Ah those Minnesota Democrats. When you thought they were manipulative, here come the judges. Back in May, the Wall Street Journal called Minnesota’s Governor Tim Pawlenty “deft and amusing” when he showed his state legislature who’s boss by exercising the power of “unallotment,” at the end of the legislative session.
Well it’s baaack.
I raved about the decision here but in sum: Local Dems sent Pawlenty a load of spending bills at the 11th hour to force Pawlenty into a special session and negotiate. He didn’t and instead called up this unallotment phrase from dusty legal documents of old. Essentially it said the governor is allowed to take away any state spending for which there is no money to pay. This brilliant move on Pawlenty’s part enabled him to balance the budget and actually reduce the size of the state’s government.
Fast forward to December. Last Wednesday, according to the Star Tribune, Ramsey County District Court Judge Kathleen Gearin “ruled on a lawsuit by recipients of a low-income nutrition program, whose funding Pawlenty cut using a power called unallotment.” Apparently she “ordered $5.3 million in funding for the program reinstated pending a hearing in March.”
As you can imagine, Pawlenty’s not too happy about that on multiple levels. At a news conference, he said the judge had “inserted herself into a political dispute” and “that degree of involvement by the court is concerning, to say the least.”
I’m no lawyer but it sounds to me like the judge is making up legal reasons to interfere in what was a controversial—yet did I mention, brilliant?—political decision.
The political and legal battle will be yet another reason to watch Tim Pawlenty.
I hear a fairly reliable rumor about where Tiger Woods has been recuperating, but not to the level of confirmation that it meets journalistic standards to publish it. Oh, what a dilemma, because I would LOVE to get credit for the scoop. It’s a really interesting story….
Anyway, other than one quick post when the story first broke, I have tried to avoid the story of Tiger and his mistresses, and I believe that Jack Nicklaus had the best response of all: “None of my business.”
But when I heard the above-mentioned reliable rumor, something started my brain working against its will, and somehow I started channeling William Blake’s ghost. Or maybe it was a bad impostor. Anyway, here is what resulted:
Tiger, Tiger, burning bright
in the bedrooms of the night:
What immoral face or bust
could shame thee, make thine image dust?
Okay, that was bad. Happy New Year everybody.
The Obama administration hopes to reduce the deficit … apparently after it bankrupts the Treasury.
The federal government said Wednesday that it will take majority control of troubled auto lender GMAC and provide an additional $3.8 billion in aid to the company, which has been unable to raise from private investors the money it needs to staunch its losses.
The Treasury Department has said for months that GMAC would need more federal money, but the decision to increase the government’s ownership stake came as a surprise, cutting against the grain of the Obama administration’s recent efforts to wind down its bailout of large banks.
What initially appeared to be a closing act now looks more like year-end portfolio rebalancing, with companies including Citigroup and Bank of America allowed to repay aid even as the government deepens its involvement in mortgage financiers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — and now, GMAC.
The additional aid for GMAC underscores both its struggles and its importance to the administration’s efforts to revive the auto industry. GMAC, which already has taken $12.5 billion in direct federal aid along with other forms of government support, is the largest lender to General Motors and Chrysler dealerships and to their customers.
Well, with a $12 trillion national debt, at least $10 trillion more red ink expected over the next decade, and $107 trillion in unfunded liabilities for Social Security and Medicare—as well as who knows how many trillions more in debt if health care “reform” passes—what’s another $3.8 billion among friends?
The Obama administration has been pressuring Republicans to allow the confirmation of Erroll Southers at TSA (“Too Stupid for America”). Alas, there is the little problem of Mr. Southers apparently misleading Congress.
The White House nominee to lead the Transportation Security Administration gave Congress misleading information about incidents in which he inappropriately accessed a federal database, possibly in violation of privacy laws, documents obtained by The Washington Post show.
The disclosure comes as pressure builds from Democrats on Capitol Hill for quick January confirmation of Erroll Southers, whose nomination has been held up by GOP opponents. In the aftermath of an attempted airline bombing on Christmas Day, calls have intensified for lawmakers to install permanent leadership at the TSA, a critical agency in enforcing airline security.
