Leading from Behind? or Just Lost?

Our President has likened his leadership style to leading from behind, a community organizing tactic.  Leading from the front or leading from behind, it doesn’t matter.  The key idea is leadership which suggests that someone is following you.  If no one is following you, then guess what?  You’re not leading!  And this brings me to the last two congressional votes for the President’s budget.  On Wednesday the House voted against Obama’s budget 414-0.  In May 2011, the Senate voted down Obama’s budget 97-0.  So out of the last two votes in Congress on the President’s budget, the combined vote is 511 against 0 in favor.

Folks, no matter how you spin it, that’s not leading.  If you’re the President and for two consecutive years, you can’t get a single member of your party in Congress to vote for your budget, then you are not leading anyone else to go where you are going.

Barack Obama  -  Going where no one wants to go!

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Observations while working the polls in Ohio on Super Tuesday

I’ve read a few stories about vote fraud although so few seem to hit the media that liberals have no difficulty claiming it a non-problem.  Hence they are up in arms about new voter ID requirements as they push to weaken standards for recording votes.  Thus it seemed a good idea to volunteer to work the polls and see what is actually going on.  Since I live in an area that has a high concentration of Democrats, I thought it would be interesting to witness this process first hand as an election official.

In preparation, the County Board of Elections organized a training session for assembly, operation, maintenance and shut down of the voting machines the Wednesday prior to the elections.  The session lasted about 1 and 1/2 hours and was attended by approximately 20 people roughly half of whom were returning veteran poll workers.  I then attended a 1 hour general training session on Friday morning county wide poll officials in which all rules, procedures and requirements were presented.  If that seems like limited preparation, it is.  So to supplement my understanding, I went through the online training and preparation class twice prior to showing up at the polls on Tuesday morning at 05:30 am.

Many poll workers are retired and work the day to see friends and neighbors and to earn a few bucks.  There were no openings in the area in which I live.  I told the County Board Republican supervisor to send me wherever he needed me.  Much to my delight, I was assigned to an inner city precinct about 20 minutes from my home.

I arrived at our polling location right at 05:30.  Our presiding judge was already assembling the first machine.  There were two precincts in my polling location with 4 poll judges per precinct.  We occupied one large room in a church supported Community Center.  Our precinct was provided with 3 polling machines and the other precinct was provided with 4 polling machines.  This seemed odd to me since precincts are designed to accommodate roughly equivalent numbers of voters.  As I was the only rookie of the crew, I figured what do I know and left it at that.

The next thing that was most definitely odd was that we had to sign the oath of office and the young 24 year old man who was working his second voting day (the last time was a couple of years ago) signed as a Democrat (there must be 2 Republicans and 2 Democrats).  The Presiding Judge informed him that he was a Republican today.  He was filling in for his grandmother who was not feeling well.  He did not appear to understand really any of the duties of working the polls.  He was unemployed and was happy to earn the $120 paid for the days’ work.  He had a 4 year old daughter, a girl friend, and lived with his grandmother as both his parents had passed away.  He spent his days arbitraging consumer goods on Craig’s List buying at low prices and reselling them at higher prices.  Had I not been there, there would have been no Republicans in that Precinct even though two of the poll workers would no doubt have signed as Republicans.

Our team managed to get all set up including posting the various required notices, setting up the 3 voting machines, signing off that they were all beginning at zero, and organized as to assigned duties in plenty of time to greet our first voters at 06:30 am.  Our presiding judge, an amiable, talkative, and good humored retiree was a veteran of 9 years of working the polls and was well versed in his duties.

At 06:30 the polls opened and after about 45 minutes we had our first voter come through.  since this was a primary, and in Ohio, it is considered a Closed Primary, voters are required to declare which party’s ballot they wish to vote.  For this election they were obligated to choose between Democrat, Republican, Green Party, Libertarian Party and Independent (or Issues only as no candidates were running under that label).  They could choose to vote any party’s ballot they wished regardless of their actual affiliation.  They were limited however to voting only 1 slate of candidates, they could not vote multiple party’s ballots.

