Tuesday, January 05, 2010
Pantybomber exposes naked bureaucracy
By Mark Steyn
On Christmas Day, a gentleman from Nigeria succeeded (effortlessly) in boarding a flight to Detroit with a bomb in his underwear. Pretty funny, huh?
But the Pantybomber wasn't the big joke. The real laugh was the United States government. The global hyperpower spent the next week making itself a laughingstock to the entire planet. First, the bureaucrats at the TSA swung into action with a whole new range of restrictions.
Against radical Yemen-trained Muslims wearing weaponized briefs? Of course not. That would be too obvious. So instead they imposed a slew of constraints against you. At Heathrow last week, they were permitting only one item of carry-on on U.S. flights. In Toronto, no large purses.
Um, the Pantybomber didn't have a purse. He brought the bomb on board under his private parts, and his private parts weren't part of his carry-on (although, if reports of injuries sustained in his failed mission are correct, they may well have been part of his carry-off). But no matter. If in doubt, blame the victim. The TSA announced that for the last hour of the flight no passenger can use the toilets or have anything on his lap – not a laptop, not a blanket, not a stewardess, not even a paperback book. I can't wait for the first lawsuit after an infidel flight attendant confiscates a litigious imam's Koran as they're coming into LAX.
You're still free to read a paperback if you're flying from Paris to Sydney, or Stockholm to Beijing, or Kuala Lumpur to Heathrow. But not to LAX or JFK. The TSA were responding as bonehead bureaucracies do: Don't just stand there, do something. And every time the TSA does something, you'll have to stand there, longer and longer, suffering ever more pointless indignities.
Last week, guest-hosting "The Rush Limbaugh Show," I took a call from a lady who said that, if it helps keep her safe, she's happy to get to the airport "four, five, whatever hours" before the flight. Try to put a figure on "whatever" and you'll get a sense of where America's transportation system is headed. Ten years ago, you got to the airport 45 minutes, an hour before the flight. Now, thanks to the ever more demanding choreographers of the homeland security kabuki, it's two, three, four, whatever. Look at O'Hare and imagine the size of airport we'll need. And by then the Pantybomber won't even need to get on the plane; he can kill more people blowing up the check-in line.
And remember, this was a bombing mission that "failed." With failures like this, who needs victories?
Joke, joke, joke. The only good news was that the derision was so universal that the TSA promptly reined in some of their wackier impositions a couple of days later. But by then Janet Incompetano, the Homeland Security secretary, had gone on TV and declared to the world that there was nothing to worry about: "The system worked." Indeed, it worked "smoothly." The al-Qaida trainee on a terrorist watch list, a man banned from the United Kingdom and reported to the CIA by his own father, got on board the plane, assembled the bomb, and attempted to detonate it. But don't worry 'bout a thing; the system worked.
Twenty-four hours later, Secretary Incompetano was back on TV to protest that her words had been taken "out of context." No doubt, the al Qaida-trained CIA-reported cash-paying crotch-stuffed watch-list member's smooth progress through check-in was also taken "out of context."
But by then the president of the United States had also taken to the airwaves. For three days, he had remained silent – which I believed is a world record for the 44th president. Since Jan. 20, 2009, it's been difficult to switch on the TV and not find him yakking – accepting an award in Oslo for not being George W Bush, doing Special Olympics gags with Jay Leno, apologizing for America to some dictator or other... but across the electric wires an eerie still had descended. And when the president finally spoke, even making allowances for his usual detached cool, he sounded less like a commander-in-chief addressing the nation after an attempted attack than an assistant DA at a Cook County press conference announcing a drugs bust: "Here's what we know so far... As the plane made its final approach to Detroit Metropolitan Airport, a passenger allegedly tried to ignite an explosive device... The suspect was immediately subdued... The suspect is now in custody and has been charged..."
Etc., etc., piling up one desiccated legalism on another: "Allegedly..." "suspect..." "charged..." The president can't tell an allegedly alleged suspect (which is what he is in Obama fantasy land) from an enemy combatant (which is what he is in cold, hard reality). But worse than the complacent cop-show jargonizing was a phrase it's hard to read as anything other than a deliberate attempt to mislead the public: the president referred to the Knickerbomber as an "isolated extremist." By this time, it was already clear that young Umar had been radicalized by jihadist networks in London and fast-tracked to training in Yemen by terror operatives who understood the potentially high value of a westernized Muslim with excellent English from a respectable family. Yet President Obama tried to pass him off as some sort of lone misfit who wakes up one morning and goes bananas. Could happen to anyone.
But, if it takes the White House three days to react to an attack on the United States, their rapid-response unit can fire back in nothing flat when Dick Cheney speaks. "It is telling," huffed the president's Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer, "that Vice President Cheney and others seem to be more focused on criticizing the administration than condemning the attackers."
