Reagan 180: Peace Through Strength

The proven principle of peace through strength has no clock of eligibility. Nor is it a theory. It is, as stated, a proven principle that knows no decade nor continent as its home. Peace is derived through strength precisely because weakness inspires aggression. Critics tend to muddy the waters by creating the false parallel between strength and aggression. With strength, real and rightly perceived strength, words (read: diplomacy) carry tangible effect and generate desired action (or vital inaction) from foes.


Reagan 180, Episode 001: Peace Through Strength

With the help from the words of former Ambassador John Bolton in the introduction in framing today’s Russia as the backdrop, Ronald Reagan spelled out quite clearly the principle of peace through strength in 1964.

It took all of three minutes to explain the proven principle of peace through strength with clarity. And it applies as much now as it did then. Like human nature or the laws of physics, principles like this do not go ‘out of style’ or become outdated or outmoded.

That doesn’t mean others won’t argue otherwise. When they do, come back. Listen this first edition of Reagan 180. Ground yourself again and regain your confidence if you need a shot in the arm. It’s straight forward. It’s really pretty simple. And it can’t be outsmarted, no matter how many try to razzle-dazzle with figures and theory.

And that’s the whole idea of the Reagan 180 project. Our conservative principles are really very simple. They’re straight forward. They’re “what works,” in sharp contrast to “who’s victimized” and “who must pay.” No one in our lifetime communicated these realities more effectively than Ronald Reagan.

Reagan 180 is an idea (not yet taxed) that I’ve been mulling on and off for several years. On any given issue or debate on governance or liberty today, there’s about 3 short minutes of Ronald Reagan in an archive somewhere explaining the conservative principle on the subject with a cutting clarity that seemingly no one in the current generation of leaders and/or public figures can seem to muster.

There’s just no sense at all in watching all of this quietly gather dust when it’s in such need today. So, 180 seconds at a time, these short Reagan 180 podcasts will highlight Ronald Reagan’s words to apply conservative principles to today’s issues.

Friday this and that, with a little what-not thrown in

I could have done this as myriad small posts, but I was in the mood for something big.  I’ll separate the different ideas and issues with asterisks (after all, Obama’s promise with his unspoken asterisk has made asterisks the hot new thing in writing).

My friend (I like say that — my friend) Sally Zelikovsky has written rules for Republicans who want to win elections.  They are very pragmatic rules which state that the time for internecine cherry-picking, purging, and warfare should wait until after the Democrats no longer control Washington.  I’m just giving the rules.  Please go to her post to see her intelligent support for many of the less obvious or more challenging rules:

(1) Duke it out in the primaries and whole-heartedly support your candidate of choice.

(2) Do not support your preferred candidate by stooping to Democrat levels.

[snip]

(3) Never forfeit a “sure thing” candidate for a high risk one.

[snip]

(4) Unless an incontrovertible liability, never abandon a viable candidate especially in an important race.

[snip]

(5) In extreme cases, when a candidate is hurting other races, it’s okay to withdraw support.

[snip]

(6) Do not use outliers to formulate strategies for the entire country.

[snip]

(7) Make protest votes a thing of the past [snip]

(8) Think of the end game.

[snip]

(9) Social conservatives and tea partiers should hold any elected Republican’s feet to the fire.

(10) Moderates should expect social conservatives and tea partiers to hold their feet to the fire.

(11) Do not air our collective dirty laundry.

[snip]

(12) Always anticipate the leftwing response, think through your story, then stick to it.

[snip]

(13) In politics, as in life, there are people in any group or organization who have varying degrees of commitment. [snip]

(14) Use the media to communicate with the PEOPLE. This is your chance to be a PR person for conservatism, even though the press is never on your side.

[snip]

(15) Always promote the improved quality of life in Republican-run states andcontrast this with the diminished quality of life in true blue states.

(16) Speak with one voice on the issues where there is consensus.

(17) Where there is no consensus, speak to the fact that we are a diverse party that welcomes debate but, in the end, we are all guided by time-tested conservative principles that promote freedom.

Some of the suggestions are hard to swallow, because they continue to provide political cover for checkbook Republicans, meaning those who support a Democrat agenda, but who make loud noises about “we have to be able to pay for it.”  Read Sally’s whole article and, if you feel like it, please get back to me.

***

Lee Smith has a brilliant analysis of what John Kerry and Barack Obama are doing in the Middle East:

So how did we reach a point where the United States is working with the Islamic Republic of Iran, while longtime U.S. allies are not only outside the circle but trying to block an American-Iranian condominium over the Middle East? A pretty good idea can be gleaned by taking the advice given by Politico in an article detailing Obama’s habit of meeting with prestigious reporters and columnists to test-drive his ideas: “If you want to know where the president stands on a foreign policy issue .  .  . read the latest column by David Ignatius” or Thomas Friedman, another frequent sounding-board for the president.

Read the whole thing and weep.  What they’re doing is every bit as bad as it sounds, and there will be terrible repercussions.

***

Fouad Ajami says that Obama’s magic is gone.  I like his article but I have to disagree with the core premise.  Obama never had magic.  What he had was a complicit media.  It’s easy to win the game when the referees have determined in advance that you’ll win.  At a certain point, though, the spectators begin to think that the fix is in.

***

Up until this past Wednesday, I tended to side slightly with the government regarding Edward Snowden — namely, that he was a traitor who stole America’s secrets.  And indeed, he seems to have stolen lots and lots of secrets.  What I learned on Wednesday, though, when I heard Mary Theroux, of the Independent Institute, speak, is that the government’s spying on American citizens is so enormous we literally cannot comprehend its scope.  The data collection (which is in the multiple zetabytes) grossly violates our inherent Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.  NSA employees before Snowden tried to blow the whistle on this beginning around the year 2000, and got ferociously persecuted by the government because of their efforts.  Snowden’s spectacular leak broke that log jam.

But here’s the really important thing that Theroux said:  The government gets so much data, it’s useless for the stated purpose of crime and terrorism prevention.  As it comes in, it’s simply so much white noise.  It certainly didn’t stop 9/11 or the Boston bombing.  In this regard, think of England, which has more CCTVs per capita than any other country in the 1st world, and maybe in any world.  Nevertheless, these cameras do nothing to prevent crime.  As the number of cameras has increased, so has the crime rate.  The data is useful only after the fact, to help (sometimes) apprehend the criminal.

Well, one can argue that ex post facto apprehension is a good thing — but it’s a good thing only if there’s been a clear violation of a pretty well known law (e.g., don’t beat people to death or don’t rob a jewelry store).  We’re looking at something much more sinister here.  Think of the volume of law in America and, worse, think of the staggering volumes of rules interpreting those laws.

As Theroux noted, Stalin’s chief of police famously said (and I’m paraphrasing) give me the man and I can find the crime.  We Americans have a government that’s sitting on data that can be used to criminalize us after the fact the current government (Republican or Democrat or Third Party) doesn’t like us.  It’s like a landmine under every American.