For this Super Tuesday vote, all of the news and energy was focused on the Republican presidential challengers.  There were no real newsworthy Democratic races save for some county officials (Sheriff), and local state representatives, prosecutors and judges.  My expectation was for a low turnout particularly for the precinct to which I was assigned.   I had no idea how low the turnout would actually be.

Our precinct had roughly 14 pages of computer printout names registered with about 40 names per page for a total of around 560 voters.  Our final vote count for the day was 46 voters or about 8% turnout which is pretty abysmal considering that there was a school tax levy on the ballot for the city schools.  And out of those 46 votes cast were 2 Republican votes and 44 Democrat votes.

My duty for most of the day was to check voter ID’s and have voters sign the registration book.  The voter ID requirements in the State of Ohio are extremely lax.  Photo ID’s are not required, merely some evidence that you live in the district is all that is necessary.  Consequently, a bank statement, a utility bill, a paycheck with your address on it, virtually any kind of document that verifies your address is all that is needed.  Ohio does not really have any procedures to prevent aliens or non-citizens from voting if they are inclined to vote.  This also means that anyone can show up and represent themselves as someone else as long as they have one of these valid address verification documents.

Turnout being as low as it was, the voter validation procedures did not present any difficutlies.  Every voter that I encountered that day presented an Ohio Driver’s License.  There were a total of two incidences for me all day.  One, a voter’s Driver’s License had been expired for two years.  This I caught performing my duties examining his license, and while the voter was on the registration book, since he could not produce a valid ID, was required to vote a provisional ballot.  The second issue I encountered was a voter who appeared with a valid drivers license, containing an address that was verified to be within our precinct, but was simply not present in the registration book.  She was also required to vote a provisional ballot even though she claimed to have voted previously.

When the day ended, our team was efficient at closing down the machines, we followed the procedures to secure the printed audit trails, printing three copies, disassembling the machines, and recording the ballot counts in the Poll Book.  With many steps along the way, each poll worker is required to sign off on the activity undertaken giving the appearance of bipartisan validation in the process.  As I was asked to sign the back page of the poll book in which ballots cast are tallied by machine, party identification, and type (provisional, 17 year old, unused paper ballots for each party) the woman recording the totals and managing the poll book for the day had mistakenly totaled all of the ballots under the Democratic column.  I pointed out to her that there were two Republican ballots and that her totals were incorrect.  She was somewhat offended that I corrected her but I think she did not really understand the reconciliation table in the poll book and corrected the columns after I pointed out how it should be done.

The final act is that the machines and all of the supplies are to be loaded in the car of the presiding judge and transported back to the Board of Elections.  I won a coin flip in the morning against the 24 year old man who was acting as a Republican for the day and so was awarded the task of accompanying the presiding judge with the machines and ballots back to the Board of Elections.  He loaded them in his truck and left me no room to sit with him.  When I suggested that I would follow him in my own car back to the Board, he told me it was not necessary, that there were plenty of people back there to help unload the vehicle and that I would be paid the extra $5 anyway on an honorarium basis as if I had accompanied him.  I decided that I would follow him anyway but when I got back to my car, started it and took off, he was already gone from sight.  I knew the way and it was only about 3 miles down a major four lane road.  I pulled into the parking lot of the Board of Elections but did not see his truck. Quite possibly, he had already pulled around the rear of the building where orange cones were assembled and which I assume was for unloading the equipment.   I did not drive back there but rather pulled out and went on home.  My civic duties were done for the day.

What I learned was that the process is pretty good but that the bipartisan representation at the polling locations is easy to game and is most likely gamed on a pretty widespread basis given that certain precincts are overwhelmingly Democratic.  It appears also that there are simply insufficient Republican volunteers to work these polling locations and ensure that the procedures are adequately followed.  Why this problem is allowed to persist and why there is not a more concerted effort to staff these locations with proper representation is something I do not understand.

