under the hammer
Under the Hammer
December 30, 2010
The Republican Party is not called the stupid party for nothing. The Republicans in the Senate handed President Barack Hussein Obama a huge victory right before adjourning.
The Senate ratified the New START treaty with Russia. It sounds like one of those treaties where we give a lot and get very little in return. We have to reduce the number of missiles we have but Russia doesn't have to get rid of a single missile because of the way the treaty is worded.
But even if it is a great treaty, politically it was stupid for the Republicans to help pass it. When you have a guy on the run you don't stop chasing him. Obama suffered one of the biggest mid-election defeats of any president. So the Republicans give him this big gift to make him look good at the end of the session. They gave him a victory that he and his supporters, which includes most of the mainstream media, can crow about at the end of the session. It gives them a foreign policy accomplishment to brag about. All the end of the year wrap-ups will include this major foreign policy achievement by Obama.
But even if the Republicans thought that the US really needed the treaty – and it is hard to imagine why it is good for the US to reduce its missiles if the Russians don't have to reduce theirs – why not wait until some huge news week next year? Some week when North Korea launches another attack on South Korea, or when an earthquake destroys a major city, and ratify it that week when nobody will even know about it.
Or if they are really convinced it's good and can explain why it is good for the US in a manner that the average voter will understand, then pass it in next year's session on a slow news day and let the Republicans take credit. They could say that the Democrats couldn't muster the votes to ratify this wonderful treaty but with more Republicans in the Senate they found the necessary votes.
The Russians haven't approved it anyway, so they apparently don't see any rush. The Republicans had a chance to jab Obama and instead they handed him a stick to beat them with. If the Republican Party doesn't realize that some people are playing for keeps, in two years Obama will be back in the White House with an even bigger majority in the House and Senate.
Since the Republican leadership opposed the treaty, it is an indication of how much trouble the Republicans are going to have getting anything done. The leadership should have laid down the law on this one. But whatever it did it wasn't enough to keep the necessary senators in line.
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It's been in the news because of the pilot's videos, but I got to see airport security up not so close and definitely not personal. I happened to be at the airport waiting for the Muse on Sunday, Dec. 26, and saw one of the airport custodians go through the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint. It just so happened that when I had dropped the Muse off at the airport a few days earlier I had watched a flight crew go through a TSA check point.
After watching both it is much better to be a custodian than a member of the flight crew: If you're the custodian you get treated like an honest citizen, not like a criminal.
The flight crew didn't have to show a ticket to the TSA guard checking tickets, but other than that they didn't seem to get a break. They got in line and went through security with everybody else. Their luggage was X-rayed and they partially disrobed for the metal detector. They did it much more quickly and efficiently than the couple in front of them with small children, but that didn't matter because they were still stuck behind the couple, which was doing the best they could with small children and lots of stuff.
Custodians aren't treated like that. The custodian didn't wait in any lines. He went around the line with his cart with a broom, a mop, a trash can, mop bucket, the big container at the center of the cart usually used for laundry and various other devices used in cleaning. He also didn't have a ticket to check but he didn't have to wait behind anybody who did. The custodian himself did have to walk through the metal detector and had to put his spray bottles through the X-ray machine.
But mostly his cart just got pushed along, the guards looked in it and they looked under it, but there could have been a gun, a bomb or anything else in that cart and they never would have known. Now if the custodian had just stuck an AK-47 in the trash can or had taped a .357 to the bottom of his cart they should have seen it, but if he had put a false bottom in the main portion of the cart and put enough explosives to destroy a plane in there, nobody would have been the wiser. Or if the mop handle hid the barrel of gun, or if he had used the most rudimentary methods of deception, he would have made it through.
So the guy flying the plane who has a gun and a fire ax in the cockpit has all of his stuff X-rayed to make sure he isn't bringing any dangerous weapons on board the plane, but the guy mopping the floor is basically treated like a respectable human being.
I don't think they need to increase security on the custodian, I think they need to treat the rest of us like law-abiding citizens, unless they have some reason to think that we are not. The custodian had much more than 3 ounces of liquid in each container and he didn't have them in a quart plastic bag. So why isn't it dangerous for him to have all of that liquid but it is dangerous for everybody else going through security?
