Homeland Security?


A week ago I was in L.A. spending time with my mother. I flew there 5 days after they changed the rules about what you could take on an airplane.

One of the things we did while I was in L.A. was go to the Farmer's Market which has morphed into almost a shoppers' theme park. But in the old part of the market was a store that stocked and sold mostly things French.

Three years ago we took a tip to France and one of the places we went to was Eperney, the heart of Champagne country. We took two tours of champagne houses. Mercier, and de Castellane. Mercier was quite the visit, again like a theme park. It was the Disney of tours complete with a little laser guided tram that took us through the cellars with a narrated guide. deCastellane was different. There we had a lovely young lady walk us through the cellars and had the leftover questions that we might have had answered. The down side of going to these cellars is that neither sells their champagne anywhere near Boston. We brought a bottle of Mericer home with us and drank it on our tenth anniversary.

So I'm looking around in the French store at the Farmers' Market and what do I see? Bottles with the distinctive red "X" which is the logo for de Dastellane. Had to have one. So I bought it and then realized that I could not carry it on the plane. For the rest of the week I debated in my head—pack it? send it? The debate went back and forth. I looked in Office Depot for bubble wrap or packing peanuts and it started looking way to expensive to send. So I wrapped it in lots of clothes and put it in the bag I would check.

At the airport I hung around as it was going through the massive x-ray machine. It seemed to take too long behind that wall before it came out and was put on the belt. It occurred to me that it might show up on the scan and the TSA folk would be happy to remove it from my bag and enjoy it themselves. All I could do was wait.

It was a very long wait. The 12:51 flight from LAX to BOS wasn't going anywhere—they took the plane out of service. We waited for a plane from DFW which came in at 5:40. We left about an hour after that and got in at 2:45 am. (Mr. Rev. had to come fetch me at the airport, it was long past the last bus. He also had to figure out how to get there as the Big Dig tunnels were, em, kind of out of service)

So I had lots of time to hang out at LAX. It was a horrible place to wait—few food choices and not much else. Very few working power outlets to recharge cell phone and laptop. I got into a conversation with a guy sitting next to an outlet that wasn't working (many people came and tested the outlet to no avail). He was from Santa Barbara and not at all politically informed. We talked. He was convinced that the Iranians were going to kill us all based on conversations he had 30 years ago in Iran with the locals. He thought W. was doing an OK job and we needed to be afraid of the terrorists. He thought it a good thing that New Orleans was washed away—he was originally from there.

Where to begin? Rather than barf all over him, I engaged him in conversation. I was reading John Dean's book, Conservatives Without Conscience. There were some great passages in it, but I honed in on the homeland security issue instead. How come, I asked, we are so afraid of being attacked and we haven't secured the ports, the water supplies, the power plants, the chemical plants? How come?

He started to think. I then went on to talk about something LisaDawn pointed out when we were canvassing for Ned Lamont. If diplomacy and world power politics is like a poker hand, by invading Iraq we have shown the world we have a pair of sevens—not the full house we had been touting. Israel did the same thing in Lebanon last month. We no longer have the ability to be a big bully because we have shown our lack of military might.

The conversation went on like this for a while until we split to look for functioning outlets.

Act 2 was with a pilot who was hitching a ride home and wound up sitting in the middle seat in the row I was in because the two of us in row 27 were both petite.

Same kind of conversation though he was from MA and claimed to be a republican. With him I used the same points plus some from Dean's book which I was reading in front of him. Same result. Got him thinking.

It's been a long time since I engaged in extended conversations with those on the "other side." I hope I did some good. I wouldn't have been able to do as well had I not been a blog reader.

As for the champagne, it arrived intact and will be saved for a happy occasion . . . . I thought that the TSA was looking for liquids that might explode under pressure. Do I feel safer now? I don't think so.