Since Obama is quite possibly the most inept national security president in the world, it’s arguable that Snowden’s revealing secrets along those lines (e.g., that we’ve been eavesdropping on allies) leaves us in no worse shape than we were before.  After all, as Lee Smith notes above, Obama has already turned our allies into enemies.  What Snowden did do with his escapade was to remind us that, when government begins collecting every bit of information simply because it can, every citizen becomes a potential criminal.  We’re not at the Stasi stage yet, but our government is laying the groundwork for a Stasi society.  That’s an utterly terrifying thought.  We still can stop it now.  Once it’s in play, stopping it gets much, much harder to stop that fascist juggernaut.

***

Given the debacle that Obamacare is proving to be for Obama, the Democrats, and Progressivism generally, a reader sent me an email saying that we should be grateful for Chief Justice Roberts for allowing this disaster to unfold.  That email reminded me that, back in June 2012, when Chief Justice Roberts managed to salvage Obamacare, I wrote a post looking for lemonade in Roberts’ opinion and, once again, I was a bit prescient.  (And yes, I am mining many of my old posts as real-time events are showing that I predicted with a fair degree of accuracy everything from Obamacare, to the shifting alliances in the Middle East, to Obama’s meltdown when the real world intruded on his little narcissistic dream.)  It’s a long, wandering (and, of course, fascinating and insightful) post, but here’s the Chief Justice nub of it:

Roberts wrote the decision at the end of a 90 year continuum holding that Government fixes problems and the Supreme Court fixes Government.  This approach makes “We, the people” unnecessary.  Rather than elections being the corrective, the Court is the corrective — except that the Court’s make-up is controlled by the Government.  (Remember the Bork debacle?)

Roberts refused to play this game.  He slapped back the Democrats’ hands when it came to the Commerce Clause, telling them that the federal government cannot legislate inactivity.  And he held — quite correctly — that if there’s any possible way for the Court to salvage a law, it must do so.  His salvaging was to say that, this particular law, written in this particular way, with these particular controls over the people, can be salvaged by calling it a tax.  It’s an ugly decision, but probably a correct one.  And then he tossed the whole thing back to the American people.

I can just see Roberts’ thought-process (although he might have thought in more polite terms):  You idiots elected a Congress and president that used every kind of political chicanery known to man in order to pass the biggest tax in American history and one that, moreover, completely corrupts the free market system.  It’s not the Supreme Court’s responsibility to correct that kind of thing, provided that the judges can, as I did, find a smidgen of constitutionality in it.  There’s an election coming up in November.  Let’s hope you’ve wised up enough to figure out that my Supreme Court is returning power to “We, the people.”  We will not pull your chestnuts out of the fire.  We will not legislate from the bench.  We will construe things as narrowly as possible.  If you, the people, don’t like it, you, the people, elect different representatives.

Speaking of the Supreme Court, Ace wonders if Obama just gave the Supreme Court another bite at this rotten apple.

***

Power Line brought this AP headline to my attention:  “In Reversal, Obama to Allow Canceled Health Plans.” Who knew that a constitutionally appointed executive had the power to “allow” canceled health plans?

It was an especially interesting headline to read because, last night, I attended a panel discussion with AP reporters, photographers, and the editor in chief of the AP photograph department.  The purpose was to promote a new book of photographs that AP employees and stringers took during the Vietnam War:  Vietnam: The Real War: A Photographic History by the Associated Press.  It was an interesting event, although I’m sorry to say that they were boring speakers.  (It seems like an oxymoron, but they were boring speakers who offered some interesting content.)

One of the things the panelists kept saying is that they have so much integrity and are devoted to even-handedness in their subject matter and presentation.  We know that’s a joke when it comes to written coverage about domestic politics.  AP has been a Democrat shill since at least George W.’s administration.  But it’s also been a shill when it comes to photographs. Given their record, I have to admit that it was a bit difficult to listen to the panelists’ smug satisfaction about their higher calling, integrity, and even-handedness.

***

I like Deroy Murdock’s writing, so I liked his analysis of the Obamacare debacle.  It’s fun to read.  It doesn’t have the soaring schadenfreude of Jonah Goldberg’s instant classic, but it’s still darn good.

***

Speaking of good writing, Megan McArdle is at it again, this time pointing out in very polite, analytical language that Obama has taken on the behavior of a tyrant (not a word she uses, but it’s the gist):  The law is what Obama says the law is.  It’s probably worth thinking about the Snowden revelations as you read McArdle describe the way in which Obama usurps power.  The media is clucking, but not with any force; the Democrats are running or enabling; and the Republicans are in-fighting.  We’re seeing a weird, passive (even Weimar-ian) anarchy that creates room for a tyrant to breathe and grow.

***

I’m pleased to say that I never liked Oprah, so I’m not surprised to learn that she’s a race-baiting phony. Incidentally, to those who have mentioned in the comments that liberals are like beaten wives who keep coming back for more, Oprah is Exhibit A.  She destroyed her TV show by endorsing Obama, and he rewarded her by freezing her out of the White House.  So what does Oprah do?  She keeps crawling back, defending the man who used her and abused her.  I’m not sorry for her though.  Her racist venom makes pity impossible.

People worry that rather than catching bad guys, the Obama administration will use the info it gathers to create bad guys

One of the things that characterizes the rule of law is that it applies equally to all citizens.  The rich man’s son who vandalizes a shop is prosecuted as vigorously as the poor man’s son who does the same.  That the rich man’s son can afford a good lawyer is the random luck of life.  America can provide equality of opportunity, but nothing, not even socialism, can guarantee equality of outcome.  The important thing for purposes of the rule of law is that the law doesn’t give the rich man’s son a pass.

The rule of law also has to be grounded in common sense and reality.  That’s why Anatole France was being nonsensical when he famously said “In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets and steal loaves of bread.” The reality is that a rich man, unless crazy, does none of those things — but it doesn’t necessarily mean that the law is unfair if societal good demands that we value property or try to keep streets safe for all citizens. The law is what it is. In the case of theft, vagrancy, and begging, it isn’t the law that should change but, perhaps, the availability of opportunities and, as needed, charity.

Common sense has long-dictated, at least since 9/11, that the best way to stop terrorism directed at Americans is to keep a close eye on people, especially men, who practice a strict form of Islam and on disaffected young men who take psychotropic drugs.  These two categories of people have been responsible for almost all, or maybe all, of the mass killings against Americans over the last decade and more.

When it comes to the mentally ill, we keep talking about monitoring them, but we don’t do it.  Lack of political will, lack of political and social organization, civil rights issues, and the fact that it’s more fun to rail against guns than against insane people (poor things) means that this won’t change any time soon.

Even worse, our government has made the “politically correct” decision to refuse to monitor with extra focus those young men who embrace radical Islam (e.g., the Tsarnaevs or Nidal Hassan).  It’s not fair, we’re told.  Profiling will make law-abiding Muslims (and the vast majority of Muslims in America are law-abiding) uncomfortable.  It’s racist and mean to assume that, because someone is Arab-looking, and sweating, and smelling of rose water, and murmuring “Allahu Akbar” under his breath to think that he’s up to a bit of no good — never mind that, when the bomb goes off or the plane falls from the sky, any Muslims in the area will be just as dead as their non-Muslim compatriots.