Further, it is clear to me that a picture ID law is necessary in the State of Ohio as the ID law requirement is so lax that a non citizen, temporary resident from another state, or committed partisan individuals could vote in multiple precincts passing themselves off as someone else and vote for that registered individual.  Also, if someone shows up without any ID and no confirmation that they even belong in that precinct, insisting that they be allowed to vote, they are given a provisional ballot which gets stuffed into an envelop containing a voter registration form.  The Board of Elections will then process that vote in 10 days if that person shows up to provide something, who knows what.  I have not been privy to what happens back at the BoE so who knows how that process is actually carried out.

In short, the process is poorly designed validating voters addresses rather than their actual identities, and poorly executed with insufficient representatives from the Republican party to staff the heavily Democratic precincts.  Correcting this should be a major focus of the Republican Party going forward and certainly prior to the November election.

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Progressive Distortion of Reality

I recently read a Puffington Host column by Steven van Zandt, whoever that is, entitled There is Only One Issue in America.  The author defines that problem as political campaigns tainted by private money, and that the solution is to overturn Buckley v Valeo, the Supreme Court case that held, in part and with some restrictions, that private campaign donations were protected First Amendment Free Speech.  This finding was later extended in the case of Citizens United which held essentially that corporations enjoy First Amendment protection just as private individuals do.  And there is the rub and what has the Progressives’ panties all in a bunch.

For his part, Mr. van Zandt’s solution is to eliminate private donations to political campaigns and finance all campaigns with public funds thereby eliminating the lack of fairness in the political process.  The problem as Mr. van Zandt defines it is that if money equals speech, then lack of money equals lack of speech and the non-moneyed interests are therefore shut out of the process, (by means other than their own vote).

There is very little disagreement that flow of money provides the life blood of political campaigns.  Private donations to political causes allow expenditures that yield coverage and exposure of both individual candidates and political points of view.  In recent years, financing a presidential election has become a massive fund raising affair and this year, our President has suggested that he will raise $1B to finance his re-election campaign, a sobering war chest to be sure.

Despite the massive sums spent on campaigns, many donations come from individuals interested in politics and willing to impart $5, or $10 to support a preferred candidate.  Mr. van Zandt’s preferred solution would be to outlaw this kind of engagement in the political process.  The denial of direct participation in the political process through campaign contributions has been reasonably and correctly equated to a denial of
First Amendment rights to free speech.  If you and I cannot contribute to our preferred candidate, how then is our participation protected?  Many people donate time and effort but others are unable to afford that luxury and therefore donate money.  These donations represent to many, the only available avenue to participate other than through the act of voting itself (which is after all the ultimate political participation).  And participation is a fundamental aspect of this nation allowing us to influence who represents our interests in the political process.

The same can be said for non-individual (corporates, non-profits, labor unions, and other assembled association) participants.  They also have a stake in influencing the individuals that will be writing and executing the laws of our nation.  After all, these organizations are nothing more than the free associations of individuals for a common purpose, a concept that is foundational to our republic and again protected by the First Amendment.

The result of the foregoing is that campaign contributions are a bedrock right of citizens, of this country to participate in the political process of our nation, something which Mr van Zandt is apparently ready to throw overboard in his zeal to socialize our politics.  His blindside is that he has mis-diagnosed the issue and prescribed a lobotomy for a headache.  Money in politics becomes corrupting when it yields a quid pro quo, that is specific official actions that amount to political favoritism benefiting the donor in a targeted, direct, and exclusive fashion.  This kind of activity amounts to corruption and it is corruption that pollutes our politics.  There is a fine line between political favoritism and corruption and favoritism occurs all too often resulting in much corruption that goes unpunished.  (The negotiation to subordinate the Department of Energy Loan to Solyndra’s investors’ interests, contrary to law, is an example of unpunished corruption, as was the subordination of bondholders interests to the labor unions during the GM rescue).  But our political system with its tri-partite structure, distribution of authority, freedom of the press and speech, and other constitutional safeguards, tends to mitigate unchecked corruption.

