Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Inconvenient Logic: What Have You Got to Hide?

When it was discovered that the Bush administration was using warrantless searches against Americans civil libertarians complained. Those who excuse every increase in State power screamed at us: "What have you got to hide? If you are innocent you have nothing to fear."

When we learned that Homeland Security agents were going into public libraries to check up on what people were reading the civil libertarians again complained. And once again we were told that if we had done nothing wrong we would have nothing to fear.

The Homeland Gestapo now has scanners which basically take nude photos of every passenger. Civil libertarians shrieked but the authoritarians among us were adamant that this too was necessary. And, of course, if you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to fear.

For those unwilling to be scanned in such a revealing manner the government makes sure it punishes those who resist by a new "enhanced" pat-down which includes government agents touching the genitals of resisters. Sure those crazy libertarian-inclined types were horrified. But yet again, it was made clear that if we have nothing to hide, we have nothing to fear. Only the guilty fear revelations, the innocent can have their entire life, or their genitals, open for inspection.

Now the people at Wikileaks has open for public scrutiny a slew of diplomatic reports and correspondence.

Have you noticed what we are not hearing from the authoritarians? None of them are saying, if the government has nothing to hide it has nothing to fear. None of them are saying that only the guilty need secrecy and darkness. I wonder why that is.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

TSA strips disabled child of leg brace: don't find bomb.


Friday, November 26, 2010

Some Thanksgiving humor.

This captures the reality of the Pilgrims quite nicely. At no point did they come seeking religious freedom, at least not for anyone but themselves. As written here not long ago:

Consider the Pilgrims as an example. Most people heard the story that the Pilgrims came to America to enjoy religious freedom. That most certainly is not the case, not if you mean freedom for everyone. Their desire was freedom for themselves and tyrannical control over others. Puritan divine Richard Mather said the Pilgrims came to the colonies in order “to censure those who ought to be censured.” Steven Waldman, in Founding Faith, says that “it might be more precise to say most [Pilgrims] were avoiding the harassment of a government that wanted the Puritans to be more liberal". He mentions how the Puritans had banned games and amusement in areas under their control in England. Certainly when they had control of England, under Cromwell, they went so far as make Christmas illegal. Yes, the first real war on Christmas was conducted by fundamentalist Calvinists against all other Christians.
They were most unhappy, later, when King James overturned their bans and granted more liberty to the people. The liberty the Puritans sought was to be able to wield the whip in God’s name, and wield it they did. Quite literally.

This yearning for authoritarianism even inspired some Puritans to rebel against the King when the Revolution came along. Rev. James Mayhew, of Boston, said that rebellion against the King is justified when the King commits crimes against God. Since the King had allowed sports on Sunday and “encouraged papists and popishly effect clergymen,” he was against God and thus oppressing the people. For the Puritan, one reason to overthrow the throne, and seek independence from England, was in order to erect a repressive moral regime far stricter than what the lax monarch had allowed
Read the whole thing here:

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Comply with Me

Ah, yes. The TSA. If you don't laugh you have to cry.


Monday, November 22, 2010

The moral physician: heal thyself.

The moral compass of libertarianism is not a hard one to grasp, albeit sometimes quite difficult to implement.

Libertarianism is a moral philosophy that tells us the minimum standards we must use in our dealings with others. It tells us how we must treat others. It binds us to non-coercive, voluntary, interactions where the rights and wishes of others are respected, even if we don’t approve of them. So libertarianism is first and foremost a personal philosophy before it is a political one.

What makes libertarianism unique is that it argues that in the realm of politics the State, and its various agents and employees, are bound by the same moral principles as everyone else. That is, the State must also act in non-coercive, voluntary ways and respect the rights and wishes of others. I know it is more nuanced than this brief explanation but this does cover the basics.

Libertarians spend a lot of time passing judgment on the State for its violations of the rights and wishes of people. And that is right and proper to do. When the State violates the life, liberty or property of people it is acting immorally, from a libertarian perspective. Remember, we libertarians say that the State does not have exemptions to the moral codes that determine how we treat others.

When the State actively violates individual rights libertarians rightfully condemn the State and speak out against it. We ought to hold the feet of the politicians and bureaucrats to the fire when they act in this manner—for instance in the disgusting TSA “pat downs” that were implemented. It has been said that if anyone else treated others the way the TSA does, they would be sex offenders facing prison. Members of the government should not be exempt from those moral principles. Either they apply to all of us, or they apply to none of us. We are all equally human and thus bound by the same moral code.

But it is not the State that I want to criticize today, but some so-called libertarians. In fact, I would argue that these people are not, and cannot be libertarians, no matter how much they sound like libertarians. I am not talking about conservatives, like Wayne Root or Bob Barr, who pretend to be libertarians. I am talking about individuals who, when it comes to the State, are about as purely libertarian as one can be.

How is it possible for someone who is 100% libertarian on political issues to NOT be a libertarian?

What people tend to forget is that the political theory of libertarians is the application of personal libertarian morality. Libertarianism has two components: the personal and the political. The libertarian argues that the moral code that binds the person, also binds the political process. But the reverse is equally true. The moral code that binds the political process binds the person.

An individual who claims to be a libertarian politically, but murders or rapes, is NO libertarian. They may not be transgressing the rights of others politically, but they are transgressing the rights of others personally. That the individual violates libertarian principles in their personal life is sufficient to say that they are not libertarian in the most important sense: whether or not they respect the rights of others politically.

Libertarianism that is only relegated to the political sphere is a cheap imitation of the real thing. It is cheap because most libertarians are not part of the State and thus don’t have the opportunity to easily use State power to violate the life, liberty or property of others. I am not a politician, so it is amazingly simple for me to be a political libertarian. But, when it comes to personal interactions with others, it is quite possible to violate libertarian principles. As individuals we find DO have the power to violate the rights of others, even if we don’t have that power politically.

