Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Conservative Blogger Contrives Yet Another Kobayashi Maru for the President

The concern some conservative bloggers are expressing about TSA security procedures is purely political, and I'm going to prove it.

More often than not, whenever I have a suspicion about the conservative blogosphere, a quick study of Lori Ziganto's blog confirms it. (Sorry, Lori, I know you just want to be left alone, and you don't want to be held accountable for what you write, but your blog is public and consequently a legitimate target.)

Before I get to Ziganto, let's briefly review the procedure in question. Those wishing to board airplanes at many airports in the United States are being asked to submit to a full-body scan. The scanners can detect non-metallic explosives like those found on the underwear bomber last year, but they also produce images of the naked bodies of those who are scanned. Fliers who refuse the scans must submit to pat-down searches that include the crotch and the chest.  Children are also subject to pat-downs.

Much of the opposition to the scans is, as William Saletan puts it, "idiocy": the scans are safe, and a pat-down is a whole lot more invasive. Regarding this procedure, and in particular the alternative to the scan, Ziganto writes:
Surely, you’d think, this wouldn’t be done randomly, but would rather be a targeted measure. And, you’d also think, certainly the absolutely random subjection of children to such “pat-downs” wouldn’t occur. Well, you’d be wrong on both counts. Of course this isn’t targeted – that would be too profile-y and stuff! Because, tolerance. Or something. You see, because we must tolerate those who wish to kill us, we cannot offend them. We cannot be perceived to be singling out a certain group. We must, therefore, waste time and resources using terrorism countermeasures against, you know, NON-terrorists. And we are to pretend that 90-year-old grandmas from Nebraska flew planes into buildings on September 11th. Or that three-year-old girls strapped bombs to their shoes or in their underwear.
Who are these evil people who insist that we must "tolerate those who wish to kill us"? The Democratic-led government of course: "It’s bad enough the Government constantly condescends to the American public and treats us all like half-witted children," writes Ziganto. "I think the past election showed them that we will no longer stand for that."

But notice this: not everyone who flies these days and is subjected to the scan or a pat-down is a 90-year-old grandmother or a three-year-old girl. And if a terrorist knew that his three-year-old girl would be neither scanned nor patted down, what would stop him from making his little one wear that underwear bomb instead?

Ziganto's solution is to use profiling:
[I]t seems to me that we should try out that whole using targeted security measures, based on actual suspicion and clues, like they do in Israel. Oh, silly me. That would mean acknowledging that it is a specific radicalized group of people who wants to kill us.
Because "targeted security measures, based on actual suspicion and clues" worked so spectacularly in 2001? As the uproar over the firing of Juan Williams reminded us, there is no guarantee that a Muslim terrorist will have a certain appearance or even behave in a certain way. And some terrorists aren't even Muslim. The problem is stated quite elegantly by none other than former Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff:
The problem with using racial and religious profiling is it takes you down a road to looking at people who you don't need to look at and avoiding looking at people that you should look at. The fact is it would be an engraved invitation to al-Qaeda to recruit exactly the kind of people who don't fit the profile.
In addition, while a particular security procedure might work in Israel, implementing it in a nation of over 300 million people may not be practical. The alternative is to subject everyone, or at least randomly selected fliers, to your security measures, even if that means we often end up looking at people who we don't need to look at.

In any event, Ziganto is either kidding about following Israel's lead, or she's misinformed. According to CBS News, Israeli security is even worse:
As the New York Times reported Monday, some are looking to Israel - where profiling is just one among the many airport security tactics that make civil liberties defenders cringe - for guidance on airport security. The system is extremely restrictive by American standards, and stories of over-the-top searches and overzealous questioning are common. 
"My experience leaving Tel Aviv was by far and away the most unpleasant encounter I've ever had with airport security officials in the decade," blogger Matthew Yglesias wrote. "As best I could tell, things went pretty smoothly as long as you were (a) Israeli, (b) traveling with an Israeli, or (c) traveling with some kind of well-established tour group." 
Yglesias said that it took three hours for him to get from his initial security check to the airport's food court, and added that the Jewish member of his group "had the easiest time" while the black woman in the group "had the hardest time."
According to that New York Times story,
[T]he security methods employed by Israel’s famous Shin Bet security service at Ben-Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv are frequently stricter and more intrusive than the full-body scanners and pat-downs American officials put into place Nov. 1, said security analysts and the travelers who regularly show up at Ben-Gurion four hours before their flights for screening.
At Ben-Gurion, some passengers have been searched so thoroughly that they have had to walk through the terminals, the gates and up to the doors of their planes with no handbags, wallets or even shoes.
But I digress.