Lots of us have had background checks. I have been cleared to see presidents, to see the pope, for national conventions, for the US Senate and for a presidential inauguration. I have always passed all of my background checks. It seems like that should count for something. The government has vast computer databases, and lots of people like airline pilots have had extensive background checks, why not use them for good rather than for evil? Allow people to be checked out beforehand; if they pass they can walk through a metal detector with their shoes and belt on, put their carry-on through the X-ray machine even if it contains a full tube of toothpaste, a full bottle saline solution, shampoo and conditioner, and get on the plane. No nude X-rays and no groping inside the pants. Back to the good old days.
Those who don't check out will have to go through whatever the Obama administration comes up with – full body cavity searches or who knows what Secretary Janet Napolitano will insist is necessary for the safety of the public.
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Hamtramck, Michigan, and a number of other cities are facing bankruptcy. The city manager of Hamtramck noted that one of the reasons the city can't pay its bills is that it costs the city $75,000 a year to hire a rookie police officer because the union has insisted on a Cadillac salary and benefits. He said they can't afford the Cadillac anymore and need to cut back to a Chevrolet, but the union won't let them.
Most of the cities facing bankruptcy are from heavily unionized areas – what is now known as the Rust Belt. Industry and population are leaving the area at a rapid rate because nobody can afford to stay there. The unions have the cost of doing business so high the industries have left, and the cost of living is so high that the retirees move south.
The sad news is that population moving south wants to bring the unions with them.
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I love global warming. It is the greatest theory ever. When it's really hot somewhere that is caused by global warming, which makes some sense. Hot-warm, they are in the same family. But what makes global warming wonderful is that when it's really cold, like this December all over much of the United States and Northern Europe – when people are snowed in at airports because the airports aren't equipped to handle snow, when crops are destroyed because of unseasonably cold weather – all of that is caused by global warming as well.
It is a wonderful theory. It's how some husbands treat their wives and some wives treat their husbands: Whatever happens it is the other's fault.
The only solution to global warming is that the industrial nations of the world quit being so successful and producing so much. It is utterly astounding that global warming is caused by carbon dioxide produced by economically successful nations. It is the carbon dioxide those nations put in the air that causes all the problems. The carbon dioxide produced by nature and by what used to be called the third world is not a problem.
Also it evidently is not a problem for people flying in private jets from all over the world to go to global warming conferences. The pollution produced by those jets is not a problem, but the pollution produced by corporate CEOs flying to business meetings is a problem.
A bad hurricane season? It's caused by global warming. A mild hurricane season? It is also caused by global warming.
It is an absurd theory and if it is challenged with real science, proponents often resort to saying that the reforms need to be done anyway. I'm fine with that. If global warming advocates want to admit that what they really want is to hamper industry in the economically successful nations and give the economically deprived nations a better chance to compete, I'm perfectly willing to have that discussion. I'd particularly like to have it with Al Gore after he flies in on a private jet and rides in the back of a limousine which is kept idling during the meeting. He's done pretty well in the global warming business. He needs to write a book on how to make money being an environmentalist.
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I'm a baby boomer and I'm right in the age range that would get hit, but the government cannot continue to give money to everyone when they turn 65 or 66 or whatever the number is these days. It's a huge problem. A whole lot of people don't need that money and people are living so much longer it's costing a lot more than anyone thought it would. But the real problem is that we all know that the government has already spent all the money we paid in and there are not enough folks paying in now to cover the baby boomers.
The formula has to be changed, and they might as well go ahead and get it over with.
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Bells should ring all over the country when the new Congress is sworn in and for the first time in over 60 years the country doesn't have a Kennedy in Washington acting like they own the city. They are a sanctimonious bunch that acted like royalty.
The late Sen. Ted Kennedy killed a woman who had the misfortune to be riding in his car when he drove off a bridge into the water. She might have been rescued if he had immediately called for help, but instead he decided to swim home. He got a slap on the wrist.
His son Rep. Patrick Kennedy crashed his car into a barricade near the Capitol building and said he was on his way to vote at 2:45 in the morning, disoriented by prescription drugs he had taken. Witnesses said he appeared drunk, but being a Kennedy the Capitol Police took him home rather than giving him any kind of sobriety test.
Of course, his father's drinking was legendary, so he came by his honestly.
The country will be much better off with the Kennedys gone from Washington.