So what is it with Progressives that they are so quick to propose political solutions that deny Americans their fundamental rights?  My belief is that 1) they lack a sufficient understanding of our political institutions and 2) they have so badly misdiagnosed the problem that the solution they propose is invariably unrelated to the issue.  In relation to 2, Progressive’s view of the world is overly simplified expressing all problems in terms of power dynamics, that is who has power and who doesn’t.  In this case, those lacking the money to participate politically must be protected from those who run our political process enabled by the access to money.  While this condition may seem unfair, is this really an insightful dissection of the core of our political problems?  If this were North Korea, or Iran, I might answer in the affirmative but it is not.  And our Constitution continues to guard us against the deprivations and subjective cruelties that one might associate with totalitarian regimes.  Essentially, Progressives short change their own ability to view reality as it is by relying on political models that distort that reality into a simplified construct that results in both a misdiagnosis of the actual problem and a wildly off-base solution.  And not so ironically, the consequences of their preferred solutions frequently display a totalitarian impulse.

Mr. van Zandt’s diagnosis and essay turn on the insight between wealth-amplified speech and un-amplified speech to completely misdiagnose the problem of official corruption
(of which we already have laws on the books against, however unsatisfactorily they may be applied).   Other Progressive constructs are equally crude such as John Edwards, two America’s (ie. rich and poor, somehow omitting the entirety of the divergent middle class in his attempt to define America) and the Occupy Wall St crowd with their splitting of America into the 99% and the 1%, or Karl Marx’s division of the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.  Isn’t it curious that they seem to all be describing the world in binary terms, which grossly oversimplifies the reality that we live in while at the same time promoting a view that divides our society into  simplistic opposing factions.  If you can’t adequately describe our world in terms that define the issues specifically and with precision, then you forfeit any chance of actually solving the problem.  Would you trust a medical professional with a similarly jaundiced perspective?

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Why are Liberals Increasingly Nasty?

Why are the lefty elites increasingly nasty and vitriolic in their attacks on their political opponents? This question refers not to the loons on MSNBC as they emerged from the cradle with a boulder sized thorn stuck in their big toe. This question refers to the latest round of pundits referring to the political opposition first as racists, for opposing Obama (note the tactic of demonizing is straight out of the Alinsky playbook and always questioning the motives and never the substance of the opposition’s argument) and more recently as suicide bombers, terrorists and jihadists (see Friedman, Nocera, Harrop, Biden, and many others). The irony of these fulminations coming from the same people who accused the tea party, Sarah Palin, and others of inciting violence is completely lost on them.  (The little secret is that they are hoping against hope that somebody on the right actually does commit violence so that they can scream about it from the rooftops.  Never mind that lefty thugs have been savagely attacking people routinely over the past couple of years at tea party rallies).

The meanness of their attacks is not an accident because there are simply so many, in fact it is very much like a herd of lemmings that as soon as one pundit launches the first bomb, they are instantly replicated by many more nearly identical in metaphorical content. So the question is “Why are they doing this?” Do they believe that the opposition will suddenly realize how wrong they are? In other words are they attempting to persuade the opposition? Or are they attempting to persuade the hardcore faithful, the true believers in liberalism?  Or are they trying to persuade those in the middle who are independent voters, the ones who generally decide elections.

One can only reasonably speculate about motives (unlike those who claim certainty), and there are several that might capture the essence of the incivility.  First, this is the language that succeeds if you want to mobilize a mob. Mobs react with pure emotion to images, not to reasoned argument. These attacks are meant to overlay mental images onto their targets. The metaphorical accuracy is not really important, rather it is the implantation of the image that is important and this is what motivates mobs to rage. The apparent aim of this tactic is therefore to mobilize the base to rage against the machine.  This tactic works well with liberals because they behave generally as a mob behaves. They don’t respond to logic and reason so much as they respond to images and emotion.

