Free Markets, Free People

Monthly Archives: November 2010


TSA and America’s attitudes

W have dueling polls concerning the level of anger/distress/rejection of the new TSA procedures being introduced in airports recently.  Zogby International and Gallup have come up with different results of polls they’ve recently taken about how the flying public feels about the “don’t touch my junk” controversy.

Gallup says that the overwhelming number of frequent flyers really don’t have a problem with the new procedures.  Since millions of flyers move through the system in a week and at the  last count I saw, only about 170,000 had been subjected to the advanced pat down, I have to wonder if that high number is a result of the fact that while they’ve heard about the pat downs, they’ve never experienced one.   And certainly, I assume a good number of them simply have no problem with the possible health care aspects of the back scatter x-ray or with some nameless bureaucrat ogling their “junk”.

TSA2

Anyway, per Gallup, frequent travelers are “largely” ok with full body scanners but not as enthused with the possibility of an advanced pat down.

They put the number at 71% who claim that the loss of personal privacy (through full body scan or pat down) is “worth it”  to prevent acts of terrorism.  27% say it is not worth it.  What’s the old saying?  A liberal is someone who has never been mugged before?  I get the impression that “in theory” they may find it to be “worth it” but I really have to wonder if they’d hold to that if they had to undergo the procedures.

As you get into the poll you find this:

The majority (57%) say they are not bothered by the prospect of undergoing a full-body scan at airport security checkpoints. The same percentage, however, say they are bothered, if not angry, about the prospect of undergoing a full-body pat-down. Still, fewer than one in three frequent air travelers are "angry" about undergoing either procedure.TSA3

Again, note the wording – they’re not bothered “by the prospect” of undergoing a full-body scan.  And it isn’t some “vast majority” like the 71% implies.  It’s 57% of which I’d guess most haven’t undergone either procedure (I believe the scanners are only in 70 or so airports at this time).

Zogby, on the other hand, come up with much different result than did Gallup:

Of the 2,032 likely voters polled between November 19 and November 22, 61 percent said they oppose the use of body scanners and pat downs.

Now that does wander into “vast majority” territory.  It also completely contradicts a CBS News poll that said only 15% were opposed to the full-body scanners.  Of course the poll was conducted November 7-10, before the “don’t touch my junk” controversy had really exploded in the media.TSA4

  The Zogby poll also mentions something that has gotten very little media attention.  The administration came out early saying that all their scientists say the x-ray scanners pose no health threat to the flying public.  But that’s not necessarily true.  I know, I know – you’re shocked, aren’t you?  But it is a matter of statistics that in fact someone will get skin cancer according to Dr. Michael Love of Johns Hopkins:

"They say the risk is minimal, but statistically someone is going to get skin cancer from these x-rays," Dr. Michael Love, who runs an x-ray lab at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said.

When you consider how absurdly far the government sometimes goes in order to minimize risk in other health areas, it seems a bit contradictory to me to see it now claiming safety for something that obviously will statistically cause cancer in those who undergo the procedure.

TSA1

Now as mentioned it may not be a major risk, but it is certainly something people must consider when submitting.  And how about their kids? 

If they opt out because of those concerns, they get the grope treatment instead.  Not exactly what you’d expect in the “land of the free and the home of the brave” in terms of choices which preserve individual liberty and privacy.

Zogby reports, contrary to Gallup’s findings:

The poll also found that men were slightly more opposed than women, with 63 percent of men and 60 percent of women opposing the TSA’s new checkpoint procedures.

In addition, 52 percent of respondents think the new security procedures will not prevent terrorist activity, 48 percent consider it a violation of privacy rights and 32 percent consider it to be sexual harassment.

Zogby looks at the politics of the issue – and guess who manages to find themselves on the wrong side of an individual rights issue?

Republicans and Independents are more opposed to the new body scans and pat downs than Democrats, with 69 percent of Republicans and 65 percent of Independents opposing them, compared to only 50 percent of Democrats.