"Condemning the attackers"? What happened to all the allegedly alleged stuff? Shouldn't that be "condemning the alleged isolated attacker"? The communications director seems to be wandering a bit off-message here, whatever the message is: The system worked, so we're inconveniencing you even more. The system failed, but the alleged suspect is an isolated extremist, so why won't that cowardly squish Cheney have the guts to condemn the attacker and his vast network of associates?
The real message was conveyed by Fouad Ajami, discussing the new administration's foreign policy in The Wall Street Journal: "No despot fears Mr. Obama, and no blogger in Cairo or Damascus or Tehran, no demonstrator in those cruel Iranian streets, expects Mr. Obama to ride to the rescue." True. Another Iranian deadline passed on New Year's Eve, but the United States will set a new one for Groundhog Day or whenever.
And, just as the thug states understand they now have the run of the planet, so do the terror cells. A thwarted terror attack at Christmas is bad enough. Spending the following week making yourself a global joke is worse. Every A-list despot and dime store jihadist got that message loud and clear – and so did American allies already feeling semi-abandoned by this most parochial of presidents. Expect a bumpy 12 months ahead. Happy New Year.
Are planned airport scanners just a scam?
Comment from Britain
The explosive device smuggled in the clothing of the Detroit bomb suspect would not have been detected by body-scanners set to be introduced in British airports, an expert on the technology warned last night.
The claim severely undermines Gordon Brown's focus on hi-tech scanners for airline passengers as part of his review into airport security after the attempted attack on Flight 253 on Christmas Day.
The Independent on Sunday has also heard authoritative claims that officials at the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Home Office have already tested the scanners and were not persuaded that they would work comprehensively against terrorist threats to aviation.
The claims triggered concern that the Prime Minister is over-playing the benefits of such scanners to give the impression he is taking tough action on terrorism. And experts in the US said airport "pat-downs" – a method used in hundreds of airports worldwide – were ineffective and would not have stopped the suspect boarding the plane.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, allegedly concealed in his underpants a package containing nearly 3oz of the chemical powder PETN (pentaerythritol tetranitrate). He also carried a syringe containing a liquid accelerant to detonate the explosive.
Since the attack was foiled, body-scanners, using "millimetre-wave" technology and revealing a naked image of a passenger, have been touted as a solution to the problem of detecting explosive devices that are not picked up by traditional metal detectors – such as those containing liquids, chemicals or plastic explosive. But Ben Wallace, the Conservative MP, who was formerly involved in a project by a leading British defence research firm to develop the scanners for airport use, said trials had shown that such low-density materials went undetected.
Tests by scientists in the team at Qinetiq, which Mr Wallace advised before he became an MP in 2005, showed the millimetre-wave scanners picked up shrapnel and heavy wax and metal, but plastic, chemicals and liquids were missed. If a material is low density, such as powder, liquid or thin plastic – as well as the passenger's clothing – the millimetre waves pass through and the object is not shown on screen. High- density material such as metal knives, guns and dense plastic such as C4 explosive reflect the millimetre waves and leave an image of the object....
Last week the US Transportation Security Administration ordered $165m-worth of scanners, using both millimetre and X-ray technology, from L-3 Communications.
49 Years Of Leftist Policies: Detroit In Ruins
Detroit used to be a productive, vibrant city. It used to have the highest median household income in the country. Then, along came the government. Starting in 1961 with the Model Cities Program, and proceeding through several decades of Democrat governance, Detroit is now the perfect example of the destructive and devastating consequences of federal interference in state policy.
Detroit is a prime example of what happens when a state succumbs to the allure of federal dollars. What appears to be a free lunch rapidly turns into a state totally dependent on the federal government, forced to enact ruinous social policies that benefit only select groups of politically connected charlatans.
Largely as a result of federal regulations and union policies, Detroit now has the lowest graduation rates in the country and the highest unemployment and crime rates in the nation. In essence, Detroit is a microcosm of what happens to the golden goose when the federal government takes over.
After decades of unchecked feel-good policies that focus on social justice while penalizing merit, Detroit is dead. The leftist policies of redistributive income, crony capitalism and pro-union regulations have resulted in a third-world city smack dab in America’s heartland.
Considering that these failed policies are the exact same policies Obama and friends are now foisting on America at large, one has to wonder if the leftists Democrats in charge today are merely stupid or are actively seeking to bring America down to the level of a third world country.
A common accusation hurled at those who support a market without a central plan, is that of "Social Darwinism." The term is never explicitly defined in those cases, because a precise definition of the term renders it useless as any sort of attack against those who prefer markets that lack central plans.
But taking the critics of the free market at their words, hypothetically assuming there may be a basis to the epithet that is used in place of an argument, what exactly is the antithesis of Social Darwinism?
Since in the debates between science and religion the term "Darwinist" is used as an epithet against scientists by creationists, then would it not be proper to consider those who use the term "Social Darwinist" against free markets to be "Social Creationist"?