Since the election of 2010, there has been a pretty serious headwind opposing the President and his transformational agenda. Politics being what they are is a test of wills and who has best positioned themselves to impose their will on the opposition. The President quite naturally by virtue of his nationwide election and the power of the presidency has  an overwhelming advantage over either of the legislative branches.  But in the latest battle royale over the debt ceiling crisis, the most charitable thing that could be said for the outcome of that battle is that it was a standstill between the House Republicans, and the President and Democrats who control the Senate. If you’re scoring this at home this represents an upset victory in political terms for the House who appear to have punched above their weight class.

In fairness, it is far too early to pass final judgment on this deal as the can has been kicked down the road once again in the form of a super congressional panel of budget fixers. As it stands now though, Obama got none of the things he started out wanting including primarily tax hikes, or a clean debt increase bill.

Contributing to the president’s woes, the performance of the economy has undermined the liberal policies passed during the Democrats stranglehold on the levers of power for the first two years of this administration. Growth in the first half of 2011 at less than 1% represents a potential slide into double dip recession territory which would be devastating. This is 2 and 1/2 years after the stimulus was guaranteed to reduce unemployment.  And let’s not forget that Obamacare was sold as an economic stimulant.  Nancy Pelosi once remarked that the bill would immediately create 400,000 jobs.   Instead it has failed spectacularly and indeed a case has been made that Obamacare is singularly responsible for an abrupt deterioration in private sector employment.

So it appears that the harsh rhetoric being employed by the left opinion leaders is an attempt to rally the base into mob like rage and alter the balance of intensity between the competing factions.  Further, this tactic carries a whiff of desperation as it is unlikely to persuade the moderate independents.  The economic misery shows no signs of abating and the failure of the liberal policies to produce a meaningful change in performance requires either blame shifting (Bush’s fault, stimulus too small, too many wars, whatever) or changing the subject, both unpersuasive tactics.

Changing the subject by demonizing the opposition appears to be the preferred approach.  In order to mobilize the base, this demonization needs to trigger an emotional response to be effective.  It remains to be seen if the terrorist labeling strategy meets that requirement.  (A view from the left suggests that one man’s terrorist is simply another man’s freedom fighter.)  Of course there could a simpler explanation to this recent escalation in incivility, and that is that they are fundamentally mean and nasty people.  And while applying Occam’s Razor may favor that interpretation, it is not entirely charitable.

Update: Joe Nocera apologizes for his name calling.  I’m impressed.

Update 2: With S&P downgrading US Debt from AAA to AA+, does that make them a) Racist? b) Terrorist, or c) Late to the Party

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The Left’s Self Fulfilling Prophecy?

The tragic homicidal shooting spree that killed and wounded our fellow citizens in Tuscon, Az. was entirely the result of what appears, a mentally ill individual who had multiple run-ins with both campus police at Pima Community College and the local Sherriff’s office.  The fact that the target was a Democratic Congresswoman has generated some of the most vile and merit-less incendiary charges that we have witnessed in our political give and take in a very long time.  What to make of this?

Several observations come to mind.  The first is that the left is completely blind to the hostile environment they create with their own rhetoric.  It is as if Saul Alinsky’s Community Organizing Primer, Rules for Radicals has been internalized by the political and media elites in full without giving a second thought as to whether these tactics are appropriate for the given time and place.  His infamous Rule 12, Pick a target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it, are now standard tactics for any and all circumstances.  The theory behind this tactic is to discredit and de-ligitimize the object of their character assassination so they have no platform from which to be heard. It is in short a tactic to shut the opposition up by whatever means are effective.

This tactic has been playing out in full throated vigor in the aftermath of an actual assassination attempt.  The charges revolve around creating a climate of hate but while the targets have been specific (Limbaugh, Palin, The Tea Party, et al) , the charges have evolved from specifically inciting THIS act, to a more generic charge of poisoning the atmosphere.  This genericizing of charges shields them (in their minds) from having to actually demonstrate their validity.   An allegation of indirect responsibility provides cover for lacking factual evidence to back up their point of view while simultaneously demonizing their target into pariah status.  As the New York Times puts it in an editorial on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011 (h/t George Will)

“On Sunday, the Times explained Tucson: “It is facile and mistaken to attribute this particular madman’s act directly to Republicans or Tea Party members. But . . .” The “directly” is priceless.”