Given that reality, the only meaningful way to determine if someone is libertarian is whether or not they respects the rights of others in their personal interactions. It is what they do in life, and not what they say about politics, that is the final judge in this matter. It is the walk, not the talk, that is important. Of course if they held political power than they would be judged on that matter as well.

A “libertarian” who wants to cure the world of its ills, but who engages in deception, lies, fraud, theft, etc., is simply not a libertarian in reality. And, it is the reality of how they live, not their rhetoric, that is important.

Some years ago I worked for a “financial analyst” who I discovered was a con man. He was defrauding people in various ways. I was horrified, partly because of what he was doing, and partly because it was a very well paying position that offered me a company car and similar perks. I and another staff member discussed what was going on and we both resigned our positions. It was a good thing we did, shortly afterwards the con man was arrested and eventually went on to serve some years in a federal prison. Rightfully so in my view.

He, however, claimed to be a libertarian. He sounded libertarian. He donated funds to libertarian causes. But he was defrauding people out of their money. When we first raised some concerns about this man, within libertarian circles, a very well known libertarian came rushing to his defense. The main reason was that they were allies in some minor debate within libertarian circles. This famed libertarian dismissed the fraudulent activities of my ex-employer and argued that his personal life didn’t matter.

The other employee, who left when I did, responded to this prominent libertarian by saying: “If taxation is theft, then surely theft is theft.” The prominent libertarian seemed to think that only the political mattered and the personal didn’t. So, apparently this idea that libertarians apply the same moral code to the State, that they do to individuals, was a fraud. At least for this well-known libertarian it was. He didn’t do that at all. He had a moral code for the State that said, “thou shalt not steal” but didn’t apply that code to individuals.

But, as I said earlier, the moral code of libertarianism goes both ways. You can’t say the State is bound by the same moral code as individuals, and then turn around and say this moral code doesn’t bind individuals. That is inconsistent and irrational. It makes libertarianism a joke.

Libertarians, as individuals, must NOT violate the life, liberty or property of others. People who talk libertarianism for politics, but live dishonestly at the personal level, are NOT libertarians. They may joke and say: “Don’t steal the government doesn’t like competition.” But they are stealing while demanding the State doesn’t? It appears that they are the criminals who don’t like competition. And that's no joke.

A “libertarian” who is dishonest in negotiations, or perhaps covers up the criminal actions of another person, has violated the basic moral principles of the code they claim to follow. A “libertarian” who does that is a fraud, no matter how rosy their rhetoric or sweet their smile. Libertarian groups that deceive their donors are equally criminal and outside the libertarian camp.

Libertarianism is NOT just a political philosophy. It is a moral code that applies first to the individual, and then applies to the State as well. Before libertarians try to cure the society around them they had been make sure they are in good shape themselves. The slogan, “Physician, heal thyself” applies to libertarians as well.

Leonard Read, the founder of the Foundation for Economic Education, used to talk a lot about how libertarians should first reform themselves, before reforming the world. I have come to appreciate that advice more and more every day.

There are, in this world, some very humble people, who know little about politics but who are actually very, very libertarian in their moral code. And because they have nothing to do with politics they are also libertarian politically, even if they don’t understand the principles or values. At the same time there are well known libertarians who have no moral compass of their own, or a very shattered one. They lie, they steal, they defraud, or they may simply just help cover up the crimes ,and become accomplices after the fact. It doesn’t matter how many libertarian essays they write, how many lectures they give, or how many meetings they attend. They are as far away from libertarianism as the politicians they condemn. The politician does not respect others in the public sphere and these libertarians don’t respect others in the private sphere. Both violate the rights of others and one is not a libertarian if one does that.

Since libertarianism is a moral code that applies to the personal and the political, neither of them are libertarian. In some ways these fraudulent libertarians are even worse than the political classes they attack. The professional politicians rarely pretend to hold the moral values that underpin libertarianism. They don’t argue that the moral code that binds individuals also binds the State. If anything, they explicitly deny that premise. But these libertarians do say that the State is bound by the same moral code that applies to individuals, while they individually violate that code. Add to their list of sins a good dose of hypocrisy as well.

How you vote, or what principles you hold politically are not the ultimate standard by which you libertarianism is judged. How you live personally is!

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The funny and the ugly of TSA

First the humor of TSA molestations. Here is a recent skit from Saturday Night Live regarding the new Total Sexual Abuse administration. Now that you laughed here is the very, very ugly side of TSA—and no, I'm not talking about Janet Napolitano.

Thomas Sawyer, 61, survived bladder cancer but now he has to wear a urostomy bag that takes the urine from an opening through his stomach. There is a patch that is sealed to his stomach, and through that the hose is attached so his urine can collect in the bag.

Sawyer was flying to a wedding and went through Janet's pornoscanner, which would obviously pick up something as large as the urostomy bag. He was then told that in addition to the scanner he now had to be molested by TSA agents. Because of the bag Sawyer asked for a private pat-down which agents at first refused him, telling him that they really don't have a place to do that. Matters got worse.

Sawyer has to wear pants that are too large for his body in order to accommodate the bag he has to wear. TSA forced him to remove his belt. As he tried to walk to the office for the pat-down his trousers fell down twice and he had to ask for permission to pull them up. He tried to tell the officials about his medical condition but they told him they weren't interested.

They had him remove his sweatshirt and then started running their hands down his chest. He told them that they had to be careful or the would break the seal on the bag. They ignored his warning. He said, "Sure enough, the seal was broken and urine started dribbling down my shirt and my leg and into my pants." The agents offered no help and left him to fend for himself. Sawyer had to board his plane soaked in urine.

Cathy Bossi is also a cancer survivor and a long-time flight attendant with U.S. Airways who has proven herself, repeatedly, to NOT be a terrorist threat. Because of her bout with cancer her doctor recommended she avoid the scanners. This meant she had to endure a TSA agent fondling her breasts, or in this case, breast. She lost one breast to the cancer and wears a prosthesis. The agent grabbed the prosthesis and demanded to know what it was. No one thought these TSA officials to be intelligent enough to figure out something that obvious.