And finally, the business aspect of all of this.  Gallup somehow finds an increase in the number of frequent travelers (flew 2 or more times this year)  who choose to fly vs. those who would seek an alternate means of travel.  They note that in January of this year, 27% would seek alternate means of travel besides air travel while in this recent survey, only 19% would seek an alternative to avoid the “hassles” associated with flying.

Zogby found a much different result among those they polled:

"It is clear the majority of Americans are not happy with TSA and the enhanced security measures recently enacted," said pollster John Zogby. "The airlines should not be happy with 42 percent of frequent flyers seeking a different mode of transportation due to these enhancements."

Below I commented on the climate government creates in which businesses have to operate.  This is an interesting example of the point.  Although not exactly what I was alluding too below, it is indeed an example of government action effecting the financial health of a market sector.  And the moves are unilateral and obviously without consideration of the downside for that sector.  Not to mention all the liberty related problems any American should find with these procedures as well.

~McQ


TSA and America’s attitudes

W have dueling polls concerning the level of anger/distress/rejection of the new TSA procedures being introduced in airports recently.  Zogby International and Gallup have come up with different results of polls they’ve recently taken about how the flying public feels about the “don’t touch my junk” controversy.

Gallup says that the overwhelming number of frequent flyers really don’t have a problem with the new procedures.  Since millions of flyers move through the system and at last count I saw, only about 170,000 had been subjected to the advanced pat down, I have to wonder if that high number is a result of the fact that while they’ve heard about the pat downs, they’ve never experienced one.   And certainly, I assume a good number of them simply have no problem with the possible health care aspects of the back scatter x-ray or with some nameless bureaucrat ogling their “junk”.

TSA2

Anyway, per Gallup, frequent travelers are “largely” ok with full body scanners but not as enthused with the possibility of an advanced pat down.

They put the number at 71% who claim that the loss of personal privacy (through full body scan or pat down) is “worth it”  to prevent acts of terrorism.  27% say it is not worth it.  What’s the old saying?  A liberal is someone who has never been mugged before?  I get the impression that “in theory” they may find it to be “worth it” but I really have to wonder if they’d hold to that if they had to undergo the procedures.

As you get into the poll you find this:

The majority (57%) say they are not bothered by the prospect of undergoing a full-body scan at airport security checkpoints. The same percentage, however, say they are bothered, if not angry, about the prospect of undergoing a full-body pat-down. Still, fewer than one in three frequent air travelers are "angry" about undergoing either procedure.TSA3

Again, note the wording – they’re not bothered “by the prospect” of undergoing a full-body scan.  And it isn’t some “vast majority” like the 71% implies.  It’s 57% of which I’d guess most haven’t undergone either procedure (I believe the scanners are only in 70 or so airports at this time).

Zogby, on the other hand, come up with much different result than did Gallup:

Of the 2,032 likely voters polled between November 19 and November 22, 61 percent said they oppose the use of body scanners and pat downs.

Now that does wander into “vast majority” territory.  It also completely contradicts a CBS News poll that said only 15% were opposed to the full-body scanners.  Of course the poll was conducted November 7-10, before the “don’t touch my junk” controversy had really exploded in the media.TSA4

  The Zogby poll also mentions something that has gotten very little media attention.  The administration came out early saying that all their scientists say the x-ray scanners pose no health threat to the flying public.  But that’s not necessarily true.  I know, I know – you’re shocked, aren’t you?  But it is a matter of statistics that in fact someone will get skin cancer according to Dr. Michael Love of Johns Hopkins:

"They say the risk is minimal, but statistically someone is going to get skin cancer from these x-rays," Dr. Michael Love, who runs an x-ray lab at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said.

When you consider how absurdly far the government sometimes goes in order to minimize risk in other health areas, it seems a bit contradictory to me to see it now claiming safety for something that obviously will statistically cause cancer in those who undergo the procedure.

TSA1

Now as mentioned it may not be a major risk, but it is certainly something people must consider when submitting.  And how about their kids? 

If they opt out because of those concerns, they get the grope treatment instead.  Not exactly what you’d expect in the “land of the free and the home of the brave” in terms of choices which preserve individual liberty and privacy.

