Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Going to Hell in a Hand Basket

Is it just me or does the beginning of the election season bring out all the terror alerts again? I counted the number of times the news anchor used the words terrorism in the news broadcast on NBC evening news the other night. I quit counting after the total reached fifty…Seems John Edwards is right about our so called “war on terror” being a bumper sticker slogan. It seems to me that the Brits have gotten theirs a lot more right than we have. They don’t panic their general population with politically driven terror scares…they just bust up the cells, arrest those responsible and keep on living their lives as best they can without disrupting their entire economy and dividing their population.

We, on the other hand, are going to Hell in a hand basket…Here the third world cave dwelling followers of Bin Laden are bankrupting our nation, stripping us of our national moral compass . America has stooped to their level by resorting to torture and other unspeakable acts of brutality. We now routinely deny individuals suspected of terrorism basic due process. Our government indiscriminately violates all citizens’ basic rights to privacy without any probable cause. Our military is all used up. Our national defense arsenal is used up to the point that the rolling equipment used in Iraq is not worth the costs of bringing it home for complete overhaul.
Bin Laden can stand on the deck of an aircraft carrier and say “mission accomplished.” Since September 11, 2001, he has fundamentally changed our everyday lives and taken our freedoms away. He won… the U.S. airline and air transportation industry is probably the best example of a sector of our economy ruined by our own “War on Terror.:

For those of us who travel a lot—and I am one of those—our air line system is broken. It is so inconvenient, so unreliable and long lines at security checks are so silly and intrusive, flying isn’t worth it. In fact, our entire air transportation system is on the verge of collapse. Last week, United Airlines cancelled hundreds of flights. And it wasn’t just United Airlines; Northwest did, too. Thousands of stranded passengers were left frustrated to fend for themselves…and I was one of them.

My trip originated out of Baltimore International Airport July 16th flying into Denver then on into the Tri City region of Pasco, Washington (home of the DOE Hanford nuclear facility). I had meetings scheduled for July 17th in the Pasco area with our workers, British Trade Union representatives who represent nuclear workers in the UK, and many of the contractors who have nuclear contracts both here and in the UK. Unfortunately, my United flight from BWI to Denver was delayed out of BWI for almost an hour (according to the pilot for weather issues along our route). When we arrived an hour late in Denver our gate was blocked so we sat on the airplane for an additional half hour. I rushed through the Denver airport to my departure gate to board the flight to Pasco finding that it had closed five minutes earlier. I was told that there were no more flights to Pasco that evening, because my flight had been “affected “ by weather United didn’t have to do anything. Which is exactly what they did…not a thing. No apology, No upgrade to first class on the next flight. No meal voucher. No hotel accommodation. Nothing! After several phone calls looking for a hotel room, I got the last available room at a Hilton in Aurora, Colorado, for $209.00 (a handicapped room that was only available because it was past 11 P.M. and they didn’t have to hold it any longer). … After a nineteen hour day I finally got in my room and placed a 5 A.M. wake up call so I could get back to Denver airport and stand in long security lines and hope to catch a flight that might fly to Pasco. I arrived just before noon in Pasco, Washington; wearing the same clothes I flew out of BWI the day before (Did I mention that I checked my luggage in Baltimore?) After a quick shower and a change of clothes, I hurried to my delayed meetings.

The return trip to Baltimore was another horror story …I caught a United Express 6:00 A.M. flight out of Pasco Washington into Denver. At Denver, I learned my 10:40 A.M. flight to Baltimore had been cancelled…. After an hour wait along with several hundred other stranded United customers, I was told there wasn’t another flight from Denver to Baltimore…but there was one seat available on a flight out of San Francisco…Yep, you guessed it; a two and a half hour flight from Denver to San Francisco. I boarded my flight from San Francisco to find the friendly skies of United had put me sit in a tiny middle row seat in economy section for a five hour flight to Baltimore…We pushed away from the gate only to be told that we would be held up for air traffic control reason (what is that?) and that United needed our gate so we were pushed off to the side and sat for an hour. Now it would be six hours cramped in a tiny middle row seat between two big guys (I’m not tiny either) with my arms tightly tucked across my body unable to let them down in my lap. My day had started at 5:00 A.M. checking baggage and waiting in security to catch a 6:00 A.M. Two-hour flight from Pasco to Denver, then a two and a half hour flight from Denver to San Francisco, then six hours on the San Francisco to BWI flight- arriving home at 2:30 a.m. the following day… This is the torture we should apply to terror suspects…I guarantee they would talk! My three day business trip turned into an all week trip…My advice: don’t fly…Rent a car, take the train, hitch hike, but don’t fly.

There has to be a better, safer, more efficient way to move the U.S. mass passenger volume than the inefficient airline system that has reached its maximum capacity. High-speed mag-lift rail is used extensively in the rest of the world. Building such a system would bring back thousands of good paying, middle class manufacturing and construction jobs and running this rail system would employ tens of more thousands of good paying, middle class jobs…maybe we don’t have to go to hell in a hand basket, if we join together and demand our federal government go to work for us instead of against us.