Saturday, October 16, 2004

TSA: A continuing government disaster: "In a week marked by no less than three separate official challenges to President George Bush's reasons for taking the United States to war with Iraq, including the posture offered by former Coalition Provisional Authority head Paul Bremer by saying that the invading force was grossly undermanned as had been suggested before the invasion by then-Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki, the Bush administration and Congress continue to be bullied by an "armchair bureaucrat" who ignores reality, and both the will and the safety of the American people. It is hard to find a more astonishing and comparable bureaucratic incident of domination of both the White House and the Congress on an issue so vital as regards the safety and security of the American people. Perhaps a close runner-up is the bureaucratic dictatorship of William Ruckleshaus, the former EPA administrator who summarily banned the use of DDT without any real meaningful debate or real fact-finding inquiry and analysis. But the current Transportation Safety Administration issue is even more pervasive, as is the threat of continuing terrorist airline hijackings. And at a time when the Congress is introducing even more mind-numbing oppressive legislative expansions of the PATRIOT Act to further crush and destroy America's vital freedoms, the simple alternative of arming airline pilots has now been virtually shelved by anti-gun Secretary of Transportation, Norman Mineta.

Anything goes at the TSA except arming the pilots: "The government agency in charge of airport security spent nearly a half-million dollars on an awards ceremony at a lavish hotel, including $81,000 for plaques and $500 for cheese displays, according to an internal report obtained by The Associated Press. Awards were presented to 543 Transportation Security Administration employees and 30 organizations, including a 'lifetime achievement award' for one worker with the 2-year-old agency. Almost $200,000 was spent on travel and lodging for attendees."

Photo ban to be challenged: "Londonderry [NH] High School senior Blake Douglass said he will definitely sue in federal court after the school board last night unanimously backed denying his photo submission to the yearbook featuring a broke-open shotgun slung over his shoulder. ... Richard Aldrich, a Gun Owners of New Hampshire board member, said: 'I have a strong interest in the case. Here we have a young man who has the First and Second Amendments of the Constitution behind him and the school (administration) has political correctness.'"


Setting aside the various ad-hominem attacks, one of the most persistent charges laid against him is that of playing fast and loose with the facts. Reviewing Moore's film, Bowling for Columbine, for example, the pro-gun rights attorney David Kopel documented a host of misleading and wrong statements, and cynical editing, all of which were quite clearly intended to private gun ownership, the NRA and its president in the worst possible light.

More generally, it was quite obvious that in making the film, Moore had deliberately set out to interview a selection of gun owners who could hardly have been better calculated to alarm the average movie-goer. Why else in a nation with tens of millions of gun owners did he have to look to James Nichols of all people for a defense of Second Amendment rights? ....

However, when one looks at Moore's vision for American society, and in particular how it is to be achieved, it is all too apparent that behind the cheerful facade of "diversity," economic security, environmental protection and safer neighborhoods lies the mailed fist of state power, always ready to intervene with overwhelming violence against anyone foolish enough to dissent from his semi-socialist project.

One imagines that he and his cheerleaders would be quick to ridicule this idea, most likely with the retort that their policies would be carried out through democratic as opposed to violent means - the old "bullets or ballots" argument! Yet consider for a moment what would happen in Moore's ideal world to anyone who stepped out of line; let us say, a store owner, unwise enough to persist in selling some product that has fallen out of political favor.

Initially he would likely receive some kind of warning, followed perhaps by an attempt by officials to seize the offending product. And what if he resisted this attack on his property? No doubt a warrant for his arrest would soon follow, with due consideration now also being given to his obstructive behavior. And what if he then resisted arrest, perhaps unwittingly brandishing a weapon freshly prohibited thanks to the gun control measures so favored by Moore? Suffice it to say that would find himself in mortal danger - at best.

Now you might say that this all seems rather extreme and highly colored. But a moment's reflection will reveal that the possibility of such an outcome, however rarely things may actually go that far, is a necessary condition for the implementation of any government regulation. Without it, who would listen to interfering government officials?

So we can see that rather than being opposed to the inherent violence of political government as such, Moore merely wishes to redirect its focus to those targets he approves of. Not only this, but because of the far-reaching nature of his goals, such aggressive interventions in individuals' lives would necessarily be far more widespread than is the case today, even under the current oppressive arrangements.

Now if I have misunderstood Moore and his ideas, then I hope he will accept my apologies; but it is surely not without significance that throughout his prolific output, he has been strangely reticent when it comes to questioning the power of the state itself - surely a case of a dog that didn't bark in the night. Indeed, his well-publicized voter registration campaigns only serve to emphasize the importance he attaches to political power - in other words, the threat of state-initiated violence - to fulfill his goals.

In fact, bearing all this in mind, it begins to look as though Moore might not be quite so anti-gun as his films, books and speeches would suggest - just so long as the guns in question are in the hands of the government.

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