Heck, we’ve allowed minority groups to prey on each other for decades for fear of causing offense.  The number one target of violent, young, black and Hispanic males is . . . violent, young, black and Hispanic males, followed closely by all the hapless black and Hispanic children, old people, mothers, and fathers who have to share communities with these monsters of violence.  Because it looks bad for white police to go after these monsters, their communities must suffer.  The Gods of Political Correctness delight in human sacrifices, and the younger, more innocent, and more tender the better.

Americans therefore fully understand that our government, for “diversity,” or “multicultural,” or “politically correct” reasons (all of those terms speak to the same end), absolutely refuses to look first at the obvious suspects (young, radical Muslim men) before casting its net wide to sweep in people who are trying to avoid capture by looking less obvious.  It’s not likely that the Minnesota granny has a bomb in her brassiere, but it’s possible.  A good national security system doesn’t assume that anyone is innocent, but it does concentrate its resources where they make they most sense.

So here’s the deal with the NSA spying:  We know with some certainty that, for Leftist political reasons, the NSA is not making an effort to scrutinize the population most likely to go all “Allahu Akbar” on us.  Instead, for politically correct reasons, it’s spying on everyone.  In essence, it’s creating a haystack of information, with extra paddings of politically correct, multiculturalist hay wrapped around any spot where a needle might hide.

If politics means that the system won’t look for the obvious bad guys, what is it looking for then?  Well, I suspect that what’s going to happen is that the system will be used to look for easy targets.  Things that are neither criminal nor suspicious, but that pop up nevertheless, will suddenly be scrutinized because they’re there.  It will be the surveillance equivalent of “If the mountain won’t come to Mohamed, then Mohamed must come to the mountain.”  Since the NSA can’t focus its efforts on finding real criminals, it will engage in some flexible thinking and criminalize whatever activity it sees.  And — voila! — it will therefore justify its bureaucratic existence and purpose.  That the country will lose its identity and the people their freedom is a small price to pay for bureaucratic immortality.

“Loose lips might sink ships” — and blabby administrations definitely kill American servicemen

One of the most memorable advertising campaigns from WWII was the all-out effort to make sure that people didn’t inadvertently reveal military secrets that they’d gleaned from their work or from contacts with loved ones.  The most famous is probably this one, because it’s got that memorable rhyme:


The “loose lips” poster wasn’t the only one.  England and America were covered with posters reminding people that national security — and their loved ones’ lives — were at stake, and that a careless word could cause unthinkable damage:

What’s quite obvious when one looks back at WWII is that no one ever contemplated that this deadly loose talk might emanate, not from a thoughtless, gossipy homemaker but, instead, from a boastful White House.  How could those men and women have imagined a time when our President and his administration would be so anxious to borrow military honor that they would treat military secrets with complete disregard for the safety of the men under their command?  It’s hard to find a better example of the base selfishness that characterizes an administration that enthusiastically, and with massive government coercion, assures us that we have an obligation to be selfless for the greater good.

The predictable Democrat ad hominem attack against those special forces who fear the administration’s loose lips

Yesterday, I urged you to view a 22 minute video that a 501(c) organization put together to show how severely the publicity-hungry Obama administration has damaged America’s national security and the risks to which that same administration has exposed its special ops forces and human intelligence assets, both at home and abroad.

The Democrats have reacted in predictable fashion, not by addressing the challenge leveled against the administration, but by using a “guilt by association” tactic.  As Bruce Kesler discusses, they’ve latched onto a quotation from one retired SEAL who admits to being a Birther and claimed that he discredits every accusation brought against the administration.

In law, we call this an ad hominem, or personal attack.  In law, we also understand that a party uses ad hominem attacks only when it has no other credible argument to make.  If you can’t defend on either the law or the facts, call your opponent names.

Certainly, one can challenge Birtherism, but the fact that a highly qualified, experienced military veteran also happens to be a Birther doesn’t discredit him on the subject of national security.  Getting back to the law again, the law has always recognized the difference between “insanity,” which is a complete disconnect from reality, and a “monomania,” which may simply be an intellectual blind spot in the knowledge and intelligence of an otherwise highly able individual.

In any event, you just know the Democrats have a weak argument when the best person they can find to drag out in front of the cameras is . . . John Kerry.

Can you keep a secret? If you’re the Obama administration, the answer is no

People in the intelligence community — as well as intelligent people — have long been upset that, in the current iteration of the war against terrorists and terrorist  nations, it is our own White House that is afflicted with the loose lips that can sink ships. A group of intelligence community specialists and SEALS has put together a polished, professional video decrying the administration’s decision to politicize national security. At 22 minutes, it covers a lot of ground without getting boring.

Can someone please explain the TSA to me?

We all know the TSA.  Some of its employees are decent, hard-working folks who treat us with respect and try hard.  Some of them are lazy.  Some dishonest.  Some vulgar.  Some voyeurs.  The institution’s policies are allegedly meant to make us safe, but many of us wonder how useful an organization is when it frisks screaming toddlers, forces old men to pull down their pants, gropes women, and refuses to profile, despite an obvious and persistent terrorist demographic.  These are all head-scratchers.

But if you want a real head-scratcher, something that goes far beyond the inconveniences visited upon a long-suffering public, try this one on for size:  the TSA allowed illegal aliens to attend a flight school owned and operated by . . . an illegal alien.  No, I’m not kidding.  You can read about it here.  One would think that, with the lesson of 9/11 still resonating amongst at least some people in America, the TSA might frown upon allowing illegal aliens into cockpit.

Why we care about Obama’s executive order

The conservative blogosphere has been upset since Friday, when Obama, as part of a Friday night document dump, issued an executive order entitled “National Defense Resources Preparedness” (“NDRP”).  Ed Morrissey, for one, was unimpressed:

This EO simply updates another EO (12919) that had been in place since June 1994, and amended several times since.

Indeed, the EO goes back even further than that, having originated during the Cold War:

The NDRP traces its origin to the Defense Production Act (DPA) of 1950, which attempted to establish a framework for placing the nation on a “war footing” as quickly and in as efficient a manner as possible should events warrant.  In an age of highly industrialized warfare, the basic building blocks of military success are composed of mundane elements such as supply chains, resource availability, parts, access to raw materials, and skilled labor.

Over the years, the DPA has seen many revisions, and the executive orders issued to implement those revisions presupposed an imminent threat of war.  In 1994, then-President Clinton issued Executive Order 12919, which expanded the provisions of the DPA rather dramatically, declaring its applicability to peacetime.

The NDRP, then, is a generic executive act.  Why then, is everyone so upset?  Well, there’s good reason.  It’s not the act itself, but the president who issues it that arouses suspicion.

Obama has repeatedly shown himself to be comfortable with using government to control as many aspects as possible of American life.  He likes Big Government.  And he socializes with and hires (on behalf of the American people, no less), people who are passionately committed to Big Government.