Southers, a former FBI agent, has described inconsistencies in his accounts to Congress as “inadvertent” and the result of poor memory of an incident that dates back 20 years. He said in a Nov. 20 letter to key senators obtained by The Post that he had accepted full responsibility long ago for a “grave error in judgment” in accessing confidential criminal records about his then-estranged wife’s new boyfriend.
His letter to Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.), chairman of the Senate homeland security committee, and Susan Collins (Maine), the ranking Republican on the panel, attempts to correct statements about the episode that were made in a sworn affidavit on Oct. 22 and have been reported.
Is this really the best person the Prez can find for such an important job?
The American people ain’t dumb. They realize what will happen when the government comes to “help” them on health care.
Seventy-eight percent (78%) of voters nationwide say it’s at least somewhat likely that the health care reform legislation working its way through Congress will cost more than projected. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 14% believe the costs are not likely to exceed projections.
Eighty-one percent (81%) also think passage of the legislation is at least somewhat likely to lead to higher middle-class taxes.
The survey finds that 68% believe the legislation will increase the federal budget deficit. Only 11% say the program will achieve its stated goal of deficit reduction.
(See question wording and topline responses).
Fifty-three percent (53%) of voters say the cost of care is the biggest health care problem that needs to be addressed. Among this group, 89% say the proposed legislation is likely to exceed cost expectations, 79% believe the plan will increase deficits, and 90% think it is likely to lead to higher taxes for the middle class.
You’ve just got to love Congress. It believes health care costs too much today and too few people have access to care. So in response Congress will raise taxes and then ration care.
Is this a great country or what?!
Other than Rush Limbaugh’s own Web site, a dependable source of information about his health situation in Hawaii is at BobLee Swagger’s blog. He knows the King of EIB well. Today’s update doesn’t break much new, but provides context for his past health challenges that many may not be aware of.
Colorado becomes the first state in the country ever to see its minimum wage fall. On the one hand, it is a bad economy for anyone to lose even a few cents in and the only reason it is declining is because Colorado indexes its minimum wage to inflation. On the other hand, any time a tax or government mandate falls, an angel gets its wings.
Barack Obama will be the biggest spender ever. But it’s been hard for the Republican Party to criticize him, since the GOP spent most of the last decade borrowing money wildly to throw a big government party. My Cato Institute colleague Chris Edwards looks at the final CBO numbers:
The Congressional Budget Office has released final budget numbers for fiscal year 2009. The numbers allow us to take a last look at the Bush administration’s record on spending from a statistical point of view.
The following three charts show annual average real (or constant dollar) outlays during the tenures of recent presidents. Presidents were in office for either 4 or 8 budget years, except JFK (3 years), LBJ (5 years), Nixon (6 years), and Ford (2 years).
President George W. Bush’s last year was fiscal 2009. Outlays that year were $3.522 trillion, according to the CBO. However, $108 billion was spending for the 2009 economic stimulus package passed under President Obama. Bush was thus roughly responsible for $3.414 trillion of spending in 2009, which includes outlays for the financial bailouts enacted under his watch. (For FY2009, $154 billion for TARP and $91 billion for Fannie and Freddie).
Spending in Bush’s first year (FY2001) was $1.863 trillion, thus he presided over an 83-percent increase in overall federal spending, which includes defense, domestic, entitlements, and interest. Even without TARP and Fannie/Freddie, spending was up a huge 70 percent under Bush over eight years. By contrast, total spending under eight years of President Clinton increased just 32 percent. These are the overall increases in nominal dollars.
Now let’s look at the real annual averages. Figure 1 shows the average increase in total spending under recent presidents. Bush II was the biggest spender since LBJ. His spending increases were far larger than the three prior presidents.
