Friday, July 22, 2016

Billy Long: American lives at risk because of Cuban air safety situation

(From Seventh District Congressman Billy Long)

On February 16th of this year, American officials signed an accord with the Cuban government that will allow for more than 100 daily round-trip flights between the U.S. and Cuba without adequate - if any - oversight from Congress. We have since discovered, the Cuban airport's infrastructure is far behind current national security standards and much due diligence must be done to ensure the safety of travelers before commercial flights resume.

Rep. John Katko, Chairman of the Transportation Security Subcommittee on the House Committee on Homeland Security, remarked earlier this year that attempts by the committee "to attain information about various aspects of the negotiations and requirements to begin regularly scheduled commercial service to Cuba have been stonewalled." Then, last month, he and other members of the committee were denied access to Cuba on their trip to survey US-Cuba airport security risks.

All the while, the administration has pushed on without answering traveler security questions and has opened a Department of Transportation application process for US air carriers to bid on these future commercial flights at all ten of Cuba's international airports. Furthermore, after more than 50 years of stalled diplomacy, the administration is now attempting to designate all of these airports as last points of departure (LPDs) to the US.

For perspective, only seven foreign countries have ten or more LPD airports to America. These nations include some of our closest allies or economic partners like Canada and the UK. On the surface, it seems as though deeming so many LPDs for a country with less than one-fifth of the UK’s population is a symptom of the White House's rushed plan for improved US-Cuba relations.

By the end of summer, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) plans to have already certified three LPD airports in Cuba, but have returned deeply concerning reports of the security situation there. TSA hasn't been able to obtain information on any standards of training for airport attendants and was unable to determine if airport workers had been checked for terrorist affiliations. They reported that Cuba's bomb sniffing dogs were inadequately trained, they possess no explosive trace detection equipment whatsoever, and the two full body scanners they have in Havana are the only ones on the entire island.

Historically, flights to and from Cuba have attracted terrorists and hijackers. In a time when foreign fighters and radicalized terrorists are growing in number and ambition, we shouldn't be rushing to open commercial air travel and new LPD airports with a system that practically welcomes those wishing to do America harm. On another note, we shouldn't trust Cuba in the first place, considering that their leaders undervalue Cuban citizens and reject the principles for which America stands.

Commercial air travel between our countries cannot be permitted to commence until due diligence is done to ensure Cuban airports are to code and that our citizens will be safe. I've cosponsored the "Cuba Airport Security Act of 2016," which will do that by effectively putting a pause on all commercial air travel between the US and Cuba until TSA certifies that Cuban airports have necessary security measures in place.

I have serious doubts that the Administration has fully analyzed the air safety situation with Cuba and will not stand by as American lives are risked. I believe that air travel with Cuba can be achieved in a safe way, but will continue to oppose any plan by this administration that puts optics over safety during that process.


Anonymous said...

Once again the Fat Man opens his mouth on a subject he knows absolutely nothing about. Cuban airport security is among the best in the world, on par with Israel. Americans have been going to Cuba for decades now, with flights through Canada and Mexico and there has never been a problem. If there is one thing the Cubans know, it is how to handle security flawlessly.

Anonymous said...

Your criticism of Blubba Long is unfair. Cuban security is nothing like ours.

I don't believe the Cubans have any of those new fangled full-body porno scanners to keep the security staff entertained like we do.

Additionally, I doubt that the Cuban security personnel is of the low bid part-time temporary low qualification type that our elected officials have so thoughtfully provided to protect us at our airports.

I can understand why the fat man is worried though. There is a whole new frontier of buffets waiting to be pillaged and casinos to be inspected, and a congressional "fact finding" mission will provide the perfect cover story. Blubba Long and the rest of his fatcat buddies can probably have all their food and drink and travel expenses for a nice vacation covered by the taxpayers.

How else can he get a tan before the summer is over?

Anonymous said...

Criticism of Billy Long fat jokes addressed in advance:

Here's one more thought on Billy Long and fat jokes.

The first time that Billy Long complains about people who are telling fat jokes the proper response will be either: "hoist on own petard" or "own goal". Let me draw your attention to the Washington Post coverage of Billy Long's Washington DC BIG coming out party in February of 2012.

Rep. Billy Long: Freshman wows with big jokes at Washington Press Club Foundation dinner By The Reliable Source February 9, 2012

(Big Jokes? Billy told some Texas and Alaska jokes? Hmmmm.)

“None of you know me,” the first-term congressman from Missouri declared in an after-dinner speech Wednesday. “My chief of staff decided when I first got to Congress I couldn’t go on TV, couldn’t go on any cable shows. . . I’m what they call the unknown congressman.”

(This was before his War of The Worlds Part Duex? making fun of tornado drills tweet made the previously unknown Billy Long infamous. The Washington Post writeup continues with some of the details of Billy's corpulent hilarity:)

Well, no longer! For Long made one heck of a first impression with his rollicking comic routine at the Washington Press Club Foundation dinner — the unofficial kickoff of the Beltway’s media-political schmooze season.

His secret weapon: Fat guy jokes — a surefire tactic for a crowd (journalists, lobbyists, lawmakers) too blurry on banquet wine to appreciate more cerebral humor. The roly-poly Republican flashed a slideshow of the colleagues he claims he’s always being confused for — Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Penn.), Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Tex.), Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.). . . let’s just call them the Jowl Caucus.

“My wife got me one of those talking scales for Christmas,” Long said. “I got on it and it said, ‘One at a time, please, one at a time’. . . If I lose 60 pounds it would be like throwing a deck chair off the Titanic.” Oh, and check out the photo of him with Chris Christie. Why’d the New Jersey governor want them to pose together? Because, Long claims the governor told him, “I have never had someone look at a picture and say, ‘Hey, who’s the big guy with Christie?’”

Billy Long served up a SUPERSIZED serving of fat jokes, and even served up a slide show of some of his fellow congressmembers? He called out members of the "Jowl Caucus" by name? Apparently it must be A-OK for Billy Long to tell fat jokes about himself AND OTHERS when it's done to raise his profile with the press and other DC donors and lobbyists who get the Washington Post clips like this one delivered to their inbox each morning.

Like Billy Long hisself might say about this "making fun of his appearance controversy" (as he's reviewing his incoming contributions and dinner invitations) "What's good for the goose is good for the gander!"

Funnel please, it's fixin to be time to eat!

Anonymous said...

Billy Long....*sigh*

Anonymous said...

I love how you try to get get ahead of the comments about Long by saying before you start criticizing his comments please read this. That is totally ridiculous and you know it. Turner has such a double standard when it comes to things like this because the criticism is leveled against someone that he doesn't like. I remember a while back when he came out and declared that he would no longer print anything that use the word "tard" or "retard" in it and I don't blame him. Criticizing or bullying someone about their weight is just as offensive and just as hurtful as using other words such as tard or retard. Just because Billy long is taking the approach to where he makes fun of himself in a way that he hopes it will head off the criticism of his weight doesn't mean that it's okay for you to do so. It doesn't matter if it's Billy Long or anyone else, that type of language and that type of bullying behavior and criticism of others is highly offensive to society in general. You're ridiculous justification for doing so is shows total disregard and ignorance.