The shooter has been described by close associates as being a-political, listening to neither TV news nor talk radio, but rather living dangerously in his own mind and being detached from reality.  His own internet postings and writings show incoherence.  This quite clearly is not someone who was motivated by political talk radio from the right or the left. And yet there is an unrelenting drumbeat by the left to tarnish political opponents for contributory negligence.

Several theories have been forthcoming to describe this hysteria including 1) despite no evidence, they truly believe the charges, perversely believing that the human condition is perfectible , 2) they are simply delusional, and 3) they are oozing bile from their pores over their hatred of the political opposition.

I find all three theories are somewhat persuasive but I think it is a calculated piece of political tactic by the elite punditry who are in fact fearful of the shellacking the Democrats took in last November’s elections and the consequences of that repudiation.  They will take whatever steps available to prevent that kind of similar outcome in 2012.  If that means implementing Alinsky’s rule 12 on those who they find threatening, so be it.   This is a risky strategy as others (non-committed leftists) find this behavior shamelessly exploitative and callously insensitive to the victim’s families.  Nevertheless, the drumbeat goes on.

So what’s left of this accusation if we boil it down to its essential elements is that while the rhetoric from the Right did not cause this particular killer to act, it exists and it is rhetoric we (The Left) don’t like.  Therefore it incites people to hate, (It incites the Left to hate.) If it incites people to hate, then it is evil and will ultimately lead to evil deeds,  particularly by people who are somewhat unstable to start with.

As a democratic society, is this not the normal state of affairs?  That as a free people we are governed by laws that place limits on individuals to curb their actions against their desires or pay the consequences of those actions.  No set of laws can prevent a lunatic from listening to the voices in his head although this incident should compel us to seriously look at the way we treat the mentally ill within our society.

But in the end, the outrage against right wing political rhetoric is simply nothing more than their own expression of outrage at political speech that they don’t like and want to shut down.  The most effective but difficult way to do that is to defeat it in the marketplace of political ideas, not to use the force of government to allow only the speech that they prefer.  That is after all what our First Amendment is all about.  The Left just lost an election meaning that they lost the most recent battle of ideas in the marketplace.  They need to do a better job, or they need to get better ideas, it is as simple as that.  The rest of this screeching is simply their noise machine trying to gain a political advantage that they have not earned.

Finally, the tactics being used to demean, denigrate, and demonize their political opponents may provide them a salve for their political wounds and the vigor with which they lash out provides some emotional satisfaction, it may come with a price and that is that many folks will look at this behavior and conclude that these people are intellectually and emotionally damaged.  That conclusion would not be without some merit as the evidence is mounting up for all to see. If they keep it up, what’s left of their hypothesis could become a self fulfilling prophecy.

Update: David Solway likens this behavior to demonic possession in a metaphorical sense.  See A Case of Possession.

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Al Gore’s Mea Culpa

So on Monday, Nov 22, 2010 in Athens, Greece, our Godfather of environmentalism admits that the ethanol mandate that he pursued so vigorously in our bio-fuels strategy was both mistaken and self promoting in seeking the presidency (h/t Newsbusters).  Now he tells us!

Projection occurs according to Freud as a psychological defense mechanism where a person unconsciously denies their own attributes, thoughts, and emotions, which are then ascribed to the outside world, such as to the weather, or to other people. Thus, it involves imagining or projecting that others have those feelings or thoughts.  It was Gore who warned against listening to any scientist who’s research was funded by energy companies since the results would be tainted by funding bias.  Yet it was Gore who now admits that his policy prescription for combating the burning of fossil fuels was mistaken as he was trying to buy off votes from farmers in his home state of Tennessee and in Iowa.

