Some New Year’s Toons

What better way to welcome in a new year than with some New Year’s ‘toons?  The poor li’l baby 2023 doesn’t know what he’s let himself in for!

And now, it’s time to take the tree down, vacuum up the pine needles, and curl up with a good book and tune out the world for a day!  Well, okay, maybe only for a couple of hours, during which time I’ll probably fall asleep!

Expendable Lives …

The United States seems to be out to destroy its own people, and others along with them.  First, we pull out of the Paris Climate Accord, putting the entire world in danger of extinction, but most of all its own citizens.  Then we pull out of the Iran nuclear agreement, making the world far less safe, and turning our friends and allies against us.  Then we renege on numerous trade agreements, denigrate world leaders, and further alienate our allies.  We encourage large farmers to use dangerous chemicals to produce our food.  We scale back regulations that made our air a little cleaner, our cars a little safer, and more.  The latest in this all-out effort to destroy the people of the United States is a sweetheart deal between our government and Boeing Aircraft.Lion-Air-crash-Indonesia-plane-what-happened-why-did-Boeing-737-Max-8-crash-739292Last October, a Lion Air Boeing 737 Max 8 flight went down over the Java Sea, killing 189 people.  Last Sunday, an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 flight crashed, killing all 157 people on board.  One might just begin to think that perhaps there is something wrong with the Max 8, yes?  Well, guess what, folks?  Every single nation on the globe has decided to err on the side of caution and ground the Boeing 737 Max 8 until further notice, pending safety reviews.  Every nation, that is, except the United States!  And, do you know why the U.S. isn’t grounding the Max 8?  First, I will let Donald Trump himself explain it to you.

“Airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly. Pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT. I see it all the time in many products. Always seeking to go one unnecessary step further, when often old and simpler is far better. Split second decisions are needed, and the complexity creates danger. All of this for great cost yet very little gain. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want Albert Einstein to be my pilot. I want great flying professionals that are allowed to easily and quickly take control of a plane!”

Say WHAT??? Perhaps Daniel K. Elwell, the acting administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, can explain it better.

“The FAA continues to review extensively all available data and aggregate safety performance from operators and pilots of the Boeing 737 MAX.  Thus far, our review shows no systematic performance issues and provides no basis to order grounding the aircraft.  Nor have other civil aviation authorities provided data to us that would warrant action. In the course of our urgent review of data on the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crash, if any issues affecting the continued airworthiness of the aircraft are identified, the FAA will take immediate and appropriate action.”

Okay, neither of those guys have any answers, but perhaps Robert Reich does.

“The 737 Max 8 has been grounded all over the world – except in the U.S. Why? Maybe because Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg personally lobbied Trump not to ground it, and Trump’s toothless, brainless FAA under Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao (who also happens to be married to Mitch McConnell) refuses to take action.”

Now that answer is most likely nearest to the truth.  Trump pandering to and covering for yet another of his rich cronies, and to add insult to injury, Elaine Chao, married to Bootlicker-in-Chief Mitch McConnell, heads the Department of Transportation that oversees the Federal Aviation Agency.

Two United States airlines fly the 737 Max 8 aircraft and both said they planned to keep flying. Southwest Airlines has 34 of the planes and American Airlines has 24.  My advice to all would be to boycott those two airlines.  Since the federal government will not act, we must.  We the People have power in this case … the power of choice.  When Southwest and American are flying planes that are not even half full, when it begins to hit their bottom line, you can bet your sweet patootie they will stop flying the Max 8, despite Donald Trump and despite Elaine Chao.

Boeing deserves whatever it gets, up to and including bankruptcy.  They have known for some time that there were problems with this plane, but have been far too slow to address those problems.  According to The Wall Street Journal …

“A software fix to the MCAS flight-control feature by the FAA and Boeing had been expected in early January, but discussions between regulators and the plane maker dragged on, partly over differences of opinion about technical and engineering issues, according to people familiar with the details. Officials from various parts of Boeing and the FAA had differing views about how extensive the fix should be. U.S. officials have said the federal government’s recent shutdown also halted work on the fix for five weeks.”

While our government and Boeing dragged their feet, while Donald Trump shut down the government over an elusive ‘wall’, dangerous planes were left in the sky until more people died.  And now … the United States government cares so little for the lives of its people that it refuses to ground these planes.