Bossi told the agent it was her prosthesis, which may confuse the poor official as it is a big and complicated word, unlike those in the Dick & Jane books she normally reads. Bossi explained what it was and why she wore it. The agent informed her she would have to remove it for inspection. As might be expected Bossi found the experience upsetting.

Musa Mayer is another breast cancer survivor and has been wearing a prosthesis for 21 years. Because of that she had to be poked, prodded, fondling and touched by TSA agents. Mayer notes that 3 million women have had breast cancer and many wear a prosthesis, she wants to point out that all of them are now subjected to intrusive pat-downs because of it.

Remember, this is entirely the doing of Obama, Napolitano and the Democrats. While the Republicans are not friends of civil liberties, and certainly don't believe you have sovereignty over your own body, they did not do this. Obama, Napolitano and other officials in this administration are defending these practices. Obama needs to be sent into retirement permanently. You need to make it clear to the TSA agents that you resent what they are doing. You need to write Democrats and let them know this is alienating you entirely from their party and they will wish for the good old days of the 2010 election if they don't tell their party leaders to stop. And you need to let the airlines know that their silence on the matter is problematic and that you insist they defend their passengers.

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

TSA agents upset public doesn't like fondling.

The news has been filled with outrage by flyers about the groping and fondling that Janet “the perv” Napolitano has authorized. There is widespread unhappiness from this, especially those who have actually gone through the process. Travel writer Steven Frischling asked 20 TSA officers what they thought of the new pat downs. All but three responded and all of them hated it. Frischling said he was “that all 17 mentioned their morale being broken down.

One said: “When a woman refuses the scanner then comes to me and tells me that she feels like I am molesting her, that is beyond verbal abuse.” Really? Why is she surprised when she just felt up the woman’s vagina that this victim of TSA policy felt molested?

What has these TSA officials upset is that people don’t like them touching their genitals.

What is astounding to me, however, is what it is that bothers these people. One whined, “There is a big difference between how I pat passengers down and a molester molesting people.” Not really. If any member of the public did the exact same procedure to another non-consenting individual they would be arrested for sexual assault. The ONLY difference is that the TSA has government permission. Yes, molesters may do more than what the TSA does, but many DO NOT. There are people in jail today because they lightly rubbed the genitals of another person without permission. That is actually LESS intrusive than what the TSA does.

One TSA officer said he is hurt by the “comments being lobbed at me” and complains, “I am a person who has feelings.” I bet you do. So do the individuals who you are fondling. This is so incredibly narcissistic that it is hard to fathom. This TSA molester appeals to how his feelings are being hurt and doesn’t seem to understand the feelings of any of the people he is fondling. All that matters are his feelings. Well, guess what, those people being molested have feelings as well. And these searches demean them and make them feel powerless and destroy their sense of personal privacy. They say “hateful” things because they have just been insulted or hurt, some of them hurt very deeply. So, to any TSA official who might happen to read this: Get over it. People will hate you because you are doing hateful things. If you really expect us to love you after you felt us up then you are delusional.

One TSA official said that comments overheard at the airport “in my presence as I patted passengers down” were “painful and demoralizing” and says she doesn’t “know how much longer I can withstand this taunting. I go home and I cry.” Okay. There is a simple solution to this, stop fondling the genitals of unwilling people. This isn’t rocket science. This person is touching people in a way that most people find very uncomfortable outside sexual activity. They find it especially upsetting when a stranger, against their will, is doing it. And TSA officials can’t seem to understand why it is that people are saying “painful” things. Well, it isn’t hard to explain. You just ran your fingers along the woman’s vagina and between her buttocks, and under her breasts. That’s why!

People say they were molested for one reason: they were! That it was molestation with state permission doesn’t mean it isn’t molestation. It is precisely the same thing except you get a “Get Out of Jail” card from the politicians every time you do it.

What is particularly depressing me is how clueless these genital inspectors are. They repeatedly appeal to the idea that they are patriots, serving their country, or just doing their job.

The one who goes home and cries says: “I am serving my country, I should not have to go home and cry after a day of honorably serving my country.” Apparently any act is justified if a government orders you to do it. Sorry lady, but there is no “honorable” way to fondle people’s genitals when they don’t want it.

Another said: “It is not up to me to decide policy, it is up to me to carry out my duties as dictated (my comment: an appropriate word) by the Transportation Security Administration.” No, and when an employer asks you to do something that is repulsive and disgusting and violates the personhood of other people you have the obligation to quit that job. He may not decide policy but every day he chooses to carry it out, no matter how offensive it is to the people he victimizes with government permission. As long as he chooses to perform those tasks then he is fully responsible for them. This “I was following orders” excuse hasn’t been accepted since the Nuremburg trials.

One of the TSA officials actually brought up the Nazi comparison. I want to quote his entire remark and dissect it.

Do people know what a Nazi is? One can’t describe me as a Nazi because I am following a security procedure of designed to find prohibited items on a passenger’s body. A Nazi is someone with hatred and ignorance in their hearts, a person who carried out actions of execution and extermination of those based on their religion, origins or sexual preferences. I work to make travel safer, even if I do not agree with the current security procedures. Further more, I am Jewish and a TSA Transportation Security Officer, an American Patriot and to call me a Nazi is an offense beyond all other offenses.

Wow! How badly informed and illogical he is. First, he says he can’t be described as a Nazi just because he was following orders issued outlining the procedure he must follow. Yes, one can, if those orders or procedures violate the personhood of others then one can say precisely that. In this case that is what he was doing. And the following orders excuse is exactly one used by Nazi officials.

