Homeland Security

George Carlin On Airport Security

It’s Carlin so it’s a little NSFW, but funny and spot-on:

TSA is out of control

TSA groping

You want to know why so many people are bothered by these invasive “pat downs” being conducted by the Transportation Security Administration. It’s because they are treating us, including children, like criminals. Check out this video from November 19th at Salt Lake City International Airport:

Just this past week a couple of cancer survivors were forced to go through humiliating security process. A North Carolina woman was forced to remove her prosthetic breast and show it to a TSA officer in order to pass through the security check point:

The TSA screener “put her full hand on my breast and said, ‘What is this?’ ” Bossi told the station. “And I said, ‘It’s my prosthesis because I’ve had breast cancer.’ And she said, ‘Well, you’ll need to show me that.’ “

Bossi said she removed the prosthetic from her bra. She did not take the name of the agent, she said, “because it was just so horrific of an experience, I couldn’t believe someone had done that to me. I’m a flight attendant. I was just trying to get to work.”

It’s time for TSA to go away

The outrage directed that the Transportation Security Administration over its use of full-body scanners and “pat downs,” which can be more accurately described as sexual harassment, has been palpable. People are angry, they feel like they are being assaulted and harassed. It doesn’t stop at passengers. And at this point, you have to ask if the actions taken by the TSA, which amounts to invasive security theater, is terrorism itself.

Over at Forbes, Art Carden explains that it’s time for the Transportation Security Administration to be abolished:

For fiscal conservatives, it’s hard to come up with a more wasteful agency than the TSA.  For privacy advocates, eliminating an organization that requires you to choose between a nude body scan or genital groping in order to board a plane should be a no-brainer.

But won’t that compromise safety?  I doubt it.  The airlines have enormous sums of money riding on passenger safety, and the notion that a government bureaucracy has better incentives to provide safe travels than airlines with billions of dollars worth of capital and goodwill on the line strains credibility.  This might be beside the point: in 2003, William Anderson incisively argued that some of the steps that airlines (and passengers) would have needed to take to prevent the 9/11 disaster probably would have been illegal.

Voters trust GOP more than Democrats on 10 major issues

Rasmussen released a poll at the end of last week showing where both political parties stand with voters on 10 issues. The survey shows Republicans leading with voters on all 10, including issues that have been traditionally owned by Democrats such as Education, Healthcare and Social Security.

Not only do voters trust the GOP on each of the 10 issues below, the crosstabs show that  independent voters, which are the key to the mid-term election, swing overwhelmingly to the GOP on each issue as well.

None of this is good news if you’re a Democrat in a swing district.

Issue Democrats Republicans
Education 40% 41%
Healthcare 40% 48%
Iraq 40% 43%
Economy 39% 47%
Social Security 38% 44%
Ethics 38% 40%
National Security 37% 49%
Afghanistan 36% 43%
Taxes 36% 52%
Immigration 35% 44%

Dan Carlin on Marijuana, China and Iraq

It’s been a long time since I last interviewed Dan Carlin, host of the Hardcore History and Common Sense podcasts. That doesn’t mean that he’s stopped being interesting, however. In this installment, I asked his unique, historically based perspective on China, Iraq, the United States military and marijuana.


In your Hardcore History podcast Death Throes of the Republic, you say that there were “perverse incentives” in place that kept Rome in a state of warfare. Having worked in Washington D.C., I have to wonder if the same is true of here. What do you say?

I think that’s going to be a pretty accurate statement in any society where warmaking becomes a regular feature of the system. Once you develop a major societal infrastructure to support such a military establishment, you begin to build up a vast array of interests (both in supplying and providing for such an entity, but also for ways to employ it that would benefit someone). These interests have a way of bending and warping the nation-state’s priorities and interests.  I think that is something that is one of the lessons the writers of Classical Antiquity try to pass on to us.  The people who founded the United States read those authors and understood those lessons, and tried to heed the warnings of the Greek and Roman writers and keep those “perverse incentives”  under control by limiting the growth of a large standing army and by counseling an avoidance of things like “  entangling alliances”   that could drag you into someone else’s wars.

The Government’s War on Dogs

A very disturbing trend is occurring in the prosecution of the federal’s government’s “War on Drugs:” an additional war on the country’s canine companions. It started in Maryland in 2008 with the case of a small town mayor:

BERWYN HEIGHTS, Md. (AP) - Mayor Cheye Calvo got home from work, saw a package addressed to his wife on the front porch and brought it inside, putting it on a table.

Suddenly, police with guns drawn kicked in the door and stormed in, shooting to death the couple’s two dogs and seizing the unopened package.

The package had 32 pounds of marijuana, quite a bit of the illegal substance, but certainly not of more worth than the life of a pet.