Zogby reports, contrary to Gallup’s findings:

The poll also found that men were slightly more opposed than women, with 63 percent of men and 60 percent of women opposing the TSA’s new checkpoint procedures.

In addition, 52 percent of respondents think the new security procedures will not prevent terrorist activity, 48 percent consider it a violation of privacy rights and 32 percent consider it to be sexual harassment.

Zogby looks at the politics of the issue – and guess who manages to find themselves on the wrong side of an individual rights issue?

Republicans and Independents are more opposed to the new body scans and pat downs than Democrats, with 69 percent of Republicans and 65 percent of Independents opposing them, compared to only 50 percent of Democrats.

And finally, the business aspect of all of this.  Gallup somehow finds an increase in the number of frequent travelers (flown 2 or more times this year) vs. those who would seek an alternate means of travel.  They note that in January of this year, 27% would seek alternate means of travel while in this recent survey, only 19% would seek an alternative to avoid the “hassles” associated with flying.

Zogby found a much different result among those they polled:

"It is clear the majority of Americans are not happy with TSA and the enhanced security measures recently enacted," said pollster John Zogby. "The airlines should not be happy with 42 percent of frequent flyers seeking a different mode of transportation due to these enhancements."

Below I commented on the climate government creates in which businesses have to operate.  This is an interesting example of the point.  Although not exactly what I was alluding too below, it is indeed an example of government action effecting the financial health of a market sector.  And the moves are unilateral and obviously without consideration of the downside for that sector.  Not to mention all the liberty related problems any American should find with these procedures as well.

~McQ


Policy not profits is the reason for the slow recovery

I‘m always cynically amused by lead sentences like this from the supposedly unbiased media.

Unemployment is set to remain higher for longer than previously thought, according to new projections from the Federal Reserve that would mean more than 10 million Americans remain jobless through the 2012 elections – even as a separate report shows corporate profits reaching their highest levels ever.

Of course one has zippity do dah to do with the other. The reason corporate profits are reaching their highest levels ever is because corporations that have survived the recession have done so paring down to a "lean and mean" status by dropping headcount, closing unneeded facilities and cutting spending. Those workers that are still employed are what are necessary to carry the corporation forward in the financial situation and business climate we find ourselves in now. As the economy slowly picks up steam and additional headcount can be justified by additional business, it will be added. But, as we all know, employment is a lagging indicator – i.e. profits and such are going to go up before headcount goes up.

But there’s going to have to be a definite, traceable, unmistakable upward trend with a demonstrable increase in business before corporations add headcount again in the present business climate. And given what this administration and the 111th Congress have done – make war on American business – few are inclined to do that.

So? So it stands to reason that employment is down and will probably stay down until corporations and businesses see a much friendlier and stable business climate than they’re seeing now.

We haven’t been writing about the hostile climate here for our health or amusement. But as can be witnessed here, the subtle yet telling attempt to shift the blame is found in the first sentence. If only greedy corporations would simply start hiring instead of amassing profit, why everything would be peachy keen and our man in the White House wouldn’t be looking at the probability of high unemployment in 2012.

So prepare yourself to see these sorts of exercises in blame shifting at regular intervals over the next couple of years.

Even as conditions are likely to remain miserable for job seekers for years to come, an extraordinary bounce-back is underway in the nation’s corporate sector, with profits rebounding 28 percent over the past year to an all-time high in the third quarter.

Without this narrative, which the entire left and a good portion of the middle will swallow whole, the administration and Democrats haven’t an identified enemy with which to wage political war – and that, of course, is part of our problem now.

~McQ


Nork’s being Norks? Or worse?

Doubtless you’ve seen the headlines about North Korea’s shelling of a South Korean island near the coast of North Korea, killing two South Korean Marines.

The usual claims have been made, denunciations issued and sabers rattled.  But this is another in a long line of serious incidents that the North has been willing to provoke.  The reasons however, remain speculative.  Why is NoKo sinking South Korean ships and killing South Korean Marines?