It doesn’t matter how you slice it—with or without military outlays, interest, etc. President George W. Bush and the Republican congressional majority looked and acted like Democrats. If the GOP is to stage a comeback, Republicans must be held accountable for past misbehavior and made to understand that their political survival depends on behaving differently this time. The last thing we will need after the Obama years is another period of rule by big government Republicans.
Corrupt members, that is. Judicial Watch announces that number one is:
Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT): This marks two years in a row for Senator Dodd, who made the 2008 “Ten Most Corrupt” list for his corrupt relationship with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and for accepting preferential treatment and loan terms from Countrywide Financial, a scandal which still dogs him. In 2009, the scandals kept coming for the Connecticut Democrat. In 2009, Judicial Watch filed a Senate ethics complaint against Dodd for undervaluing a property he owns in Ireland on his Senate Financial Disclosure forms. Judicial Watch’s complaint forced Dodd to amend the forms. However, press reports suggest the property to this day remains undervalued. Judicial Watch also alleges in the complaint that Dodd obtained a sweetheart deal for the property in exchange for his assistance in obtaining a presidential pardon (during the Clinton administration) and other favors for a long-time friend and business associate. The false financial disclosure forms were part of the cover-up. Dodd remains the head the Senate Banking Committee.
Check out numbers two through nine.
Doug: Be very, very careful with those “Zogby Interactive” surveys. Unlike a traditional poll, which selects a sample by randomly dialing phone numbers, Zogby Interactive uses volunteers answering questions on the internet. While Zogby attempts to adjust the sample demographically to make it reflect a random, the self-selection problem is acute, and these surveys have not performed well at predicting elections.
In this specific case, the result does mirror Rasmussen’s tracking poll of Obama’s approval rating, which shows it hovering a little below 50%, though it departs from Gallup’s tracking poll, which shows the President’s ratings hover a little above 50. There’s a methodological explanation for the discrepancy: Rasmussen filters its sample to capture only likely voters, while Gallup does not. Rasmussen’s likely voter model has performed well in the past, so it would be fair to say that while Obama enjoys the approval of a slim majority of Americans, he does not enjoy the approval of a majority who are likely to vote (which is part of the reason why Democrats are likely to sustain quite a few losses in the 2010 elections).
President Barack Obama just can’t seem to get his approval rating above 50 percent. He last managed to do so in Sep., but otherwise since July he’s been in negative territory.
President Barack Obama’s job performance rating has slipped to 47% in the latest Zogby Interactive survey, from 48% earlier in December.
The Zogby Interactive survey of 2,789 likely voters nationwide found 47% approving of Obama’s job performance, 53% disapproving and 1% not sure. The survey was conducted Dec. 28-30, 2009, and carries a margin of error of +/- 1.9 percentage points.
During my trip to Orlando last month, I had the opportunity to meet Sal Russo, an alumnus of the Reagan campaign team who helped organize the Tea Party Express tour. So when the liberal blog TPM portrayed the involvement of Russo’s firm in the Tea Party movement as scandalous, I blogged in Russo’s defense. Today I received this e-mail from Joe Wierzbicki of the Tea Party Express organization:
What’s disgusting about the TPM Muckracker hit on us is that it’s a totally bogus story - and the author knows it.
The $800,000 they cite was NOT paid to Russo Marsh + Associates. The vast majority of that money was to reimburse Russo Marsh + Associates for the efforts where we fronted the money in our capacity as the organizers of the Tea Party Express.
The monies that were paid to Russo Marsh + Associates was mostly to pay for subvendors such as Newsmax, Human Events, Southwest Airlines, the companies that did the “wrap” of the Tea Party Express buses, the Nevada TV and radio stations where we’ve aired our “Defeat Harry Reid” ad campaign, Fox News & CNN where we’ve run our national Tea Party Express ads.
And, Zachary Roth, the author of the TPM piece knew this information - and he acknowledged it with his line: “The services for which Russo, Marsh was paid appear to be legitimate campaign needs.”
But instead they decided to run with the headline and spin that the money was PAID to a GOP Firm. To most every person reading that story the perception would be that Russo Marsh + Associates pocketed $857,000 of the Tea Party Express money.
