A strong defense for Earl Southers

Obama’s nominee for heading the TSA, Earl Southers, is under a lot of fire, for being duplicitous, incompetent, antisemitic, anti-Christian, and ill-informed — in other words, soft on the real terrorism that faces America.  Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, writing at the Long War Journal, says that these accusations do not represent Southers’ true record, and that he is in fact a very qualified candidate for the position.

Not only do I find the post substantively interesting, I think it also highlights that it is as easy for bad information to become the dominant paradigm as it is for good — and that’s despite the availability of almost all possible information on the internet, and the hundreds of thousands of people vetting it.  Once a theory starts, it takes off, irrespective of facts.  John Hawkins, at Right Wing News, makes the same point, using misinformation about the Tea Parties as the starting point for a reminder about the crude behavior that characterized so many anti-War rallies during the Bush years.

Hat tip:  Steve Schippert

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  • http://photoncourier.blogspot.com David Foster

    I watched the video, and agree that it is not as damning as many of the recent blog posts have suggested. However, the assertion that the U.S. is a terror target because of its relationship with Israel, France, etc, misses the point that the U.S. would be a terror target even if these countries did not exist, and provides ammunition to those that think the U.S. should throw Israel to the wolves..even if Southers does not himself share this opinion, as he probably does not.
    Anyhow, isn’t the head of the TSA a direct report to Napolitano? Whatever amount of money people in the government at this level normally get paid, it should be at least doubled for someone who has to put up with her as a boss.
     

  • BrianE

    My understanding is his nomination has been held up because he favors allowing TSA employees to unionize.

    “(Jim) DeMint had been blocking Southers over concerns he would unionize the TSA, but the government’s gaffe has apparently given him another reason to hold the nomination.”

    http://www.palmettoscoop.com/2009/12/29/demint-blocks-nomination-of-obama-tsa-pick/

    If true, and I have no reason to doubt DeMint, that is sufficient reason to oppose his nomination. Think of TSA employees leveraging threat of a strike into the security issue.

    Why not just let the Army unionize?

  • BrianE

    That should have been- why don’t we just let soldiers unionize.

    On the video linked, Southers remarks that the grant budget for the TSA was being reduced 50% due to decreased risk threat, and he hoped the money would go to education, global warming, etc.

    I’m curious whether he had any input into that decision to reduce spending. Given the events on Christmas, it may have been premature to reduce the budget and shows a level of complacency. (Having said that, there is no doubt waste here– the problem is rooting the waste and boondoggles out without harming the main security structure).

    If he was involved in the proposed grant de-funding, we should look closer at his decision making skills.

  • BrianE

    And this is not a union issue, per se.

    There are just some groups of people, whose job functions are too essential to allow to unionize. They should know that going into the job and agree to those terms when they are hired.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ Ymarsakar

    RE: 3
     
    Don’t give em ideas.

  • jlibson

    I do not read that article as a strong defense.  I would say instead that Daveed had a flattering brush with  a minor celebrity who is probably a somewhat charismatic figure.
     
    http://counterterrorismblog.org/experts/daveed-gartenstein-ross/bio/
    I don’t think that Daveed has offered anything to indicate that Southers has a clear-eyed view of the nature of the threat.  I really want Southers to say “Islamicism” or “Islamic Terrorists” or something along those lines.

  • Tonestaple

    One thing that has bothered me through all of this is the deliberate or incredibly ignorant misunderstanding of what Southers has said about “Christian Identity” movements.  The usual gang of right-wing talking heads has been saying this means Southers is anti-Christian which is either, as I said, deliberate (to slander Southers, I guess) or incredibly ignorant.  The Christian Identity movement is racist and neo-Nazi and they are surely domestic terrorist wannabes.  Fortunately, they are either not organized or impressively ineffective.

    It is silly of Southers to consider “Christian Identity” cretins as a threat on par with Al Qaeda, or even CAIR, but for the talkers not to get what he’s talking about and make public fools of themselves is not helpful at all.

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    Tonestaple, you’ve beautifully honed in on the point I tried, ineptly, to make.  Whether Southers is qualified or not, arguments so often tend to revolve around careless or deliberate misunderstanding or misinterpretations of what people say.  We’ve become a sound byte culture (I certainly have that short attention span problem quite often), and it becomes difficult for us to examine the larger content of what someone says.  Heck, we know that liberals are constantly on the lookout for a single inartfully phrased Rush statement that they use against him despite the manifest meaning that could be gleaned from content.  We want to be better than that.  (And that’s a chastisement to myself, as much as to anybody else.)

  • suek

    What you say is true, Book, but sometimes I wonder if the misunderstanding isn’t deliberate in order to provoke a “that’s ridiculous” response without giving it further consideration.
     
    A little like the Reid “negro” statement.  I don’t think it was racist – it was an evaluation of Obama’s chances to get elected.  However, as some have said, it _was_  an evaluation of the racial acceptance level of the US electorate…and that hasn’t been addressed.  That factor has all sorts of connotations – the skin tone issue, the “accent” issue, the black electorate attitude, the white electorate attitude… and all of this is entirely separate from his political positions.  So…people say – “what’s the big fuss about” – and then don’t look twice at the rest of the stuff.  I understand that Conservative blogs and talk shows have been looking at this from the standpoint of the double standard, but really – it’s much deeper than that.
     
    And by the way – blacks from England have a British accent.  They speak the Queens English, with a native accent.  Why don’t American blacks speak “American” – or at least many of them.  We know the answer – it’s ebonics…ghetto “speak”.  The language of the uneducated…now _that_ is something we should be addressing.  Oh yeah – along with the “he’s talking white” taint that exists in young people, and is considered an insult.  So many things to discuss other than what’s being said…

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    It’s funny what you say about blacks from England, suek, because it reminds me of a specific moment in my life that is entirely unrelated to politics.  I lived in Yorkshire for a while.  That whites spoke with various British accents was unsurprising.  That the few blacks spoke with various British accents was also unsurprising, given British colonialism and the old slave trade all over the world.  What fried my synapses was to meet a Chinese guy with a think Yorkshire accent.  In my life, Chinese people had two accents:  all-American and Chinese-American (i.e., native Chinese speaker who has learned to speak English).  It shook me to to hear “And what’ll you ‘ave, Luv,” coming from an Asian face.

    As for your point about intentional misunderstandings because they’re easier lines of attack than the real issues, you’re right about that too.

  • suek

    Heh.
     
    We had a black missionary priest from South Africa  come to speak to us once upon a time.  I almost fell out of my seat trying to keep from laughing when he opened his mouth and spoke with the thickest Irish brogue you could ever ask for!
     
    It true – we _do_ form opinions from first appearances.  Maybe we shouldn’t, but I figure that as long as you’re open to opinion adjustment as you learn more, it’s ok.   And absolutely contradictory stereotypes within a single person is hilarious to me.