Next he claims the Nazis were individuals “with hatred and ignorance in their hearts.” Yes and no. Many Nazis were not particularly inspired by hatred, they saw themselves as patriots who were protecting their country on orders from their government. Many of them were inspired by love for the homeland, not hate. Many felt threatened by an evil force that they didn’t understand and thought they were protecting their homeland. They honestly thought they were involved in homeland security. Yes, there were hateful Nazis, and no shortage of them either. But the Gestapo and various police and military agencies were filled with individuals driven by motives NO DIFFERENT than those used by TSA officials today to justify their behavior.

This idea that one must be driven by hate to be a Nazi is one reason that Nazism itself was able to grab power. If the Nazis were simply seen as hateful, ignorant killers they never would have been elected to the Reichstag in large numbers to take power. The reason they did succeed was because enough good people saw them as homeland security against a menace. Enough good people supported the Nazis because they felt they had good intentions. Fascism dominates when good people have honorable excuses for it. So, the mere fact that this TSA agent thinks his motives are as pure as the new fallen snow does nothing to lessen the legitimacy of the insult.

He then describes Nazis as individuals who carried out “execution and extermination of those based on their religion, origins or sexual preferences.” That is both true and false. It is true that many Nazis did just that. It is also true that many Nazis NEVER killed anyone. In fact, the evidence, based on Nazi party membership, is that most people who were members of the National Socialist Party never harmed another person. Some of the most loyal Nazis were people in low-level positions who simply carried out the orders issued to them by a government that was out of control. Some never did anything more than push paper around in a bureaucratic maze.

Many card carrying Nazis did nothing at all to infringe on the personhood of another human being. That means that the average TSA official, sticking his hands between the buttocks of others, or feeling around their genitals, actually does more to infringe the dignity of other people than many low level Nazis did during the entire Third Reich. True, there were many Nazis who were much, much worse in what they did. But there were also millions of Nazis who did less than a TSA groper and molester does in a single day.

That some Nazis were so horrendously worse is not a justification especially since so many Nazis were also more innocent of violating others than this TSA official. That TSA agents are not as bad as genocidal Nazis is really setting the bar pretty low.

I really wish people would understand how good and normal Nazism can look to people. That is how it gained power, not through the excesses and extermination, which mostly took place AFTER the National Socialists were in control. When millions of supporters of Hitler said they “never knew” what was going on, the fact is they often didn’t know what was going on. They honestly thought they were patriots inspired by the best of motives. That is what makes such authoritarian regimes possible. In other words, the very attitudes of this TSA official underpin fascist tendencies.

I also find it odd that he singles out the Nazis for doing bad things to people “based on their religion, origins or sexual preference.” Yes, those are bad things. But would it have been better if the Nazis were more equally oppressive? The reality is that the Nazis, while they scapegoat specific groups were oppressive across the board. Plenty of German, heterosexual Gentiles were beaten, arrested, imprisoned or killed by Nazi thugs. Equal opportunity oppression is not an improvement.

This agent also says that since he is Jewish he can’t be compared to a Nazi. Sorry to break the news to him, but he can. Hard as it is to believe, there were Nazis who were Jewish or married to Jews. There were Jewish groups that actually endorsed the Nazi party. (See The Third Reich and the Palestine Question by Francis Nicosia.) It wasn’t that long ago that it turned out that the head of the Nazi group in Chicago, Frank Collins, was actually of Jewish descent, and the family name was originally Cohen. Collins was the head of the Nazi group that fought for the right to march through the heavily Jewish area of Skokie, Illinois.

The University Press of Kansas published a book entitled Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers which showed that as many as 150,000 German soldiers were Jewish and fought on behalf of Hitler, “including decorated veterans and high-ranking officers, even generals and admirals.” The author, Bryan Rigg, is a professor of history and former volunteer in the Israeli Army.

There is no excuse for TSA officials to do what they are doing. Following orders is no excuse.

There are very few groups of people who can stop the juggernaut of Big Government when it starts steamrolling over the rights of people. In this case, TSA agents are a group that could halt this practice almost instantly, if they wanted. They all told Frischling they opposed the policy. If just a substantial minority of agents went on strike, or resigned, the TSA would be forced to reconsider. Those of us who are boycotting flying, myself included, because of these policies will have little impact, unless we force the airlines to start opposing the government policy. Upset voters will be ignored; boycotters will be ignored. The Obama administration is used to ignoring the general public.

But these policies can’t be implemented unless there are agents willing to implement them. Janet Napolitano is going to dirty her hands doing it. Obama and Biden won’t run down to the airport and start fondling flyers; even Bill Clinton didn’t go that far.

Without willing TSA agents manning the stations at the airport these policies are dead on arrival. I cannot think of another group that could so quickly end the policy of “enhanced pat down” than TSA agents. If 25% of them called in sick in protest Napolitano would be seriously considering her options. No doubt she would fight like hell to save face and keep the policy, but she can’t do it without the TSA frontline agents cooperating.

So, when these agents say they can’t be blamed for the policy, the reality is just the opposite. They and they alone are the reason this policy exists.

Given that reality then the “hurtful” remarks people make may be a good thing, not a bad thing. If these TSA agents, instead of whining and crying at home, simply went out and got decent jobs, the rapid turnover would send a clear message to the government. If the bulk of TSA agents “just said no” then Napolitano and crew would have to back down.

Janet can issues all the orders and directives she wants. They are just pieces of paper until willing individuals put them into effect. And those willing individuals bear the responsibility for that.

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TSA strips and "pat downs" young boy

Just watch it. This is what America has become. It is disgusting and offensive beyond words. Napolitano and her criminal conspirators in the TSA should be put on trial. Obama should be sent packing.

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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Conservative Party Leader: It Gets Better

David Cameron is the leader of the Conservative Party in the UK and is Prime Minister. Here he speaks out in defense of gay equality. Can you imagine any Republican being this decent? Maybe Gary Johnson, but that pretty well runs me out of ideas.