Obama has also shown that he has internalized the Alinsky technique of personalizing an enemy and then attacking it with all guns blazing.  Currently, as part of his reelection campaign, he’s managed to personalize and attack as many specific conservatives as possible, in addition to conservatives in general.  Conservatives therefore feel besieged and don’t like to see their political opponent reminding them that he can take all government power onto himself.

Given Obama’s temperament and belief system, conservatives not unnaturally get their feathers ruffled when they see him making himself very comfortable with a pre-existing power that Americans reasonably believed past presidents viewed solely as a belts and suspenders measure in case the worst ever happens.  With Obama, we all have the creepy — and, yes, not entirely rational — feeling that he will, first, make the worst happen and, second, gleefully grab onto the power that he recently re-upped.

One other thing:  Obama knows this.  He recognizes the paranoid streak that runs through conservatives in the Obama era.  (At which point it’s worth pointing out that even paranoid people have enemies.)  With an election year upon us, there’s nothing Obama wants more than to show the average American that conservatives are paranoid nutcases.  Average American’s don’t like paranoid nutcases.  I suspect, therefore, that Obama’s administration might have seen updating the NDRP (plus the inflammatory Friday night stealth release) as an opportunity, not just for some executive office housekeeping, but also to highlight the hypersensitivity that allows him (and Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, etc.) to paint us with the crazy brush.  In other words, folks, this is a set up, although one that can have real-world, long-time consequences.

We should definitely keep an eye on things, but I agree with those commentators who say that we shouldn’t be getting our knickers in a twist.

Is the administration being penny wise and pound foolish?

My earlier post was about the fact that the US spends and spends and spends, and saves very little.  We definitely need to stop spending, but we need to be smart when we do it.  Because our current administration tilts Left, it is reluctant to slow the hemorrhage but, to the extent it will cut programs, it wants to cut our defense spending.  Bruce Kesler suggests, quite rightly too, that this approach fits neatly into the penny wise and pound foolish category.

The moral imperative of American energy

Cheap fuel is an important key to peace, human welfare and prosperity. We have the key.

The world can’t do without fuel and the scramble for world fuel resources lies at the root of most of our current geopolitical problems. The high price of fuel affects the environment (e.g., 3rd world deforestation) and the price and availability of food for those that can least afford it.

The scramble for fuel lies behind Arabia’s, Iran’s, Russia’s and China’s geopolitical manipulations – in Arabia and Russia’s cases, to keep the availability low and the price high, in China’s case to exploit reliable fuel sources in many of the most political and economically vulnerable parts of the world, notably in Africa. We in the U.S., meanwhile, are forced to maintain hugely expensive military commitments to keep world fuel supply lines open in the interest of protecting a world economy upon which we depend. Demand for high-priced oil keeps Europe in dhimmitude to an increasing subversive Islamicist influence while, in the Middle East, oil revenues fuel subversive jihadi movements worldwide, further tying down our military resources and our economic infrastructures.

Fuel’s impact on food production and prices is one of the factors stoking popular revolts from Mexico to Egypt. Fuel protects human lives by keeping people warm in the winter and cool in the summer. It’s no accident that some of the most strident, anti-oil environmentalism derives from a narrow cafe latte strip of our Pacific coast that enjoys temperate climate year-round and no worries about food prices and availability. Climate “I-got-mine”ers, I guess we could call them.

Cheap oil, coal and gas, in short, would resolve many of our world’s problems. However, there are ideological obstacles that must be overcome, the biggest one being America’s environmental movement, which increasingly takes on the trappings of a fundamentalist religion. Ask most Americans today and I propose that the large majority believes profoundly that a) we are running out of fossil fuels; b) there are practical alternatives to fossil fuel energy and c) fossil fuels contribute to global warming, ergo, fossil fuels are bad. Besides, people say, oil derricks despoil the view…even in areas where nobody ventures.

Let’s just focus on (a) for now: it’s a false premise!

A November, 2010 report by the Congressional Research Service highlights just how rich in fossil fuels the United States is – richer, in fact, than any other country in the world…even without considering the huge potentials of shale oil and methane resources. You can find an excellent summary of the report, with a link to the original CRS report, here:

http://www.energytribune.com/articles.cfm/6933/US-Has-Earths-Largest-Energy-Resources

The U.S. has more than enough safe and reliable energy resources to meet our needs and those of other nations until practical alternatives inevitably come on-line. We’ve had a petroleum based culture for a little over 100 years. We have enough for another 100 years. Making those resources (and other under-developed global resources) available to the U.S. and the global marketplace will drop the price of energy worldwide. That’s just simple economics: increasing supplies reduces prices. It would also boost domestic jobs development, improve our trade deficits, and reduce the costs of domestic manufacturing. Added fossil fuel supplies will help defund our enemies and relieve pressures on our allies.

The obstacles to its development are ideological and enviro-religious, not economic or environmental. As long as these resources remained unavailable, the U.S. and much of the rest of the world will continue to pay huge costs…not just in terms of imported energy and high prices, but also in terms of lost jobs and a dangerously unstable world.

The world desperately needs cheap energy. That’s a hard fact. For the world’s richest resource of fossil fuel energy to withhold its resources from the world in the interest of the self-satisfied, comfortable bourgeoisie of the environmental left is not just irresponsible, it’s immoral. You can’t be against “Big Oil” and “Big Coal” and in favor of “World Peace”.

Oh, and one more thing: while this author benefits greatly from fossil fuels, he does not work or benefit directly from the fossil fuels industry, although his retirement savings and pension fund assets in all likelihood depend upon the success of an incentivized and profitable energy sector to fund his retirement, social security, medical care and all other government and private industry benefits. In that, he’s probably just like you.

Osama: dead or alive? *UPDATED*

The narrative about a maddened Osama racing out firing an AK47 is starting to unravel.  The truth, one that the Obama White House didn’t want the base to hear, is that the Navy SEALS had orders:  kill Osama.

The question is why kill him?  Why not capture him and get information out of him?  Why not subject him to a war crimes tribunal?  The answer is sad and simple:  Osama had to die because Obama and his base, working together, have made both interrogation and a war crimes tribunal impossible.

As matters now stand, both Obama and Osama know that there’s no way the government can force information from Osama.  By pandering to the anti-Gitmo base, Obama made that tactic impossible.  When it comes to data-mining, Osama is useless.

It’s no better when one thinks about a war crimes trial.  Obama also managed to tie his hands on that one.  The whole Khalid Shaikh Mohammed fiasco means that the Obama administration cannot try Osama in a military tribunal, but he also cannot try him in a civilian tribunal. The first, which would be appropriate, is impossible because Obama’s base won’t tolerate it; the second, which would be a disaster, is thankfully impossible because America won’t tolerate it (nor will our national security needs).

Having created both his own rocks and hard places, the only thing left for Obama to do was to kill Osama.  Otherwise, he’d be faced with the problem of Osama living his life out on the government dole, both unexamined and untried.

As you sow, so shall you reap.

UPDATE:  The whole narrative makes even more sense if one accepts that Panetta gave the kill order.  Despite Obama’s after-the-fact self-aggrandizing speech, it never was clear that he had the obligatory set of you-know-whats to make that call.  Instead, he waffled and agonized — so much so, that he could have lost the window of opportunity.  Of course, as Ace points out, Obama showed his chops by watching events unfold on TV.  You da man, Mr. President.  You da man.