It may seem a silly line of reasoning, but consider the implications of "Social Creationism." It would imply that each person is born into a different social class and that the classes, the the species, are immutable. True, there may be "Micro Social Darwinism" where someone in the lower class can become a wealthier member of the lower class, and an aristocrat can fall upon hard times and become a less wealthy aristocrat, but no matter how wealthy a peasant is always a peasant and less of a person than the nobility. These roles are defined at the moment of creation and cannot be changed.
This fits very neatly with Marx' "class logic' where there was a 'proletarian logic' and a 'bourgeois logic'. One is a member of their class and it cannot be changed. In Marx' system, the different classes were inevitably at war and cannot be reconciled.
That is a point of view that also fits neatly with the pre-enlightenment mentality of nobility itself, that the peasants were beneath the nobility. Thus Aristocracy and Marxism are both Social Creationist philosophies. It's an interesting mental exercise, and it would probably confound the person using "Social Darwinism" as an epithet if the rebuttal is to call the person a "Social Creationist."
U.S. growth prospects deemed bleak in new decade: "A dismal job market, a crippled real estate sector and hobbled banks will keep a lid on U.S. economic growth over the coming decade, some of the nation's leading economists said on Sunday. Speaking at American Economic Association's mammoth yearly gathering, experts from a range of political leanings were in surprising agreement when it came to the chances for a robust and sustained expansion: They are slim. Many predicted U.S. gross domestic product would expand less than 2 percent per year over the next 10 years. That stands in sharp contrast to the immediate aftermath of other steep economic downturns, which have usually elicited a growth surge in their wake."
Dangerous cuts to the Royal Navy: "The Royal Navy is facing a struggle for survival against a Treasury intent on cutting back on defence spending, a report warns today. The Royal Navy is now “smaller than it has ever been in its history but the demands upon the few remaining ships remain as high as ever,” says British Warships and Auxiliaries, an annual guide to the state of the Navy. With Afghanistan absorbing an increasing amount of resources, the Navy’s surface warship and submarine fleets look set to be the most vulnerable. Steve Bush, the editor of the guide, warns that even though the Navy is to receive two large aircraft carriers and more of the new Type 45 destroyers, there will not be enough frigates and destroyers to protect the most important ships. Mr Bush, who left the Royal Navy in 2000 after 20 years, told The Times: “There are new ships coming through but the fleet has been pared back so much by the Government that there are now not enough escort ships to protect the bigger vessels."
GOP cash woes threaten House bids: "With the Republican Party on the cusp of major gains in the House next year — and with the dream of retaking the House appearing to be a real, if improbable, possibility — one major obstacle remains: tightfisted Republican incumbents. The National Republican Congressional Committee, the key cog in helping to finance GOP campaigns, has banked less than a third as much money as its Democratic counterpart and is ending the year with barely enough money to fully finance a single House race — no less the dozens that will be in play come 2010.”
Learning the wrong lessons from the attempted bombing: "Even if the government had done nothing in the realm of anti-terrorism after 9/11, the skies would have been much safer. The reason is that aircrews and passengers changed their response to attempted aircraft hijackings. Prior to 9/11, pilots, flight attendants, and the flying public were of the mindset to cooperate with any hijackers. The image in their minds was of being flown to Cuba and eventually being released once the hijackers had publicized their cause. After 9/11, a vision of being slaughtered en masse and used to massacre even more non-passengers has been seared into the minds of the traveling public. As seen in the Richard Reid shoe-bomber incident and the most recent suicide-bombing attempt, surly aircrews and passengers are alert, will not remain passive in the face of imminent death, and are ready to beat to a pulp any would-be hijackers before they can carry out their nefarious deed. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the government does ridiculous things ‘for show’ in an attempt to demonstrate to voters that something — anything — is being done about terrorism.”
The glory of this capitalism thing: "There are those who glory in this capitalism thing for the ability it gives them to appropriate the surplus value of the workers’ labour. There are also those who more cheekily point out that the glory of this capitalism thing is that it allows the workers to appropriate some of the surplus value of the use of others’ capital. But to me the real glroy of this capitalism thing is that it makes things cheap.”
New year brings life and death tax decisions: "As of yesterday, the first day of 2010, the death tax — which can erase nearly half of a wealthy person’s estate when he or she passes away — has disappeared for one year. According to an article printed in the Wall Street Journal, this change has made trying times all the more difficult for families facing end-of-life decisions. In the days leading up to the New Year, Joshua Rubenstein, a lawyer with Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP in New York, explained the added burden that the law change has placed upon families: ‘I have two clients on life support, and the families are struggling with whether to continue heroic measures for a few more days. Do they want to live for the rest of their lives having made serious medical decisions based on estate-tax law?’”
There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)
Posted by JR at 12:20 AM