We've moved!

Social Icons

twitterfacebooklinkedinrss feed

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Brooks: Security Fails, Terrorists Succeed -- Grow Up, America

David Brooks is my kind of conservative. If you haven't read his critique of airport security and our expectation that we can legislate and technologize our way to perfect security, you should. He calls much of the criticism of the system that let the pants bomber board that plane in Amsterdam "contemptuous and hysterical":

Various experts have gathered bits of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s biography. Since they can string the facts together to accurately predict the past, they thunder, the intelligence services should have been able to connect the dots to predict the future.

Dick Cheney argues that the error was caused by some ideological choice. Arlen Specter screams for more technology — full-body examining devices. “We thought that had been remedied,” said Senator Kit Bond, as if omniscience could be accomplished with legislation.

...For better or worse, over the past 50 years we have concentrated authority in centralized agencies and reduced the role of decentralized citizen action. We’ve done this in many spheres of life. Maybe that’s wise, maybe it’s not. But we shouldn’t imagine that these centralized institutions are going to work perfectly or even well most of the time. It would be nice if we reacted to their inevitable failures not with rabid denunciation and cynicism, but with a little resiliency, an awareness that human systems fail and bad things will happen and we don’t have to lose our heads every time they do [David Brooks, "The God That Fails," New York Times, 2009.12.31].

Brooks doesn't try to score political points: he offers equal criticism here for Republicans and Democrats. Everyone from Bush to Obama has bought into the notion that big government and big technology can solve all of our problems, and that if they produce anything less than perfect results, heads must roll.

Madison had 71 crimes over a four-month period, but we don't call for Chief Pulford's resignation or a complete overhaul of our "failing" police department. It's too bad we can't be similarly level-headed on airport security. A little British stiff upper lip might do more good than further investments in the diminishing returns of "Security Theater."


  1. Steve Sibson1/02/2010 9:13 AM

    I figured the “…” were there for a reason. This is what Cory skipped over:
    “At some point, it’s worth pointing out that it wasn’t the centralized system that stopped terrorism in this instance. As with the shoe bomber, as with the plane that went down in Shanksville, Pa., it was decentralized citizen action. The plot was foiled by nonexpert civilians who had the advantage of the concrete information right in front of them — and the spirit to take the initiative.”
    Instead of solving problems based on government’s central planners (many are elitist professors), it is individuals who make a difference. We can’t do our job when the government takes away our rights, such as the Second Amendment. And here is another piece that Cory skipped over:
    “The Congress and the Federal Reserve exacerbated the Great Depression.”
    Instead of allowing individuals through the free-market determine interest rates, prices, and what good and services are worth producing, we have central planners interfering and ripping us off in the process. We have discussed it in regard to farm subsidies, Monsanto’s government sponsored monopoly, and the oppression of Big Banks.
    Again I ask those Democrats who say they are for the little guy to understand that their big is better government is the solution to our problems, and join the movements in America who want to restore the Natural Law foundation the created America’s true freedoms. There is only one way for America to restore itself, by good men doing something. They is no doubt that good Democrats, conservative Republicans, and the libertarian independents can be a huge force. As Cory stated, this should not be about partisan party politics between Democrats and Republicans. It is time to make the fight between individual rights versus the central planners who want to control us.

  2. Steve Sibson1/02/2010 9:15 AM

    "their big is better government is the solution to our problems"

    Should have said:

    their big is better government is "NOT" the solution to our problems

  3. Just one problem: Brooks isn't a conservative.

    He's just another of your kind of liberal: naive, willfully blind and blissfully ignorant.

    If you're interested in knowing why Brooks is (as usual) wrong, read this article, especially the comments section: http://www.dakotavoice.com/2010/01/time-to-replace-napolitano/

  4. Brooks's non-ideological point still stands: airport security is a sham, and we need to stop freaking out. Steve's comment also proves my point that conservatives like Steve and Bob are more interested in ideological finger-pointing and hysteria than in practical solutions.

  5. Read the Jeffrey Goldberg Atlantic article from Nov. 2008 that I linked at the end: Says Bruce Schneier, "Only two things have made flying safer: the reinforcement of cockpit doors, and the fact that passengers know now to resist hijackers." Again, not a question of ideology or culture war or whatever fantasies Steve and Bob prefer to play with.

  6. Steve Sibson1/02/2010 10:40 AM

    “like Steve and Bob are more interested in ideological finger-pointing and hysteria than in practical solutions.”

