Saturday, January 02, 2010

US Security and Israelification

This morning we started out in Phoenix with an eight-thirty flight to BWI on US Airways. We were in the check-in line an hour and a half before our departure time. Right now it's nine-fifteen at night, and we are still in Phoenix, staying in a Quality Inn, thanks to a discount offered by the airline after we stood around the airport all day.

I don't see it in the news, but apparently US Airways is having some kind of sick-out, crews are failing to show up for work and flights are being canceled and delayed. With that in mind you can almost understand why it took forty-five minutes to get through the line to the ticket counter to check our one cardboard box full of presents. It's unforgivable, but understandable.

It is not understandable though that people have to stand in line another forty-five minutes while the Transportation Security Administration x-rays their shoes and measures their shampoo, scans them for loose change, peeks through their clothes. This is supposed to make us safer. It doesn't. It only takes up everybody's time and frustrates people.

Reading about the Nigerian Underwear Bomber, you realize that they should have stopped him at every step of the way. Nobody could look more suspicious than that guy, from paying nearly $3,000 in cash for a ticket and checking no baggage to the call his father placed to the American embassy warning our government about him, to the briefing President Obama received a few days before Christmas telling him that al Qaeda was planning something, to the fact that this guy was in the government's terrorist database. And still they take your shampoo away from you. Leaving Chicago, I was randomly picked to be scanned in one of those fully-body scanners that reveal your body underneath your clothes, I'm sure you could feel the ripples of excitement spreading out from the TSA Voyeurism Kiosk throughout the airport as they peeked at the stuff in my front back pocket. I'm a middle-aged federal employee going on Christmas vacation with my wife and children to see the kids' grandparents, do you really think anybody thought I was a security risk? And the Nigerian Underwear Bomber gets on with no questions.

Security expert Bruce Schneier uses the term "security theater" to describe the kinds of activities that might make people feel safer but don't actually increase security in any real way. His article on the CNN website is a concise summary of his opinions on the subject, I recommend you read it HERE.

It is time for Americans to get serious about security. We should accurately estimate the probabilities of various threats and devise rational strategies for combating them. It's not easy defending yourself from an enemy who uses randomness and the element of surprise against you, but it can be done.

You know who does it? The Israelis. There is an interesting and little-cited article at, a big Canadian news site:
While North America's airports groan under the weight of another sea-change in security protocols, one word keeps popping out of the mouths of experts: Israelification.

That is, how can we make our airports more like Israel's, which deal with far greater terror threat with far less inconvenience.

"It is mindboggling for us Israelis to look at what happens in North America, because we went through this 50 years ago," said Rafi Sela, the president of AR Challenges, a global transportation security consultancy. He's worked with the RCMP, the U.S. Navy Seals and airports around the world.

"Israelis, unlike Canadians and Americans, don't take s--- from anybody. When the security agency in Israel (the ISA) started to tighten security and we had to wait in line for — not for hours — but 30 or 40 minutes, all hell broke loose here. We said, 'We're not going to do this. You're going to find a way that will take care of security without touching the efficiency of the airport."

That, in a nutshell is "Israelification" - a system that protects life and limb without annoying you to death.

Despite facing dozens of potential threats each day, the security set-up at Israel's largest hub, Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport, has not been breached since 2002, when a passenger mistakenly carried a handgun onto a flight. How do they manage that?

"The first thing you do is to look at who is coming into your airport," said Sela.

The first layer of actual security that greets travellers at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport is a roadside check. All drivers are stopped and asked two questions: How are you? Where are you coming from?

"Two benign questions. The questions aren't important. The way people act when they answer them is," Sela said.

Officers are looking for nervousness or other signs of "distress" — behavioural profiling. Sela rejects the argument that profiling is discriminatory.

"The word 'profiling' is a political invention by people who don't want to do security," he said. "To us, it doesn't matter if he's black, white, young or old. It's just his behaviour. So what kind of privacy am I really stepping on when I'm doing this?"

Once you've parked your car or gotten off your bus, you pass through the second and third security perimeters.

Armed guards outside the terminal are trained to observe passengers as they move toward the doors, again looking for odd behaviour. At Ben Gurion's half-dozen entrances, another layer of security are watching. At this point, some travellers will be randomly taken aside, and their person and their luggage run through a magnometer.