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Friday, November 19, 2010

TSA: Total Sexual Abuse

The TSA continues to molest passengers in the name of security. Oddly Israel, which has more problems with terrorism than the US, manages to secure their flights without any of these antics. Israeli anti-terrorism experts say the TSA is doing more harm than good and and that all of this is a waste of money which gives no additional security.

But the ass-licker authoritarians are lining up to lick a region on Janet Napolitano that would get intimate pat downs, if Janet were subjected to the same indignity as the peons.

There are two responses to this that disgust me. The first is the closet Nazi who says whatever the government wants the government should get. These people belong in Cuba or North Korea, not in America. The second type are the morons who live life in terror of every threat and demand exaggerated, usually counter-productive measures thus creating more harm than good.

After Columbine we saw "zero tolerance" on "weapons." But, in typical government fashion, that means things so broadly defined that one kid was expelled from school for pointing a fish finger at another kid and going "pow." A kid with a GI Joe figure, that was holding a tiny plastic toy gun, was expelled for bringing a weapon to school. And the same moronic mentality was at play there with some brainless parents coming up with BS like: "well, if it saves one life, it's worth it."

This second group is not nearly as repulsive as those slaves yearning for the leash, they are just stupid. The first group, however, while it may include the terminally dumb, usually is made up of people who yearn for a Hitler or Mao to take control. Stupid people can be taught, but these authoritarians are so morally deficient that they are hopeless and they do pose a threat to American constitutional government. We have always had those who the yearn the leash, just these days these cowards, afraid to live as free men, seem proud of their servantile mentality.

Here's the real kicker. The travel Gestapo charges everyone one of us for the cost of having them hire people to fondle our junk. But now that the TSA thugs are spending more time fondling breasts, butts, scrotums and dicks, to pretend to make us safer, their costs have gone up, so the TSA is saying they will have to charge us more money.

I guess this means it isn't sexual molestation after all, if you pay people to touch your genitals it is normally called prostitution. However, in prostitution the fondling and exchange of cash are voluntary and in this case neither are, so perhaps we are dealing with with molestation and extortion. It reminds me of the authoritarian dystopia depicted in Terry Gilliam's marvelous 1985 film Brazil. The regime in the film arrests one Harry Buttle, when in fact they wished to arrest Harry Tuttle. Buttle is grabbed out of his home, black bagged and disappears into a system of "extraordinary rendition" when he dies. The bureaucrats send his widow the bill for the raid, along with charges for cremating his body. We are not in Orwell's 1984 but in Gilliam's Brazil. The Orwellian regime merely violated your rights, they didn't then bill you for the privilege.

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A funny and not-so-funny look at the TSA.

While the video is amusing, remember the reality of the TSA is pretty disgusting. This is what happens when a government agency has to deal with a problem—it overreacts and exaggerates threats while acting like a bull in a china shop.

One of the great dangers of government is that it often solves problems by creating situations that are worse. I have previously shown that the scanners they use to take pornographic photos of passengers emit sufficient radiation to cause more deaths per year than they could save if they reduced terrorist attacks to zero.

But there is a second way in which government policy kills people. To the degree that the TSA makes flying unattractive people look for other alternative methods to travel. And all of them are LESS safe than flying leading to more accidental deaths.

Consider a flight from LA to San Diego. It is a two hour drive. The flight itself takes 45 minutes. So flying, under the best of circumstances means you arrive 75 minutes faster. But government bureaucracy means you are supposed to check in one hour early. And if you are checking luggage you might need to come even earlier. You have to take into account the TSA acting to delay every single passenger. You can show up one hour early and perhaps make the flight, but to be safe you might want to be there at least 90 minutes to 120 minute prior to the flight. At this point flying will take you much longer to get to San Diego than driving.

Only government could make cars air travel slower than driving. And when that happens people start to drive more. But car accidents kill three times as many people per mile traveled than does flying. One out of every 7,700 people will be killed in a car accident. But flying deaths are only 1 out of every 2 million people. The TSA, in order to "save lives" is pushing people into modes of travel that kill more people every year than all the terrorists deaths in America combined.

So the scanners alone will kill more people per year than terrorists. And by pushing frustrated travelers into cars, instead of planes, Janet Napolitano and her travel Gestapo are actually killing more people per year than terrorists. The TSA, because it has no clear picture of what it is doing, is more dangerous that terrorists to intend to kill people. Just because Janet and her thugs have "good intentions" doesn't mean they are making us safer. Their voodoo safety is highly dangerous and deadly.

The TSA is NOT your friend.

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The State of America in Ten Minutes

David Boaz is always a good speaker. But this 10 minute presentation is one of his best. In this short talk he outlines the political conflict in America today with Left and Right, united more than divided, waging war on liberty. This is 10 minutes well spent.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Gator v. Pussy

A cat takes on a gator that was planning to come up on land. The pussy said no. It even stood up to two gators a minute later.

My impression of gators is that they are a lot more docile than crocs. So I don't think a cat would have survived such an experience with a croc. When I was hiking in the African bush the two things I really worried about were hippos and crocs, so I was always extra careful around water. Most other animals are happy to stay out of your way.

I don't know if there is morality lesson here or not. But I guess I can say that if a cat can stand up to a gator we the peons of the world can tell the TSA and their pervy groping sessions at airports to stick their pornoscanners where the sun don't shine.


Monday, November 15, 2010

The absolute perversion of government.

I have tried to wrap my head around the latest actions from Janet Napolitano's brown shirts. I can not really express how disgusted I have become with the actions of the current government. They have taken this "security theater" bullshit to extremes, to the point that I personally think criminal charges should be brought against them.

Consider what the new "pat down" procedures mean. Government agents will physically fondle your genitals. Consider this description from a woman who recently was subjected to what can only be called sexual assault.
She felt along my waistline, moved behind me, then proceeded to feel both of my buttocks. She reached from behind in the middle of my buttocks towards my vagina area.

She did not tell me that she was going to touch my buttocks, or reach forward to my vagina area.

She then moved in front of my and touched the top and underneath portions of both of my breasts.