At least two American pilots, flying United States routes on the Max 8 filed incident reports with the FAA in November that raised similar safety concerns to those preceding the crashes in Indonesia and in Ethiopia. Another pilot wrote of having been given insufficient training to fly the plane: “I think it is unconscionable that a manufacturer, the FAA, and the airlines would have pilots flying an airplane without adequately training, or even providing available resources and sufficient documentation to understand the highly complex systems that differentiate this aircraft from prior models,” the pilot wrote. “I am left to wonder: what else don’t I know? The Flight Manual is inadequate and almost criminally insufficient.”

But the FAA turned a deaf ear.  How many more people will have to die before the lives of people matter more than corporate greed?  Think about this:  every other nation in the world cares more for its people than the United States of America does.  Doesn’t exactly give you a warm feeling inside, does it?

Fly The Friendly Skies????

planeI envision this sometimes:  I sit down at my laptop, check messages, log onto the New York Times and find …. Stories about people caring for each other, people helping their fellow humans, people promoting love, not hate.  I envision opening my Word document and starting to write about humanity, rather than the lack of it, about people being kind.  But today is not that day.  Today is the day that the very first story I read was about a young man  being removed from a flight simply for speaking Arabic to his uncle on the telephone.  Today is just another day for me, another day where my blood reaches the BBB – boiling before breakfast – point.

Imagine how you would feel if you traveled to, say France, and upon boarding the plane you phoned your husband/wife back home in the states to let her know you were on your way home.  After ending the call, you are asked to step off the plane where you are confronted by police officers demanding to know why you were speaking English.  The police did not like your answer, so they call the Département de la Sûreté/SécuritéTerritoriale (DST – the French equivalent of the FBI).  Meanwhile, your flight has left without you. The DST bring in dogs to sniff you, your head is pressed against a wall and your hands restrained behind your back.  You are then taken into a small room and questioned, asked to tell them everything you know about the KKK.  You are questioned about your family ties in the U.S., about which political party your family supports, what religion you and your family follow.  Think about that one for just a minute.

The young man was Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, who had been attending an event in Los Angeles along with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.  He is a senior at UC Berkeley who is double-majoring in political science and Near Eastern studies. Obviously an intelligent young man. Mr. Makhzoomi’s father, a former Iraqi diplomat, was executed in 2001 under Saddam Hussein’s rule.  His remaining family, mother and brother, now reside in Berkeley, California.  The airline was Southwest Airlines.  They issued an official statement about the incident, stating “We regret any less than positive experience a customer has on Southwest.”  I am certain that made Mr. Makhzoomi feel much better.

If this were an isolated incident, it would be bad enough.  But alas, the very same week, an unnamed Muslim woman from Maryland was removed from yet another Southwest Airlines flight, apparently for no other reason than that she was wearing a hijab.  Last month, an Arab-American family was removed from a United Airlines flight, again for no discernible reason.

It is called Islamophobia and it is a disease that threatens to disrupt the lives of every man, woman and child of Middle Eastern descent.  It is vicious, cruel and evil, and it is apparently incurable, affecting a large portion of the population in the U.S.  There have been so many cases of Middle Easterners being removed from flights that there is an expression for it:  Flying While Muslim.  It is similar to the expression “Driving While Black”, which was coined as a result of blatant racial profiling of African-Americans by police.

Obviously, I have a fatal flaw, a mental deficiency that does not allow me to understand hatred toward any specific group of people.  I believe this flaw is a genetic condition, as neither of my parents understood it either.  It is impossible to look at a person and discern whether that person has a kind heart or not.  It is impossible to look at a person, or listen to their language and know whether that person will do you harm or not.  Within months after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, the U.S. government began rounding up people of Japanese descent, most (62%) were U.S. citizens.  They were robbed of their property and sent to internment camps for the duration of WWII. Is this where we are heading once again?  Some in this nation believe that Islam is evil, that all Muslims have evil in their hearts and that people of Middle Eastern descent have no right to be in this country.  Those people are wrong.  Just like people who believe African-Americans are somehow inferior.  They are also wrong.

I do not pretend to know the cure, or even the treatment for the disease of Islamophobia, but the one thing I do know is that we must work as diligently toward finding the cure as we do toward finding cures for AIDS, Ebola, Zika, and cancer.  Indeed, Islamophobia is a form of cancer.  Just as lung cancer eats away at the lungs, Islamophobia eats away at the heart, the mind.  There is no reason to hate or harm any person, any human, based on their nationality, skin colour or religion.  There simply is no reason.  In my lifetime I have known more cruel Caucasians than Middle Easterners, Asians, Hispanics and African-Americans combined.  It is well past time for us to work together to cure this disease.