Well let’s turn to the experts, shall we?  One says it has to do with food and, most likely starvation within North Korea:

One of the analysts who linked the North’s action to food aid was Choi Jin-wook, a North Korea expert at the Korea Institute for National Unification, a research institute in Seoul. “It’s a sign of North Korea’s increasing frustration,” said.

“Washington has turned a deaf ear to Pyongyang and North Korea is saying, ‘Look here. We’re still alive. We can cause trouble. You can’t ignore us.’ ”

Mr. Choi said North Korea had become frustrated over the Obama administration’s refusal to remove a broad range of sanctions against the regime for its continuing nuclear efforts.

“They see that they can’t pressure Washington,” he said, “so they’ve taken South Korea hostage again.”

“They’re in a desperate situation and they want food immediately, not next year,” he said.

It is indeed true that there have been sanctions which have limited the food supplies that could be shipped in, and they’ve had another bad harvest.  But is that the only reason?

Don’t forget, it was just a week ago or so that we learned they had significantly upgraded their nuclear capabilities with what a visiting US professor described as an astonishingly modern facility for processing nuclear material.

Siegfried S. Hecker, a Stanford professor who previously directed the Los Alamos National Laboratory, said in an interview that he had been “stunned” by the sophistication of the new plant, where he saw “hundreds and hundreds” of centrifuges that had just been installed in a recently gutted building and operated from what he called “an ultra-modern control room.”

So, is it just about food?  Or is it, as others have claimed, an incident generated for internal political reasons?  As we’ve heard recently, Kim Jong Il has promoted his third son, Kim Jong-un, to 4 star general – a move seen as a precursor to handing over power to him at some future point.  Jong-un is a young man with little experience.  Therefore, say some experts, this was about burnishing credentials as well as consolidating power:

NORTH KOREA has burnished the leadership credentials of its 26-year-old dictator-in-waiting with a deadly artillery attack on South Korean territory, causing its neighbour to return fire and scramble F-16 fighters.

Two South Korean marines died, and at least 12 were wounded. There were reports of civilian injuries and houses were set ablaze as scores of shells fell on Yeonpyeong island.

A North Korea expert at Beijing’s Central Party School, Zhang Liangui, told the Herald that Kim Jong-un was deliberately destabilising the environment in order to mobilise the military and consolidate his power.

If that’s the case, it becomes a much more complicated and serious incident. North Korean tantrums and the provocations that mark them are not unusual and normally signal their willingness to negotiate something for something. That, for instance, would the the case if food were the predominant problem. But if we’re in the middle of a power shift, and given the existence of a previously unknown, ultra-modern nuclear weapons facility, is it more dangerous than that?

While the previous incident involving the sinking of a South Korean military ship took many more lives than today, it had some “plausible deniability” attached to it, something the North Koreans took advantage of to deny any involvement.  But not today.  This incident is an act of provocation and belligerence.  I’m of the opinion there’s a lot more going on here than food.

It will be interesting to see how the administration handles this incident.  And let’s pass that START treaty – that’ll take care of the nuke threat, won’t it? /sarc

~McQ


The elitists among us are found in progressive ranks

It’s simply that they  think they’re head and shoulder’s smarter than the average voter and – the “and” is critical – know what is best for them.  Now certainly there are likely those on the right that feel that way too, but I’m talking about a whole movement on the left.  Progressives are of the opinion, especially given their dedication to nanny-state measures, that we simply are unable to take care of ourselves.  That belief, driven by their activism translates into a further belief of inferior intellect among the masses.  Think about it – if you truly believe that most everyone else can’t make the proper decisions for themselves and it takes the wise progressive and a benevolent government to guide them through their life and ensure they’re looked after, are you going to actually try to argue that those people are as bright as you are?

Of course not.  In fact, you may consider them to be stupid.  And, if you’re really arrogant, you might let the mask slip and blurt it out every now and then as did University of Wisconsin political scientist Charles Franklin in an interview about the midterm election results (Byron York reports):

Franklin was responding to a question from Bill Lueders, news editor of Isthmus, a weekly alternative newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin.  In an account published Thursday (H/T Ann Althouse), Lueders says he asked Franklin why "the public seemed to vote against its own interests and stated desires, for instance by electing candidates who’ll drive up the deficit with fiscally reckless giveaways to the rich."

