A Unionized TSA Will Make Our Airports Less Safe

November 15, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

-By Warner Todd Huston

Everywhere you turn the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) is getting lambasted. If it isn’t people refusing to abide by TSA directions, it’s stories of a “backlash against body scanners” because of the abusive treatment that TSA employees are doling out to travelers. People are becoming fed up with the whole edifice. But imagine how much worse this situation will get if the TSA is allowed to unionize?

Well, if Obama has his way this is exactly what will happen. Evidence his Federal Labor Relations Authority ruled last Friday that the TSA could, indeed, vote on union representation.

This decision opens the possibilities that the American Federation of Government Employees and the National Treasury Employees Union could vie to represent the 50,000 employees of the TSA.

Many TSA security officers have already joined one or another of these unions but law prohibits them from collective bargaining at this time. Perhaps early next year this new ruling will allow the TSA officers to choose which of the two unions will exclusively represent them.

So, we have TSA security officers already abusing their positions and as much as molesting travelers under color of authority. Recently a 3-year-old girl was manhandled in a TSA search at an airport. Why were they body searching a three-year-old? The TSA claims it is “the rules” that are at fault. But whether the “rules” are well formulated or not, whether the TSA agents involved were adequately trained or not, the addition of a union will make matters worse.

Imagine trying to confront TSA abuses once a union steps in to prevent any sort of management of employees at all! Plus a unionized TSA would hamper security by taking all flexibility out of the service as union rules settle in to prevent management from making needed changes to reflect a fluid security situation.

There are other dangers that a unionized TSA would present the traveling public. Every time new security rules are needed, for instance, sensitive security intelligence would have to be shared with the union possibly damaging national security.

Additionally, hundreds of those same security agents would be removed from their security positions and turned into union reps and contract negotiators taking experienced officers from the necessary work of security. Once a union is formed these union staff positions will be filled by TSA employees.

Also, TSA managers would no longer be able to reward screeners and security officers for high performance on the job as union rules would prevent merit raises and recognition. This will bring down the level of competence in the TSA just when complaints that the service is already performing badly are growing.

TSA employees should not be allowed to unionize. Collective bargaining will make our airports less responsive to a changing security situation, less safe, and far less friendly to travelers.

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Stop The ACLU

Missing 13 Year Old Sarah Maynard Found Safe, One Arrest Made … Stephanie Sprang, Tina Herrmann & Kody Maynard Still Missing

November 14, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

13 year old Sarah Maynard who has been missing since November 10, 2010 was found safe found safe inside a Columbus Road home in Mount Vernon, OH. She has been taken to the hospital for an evaluation. According to reports, one person was taken into custody by police and charged with kidnapping. 30 year old Matthew Hoffman was arrested at his home that is approximately 10 miles from Tina Herrmann’s home.

Sarah Maynard Found Safe

A 13-year-old girl who was missing with three other people was found safe on Sunday morning.

Sarah Maynard was last seen on Wednesday.  Sources told 10TV News that the girl was found safe inside a Columbus Road home in Mount Vernon.

Maynard was taken to Knox Community Hospital for evaluation, 10TV News reported.

UPDATE I: SWAT team found Sarah Maynard bound and gagged in the basement of a home in Mount Vernon, Ohio

A SWAT team found Sarah Maynard bound and gagged in the basement of a home in Mount Vernon, Ohio, Knox County Sheriff David Barber said at a news conference today.

The man who lives in the house, 30-year-old Matthew Hoffman was arrested and charged with kidnapping, Barber said.

Maynard was taken to Knox Community Hospital for evaluation, the sheriff said.

“She was being held against her will,” Barber said. “She is in good in good condition.”

Matthew J. Hoffman has been charged with Sarah Maynard’s kidnapping.

Sheriff Barber said Hoffman  listed two residences.  One was at 49 Columbus Road where Sarah was found.   The second was at 3730 Apple Valley Drive.

The second address is a home owned by Hoffman’s parents and is within walking distance to the home from which the four people were reported missing last Wednesday.

Today’s events began when The Mount Vernon News reported law enforcement officers forced entry into the home on Columbus Street around 7:45 a.m.

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Scared Monkeys

House Roundup: N.Y.’s Bishop In Sudden Danger; Giffords Safe

November 6, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) escaped re-election limbo earlier this weekend, as the AP declared her the winner over Iraq vet Jesse Kelly (R). But Rep. Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.), who was declared the winner on Election Night after piling up a 3,400-vote advantage over businessman Randy Altschuler (R), now finds himself trailing Altschuler by 393 votes.

The stunning reversal of Bishop’s fortunes came after officials at the Suffolk County Board of Elections examined the voting machines when they returned to the Board of Elections’ warehouse and found that the earlier reported results were erroneous.

Altschuler did not concede the race after falling behind on Election Night — even though Bishop claimed victory — and Altschuler’s campaign released a statement earlier Saturday reiterating its position. “On Election Night, I told my supporters that this race was too close to call and that we were in the race until every vote was accurately counted. We were right!” Altshuler wrote. “We are working closely with the National Republican Congressional Committee to guarantee that we have the resources needed to ensure that every vote is accurately and fairly counted.”