Yesterday, when I thought Obama had actually had the spine to issue the order, I asked DQ if he thought watching his order play out in real time had stiffened him, by making him realize what our forces are up against, or reinforced his inner wussy pacifist.  Knowing now that Obama — the Commander in Chief — couldn’t even make himself issue the command he later boasted about, I think I have the answer to my question.

There are some things you simply don’t farm out — and national security is one of those things

I am cheap.  Very cheap.  That means that I’m a bargain hunter.  I like used books and cheap clothes.  I prefer to buy American but, if my pocketbook tells me that America isn’t a good deal, I’ll usually follow my pocketbook.  Usually, but not always.  If buying something from another country would put me in danger, I don’t do it.  That’s why I don’t buy canned goods or, indeed, anything that goes in my mouth, from China.  The t-shirts may be shoddy, fading and ripping quickly, but they won’t poison me.  The food just might.  (I’d like to avoid Chinese honey, too, which is chock full of antibiotics, fungicides, and industrial pollutants, but the fact is that most of the major manufacturers that use honey as an ingredient buy cheap Chinese honey.)

Not only will I avoid products that will harm me, I’m also unlikely to pay someone for service if I know that the person’s agenda is hostile to mine.  You don’t have the local thief install your burglar alarm.  I don’t even need active hostility to back off.  I also won’t buy service from someone who doesn’t have a vested interest in doing a good job for me.

None of the above is rocket science.  It’s good old-fashioned common sense — which, of course, is the one thing government lacks.  This current administration, especially, seems to go out of its way to abandon common sense.

I mention all this now because of a news story that the MSM is ignoring, but that should matter to everyone concerned both with American national security and with the American economy.  Here’s the deal:

There may be additional heartening employment news in the same sector [Boeing got an air tanker deal], following a request by the U.S. Air Force to identify suppliers for a new kind of airplane that can perform the light attack and armed reconnaissance (LAAR) missions that are being requested by our military leaders.

The new aircraft’s purpose is to allow our U.S. pilots to more effectively execute the tactics, maneuvers and procedures that are needed for the type of counter insurgency warfare that we are currently seeing in Afghanistan and other conflict zones around the globe. In turn, these American pilots will train their partners and developing nation counterparts to fly these same planes and defend themselves, with a goal of reducing the need for U.S. military presence in the region.

Two companies are vying for the Air Force contract — Hawker Beechcraft, a Kansas-based company, and Embraer, a Brazilian owned and operated company.

The Red State article to which I linked explains that Hawker Beechcraft has a good history and a good product.  I’m sure that’s true.  I’ll even stipulate that Embraer also has a good history and a good product.  My question, though, is why in the world our government, which has never before been constrained by bargain shopping and common  sense, is willingly giving another country the blueprints for and access to one of our military products?

Here’s a perfect anecdote to illustrate my concerns:  Think back to 1976 and the Entebbe rescue mission.  The Israeli military’s raid on Entebbe to rescue hostages is one of the great stories of derring-do, intelligent planning, heroism, and creative thinking.  But it was also made possible by one significant fact:  More than a decade before the hostage-taking, an Israeli company had built the airport.  This meant that Israel had the plans.  As it happened, back in 1976, the fact that a non-Ugandan company had this type of information was the best thing that could have happened, helping the good guys win, and soundly defeating and humiliating the bad guys.

In this case, though, we’re the good guys.  I’d classify the Brazilians as the neutral guys for now, although their decision to follow in our footsteps and elect an anti-capitalist president is worrying.  While I believe and hope that Americans can and will shake off the Obama’s pernicious socialism, it’s not so clear that Brazil will.  If Venezuela is any guide, once socialism is firmly ensconced in a Latin American government, that government is no friend of ours.  Even without that specific scenario, though, the fact is taht one never knows what will happen in another country.  Right now, we’re witnessing events in the Middle East that caught the West entirely flatfooted.  Today’s friend is tomorrow’s enemy.

The whole friend/enemy thing is tolerable if you’re talking about buying t-shirts and canned foods or tables and cars from your frenemy, but it comes much more fraught when you’re talking about national security.  The optimal situation is one in which no country, Brazil included, knows too much about a “new kind of airplane that can perform the light attack and armed reconnaissance missions that” are part of modern American military tactics. Ten years from now, when the world has shifted, we may find ourselves bitterly regretting placing that information in another’s hands.

In addition to the security angle, there’ s also a matter of steering tax dollars, especially during a big recession.  It’s one thing for the marketplace to make decisions about where the money flows.  If I want to send my money to China, well, that’s my choice.  If enough people do that, than China gets rich or American companies figure out how to compete.  The government, though, is not the marketplace.  We’re not talking millions of customers making market-responsive decisions.  Instead, we’re talking about a huge, unwieldy, unresponsive bureaucracy taking millions and millions of dollars that taxpayers are forced to hand over to the government, and then sending it far, far away from the taxpayers.  This makes sense if the American market cannot supply the product — but we know that, in this case, the American market, made up of American taxpayers, is perfectly capable of providing the product.  There is therefore, no economic reason to ship our security over seas.

My congress people are Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein and Lynn Woolsey.  In other words, contacting them is about as useful as using tweezers to move mountains.  If you’re in a district that boasts slightly responsive congress people, though, let them know your concerns about this deal.  Sending military airplane manufacturing out of the country is bad for national security and bad for the economy.

Out of sight, out of mind

Zombie believes that the Berkeley City Council, with its unerring instinct for getting to the heart of the matter, and then going in the wrong direction, is on to something with its decision to laud Bradley Manning as a great American hero.  After all, while Assange gets the fame, it was Manning who got the documents.  This means that it was Manning who engaged in acts of espionage and committed treason against his own country.

The problem for the media, though, is that Manning is invisible.  Assange is a showman.  He may not be the most ept showman, but he’s still out there shilling like crazy, while Manning is in prison.  In our visually oriented, headline driven society, that makes Manning irrelevant, despite the fact that he is the “but for” cause of the whole document leak kerfuffle.

Wikileaks

I have been, I suppose, almost remarkably silent about the whole wikileaks fiasco.  The data drop is of such enormous proportions, it’s actually difficult for me to process all the implications.  I have, however, got a laundry list in mind of some conclusions to be drawn and some of the things it means, which I’ll just drop here in no particular order.

1.  This is truly Pandora’s box.  Once opened, it cannot be closed again.  This does not mean, however, that the U.S. government should do what it is doing regarding Assange — namely, nothing.  If he is allowed to get away with this, the U.S. will have given carte blanche to other, similarly situated anti-U.S. anarchists.  The purpose of punishment, after all, isn’t simply to make the wrong-doer suffer; it’s also to serve as a grim deterrent for others contemplating the same type of action.  Dragging Assange back to Sweden to face pseudo-rape charges (pseudo because of Sweden’s bizarre rape laws) scarcely suits anyone’s notion of the punishment fitting the crime.

