Tuesday, June 19, 2007


The U.S. Navy drove a small fleet of warships up the Willamette last week for Portland's centennial Rose Festival, then threw them open to the public so the citizenry could see what they pay for.

The citizens got treated, on the Friday afternoon I went, to a 70-minute wait in line; a cumbersome registration process that required photo I.D. and selection of a specific ship to tour for no discernible reason; a single X-ray machine run by a single soldier doing ‘take off your belt and hand over those nail clippers’-level bag searches at a rate of about 8 persons an hour; a couple-three dozen soldiers in fatigues and mirrored sunglasses cradling machine guns at every point of interface with the public; and the cancellation of several tours when the wait stretched past the ship’s operational hours.

If the point was to generate some feelgood p.r. for the Navy, the Navy fell down bad. They did a good job though of teaching you how it feels to be a potential security threat in one of those fatigues and mirrored sunglasses sort of places the U.S. staffs so generously. Go Navy.

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