Sunday, April 07, 2013
Why the No-Fly List Doesn't Fly
Innocent people don't know why they're on it and get off
Flying commercial can be a terrible hassle these days, but not for Steven Washburn. The people in charge of airport security have decided to spare him all the inconveniences. No taking off his shoes and belt, no putting his liquids in a plastic bag, no enduring a naked body scan. Oh, and one more thing: no flying.
Washburn is on the government's no-fly list. He doesn't know why, and the government won't tell him. Nor will it take him off. He's much like Franz Kafka's Gregor Samsa, who wakes up to find he has turned into a bug. There is no accounting for it and no escape. He may go to the grave without ever flying again — or learning the reason.
He's just one of the many people tabbed as potential terrorists who must be kept off the nation's airliners, including, at one point, Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. An estimated 21,000 people now populate the no-fly list.
That number alone should raise serious questions about its accuracy. Since Sept. 11, 2001, there is no known instance of the Transportation Security Administration catching a terrorist trying to board a plane.
Remember all those sleeper cells of al-Qaida operatives, waiting for the right moment to strike? They never turned up either. Since 9/11, the number of terrorist attacks in the United States amounts to 127. If you believe there are 21,000 fanatics itching to blow up a regional jet, I have some Mitt Romney inauguration tickets to sell you.
But none of this is any comfort if you're one of the unfortunates who are not free to move about the country — or out of it. So the American Civil Liberties Union has gone to court on behalf of 13 people (including four military veterans) who had flown for years only to show up at the airport and find themselves persona non grata. Each petitioned the Department of Homeland Security to be removed from the no-fly list — and each was rebuffed without explanation.
The ACLU is not dreaming big here. It doesn't ask that the government take these individuals off the list. It doesn't insist that they be exempt from monitoring. The only request is that they be told why they are deemed so dangerous and have the chance to show why they really aren't.
Being on the no-fly list is not a trivial matter. It prevents Washburn from seeing his wife, a Spanish citizen who lives in Ireland. Some people never fly. But for anyone who does so even occasionally, it is a serious burden to be told: You can drive, or you can stay home.
The "right to travel" is not just a pleasant notion; it's a constitutional guarantee. Although it's not mentioned in the text, the Supreme Court has long treated it as thunderously obvious. In 1900, it said that "the right to remove from one place to another according to inclination is an attribute of personal liberty" firmly "secured by the Fourteenth Amendment and by other provisions of the Constitution."
The document also guarantees the right of due process, which those on the no-fly list can only dream about. The decision is made in secret by unseen officials who provide no reasons, entertain no disputes and allow no independent review. You could get a fairer hearing from a crowd toting tar and feathers.
This is only one of the defects in the system. A bigger one is why the list is needed at all. Since the 9/11 hijackings, various steps have been taken to prevent a repetition —reinforcing cockpit doors, putting thousands of armed marshals on flights, screening liquids and patting down travelers. Passengers, meanwhile, will no longer sit quietly if someone becomes a problem.
The Transportation Security Administration feels so confident about its ability to defuse genuine risks that it's decided to allow small knives on board aircraft. But if the government can keep troublemakers from employing the weapons they need, the troublemakers will have only pitifully ineffectual options — which means they aren't likely to fly in the first place.
The nice thing about these other security measures is that they work not only against anyone who is deemed dangerous but also anyone who is not. And they impede the guilty without inflicting serious harm on the innocent.
Maybe the people who compile the no-fly list can say the same thing. But I don't really want to take their word for it. If Ted Kennedy were around, he wouldn't either.
ObamaCare Was Designed, Passed, and Implemented by Democrats. Obviously Republicans Must Be Responsible for Its Failures
It was probably inevitable that as ObamaCare began to fail, Republicans would get the blame. After all, Republican legislators in Congress didn’t vote for it, Republican voters have never supported it, and nearly every Republican governor has let the federal government build and run the law’s health exchange in their state. Republican critics of the law warned before it was passed that it would be too expensive, to complicated, and too onerous on both individuals and businesses. So of course now that the implementation process has begun to reveal signs of trouble, it’s the Grand Old Party’s fault. Who else could possibly be responsible?
If you want the complete argument for why Republicans are the culprit here, you can find it in Think Progress health wonk Igor Volsky’s piece making the case for, in his words, “why Republicans are to blame for ObamaCare’s delays.” The piece is hooked to this week’s announcement that the choice option in ObamaCare’s small business exchanges would be delayed for a year, and the short version is that because Republicans refused to implement the law themselves in the states and have declined to provide additional funding for implementation at the federal level, the GOP is on the hook for delays and failures.
It’s hard to blame Republicans for the delay of the small business choice option: it’s not something that Republicans have focused on to any great degree, and the main reasons for the delay seems to be a the technical challenge of designing a multitude of plans that fit the exchange requirements and the administrative burden of having to design those plans while working on other exchange features in the law. Republican opposition doesn’t have anything to do with it.
Overall, Volsky makes a good try, but sorry, no: Democrats are to blame for the failures and problems of a law designed by Democrats, passed by Democrats, and implemented by Democrats. That it is not working now is the fault of the people who said it would work, decided to try making it work, and are now tasked with the responsibility to make it work. They are failing, and the law is failing because of them—not because of Republicans.
More generally, though, this offers a lesson in why it’s ill advised to pass major legislation on strict party lines that is supported by neither the opposition party nor the bulk of the public. Especially when the law is predicated on the assumption that the opposition will cheerfully help with implementation. That Democrats seem to have assumed that Republicans would give in and play ball suggests some mix of deep arrogance, wishful thinking, and willful ignorance of the national political dynamic. It’s just plain bad policy design: A law passed by Democrats that can only work if Republicans decline to oppose the law is a law that almost certainly will not work.
