Morning Links

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

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27 Responses to “Morning Links”

  1. #1 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    The TSA is useless. It always was useless. I believe that then-President Bush knew it would be useless from the beginning, and consequently paid very little attention to its development, meaning it was left in the hands of bean counters and empire builders. Which goes a long way to explaining the bloated and ostentatiously offensive mess we have today.

    However, I think that what largely gets missed is could Bush have avoided creating such an agency without of politically expensive fight that would have distracted him from larger issues?

    I don’t think so.

    I think the TSA is an example of my adage “Bipartisan means stupid enough to attract support from both sides of the aisle.”

  2. #2 |  Andrew S. | 

    The dissent in the Thomas Haynesworth case is just terrible. It boils down to “Well, he could have done it, and the victims identified him, so he can’t be innocent”

  3. #3 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    “After $56 billion and 10 years . . . TSA is junk.”

    Historians will write books about the TSA, so remember to get lots
    of pictures. They’ll tell you it’s illegal but they’re full of shit. The perfect example of a bloated, inefficient government project. Like MADD, even the creator is pissed off about the Mission Creep.
    “It mushroomed into an army,” Mica said. “It’s gone from a couple-billion-dollar enterprise to close to $9 billion.”
    As for keeping the American public safe, Mica says, “They’ve failed to actually detect any threat in 10 years.”

  4. #4 |  dave smith | 

    The article by Mona Charen is the most encouraging thing I’ve read in a very long time.

  5. #5 |  Mattocracy | 

    I believe the TSA as a whole is at a point where everyone employed there is so sick of being called idiots that they are being hardheaded just for the sake of it. The only way to reform it now is to clean house in that agency, start over with new leadership put the right safe guards in place.

    Which will probably just end up getting ignored anyway just like last time. So nevermind.

  6. #6 |  Aresen | 

    Putin pulls 99.48 percent of the vote . . . in Chechnya. The other .52 percent slipped on a patch of ice this morning.

    You can’t teach an old Gaybista new tricks.

  7. #7 |  Matt I. | 

    Two more things really piss me off about the direction the TSA is headed.

    First, the whole ‘behavioral detection’ thing. That’s what the people bleating ‘The Israeli Method, The Israeli Method’ want. What they’re really saying is that its fine to keep violating people’s civil rights, as long as it’s not MY civil rights that are violated. It’s manifested in the people who say things such as ‘Do I look like a terrorist?!’

    This is now formally being implemented as TSA policy, disguised by using tactics such as ‘assigning scores’ that are based on factors that taken together represent textbook discrimination; they don’t discriminate openly discriminate based on age, sex, race and national origin, you’re assigned a ‘score’ based on marital status (age), propensity to crime (sex), credit history (race) and travel history (national origin).

    The second thing that pisses me off is just the whole attitude that it’s ok to do ANYTHING as long as it prevents or may prevent ONE attack, with absolutely no downside for failing to find anything. When there is an incentive to prevent ANYTHING from ever happening with no consequence for failing to actually turn up something, we get all these policies such as interrogations, random bag inspections and ‘screening’ dogs. The fact that everyone is inconvenienced and they’ve never found anything is completely irrelevant since they MIGHT one day find something somewhere.

  8. #8 |  mcmillan | 

    Referring to Putin: “I haven’t heard about results like that since the Soviet times,”

    I’d almost think that’s trying to get some snark hidden, except for the fact that a good number of people think that’s a good thing.

  9. #9 |  M | 

    I’m just shocked that more than 10,000 people thought it was worth their time to vote in Chechnya. I mean, look at the precision in that number.

  10. #10 |  Chuchundra | 

    An unlicensed interior decorator bit my sister once.

  11. #11 |  Jozef | 

    I’m shocked that Putin left so many voting age people alive in Chechnya…

  12. #12 |  CyniCAl | 

    #1 | C. S. P. Schofield — “I believe that then-President Bush knew it would be useless from the beginning, and consequently paid very little attention to its development … could Bush have avoided creating such an agency …”

    Wow. You actually believe that the real person George W. Bush gave one second of thought to this? Or had anything personally to do with it? Just wow.

  13. #13 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    When the TSA recommends drastic changes in US Foreign Policy, then they will be better at keeping the country safer.

  14. #14 |  edmund dantes | 

    My favorite line from the Haynesworth article is “the fact that the writ of innocence has so rarely been used proves what a great justice system Virginia has.” (paraphrasing). I am not sure if the proper term is confirmation bias, but jeebus that phrasing is horrible. “We have always been at war with EastAsia”

  15. #15 |  Ron | 

    Mona Charen: “[Rep. Ron] Paul holds some ludicrous views. He seems to believe, for example, that if we were just nicer to the Iranians, we wouldn’t need to fret about their acquisition of nuclear weapons.”

    Nice of you to come around on the idiocy of the drug war, Mona. Now if you could only recognize the same type of idiotic, belligerent foreign policy that has Iran completely surrounded with tens of thousands troops which, coincidentally, is exactly what gives them no other choice but to try and acquire nuclear weapons.

    Of course, that’s an area where it seems to be difficult for neo-clowns to put 2 and 2 together…

  16. #16 |  CyniCAl | 

    @edmund, more like the magic tiger-repellent rock from the Simpsons.

  17. #17 |  albatross | 


    I doubt the Iranians have pure self-defense motives here. The universe is not constructed in such a way as forbids all sides of a conflict from being evil in their own special way.

  18. #18 |  Stupid Is As Stupid Does | Lawyers on Strike | 

    […] (h/t Radley Balko) […]

  19. #19 |  karl | 

    An unlicensed interior designer harmed someone in 1987. It took us over twenty years to hunt him down and — let me put it like this — he won’t be doing any unlicensed interior designing any time soon.

