Wednesday, November 17, 2010

TSA and other problems

Amid airport anger, GOP takes aim at screening

Did you know that the NATION'S AIRPORTS ARE NOT REQUIRED TO HAVE TRANSPORTATION SECURITY ADMINISTRATION SCREENERS CHECKING PASSENGERS AT SECURITY CHECKPOINTS? The 2001 law creating the TSA gave airports the right to opt out of the TSA program in favor of private screeners after a two-year period. Now, with the TSA engulfed in controversy and hated by millions of weary and sometimes humiliated travelers, Rep. John Mica, the Republican who will soon be chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, is reminding airports that they have a choice.

MICA, one of the authors of the original TSA bill, HAS RECENTLY WRITTEN TO THE HEADS OF MORE THAN 150 AIRPORTS NATIONWIDE SUGGESTING THEY OPT OUT OF TSA SCREENING. "When the TSA was established, it was never envisioned that it would become a huge, unwieldy bureaucracy which was soon to grow to 67,000 employees," Mica writes. "As TSA has grown larger, more impersonal, and administratively top-heavy, I believe it is important that airports across the country consider utilizing the opt-out provision provided by law."

I wonder how soon some enterprising smaller airports opt out and offer the more traditional screening? It might be worth traveling to Colorado Springs airport instead of DIA if this happens.

Obama on the Road again

If President Barack Obama is not yet convinced that his international star power has faded, his next round of transatlantic summitry should clear up any lingering doubts.

Coming off a marathon Asia trip where Obama often found himself rebuffed by fellow world leaders, he will head to Europe this week where the agenda will be clouded by a growing divide over economic strategy and a sense of neglect among traditional U.S. allies.

His challenge is to reassure European partners that, despite political weakness at home and embarrassing setbacks abroad, he remains committed to better cooperation on issues ranging from the war in Afghanistan to the fight against trade protectionism.

Elites see Obama deserving reelection. Voters don’t.

The midterms not only dealt a big shock to the Democrats, but also sent a message to President Obama. According to the new POLITICO "Power and the People" poll, ONLY 26 PERCENT OF THE PUBLIC BELIEVES HE WILL NOW BE RE-ELECTED AS PRESIDENT IN 2012.

This difference of expectations could mislead the president if he is listening to the Beltway chatter – right here in D.C. he may just find a lot of comfort in this assessment by insiders , and that may lead to actions that don’t fully adjust for the sea change that has occurred among the general public.

This big difference can partially be explained by the different ways that the two groups see the economy and the world today. Seventy percent of D.C. elites admit that they have been affected less than the average citizen when it comes to the economic downturn. The elites see the Tea Party as purely a fad (70 percent). In contrast, those who say that the President will not be re-elected see the country as headed in the wrong direction by 82 percent, the economy in the wrong direction by 81 percent and overwhelmingly want repeal of healthcare at the top of the agenda. Among the quarter of the public that sees his re-election as probable, they see the economy turning around by nearly 3 to 1. They are the outliers of the electorate
This story leads into the one below on the difference between the elites and the voters.

Sarah Palin – the biggest loser?

MEDIA AND POLITICAL ELITES may disagree on the many consequences of what the president called a "shellacking" by the voters, but THEY LARGELY AGREE THAT THE BIGGEST LOSER WAS SARAH PALIN. Sarah Palin has once again been flagged for her unwillingness to play the game according to how the media and political professionals want it played. For them, it is a game, with taxpayer dollars as Monopoly money. BUT FOR SARAH PALIN, IT'S ABOUT BELIEFS AND VALUES AND SERVICE -- which disqualifies her, in their view, from life between the political lines. Sure, she won -- having helped more than sixty candidates to victory -- but, as Rush Limbaugh pointed out, the political and media elites are "a little miffed" at how the Tea Party and Palin put principle ahead of politics. C'mon, lady -- professionals don't do core beliefs!

It was her principles that represented the biggest negative for Karl Rove, whom Lee Cary of American Thinker characterized as the "lead consigliere for the Republican bluebloods." Rove attacked Palin as unfit for political leadership after she insisted on endorsing candidates based on their beliefs in limited government and traditional values. PRINCIPLES, HE SNEERED, ARE FOR AMATEURS

This makes you wonder if “principles are for losers,” if the American public might just want to teach the professionals a lesson?

