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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Stop looking to government to save you

Because it’s plain that is its last priority.  Our nation’s Federal law enforcement has now spent over a year investigating politically charged claims that President Trump somehow colluded with Russia to “steal” the election away from Hillary Clinton.  (After all, how else to explain the anointed one’s failure to ascend to the throne?)

But apparently that same apparatus had no resources to spare when told specifically and repeatedly about the threat posed by Nikolas Cruz.  More than FIVE MONTHS before the troubled young man shot up a school on Wednesday, a YouTube channel owner alerted the FBI to online comments Cruz made under his own name about wanting to be a “professional school shooter.”  Today the FBI admitted it was also given very specific threat information about Cruz SIX WEEKS ago… and did NOTHING:

‘The caller provided information about Cruz’s gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting,’ said the FBI in a  statement on Friday.

The agency went on to state that this information, which came in over their Public Access Line, should have been classified as ‘a potential threat to life’ and the Miami field office notified about the information.

Those protocols were not followed however for reasons that are still not clear, and on Wednesday Cruz shot dead 17 people.

Maybe too many agents were busy trying to trap Trump associates.  Maybe they were all busy sending thousands of text messages to their lovers.  The truly cynical part of me can no longer dismiss the possibility some in our government allow such things to happen because the public then willingly surrenders more of their rights in an elusive quest for security from Uncle Sam.  Whatever the reason, Florida Governor Rick Scott is right to call for the resignation of FBI Director Christopher Wray.  But accountability shouldn’t stop at that mostly symbolic gesture.  EVERY agent who was privy to the information that citizens had provided should be fired and prosecuted for gross dereliction of duty resulting in loss of life.

We’re constantly told we need a perpetual surveillance society, and that if we “see something, say something.”  But what good does it do to surrender our rights to privacy and accept an Orwellian panopticon if those in authority fail in their part of the devil’s bargain and refuse to protect us?

And the Left wants us to give up even more of our rights by disarming?  I think not.  In fact, it’s plain the opposite needs to occur: more citizens need to arm and train themselves.  At the same time pundits are praising the willingness of Coach Aaron Feis to give his life shielding students, they’re asking what needs to be done to prevent such tragedies.  It shouldn’t be so hard to connect the dots: train and arm willing teachers so schools stop being inviting soft targets.  No teacher who is willing to risk their life for their kids as Coach Feis did should have to face an attacker unarmed.  I saw this graphic online recently and it speaks for itself:

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Nothing in the above list is more precious than our children — our future.  The utter failure of the FBI in this case reinforces the adage that “when seconds count, the police are just minutes away.”  We have a God-given right to “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness,” and that includes the right to defend those things.  We may delegate some of that authority to police agencies, but one of the first things I learned as a military officer is that while you can delegate authority, you cannot delegate responsibility.  All of us, as citizens and parents, are ultimately responsible for the defense of our families and communities.  That responsibility means facing head-on the fact there is evil in this world that requires the average person to be prepared to confront it at any moment.

It also includes the responsibility to punish those we empower to act on our behalf, but who fail to do so.  There MUST be a revival of accountability — and personal responsibility, including self-defense — in this country!

Why don’t they do something?

Once again the actions of a crazed killer are being used to push the idea of further restrictions on the right of law-abiding citizens to own firearms.

“Why don’t they do something,” the Left wails about Congress as they clamor for Americans to give up their right to self-protection and unilaterally disarm.

But that question could be put equally to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  You know, the agency that’s poured thousands of man-hours (not to mention taxpayer money) into looking for what appears to be non-existent evidence of “collusion” between Trump and Russia.  Why bring up the FBI?

Because they were aware of yesterday’s murdererSix months ago.

This is not a one-time observation, either.  “Known wolf” is a phrase that keeps popping up after these events:

So the real question should be this: in an age where we are closing in on ubiquitous surveillance, and authorities have unfathomable–and unConstitutional–capability to eavesdrop on our every move, why are known threats continually able to pull off such tragedies?

Why don’t they do something?

