TSA Shutdown? Yes, please

Regular readers of this blog know that I absolutely loathe the Transportation Security Administration. It’s a monstrous, unconstitutional abomination that should not exist in any society that considers itself “free.” What’s more, it is demonstratively unable to meet its primary purpose: detecting and intercepting potential threats to travelers.  Perhaps the ongoing “shutdown” of the Feral Government will give Americans — and the TSA Employees themselves — a chance to rethink how ‘essential’ this function really is:.

Nobody wants to work for an employer who holds off on cutting paychecks until a more convenient moment, and that’s just what the federal government is doing during its “shutdown”—a spectacle that almost seems crafted to demonstrate how easy it is to live without the leviathan in Washington, D.C.

Understandably, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees are no more enthusiastic about working when their paychecks are delayed than is anybody else on the planet. That’s why they’ve been calling-in sick in increased numbers—some to seek temporary work elsewhere in order to pay their bills—as the more-theater-than-reality “government shutdown” drags on.

Not that there’s any point to all of that [TSA] groping beyond the purely recreational aspect. Undercover investigators were able to smuggle weapons and explosives past TSA agents 95 percent of the time, according to a 2015 Homeland Security Investigator General report. Maybe that’s because agents are relying on dowsing rods or Spidey sense—they’re certainly not depending on the expensive equipment they make travelers and baggage file through.

“Because TSA does not adequately oversee equipment maintenance, it cannot be assured that routine preventive maintenance is performed or that equipment is repaired and ready for operational use,” The Inspector General office also noted.

“Security theater” is what security expert Bruce Schneier, a lecturer at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of government, calls most of what the TSA does. They’re “measures that make us feel safer without improving security… I’ve repeatedly said that the two things that have made flying safer since 9/11 are reinforcing the cockpit doors and persuading passengers that they need to fight back. Everything beyond that isn’t worth it.”

But, isn’t this an opportunity for us all? Given that the world is a better place when TSA employees and other government minions don’t do their jobs, and some are already seeking alternative employment, what a great opportunity to shut down their agencies, shrink the government, and make everybody’s lives a little better!

If it isn’t worth it, why pay for it?

Especially when the cost is measured in civil liberty as much as it is in dollars. It’s long past time we reevaluate just how “essential” large parts of the Feral Government really are. We pay for more government than we should want, and yet get less return on those payments than we need.  As for the “shutdown,” let’s keep a little perspective:

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Why ‘progressivism’ is regressive

On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, President Calvin Coolidge provided a keystone speech.  He was known as a man of few words,* but the occasion of our nation’s birthday inspired him to pay homage to those who had gone before.  The entire address is worth your time, but this excerpt in particular speaks to today:

About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter.

If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people.  

Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.     ((Emphasis added)) 

For most of human history, despots and absolute rulers held life-and-death sway over their people, who had little control over their own lives.  When America is referred to as ‘exceptional’ it is in that context, rather than in comparison with contemporary nations (although it often applies there, too).  The Founding generation carefully distilled centuries of human experience into a philosophy of governance that managed to be both idealistic and pragmatic at the same time.  They recognized the dignity of the individual as a creation of God, yet also allowed for the fact we are fallen in nature and prone to abuse our authorities.  As James Madison, chief architect of the Constitution put it:

If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.

Those who want a ‘living Constitution’ they can warp to the whims of the times forget how carefully its systems of checks and balances was forged.  The chains they placed on Leviathan have been weakened over the generations by tinkerers and would-be tyrants.  The recycling of old ideas as “new” has not improved our charter, for truly, “there is nothing new under the sun.”  Rather, it’s demonstrated the wisdom and foresight of those who crafted it.  As the title quote for this blog suggests, we are on a wrong road.  To truly be ‘progressive,’ we need to turn back and get onto the right road.

(*) A female visitor to the White House once approached Coolidge to inform him she’d made a wager she could get him to say more than two words.  “You lose,” was Coolidge’s reply.

Iran

The clerical regime in Tehran is facing perhaps its biggest challenge since the immediate aftermath of the 1979 revolution that put it into power.

This is a very big deal.

For years, Iran has been the world’s biggest state sponsor of international terrorism (in particular the Hezbollah organization).  That’s why it was criminally irresponsible for the Obama administration to weaken sanctions on Tehran, and airlift $1.7 billion in paper currency to them!  This, after essentially ignoring previous unrest in 2009.  In his quixotic quest for a meaningless “nuclear deal” with Iran, Obama spared no opportunity to help the mullahs.  In doing so, he was enabling a regime that exported considerable trouble, including cooperation with other rogue regimes like the one in North Korea.

Many Obama alumni are calling on the current administration to also be silent, saying to speak out risks having Iran’s leaders brand the dissidents as “foreign agents.”  This overlooks the power of moral support.  Trump’s initial statement on the matter — a remarkably statesmanlike missive — was translated into Farsi and quickly passed around among the dissidents before the regime blocked access to social media.  Obama’s team might well be wondering what else will come to light about them, should the mullahs lose power.