And sure enough, three years after passage, ObamaCare shows signs that it might not be quite as wonderful as promised. But ObamaCare’s supporters are so determined to avoid admitting that it might be a failure—or even just less functional than they insisted it would be—that they are refusing to take responsibility for the politically troubled bureaucratic mess they created.
Record 89,967,000 Not in Labor Force; Another 663,000 Drop Out In March
A record 89,967,000 Americans were not in the labor force in March, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That is an increase of 663,000 from the 89,304,000 Americans who were not in the labor force in February.
The BLS counts a person as not in the civilian labor force if they are at least 16 years old, are not in the military or an institution such as a prison, mental hospital or nursing home, and have not actively looked for a job in the last four weeks. The department counts a person as in the civilian labor force if they are at least 16, are not in the military or an institution such as a prison, mental hospital or nursing home, and either do have a job or have actively looked for one in the last four weeks.
The number of people that BLS considers "in the labor force" affects the unemployment rate--which is the percentage of people "in the labor force" who are unable to find a job during the month. If someone previously considered "not in the labor force" were to go out and search for a job and not find one, they would have to be counted as in the labor force for that period--and thus would increase the unemployment rate.
To the degree that Americans choose to simply drop out of the labor force rather than search unsuccessful for a job they decrease the unemployment rate.
In keeping with the increase in the number of people not in the labor force, the labor force participation rate decreased from 63.5 percent in February to 63.3 percent in March. The labor force participation rate is the percentage of Americans in the civilian population over age 16 who did not have a job or seek a job during the month.
In January 2009, when Obama was first inaugurated, there were 80,507,000 people not in the labor force compared to the 89,967,000 who were not in the labor force in March.
Smiley-Face Lies and Homicide Hogwash in Dem Hellholes
President Obama's hometown of Chicago still goes by the old nickname "Windy City." But after three miserable decades of strict gun control and permanent Democratic rule, Chicago has cemented its reputation as America's Bloody City.
No amount of statistical whitewashing can cover up the stains of the left's ideological failures there. But as Obama continues to wage war on law-abiding gun owners, his home team is trying its hardest to spread smiley-face lies upon damned lies to downplay Chicago homicide statistics.
On Monday, April Fools' Day, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy held a press conference to tout a "dramatic" drop in the city's homicide rate. The headlines read: "March homicides drop dramatically in Chicago" (USA Today); "Murders fall 42 percent in America's deadliest city: Chicago" (NBC News); and "March homicides drop 69 percent in Chicago" (Las Vegas Sun)."
Emanuel trumpeted the drop as a "good sign." He hyped statistics to the Associated Press showing that first-quarter 2013 murders in Chicago tied the same time period in 2009. Murders decreased 69 percent compared to the same month last year; first-quarter homicides fell by 42 percent compared to the same time frame last year. Emanuel insisted: "We are clearly having an impact on the homicides."
But it's all in how you slice, dice and spin it, of course.
Let's face it. Gun-grabbers in Democratic-dominated cities have an institutional incentive to fudge the numbers. In New York City, which rivals Chicago when it comes to out-of-control gun-control regulations, a New York Police Department whistleblower recently exposed systemic manipulation of crime data.
As anti-Second Amendment crusader Michael Bloomberg made the rounds last spring touting the Big Apple as "the safest big city in America," an internal NYPD report confirmed that more than a dozen crime reports had been manipulated — including felonies downgraded and incident reports deep-sixed — to lower the crime rate. As punishment for exposing the tampering and corruption, the whistle-blowing officer, Adrian Schoolcraft, who secretly taped the manipulation, was suspended and forced into a psych ward.
He's still fighting for justice and has never received an apology.
So, call me crazy, but I wouldn't put it past Team Obama's Chicago theater directors to goose their numbers to improve the optics for Dear Leader. Speaking of the lobbyist in chief, he parachuted into Colorado this week and surrounded himself with Denver police officer human props during a gun-control campaign event. The rank-and-filers were none too happy with being exploited for political purposes. "To protect and serve" is supposed to be a public safety imperative, not a campaign imperative.
But back to the Bloody City. In 2012, Chicago racked up the nation's deadliest death toll, with 506 of its residents murdered. The murder rate has simply returned to its bloody business as usual over the past five years. Here's the first-quarter death toll breakdown:
The Second City Cop crime blog adds that Emanuel's claim regarding the homicide rate dropping to levels not seen since the 1950s "is based solely on the population decrease in the city of Chicago. This is an amazing abuse of numbers, but as Mark Twain said, 'There are lies, damned lies and statistics.' Welcome to 'statistics.'"
Local Chicago CBS 2 reporter Jay Levine didn't buy the whitewashing bunk, either. He challenged City Hall with a piece entitled: "City Touts Lower Homicide Stats, But Context Reveals Return To Normal." Put simply, "2013's 70 first-quarter homicides was a major improvement over 2012's 120 — but not over 2011 or 2010 or 2009."
While Emanuel sang "Don't Worry, Be Happy" for the press, the Bloody City was still reeling after a 6-month-old baby was shot and killed in gang crossfire. On Easter weekend, a mob of violent teens terrorized shoppers in the Magnificent Mile district. Similar outbreaks of racially driven attacks have escalated in Chicago under the reign of Daley-Emanuel-Obama. By some police estimates, gang violence accounts for up to 80 percent of the city's homicides.
Plagued by juvenile delinquency, organized crime, ruinous government dependency, corruption and out-of-control spending, these liberal-dominated hellholes have proved impervious to progressive "social justice" engineering. It's the insane demagogues blaming guns who need their heads examined.
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Posted by JR at 1:53 AM