"Franklin, perhaps a bit too candidly, conceded the point," Lueders writes.  "’I'm not endorsing the American voter,’ he answered. ‘They’re pretty damn stupid.’"

Lueders writes that he responded, "Thank you, professor.  That’s the answer I was looking for."  The rest of Lueders’ account explains that smart voters support things like high-speed rail and higher taxes for the rich, while dumb voters support "an obvious phony like [Republican senator-elect] Ron Johnson over Russ Feingold."

It’s instructive to note that Franklin blurted out the truth as he conceived it and Lueders got an apparent affirmation of his belief on the matter.  And note how Franklin has also adopted the subtle but evident principle that the money of the rich doesn’t really belong to them.  Words like “giveaways” give the clue.

Shocking?  Hardly.  In fact pretty main-stream for progressives.  Think back about how the progressives among us tried to label the Tea Party.  In fact, that’s still going on as witnessed in this exchange between progressive Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone and David Gergen and Peter Hart in the wake of the midterm election results:

Taibbi: To me, the main thing about the Tea Party is that they’re just crazy. If somebody is able to bridge the gap with those voters, it seems to me they will have to be a little bit crazy too. That’s part of the Tea Party’s litmus test: "How far will you go?"

Gergen: I flatly reject the idea that Tea Partiers are crazy. They had some eccentric candidates, there’s no question about that. But I think they represent a broad swath of the American electorate that elites dismiss to their peril.

Hart: I agree with David. When two out of five people who voted last night say they consider themselves supporters of the Tea Party, we make a huge mistake to suggest that they are some sort of small fringe group and do not represent anybody else.

Taibbi: I’m not saying that they’re small or a fringe group.

Gergen: You just think they’re all crazy.

Taibbi: I do.

Gergen: So you’re arguing, Matt, that 40 percent of those who voted last night are crazy?

Taibbi: I interview these people. They’re not basing their positions on the facts — they’re completely uninterested in the facts. They’re voting completely on what they see and hear on Fox News and afternoon talk radio, and that’s enough for them.

Gergen: The great unwashed are uneducated, so therefore their views are really beneath serious conversation?

Taibbi: I’m not saying they’re beneath serious conversation. I’m saying that these people vote without acting on the evidence.

Gergen: I find it stunning that the conversation has taken this turn. I disagree with the Tea Party on a number of issues, but it misreads who they are to dismiss them as some kind of uneducated know-nothings who have somehow seized power in the American electorate. It is elitist to its core. We would all be better off if we spent more time listening to each other rather than simply writing them off.

Booman at the BooMan Tribune says of the exchange:

What’s ironic is that Gergen is dismissing the Tea Partiers by taking them seriously. People like Matt Taibbi take them much more seriously, as they should, but they don’t ascribe any merit to their views. They take them seriously because they are .going to do grave damage to the nation.

I have no idea what he means by his first sentence, however it is irrelevant whether or not Matt Taibbi ascribes any “merit” their views, their views are the views, as David Gergen points out, of “40% of those who voted”. So you can throw all the pissy little elitist hissy fits you want, call Tea Partiers every name in the book, but that fact remains true and is obviously incredibly relevant to the electoral future.  And the progressive answer to that truth isn’t to attempt to engage and persuade, it’s to call them crazy and dismiss them.

That is arrogance.  That is elitism.  It’s also not very smart.  But, at the moment, that is the progressive movement in a nutshell.  Naturally they’re unable to see that, as demonstrated by Booman as he concludes his post (and joins the new progressive narrative I pointed too the other day):

The GOP may not want to help the economy while a Democrat is in the White House, but they don’t know how to help the economy regardless. We saw this during Bush’s two terms in office. And when Bush finally faced reality and took the obvious steps to save the economy, the Republicans went Full Metal Teabagger in response.