Now clearly this is barely newsworthy that a politician has been caught admitting that he crafted bad policy in order to secure votes.  It smacks of a dog-bites-man kind of story.  But from the Reuters story linked above, the US government in 2009 alone spent nearly $8 billion subsidizing corn based ethanol from which now 41% of our corn crop is used.  This has produced a dramatic increase in food prices as well as being a monumental waste of tax payer funds.  Why?

Studies have shown that it requires more energy to produce a gallon of ethanol than the energy contained in that same gallon and for this we are subsidizing the cost of its production and mandating its inclusion into our gasoline mixtures.  And if this is true then why are we still doing this?  Because once these corporate welfare programs are embedded into law, they become extremely difficult to get rid of.  This is one of the fundamental reasons for the spontaneous emergence of the tea parties these past two years.  Government expenditures on absolutely useless and wholly counter-productive programs  are what drives the tea partiers crazy and there are literally thousands of programs just like this.

The government simply cannot be trusted to pick winners and losers in the economic marketplace.  This is a prime example of why they are not to be trusted.  They abuse the power of their offices in return for votes, creating policies that are harmful to our well being and diverting resources from their most productive uses to value destroying uses.  And it costs them nothing to play this game.  The costs are all born by those of us who are forced to pay higher prices at the supermarket.

While Al Gore is hardly the first politician to confess to this kind of tactic, it does beg a question about what other greater causes he has promoted while hiding behind a potential for personal gain (Global Warming anyone and his investment funds in green technology).  The story also illustrates the dangers of government that is too big and un-accountable.  It is high time that we-the-people paid much more attention to their value destroying mischief.  Much better to support those who espouse frugality and prudence over those who want to interject government solutions into our all aspects of our lives.

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Is the TSA Enabling the Jihadists?

Many enterprises are engaged in rendering decisions as a primary element of their existence, banks, insurance companies, any company that extends credit are examples.   The processes they use allow them to expedite the decision-making process as quickly and efficiently as possible while minimizing misjudgment.  To compete effectively renders this function a core competence.  If they are poor at this, they will soon cease to exist.

The processes for these kinds of decisions involve discriminant analysis.  People assume that discrimination means something bad.  Not so.  Only when discrimination is used incorrectly does it necessarily invoke something bad.  Deciding on whether to extend credit based upon skin color is not only bad because it relies upon an independent variable (skin color) that is not descriptive of the dependent variable in question (the likelihood of repayment) , it is also illegal.  But deciding to extend credit only for people whose credit scores exceed, for example, 620 can be smart business depending on the product or service being transacted.  Credit scoring is a discriminating independent variable, that while not perfect, is a reasonably good predictor and is used by a large swath of the business world in order to make the best business decisions possible.

One aspect of political correctness can be described as an allergic reaction to making informed judgments.  Much of it is driven by the leftist’s idea that discriminating against anyone for any reason is essentially unfair even though it occurs everyday thousands of times in every facet of our lives.

The most recent example of the infiltration of this belief set is the recent introduction of the passenger screening process in our airports.   The TSA screeners have the unenviable task of screening passengers for passage onto a commercial aircraft with the goal of preventing another 9/11 occurrence or an underwear bomber, a shoe bomber, or any other terrorist act from occurring.  Bureaucratic groupthink and an overblown anti-discriminating psychosis have taken control of the function of managing safety for our airways.  Operationally, the TSA substitutes process as a proxy for discriminating judgment and hoping for the best.

Their objective is to prevent the admission of terrorists on board our airplanes.  What they are engaged in is searching for objects that terrorists might use to commit their acts of suicidal terror.  Do you see the disconnect between their activities and their objectives?  Looking for terrorists would actually require making judgments about people, collecting intelligence on them, and asking them questions.  They have gone to great pains to treat all classes of passengers as equals even though there are obvious independent variables (Muslim) that are present with each of the terror attacks.  And while it is clearly the case that not all Muslims are terrorists, it is also the case that all of the terrorists have been Muslims.   In fact, if anyone spends any time listening to the Muslim’s who are hell-bent on committing acts of terror, their faith is the guiding principle behind their motivation.