She did not tell me that she was going to touch my breasts.

She then felt around my waist. She then moved to the bottoms of my legs.

She then felt my inner thighs and my vagina area, touching both of my labia.

She did not tell me that she was going to touch my vagina area or my labia.
The government calls this "enhanced" pat down. This amounts to rape, as far as I am concerned. We literally have reached the point where government agents demand our compliance to allow them to fondle us in a manner that would put anyone else in prison as a sex offender. And YOU HAVE NO CHOICE, you are their slave who must obey or give up your natural right to travel.

John Tyner was flying out of San Diego when TSA officials (Total Sexual Assault) directed him to one of these new pornoscanners that the government has to take nude photos of your body (as well as the bodies of children I should point out). Tyner was reluctant to use this device and was told he would have to go through an "enhanced pat down."

Consider what I think the government intentionally did. They wanted to force Americans through the pornoscanners. But, since there is an option for a pat down, which takes more time. So they didn't want the public to take that option. To force people through the pornoscanner the Feds "enhanced" the pat down to include what has to be called sexual molestation. The "enhanced" version of the pat down is a punishment for anyone who "slows" down the security theater of the TSA. Rubbing the penis, or vagina, of members of the public is not needed to protect us from terrorists, it is meant to punish anyone who refused to cooperate with the pornoscanners.

Tyner said he didn't want to use Janet Napolitano's nudie machine so he was forced to go through the "enhanced" pat down. When the TSA agent was in the process of rubbing his hands all over his body, Tyner said: "You touch my junk and I'm going to have you arrested."

That is clear. Tyner was not saying they couldn't frisk him for weapons, just that the agent was not allowed to fondle Tyner's genitals.

And, the really great part of this exchange with TSA officials was that Tyner had the whole thing recorded on his cell phone. After telling the agent that he may not touch his genitals, Tyner was told: "If you're not comfortable with that, we can escort you back out and you don't have to fly today." This amounts to blackmail. Either you give them permission to take nude photos of you, or they will fondle your genitals. If don't give your consent to the molestation they will force you to leave the airport and force you to miss your flight.

There is no doubt here that the government agents were using the fondling of Tyner's genitals as the lever to force him to comply. Tyner ONLY withheld permission for the agent to "touch his junk," nothing more. He told the agent: "I don't understand how a sexual assault can be made a condition of my flying."

The agent said: "This is not considered a sexual assault." Tyner said: "It would be if you were not the government."

This reminds me of something that Sheldon Richman said about how so many people see government as a "morals launderer." They seem to think that if they act as government agents they are not bound by the same moral values as every one else. When you kill it is a crime, when government does it, it's collateral damage, capital punishment, or just DEA agents making a "mistake." When you take what is not yours it is theft. When government agents do it is emminent domain, taxes or tariffs. When you fondle the genitals of unwilling people it is sexual assault. When government agents do it, it is an enhanced pat down.

Can there be any more dangerous concept about government? The idea that moral laws don't apply to the State implies that the State may do anything it wants, to anyone it wants, at any time it wants. It says there are NO limitations

The government agent told Tyner: "By buying your ticket you gave up a lot of rights." That appears to be a section of the Constitution I missed—the part that says you voluntarily surrender your rights if you travel from one location to another.

How did we reach the point where government agents are allowed to fondle the genitals of any man, woman or child that wishes to fly.

And remember this is being done by the executive branch of the federal government, that means the person responsible is Barack Obama, the head of the executive branch of the government. The TSA is run by Janet Napolitano, who was directly appointed to her office by Obama. Anyone who still thinks Obama respects individuals rights in any area, is sadly mistaken.

I know that this can be mistaken, and I don't want anyone to assume I am suggesting anything, but I am surprised that these government-required molestations are not creating a class of home grown "terrorists" who are disgusted that the State has gone this far. I would hope that won't happen, I would hope the government wises up and ends this disgusting policy. But I don't think it will wise up, not under Obama, who actually doesn't give a damn what the public wants.

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

The paradox of wealth and disease.

Many of our friends on the Left have repeatedly told us that health care in England is better than health care in the United States BECAUSE England has state provided care. I have repudiated that claim fairly regularly on this blog, especially during the debate when Obama was pushing his “reforms” onto the country though some rather unenviable methods.

The RAND Corporation compared the two systems in a rather interesting way. The first thing they did was study disease rates between the two countries. The U.S. did not do as well when it came to illness rates. But this doesn’t necessarily say anything about the medical systems. You have to examine which diseases they used to determine that. For instance, if Americans were dying from the flu there might be a problem with the health system. But if they are dying from lung cancer it might be because of different lifestyle choices.

And the illnesses that RAND studied did tend to be closely linked to lifestyle: diabetes, high-blood pressure, heart disease, heart attack, stroke, chronic lung diseases and cancer. Some simple changes in personal preferences could change disease rates in these areas rather significantly. What measures the quality of health care here is not the disease rate, but the survivability rate. This study particularly looked at two age groups: those from 55 to 64, and those over the age of 65.

What they found was that Americans in both age groups had higher rates of these illnesses, which is to be expected based on lifestyle differences. But the death rate for the younger Americans was no different than for the similar group in England. But older Americans, while still getting ill at a higher rate, “had a lower death rate than similar people in England.”
James Smith, on of the co-authors of the study said: “If you get sick at older ages, you will die sooner in England than in the United States. It appears that at least in terms of survival at older ages with chronic disease, the medical system in the United States may be better than the system in England.”

RAND says there are two possible reasons for this. “One is that the illnesses studied result in higher mortality in England than in the United States. The second is that the English are diagnosed at a later stage in the disease process than Americans.”

Smith, however, says both explanations “imply that there is higher-quality care in the United States than in England, at least in the sense that these chronic illnesses are less likely to cause death among people living in the United States.”