That simply is not true. Not even close.
And then Rachel Maddow of MSNBC last night (and the CBS blog, and dozens of other liberal blogs) have run with the story. I’m not sure how much these people in the secondary chain of this viral promotion understand that their advancing a bogus story. Maybe some of them do and they don’t care.
What seems obvious is that the only reason someone would advance a bogus story like this if they knew it to be bogus, would solely be to try to take a shot at the tea party movement in general, and smear the Tea Party Express in particular.
Again, thank you for your kind words of defense on this issue.
What you should know from our end is that our approach on this is to keep moving forward, and not be deterred from the work we are doing to organize Tea Party Express III (March 27-April 15), our planned participation with organizers of the Tea Party Convention in February, and the commencement of Round 2 of our “Defeat Harry Reid” television ad campaign on January 11th.
All the best to you,
Coordinator, Tea Party Express
Apparently TurboTax tweaked the 2009 version of their software to prevent anyone from claiming, as Tim Geithner did during his nomination, that they failed to report self-employment income because of TurboTax. Because, after all, it was Geithner’s fault that he hadn’t payed his taxes, not TurboTax’s.
Reminds me of the Brady Rule.
(Or the Hines Ward Rule.)
H/T Megan McArdle.
If you don’t already get the Limbaugh Letter, hop on over and change that. The issue just out features a nice long conversation between El Rushbo and me on the entire global warming edifice and particularly Red Hot Lies: How Global Warming Alarmists Use Threats, Fraud and Deception to Keep You Misinformed. Rush out and get that one while you’re on line or at your favorite retailer, too.
The Lincoln Journal Star reports:
As a fresh poll measured the political cost of Sen. Ben Nelson’s health reform vote, he prepared Tuesday to take his case directly to Nebraskans during Wednesday night’s Holiday Bowl game.
Nelson will air a new TV ad in which he attempts to debunk opposition claims that the Senate legislation represents a government takeover, and he makes the case for health care reform.
“With all the distortions about health care reform, I want you to hear directly from me,” the Democratic senator says in the ad.
Nelson, dressed in an open-necked shirt and sweater, speaks directly into the camera during the 30-second ad.
The message will be launched during the Nebraska-Arizona football game and continue to air statewide for an undisclosed number of days.
Nelson doesn’t face reelection again until 2012. Needless to say, if an incumbent is forced to take out an ad almost three years before facing reelection, it typically isn’t a good sign.
And if his constituents aren’t happy with his vote on health care now, just wait until they have to sit through one of his ads during Nebraska’s bowl game.
The problem is that there is no evidence of Sen. Baucus being drunk other than the video itself, and the thing is that Baucus has a tendency to mumble (as Dave Weigel noted). I’ve seen him speak throughout the year over the course of the health care debate and was familiar with his speech pattern, so I didn’t think anything of it when I watched the video, and was surprised to see it gain so much attention. I just saw it as a Drudge-generated controversy on a slow news week. True, I have no way to prove that he wasn’t drunk, and you can draw your own conclusions from the video. For me, it just isn’t conclusive enough.
A link to a YouTube video taken from C-Span 2 appeared on the Drudge Report the other day. In it, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Montana) is seen addressing the Senate in what seems to be a drunken state: gesturing wildly and slurring his words. His subject is the current healthcare legislation. His staff has repudiated speculation from the GOP that the Senator was indeed drunk on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
For the past couple of days I’ve kept my eye on the Montana media and cannot find a reference to this anywhere. I’ve followed the Billings Gazette, the Bozeman Chronicle, New West, the latter ignoring my e-mail inquiries. And a Google search (“Max Baucus drunk”) turns up no Montana links at all (such as the Missoulian, Helena’s Independent Record, etc.). The aforementioned state papers and websites are mostly Max-friendly (an ongoing paradox in Red State Montana), but did the blackout originate with the Senator’s media people? It’s very thorough.