  20. #20 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 


    Ah, the “Bush is a moron” narrative. I’m sorry, but I don’t buy it about Bush, or Obama, or Clinton, or, for that matter, anyone who has ever been elected to the Presidency.

    But, in fact, my argument IS that Bush never gave it much thought. Even a low grade moron could have seen that NOT creating a Federal airport security agency would involve pushing public opinion uphill. Right or wrong, Bush didn’t decide to put the necessary effort into it. Maybe it seems obvious now that such an agency would be a gold plated clusterf*ck, but I remember the number of people, of all political stripes, that I heard or read calling for teh Feds to Do Something about Airport Security.

  21. #21 |  Xenocles | 

    I don’t think there can be any doubt now that the TSA needs more money.

  22. #22 |  Ron | 

    albatross: Apart from self-defense and the obvious perks of joining the nuclear club, I can’t imagine why ANY country wouldn’t want nukes. I’m not implying they’re perfect little angels, but Iran hasn’t invaded anybody in over a hundred years.

    The Israelis have been saying Iran is “close” to a nuclear weapon since 1992. It really doesn’t matter though. I don’t believe we’re going to do anything with Iran. We don’t have the money, and the people are (finally) war-weary. But most important of all, is the Cardinal Rule rule of U.S. military intervention: America doesn’t hit anybody who can hit back.

  23. #23 |  Pi Guy | 

    To shave $2 million off the budget, the governor also has proposed … merging the Seed Potato Board and the Potato Board into “a single, unified Potato Board”…

    Wait – they were getting $2M/yr each?

    TSA True Story:
    Used to fly a lot, often for conventions where my company set up a booth to hawk their software. Anywho, used to carry a Leatherman tool with me all the time in my European CarryAll ManPouch (ECAMP [TM]) which is useful when setting up the booth (the tool not the fanny pack) but, when flying, would transfer to checked bags. Upon arrival, we’d often go straight to setup and I’d simply pull the tool out of my luggage.

    Get to BWI, triage stuff for check/carry-on/leave-behind status, shuttle to terminal, thru security, arrive in Indy, “Thank you for flying the friendly skies with us, COL Dr. Monsignor Pi!” Easy peezy lemon squeezy.

    Taxi straight to hall, open luggage – no knife. “Rat Farts! Musta left it in the PiMobile back in Balto.” Manage to set up knifeless, resourceful as I am, go to dinner, pony up at bar and… there’s my Leatherman in ECAMP. Like, as in, carried right thru security @BWI. Wow, funny dinner story, can’t wait to share when I get back.

    *_cue Ronco Pocket Fisherman commercial_* But wait – there’s more!

    Coworkers spending night there after show, I’m flying back early to attend daughter’s gymnastic meet next day so pack, take bags to con for quick getaway. Help break down, they go to hotel, I head to IND airport, ready to fly. But going thru security I get pulled aside, xray of ECAMP suspicious. “Excuse me, COL Dr., could you please come over here with us?” Oh noes – did I put the Leatherman in my carry-on? Opposed as I am to anal probing, I nervously followed.

    Supervisor comes over, the two TSA agents rummaging thru my butt bag reminded me of a commericial where two gorillas broke open some suit cases, flinging undies and toiletries as they probed. “This your water?” (I totally swear) pulling a 200-mL plastic bottle from my bag, holding out to me for consideration. Resisting the urge to respond with “No. I’m just carrying it for that Muslim-looking guy over there.” we came to conclude that, if I just threw the bottle in the trash before boarding, I’d not need to go thru security again, apparently being deemed safe with respect to liquid-based threats. Then, I witnessed the most thorough physical inspection of an my very nice, A-tuned, everywhere-I-go blues harmonica. Finally, having successfully passed all inspection, including the “Drop Test”, without having the harp go off, I was finally free to fly, poop shoot lube-free. *wipes brow* Hastily repack, board, “Stewardess – I’ll have a double Red Stag over here. And Keep ’em coming!”

    Deplane at BWI, shuttle back to car. Start putting stuff I’d left behind – house keys, extra lighter, etc – back into ECAMP. It was at that moment when the giant neon TSA is Junk sign started flashing in my head and hasn’t run down any since. Right there, in the bag next to the harmonica – I mean smashed tightly together – was my Leatherman. In the ECAMP. That I’d carried on the plane that flew 800 miles in the air. The one that was searched by not one but TWO TSA Agents.

    Essentially, I was scrutinized more heavily over a few ounces of water and concern about how the little square holes in the little silver and wooden box might be used to… to… Blow bluegrass licks designed to torture non-Appalacians and coerce the pilot into surrendering control of the plane??

    TSA is Junk.

  24. #24 |  John C. Randolph | 

    Somebody came way too close to me in their car when I was crossing the street today. I’m sure it was an unlicensed interior designer. I also blame him for the fact that I have yet to find a winning lottery ticket on the sidewalk.


  25. #25 |  John C. Randolph | 

    I made a pie chart comparing the US and Iran’s military budgets. It looks like a solid circle with a one-pixel line from the center to the edge.

  26. #26 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    “The scientific community is divided as to whether behavioral detection of terrorists is viable,”

    Meanwhile, Israel’s been using it successfully for decades. I’m sure behavioural scientists will catch up some day!

    @7 – So you don’t want actual protection. Well then! You can keep Security Theater.

  27. #27 |  CyniCAl | 

    #20 | C. S. P. Schofield — “Ah, the “Bush is a moron” narrative.”

    No, not a moron, CSP. A ventriloquist dummy. Or a marionette. Figuratively speaking, of course.

    Seriously, you actually believe that the President has real decision-making power? All on his lonesome?