Co-author James Banks points out the obvious, though it useful to point it out since so many people continually miss it. He says that the “health problem” in the United States “is not fundamentally a health care or insurance problem, at least at older ages. It is a problem of excess illness and the solution to that problem may lie outside the health care delivery system. The solution may be to alter lifestyles or other behaviors.” Bingo!

The London Telegraph’s Richard Alleyne, put it this way: “[W]hile English people have healthier lifestyles than Americans, the latter’s health care system is better able to patch them up.”

Co-author Smith told Alleyne: “We are spending twice as much as England on health and we are getting the benefit of the extra years of life. If English people spent the same amount I have no doubt people would live a lot longer. That is a choice they will have to make.”

So, if the healthier English spent as much as Americans spend they would live longer as well. But, if Americans adopted, voluntarily of course, healthier lifestyles the survivability gap between the Brits and us would grow even larger. And, I should point out, would reduce the cost of health care substantially.

I also contend that the cause of America’s health “crisis” is largely a problem of prosperity. I lived in Europe for extended periods of time and can compare life in the US to Europe. And while I love the culture of Europe more than I do that in the US, I know that Americans tend to be much more prosperous.

Here are some basic facts.

First, Americans tend to have higher incomes than Europeans do.

Second, they are taxed less and thus keep more of the higher income as well.

Third, the cost of living for many things is much cheaper in the US than in Europe. Housing is much cheaper, petrol is much cheaper, food is much cheaper, and energy is much cheaper.
This means that Americans earn more, keep more of what they earn, and can buy a lot more with their money. The average American home is about three times the size of the average British home, for instance, and almost double what the French or Danes enjoy.

And that means Americans can indulge more.

Americans are more likely to drive everywhere, even short trips while Europeans are more likely to walk or cycle. The significantly higher costs of owning a car in Europe forces Europeans to drive less. That means they get more exercise, which is healthier for them.

Americans can also indulge in greater quantities of food. For instance, I like roast beef sandwiches for lunch. In England I was paying $1per slice of roast beef that I purchased. I get much roast beef for the same $1 in the US. Americans simply can afford to eat more and that impacts health. The greater ability to consume sweets and snacks will mean Americans will be more obese and more likely to suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure and the like.

On the other hand, that higher standard of living also means Americans can purchase a lot more health care so that they are living longer than their British counterparts.

There’s the paradox. Our greater wealth means our lifestyle choices are less healthy but means we can afford the care the British can’t, so we live longer anyway. And, for those who say they can’t afford the health care in the US, I might point out that simple lifestyle choices, that are entirely within your power to make, can dramatically improve your health and lower your health care costs. The problem is when people want the unhealthy lifestyles and then bitch about the costs of the choices they make.

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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Why the TSA is more dangerous than terrorists.

I've got news for you, my fellow Americans, the federal Transportation Safety Administration, part of the Homeland Security Gestapo has a better chance of killing you than any terrorist.

Let's do the math.

How many people died this year, in the US, from terrorist attacks? None. Last year? None. 2007? None. There was one attack a decade ago that was awful but for the previous 20 years, 30 years, 40 years, there was nothing. Certainly the chances are that next year no Americans will be killed in a domestic attack by terrorists. It will be pretty much like it was in 2010, 2009, 2008 and so on.

So, realistically we can estimate that next year zero Americans will die from terrorists.

So how do the crotch-groping, breast-fondling Travel Nazis manage to kill?

Consider the Homeland Gestapo's new pornoscanners, the devices they set up to take nude images of your bodies, as well as those of your children. Yep, every day the government will be producing child pornography, and your kids, if they fly, will be included.

These devices work by X-ray technology. Now, I don't normally worry about X-rays. Why? First, the number of X-rays I have had in my lifetime is relatively low. This is true for most of us. We don't get X-rayed regularly. In addition the dosage is relatively low. So the risk per person is low. Now, this could still be a problem if extremely large numbers of people were being subjected to X-rays every day of the year. I average less than 1 X-ray per year. I would have to go back about three years for my last X-ray and it was relatively small in that it was a dental X-ray, not a chest X-ray. The last chest X-ray was more than a decade ago. And I've probably had those only five or six times in my life. If I add up all the X-rays I can remember having, it would be around one every five years or so.

And the very few, higher dose chest X-rays I had were really focused on the entire chest. But as scientists from the University of California pointed out, the "new airport scanners are largely depositing their energy into the skin and immediate adjacent issues, and since this is such a small fraction of body weight/vol, possibly by one to two orders of magnitude, the real dose to the skin is now high." These scientists say the X-ray "beam is very intense" in these machines and that a simple malfunction can keep it focused on one area far longer than is safe. And they believe the scanners "will increase the risk of cancer to children and other vulnerable populations."

There are several things to consider here; the most obvious is what is the dose for each trip through the pornoscanner? The government claims the scans have a very low dose and we all know they never lie. But Peter Rez, a physics professor at Arizona State, doubts those claims. He says that an image produced by the X-ray strength the government claims wouldn't produce a usable image. He calculated backwards from the quality of images and says the dose appears to be ten times higher than Homeland Security will admit.

According to Prof. Rez that will translate into a "a 1-in-20-million chance of dying from radiation for each scan." Now, don't you feel better? The chance that you will die because of radiation exposure from one exposure is just one in 20 milion. Of course, if you were the only airline passenger this wouldn't translate into many deaths per year.

But there are over 800,000,000 million passengers flying in the US every year. With 800 million air passengers that would lead to 40 deaths per year from the scanners. That is the same as killing one American every nine days. Now, if terrorists were killing one person every nine days we would be outraged. But when Homeland Security does it, there is little to say about it. While 40 deaths is relative small it is much higher than the number of deaths caused by terrorists last year, or the year before, or this year. And it will probably be more than terrorists kill next year or the year after as well.