2.  To switch metaphors, I’ll abandon Pandora, and move to Rorschach.  If nothing else, the way different people have latched onto the documents is a fascinating insight into their political, social and economic desires.  To conservatives, the documents vindicate long-held beliefs about Iran; about the fear it inspires in the Arab world; about the Obama administration’s ineptitude; about Hillary’s bungling and deviousness; about Israel’s intelligent navigation of impossibly difficult situations; etc.  To liberals, it proves that the U.S. is evil and addicted to oil.  (That last is from Tom Friedman, who’s been repeating the same trope for more than a decade, even as he cheers on cutting off any avenues to oil independence, such as domestic drilling or nuclear power.)  To the Arab world, it is, of course, all the Joooos’ fault, as is everything.  Gosh, if only the Jews had more fun and got better press from their omnipotence.

3.  The leaks are undoubtedly evil.  People who have helped America are now at risk.  People who might have helped America (thereby saving American and allied lives) will refuse to do so.  America’s vulnerabilities around the world now have big targets drawn on them.  We can assume that the next round of leaks will be even more damaging.  Assange has been consistently upping the ante, and rumor has it that the next leaks will involve Gitmo and other topics near and dear to America-haters’ hearts.

4.  All of the above means that this is a game-changer.  Much as it is tempting to assume that governments and people around the world, out of long-term self-defense, will adopt an ostrich strategy and try to pretend none of this happened (much as one would ignore a loud burp at a fancy dinner party), the implications are too extreme.  Assange has proven that there is no information that can truly be protected (and that’s a comforting thought in an ObamaCare age, isn’t it?).  The “bodyguard of lies” that surrounds our nation’s — indeed, all nations’ — national security has been massacred.  It no longer exists.  We now live in a binary world that sees either no secrets or only secrets, both of which are equally dangerous to freedom and security.

Wikileaks — obvious, yet still dangerous, stuff spread by wicked people and useful idiots *UPDATED*

I haven’t had time (nor do I have the will) to pay close attention to the myriad revelations in the Wikileaks documents.  My overall sense, though, is that, fact-wise, there is nothing new here — or, at least, nothing new to those of us paying attention.  All of us at Bookworm Room have known that Saudi Arabia is terrified of a nuclear Iran, and I’ve posited for years that this fear would drive the non-nuclearized Arab nations closer to Israel.  For all their huffery and puffery, the Arabs have always known that Israel will not use the bomb unless provoked, whereas they fully understand that a nuclear Iran is a truly armed and dangerous rogue nation.

Speaking of rogue nations, we have also known that China has happily provided nuclear technology to any bad actor willing to pay for it.  Nothing new here.  Move along.  Don’t crowd the sidewalk.

The fact that the Wikileaks material is factually uninteresting, though, doesn’t change its spectacular capacity for being damaging.  Max Boot, I think, puts it as well as anyone can, in a post telling titled “Journalism that knows no shame“:

One can understand if the editors of the New York Times, Guardian, and Der Spiegel have no respect for the secrecy needed to wage war successfully — especially unpopular wars like those in Afghanistan and Iraq. These are, after all, the sorts of people who, over a few drinks, would no doubt tell you that diplomacy is far preferable to war-making. But it seems that they have no respect for the secrecy that must accompany successful diplomacy either. That, at least, is the only conclusion I can draw from their decision to once again collaborate with an accused rapist to publicize a giant batch of stolen State Department cables gathered by his disreputable organization, WikiLeaks.

I risk sounding like a stuffy, striped-pants diplomat myself if I say that the conduct of all concerned is reprehensible and beneath contempt. But that’s what it is, especially because the news value of the leaks is once again negligible. As with the previous releases of military reports, the WikiLeaks files only fill in details about what has generally already been known. Those details have the potential to cause acute embarrassment — or even end the lives of — those who have communicated with American soldiers or officials, but they do little to help the general public to understand what’s going on.

I urge you to read the whole thing.

In a way, these leaks give new meaning to Hannah Arendt’s famous phrase, “the banality of evil.”  She was talking about the horrible ordinariness of the Nazis, who clung to their middle class lives even as they engaged in unparalleled atrocities.  These leaks are a different banal evil:  even though the information released is known (Saudi fear of Iran) or stupid (e.g., Qaddafi’s blond nurse), making it mostly banal, the profound damage that results from these leaks (the deaths, the national humiliations, the destruction of necessary diplomatic ignorance) is profoundly evil.

I join with others in wondering why Assange is still alive.  I’m willing to bet, though, that now that it’s not just the Americans being humiliated, Assange’s days are numbered.

By the way, if you want more information about the leak’s contents and the security implications (worldwide) arising from the leaks, as well as links to good articles on the subject, you can’t do better than Melissa Clouthier’s post.

UPDATE:  A reminder that the newspapers aren’t utterly without morals or decency.  While they don’t want to exercise it when national security is at issue, they were happy to exercise it when climate change fraud was under legitimate attack.

UPDATE II:  Two excellent articles from Barry Rubin about Wikileaks.  As always, his optimism — allied with actual facts and sound analysis — is a useful antidote to the gloom and doom that characterizes most other writing on just about any subject.  Check out Spengler too.

UPDATE II:  Another “check it out” is Omri Ceren’s post on Israel and Iran as seen through the Wikileaks — and just how wrong the Obama administration was.  (As if that’s a big surprise.)

Are we overreacting to junk-touching?

Ace asks a question that needs to be asked, which is whether conservatives are overreacting to the TSA’s new search techniques (naked scans and intimate searches):

This has been bothering me. On one hand I’m inclined to just not like invasive pat-downs and naked body scans.

On the other hand, I can’t help but think we (especially as conservatives) are supposed to be security-conscious.

This sort of dispute is always implicit in this sort of issue — the civil libertarian side (supported by some conservatives and many left-wingers) and the security-conscious side (mostly conservatives take this side).

Although there may be some abuses, is it really the best policy to object to methods of bomb-detection which are nearly foolproof? I don’t think the body-imaging x-rays can fail to miss an object secreted on someone’s body, and even a barely-trained TSA agent can recognize a hidden object when he feels it.

Read the rest of Ace’s thoughts here, including his strong vote for including Israeli style security in the American armory.

I’m with Ace, in that I think it’s important that conservatives put their money where their mouth is when it comes to security.  I’m just dubious about whether turning the TSA’s job description into one that will attract every pervert and pedophile in America is the way to go.  Here are two major practical problems I see with the new screening:

1.  Human ingenuity will override the scans and pat-downs.  If terrorists run out of external places to hide explosives, they’ll use internal places.  We already know from prison stories about the wonderful hiding place anal and vaginal cavities, not to mention tummies, are to people determined to run something past security.  We can also count on all sorts of surgical implants.  Even a solid scar grope won’t reveal whether there’s something dangerous lurking behind that scar.  Further, considering the number of women with breast implants (and, or so I’ve heard, the increasing number of men with testicular, penile, or buttock implants), there’s no way to tell if the implant is saline or inert plastic or rubber, or if it’s something that goes boom.  This means that the humiliation and inconvenience of scans and pats aren’t necessarily going to stop anything.