David Gergen thinks it is elitist to dismiss the threat presented by this rise in Know-Nothing foolish ideology. What he forgets is that our government will no longer work starting in January. If elites like Gergen are good for anything, they should be good at protecting our institutions. They didn’t. And now we have a really big problem.

Those two paragraphs are a case study in progressive elitism and filled with enough logical fallacies for a semester’s worth of work in a logic class, not to mention classic projection.  But you have to hope this incredible cluelessness continues if you’re at all interested in returning fiscal sanity to this country.  As long as the Taibbis, Boomans, Franklins and Lueders of the progressive world believe that everyone who votes for the other side is “crazy” and/or “stupid”, they’ll make no attempt to engage and persuade.   And that leaves a pretty open field for their opposition.

You’d think, as smart as they claim to be, they’d have picked up on how, well, stupid that approach is in electoral politics.  They used that approach frequently and vocally prior to the midterms and 60 seats plus went to the opposition.  A smart person would analyze that outcome and modify their approach.  But not progressives.  Those smart guys are doubling down instead.

But remember you’re the dumb one.

~McQ


Gore: corn-ethanol subsidy “not a good policy”

Holy moly, perhaps the oceans will rise and hell will freeze over – but it won’t be because of “climate change” or whatever the warmists are calling it this week.  Nope, Al Gore has found a government program he doesn’t like.  Yup, that’s right.  And not only that – and this is the hell freezing over part of it – it’s a “green” government program.

Yes, friends, Al Gore says that the US government’s subsidies for corn ethanol is “not good policy”.

"It is not a good policy to have these massive subsidies for (U.S.) first generation ethanol," said Gore, speaking at a green energy business conference in Athens sponsored by Marfin Popular Bank.

"First generation ethanol I think was a mistake. The energy conversion ratios are at best very small.

"It’s hard once such a programme is put in place to deal with the lobbies that keep it going."

Gadzooks.  A flip-flop.  He supported the program previously.  Oh, wait – he was just making a political statement then:

He explained his own support for the original programme on his presidential ambitions.

"One of the reasons I made that mistake is that I paid particular attention to the farmers in my home state of Tennessee, and I had a certain fondness for the farmers in the state of Iowa because I was about to run for president."

Dear farmers – vote for me and I’ll pay you outrageous subsidies to grow corn for ethanol.  "Certain fondness” my rear end.  Nothing has changed about Gore in the “I’ll say anything to get what I want” department, has it?  Flippin’ piece of crap – buying votes with your tax dollars.   Not that he’s the only one that does it, but for heaven sake, given the financial situation we’re in does he have to be so freakin’ glib about it?

Of course the reason corn-ethanol is a crappy idea is the subsidies are high and thus 40% of the corn grown is grown for ethanol.  That puts it in competition with corn for food.  Any guess what corn based food products have done since this nifty little program has been in place?

Yes, they’ve gone up quite a bit.  In this case, we call that the “law of unintended consequences” only as a rhetorical device.  The consequences may have been unintended but there were any number of economists saying “if you do that you’re going to drive up food prices”.  And, of course, the answer from our government experts was the “you don’t know what you’re talking about”. 

You know, the same experts that have told us that more of us can have more health care and it will cost less.

Anyway I thought you’d enjoy Gore’s little walk-back.  Don’t forget the same experts who brought you corn-based ethanol and higher food prices will be “debating” an energy bill at some point in the future.  I’d hide my wallet before then if I was you.

~McQ


Speak for yourself, Mr. Buffet

People who do what Warren Buffet is doing irritate the holy hell out of me.  They decide a) taxes are fine, b) they’re fine with paying more taxes and c) if they find them fine and feel they should be paying more taxes everyone in their financial situation should too.

Uh, no sir.

First, taxes are supposed to fund Constitutional government – i.e. the government allowed under the Constitution.  Taxation has evolved into a political means of controlling behavior and funding things the founders never even dreamed would be something which government would fund.