All this is interesting because last August’s Flathead Lake alcohol-related nighttime boating accident involving Montana Congressman Dennis Rehberg (the Republican sustained a broken ankle, and four other passengers were injured, including Montana Senate Majority Whip Greg Barkus, who was driving the boat and faces DUI-related charges) was front page news in those very same newspapers and media sites, not to mention exhaustive television coverage.
Sen. John Kerry has filed a formal request to visit Iran, Iranian news agencies reported Tuesday — news made public in the middle of the government’s bloody crackdown on dissidents that has left more than a dozen dead.
While representatives for Kerry have so far not confirmed whether he intends to travel to Tehran, a spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry said the country’s parliament is already considering the Massachusetts Democrat’s official overture.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro, a key pro-choice Democrat in the House, has indicated to the Huffington Post that she’s willing to vote for a final health care bill that includes the abortion language in the Senate version. Speaker Nancy Pelosi is likely to lose some pro-life Democrats in the House if the final bill includes the Senate language, thus maintaining the support of liberals such as DeLauro will be crucial to getting the merged bill through the House. In the first go around, the House bill passed by a narrow 220 to 215 vote.
A number of private citizens who signed up for White House news alerts on the official White House website woke up this morning with a nice New Year’s message… from senior White House political adviser David Axelrod’s Chicago-based consulting firm. You can see the greeting here.
The e-mail holiday message raises questions about how Axelrod’s firm got the email addresses. “I didn’t sign up for anything with the Axelrod firm, so I don’t know why I’m getting an e-card from them,” says a Republican PR consultant based in Los Angeles. “The only thing I’ve signed up for were White House alerts, and I’m not on any Democrat Party e-mail lists.”
The White House came under fire earlier this year for launching a program to collect personal online information about visitors to the White House website, and then using that data to send pro-Obama Administration propaganda to them. E-mails under the name of Axelrod at that time garnered the bulk of the attention, and now it appears that Axelrod is again using White House-collected e-mails, this time for personal business purposes.
As a result of his vote for the Senate health care bill, Sen. Ben Nelson now trails Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman in a hypothetical reelection race by a two-to-one margin, or 61 percent to 30 percent, a new Rasmussen poll finds.
There are several caveats worth considering. Rasmussen polls have a tendency to be more favorable to Republicans; the election isn’t until 2012; and we don’t even know whether Heineman will challenge him.
With that said, there are a number of troubling signs for Nelson.
Among the poll’s findings:
— Just 17 percent of Nebraska voters approve of the Medicaid deal Nelson cut to secure his vote for the health care bill.
— 64 percent of Nebraskans oppose the health care legislation and 53 percent strongly oppose.
— 65 percent “say that coverage of abortion should be prohibited in any plan that receives government subsidies.” The language in the bill that Nelson voted for did not include such a prohibition.
—And another killer number for any incumbent: just 40 percent have a favorable view of Nelson, while 55 percent have an unfavorable view.
Last week, I wrote about a Congressional Budget Office memo — released too late to affect the outcome of the health care vote — that said Democrats couldn’t use the same money from cutting Medicare both to reduce the deficit and extend the life of the Medicare trust fund.
Today, the New York Times writes about the issue — on A20. Yet instead of just reporting a simple truth that blows a hole in health care claims made by Democrats, including President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the Times muddies the waters as if the issue is just one big giant source of confusion without any clear answer.
The headline muses, “Expanding Health Coverage and Shoring Up Medicare: Is It Double-Counting?” And the article opens with: “At the heart of the fight over health care legislation is a paradox that befuddles lawmakers of both parties.”
Really? Befuddles? I thought the CBO was pretty clear when it wrote: “To describe the full amount of (Medicare Hosptal Insurance) trust fund savings as both improving the government’s ability to pay future Medicare benefits and financing new spending outside of Medicare would essentially double-count a large share of those savings and thus overstate the improvement in the government’s fiscal position.”
And the position was echoed by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which actually implements the program.
Yet to the Times, it’s some giant paradox.