America remains the original modern Constitutional republic, however battered that system may be.  The most powerful foreign policy tool available to us is modeling what a free society should look like.  For more than two centuries people in other countries seeking a better way have looked to us for inspiration and example.  We have not always lived up to such scrutiny, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.  Inspiration is far to be preferred over invasion as a means to advance freedom.

“Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she (America) goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. She will commend the general cause by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example.”  – John Quincy Adams, 1821

Let us all offer “prayers and benedictions” that the Iranian people will finally free themselves of the original Islamist gangster regime.  The world could be a much better place if they do.

Since we’re talking symbolism

Across the nation, Confederate monuments are coming down, and the question on many minds is whether the President was right: will it stop there, or grow to include any figure — including pivotal figures like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson — associated with slavery or other grievances?

So this would be a good time to examine the symbol of one of the more active groups on the Left: Antifa.  Their flag has been seen from Berkeley to Boston at various “protests” and “counter-protests.”  Why the quotations?  Because in nearly every case, it has devolved into violence.

This is Antifa’s flag:

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Note that the full name of the group is “Antifascist Action.”  The photo above is from an event in Oklahoma City.  Now take a careful look at this next photo:

3rd Communist International

This is the debut of that logo, at the first meeting of the “Antifaschistische Aktion” group in Berlin, July 10, 1932.  The organization was created by the Communist Party of Germany as a replacement paramilitary force after their original goon squad –the Rotfrontkämpferbund — was banned due to fighting between Communists and Nazis.

Note that the emblem is centered between two Soviet flags.  The banner on the table reads “Long live the Red Front.”  In essence, Antifa originated as the Communist answer to the Nazi “Brownshirts,” and the nature of the group was inherently violent.

The point has been made repeatedly in recent days that neo-Nazi symbolism has no business in the USA, and I agree.  But what about neo-Communism?  We’re reminded “we fought a war to conquer Nazi Germany.”  True.  We also waged a half century “Cold War” under threat of nuclear Armageddon to defeat the Soviet Union and its communist empire.  So why is Adolph Hitler the lone boogeyman and political epithet?

It’s because Communists and Nazis strongly emphasized their differences rather than their similarities.  This is deliberate deception.  BOTH belong on the “left” end of the spectrum, as both are collectivist totalitarian ideologies.  The opposite of each is not the other, but rather minimalist, individualist government.

But wait, there’s more!  Our society today is so historically ignorant that many people initially can’t understand why I lump Nazis and Communists together.  So here’s some info to chew on: Continue reading

Quote of the day

“We have always known that eternal vigilance is the price of freedom. It’s worse now, because capture of government is so much more important than it once was. There was a time when there was enough freedom that it hardly mattered which brand of crooks ran government. That has not been true for a long time — not during most of your lifetimes, and for much of mine — and it will probably never be true again.”

Jerry Pournelle, noted Military-Science-Fiction author and occasional pundit, written shortly after the 2008 election.

Treasures should be guarded

I’ve noted before that we have greatly cheapened the value of U.S. citizenship.  If anyone from anywhere can sneak into our country with a reasonable expectation that if they “hide in the shadows” long enough for another amnesty, then our birthright citizenship means nothing — or nada, if you must.  That should be completely unacceptable to any citizen already here.

One particular aspect of that citizenship that is clearly neglected is our voting process.  There should be absolutely no opposition to requiring photo I.D. to cast a vote — but the soft bigotry of low expectations (plus a desire for a fraud-conducive system) in the Democratic Party keeps claiming there’s no need, and that it’s an undue burden on minorities.

That’s a load of Donkey manure.  One already needs a photo ID to do all sorts of everyday things.  But the Left says there’s no indication enough fraud exists to require such documentation.

Well, how about this:

Voting machines in more than one-third of all Detroit precincts registered more votes than they should have during last month’s presidential election, according to Wayne County records prepared at the request of The Detroit News…

“There’s always going to be small problems to some degree, but we didn’t expect the degree of problem we saw in Detroit. This isn’t normal,” said Krista Haroutunian, chairwoman of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers…  (emphasis added)

Republican state senators last week called for an investigation in Wayne County, including one precinct where a Detroit ballot box contained only 50 of the 306 ballots listed in a poll book, according to an observer for Trump.

Detroit has not had a Republican mayor since 1962.  It’s safe to say there’s a well-oiled Democratic political machine in that city now, and that the Democrats have run everything as Detroit went from being a high-flying manufacturing center to a broken shell of its former self.  As for the comment above “this isn’t normal,” I’d say it applies more to getting caught than to having such irregularities.  What’s amusing is that this came to light because Jill Stein and her Green Party demanded a recount that spent a boatload of money in Michigan and Wisconsin only to find Trump had 131 more votes in Wisconsin than originally recorded on election day.