"This is to see that you don't have heavy metals on you or something that looks suspicious," said Sela.

You are now in the terminal. As you approach your airline check-in desk, a trained interviewer takes your passport and ticket. They ask a series of questions: Who packed your luggage? Has it left your side?

"The whole time, they are looking into your eyes — which is very embarrassing. But this is one of the ways they figure out if you are suspicious or not. It takes 20, 25 seconds," said Sela.

Lines are staggered. People are not allowed to bunch up into inviting targets for a bomber who has gotten this far.

At the check-in desk, your luggage is scanned immediately in a purpose-built area. Sela plays devil's advocate — what if you have escaped the attention of the first four layers of security, and now try to pass a bag with a bomb in it?

"I once put this question to Jacques Duchesneau (the former head of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority): say there is a bag with play-doh in it and two pens stuck in the play-doh. That is 'Bombs 101' to a screener. I asked Ducheneau, 'What would you do?' And he said, 'Evacuate the terminal.' And I said, 'Oh. My. God.'

"Take Pearson. Do you know how many people are in the terminal at all times? Many thousands. Let's say I'm (doing an evacuation) without panic — which will never happen. But let's say this is the case. How long will it take? Nobody thought about it. I said, 'Two days.'"

A screener at Ben-Gurion has a pair of better options.

First, the screening area is surrounded by contoured, blast-proof glass that can contain the detonation of up to 100 kilos of plastic explosive. Only the few dozen people within the screening area need be removed, and only to a point a few metres away.

Second, all the screening areas contain 'bomb boxes'. If a screener spots a suspect bag, he/she is trained to pick it up and place it in the box, which is blast proof. A bomb squad arrives shortly and wheels the box away for further investigation.

"This is a very small simple example of how we can simply stop a problem that would cripple one of your airports," Sela said.

Five security layers down: you now finally arrive at the only one which Ben-Gurion Airport shares with Pearson — the body and hand-luggage check.

"But here it is done completely, absolutely 180 degrees differently than it is done in North America," Sela said.

"First, it's fast — there's almost no line. That's because they're not looking for liquids, they're not looking at your shoes. They're not looking for everything they look for in North America. They just look at you," said Sela. "Even today with the heightened security in North America, they will check your items to death. But they will never look at you, at how you behave. They will never look into your eyes ... and that's how you figure out the bad guys from the good guys."

That's the process — six layers, four hard, two soft. The goal at Ben-Gurion is to move fliers from the parking lot to the airport lounge in a maximum of 25 minutes.

This doesn't begin to cover the off-site security net that failed so spectacularly in targeting would-be Flight 253 bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab — intelligence. In Israel, Sela said, a coordinated intelligence gathering operation produces a constantly evolving series of threat analyses and vulnerability studies.

"There is absolutely no intelligence and threat analysis done in Canada or the United States," Sela said. "Absolutely none." The 'Israelification' of airports: High security, little bother

Figuring out how to tell the good guys from the bad guys, that's the real question, isn't it? Everybody knows there is no danger if grandma carries a bottle of shampoo onto the plane, nobody has ever been caught with a bomb in their shoe since the original shoe-bomber, though millions and millions of shoes have been x-rayed. It's not the shampoo that's a problem, not the shoes, it's the intention of the passenger. We want them to catch bad guys, not hassle grandmothers for carrying cold cream in their hand bag.

The Israeli approach is not security theater, it's not designed to make people feel that their Big Brother government is taking care of them -- it is designed to actually make them safer. This will never happen here, you know -- such a concept is absolutely unthinkable to Americans. How did we get like this?

I love how this piece ends:
But even without the intelligence, Sela maintains, Abdulmutallab would not have gotten past Ben Gurion Airport's behavioural profilers.

So. Eight years after 9/11, why are we still so reactive, so un-Israelified?

Working hard to dampen his outrage, Sela first blames our leaders, and then ourselves.

"We have a saying in Hebrew that it's much easier to look for a lost key under the light, than to look for the key where you actually lost it, because it's dark over there. That's exactly how (North American airport security officials) act," Sela said. "You can easily do what we do. You don't have to replace anything. You have to add just a little bit — technology, training. But you have to completely change the way you go about doing airport security. And that is something that the bureaucrats have a problem with. They are very well enclosed in their own concept."

