Friday, December 03, 2010

Airport madness

I refrained from commenting on the screening/pat down techniques at airport security until I had flown myself, which I did at the height of the controversy--on November 24, the day before Thanksgiving. I passed through security easily, though both of the airports I visited did not yet have the expensive new screening devices.

On my return, something else happened that was gravely disquieting. After we had passed through all the screening at the Phoenix Airport and were in the waiting area, my partner and I decided to have lunch, with a beer. The waiter demanded that we show IDs. My partner easily obliged with an driver's license. I do not have a driver's license, but I produced two pieces of identification, one a picture ID released by the State of New York. Unsatisfied, the waiter demanded that I produce my passport. I had in fact shown it when we went through security, but had packed it away because I thought that I would not be needing it any more. I refused and we left. Later, on plane, I bought a little bottle of red wine without showing any ID.

I have not been able to find what regulations, if any, pertain to the waiter's insistence that two pieces of ID were not enough, and I must produce a passport. One wonders what will be next: will I need a passport to go to the john--or just to breathe? Well, I am exaggerating. Still, the incident highlights the way that the Obama administration and its allies are no different from the Bush administration in extending social control under the pretext of "national security."

Today it is impossible to enter any major building in Manhattan, including my own Hunter College, without showing a picture ID that is acceptable to the checkers. A friend of mine defended this spreading blight by saying that it creates jobs. So it does, but only in the "service" area, and not in the realm of production, where we fall further behind Asia with each passing day.

On TV, Judge Andrew Napolitano (cousin of Big Sis?) has been hammering away against these abuses. Moreover, a brilliant account of why the new procedures of screening and patdowns are unconstitutional has been written by the legal scholar Jeffrey Rosen for the Washington Post. It is at:



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