Of course, we want to look at lifetime risks. Prof. Rez says that the odds "of being blown up in an airplane by a terrorists is around 1 in 30 million." His own calculations put the odds of death by being scanned with X-rays from the pornoscanner is 1 in 20 million. For every 1 person who would die on average from terrorism, this anti-terrorist measure would kill 1.5 people. The average number of deaths per year due to terrorism would be just under 27 people. This means the preventative measure, by causing approximately 40 deaths, gives us a net loss of life. It will kill more people than it could save. And that is assuming this one measure alone would save the lives with other security measures having zero impact.

If we assume this new security measure alone is responsible for stopping all future terrorist attacks, which is most certainly NOT the case, it would save about 27 lives per year. And the cost would be 40 lives per year to implement it. Does that make sense? But is won't be saving 27 lives per year, it may only change the numbers slightly. If you really think this one measure would be responsible for saving all people who would be killed in an average year by terrorists, then you would happily recommend abolishing all other security measures. But experts in the field of terrorism say measures like intelligence are far more useful than the antics of the TSA with air passengers. These security theater measures only change the odds by a very small margin.

If you think this one X-ray machine does pay off I have an offer. Instead of lives, think dollars. Now, I will gladly pay you $27 for every $40 that you give me. Are you willing to make that sort of trade off with dollars? If not, then why are you willing to make it with lives? And that is even giving the $27 investment too much credit. Since other anti-terrorists measures are better protectors than these pornoscanners, the real return you might expect is $1 back for every $40 you invest. I'll take that sort of investment any day.

And if you don't like the pornoscanner you can "opt out," at which point Homeland Security thugs will subject you to a very aggressive body search which includes rubbing the most intimate parts of your body in a manner not entirely dissimilar from your typical molester. If any member of the public did to you, what government agents will do to you for refusing to be pornoscanned, they would be arrested and jailed as sex offenders.

Based on the risks I think it safe to say that Janet Napolitano, the Reichfurher for Homeland Security, is more of a threat to your life than Osama bin Laden. And Osama is prettier.

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Warming, rain forests and alarmists.

The left-wing British paper The Guardian has reported that trees in rainforests "may be hardier than previously thought." As the Guardian explains it warming won't cause as much "damage" as previously thought.

That is almost close to what the article actually reports. Studies conducted by Carlos Jaramillo, of the Smithsonian Tropical Rearch Institute, investigated the claims of warming "models" which indicate that a small amount of warming will mean that "most of the forest is going to be extinct." What he found "was the opposite of what we were expecting: we didn't find any extinction event [in plants] associated with the increase in temperature, we didn't find that the precipitation decreased."

The Guardian started out saying that "rising temperatures will not do as much damage as feared..." That clearly implies that damage will still be done, but it won't be as much as feared originally. But a couple paragraphs down the article says something entirely contradictory to this:

Contrary to expectations, [Jaramillo] found that forests bloomed with diversity. New species of plants, including those from the passionflower and chocolate families, evolved quicker as others became extinct. The study also shows moisture levels did not decrease significantly during the warm period. "It was totally unexpected," Jaramillo said of the findings.

What is the "complete opposite" of damage? It is not damage, but benefits.

Let us start with who Carlos Jaramillo is, other than a reseacher with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. He was also president of the American Association of Stratigraphic Palynologist. He specializes in the study of tropical biodiversity. Perhaps it isn't the most exciting field but he's a top expert and shouldn't be ignored. Jaramillo's article, along with 28 contribution authors, wrote a piece in the current issue of Science magazine entitled "Effects of Rapid Global Warming at Paleocene-Eocene Boundary on Neotropical Vegentation." (Hey, I told you it wasn't exciting.)

Here is how the article is summarized:
Temperatures in tropical regions are estimated to have increased by 3° to 5°C, compared with Late Paleocene values, during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM, 56.3 million years ago) event. We investigated the tropical forest response to this rapid warming by evaluating the palynological record of three stratigraphic sections in eastern Colombia and western Venezuela. We observed a rapid and distinct increase in plant diversity and origination rates, with a set of new taxa, mostly angiosperms, added to the existing stock of low-diversity Paleocene flora. There is no evidence for enhanced aridity in the northern Neotropics. The tropical rainforest was able to persist under elevated temperatures and high levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, in contrast to speculations that tropical ecosystems were severely compromised by heat stress.
Less damage? This doesn't sound like less harm, as the Guardian implied, but like thriving instead. The assumption made by the warming alarmists is that warming will destroy the rainforests. The Guardian article noted how the alarmist Hadley Centre previously made claims very much the opposite of these actual studies. They report:

Last year, researchers at the Met Office Hadley Centre reported that a 2C rise above pre-industrial levels, widely considered the best-case scenario, would still see 20-40% of the Amazon die off within 100 years. A 3C rise would see 75% of the forest destroyed by drought in the next century, while a 4C rise would kill 85%.

So the warming theory, based on the models used by the alarmists said that as much as 85% of the rainforests could be destroyed by warming. Jaramillo and his team of researches decided to look at what actually did happen in rainforests in the past during a previous warming period. According to The Scientific American the studies shows that: "In the past, rising atmospheric carbon dioxide and higher temperatures actually drove the evolution of far greater numbers of new rainforest plant species than were wiped out."

By studying fossilized pollent from the Palaocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum they were able to study how plants responded to temperatures that were 3-5 degrees warmer than they are today, and when cardon dioxide levels were 2 to 2.5 times higher than now. Jaramillo said, "The diversity of the tropical forest increased really fast over a very short amount of time." Jaramillo admits he is worried that "some people will look at this and saw 'we shouldn't care about global warming,' but this is what the fossil record is telling us."

Just last year well-known alarmist Chris Jones, of the Hadley Center was claiming that a 2C increase in temperatures would mean that "between 20 and 40 per cent of the forest could die." He told the world that the die out had probably already started and that just a 3C increase in temperatures would kill 70% of the rainforest.

Those were what the models told him and the models drive climate policy. The evidence, unfortunately said that under a warmer, more CO2 rich environment plant life actually didn't die out, but thrived.

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