Altschuler also noted that nearly 10,000 absentee ballots remain to be counted in the contest. And one report suggests those may tilt in Altschuler’s direction, as 40 percent of those ballots came from Republicans, while 37 percent came from Democrats.

Bishop also sent an e-mail to supporters Saturday, asking them to donate $ 25,000 by Monday “to help count every vote.” “This dramatic swing of approximately 4,000 votes and reports of problems at polling places on Tuesday make clear we must do everything we can to ensure that every single vote is properly counted,” Bishop wrote.

While it may be quite a while before a winner is declared in that race, Giffords’ re-election bid came to its conclusion late Friday when the AP declared her the winner.

Giffords led Kelly by 2,500 votes on Election Night, and never relinquished the lead throughout the next three days. In fact, her lead grew by 1,000 votes as 25,000 additional votes were added to the tally.

Hotline On Call

How Safe is Reid’s Leadership Post?

November 3, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

While Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) may have fended off a tough reelection challenge, there has been growing chatter about the safety of his position as majority leader.

First Read: “Despite his big win last night, is Harry Reid’s position in leadership totally safe? On ‘TODAY’ this morning, he sounded as if he was trying to send a message to the Democratic incumbents who are up in 2012 that he’s received a wake-up call and he can lead the Democratic Senate in these tumultuous political times. But remember: Many of the 2006 Dem Senate class have ties to Chuck Schumer.”

Will the close friendship between Schumer and Reid prevent a leadership battle? Or will the urge to scapegoat win the day for Senate Democrats?
Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire

Senate Candidate Ken Buck: The First Goal In Afghanistan Is To Make It ‘As Safe’ As Terrorist Safe Havens

November 1, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Colorado’s Senate candidate Ken Buck (R) offered several nuggets of wisdom concerning his policy positions this year. On reproductive rights: “I don’t believe in the exceptions of rape or incest” for abortion procedures. On religious freedom: “I disagree strongly with the concept of separation of church and state.” And on climate change: “Global warming is the greatest hoax.”

During a debate with his Democratic opponent Michael Bennet last week, Buck announced another firm view on a salient policy issue: the Afghanistan war. Believing “we have the wrong policy in Afghanistan” and that “it is a mistake to set a timetable to tell your enemy when you’re leaving,” Buck outlined his three “goals” for the region. The first goal, he said, is to make Afghanistan as safe as the terrorist safe havens in Somalia and Yemen:

BUCK: The first thing I think we need to do is to make sure that Afghanistan is not a safe haven for terrorists. And when I say safe haven, I’m not talking about that there isn’t a possibility of a terrorist in Afghanistan. I’m saying that when you look at other countries similarly situated — Somalia, Yemen, other countries — that Afghanistan is at least as safe as those countries.

Watch it:

Buck’s standard is certainly perplexing considering that the terrorist activity in Somalia and Yemen practically make them the antonym of “safe haven.” With “no effective government” in place, Somalia has long been an “attractive location for terrorists,” including al Qaeda members.

More than 1.5 million Somalians “have been displaced as a direct result of the terrorist activities.” Yemen is also “a major new battleground for al-Qaeda.” Beginning with the suicide bombing of the U.S.S. Cole, the burgeoning al-Qaeda franchise in Yemen has executed a series of terrorist attacks that put it “at the forefront of the next wave of jihad.” As if to underscore the point, the same week Buck dubbed Yemen a model example, the U.S. uncovered a terrorist plot involving packages containing explosives on U.S.-bound cargo planes originating from Yemen.


Democratic ‘Safe’ Seats Not So Safe

October 12, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Republicans are suddenly targeting — and Democrats in some cases are conceding — House seats that were until recently considered out of play, Jeff Zeleny reports for NYT.

As Republicans made new investments in at least 10 races across the country, including two Democratic seats here realin eastern Ohio, Democratic leaders took steps to pull out of some races entirely or significantly cut their financial commitment in several districts that the party won in the last two election cycles.

Representatives Steve Driehaus of Ohio, Suzanne M. Kosmas of Florida and Kathy Dahlkemper of Pennsylvania were among the Democrats who learned that they would no longer receive the same infusion of television advertising that party leaders had promised. Party strategists conceded that these races and several others were slipping out of reach.

With three weeks remaining to save its majority, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has increased its spending on two New York races, along with at-risk seats in Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky and Massachusetts, setting up a map of competitive districts that is starkly different from when the campaign began.

The strategic decisions unfolded at a feverish pace on Monday over an unusually wide playing field of nearly 75 Congressional districts, including here in Ohio, a main battleground in the fight for the House and the Senate.

This is attributable to an anti-incumbent tide that’s benefiting Republicans and, in turn, generating a massive fundraising advantage.

Republican confidence seems well advised. Three weeks out, RealClearPolitics projects 212 Republican seats, 185 Democratic seats, and a whopping 39 tossups.  If the GOP gets 1/3 of the tossups, they’ll retake the majority.