The Washington Post editorializes that “Iran’s political crisis now looks like a battle to the death between the regime and its opposition.” With shards of information and video footage, and no active free press to report, it’s very difficult to patch together how much danger the regime is in. But the one thing that has to be seen as encouraging to those who want regime change in Iran is that the nationwide protests that broke out after June’s election were not simply a one off event that was quelled with a single crackdown. Demonstrations have continued on and off for months, with varying degrees of energy, and events have once again reached a boiling point. You can watch a round up of videos from Iran’s Ashura holiday protests on Sunday — many graphic — here.
The Politico is reporting that some moderate Senate Democrats who followed their party off the cliff on health care have become squeamish about taking risks the second time around with cap and trade.
“I am communicating that in every way I know how,” said Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), one of at least a half-dozen Democrats who’ve told the White House or their own leaders that it’s time to jettison the centerpiece of their party’s plan to curb global warming…
“We need to deal with the phenomena of global warming, but I think it’s very difficult in the kind of economic circumstances we have right now,” said Indiana Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh, who called passage of any economywide cap and trade “unlikely…”
“I’d just as soon see that set aside until we work through the economy,” said Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.). “What we don’t want to do is have anything get in the way of working to resolve the problems with the economy.”
We’ll see how many hold firm after the leadership offers them some pork and the president whispers some sweet nothings in their ears.
The predictability of liberal responses to terrorist threats — fearing conservative political reaction more than terrorism itself — is further demonstrated by Roy Edroso of the Village Voice:
Rightbloggers, for obvious reasons, are less interested in calming fears than in exacerbating them, and proclaim, as is their wont, that the Obama Presidency has failed and that America will only be safe when it has come to an end.
Note how conservative criticism of the Obama administration is automatically presumed to be illegitimate; because there can be no rational reason for criticizing liberals, conservatives are either cynically playing politics or just plain crazy.
The presumed illegitimacy of conservatism creates a closed feedback loop that exempts liberal policy from meaningful criticism. Any liberal who grants legitimacy to conservative criticism will be demonized and ostracized as a heretic. Just ask Joe Lieberman, who made the mistake of repeating an administration official’s strategic insight about Yemen:
Yemen now becomes one of the centers of that fight. I was in Yemen in August. And we have a growing presence there, and we have to, of Special Operations, Green Berets, intelligence. We’re working well with the government of President Saleh there.
I leave you with this thought that somebody in our government said to me in Sana’a, the capital of Yemen. Iraq was yesterday’s war. Afghanistan is today’s war. If we don’t act preemptively, Yemen will be tomorrow’s war. That’s the danger we face. (Emphasis added.)
It was this remark on “Fox News Sunday” that caused liberal blogger Spencer Ackerman to erupt:
What the f—- does Joe Lieberman know about Yemen? What does anyone in the Washington policy community know about Yemen? F—-ing nothing . .
Ackerman portrays Lieberman as an irresponsible warmonger, but Ann Althouse calls attention to a New York Times article outlining U.S. anti-terror efforts in Yemen — the exact sort of preemptive action that Lieberman was advocating.
Evidently, the Obama administration is itself concerned about Yemen becoming a terrorist haven, but you can’t say that on Fox News, especially if you’re Lieberman, who has been known to consort with conservatives. The transparent double standard causes Dan Riehl to remark:
It seems that before he went off to collect his peace prize, Obama had already ramped up a covert war within Yemen. It isn’t that I disagree with him on that, it’s the awkward inconsistency between his rhetoric and his actions that raise concerns.
For many on the Left, Darleen Click observes, Obama is like a “mood ring” — inerrantly exposing the bad faith of conservatives — and the presumed irrationality of his critics is exemplified by the declaration by MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell that grassroots opposition to the administration reflects “angry populism which is not fact-based.”
To Mitchell and her ilk, there can be no facts — not even an al-Qaeda-trained terrorist on a flight to Detroit — that justify criticism by conservatives. We are liberalism’s real enemy, and must be defeated by any means necessary.
As the year approaches a close, the New York Times reports that the city is set to have the lowest number of homicides since reliable statistics began being kept in 1962.
