The name, it's all in the name, folks.
Meet James Robinson, retired Air National Guard Brigadier General and now commercial airline pilot. Captain Robinson is also one of the few commercial pilots who fly for a major airline and is certified by the Transportation Security Administration to carry a weapon in the cockpit - and he does.
He's also a terrorist.
See, James Robinson is on the TSA's "No-Fly" list.
Here's a guy who spent a significant fraction of his life serving the country and fighting the nation's enemies, is certified to carry a weapon through airport security and into the cockpit of a commercial aircraft in order to defend his passengers should the need arise, is trusted to pilot a multi-million dollar jet over American territory loaded with civilian passengers and explosive jet fuel, has been issued a flightcrew security badge and trusted with airport security access codes - and has to go through terrorist screening every single time he checks into his job.
Not so - not yet anyway, but give me a minute here.
It should be fairly obvious that this particular James Robinson is not one of the droids we're looking for. Nor is James Robinson, former US District Attorney and Assistant Attorney General in the Clinton Administration. And neither is James Robinson, who doesn't currently have an occupation - no, he's not some unemployed slacker, give him a break, he's only eight years old. But because of their names, James the General, James the Attorney, and James the Fourth Grader are on the Government's Terrorist Watch List. All have been stopped at the ticket counter and detained multiple times by TSA. And while they all eventually made their flights, they can expect to jump through hoops every time they try to travel via air, which in the case of James Robinson the Pilot, is pretty much every day.
Sounds crazy doesn't it? But such is the price of freedom from terrorism. As Americans, each and every one of us is a Security Soldier in the Great Patriotic War on Terrorism and we cannot be too careful. Somewhere, somehow, somebody named James Robinson did something that somebody in some division of the TSA took some kind exception to. It's all a little vague.
Who exactly is this mysterious James Robinson? Who is this underworld figure, this James Robinson, who lurks at the shadowy periphery of society? What crimes has he masterminded? What grave national threat does he pose? What has he done to attract the attention of the watery-eyed T-men? Has he tried to sneak more than one ounce of bottled water through security? Was his luggage found to contain an improvised nail clipping device? Did he attempt to board a plane with a pack of matches stuffed into his sock? Did he demand a second bag of peanuts in the air? Was he that coach passenger who attempted to use the first class lavatory after pounding down two jumbo bean burritos and a pint of Porter at the airport Chili's? What could it be?
Well, nobody outside of TSA knows exactly - and from the external indicators it would appear that nobody inside of TSA has a clear idea either. Be that as it may, James Robinson is on the list.
The problem is that there are, well, a lot of James Robinsons.
Over a million, world wide.
In fact, I personally know three James Robinsons myself, any one of which could be the James Robinson.
The mind boggles at the shear magnitude of TSA's job. Imagine the scope of this enormous search, the vast assets necessary to keep the airport bars and boarding ramps and skies clear of James Robinsons. Imagine, any one of those thousands of passengers jamming the concourses of O'Hare, or JFK, or LAX, or BumpPucker, Heartland America could be the man himself, James Robinson, wily terrorist, enemy of the state, hater of freedom and the American way.
Is it James Robinson, Professor of Government at Harvard? Maybe, you know how those liberal longhaired tree-hugging bastards like to blow stuff up. And Harvard is a veritable hotbed of Jihadism. Timothy McVeigh himself was captured wearing a Harvard hoodie (What? Facts? Don't cloud the issue with your facts, we're talking national security here. Start talking facts and you'll be on the list).
Could it be James Robinson, "The Map Guy?" Who makes "art on maps" and is a business partner of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration? It just could be that ole' James Robinson The Map Guy is hiding a few terrorist messages in those maps. Think of it, secret communications embedded in AAA Flip Books and Auto Club maps, undetectable, hidden in truck stops and gas stations across the county. Why any of James Robinson's Jihadist associates could pick one up for free with their rental car at the airport kiosk! No, best we keep this bastard on the ground.
Maybe it's James Robinson, the British comic book author and screen writer. It's a good bet, the shoe bomber guy was British and we can't be too careful when it comes to the English, after all they did burn down the White House once. The country is full of dukes and earls and knights and other such soccer hooligans - any one of which could attempt to headbutt their way into the cockpit and fly the plane into a Manchester United match.
Is it James Robinson, Director of the Colorado Opera? Opera is often in Italian for crying out loud. There is a lot of terrorism in Italy and it's a pretty good bet that James Robinson is attempting to unleash the basso profondo power at his disposal to destroy America. No, best he be kept off air transport and confined to the mountains of Colorado where the worst he could do is cause avalanches with his terrorist artform and bury a few foreign skiers and a beer brewery or two.
Is it James Robinson the filmmaker? James Robinson the Trombonist? James Robinson the Brooklyn community activist? James Robinson the biblical scholar? The list, it goes on, and the haystack is full of needles.
If only there was a way to sort them all out. If only the technology had advanced to the point where there was a way to sort through this endless parade of Xeroxed James Robinsons. If only there was something like a unique identifier issued to all Americans. If only a government agency could come up with a unique identifier, some agency that could do more to support this war on terrorism, say like the Social Security Administration maybe. Hey, "Security" is their middle name! Or if only each human had some unique identifying feature, damn this bland bilateral sameness we all share. If only the Lord had seen fit to give us unique finger prints, or retinas, or DNA, or street addresses, or even driver's licenses, then the James Robinsons wouldn't be able to hide so easily amongst us.
And if only my security didn't rest in the hands of complete and total idiots.
Yeah, if only.