The winds of change

The end of a year is considered time for reflection; to examine trends and identify needed corrections.  Today’s New Years Eve events seem to point toward one of those trends:

“New Year revellers across Britain will be protected by SAS snipers armed with the world’s most powerful rifle – which is capable of stopping a terrorist vehicle.  Brave special forces soldiers will be deployed on rooftops around the country and will even be surveilling crowds from helicopters.”  (The Sun, United Kingdom)

***

“Organisers of Berlin’s New Year’s Eve celebrations are to set up a “safe zone” for women for the first time.  The new security measures planned for the Brandenburg Gate party come amid concerns about sexual assaults. A large number of assaults and robberies targeting women at Cologne’s New Year’s Eve celebrations two years ago horrified Germany. Hundreds of women reported being attacked by gangs of men with migrant backgrounds.”  (BBC, United Kingdom)

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Police in Sweden have retracted their “unfortunate” advice that women should not go out alone after dark.  Local police in Malmö made a public statement saying women should stay indoors when it gets dark following the rape of a 17-year-old girl.  The incident occurred after midnight as the victim walked through a playground area and is the third attack of its kind in the Swedish city of Malmö in the last few weeks.  (Independent, United Kingdom)

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Police are promising a bigger security detail than ever before in Times Square for this year’s New Year’s Eve celebration, which will cap off a year that saw a number of deadly attacks on innocent crowds, including a vehicle rampage at the very spot where revelers will ring in 2018.  The extra precautions follow two recent terrorist attacks in the city. A man detonated a bomb in the city’s subway system on December 11, injuring only himself. On Halloween, an Islamic State-inspired attacker drove down a bicycle path, killing eight people before he wrecked his truck and was shot by police. (CNBC, United States)

 

At the end of the 1980s Western Civilization celebrated the end of the Cold War, the final of three chapters of unprecedented, largely intramural violence in the 20th Century.  The rock band The Scorpions sang about “The Wind of Change,” capturing the hope the future would be brighter.

Those winds have changed direction, and the West needs to stop importing large numbers of foreigners.  Now.  We already have enough crazies of our own.  It now appears we traded the Cold War for a return of a much older conflict.  May 2018 see continued success in reviving the West’s slumbering sense of self-preservation.

War without end

One of the pervasive problems that can be traced back to increasing disregard for the rule of law is the perpetual state of warfare and “emergency” in which the United States has existed for decades:

…preparing for war—even engaging in war—without asking why war is necessary has arguably become part of our national psyche. In a large sense, the United States has been at war for so long that, collectively, its citizens and leaders have become uncomfortable with, if not frightened by, the very idea of peace. After decades of being at war, we have come to the point where we can’t live without it.

As the distance between soldiers and civilians has grown, Americans have become less troubled with the idea of permanent war. As early as 1995, the historian Michael Sherry documented the militarization of American life, a decades-long trajectory originating before World War II in which “war defined much of the American imagination” and “the fear of war penetrated” American society. Though Sherry ended on a guardedly hopeful note—that Americans might “drift away from their militarized past”—more recent critics, like Bacevich, have denounced our society’s increasingly comfortable relationship with war. Extending Sherry’s analysis beyond the events of September 11, Bacevich persuasively maintains that the seduction of war overpowers rational thinking on the possibilities and, more importantly, limitations of military power abroad. Instead, we instinctively equate American superiority with military superiority…

Given the experience of American wars since 1945, perhaps we should reconsider how well U.S. military efforts solve overseas problems. More serious consideration of what’s attainable from our wielding of power might compel us to challenge our notions of the advantages war supposedly offers.

While it’s true America’s schizophrenic tendencies toward both fearing the world and desiring to remake it in its own image contribute heavily to this permanent war footing, a lack of constraint on our leaders is an equally important ingredient.  The Constitution clearly states the method by which the Republic is to go to war: via a declaration of such by Congress.  It has been so long since this was actually done (1941, to be exact) that most people today have no expectation of the President actually seeking such a declaration.  Oh, sure, there are the occasional figleaf “Authorizations for Use of Military Force” in which the legislative branch essentially hands the current sitting emperor President a blank check to go kill people somewhere else on the planet.  Sometimes even that doesn’t occur.  The question of war or peace is the most serious one any nation can face.  Rather than entrusting power to a single individual the Founders placed it in the hands of the people’s representative body, where it was to be deliberated, not just rubber-stamped.  If Congress were doing even part of its job, we wouldn’t have a President admitting 12 months into another new series of combat operations that there’s essentially no strategy – that we’re just winging it!  If a war is necessary, it certainly deserves more focus and attention than that!