Nate Silver, who uses a formula to assign the tossups, figures the Republicans will wind up with 226.5 seats and the Democrats 208.5.  (Obviously, there are no half seats.)

Recall that the Democrats currently hold 255 seats, to 178 for the GOP.

Outside the Beltway

RCP: Only 133 Safe Democrat Seats

October 12, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Electoral prospects for Dems get worse with each passing week.
American Thinker Blog

Burr Looks Safe for Re-Election

October 10, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

A new High Point University poll in North Carolina finds Sen. Richard Burr (R) with a comfortable lead over challenger Elaine Marshall (D), 45% to 31%.

Said pollster Martin Kifer: “Attitudes in North Carolina reflect what pollsters and political analysts are seeing across the country.”
Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire

US Predators kill 4 in al Qaeda safe haven in North Waziristan

October 6, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

US Predators struck again in Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan, killing four “militants.”

Unmanned US Predator strike aircraft, or the more deadly Reapers, fired two missiles at a compound in Mir Ali, the second largest town in North Waziristan. Pakistani intelligence officials said that four “militants” were killed, according to The Nations.

The strike is the second in Mir Ali in three days. On Oct. 4, Predators hit a mosque in the town, killing between five and eight German nationals belonging to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. The Germans are thought to be of Turkish origins. Some reports indicated Arabs may have been killed in the Oct. 4 strike.

Mir Ali is a key al Qaeda hub in North Waziristan

The town of Mir Ali is a known stronghold of al Qaeda leader Abu Kasha al Iraqi, an Iraqi national who is also known as Abu Akash. He has close links to the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, the Islamic Jihad Group, and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. The Islamic Jihad Group is based out of the Mir Ali region.

Abu Kasha serves as the key link between al Qaeda’s Shura Majlis, or executive council, and the Taliban. His responsibilities have expanded to assisting in facilitating al Qaeda’s external operations against the West.

The Haqqani Network and Hafiz Gul Bahadar also have influence in the Mir Ali region, and host camps and safe houses for al Qaeda and other terror groups.

The Predator strikes, by the numbers

The pace of the strikes since the beginning of September is unprecedented since the US began the air campaign in Pakistan in 2004. The 21 strikes in September is a record number, and with four strikes already this month, the US appears to be prepared to match last month’s pace. The previous high was 11 strikes in January 2010, after the Taliban and al Qaeda executed a successful suicide attack at Combat Outpost Chapman that targeted CIA personnel who were active in gathering intelligence for the Predator campaign in Pakistan. In the bombing at COP Chapman, seven CIA officials and a Jordanian intelligence officer were killed.

The US has carried out 79 attacks inside Pakistan this year, which is more than double the number of strikes in Pakistan just two years ago. The US exceeded last year’s strike total of 53 with a strike in Kurram late last month. In 2008, the US carried out 36 strikes inside Pakistan. [For up-to-date charts on the US air campaign in Pakistan, see LWJ Special Report, Charting the data for US airstrikes in Pakistan, 2004 – 2010.]

All but nine of this year’s 79 strikes have taken place in North Waziristan. Of the nine strikes that have occurred outside of North Waziristan, seven took place in South Waziristan, one occurred in Khyber, and one took place in Kurram.

The US campaign in northwestern Pakistan has targeted top al Qaeda leaders, al Qaeda’s external operations network, and Taliban leaders and fighters who threaten both the Afghan and Pakistani states as well as support al Qaeda’s external operations. [For a list of al Qaeda and Taliban leaders killed in the US air campaign in Pakistan, see LWJ Special Report, Senior al Qaeda and Taliban leaders killed in US airstrikes in Pakistan, 2004 – 2010.]

Today’s strike takes place as the US is seeking to disrupt an al Qaeda plot modeled after the Mumbai terror assault and said to be targeting several major European cities. The plot is said to have been ordered by Osama bin Laden. The US has issued a travel warning to its citizens in Europe, while Britain and Norway have raised their terror alerts.

The Long War Journal

Liz Cheney: President ‘unwilling’ to keep nation safe

September 22, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Washington (CNN) – Liz Cheney blasted President Barack Obama in a statement Wednesday, saying he seems “unwilling to do what it takes” to protect the country from a terrorist attack.

Cheney released the statement following a report in the Washington Post that quotes journalist Bob Woodward’s new book detailing the Obama administration’s deliberations over U.S. strategy in Afghanistan.

According to an excerpt, Obama sat down with Woodward last July to discuss the White House’s struggle with the threat of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil.

“We can absorb a terrorist attack. We’ll do everything we can to prevent it, but even a 9/11, even the biggest attack ever . . . we absorbed it and we are stronger,” Obama reportedly said in the interview.

In response, Cheney, the chairman of “Keep America Safe,” said that Obama’s “comment suggests an alarming fatalism on the part of President Obama and his administration.”

“Once again the President seems either unwilling or unable to do what it takes to keep this nation safe. The President owes the American people an explanation,” Cheney said.

CNN Political Ticker

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