And rather than fear, he suggests that outrage would be a far more powerful spur to provoking that change.

"Do you know why Israelis are so calm? We have brutal terror attacks on our civilians and still, life in Israel is pretty good. The reason is that people trust their defence forces, their police, their response teams and the security agencies. They know they're doing a good job. You can't say the same thing about Americans and Canadians. They don't trust anybody," Sela said. "But they say, 'So far, so good'. Then if something happens, all hell breaks loose and you've spent eight hours in an airport. Which is ridiculous. Not justifiable

"But, what can you do? Americans and Canadians are nice people and they will do anything because they were told to do so and because they don't know any different."

The point then: Americans get nonsensical security theater because we're sheep. We put up with it. You listen to the grumbling in line, everybody knows this is ineffective, but we shuffle through the process and try to pretend that these rude TSA goons are there to make us safer. As long as Americans (and Canadians) let government play to their fears instead of demanding that they do a competent job, in security and everything else, we get what we deserve.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

my experience flying since 9/11 is that it's not that bad

I always get there early because they tell you to but get through all the security stuff fairly quickly

my only real gripe is that they don't let non-passengers go to the gate and wait with passengers so families can't wait with their college kids until they board

still, we need to address how the Christmas Day event happened and whether the current policies are actually working

I have no doubt we can learn alot from Israel's experience

January 03, 2010 6:24 AM  
Blogger Hazumu Osaragi said...

Hear, hear, to the 'security theater'. I keep wondering how much solid explosive was packed into the Christmas Bomber's britches. It doesn't look like a whole lot. Is there any explosive that, in that quantity, could crack the airframe open from a middle-row seat?

I was Aviation Ordnance in the Marine Corps, and had hands-on engineer demolitions training in the Army. There are three qualities you have to consider -- how sensitive (or insensitive) is the substance to burning 'high-order' (burning at it's absolute fastest rate), how quickly does the substance release energy when it is burning at it's fastest possible rate ('brissance', or shattering force), and how much energy per unit of mass can it release.

IF the amount of explosive had gone high-order (which it had not), I think it would have been slightly more likely to give the bomber a sex-change without immediately killing him. The passengers immediately around him also had a chance of surviving with serious injuries, though you can't tell with improvised explosives. The shock wave could have focused more on one passenger than others, killing him or her.

Then there's the sudden overpressure. I doubt it could have opened up the fuselage like everybody seems to imagine. If the plane were to be brought down, it would be due to catastrophic failure of just the right flight systems, or rupturing a fuselage fuel tank and -- if the bomber was REALLY lucky -- creating a larger explosion with the kerosene-based jet fuel. But a powerful explosion with kerosene is hard to do, as kerosene doesn't like to explode -- that's why it was so popular for oil lamps at the end of the 1800's. But if you can atomise it into a spray, it can make a hot (and pretty) fireball, but it doesn't burn with any shattering force. And don't forget, the plane was at the end of it's trip, and had enough fuel to land plus 30-minute reserve -- basically almost on empty.

So, I sit here, shaking my head at how so many people have imagined that only a crotch-full of chemical explosives can easily bring down an Airbus A-300, some demanding we strip-search anyone who even LOOKS like a Muslim (my boss was born in Calcutta -- BOY, is he EVER gonna' get hassled...)

Gee, I'm a transwoman. I wonder what I can expect -- what with the idea that the they-hate-us-they-hate-our-way-of-life terrorists would even try doing drag if they thought it would give them an advantage -- if a TSA screener 'read' me as I was passing through security (especially if I got some clod that was of the opinion that any guy who gets his !!!! cut off is mentally deranged and should be put down. It might seem too long before I was rescued by the shift supervisor.)

But, I've a feeling that everything since (and including) September 11, 2001, has played into a mass paranoid psychosis. That they want to attack us so is just an indication of how good we really are in comparison to them. Problem is, if you really look at the situation and take the correct actions to REALLY, REALLY reduce the threat of attack, those of us whose self-image is wrapped up in they-hate-us-because-we're-the-best takes a big hit when the attacks drop off.

The GOP/conservatives/RWA's/dominionists/(etc.) certainly get a boost in fundraising and recruiting potential whenever we have a disaster. One can become addicted to the power that can be garnered when we receive repeated, random attacks, and it becomes hard to give up that power, and the mechanism to gain and manipulate it.