Everything today revolves around convenience, which is why the arguments against voter I.D. have traction.  Simply put, a lot of people don’t care if a lot of their neighbors are too lazy to take the few required steps to participate in what should be a secure voting process.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: in order to vote, you should have to pass a basic civics exam on how the Constitution sets up our government, you should have to have photo I.D. to vote, and your finger should be dipped in a Red, White or Blue ink (your choice) that doesn’t wash/rub out for a couple days. (I also believe that if you’re on public assistance, your voting rights should be temporarily suspended.  Make sure you can take care of yourself before you start impacting others.)

I was in Iraq when they held their first post-Saddam election.  From what I saw, they took their process and its security much more seriously than we do.  That should shame us into action.  Iraqis went to polling stations even with the threat of terrorist activity across the country (something that, thankfully, we only know a little about… for now).  And we can’t be bothered to get an I.D.?  Give me a break.

Clean up the voter rolls, pass the photo I.D. requirement nationally, and start making people demonstrate knowledge of the system and its history before letting them participate in it.  Compared to how many have died or been wounded over the decades to give us the space and freedom to even hold elections, is that really too much to ask?  Some things worth having are not convenient to maintain…

“What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.”

— Thomas Paine, from “The American Crisis,” written when protecting freedom (during the American Revolution) was a lot more inconvenient than it is today.

The war on history & a heritage of liberty

The was never any doubt in my mind that the cultural cleansing of Confederate flags and symbols would be expanded into something much broader:

The EEOC has already ruled that coworkers’ wearing Confederate flag T-shirts can be punishable harassment (a decision that I think is incorrect); and, unsurprisingly, this is extending to other political speech as well.

On January 8, 2014, Complainant filed a formal complaint in which he alleged that the Agency subjected him to discrimination on the basis of race (African American) and in reprisal for prior EEO activity when, starting in the fall of 2013, a coworker (C1) repeatedly wore a cap to work with an insignia of the Gadsden Flag, which depicts a coiled rattlesnake and the phrase “Don’t Tread on Me.”

Complainant stated that he found the cap to be racially offensive to African Americans because the flag was designed by Christopher Gadsden, a “slave trader & owner of slaves.”  (emphasis added)

Stop and think about the criteria emphasized above.  If anything associated with a “slave trader” or “owner of slaves” is now tainted and subject to removal from the public square, then we have lost the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and pretty much the entire foundation of our heritage.  It takes discernment to make distinctions between attitudes and actions we now recognize as wrong (i.e. enslavement and racism), and legitimate contributions by human beings every bit as flawed and imperfect as we are today.  Regrettably, discernment is sorely lacking in our society today.

The EEOC acknowledges (then ignores) the context of the creation of the Gadsden flag, which was an early symbol of the rebellion that became known as the American Revolution.  While the Southern Cross or the Stars and Bars (not the same flag!) can be legitimately criticized for their association with a breakaway region explicitly devoted to the preservation of slavery and racial hierarchy during the War Between the States, the Gadsden Flag has NO such historical connotation, despite a few modern groups’ attempts to appropriate it for such causes.

I believe this storied yellow flag is being targeted because of its association with the Tea Party protests of a few years ago against Obamacare and other examples of ineffective, inefficient, wasteful and unresponsive government. It remains a symbol of defiance and independence, which runs contrary to the increasing demands for compliance and conformity in our land.  Thus, symbols that inspire and remind Americans about their heritage must be controlled or eliminated. (Prediction: they’ll go after this symbol next.)

People like myself with genuine concerns about the direction of our country tried a few years ago to demonstrate and appropriately ‘petition for the redress of grievances,’ and the Gadsden Flag quickly became a symbol of that segment of the citizenry — which should have been a warning to any leader with a sense of history.  But at the time the professional punditry and not a few of our national leaders smeared the whole movement as some sort of racist enterprise and ignored them. Then they were surprised at the sudden surge of support for a deeply flawed and disruptive candidate like Trump.

There’s a lesson there: when people believe acting traditionally and respectfully gets their legitimate concerns libeled and dismissed, they stop acting as civilly.  If our national leaders (on both sides of the aisle) don’t start actively addressing these concerns–the very real negative effects of free trade and unfettered immigration, a lack of faith that our nation is secure, bloated, wasteful and ineffective agencies and programs, and a general sense that our whole government is just one great big racket for the well-connected–then the next standard bearer for them is likely to be even less palatable from a civil, traditional perspective.

The clock is ticking, the tinder is drier than it’s been in generations, and we have perhaps the most tone-deaf, insular and arrogant leadership class in our nation’s history.  Absent a miracle, I don’t expect this to play out well.

Based on their frantic cultural cleansing, it appears they don’t, either.

Remember, America.

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