2.  And then there’s the girl thing….  From puberty to menopause, once a month, women are dependent on pads and tampons.  The tampons, of course, fall into category 1, above, which is they’re internal, invisible, and potentially more lethal than just an absorbent piece of cotton.  The pads, which are external, carry with them the potential for huge embarrassment and endless inconvenience.  First, I doubt many women want every airport security person in the world to know that it’s “that time of the month.”  Second, short of escorting the woman to a restroom and having her prove that she really is having her period, how in the world can the TSA know whether the pad is legitimate or whether another panty-bomber in the making is standing there?  The same holds true for men (and women) with incontinence problems who are dependent on pads.  Once again, being humiliated isn’t going to make a difference for air safety.

The problem is that the public and the current security apparatus are stuck in a 1970s mentality, which assumes that the terrorist plans on walking away from the plane.  A terrorist who wants weapons that he can use against others, but not against himself, is going to be somewhat limited.  That’s why metal detectors, although a pain in the whatsit, were a reasonable and pretty effective response to the hijackings of the 1970s.  The new breed of terrorist, however, has no plans to survive.  If he has to turn his living tissue in a giant bomb, that’s fine with him.  (Showing that art often predicts nature, one of the classic Merrie Melodies cartoons has Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck competing in a theatrical competition for audience approval.  Daffy, in a desperate bid to win, swallows a huge variety of explosive liquids, followed by a single match.  As his ghost ascends to heaven, he regrets that his wonderful act is limited to only one performance.)

I have a friend who travels a great deal and is okay with the new security measures, because she is assuming that, despite their being so invasive, they’ll make a positive difference in air safety.   My problem is that I think they’re personally violative and they won’t make a difference.  That is, if I was reasonably convinced of their efficacy, I too might be willing to tolerate the new regs, because I find it unnerving enough to shoot through the sky in a tin can without having to worry further about the tin can taking a man-made dive.  But these searches are band aid measures.  Their very visibility makes certain that the bad guys will simply circumvent them, meaning that we’re all stripped of our sense of privacy, while the bad guys move forward into the future with exciting new ideas for death and destruction.

Real airport security — by Spartacus *UPDATED*

Sometimes, a reader leaves a comment that is too good not to elevate to post status.  This time, it was Spartacus, writing in response to my question about real ways (not stupid, embarrassing, intrusive ways) to improve airport security:

***

A childhood friend of mine got married in the Tel Aviv area in 2002. By happy coincidence, the wedding date fell squarely in the middle of my one-and-only European vacation so far, so catching one more flight over to the other end of the Med was a no-brainer. Pricewise, it made the most sense to Chunnel over to Paris and round-trip from there, where there were two options: Air France or El Al. About the same price, so toward which was I more favorably disposed, ideologically speaking? Duh. El Al it was.

Got to the airport in Paris way early, like you’re supposed to for international flights, and went to check in. The ticket agent said something about going over somewhere to answer some questions or something. Questions? OK, sure, whatever. A trim, young, friendly, and utterly charming security gal appeared from out of nowhere, led me in my confusion over to a little kiosk, and began to ask me questions. All kinds of questions, and all very enjoyably and conversationally asked. Where was I from? What did I do for a living? Why was I travelling to Israel? What did I plan to see while there? Where had I been on my vacation so far? How did I get from Point A to Point B? And from B to C? What did I see while in B? What was most enjoyable about C? Is the food good there? Oh, and how did I get from A to B again? And if I wanted to get from B to D, why did I go through C on Mode X and then switch to Mode Y when it would have been faster and cheaper just to go direct by Mode Z? (“Dang,” I thought, “I spent two months planning this vacation, and she’s right! Why didn’t I think of that?”). Oh, and how is the food in C again? Classic interrogation techniques, not unlikely learned in the IDF, and flawlessly performed by a very quick-witted security professional.

In retrospect, it all made sense. My profile: young, single, male, non-Jewish, non-Israeli, no previous flights on El Al, and travelling alone. So, yeah, they naturally wanted to talk to me. The Q&A actually lasted about 80 minutes — a fact I completely missed until looking at my watch later. Between the friendly conversational tone, the fast pace, and her crystal-blue eyes… [sigh]… it seemed like about five minutes. When we were done, she escorted me back to a security room where I could see the last stages of the examination of my backpack: 35mm film rolls were being taken out of the plastic cannisters, X-rayed, and carefully put back in; my neatly folded and rolled underwear was being neatly re-rolled exactly as it had been; and so on. No cubic centimeter of my pack had been left unexamined. But the examination of the pack was unnecessary, since by the time I got on that flight, El Al knew everything that was in my mind and in my heart.

Security-wise, the flight to Tel Aviv was uneventful until we were almost there. You know how they now ban people from lining up outside the restroom in the front? Well, I was almost all the way in the back, in between the two aisles, and a bunch of guys started gathering all around. Real Orthodox-looking types. Since we were almost there, I was beginning to wonder if they couldn’t just hold it until we landed. I was startled nearly out of my seat when they all suddenly burst out in some Hebrew song. So they weren’t really waiting for the restroom after all! I still don’t know what they were singing, but I think it was something like, “Paise be to the G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Israel! We will soon aquire the localizer signal to ILS Runway 27 and begin our pre-landing checklist!” (But coming from the guy who thought they were all going to the restroom, you might want to take that with a grain of salt.) It was interesting and different, which is cool.

My friend successfully got married, and about a week later, I was back at the airport. Just for good measure, they had me spend another very enjoyable 80 minutes of Q&A with another very attractive security gal. After being released to the departure gate, I looked out the big plate-glass window. Airplanes shifted busily around the tarmac as the pinkish glow of the coming dawn enveloped the entire scene. “Beautiful,” I thought, as I pulled out my camera. About 3.6 seconds later, another very attractive security gal quietly appeared from out of nowhere (yes, this was becoming a recurrent theme) and gently informed me that no pictures were allowed in the terminal. “Oh, sorry, I didn’t know.” But it made sense. And it showed once again that they didn’t miss a thing.

Back at Heathrow a few days later, I went up to the United counter to check in for my flight back to the States. The ticket agent, who fit all of the negative stereotypes of a DMV worker, followed the United Airlines security screening procedure — she pulled out a small card, from which she read two questions: “Are you a terr… terr… terr… Oh, whatever… Do you have any bombs with you today?” Not especially looking up to register my responses to these questions, she gave me my ticket. And the security procedure which had bothered me not in the least on my way over to England now, in comparison, made me fear for my life.

I would fly El Al again almost anytime, anywhere… maybe even Point A to Point A, just for the heck of it.

UPDATE:  This is a good companion piece to Spartacus’ El Al post.

Why airline security will always be merely offensive, and never useful

In a previous post today, in which I asked how to make airline security actually work, the clear winner was profiling, a la the Israeli system (along with some other solid suggestions, such as privatization).  But as long as the feds control airline security, that’s not going to happen.  Witness what’s going on in LA, which must have more gang activity than the next ten biggest American cities combined:

The federal government has warned the Los Angeles Police Department to do more to combat racial profiling by officers, saying the LAPD’s investigations into the practice are inadequate.