Is there any hope that security in the U.S. will stop the play-acting and actually start doing it right?

January 03, 2010 3:41 PM  
Anonymous svelte_brunette said...

Al Qaeda’s original attack via airliners took advantage of the fact that this system was left wide open for abuse. The security system put in place by the Bush Administration only made it slightly less open for abuse, as evidenced by the shoe bomber in 2001 underpants bomber in 2009. However, these people were rank amateurs compared to the original attackers, and they will eventually run out of clothing articles to hide bombs in.

It is more likely that these attacks are diversionary tactics to keep attention focused on airplanes while they set up other more devastating attacks on targets that are even less monitored and protected.

I don’t think it’s necessary to give specific examples. Anyone with an imagination can think of a number of targets that could bring economic hardship to large numbers of people, and further weaken America’s fragile economy, even if they didn’t kill anyone in the process. I’ve seen little evidence in the press that these potential targets have received anything but rudimentary protection (if at all) in the many years since 9/11.

Al Qaeda’s 9/11 attack showed a laser-beam like focus on inflicting maximal damage and panic with minimal resources at a time and place where it was least expected. Expect their next REAL attack to be the same. I think flying will be relatively safe for a while. The real question is where will they send their next “A team.”

Have a nice day,


January 04, 2010 12:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

uh, how long has this Obama fellow been running this government anyway?:

"NEWARK, N.J. (Jan. 4) - A man walked through a screening checkpoint exit into the secure side of a terminal at one of the nation's busiest airports on Sunday night, and flights were grounded for hours and passengers had to be re-screened while air safety officials searched for him.

Airline passengers were allowed to begin boarding their planes at Newark Liberty International Airport about six hours after the man was seen bypassing security.

The man walked down an exit lane at Terminal C about 5:30 p.m., Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman Ann Davis said, and screening was halted while authorities looked at surveillance tapes to try to identify him.

Rich Schultz, AP
Crowds of people wait to take an escalator after a security breach shut down Terminal C at Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, N.J., Sunday.
Passengers were then moved from the secure side of the terminal, which is used primarily by Continental Airlines Inc., to the open side to go through screening again, Davis said in a statement. Passengers waited in check-in areas.

The terminal was searched thoroughly to make sure no dangerous objects were in it before the boarding began, the TSA said. The man wasn't found, but the TSA said its re-screening effort ensured every passenger was fully screened.

Security officers instructed the passengers, who expressed frustration over the situation.

Alison Day, of York, England, was supposed to leave for Manchester, England, at 7:30 p.m. She was traveling with a party of seven including an 18-month-old and a 5-year-old.

"I'm not angry that this is happening, but I'm angry that there was a lack of organization," she said."

of course, Obama has done nothing so whatever happens can still be blamed on Bush:

"The security system put in place by the Bush Administration only made it slightly less open for abuse, as evidenced by the shoe bomber in 2001 underpants bomber in 2009."

actually, flying was safe after 2001 until 2009

Barry took over and named the Keystone Cops to run security

January 04, 2010 2:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it seems like only yesterday that the globe was warming but the thermometer has been heading south since 1998

tonight in Washington, the wind chill is minus ten:

"(Jan. 4) -- Dangerously cold weather had much of the United States in its grip early Monday morning, with no relief in sight for the rest of the week.

In Minneapolis, Minnesota, the temperature was -3 degrees as Monday began, and with the wind chill, it felt like -17 degrees, according to CNN affiliate KARE. By Thursday, the high is forecast to be only 4 degrees.

While the upper Midwest is accustomed to frigid weather, freezing temperatures can come as a shock in Florida.

The Panhandle and much of northern Florida is under a hard freeze warning, the National Weather Service says. The warning extended almost down to Tampa Bay along the Gulf Coast.

Florida officials have been urging residents, visitors and agricultural interests to prepare for temperatures near or below the freezing mark this week, CNN affiliate WESH reports.

Along with the dangerously cold temperatures, residents in Montana have been warned by the Weather Service to brace for blizzard conditions with snowfall of 12 to 20 inches possible across parts of the state.

In Chicago, Illinois, residents bundled up on another bitterly cold day and many stayed indoors, CNN affiliate WLS reports.