This exercise while difficult, is what El Al, the Israeli Airline has been doing for a very long time.  Suffice it to say that if any airline in the world is a likely target for Islamic terror it would be El Al.

Yet TSA does not do this.  Rather, they inconvenience the entire customer base with their inane search for objects and they are always looking for the objects that were successfully brought on board during previous failures.   This practically guarantees that the next technique employed will not be anticipated.  This is a monumental folly and is wasting a huge amount of money on the appearance of keeping the flying passengers safe when they are not. Further, the process of looking for objects indiscriminately ignores the intelligence available for passengers of suspicion. What will TSA do after a suicide terrorist hides a bomb inside their anal cavity?  If this does not expose the folly of their approach, then nothing will.

With the recent episodes of “junk” touching and child molestation, it is abundantly clear that judgment is not only lacking but has been replaced by an ineffective and counterproductive process.  There is a secondary reason why this policy is so counter-productive.  In order to properly explain this it is necessary to take a slight detour into the world of Islam.

Informed observers of Islam conclusively document the requirement that there are two worldly domains according to Islamic scripture, the House of Peace and the House of War.  The House of Peace incorporates the Umma, the Islamic believers.  All Muslims exist here within the brotherhood of Islam.  The House of War is where all of the non-believers reside and this doctrine signifies the religious obligation of conquest resulting in either submission (conversion) or subjugation.

There are several schools of thought at work within Islam about how to carry out the obligation of conquest.  The most dangerous of these (for western observers)  is embodied by the Muslim Brotherhood, which is the organization behind many of the Islamic organizations here in North America.  Federal Authorities have managed to obtain documents detailing the strategy employed by the Brotherhood for taking over the Western World and converting it into the House of Peace.  They eschew violent terror attacks in this phase of the conquest and believe them to be counter-productive.  They are therefore opposed to al-Qaeda type operations since these are perceived to be too ineffective at achieving military victory while simultaneously steeling the resolve of westerners against Muslim encroachment.  At the same time, they are clearly of the mind of using the westerner’s rules against him and are behind CAIR, which agitates for civil rights, and anti-discrimination policies as well as other Islamic organizations here in the US.

One of the most common laments of casual observers is the lack of push back within the Muslim community itself for the terror tactics employed in the name of their religion.  Why do they not police themselves if they are truly a religion of peace?

The answer to this is multifaceted.   1. A very high proportion of Muslim’s approve of Islamic dominance as it is central to their religion.  2.  For those who do not approve of the tactics associated with terror operations, they do know that it is consistent with Islamic scripture,  3. Islamic doctrine permits Muslims to say anything to non-believers including lying to them if it advances the Islamic cause.  4. Vocal opposition to these tactics will take the form of apologists who will lie to those uninformed and claim that Islam is not to blame, that rather, their religion has been hijacked by extremists (see item 3).  These explanations are purely for Western consumption.  5.  Only those who truly and deeply oppose these tactics have no choice but to renounce Islam and by doing so they have put a target on their chests as apostates and deserving of the death penalty.

This is why there is virtually no internal policing of terrorism within Islam.  And that which does occur is done almost entirely for western consumption.

If as a society, we acted rationally, and engaged in appropriate discriminant analysis in the process of deciding who was a threat for terror activities and who was not, there is a high likelihood that we would discriminate against Muslims for obvious and sound reasons.  Not all Muslims of course, but those who engaged in behavior likely to draw suspicion.  And we would be entirely justified in doing so were we not crippled with the psychoses prohibiting rationally based discrimination.  This policy would have the beneficial effect of adding to the social cost of Muslim’s silently supporting the conquest agenda while blaming extremists for hijacking their religion.  As it stands right now, there is no cost whatsoever for them to carry out their conquest by stealth tactics.

Unfortunately the TSA, operating with the appearance of keeping us safe, by substituting process for judgment, is in reality enabling the jihadist mission by removing the social cost of silently supporting it.

Update: See John Wohlstetter’s Eight Air-Security Myths

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