"There are 10^11 stars in the galaxy. That used to be a huge number. But it's only a hundred billion. It's less than the national deficit! We used to call them astronomical numbers. Now we should call them economical numbers." ~ Richard Feynman
Gropers, Peepers, and What To Do
Column by Jim Davies.
Exclusive to STR
John Pistole, our nation's Groper in Chief, told Margaret Warner on PBS' News Hour on November 16th what a shame it would be if travelers missed their connections at Thanksgiving because more of us than usual elected to "opt-out" of what are becoming known as the TSA's new "porno scanners"--in favor of a highly intrusive pat-down, so making its long lines at airport gates even longer. It was very smooth, very nicely done; anyone watching without a government-lie detector on full alert might not have noticed that he was blaming his victims. Anger at these new devices is rising to a high pitch, so his defense was timely. It could be a chaotic week to fly, and if so it could bring more in to the orbit of WeWontFly.com and so get the attention of the airlines, who surely carry more clout than us more terrestrial beings.
Mr. Pistole assured viewers that his employees who watch images of naked humans for eight hours every day do not have the means to identify the real people they subject to their electronic strip-searches, for they are outside the line of sight. I suppose he meant they might be in Peoria, scanning people in Boston--or at least, around the corner from them in the Logan concourse. A bit like those other FedGov employees who sit at their screens directing deadly fire from drones over Pakistan from a console in Phoenix. It seems that in his mind, this is supposed to make us feel comfortable.
Slowly, I'm learning to ask a question, at least in my own mind, whenever someone in the "libertarian quadrant" makes a fine-sounding, radical proposal. It is: "Suppose this succeeded. What, exactly, would result?" So here, suppose the FedGov caved in to the public outrage and removed its peepers and their see-thru machines. What then? Why, the FedGov would be that much less unacceptable and repulsive. It would still be the same lying, fire-breathing, murdering, wealth-destroying, kleptocratic monster that it was before, but would face less anger from its victims; and meanwhile those of its enemies with murder-suicide on their minds would have more opportunity to deliver mayhem; another aircraft would be blown out of the sky.
The same question can be asked of Rand Paul's stirring demand, on arriving at the US Senate, for a balanced budget within two years. What would result? An outfit still devouring vast chunks of all we produce, but keeping its books in proper order. Is that really what the November 2nd "revolution" was all about? Maybe so.
One can ask it of WeWontFly.com's brave slogan: "Jam TSA checkpoints by 'opting out' [submitting instead to the gropers] until they remove the porno scanners!"--the result is stated right there; we'd be back to "just" metal detectors, shoe removals, pat-downs, laptop-openings, shampoo-surrenders, etc. Worthy as such proposals may be, they are all classic examples of hacking at the branches instead of striking the root.
The key "Gotcha" in the TSA's armory is that there really are people out there who are willing to die for Allah if doing so also kills a few hundred members of the Great Satan's entourage. We know that, it can't be denied; and the fact that the last few attempts have been colossally inept is just a matter of luck. The next one may do it right. So all passengers have to be screened, what alternative can there be?
Worse yet: imagine yourself a passionate young graduate of a fundamentalist Muslim seminary, ready to give your life for your cause, and your handlers discuss how to make sure your sacrifice is not in vain. Porno scanners remain in place, so there is no way to hide explosives even in one's underwear, let alone in a bomb belt or the soles of your shoes. Where is the next logical place to hide it? Why, inside your stomach, of course! Maybe the killers are working right now on some tastily flavored nitroglycerin to develop a liquid explosive that can be swallowed and remain in the digestive system until detonated by a swig of airline vodka, or whatever. (My chemistry is a bit rusty.) What do you care; fragments of the former you are going to be scattered to the winds whether the bang begins outside or inside your belly; in either case, you'll be instantly transported to the company of several dozen delectable virgins. So how does one X-ray for jellied bombs in the gut, John Pistole?
No doubt, a way will be found. For every weapon, a counter-weapon will be invented. And if you don't like peepers and gropers, just wait until they foist on us whatever digestive tract examination device they devise.
So, what can be done? Nothing, given the premise that government exists more or less as we know it.
If protests cause the TSA to relax its screening, the Muslim morons win, and kill some of us. If they don't, the TSA morons win and continue to humiliate all of us and violate our privacy. Under that premise, there is no solution. One more good reason why that premise has to be removed.
But wait! say the minarchists, eager to find a via media. Cannot the Muslim morons be disarmed by changing US foreign policy? For that is what provides their motivation, their hatred of everything American, of the Great Satan. Yes, that's true, though the task is hardly a light one, given the enormous power of lobbyists favoring the State of Israel; again just this month, V-P Biden reaffirmed that the US "remains a steadfast and unwavering ally to Israel." But suppose it succeeded, so that US foreign policy favored, say, Palestine instead of Israel and earned applause from all Muslims and an end to their attacks on us. What, then, would Mossad do? Just what Al Q'eda does, only much more and far more efficiently. If you have any foreign policy at all, it means that country X is favored at the expense of Y. Otherwise, it's not a foreign policy. Thus, travelers would escape from Allah's frying pan, only to land in Jehovah's. The only way to avoid "terrorism" altogether is not to have a foreign policy at all.
Then the remaining question becomes: Can there be a government, without a foreign policy, with the State Department closed down and its offices sold off? I don't think so, I can't imagine one in practice, but I've been unable to come up with a watertight theoretical basis on which to prove it's impossible. If someone is able to show that any government must (or need not, as the case may be) come with some kind of foreign policy, to explain why would put the "Comments" area below to good use.
Or if it is impossible, we're back to the only remaining solution, which is to eliminate the origin of all discord, government itself. Long-time STR readers may recall my 2006 suggestions about how to accomplish that. They are being implemented.