    You are saying there is no solution, and I agree. The practical thing to do is to stop giving up freedom for the sake of security. Give Americans back their Second Amendment rights.

    "Only two things have made flying safer: the reinforcement of cockpit doors, and the fact that passengers know now to resist hijackers."

    Another statement that supports returning the freedom of the Second Amendment.

    And Cory, a ideological discussion about the differences between Islam and Christianity would also be helpful in understanding exactly who the enemy is. But we would have to drop the Progressive’s Cultural Marxist insistence that certain things should not be talked about, regardless of the First Amendment.

    Cory, why are you so afraid of the truth?

  7. John Kelley
    Anne Applebaum is right; the pseudo-military conflict with "terrorists" is a distraction. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/28/AR2009122801713.html

    Real threats to the US continue to be how we hand our lunch to the Chinese, and to a lesser extent, the Indians; and how we blindly continue to fund our enemies with our self-imposed reliance on the petro-dictators.

    Thanks for pointing out conservative Brooks column. He's absolutely right that we faked ourselves into temporary bliss with our hero worship of technology and engineering. We are no better off or safer than were the French picnicking behind their Maginot Line. (That's also the theoretical construct for why the "missile shield" is a waste of money-only lining contractors' pockets.)

    This latest "attack" was credible only for casting fear into feeble minds. Any fool (except the Nigerian) knows that a hole in a plane below 12,000 is survivable; while a hole above that altitude is catastrophic.

  8. My friend Tim Gebhart points to stats from Nate Silver finding your odds of boarding a plane "which is the subject of a terrorist incident have been 1 in 10,408,947 over the past decade. By contrast, the odds of being struck by lightning in a given year are about 1 in 500,000."

  9. Steve,

    Put the rhetoric aside and apply common sense to the issue of aviation security.

    Taking a logical approach to this issue, the only people who need to have firearms are the flight officers in the cockpit. With the reinforced doors, they are in a secure environment, are in control of the aircraft and are ultimatley responsible for the cargo on board.

    Tactically speaking, shooting someone at a range of a few feet in an area as small as a cockpit door, the odds are in favor that the flight officer will hit it's target with little or no probability of a miss. Not to mention at that range, the odds of an innocent person getting hit is reduced.

    I know several people who can go to the gun range and hit a fly at 50 yards with a pistol. Or they can put together a nice group on a paper target. This is all fine and dandy for a Saturday afternoon shoot, but one thing nobody will discuss is the human element in real life combat shooting.

    Actually using that firearm in a deadly encounter with another human being becomes a whole different deal. You don't have time to carefully draw your pistol, stand in a perfect stance. You are not alone on the range anymore without any distractions. You will have screaming passengers, frantic movement of the passengers and the movement of the aircraft. Your target is moving, which depending on the range can be difficult.

    If the terrorists want that airplane for a weapon, which is how we need to think now, then make those flight controls impossible for them to get their hands on. Reinforced cockpit doors with armed flight officers is the only logical solution.

    As far as the passenger with a bomb, the only way to deal with that issue is to stop it before it gets on board. That can be done by common sense screening, which includes profiling.

  10. Steve Sibson1/02/2010 1:09 PM


    As I stated on a previous thread, if the airline that you own wants to ban guns, that is fine. But the federal governemnt does not have the power to force airlines to ban guns. Both approaches have their practical limits, and I think we all agree that nothing is fool-proof. And that is due to a world where evil is present. Again, we should be having a discussion about the differences of Islam and Christianity.

    And are you saying Ben Franklin did not possess common sense when he said those who would give up freedom for the sake of security will have neither?

  11. Steve,

    When Ben Franklin was alive, the world was a differnt place. I look to leaders who are actually alive now that can make decisions.

    While history is important, it is history. Dwelling on yesterday does not solve tomorrows problems. We need to look at today and tomorrow for solutions, not 200 years ago.

  12. Steve Sibson1/02/2010 2:05 PM


    Natural Law is the same no matter what day it is. Natural rights of the individual are universal and they are not time sensitive.

  13. And Steve, it is thinking like that is why the tea party movement will never be taken seriously by the majority of americans.

  14. Steve Sibson1/02/2010 3:28 PM


    This is not about being on the side of the majority as much as it is being on the side of truth. Just because you can convince the poorest 60% to take away the property of the other 40% doesn't make it right. During the redistribution, the richest 1% take a big cut. Tyranny through mob rule is not freedom.


Comments are closed, as this portion of the Madville Times is in archive mode. You can join the discussion of current issues at MadvilleTimes.com.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.