The trend continued recently with the released video of a raid in Missouri in May, in which dogs can be heard howling as they are shot by a SWAT team:

See Video

(Click on the video to watch)

The next story comes with a raid on an elderly woman in D.C., resulting in the killing of her dog:

START ratification not happening in 2010

Ratification of the START treaty, which will require the United States and Russia to reduce the number of nuclear weapons, may not happen this year:

Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), the third-ranking GOP member of the Senate, said that it would take longer than the end of the year to get together the 67 votes necessary to ratify the nuclear arms treaty President Barack Obama signed last week with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

“No, not this year. That’s my view,” Alexander said during an appearance on Fox News when asked if the Senate would ratify the treaty this year.

“We have a lot of questions,” he said. “We need to get the right answers and then it might get 67 votes.”
Alexander’s admonition on a timeline appears to be more than partisan bluster, too. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) has suggested the votes aren’t there to ratify the treaty for now, and that assurances to modify the U.S. nuclear stockpile may be needed to win Senate support.

The top GOP senator said that a busy calendar in the Senate, including a Supreme Court nomination, combined with colleagues’ many questions would likely push things until next year.

“There are a lot of questions we need to ask. It took 431 days to ratify the treaty in 1991,” he said. “It’ll probably take about the same amount of time to do this one.”

The retirement of Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens killed any chance of the treaty being ratified this year, as noted in the article. This doesn’t help President Barack Obama and Democrats, who are desperately seeking something besides the unpopular health care bill to run on in November.

TSA readies body scanners

Security theater paid for by stimulus dollars:

The Transportation Security Administration is spreading airport body-scanner technology across the country.

A TSA official said Friday that units will be fielded next week in Chicago, and in the coming months at Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; San Jose, Calif.; Columbus, Ohio; San Diego; Charlotte, N.C.; Cincinnati; Los Angeles; Oakland, Calif.; and Kansas City.

They are among 150 machines bought with money from the federal stimulus package signed into law by President Obama last year.

Three of the new machines are going online at Boston’s Logan International Airport on Monday.

Deployment of the machines was announced in the fall, before a Nigerian allegedly tried to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day with explosives concealed in his underwear.

But that event highlighted the need for additional security in the U.S. aviation system.

Not only is the stimulus bill bad for taxpayers, it’s aiding the TSA in eroding your civil liberties as well.

When did giving a damn about your country become “extremist”?

Oh noes, people care about the direction of their country! They must be racists if they disagree with President Barack Obama. Well, that’s not how I feel. But the folks at the Southern Poverty Law Center are in a panic over a rises in “extremist” groups:

The number of hate groups in America has been going up for years, rising 54% between 2000 and 2008 and driven largely by an angry backlash against non-white immigration and, starting in the last year of that period, the economic meltdown and the climb to power of an African American president.

According to the latest annual count by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), these groups rose again slightly in 2009 — from 926 in 2008 to 932 last year

Much like the MIAC report and the Department of Homeland Security’s report on “right-wing extremism,” the SPLC is blowing anger at the policies of the federal and some states governments completely out of proportion.

My friend Robert Stacy McCain points out the peculiarity of some of the groups that the SPLC singled-out, such as the We the People Foundation:

After finding the Web site of the Alabama chapter of ”We the People,” I phoned Huntsville resident Lesha Martin, one of the members listed on the site. Is “We the People” some kind of violent militia-type outfit?

“Good heavens, no,” said Ms. Martin, an admirer of Ron Paul who described herself as devoted to individual freedom and “resurrecting the Constitution.”

Who Hijacked American Foreign Policy?

Way back in July of 2003 Ron Paul wrote an article entitled “We’ve Been Neo-Conned” in which he laid out facts showing that the “Neo-Con” philosophy had taken over the foreign policy of the USA (For a quick primer on the Neo-Conservative movement please click the link above). As I was reading this article one question kept repeating in my head:

“How did it come to this?

The only place to start I believe is with the American person (notice I didn’t use the plural “people”). I will use myself as an example since I believe my story is common to many modern-day libertarians and members of the Liberty movement.

In short, I was raised a Reagan Republican, became a Neo-Con after 9/11, converted to a Goldwater conservative after the invasion of Iraq and became a full-fledged libertarian after finding the writings of Murray Rothbard(OK, maybe every libertarian didn’t become one because of Murray but I think many have a similar story).

But here is what I believe is key in my story and the reason why there aren’t more capital “L” Libertarians: I didn’t get their foreign policy. Like many I actually referred to myself as libertarian on social and monetary issues, but not when it came to our “enemies”. I hear the same from freedom loving people over and over again, especially in the wake of 9/11.

The reason the Neo-Cons were able to seize power is FEAR. I am not putting anybody down because of it. I can certainly relate, but we still have to figure out why the American person is allowing our government todrop bombs and declare war on anybody they want to while we cheer them on. When does fear translate to lunacy?


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