly geared towards the last threat.
  • Enable effective and reliable communications between all levels of Federal, state and local law enforcement. As a former cop, I can tell you communication with the Feds is always one-way: we give, they take. despite the much-ballyhooed "fusion centers", etc., it's still almost impossible to get any useful info from a Fed. Don't believe me? Ask an FBI agent for the time; he'll put you through a full-blown security background check before he tells you. Don't bother asking a TSA staffer for the time, they don't have the faintest idea how to read a watch (although they can recognize and steal a Rolex in a heartbeat).
  • REMOVE FEMA FROM DHS AND RE-ESTABLISH IT AS A SEPARATE ENTITY. When FEMA was a Cabinet-level agency (under the Clemis), they really did do "a hell of a job." Under Brownie, Skeletor, and company, they couldn't manage a baby pissing in it's diaper. James Lee Witt, the former FEMA director, should be cajoled/bribed/begged to come back and re-create the original, "real" FEMA.

More a little later.

Fascist Physician Fails, Fraud Found

Oh, the poor baby…

Emphasis added, of course.

Frist Failed to Fulfill a State Requirement for Medical License

WASHINGTON, Aug. 29 (AP) — The Senate majority leader, Bill Frist of Tennessee, did not meet all the requirements needed to keep his medical license active even though he gave paperwork to Tennessee officials indicating that he had, his office acknowledged Tuesday.

Tennessee requires its licensed physicians to complete 40 hours of continuing medical education every two years. Mr. Frist, a heart-lung surgeon, submitted a license renewal with the Tennessee Health Department stating he had fulfilled that requirement.
Responding Tuesday to repeated requests from The Associated Press, a Frist spokesman said the senator had contacted the Tennessee Board of Medical examiners and was working to clear up the problem.
“As a result of a change in Tennessee’s regulations several years after Dr. Frist came to the Senate, he may be required to complete additional continuing medical education hours,” the spokesman, Matt Lehigh, said in a statement. “A representative of the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners has been contacted, and Dr. Frist will meet every requirement of the board.”
Mr. Frist, who is retiring from Congress at the end of the year to consider a presidential run in 2008, does not maintain a medical practice but routinely emphasizes his experience as a doctor.
Tennessee officials put the continuing education requirement in place in 2002. Starting with renewal applications filed in January 2005, the state required doctors to have completed 40 hours of continuing education in the two years that preceded their filing.

A renewal application that Mr. Frist filed with the medical examiners board this February specifically mentioned the continuing education requirement and was signed on his behalf by his accountant.

Mr. Lehigh said the senator might have been unaware of the change.

Tennessee law states that doctors who fail to do their continuing medical education “will be subject to disciplinary action.”

Let’s see if we have this straight: Herr Doktor Frist, one of Twig’s party of moral arbiters, not only failed to maintain his medical license in accordance with the laws of the State of Tennessee (and remember, the Rethuglicans stand for “law’n’order above all else”), but he also lied and said he had? And then his spokesdrone said Frist “might have been unaware of the change”?!? Since when is ignorance of the law an excuse... especially for Rethuglicans?

Excuse me, aren’t these the same clowns who keep claiming all their activities are 100% legal? Like the outing of Valerie Plame, and the NSA wiretapping, and the war on terra, and swearing in Rethuglican candidates before their elections have been certified by state authorities?

God, these people are truly disgusting.

Of course, given the fact that Tennessee needs Frist, they'll probably accept his "kitten vivisection" projects as continuing medical edjamacation.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Just To PROVE I'm Back...

An admittedly much-belated cat-n-dog post...

A few days ago, the lovely yet talented Mrs 618 and I got back from a trip, and found the neighbor's cats on our doorstep, hanging around, looking for food (of course).

Except one cat wasn't the neighbor's. She was a stray who happened upon the scene.

Needless to say, we now have a new-to-us, certified pre-owned cat, Tia.

You might notice a certain similarity between Tia and her predecessor, Jenna:

This could be the start of a pattern... except there's me:
(And I wonder why I can never get into Dumbya's appearances...)

Of course, Emily thought she was all done with "those creatures". She saw Tia and gave me one of "those" looks:

"Aww, Dad, why's ya hafta go and do that?!?"

THIS Time, I'm Back!

Well, okay, maybe this time I’m back.

First, a few housekeeping chores:

  • Check out this new blog, Conservatard. He’s extremely well-spoken, a gifted writer, and – unlike me – he can generally keep a civil tongue in his head when he’s discussing those Bible-thumpin’, hooker-humpin’, rifle-rack-in-the-pickmup neocon wingnuts, those slack-jawed drooling idiots who keep so many bloggers in Cheetohs and Mountain Dew.
  • The blogger formerly known as Angry Chowder seems to have sorta more-or-less permanently hung up his spurs. On t’other hand, he has a guest post up at Conservatard (our blogroll has been updated accordingly).

And now for some further info on the brand-spankin’ new 618Rants World Headquarters. You might recall from my last post (immediately below) that the lovely yet talented Mrs.618 and I moved to luxurious new digs:

You may not, however, be aware of all that goes on behind the scenes at this amazing blog. Our newsroom, a state-of-the-art facility, is staffed 24-7, by a highly-trained cadre of dedicated reporters:

Once the items for our posts are gathered, edited, and vetted for accuracy, they are sent to our main control facility, where they are prepared for posting:

When everything is set to go, posts are uploaded to Blogger, using more state-of-the-art technology:

From there, it is delivered directly to you, as hot and fresh as a Domino's pizz--- err, bad analogy…. Hot and fresh, we’ll leave it at that.