When I started seeing complaints about these more restrictive measures, something occurred to me: weren't a lot of conservatives in the media complaining about lax security after Obama was inaugurated? Why, yes they were! Among them was one Lori Ziganto. Back in May, Ziganto wrote
The night the NYC car bomb attempt went down, I was so grateful that, once again, the diligence of the public and the swift action of the NYC Police thwarted yet another potential attack. Shortly thereafter, while still incredibly grateful obviously, I became angry. I’ve had it. Firstly, because the current strategy of homeland security seems to be “Hey, guys, we’ve totally unclenched our fists. We can haz cookie now?” Secondly, because the left and their media lackeys are not only dangerously naive, but also purposefully misleading.
They are so deeply invested in both political correctness and in their violent, racist “tea baggers” meme, it clouds all else. Even common sense and the security of our country. It was swiftly apparent that they were *wishing* that the failed bomber was a tea partier, so that they could further their lame narrative and continue to try to excuse Obama and his administration for their failures and utter incompetence. Gee, Obama, how is that “unclenching of fists” deal working out for you?
That night, Attorney General Holder said “It’s important that American people remain vigilant.” Sadly, it’s quite clear that the administration and many on the left refuse to do the same. 
According to Ziganto, the current administration had put political correctness ahead of security, and security had become far too lax. Back in December, Ziganto wrote about the very event the enhanced security procedures are supposed to address, and complained that the Obama administration wasn't doing enough to keep us safe:
Today, when discussing the failed terror attack on the Northwest flight from Amsterdam, Janet Napolitano said “The system worked. Everything worked according to clockwork”. Um, perhaps she meant like a clockwork orange? That’s the only plausible explanation. . . .
Hello, Janet? He was on a watch list — and still got on a plane. WITH A BOMB in his pants. Talk about a suspicious “package” – literally. Pretty sure that means that there was “improper screening”. How on earth did “the system work”? Unless, of course, you mean the original intent of our free Republic, in which case, you are correct. Correct because, once again, private citizens succeeded where government bureaucracy failed. As always.
Ziganto complains about a terrorist boarding a flight with a bomb in his underpants, but she also complains about a security procedure designed to prevent terrorists from boarding flights with bombs in their underpants. Got it.

To summarize: 
  • If President Obama is responsible for enhanced security procedures at airports, he screwed up. 
  • If President Obama is responsible for failing to enhance security procedures at airports, he screwed up. 
  • So, no matter what, President Obama has screwed up. 
Nothing the Democrats could do would satisfy Ziganto, except adopt the Israeli model that no one here, not even Ziganto herself, would tolerate. And if they actually did adopt the Israeli model, that would be the perfect topic for Ziganto's next childish rant about those evil Democrats. All of this proves that, for Ziganto, this is purely political: the only important thing for Ziganto is that President Obama confront a no-win scenario and lose.


  1. You. Are. My. Favorite. !!!!!1!!

    (Childish indeed.)

  2. PS- She and her icky-wicky blogger friendsies are totes the most annoying republicans in the blogosphere/Twitter arena. Very clicky, very HS. (Read: establishment in grassroots clothing.)
    And they all are primarily the reason I've become disillusioned with so many champions of the far-right.

  3. Thank you!

    Do you and Lori know each other? It sounds as if you might. I don't know her at all. If you're interested in finding out how I became "creepily obsessed" with her little blog, you can read about it at http://youranalyticanaleptic.blogspot.com/2010/08/ziganto-responds-lamely.html.

    When you say they're "establishment in grassroots clothing," are you saying that they are traditional Republicans pretending to be independent Tea Partiers? A lot of Tea Partiers appear to have Republican positions on most issues. The real Tea Partiers are more libertarian than most Republicans, or so I thought.

