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:

shutddown

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.

Doing the jobs parents won’t do

This is truly Orwellian:

The National Science Foundation has committed $10 million to build robots that will act as “personal trainers” for children, in an effort to influence their behavior and eating habits.

The project will develop a “new breed of sophisticated ‘socially assistive’ robots,” designed to help children “learn to read, appreciate physical fitness, overcome cognitive disabilities, and perform physical exercises,” according to a news release by Yale University when the grant was first announced in 2012.

“Just like a good personal trainer, we want the robots to be able to guide the child toward a behavior that we desire,” said Brian Scassellati, a computer science professor at Yale and principal investigator for the study.

“What we want to do is move these robots out of the laboratory and into schools and homes and clinics, places where we can directly help children on a day-to-day basis,” he said.

The NSF grant said the project is necessary due to “critical societal problems.”

“The need for this technology is driven by critical societal problems that require sustained, personalized support that supplements the efforts of educators, parents, and clinicians,” the grant said.

Scassellati envisions the robots influencing nearly every aspect of children’s lives.

The ‘personal trainers’ children need are their parents.  And it’s a sad commentary that so few are doing the job that engineers are getting involved.  And make no mistake: this is an engineering project.   This isn’t just about getting kids to eat their veggies.  It’s about providing them with a constant companion that will program the little minds with whatever it’s been programmed to spout.  Imagine a mechanical ‘coach’ reciting the secular left’s many mantras night and day at its human charge, and you can see the potential.

Ultimately, though, no mechanical device can provide children with what they need most: love.

Scores of studies show that many of the ‘critical societal problems’ we face today are rooted in the breakdown of the traditional family, which every corner of our society seems literally hell-bent on destroying.  The family is God-designed and ordained out of His wisdom.  If our leaders were truly serious about aiding effective childhood development, they’d seek to contribute to the restoration of that social fabric.  Since the family is a competing source of authority, though, that will never happen.  The nature of the State is not to rest until all other sources of power and cohesion–church, family, community — are brought to heel.

Just remember as these autocratic automatons are rolled out: “it’s for the children.”

Dance of the oligarchs

First, the quote of the day:

“…will parties in the USA (including Obama camp “progressives”) stop cheerleading for a showdown over this hapless doormat of a faraway nation (Ukraine) whose destiny is not entwined with the people of Ohio, Nebraska, Rhode Island, or any of the other fifty states? We have enough to do in our own country to adjust to the new realities of the unraveling turbo-industrial global economy — and, by the way, we are not doing a damn thing to address any of it. Our domestic political conversation at all levels is juvenile and idiotic.”

This plea is all the more appropriate because the call for resurrecting the Cold War over whether or not those who identify themselves as Russian can live as part of Russia has absolutely nothing to do with vital principles. It is all about two groups of uber-rich, dynastic oligarchs vying for power on the world stage, using their less fortunate countrymen as cannon fodder. Americans don’t like to think of their nation as being politically on a par with Russia, but perhaps it’s time to face some facts.

* It’s easy to agree that Vladimir Putin and his inner circle have empowered and enriched himself through cronyism. So what makes them different from, say, Harry Reid, who is amazingly wealthy despite a life allegedly spent in ‘public service?”

* Russia’s internal security forces, descendants of the Cheka and KGB, are often highlighted for failing to protect basic human rights. So what makes their stereotypical “midnight knock on the door” different from the thousands of “no-knock raids” conducted by America’s trigger-happy SWAT teams?

* Russia is decried for using the leverage of its natural gas wealth to achieve favorable concessions and relations from other countries. I suppose this kind of subtlty looks diabolical when your own nation prefers to engineer “regime changes,” sometimes via outright invasion.

Sting once sang “the only hope for me and you, is if the Russians love their children, too.” It works both ways. Parents in neither country should be willing to send their children off to war simply to play ‘a game of thrones’ between the Pampered Princes of the Potomac and the Kings of the Kremlin. War has ever been ‘the health of the State,’ and the last thing we need are more manufactured crises that feed Leviathan. Rather than let these elites divide us with the ploy of “let’s you and him fight,” we’d be better served using whatever outrage we have to set our own houses in order.