Secondly, taxes were supposed to be something everyone paid.  You shared the pain and you had skin in the game – a reason to follow government and ensure it wasn’t wasting the hard earned money you were coerced into giving it (don’t ever, ever believe the nonsense that taxes are “voluntary”). Somewhere that notion got warped into what we endure today.  Taxes are essentially considered government’s rightful cut of whatever you earn with which it can do pretty damn well what it pleases.  Oh, and for some favored “victims” of life, they don’t have to pay anything.  No skin in the game, no reason to oppose the government’s profligacy – how convenient.  Interestingly the left likes to refer to that as “progressive”.

Finally – for the Mr. Buffets of the world: If you’re feeling under-taxed, if you’re feeling you could give more and in fact are willing to give more, no one will stop you.  Got that Mr. Buffet?  -

No. One. Will. Stop. You.

Pick up your check book, write the check in whatever amount you think is right and send it to the Treasury Department.   Trust me, they won’t turn it down.

Other than that, quit trying to speak for other people and stay out of their lives (or quit encouraging government to take more).    We have a serious spending problem and all the extra taxes in the world aren’t going to change that.  Instead of trying to bully the rich into giving up even more of their money, beat up the politicians and demand they cut spending, cut  it now and cut it drastically?  Make spending equal revenue.

If they’d do that, you wouldn’t have to make silly statements about taxes and wanting to pay more, would you?

~McQ


TSA absurdities–trading liberty for security and getting neither

This TSA nonsense is getting past absurd very quickly. Yesterday in San Diego (again – that’s where "don’t touch my junk" was first heard) there was another incident. This time the guy in question refused the scanner and, knowing what was coming, and most likely trying to avoid being groped, stripped down to his underwear.

OK perhaps he shouldn’t have done that, but by doing so it became clear there was nothing hiding on his person. That’s where the laugh out loud and shake your head moment came in:

This time the defendant, Sam Wolanyk says he was asked to pass through the 3-D x-ray machine. When Wolanyk refused, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) personnel told him he would have to be patted down before he could pass through and board his airplane.

Wolanyk said he knew what was coming and took off his pants and shirt, leaving him in Calvin Klein bike undergarments.

“It was obvious that my underwear left nothing to the imagination,” he explained. “But that wasn’t enough for the TSA supervisor who was called to the scene and asked me to put my clothes on so I could be properly patted down.”

Yeah, that’s right – don’t believe you lyin’ eyes, only a good grope will satisfy the authorities.

This comes on the heels of another example of the absurdity we’re subjected too.  And no the following isn’t apocryphal, this happened and has been confirmed. These troops had already been cleared by customs in a detailed inspection to include sniffer dogs, the whole 9 yards. They had not been off the plane since. Over two hundred of them were on the plane with their M4 assault rifles and SAWs. The plane stopped in Indiana to drop off some troops and instead of letting the plane take off (it didn’t need to be refueled) to its final destination, TSA insisted the troops all get off for another inspection.  And, of course, TSA was very successful in finding a bunch of hidden weapons with which the plane could have been taken over. This was written by a soldier who witnessed the exchange:

So we’re in line, going through one at a time. One of our Soldiers had his Gerber multi-tool. TSA confiscated it. Kind of ridiculous, but it gets better. A few minutes later, a guy empties his pockets and has a pair of nail clippers. Nail clippers. TSA informs the Soldier that they’re going to confiscate his nail clippers. The conversation went something like this:

TSA Guy: You can’t take those on the plane.

Soldier: What? I’ve had them since we left country.

TSA Guy: You’re not suppose to have them.

Soldier: Why?

TSA Guy: They can be used as a weapon.

Soldier: [touches butt stock of the rifle] But this actually is a weapon. And I’m allowed to take it on.

TSA Guy: Yeah but you can’t use it to take over the plane. You don’t have bullets.

Soldier: And I can take over the plane with nail clippers?

TSA Guy: [awkward silence]

Me: Dude, just give him your damn nail clippers so we can get the f**k out of here. I’ll buy you a new set.

