Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Forecast for NYC Yesterday: Mostly Sunny With a High Chance of Insensitivity, Poor Communication, and Outright Panic

Remember how I said that the Navy SEALs killing those pirates was the most awesome story of the year so far? Well, the story of Air Force One flying over New York City yesterday is giving the snipers a run for their money. When I say awesome here I mean that I am in complete awe of how stupid this idea was. Let's recap what went on. People sitting at work in buildings in lower Manhattan and Jersey City saw a large commercial plane flying very low near the buildings in the area being shadowed by two F-16's. Understandably, these poor people (some of whom survived the 9/11 attacks) raced out of their buildings to avoid disaster. A little while after these mass evacuations they came to find out that what they saw was a back-up Air Force One flying around the area for a photo-op.

Ummmmmm.... I'm sorry, what? Oh you were just flying a large commercial looking airplane with fighter jet escort low over the site of the 9/11 attacks for a photo shoot. Man, that is a relief. I can't believe that I overreacted and ran screaming from my office building thinking that it would be the target of this enormous, jet fuel laden, guided missile. How silly of me. Please forgive me for bothering you with questions about this.

Come on man. I mean I saw this story yesterday and I thought it was a little bit stupid that they would fly Air Force One around NYC, but I didn't give it a lot of thought. Then I actually sat down and read the reports of this story and became completely nonplussed (I've linked to the definition of this word because most people don't know what it means and it is my goal in life to educate them) bordering on enraged. A report from the Goldman Sachs tower in New Jersey said that the aircraft's wing can with in a few dozen feet of the tower with the fighters flying right behind it. Some in another building reported that the plane caused the glass in the building to shiver and made it seem like the building was going to come down. People were reported to be out in the streets crying and shaking from the fear. I mean it sounds like this picture taking expedition caused complete chaos in a city that has been through enough already.

The absolute best part of this is to listen to the clowns who authorized this little jaunt try to downplay it. Louis E. Caldera, who is the director of the White House Military Office, is the person who authorized the event. He said that he was sorry for the distress that it caused to the people of the city. Thanks Lou. Your apology means alot to me while I recover in the hospital from the mild heart attack this little stunt caused me. The FAA apparently notified NY and NJ police, federal park police, and 911 operators about what was happening but told them not to talk to the public about it and that anyone that had questions about it should contact the FAA Air Traffic Security Coordinator. Oh so all I had to do was just hit #6 on my speed dial which is set to call my local Air Traffic Security Coordinator. Got it. Check. I mean, seriously?! When I see a low flying 747 over NYC my first reaction should be to calmly get my phone out and give my Air Traffic Security Coordinator a jingle? Here's how I see that conversation going:

Me: Uhhhhh... Hey, Barney? (Barney is what I envision the Air Traffic Security Coordinator's name to be) Yeah it's Matt, you got a minute?

Barney: Sure, Matt. What's up?

Me: Well I'm not trying to be a worry-wart or anything, but uhhhhhh... there is a 747 flying real low around Manhattan being tailed by a couple of F-16 fighters. Just wondering if you had a minute to talk about that?

Barney: Absolutely Matt. You want to meet at Starbucks in say ohhhhhhh... 15 minutes?

Me: Sounds good Barney. I should probably get out of this building anyway just in case we are under attack. See you then.

Barney: Hahaha. Alright Matt, see you in a little bit.

Calling up the FAA to find out whether what you are seeing is another catastrophic terrorist attack or a just the federal government trying out their new sweet digital camera they got is the most absurd thing I've ever heard in my life. If I were one of the people in those buildings my reaction would have been exactly the same as theirs. Let's get the HELL out of here. Also, another person who I thought showed an abnormal amount of insensitivity was White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. When asked whether he had heard about the flyover part of his answer was, "You might be surprised to know that I don't know every movement of Air Force One." Oh gosh, SORRY MR. GIBBS. Don't let me ask you too many questions about the government that you represent authorizing what appears to be a reenactment of one of the most devastating attacks on American soil. I can't help but think that the negative public reaction from the Air Force One flyover may have stopped another photo-op in which we were going to fly hundreds of Japanese Zeros over Pearl Harbor.

I literally can't fathom the break down of the decision making process in the federal government on this one to get a PICTURE. You want to know what would have been easier. Photoshop. With all the resources at the hands of the federal government I think we could have created a pretty amazing photoshop picture of Air Force One flying over NYC. It took my friend less than ten minutes to make this picture which I would consider to be pretty damn convincing if I didn't already know it was photoshopped:

I think that if my friend can make this image in less than 10 minutes while studying for his law school exams then some computer genius at the NSA can take a few minutes out from eavesdropping on my phone calls and conjure up a suitable picture.

This post is of course written to be funny, but I also think this is very serious. I write in the first person in parts here, but I don't live in NYC and wasn't there during 9/11 and I don't mean to make light of it. I only write this to draw attention to how incredibly stupid this is, and to express my anger at the people that are responsible. There is almost no way that no one recognized what a bad idea this was from the very start. If they wanted to do this they should have had to go around to every single person that lives in NYC and northern New Jersey and tell them personally what they planned on doing. That's not what they did though. Instead they put a lid on the whole thing and didn't allow the people that knew what was going to happen to say anything about it to everyone else. The people in that area deserve better. In the end, the same federal government that is supposed to protect us from terrorists instilled a similar kind of terror into the citizens of NYC and NJ yesterday, and that makes me skeptical as to their ability to deal with a real terrorist attack.

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