Despite the dangerous cold, some people ventured out, . especially parishioners at Holy Name Cathedral, WLS said.

"It's God first. Even though weather is terrible, we've still got to go to church," said Alez Alverez.

Early Monday morning, the temperature in Chicago was 9 degrees with light snow, WLS reported. By Saturday, the forecast high is only 8 degrees.

In the Northeast, the Weather Service warned that a large storm off the New England coast would continue to bring heavy snow to much of central New York state."

if the guys at East Anglia are right(and who would doubt them?), we just need to drive our cars a little more to break out of this ten-year cold snap

bring back the Sunday afternoon drive to the country!

January 04, 2010 2:49 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

how long has this Obama fellow been running this government

He's been running it ever since he and Joe Biden defeated the McCain-Palin ticket in the landslide election of 2008, which swept larger majorities of Democrats into both houses of Congress and into many non-Southern state legislatures as well.

Obama has done nothing

Obama has nominated former FBI agent Errol Southers to be the head of the TSA, but Senator Jim DeMint of the Grand Obstructionist Party has blocked that nominee from getting voted on by the full Senate. DeMint is the same GOPer who said of health care reform:

"If we're able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him and we will show we can, along with the American people, begin to push those freedom solutions that work in every area of our society."

What kind of "freedom solution" does he imagine it is to have the TSA remain leaderless during peak holiday travel seasons? Is DeMint willing to sacrifice the lives of Americans who are traveling to grandma's for the holidays so he can bring his Waterloo to our President? DeMint's words and actions embolden our enemies IMHO. America would be much better off with Senators who work with our President to keep us safe than we are with those like DeMint who work to undermine our President's efforts and hope for his Waterloo.

Try to learn something, Anone

...The stormy December weather was caused by two main weather factors: widespread cold air and an abundance of El Nino-driven southern storms. Both of these are expected to continue in January and February.

The cold air is being predicted by the government's coupled forecast system, a long-range forecasting model that accurately predicted the December cold. It's forecasting colder-than-normal weather in the entire eastern half of the country and all of the Deep South in January. Look for less extensive cold air along the Eastern Seaboard and in the Deep South in February.

Meanwhile, the current El Nino will continue to influence the weather for the rest of the winter. An El Nino occurs when sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific are warmer than normal. This one has been strong enough to add fuel to the southern branch of the jet stream, resulting in more numerous and more intense storms in the southern part of the country. It should continue at its present strength into spring, according to the Climate Prediction Center...

Two of America's prediction models accurately predicted this stormy and cold winter weather we're having. We'll all see what other predictions they got right in the coming years.

January 04, 2010 8:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"He's been running it ever since he and Joe Biden defeated the McCain-Palin ticket in the landslide election of 2008,"

Oh, that's right. Obama was very popular back then.

OK, so he's in charge now and accountable for the failures of his administration.

"which swept larger majorities of Democrats into both houses of Congress and into many non-Southern state legislatures as well"

Oh, that's right. Everyone was saying "let's give Democrats a chance to see what they can do".

Unfortunately, we found out.

Have you seen the generic polls, where people are asked if they're more likely to vote Democrap or Republican in the next Congressional election?

It's not pretty for the Democraps.

It's hard to know what advice to give the Dems: should they strike while the iron's hot or try to pretend to be centrist again?

If history's any guide, once they lose the majority, they won't be getting it back anytime soon.

"What kind of "freedom solution" does he imagine it is to have the TSA remain leaderless during peak holiday travel seasons?"

The TSA has an acting adminstrator. She reports to the Director of Homeland Security who said the system worked.

What would be nice is if the country had a leader. I don't mind Barry staying in Hawaii but he might have displayed some engagement with the issue prior to four days after it happened.

When BO did make his sketchy statement, he used the phrase "person accused of trying to bomb".

Can't imagine FDR saying the Japs allegedly bombed Pearl Harbor.

Now, the perpetrator is being tried in a domestic court despite being an enemy combatant and, get this, the administration said yesterday they will offer him a plea bargain.

"DeMint's words and actions embolden our enemies IMHO."

Well, IMAO, nothing has emboldened our enemies like Barry's first year.

"America would be much better off with Senators who work with our President to keep us safe."

I see. So, now Congress is to blame for running the country imcompetently.

What's the executive branch do?

Make travel arrangements for the President?