Soldier: [hands nail clippers to TSA guy, makes it through security]

This might be a good time to remind everyone that approximately 233 people re-boarded that plane with assault rifles, pistols, and machine guns-but nothing that could have been used as a weapon.

Meanwhile, back in San Diego – Wolanyk is paraded through 2 other terminals in his underwear, because one assumes, it would have been too much of a hassle to let him get dressed before removing him from the TSA area.  He was obviously in the wrong for disrobing, but what that necessary?

And another less publicized arrest took place there as well.  A woman was arrested for taking “illegally filming the x-ray, and TSA screening process with a video camera.”  Her camera was confiscated, she was issued a citation and released.

The irony of all of this is if anyone wanted to do what the 9/11 killers did, all they have to do is go charter a plane.  So none of this is going to stop a 9/11 type event if the killer in question is reasonably intelligent.  If the killers want to bring down a passenger plane, there are all sorts of other ways to do so that TSA hasn’t even imagined.  But the agency is reactive – not proactive.  It’s looking for repeats of things that have happened, despite the fact that none of the things which have happened have been repeated.

We spend all this money and time to produce an agency which proudly announces that it is in the rights violation business and that your rights are not more important than security.  And when confronted with the fact that the flying public is rebelling against this gross breech of their rights (as one woman said, after a pat down, “in some countries we’d be married right now”) the TSA administrator throws this out there:

“Do I understand the sensitivities of people? Yes,” Pistole said to CNN’s Candy Crowley on “State of the Union.” “If you’re asking, am I going to change the policies? No.”

Or, "screw you and your concerns about rights and propriety – once you get in my line, I decide what rights you have and what is or isn’t appropriate". Like all but strip-searching 12 year old boys.

A couple of points.  Much of the flying public that refuse to put up with such nonsense are going to be looking at alternatives.  Personally, anything 4 to 5 hours away by car is now automatically a car trip – I don’t even consider flying.  And given what’s going on, I’ll probably extend that to 8 hours away (which would cover 99% of my trips).  I don’t intend to reward a government policy which intrudes on my rights (and health) by subjecting myself to it.

Which makes the point that airlines may begin to see passenger traffic go down as the use of these scanners and and pat downs expand (another in a long line of innovative job/business killing policies by this administration).

I’m not willing to trade liberty for security.  And I’m damn sure not about to meekly submit to their intrusion in person.  I will refuse to use air travel as long as that’s the procedure.  And for the airlines, that’s another potential passenger you’ve lost until this TSA nonsense is stopped.

BTW, airlines –  it is my understanding you do not have to use TSA.  I’d be seriously considering that right now if I were you.  But regardless, you should be sitting in front of Pistole right now as a group pounding on his desk and demanding he change the policies and do so quickly.

Charles Krauthammer summed my thoughts up on this rather nicely last week:

We pretend that we go through this nonsense as a small price paid to ensure the safety of air travel. Rubbish. This has nothing to do with safety – 95 percent of these inspections, searches, shoe removals and pat-downs are ridiculously unnecessary. The only reason we continue to do this is that people are too cowed to even question the absurd taboo against profiling – when the profile of the airline attacker is narrow, concrete, uniquely definable and universally known. So instead of seeking out terrorists, we seek out tubes of gel in stroller pouches.

The junk man’s revolt marks the point at which a docile public declares that it will tolerate only so much idiocy. Metal detector? Back-of-the-hand pat? Okay. We will swallow hard and pretend airline attackers are randomly distributed in the population.

But now you insist on a full-body scan, a fairly accurate representation of my naked image to be viewed by a total stranger? Or alternatively, the full-body pat-down, which, as the junk man correctly noted, would be sexual assault if performed by anyone else?

This time you have gone too far, Big Bro’. The sleeping giant awakes. Take my shoes, remove my belt, waste my time and try my patience. But don’t touch my junk.

Amen.

~McQ


Observations: The Qando Podcast for 21 Nov 10

In this podcast, Bruce and Dale discuss the Democrats’ response to their electoral drubbing, and the Federal Reserve’s Quantitative Easing policy.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

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