Related Thoughts

Surfing the web, one thought leads to another. Alison Kaplan Sommer asks what Israel can teach the U.S. about airport security. Her theme–Israel looks for the terrorist, while we look for the weapon–is one that we wrote about as early as 2002, and again in 2006. Sommer quotes a Toronto Star article:

Before you arrive at the main check-in counter, you stand in a security line where a young, clearly intelligent man or woman examines your passport and ticket, looks straight into your eyes, and asks you about who you are, where you came from, where you are heading, who packed your luggage, and whether you are carrying any packages for anyone.

That was our experience when we traveled to Israel; I talked about this on Bill Bennett’s show yesterday. The Israeli security guy, who actually seemed more like a tourism official, took about thirty seconds to determine that my wife and I weren’t terrorists and moved on to someone else. We went through security with our shoes on.
The Israeli system is obviously safer than ours, but we can’t adopt it. Why? Because it consists essentially of profiling. Sure, it’s mostly behavior profiling, but here in the U.S. it is unacceptable to say publicly that a young Muslim man traveling light, for no apparent purpose, who answers questions vaguely and nervously, is suspicious. We couldn’t even send the traveling imams on their way without cash reparations. Another way of putting the difference between the Israelis and us is that they are serious and we aren’t.
Stories about the underwear bomber continue. The Minneapolis Star Tribune headlines: “Jetliner plot makes closing Guantanamo more difficult.” (The New York Times, which wrote the story, says “Terror Attempt May Hinder Plans to Close Guantánamo.”) What these headlines really should say is, “Jetliner plot exposes stupidity of closing Guantanamo, freeing terrorists.” But the liberal media accept the premise that closing the Guantanamo Bay facility is an important end in itself, worth running security risks to accomplish.
Speaking of liberal media, few newspapers are as bad as the Los Angeles Times, and no newspaper is bedeviled by a more persistent and astute critic than Patrick Frey of Patterico. Today, Patterico reviews bias at the L.A. Times during 2009. It’s an impressive compilation.
Over the years, any number of people have made comments to us along the lines of “you guys are helping to keep the mainstream media honest.” I’ve always denied it; in my opinion, liberal bias in the press is worse, and more out in the open, than ever. (Take, for example, Newsweek’s decision to turn itself into a journal of liberal opinion. They’re expecting readers to notice the change any time now.) But 2009 was indeed a watershed year, not in the minimization of bias but in the liberal media’s inability to guide public opinion.
The two biggest issues last year were health care and the carbon tax. In both instances, all of the power of the establishment, including a unanimous establishment press, was arrayed in favor of “change.” AARP and the drug companies were bought off to lobby for Obamacare, and astonishing amounts of money were spent in an effort to convince Americans that it was a good thing. As for the carbon tax, global warming hysteria has been promoted by every authority figure in the world, from the United Nations to the elementary school your kid attends. Yet somehow, over the course of 2009 the American people figured out the truth about both of these issues: Obamacare is a massive government power grab that is intended to destroy our health care system, and climate is controlled by nature, not us.
How did it happen? By what mechanisms do people–most people, not just an educated few who circulate samizdata–figure out when they are being fed a line of BS by the liberal establishment? I’m really not sure, even though this site plays a small role in the process. In any event, 2009 will be remembered as the year when the liberals’ inability to control public opinion was decisively revealed.

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