Keith Olbermann’s suspension and media hypocrisy

Hypocrisy is alive and well in medialand. While Keith Olbermann goes crazy about Fox News’ parent company donating over a million to the Republican Governor’s Association, he fails to mention all the other major media parent companies do the same.

Olbermann compounded his hypocrisy by attacking News Corp., the parent company of MSNBC's rival Fox News, for donating $1.25 million to the Republican Governors Association. Before his own largess to Democrats was revealed, Olbermann suggested in an interview with House majority whip Jim Clyburn the idea of political contributions by a news organization was so outrageous that it should be outlawed by Congress.

"Is there a legislative response to the idea that there is a national cable news outlet that goes beyond having a point of view and actually starts to shill for partisan causes and actually starts to donate to partisan groups of one party?'' Olbermann demanded.

What Olbermann didn't mention was that HIS OWN COMPANY WAS DOING EXACTLY THE SAME THING AS NEWS CORP. GENERAL ELECTRIC, THE PARENT COMPANY OF MSNBC, GAVE $2.2 MILLION TO POLITICAL CANDIDATES DURING THE 2010 CAMPAIGN, 61 PERCENT OF IT TO DEMOCRATS. (And while Olbermann talked incessantly about News Corp.'s contributions to the Republican Governors Association, he was oddly silent about the fact that of the company's $603,000 direct donations to political candidates, 62 percent went to Democrats.)

If you're imagining that political donations are only associated with shout-fest cable news organizations, think again. TIME WARNER, THE CORPORATE PARENT OF CNN, GAVE $830,000, 83 PERCENT TO DEMOCRATS. DISNEY, WHICH OWNS ABC, FORKED OVER $540,000, 61 PERCENT TO DEMOCRATS. CBS-PARAMOUNT PAID OUT $105,000, 61 PERCENT TO DEMOCRATS, and a political action committee associated with corporate cousin Viacom kicked in another $354,000, 57 percent to Democrats. (Check out the numbers yourself at, an excellent nonpartisan website that tracks the flow of political money.)

It's the size of those corporate donations that makes me reluctantly concede that in some ways Olbermann is getting a raw deal. If GE's $2.2 million doesn't compromise MSNBC's claims to objectivity and nonpartisanship, how can his puny $7,200 be a threat? What kind of ethical standard requires Olbermann to keep his checkbook closed but allows his bosses to leave theirs wide open?

Progressive' means different things to different people

One of the most incendiary words in today's political lexicon is progressive. Members of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, from President Barack Obama on down, use it proudly to describe themselves. Tea partiers and other conservatives, most notably talk-show host Glenn Beck, use it as a term of reproach, blaming progressivism for nearly everything that's gone wrong with America over the past hundred years.

One of the reasons the word generates so much controversy is that it means something different to each side.

FOR LIBERALS, PROGRESSIVISM IS A SET OF POLICIES, from the industrial regulations of the early 20th century through the welfare measures of the Great Society. Such initiatives were attempts to address real problems that emerged in the development of an urban, industrial society. What's more, they insist, THESE POLICIES HAVE BROUGHT ABOUT IMMENSE TANGIBLE IMPROVEMENTS IN THE LIVES OF ORDINARY AMERICANS. Only a dangerous extremist, therefore, would want to reverse them.

CONSERVATIVES, MEANWHILE, REGARD PROGRESSIVISM AS AN IDEOLOGY, a set of beliefs developed by men such as Herbert Croly and Woodrow Wilson. According to these thinkers, THE IDEAS OF THE FOUNDERS HAD NO RELEVANCE TO MODERN INDUSTRIAL SOCIETY, AND CONCEPTS SUCH AS LIMITED GOVERNMENT, SEPARATION OF POWERS AND EVEN INALIENABLE INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS had to be cast aside in order to meet the challenges of the modern world. Moreover, since our society is so complex, day-to-day operations of government had to be taken out of the hands of the people themselves and entrusted to trained experts. All of this led some conservatives to find SIMILARITIES BETWEEN PROGRESSIVISM AND ANOTHER POLITICAL RESPONSE TO THE PROBLEMS OF THE 20TH-CENTURY WORLD, NAMELY FASCISM.

THE PROBLEM IS THAT BOTH SIDES ARE RIGHT, but neither seems willing to consider the other's definition. This is the source of much of the rancor in today's politics. While using the same words, conservatives and liberals are practically speaking different languages…..

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