Blaming Bush is so 2009.

January 04, 2010 10:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...The stormy December weather was caused by two main weather factors: widespread cold air and an abundance of El Nino-driven southern storms."

Actually, we were discussing global temperature.

So, you say the falling global temperatures are caused by "widespread cold air"?

I would have never thought of saying something so ridiculous but I guess I just don't understand science.

I'm catching on, though.

Let me try one:

The cause of the Obama administration's imcomptence is that Barry doesn't know what he's doing.

"Both of these are expected to continue in January and February."

"Look for less extensive cold air along the Eastern Seaboard and in the Deep South in February."

See how science works:

If it stays cold in February, anon-B will say the first statement was right.

If it warms up, she'll point to he second statement.

It's almost like a horoscope reading.

I can't fail.

The Farmer's Almanac actually called for a cold winter and they've got a better track record.

Point is, the pattern is now starting on it's twelfth year and carbon emmissions have risen greatly during that time.

Are Republicans blocking the Weather Service too?

"Meanwhile, the current El Nino will continue to influence the weather for the rest of the winter. An El Nino occurs when sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific are warmer than normal. This one has been strong enough to add fuel to the southern branch of the jet stream, resulting in more numerous and more intense storms in the southern part of the country."

Is this your way of admitting that human activity actually has little to do with the weather?

"Two of America's prediction models accurately predicted this stormy and cold winter weather we're having. We'll all see what other predictions they got right in the coming years."

Well, we shouldn't make any huge policy decisions based on the equivalent of a fantasy football league.

January 04, 2010 10:27 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

I don't mind Barry staying in Hawaii but he might have displayed some engagement with the issue prior to four days after it happened.

Bush waited six days to "display some engagement" with the shoe bomber, who made his Christmas travel bombing attempt within four months of 9/11. You didn't complain then so why are you complaining now?

Now, the perpetrator is being tried in a domestic court despite being an enemy combatant

BOSTON (CNN) -- The man who admitted to trying to blow up a U.S. jetliner with explosives in his shoes was wrestled out of a courtroom by federal marshals Thursday after a federal judge sentenced him to life in prison.

As he was dragged out of the courtroom, Richard Reid began yelling at Judge William Young, repeating his allegiance to Osama bin Laden....

Funny, you were fine with Bush's delay in "displaying some engagement" with the shoe bomber (Bush was on vacation again at Camp David at the time) and with the US courts trying, sentencing, and jailing the shoe bomber. And now all of a sudden, 8 years later you're all hyped up on timing and venue.

How do you spell hypocrite?

Oh and BTW another GOP politician announced he'd rather seek retirement rather than reelection: "Republican Congressman Henry Brown, who has served South Carolina in the U.S. House since 2001, will retire at the end of his term, sources tell The Palmetto Scoop."

Actually, we were discussing global temperature.

Actually you said the winter storm we had in December was an indication that global warming by man's activities is not happening. You think one cold spell dispels all the science.

So, you say the falling global temperatures are caused by "widespread cold air"?

Temperatures are not falling globally, they are only falling in some areas and rising in others like the Pacific Ocean surface temps that are feeding the El Nino that is sending storms to the southern US. Overall 9 of the 10 hottest years on record have been in the past 12 years or so.

January 04, 2010 12:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

beebo, you're doing it again

Bush isn't President anymore

after denouncing him, you have no right to use him as the standard to judge Barry's success

btw, Bush had a long string of success in avoiding incidents, 2002-2008

Barry's already had two incidents that were pretty inexcusable

"all of a sudden, 8 years later you're all hyped up on timing and venue"

I'm actually more amused than hyped but your buddy, Barry, is simply disengaged

you have no idea what my views were eight year ago

"sources tell The Palmetto Scoop"

you're confused

The Palmetto Scoop is served by the Marble Slab on Gervais

right, Alvin?

"Actually you said the winter storm we had in December was an indication that global warming by man's activities is not happening."

I don't think there's any indication that human activity is affecting the weather.

The burden of proof is on those who say there is.

In the past, they simply referenced "scientists" and said it's beyond us to undertand.

We're in the post-climategate world now.

"You think one cold spell dispels all the science."

No, I don't. I think one hot decade, the 90s, in insignificant in the history of the planet.