    Anyway, if you were somehow ostracized by them, it's not terribly surprising to me. The Republican intelligentsia is very much like a high school clique, it seems to me. If you cross them, you end up like Meghan McCain and David Frum. But McCain and Frum have as much claim to represent Republicanism as anyone, and they're a hell of a lot smarter than a lot of conservative bloggers who have hijacked Republican thought. Many of the RedState bloggers, in my opinion, are simply not very bright. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with being smart AND Republican. We need more thoughtful Republicans.

    My wife and I were talking about this, and again, I don't know whether you were ostracized from their clique or why, but one reason the conservative blogosphere would be like a high school clique is message control. They can't have people who claim to be conservatives or Republicans straying from the party line, because that would be confusing. And they can't have anyone complicating the message. They want the message to be very simple, and it's bad marketing for anyone to embrace anything nuanced. That's my opinion, and we can disagree about that, of course. I just find most of the conservative bloggers I've read to be very simple-minded, and Ziganto is perhaps the most simple-minded of all.

    Anyway, have a happy Thanksgiving, and thanks again.

  4. I do not know Ziganto and I have not been ostracized by them. I'm sure if this were to be read by them, however, I would be. You are correct in that if you cross them, which truly amounts to simply vocalizing vehement disagreement, you are tossed out like yesterday's garbage and never thought of again.
    I followed many RS people (and others like them) on Twitter for a bit-Ziggie included- and thought they were all swell until witnessing a number of unfair attacks being waged. It was then that I began to see the light. Heh. The light revealed their will to achieve an end by almost any means necessary- which more often than not includes the proliferation of half-truths and hate-inciting rhetoric; before this I'd honestly believed these tactics and others like them were reserved for the far-left.
    And yes, many of them and their blogger friends are without question traditional establishment-minded Republicans pretending to be more like independent Tea Partiers.
    (I should note that I think Frum is just as bad but for unrelated reasons.)
    I do relate to Meghan McCain because I'm also pro-gay marriage and fairly liberal on an assortment of other social issues like immigration.
    But I've never voted for anyone who wasn't a republican, I've fundraised for and campaigned for only republicans. Essentially I have only ever supported the Republican Party in every way I've known how...and when I read the seemingly endless amount of articles, tweets and blogs articulating such incredible disgust for Miss McCain for something as trivial as her so-called inability to form complete sentences & her appearance- it was the first time I was ashamed to be a republican in my entire life. Granted I'm only 23 and perhaps I haven't been paying close enough attention. But that is truth.
    This disillusionment was disheartening because I learned that many of the people that I admired are actually just same as many people I despise at the other end of the political spectrum. Ziganto and many like her are, in fact, people not interested in real progress at all. And they are not people that I want representing the Republican party I still support.

  5. Thank you for taking the time to elaborate. I appreciate it.

    I think you and I agree: there are plenty of people on the left and the right that resort to hateful rhetoric and misinformation to win debates. But there are also plenty of people on the left and the right that are guided by facts and reason, and I think they tend to me more moderate in their views, though I could be wrong about that. Anyway, I am sure that there are plenty of Republicans out there that you can be proud of and admire.

    I think Ziganto's problem is that Sarah Palin has been pandering to the Tea Party (even though Palin appears to be a traditional Republican), and Ziganto is a disciple of Palin, so Ziganto feels as if she has to be a Tea Partier. That's my guess.

    I think the country has become too partisan and too disrespectful. The abuse that gets heaped on McCain is absolutely ridiculous. She may not be a great writer, but I have no problem understanding her. Though you're probably opposed to many of President Obama's politics, I think he has made a sincere effort to tone down the rhetoric and be respectful. We need more of that. It sounds like you're just the sort of person the Republican Party needs right now.

    If you have the time, could you please tell me why you think Frum is just as bad as the bloggers with whom you're disillusioned? I'd appreciate it.

    So, there's my stream-of-consciousness response. Thanks again for the comment.

  6. By the way, I have some reason to believe that Ziganto actually reads this blog, or at least the posts that mention her, so there is a small possibility that she may read your comment.


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It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence. ---W.K. Clifford

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