Patterico's Pontifications

7/27/2004

I’m Too Busy Being a Prominent Abortion Rights Activist to Buy Big Jars of Mayonnaise at Costco

Filed under: Abortion — Patterico @ 7:55 pm

The blogosphere has discovered that the author of that New York Times op-ed on using abortion as “selective reduction” is in fact a fairly prominent abortion rights activist. New York Times editors say they didn’t know when they published the piece.

(Via James Joyner.)

Armed Liberal Is Back

Filed under: Blogging Matters — Patterico @ 6:50 am

Judging from the volume of his recent posts, it appears that my friend Armed Liberal is back to regular blogging at the Winds of Change blog. Go say hi.

7/26/2004

Revealed: Where Bush’s National Guard Payroll Records Were Found

Filed under: Humor — Patterico @ 11:01 pm

Some on the left have wondered aloud at the mysterious appearance of Bush’s National Guard payroll records. Where did they reappear? How were they found? And why now?

The mystery has been solved.

Who Said No News Is Made at the DNC?

Filed under: Morons — Patterico @ 10:01 pm

Here is a picture of Atrios, who is now posting his name at the bottom of his blog: Duncan Black.

O’Reilly Interview of Michael Moore

Filed under: Morons — Patterico @ 9:58 pm

I have said many times that I dislike Bill O’Reilly. He is a blowhard and a bully. But there are some people I’d like to see bullied, and Michael Moore is one of them. So you can bet I’ll be tuning in to O’Reilly’s show tomorrow night.

Airline Hijacking Attempts Are Still a Concern

Filed under: Air Security,Terrorism — Patterico @ 9:07 pm

Regardless of what you think of the Annie Jacobsen “Terror in the Skies” incident, I am here to convince you that the threat of future airline hijackings is serious — and we aren’t doing enough to stop it.

Case in point: if you haven’t read the recent Washington Times story on terrorist “dry runs,” then you should. A pilot interviewed for that story told the Washington Times that,

on one of his recent flights, an air marshal forced his way into the lavatory at the front of his plane after a man of Middle Eastern descent locked himself in for a long period.

The marshal found the mirror had been removed and the man was attempting to break through the wall. The cockpit was on the other side.

An air marshal interviewed by the paper

confirmed that Middle Eastern men try to flush out marshals by rushing the cockpit and stopping suddenly.

And there’s much more. It is beyond me how anyone could read this article and conclude that we are past the era of terrorist attempts to hijack airliners.

Moreover, even if you don’t think that we should be tracking down all Arab foreigners in the country to make sure they have not overstayed their visas (an exercise which, I agree, is probably not worth the necessary resources), it should still concern you that the FBI found it worth their time to question the 14 Syrians on Ms. Jacobsen’s flight — but didn’t bother to check their immigration status before releasing them.

Sure, it’s easy to dismiss a person’s immigration status as a technicality. But did you know that at least 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers should have been denied visas? The fact of the matter is that — even without shutting our borders to all Arabs — the simple enforcement of immigration laws on the books would go a long way towards preventing acts of terrorism that we all know are primarily planned by foreigners, specifically Arab foreigners. Given this context, shouldn’t we be concerned to see FBI agents releasing 14 Arab foreigners whom they found suspicious enough to question — without even checking their immigration status?

Look, I am not talking about shutting off our borders to all Arabs, or strip-searching every Arab that wants to fly. My main message is that we need to be aware of the continuing threat, exercise some common sense, and enforce our existing laws, including immigration laws.

I just don’t see what’s so controversial about that.

I Aborted My Kid And All I Got Was . . .

Filed under: Abortion — Patterico @ 6:27 pm

Planned Parenthood hopes to make abortion safe, legal, and rare. Also, if you have had an abortion, they would like you to buy one of their “I Had an Abortion” T-shirts.

(Via James Joyner.)

UPDATE: Allahpundit has some photoshopped T-shirts you’ll want to see. If you don’t get the point of the second T-shirt, you’ll want to read this New York Times op-ed.

The 9/11 Commission’s Own Failure of Imagination

Filed under: Terrorism — Patterico @ 6:38 am

So.

Someone tell me where I’m wrong here.

  • The primary mission of the 9/11 Commission was to learn what we can do better in the future to prevent similar attacks.
  • Each of the 19 hijackers passed airline screening procedures.
  • Each of the flights was manned by four or more Arabs.
  • At the 9/11 Commission hearings, an executive for United Airlines testified that, according to a Justice Department official, setting aside four or more Arabs for additional screening would be considered “discriminatory.”
  • At least one of the commissioners found this to be important testimony.
  • The 9/11 Commission report has now come out.