Temperatures dropped from the forties to the seventies and haven't increased from 1998 through the aughts.

During the last millenium, ther have been mini-ice ages and periods warmer than now. The climate is cyclical and science doesn't understand the factors very well at this stage in history.

"On "Fox News Sunday" yesterday, Fox anchor Brit Hume suggested that Tiger Woods should trade his Buddhist faith for Christianity if he wants to make a personal comback. When host Chris Wallace asked the show's roundtable to predict the biggest sports story of 2010, Hume said:

"Tiger Woods will recover as a golfer. Whether he can recover as a person I think is a very open question, and it's a tragic situation for him. I think he's lost his family, it's not clear to me if he'll be able to have a relationship with his children, but the Tiger Woods that emerges once the news value dies out of this scandal -- the extent to which he can recover -- seems to me to depend on his faith. He's said to be a Buddhist; I don't think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. So my message to Tiger would be, 'Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.'"

After a moment of awkward silence, fellow panelist Bill Kristol quipped, "Well, Brit's concerned about Tiger's soul, which is admirable, but I just made a more straightforward sports prediction, which was that he'll come back and win the Masters.""

January 04, 2010 12:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you gotta hand it to anon-B

she's been very brave in the face of the national repudiation of her views:

"An already difficult situation for Democrats in Congress is worsening as the 2010 political season opens.

To minimize expected losses in next fall's election, President Barack Obama's party is testing a line of attack that resurrects George W. Bush as a boogeyman.

Four House Democrats from swing districts have recently chosen not to seek re-election, bringing to 11 the number of retirements that could leave Democratic-held seats vulnerable to Republicans. More Democratic retirements are expected.

Over the holiday break, another Democrat, freshman Rep. Parker Griffith of Alabama, defected to the GOP. "I can no longer align myself with a party that continues to pursue legislation that is bad for our country, hurts our economy, and drives us further and further into debt," said Griffith, who voted against Democrats' three biggest initiatives in 2009: health care, financial regulation and reducing global warming.

In the Senate, at least four Democrats — including Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and five-term Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd — are in serious trouble. The party could also lose its grip on seats Obama held in Illinois and Vice President Joe Biden long occupied in Delaware.

Democrats have been in control of Congress for three years, and Bush is long gone. This is Obama's country now. Democrats tried to use Bush against Christie in New Jersey and Corzine still lost.

A top Democratic priority is minimizing losses among nearly four dozen seats the party now holds in moderate-to-conservative districts that Republican John McCain won in the 2008. The most vulnerable in that group include Democratic Reps. Kilroy in Ohio, Teague in New Mexico, Kratovil in Maryland, Perriello in Virginia and Childers in Mississippi.

Reps. Bart Gordon and John Tanner, both of Tennessee, were in that group until they chose to retire. So was Griffith, before he switched to the GOP. Retirement announcements from Reps. Moore of Kansas and Baird of Washington put two more Democratic seats on the GOP's target list.

"Democrats are beginning to see the writing on the wall, and instead of choosing to fight in a difficult political environment, they are taking a pass and opting for retirement," said Ken Spain, a spokesman for the House GOP's campaign arm.

The situation for Democrats in the Senate is nearly as grim as it is for them in the House.

Democrats crowed after six Senate Republicans — four from swing states Florida, Ohio, Missouri and New Hampshire and two from GOP-leaning Kansas and Kentucky — announced retirements.

The GOP challenges now leading in all six states. An emboldened GOP also is looking to put a pair of senior Senate Democrats out of office.

Reid, who is seeking a fifth term, is faring poorly in surveys in hypothetical matchups.

Dodd, the Banking Committee chairman who has taken heat for a discounted VIP mortgage loan he got from a subprime lender, has been consistently behind potential GOP challengers.

Also vulnerable are Sen. Lincoln, a Democrat in GOP-leaning Arkansas, and Sen. Bennet in Colorado, who was appointed when Ken Salazar became Obama's interior secretary.

Republicans have high hopes for picking up Senate seats in Illinois and Delaware that were held by the president and vice president, respectively. Neither of their appointed successors is seeking election to the seats.

Early polling shows GOP Rep. Mark Kirk leading among Republican candidates in Illinois. Veteran GOP Rep. Mike Castle, a former two-term governor, is running for the Senate in Delaware. Biden's son, Democratic state Attorney General Beau Biden, is considering whether to challenge Castle."