I’ve been criticial of Mayor Michael Bloomberg on a number of issues, but the one thing he does deserve credit for is that he built on the successes of Rudy Giuliani in reducing crime.
The number of murders peaked in New York City at 2,245 in 1990. In 1993, the year Giuliani was elected, there were still 1,946 murders. By 2001, his final year in office, that number had dramatically declined to 649, or to about a third of the level at the beginning of his mayoralty.
But under Bloomberg, that number shrunk even lower, the Times notes: “As of Dec. 27, there were 461 murders; the current record low happened in 2007, when there were 496.”
At this early stage, in which information we have is relatively limited, it’s important to use caution when commenting on the attempted terrorist attack outside of Detroit on Christmas Day, but there are a few issues that the incident does raise.
One question is whether we should be more scared of Al Qaeda (assuming they are somehow linked to the attack) or less scared because the attack was bungled in a fashion worthy of a slapstick comedy? In some circles, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab quickly became known as the “crotch bomber.”
My early reaction is that, yes, the bomber was unable to pull it off and elements of the story lend themselves to mockery. But, at the same time it does show that terrorists are still intent on attacking America and they are constantly concocting ways to find holes in our security measures and testing new methods.
The idea of smuggling in a bunch of explosive materials into a plane, assembling a bomb aboard, and blowing it up in a seat of the plane where it could set off a chain of events that would bring down the whole plane, is nothing new. Just read this Washington Post story dated July 21, 1996, titled, “New Devices May Foil Airline Security,” which describes a nearly identical scenario. Ramzi Yousef, one of the planners of the first World Trade Center bombing and nephew of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, made a similar attempt onboard Philippine Airlines Flight 434, which was supposed to be a test for a larger attack on more planes. So a botched attempt this Christmas doesn’t mean that terrorists won’t be able to figure out something that works at some point down the road.
While people have differerent perspectives on how concerned we should be about this attempted attack — and how big a threat terrorism is in general — most people seem to be in agreement that the subsequent security measures imposed by the TSA are idiodic. This would be a good time to reevaluate how we think about airline security — and perhaps discuss emulating the Israeli model. Israel, rather than relying on these silly rules, turns to observation and human intellegence. Security workers ask a number of questions to passengers, and they are trained to pick up on anything suspicious. They also don’t take anything for granted, because they assume that anybody could be a potential security threat. In my personal experience, there have been times traveling to Israel when I glided through security rather easily, and other times when I’ve been questioned extensively by two different security workers. I’d much rather that sort of system than our reactive approach in which one person tries to set off a bomb in his shoe, and so then we have to take off our shoes. Then somebody puts a bomb in his pants, but since we can’t have people take off their underwear, we have to make arbitrary rules about when you can go to the bathroom during an international flight.
Today is the Shiite Muslim holiday of Ashura. In Iran, it has meant bloody clashes between protestors and regime thugs:
Iranian police opened fire on protesters in Tehran on Sunday, killing at least four people, including a nephew of the opposition leader Mir Hussein Moussavi, as vast crowds of demonstrators flooded the streets of cities across Iran and fiercely fought security forces, according to witnesses and opposition Web sites.
The protests, taking place on the holiday marking the death of Shiite Islam’s holiest martyr, were the bloodiest - and among the largest - since the uprisings that followed Iran’s disputed presidential election last June, with hundreds of thousands of people thronging Tehran alone, witnesses said. There were reports of hundreds of injured people and numerous arrests.
The protesters deliberately blended their opposition message with the day’s religious meaning, alternating anti-government slogans with ancient cries of mourning for the prophet Mohammed’s grandson, Hussein, the 7th-century saint whose death in battle is commemorated on the Ashura holiday.
“This is the month of blood, Yazid will fall!” the protesters shouted, equating Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, with Yazid, the ruler who ordered Hussein’s killing.
Just as they did during protests earlier this year, Iranians on Twitter have done a good job disseminating images and news (and, occassionally, unconfirmed rumors). This account has been especially active today.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?