In a letter to city and police officials, the U.S. Department of Justice cites a recording of two officers being dismissive of racial profiling complaints, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday.

When told that other officers had been accused of stopping a motorist because of his race, one officer responds, “So, what?” The second officer is heard twice saying that he “couldn’t do (his) job without racially profiling.”

The officers didn’t know they were being recorded.

Read the rest here.

Yes, racial profiling can be terribly abused.  Yes, racial profiling can be perceived by some in power positions as a green light for acting out their worst instincts.

But yes, racial profiling is an accurate, if somewhat rough indicator of certain affiliations:  You won’t find many white young men in black or Mexican gangs.  You won’t find many Jews in neo-Nazi biker groups.  You won’t find many little old ladies from the Midwest packing airplane bombs.

Yes, there are white men who long for the “people of color” gang lifestyle.  And yes, there are self-loathing Jews who would probably be happy hanging with the neo-Nazis.  And yes, there are LOLs from the Midwest who have been coopted by Islam — but it’s not likely.

Sherlock Holmes may have said that, “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth,” but first you have to eliminate the impossible and examine the probabilities of the improbable. Ignoring common sense and relying on randomness is not a way to fight crime, whether on the streets of LA or the airspace over America.

How should we improve airport security? *UPDATED*

Over at RedState, there is a post that succinctly sums up the three choices currently facing people who plan to travel to a faraway destination:

Door #1: Have nude pictures of yourself beamed to some video monitor to be viewed by a total stranger where it may or may not be stored; or,

Door #2: Allow yourself to be groped, poked, patted down, felt up, frisked, and squeezed at the hands of some police academy reject in a Smurf-blue uniform; or…

Door #3: Don’t travel.

Of course, those choices don’t arise in a vacuum.  They exist in a travel world that no one imagined prior to the 1970s, when hijackings started, and before the 21st century, when planes started being turned into bombs:  How do we protect travelers?

In the hijacking days, metal detectors made sense, as a fairly unobtrusive way to guard against guns and knives, although that approach failed miserably on 9/11.  But with the creative types at Al Qaeda using liquid explosives, putty explosives, underwear explosives, shoe explosives, etc., traditional machinery doesn’t work.  And as noted above, non-traditional approaches — nude photos and groping — are untenable to the American public.

Which leaves a question:  How do we improve airport security?  I’d love to get your answers on this one.  I hate to fly, and would prefer that my flight didn’t end with my plane exploding.  But I’m also someone who has a large zone of physical privacy, a zone that extends to my family, and I therefore find utterly repugnant the thought of nude photos and public gropes.  So what’s left in a day and age when the terrorists have gotten creative?

I’ll start the conversation with profiling, which the Israelis have used successfully for decades.  This is deep profiling.  They’re not just looking for the guy in Muslim dress.  They’re looking for profound clues about people’s background and behaviors.  I don’t know if we can get that up and running anytime soon and, given the size of our air traffic compared to the Israeli’s air traffic, I don’t know if we can spread this kind of knowledge and insight around.

Now it’s your turn….

UPDATE:  This is an appropriate companion piece to my question above airport security.

UPDATE II:  And another suggestion for non-radioactive, non-groping airport security.

Deconstructing Janet Napolitano’s fatuous statements *UPDATED*

By now, you’ve all heard that Janet Napolitano, the head of Obama’s Department of Homeland Security, is going around saying that the system worked perfectly when a guy on the US no-fly list, who had been turned in by his own father, boarded a plane and detonated a bomb, only to be foiled by a bad detonator and alert passengers.  I leave it to Jonah Goldberg to write the perfect obituary for the administration’s attempt to aggrandize itself on this one:

Understandably, the White House is trying very hard to get out in front of the would-be Christmas bomber story. The head of the Department of Homeland Security isn’t helping. I watched her on three shows and each time she was more annoying, maddening and absurd than the pevious appearance. It is her basic position that the “system worked” because the bureaucrats responded properly after the attack. That the attack was “foiled” by a bad detonator and some civilian passengers is proof, she claims, that her agency is doing everything right. That is just about the dumbest thing she could say, on the merits and politically. I would wager that not one percent of Americans think the system is “working” when terrorists successfully get bombs onto planes (and succeed in activating them). Probably even fewer think it’s fair that they have to take off their shoes, endure delays and madness while a known Islamic radical — turned in by his own father — can waltz onto a plane (and into the country). DHS had no role whatsoever in assuring that this bomb didn’t go off. By her logic if the bomb had gone off, the system would have “worked” since it has done everything right.

UPDATE: Wait! Wait! This just in: The system does in fact work. Known black Muslim security threats may be getting a pass, but our security forces are still targeting the real threat:  they’re going after rich blond women, just the way they should.

Join Keep America Safe

William Kristol, Liz Cheney (Dick Cheney’s daughter), Debra Burlingame, Charles F. “Chic” Burlingame III’s sister (his plane was hijacked into the Pentagon on 9/11) have started Keep America Safe, an organization specifically aimed at tracking national security issues.  The mission statement is simple, and should resonate with every American who believes in American exceptionalism, recognizes that we are engaged in a war to the death with the forces of radical Islam, and fears greatly a future in which Obama bows to dictators, betrays democratic allies, and passively accepts nuclear proliferation:

The mission of Keep America Safe is to provide information for concerned Americans about critical national security issues. Keep America Safe seeks to influence public policy by encouraging dialogue between American citizens and their elected representatives in order to produce legislation and executive action that enhances the national security of the United States.

The United States remains a nation at war. We face a growing threat from rogue regimes that seek or have already obtained nuclear weapons. America’s interests are challenged by an authoritarian China, a resurgent Russia, and dictators in our own hemisphere who ally themselves with our adversaries. Amidst the great challenges to America’s security and prosperity, the current administration too often seems uncertain, wishful, irresolute, and unwilling to stand up for America, our allies and our interests.

Since 9/11, the United States Government, through our armed forces and our intelligence and law enforcement professionals, has succeeded in preventing any further attacks on the American homeland. This is a major achievement. By turning away from the policies that have kept us safe, by treating terrorism as a law enforcement matter, giving foreign terrorists the same rights as American citizens, launching investigations of CIA agents, cutting defense spending, breaking faith with our allies and attempting to appease our adversaries, the current administration is weakening the nation, and making it more difficult for us to defend our security and our interests.

Keep America Safe believes the United States can only defeat our adversaries and defend our interests from a position of strengh. We know that America has, for 233 years, been an unparalleled force for good in the world, that our fighting forces are the best the world has ever known, and that the world is a safer place when America is trusted by our allies and feared and respected by our enemies. Keep America Safe will make the case for an unapologetic approach to fighting terrorism around the world, for victory in the wars this country fights, for democracy and human rights, and for a strong American military that is needed in the dangerous world in which we live.

Joining is easy.  Simply go to the home page and, in the upper right hand corner, fill in your email address and your zip code.  Press a button and, voila!, you’ve become a part of an important new voice in American politics.