January 04, 2010 2:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Over the past few weeks -- as I traveled abroad, attended holiday parties, and went through my appointed rounds -- I kept encountering people who posed the same question: "What's happened with Obama?" These were liberal Democrats, and they feel, depending on the person, somewhat, partially, or fully betrayed by the president whom they helped elect with their small donations and/or volunteer sweat. These people were truly troubled, some by the expansion of the Afghanistan war, some by the emasculation of the health care reform legislation, some by President Obama's embrace of corporate-world advisers. (This means you, Larry Summers.) I know that my sampling is rather unscientific. But none of the worriers are bloggers or professional progressives who make their living fretting about a presidential drift to the center. They merely are foot-soldiers (or ex-foot soldiers) in Obama's base, and now they find themselves quite perplexed and in desperate need of explanation.

Obama's approval ratings have been falling steadily in the past few months. He appears to be having a tough time retaining the support of independents, who tell pollsters they are nervous about his health care reform initiative. Democrats as a group tend to be supportive of Obama and his efforts. Consequently, a White House following conventional rules would put its effort into winning back indies in time for next year's mid-term congressional elections. After all, if the Dems take a beating, it will be Obama's agenda that will suffer.

Yet Obama and his aides should not ignore the spreading anxiety among his liberal fans. The folks who I've talked with -- in conversations that often feel like counseling sessions -- have said they are unlikely to hit the pavement for Obama and the D's in 2010. They felt empowered by Obama's campaign in 2008; they feel alienated from politics today. Disenchantment is not what you want in your base when you're heading toward a tough mid-term election. Given that the congressional races are likely to be low-turnout affairs, any lack of passion on the Democratic side will enhance the advantage the Republicans will probably enjoy due to extended joblessness. (You want to scare yourself? Read this AP article on the economy, which notes that it could take at least five years to bring the unemployment rate to a "normal 5 or 6 percent." By the way, another must-read is a Washington Post front-pager that notes there was zero net job creation in the just-ended decade, compared to 20 to 38 percent net job growth in each of the previous six decades.)

And despite all the campaign hype, there isn't much of an Obama Nation that the White House can mobilize for the coming elections. As Micah Sifry recently noted (picking up on a theme I poked at in the first months of the Obama presidency):

This is the big story of 2009, if you ask me, the meta-story of what did, and didn't happen, in the first year of Obama's administration. The people who voted for him weren't organized in any kind of new or powerful way, and the special interests -- banks, energy companies, health interests, car-makers, the military-industrial complex -- sat first at the table and wrote the menu. Myth met reality, and came up wanting."

January 04, 2010 2:48 PM  
Anonymous wink wink said...

5 comments in 5 hours.

Looks like somebody forgot to take their OCD meds this morning.

January 04, 2010 3:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

just had to respond to anon-B, who denying the incompetence of Obama and fabrications of climategate

the denial gambit could work if good people remain silent

January 04, 2010 3:29 PM  
Blogger Orin Ryssman said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

January 04, 2010 11:05 PM  
Blogger Orin Ryssman said...

Thank you Jim for a timely and critically thoughtful analysis of what is laughably called airport security.

The difference between Israel and the United States though could not be greater in that Israel has had to deal with a threat to its very existence from the very start by nations and groups intent on finishing off what Hitler started. This, the US has never had to deal with...ever.

Here is a link to a blog entry on this same subject (fair warning: this is a neo-conservative blog),

I have protested a time or two here and there, but I have found that it only raises my tension/stress levels, causes more delays and accomplishes nothing. I do think the next time the US gets hit (and we will - and it does not matter if Obama is in office, or if the GOP wins back the White House) that the most certain effect will be that more Americans will lose faith in their government to fulfill the most basic function of any government: to protect innocent life and property. (And I would like to know if we will receive any sort of refund on the security fee we are now forced to pay thanks to 9/11.)

I think Obama will find it difficult to fulfill his duty to protect because he earnestly and sincerely wants the rest of the world to like us. This characteristic is akin to the parent that wants their teenager to like them and in the process undercuts their own position of authority. Still I like that Obama waited before speaking, waiting to know the facts before speaking is a good habit for any leader...Democrat or Republican.

January 04, 2010 11:14 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home