Friday, January 11, 2008

Your Tax Dollars At Work

Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff , undoubtedly impressed by the total confusion the Department of Transportation unleashed on the traveling public with its incomprehensible Dec. 28 directive on lithium batteries, has now got travelers in a befuddled uproar again.

[Hey! Wait a minute! Now that I look at that press release, I see that the "Dec. 28" directive on lithium batteries, linked to above, has actually been rewritten by DOT for a little more clarity, and sneakily back-dated to Dec. 28 -- so you won't have the original one to look at and see what a bunch of nimrods they were. Trust me, the version that actually appeared on the DOT web site on Dec. 28 and for about week thereafter was incomprehensible-on-a-stick. And I have copies.]

Anyway, you'll have to sort this one out yourself. Bottom line: Nuttiness, but it ain't gonna happen for a long time if at all.

[Update Jan. 14: USA Today today has the most cogent story explaining this .]

Already, there's Congressional reaction. In a letter of rebuke to Chertoff, Bennie G. Thompson, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, says that the license plan as outlined raises "more questions than answers."

Me, I'm all worn out from trying to straighten out the rest of the media on lithium batteries, and besides, I was born after 1964 (which I recall, incidentally, as the last very good year before everything went straight to hell) -- and for a change being an old fart has some benefit, that is, beyond wisdom tempered with the knowledge of what I went through over the years to acquire it.

My first question, of course, was what yours undoubtedly will be: Does this mean an extra trip to the dread Motor Vehicles Office? (My own plan is to move to Arizona before my current New Jersey license expires).

Once at the D.M.V., after the requisite four-hour wait, will a sullen Motor Vehicles employee staple a microchip into your skull?

I'm glad we have a place out in the desert. Easier to go off the grid.

[Update Jan. 13, Tucson, Arix. -- Lending more proof to the idea that readers of local newspapers have no hope of ever again being adequately informed by intelligent reporting and editing, the Arizona Daily Star, a Lee Enterprises newspaper in Tucson, leads the front page today with the following headline: " 'Real ID' needed to fly as early as May 11." And the lede paragraph says: "Arizona residents may find themselves unable to use their state driver's (sic) licenses to board airplanes as soon as May 11."]


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