What does the report say about this unbelievable government policy? I think I know the answer: nothing whatsoever.

I haven’t read the entire 9/11 Commission report. I have read portions of it, including portions that appear to relate to airline security procedures. I have seen no mention of this specific topic in anything I have read. I see no mention of this topic in the executive summary (searchable HTML version available here). I have searched a searchable version of the report for references to this issue, and have come up empty. I have not seen a single news story covering the report that mentions this issue. I have asked whether anyone else saw this topic mentioned in the report, and someone who has read the entire report says he doesn’t remember seeing it mentioned — although he says he might have missed it.

Well, I don’t think he did. And if he did miss it, that’s not his fault. This should have been one of the most prominent issues discussed in the report.

This is especially amazing given that one of the “operational failures” listed in the report is: “not searching airline passengers identified by the computer-based CAPPS screening system.” The report points out that the only consequence of passengers’ having been selected for additional screening by the CAPPS system is that the airlines ensured that they got onto the flight along with their luggage (hardly a deterrent to a suicide terrorist). Some incompetent wanding took place when metal detectors went off. But nobody was searched thoroughly, in a way that would reveal weapons.

Solution: at a minimum, people identified by the CAPPS system should undergo a thorough secondary screening.

But how can you recommend that the airlines give a more thorough additional screening to group of Arabs, when the government has told the airlines that such a screening would be considered discriminatory?

The bottom line:

Our federal government has made the airlines reluctant to do the screening that would be necessary to prevent a similar series of attacks, due to potential civil liability for discrimination.

Maybe you think this isn’t a big deal. After all, some people (Armed Liberal, for example) have been telling me lately that they think Al Qaeda is done hijacking jetliners.

I don’t think so.

First, the Commission found that Ziad Jarrah pointed the nose of Flight 93 into the ground. Sure, that wasn’t his first choice. But, from his point of view, it was better than nothing. Do you really think that if, next Sept. 11, four hijacked jets are all flown into the ground, that this will not bother us? Does it take destroyed buildings to constitute a noticeable terrorist event?

Also, how do we know for sure that we can prevent buildings from being destroyed next time? Sure, alert and courageous passengers might be able to prevent a plane from crashing into another skyscraper. But this is not certain by any means. Here in Los Angeles, I am still amazed to see jetliners circling for their final approach, flying seconds away from the downtown skyscrapers. Terrorists with good timing could pull off another 9/11 here before the passengers even knew what was happening.

The bottom line is simple: it’s been almost three years since September 11, 2001, and we have forgotten. We say we haven’t, but we have. The ugly truth is that we are more concerned about political correctness, and continuing with business as usual, then we are concerned with preventing another such attack.

And the 9/11 Commission hasn’t done much to help, on one of the most important issues we face.

One of These Things Is Not Like the Other

Filed under: Humor — Patterico @ 6:37 am

See if you can find the three differences between these two pictures. I guarantee you’ll be surprised by the degree of subtlety.

7/25/2004

“I’m Not a Pessimist. I’m a Realist.”

Filed under: Air Security,Terrorism — Patterico @ 10:27 pm

The recent Annie Jacobsen “Terror in the Skies” episode seems a little like a Rorschach test for your views on terrorism — a little like the Bush Administration’s treatment of the available intelligence before the war.

As the Washington Post recently noted in an editorial, “no evidence has been presented that intelligence on Iraq was deliberately falsified for political purposes.” Essentially, the rap on Bush is that he and his top aides were too pessimistic — they too readily saw the available evidence in the worst light.

It seems to me that the reaction to Ms. Jacobsen’s story is similar. There is a set of facts out there that could be interpreted either way: as a completely innocent set of circumstances, or as a group of terrorists conducting a dry run.

Some say: Don’t panic. Maybe Iraq is developing nuclear weapons; maybe not. Maybe it will give WMD to Al Qaeda; maybe not. Maybe those 14 guys are musicians with weak bladders. So what if half of them defy the captain’s order, and leap up upon final approach? There could be an innocent explanation. Until we know for sure, let’s not over-react.

Folks like me are willing to say: I don’t know which interpretation is correct — the pessimistic one or the optimistic one. But something about 9/11 has made me less critical of those in power who choose to treat every potential threat seriously.

Which way do you come down?

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