The Danger of Distraction
posted at 11:50 pm on December 27, 2009 by Doctor Zero
Last week was a busy one in Washington. The Democrat-controlled Senate spent hundreds of millions in bribes, to buy the votes it needed for cloture on the massively unpopular health-care bill it plans to inject into the beating heart of American democracy and capitalism. Complex parliamentary maneuvers were made. The special concessions needed to win cloture added more complexity to a bill that was already thousands of pages long, including nonsense like declaring Nebraska to be the only state that would receive full Medicaid funding.
All of this effort was undertaken in the service of a bill whose uncertain fate has been delayed by a President suddenly very nervous about the polls. There is a better than even chance that Obamacare will die during its trek through the wasteland that separates the House and Senate, leaving its authors with nothing to show for their efforts but a bloated corpse. If it survives, it will tear our politics and economics apart, producing countless unexpected consequences, and possibly sparking something approaching a revolution among a public increasingly determined to resist an out-of-control Democrat Party.
While all of this was going on, Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab was slipping on a set of explosive-laced underwear, apparently provided by al-Qaeda bomb makers, and preparing to board Northwest Flight 253. He walked right past a titanic federal government that views its $3.6 trillion budget as merely the larval stage to something really exciting. We got lucky – his bomb did not detonate, and brave passengers aboard Flight 253 took it from there. This led to the marvelous spectacle of manifestly incompetent Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano assuring us this was an example of how “the system works.”
No aspect of this system works. A lot of good people have done outstanding work in Homeland Security and law enforcement, to keep us safe. The system around them is decomposing rapidly.
If Abdul Farouk had been a little better at detonating his underwear, this Christmas weekend would have become a time of horror and heartrending loss, and Janet Napolitano would be sitting at home and sobbing as she watched the search for debris and body parts on CNN, and waited for the first subpoenas to arrive. Ask yourself what would happen to the chief of a private security firm who claimed the survival of hundreds of civilians, through sheer luck, constituted a validation of her “system.” Her company would already be as dead as ValuJet, and her future career as a security officer would involve Segways and food courts.
A few months ago, the Obama Administration tried blaming its endless failures on “distractions.” Legitimate criticism and political opposition is not a distraction. This is what a dangerously distracted government looks like. It should be spending less time trying to wrap itself in a cocoon of tax dollars, to emerge as the collective butterfly of Hugo Chavez’ dreams, and more time fulfilling its vital functions. Too bad some of that $867 billion “stimulus” bill didn’t go for putting more 3D imaging equipment in airports, or hiring more air marshals. I guess none of the Democrats’ big contributors have interests in those areas.
A distracted government does not consist of a President trying to ignore a ringing telephone to personally guide Predator drones into terrorist strongholds. It’s not about a few individuals trying to cram too much into their daily schedules. It’s about massive shifts in personnel, political capital, and funding. Prior to this weekend, the Obama Administration was devoting far more energy to its greedy anticipation of the health-care takeover than to homeland security. The glacial realignment of lifetime career personnel, throughout the complex maze of interconnected Washington bureaus, was already underway in response.
An aggressive, activist government will always be more interested in what it wants to do, than fundamental duties it must perform. Contrary to the paranoid liberal fantasies of the Bush era, there is very little useful power to be gained from exaggerating the importance of domestic security. Health-care reform will give statists direct control over your medicine, body, diet… and, with the kind of audacity that turned the interstate commerce clause into a mandate for limitless federal power, it will eventually give them control of nearly every aspect of your economic existence. Homeland security gives them the power to make you remain seated during the last hour of a flight, and keep your hand lotion in your checked baggage. No contest.
You can measure Obama’s understanding of the terrorist threat by his willingness to name 9/11 conspiracy nut Van Jones as “green jobs czar.” If Glenn Beck hadn’t forced Obama to toss Jones out with the evening trash, they’d probably be having some fascinating conversations about the events aboard Northwest Flight 253 right about now. Jones would doubtless be standing in front of a massive flowchart, made from newspaper clippings and colored string, trying to connect Abdul Farouk to the Bush family. A government serious about protecting its citizens from terrorism has absolutely no room for people like Van Jones. Period.
The continuing threat of terrorism is something Obama’s brand of corrupt deal-making and influence peddling is wholly unprepared to deal with. Unlike Nebraska senator Ben Nelson, jihadists don’t view their “deeply-held principles” as price tags. They are unimpressed by symbolic awards from the Nobel committee, climate-change fraud operations, or gaseous speeches. They see weakness in months of dithering over Afghanistan strategy. They smell opportunity when ideology trumps security, and 9/11 masterminds receive the benefits of American civilian courts. They can read Screening Management Standard Operating Procedures published online. They understand that both ideology and desire make Obama eager to turn away from security issues to focus on his domestic ambitions. Assassins love it when you turn your back on them.
The government wasn’t paying enough attention to Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab to take his visa away, after his father reported him as a terrorist. They let him board an airplane, even though he was on a terrorist watch list. They weren’t listening when he repeatedly defended 9/11 and the Taliban in school. Don’t worry – I’m sure the government will do a better job of managing your health care. After all, it’s what they really care about. Exploding underwear is an annoying distraction.
Cross-posted at www.doczero.org.