Aside from the Cold War nuclear standoff, America hasn’t faced an existential threat since 1941.  Americans don’t consciously think about that, but they instinctively realize it.  That’s why World War II is sometimes called the ‘good war’ (i.e. we knew what was at stake), while all the conflicts since — with the telling exception of Desert Storm — have had considerably less public support.  That public has failed, however, to hold its leaders accountable for the profligate way they spend American blood and treasure abroad.  Sure, there were protests about the Iraq war — but they were motivated (and financed) largely by those seeking partisan advantage, not by a grassroots sense that this was an unnecessary foreign adventure.

Sadly, that is our track record over the last 70-plus years: a series of unnecessary foreign adventures.  Because the people refuse to demand a less bellicose footing, the powerful interests that are served by war continue to hold sway.  War remains, as Smedley Butler wrote, “a racket,” where the well-connected reap the benefits, the State continues to grow in power, and everyone else pays the piper.  Considering our porous borders and inability (or unwillingness) to control physical access to our country, the Orwellian term “Defense Department” (wherein we account for more than a third of all military spending in the world) has to be one of history’s biggest misnomers.  We, the people, need to demand better.

Something to consider, as our leaders continue to poke the Russian bear and twist the Chinese dragon’s tail, all while doubling down yet again in a Middle East that is the world’s largest geopolitical quicksand bog…

Gangster government

Surveys show Americans are overwhelmingly angry with the direction of their country, and with what seems to be a never-ending list of of examples of corruption, cronyism and  general criminality in both intent and neglect:

— An IRS that not only puts its thumb on the scale of national elections, but knowingly seizes the savings of innocent people then refuses to give it back.

— An incoherent policy on Ebola that lets medical volunteers return to the country and roam free, but requires military troops ordered to West Africa to be quarantined for three weeks — despite assurances they aren’t supposed to be working directly with patients there.  (Oh, and Italy is none-too-happy that this quarantine is done in their country, not ours).  Add to that, the State Department apparently has (or is, despite denials) considered importing non-citizen patients to the U.S. for treatment.

— An electoral process that increasingly is being shown to be nothing more than a sham to prop up a semblence of legitimacy for a government that seems anything but.

— A well-entrenched “deep surveillance state” that apparently not only pokes into any electronic space it cares to, with no accountability, but has the ability–and does–plant documents that can later be used to discredit critics.

— A fundamental restructuring of health care delivery in this nation passed on a strictly partisan vote, with little debate or discussion of the details, and to this day a stonewalling on information about how it is being implemented.

And none of this includes many still-unanswered questions about Benghazi, Fast and Furious, or the size, scope and real beneficiaries of “Quantitative Easing” and other Federal Reserve interventions in the economy since 2008, etc, etc, ad infinitum.

At this point, can any American outside the well-connected Beltway elite say they are served by this government?

At this point, given the structural rigging of the system on multiple levels, can any American believe a mere election — even one projected as a “wave event” — is really going to change anything?  The roots of the IRS foreiture programs were passed in 2000, under a Democratic administration (Clinton).  The massive assaults on the Bill of Rights known as the Patriot Act debuted under a Republican (Bush the Younger).  And many of the current administration’s critics are fellow Democrats who feel betrayed that in reality nothing has changed under “the One” — if anything, the abuses have only gotten worse.

So the question is this: if Americans are so angry, where IS it?  What the pollsters are calling ‘anger’ comes across in reality as frustrated resignation.  If I’m wrong, America, prove it.  Where are the protests?  Where are the crowds descending on Capitol Hill and City Hall?

Refuse to comply with unconstitutional and arbitrary abuses of power.  Go confront the officials who perpitrate them.  Now is the time for action, not words.  We seem to forget that we outnumber them.   The reason the criminals in office are flooring the accelerator on their various schemes is that the nation has given them no reason to think there will be pushback or consequences.

Show them they’re wrong.  Or shut the hell up the next time a pollster asks you if you’re angry.  We were founded as a nation on the belief that “when any government becomes destructive of these ends (life, liberty, pursuit of happiness), it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, establishing new government…”  Either alter or abolish this trainwreck, or admit to yourself you accept it, however grudgingly.  Just remember that such acceptance makes you an accomplice.  People have resisted far more entrenched tyrannies.  So what’s your excuse?

NO INCUMBENTS, PLEASE!