Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 15, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

100% INSPECTION....Here is today's news five years after 9/11:

The Senate approved a port-security bill Thursday that its sponsors said would make the nation safer from terrorist attack, after it rejected a plan to inspect every inbound cargo container for nuclear weapons.

....The Senate tabled, 61-37, an amendment offered by Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., that would have required that 100 percent of the cargo containers headed for the United States be scanned within four years. Shippers would have picked up the cost.

....Collins said the bill would move toward 100 percent inspections when it was "proved and feasible." Doing it prematurely could create a massive backlog of containers waiting on the docks to be inspected, she said.

Republicans have been blocking serious port inspection legislation for years, and even now can't bring themselves to tell their corporate contributors that they're going to have pony up a few dollars per container for 100% inspection. This is despite the fact that experts widely agree that it's perfectly feasible to do this if we just get serious about it.

I don't get it. Why is it reasonable to mandate a timetable for 100% pass rates on standardized tests for schoolchildren, but not reasonable to mandate a timetable for 100% inspection of cargo containers headed for U.S. ports? Are Republicans really that far in thrall to the shipping industry?

Kevin Drum 12:26 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (131)

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Apparently the One Percent Doctrine doesn't apply to scanning cargo containers...one of the likeliest ways to smuggle a weapon into the country.

Posted by: trex on September 15, 2006 at 12:37 AM | PERMALINK

Why is it reasonable for ordinary Americans to have to take their shoes off and travel without toothpaste or bottled water on the preposterous theory that such rules make air travel safer, but we can't inspect even 5 or 10% of incoming ship cargo?

Posted by: Joel Rubinstein on September 15, 2006 at 12:37 AM | PERMALINK

Glad Kevin isn't in charge of the economy.

This would unfairly impact companies with manufacturing plants overseas. The free market only thrives where the government doesn't go willy nilly tilting the playing field this way and that. How is a company supposed to know where to invest when road blocks like this can be thrown up with a few hundred votes and a signature? Besides, it's probably in violation of WTO agreements that we have ratified.

Posted by: Al on September 15, 2006 at 12:38 AM | PERMALINK

Ah, the unsubstantiated allegation of corruption.

Please, tell us

a) the identities of the shipping companies which have contributed to the Republican party

b) the amounts which they contributed, and dates

c) the magnitude and dates of shipping company donations to Democrats

d) evidence that the contributions to Republicans have materially affected policymaking.

Until you have done that, shut up with your pathetic, predictable, rabble-rousing formulaic bullshit, OK?

Posted by: am on September 15, 2006 at 12:39 AM | PERMALINK

Why is it reasonable to mandate a timetable for 100% pass rates on standardized tests for schoolchildren, but not reasonable to mandate a timetable for 100% inspection of cargo containers headed for U.S. ports? Are Republicans really that far in thrall to the shipping industry?

Um, yes, or at least they're much more in thrall to any industry than they are to public schools. To the GOP, labeling public education a failure is good; inconveniencing businesses is bad. You know that.

Posted by: latts on September 15, 2006 at 12:39 AM | PERMALINK

Al:

Good point.

Damn, we shoulda just bought that oil from Saddam ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 15, 2006 at 12:41 AM | PERMALINK

When are people going to realize that this administration--that is, the people who run this country--don't give fuck about any principles beyond enriching themselves and their corporate backers. Every single piece of legislation and policy from this govenment directly, or indirectly, relates to this goal.
This administration, for example, is NOT pro-military; it's pro-military contractor. The sooner Americans realize this, the sooner we'll begin to take back our democracy.

Posted by: mrjauk on September 15, 2006 at 12:42 AM | PERMALINK

am:

It's unsubstantiated allegations you're looking for -- try *this* one on for size:

Republicans have a vested political interest in not securing the homeland so much that the American public starts feeling substantially safer.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 15, 2006 at 12:43 AM | PERMALINK

"The free market only thrives where the government doesn't go willy nilly tilting the playing field this way and that."

Willy-nilly? But stress positions and electrodes are okay on a whim. After all, we're a nation of laws, right? Right?

Posted by: Kenji on September 15, 2006 at 12:46 AM | PERMALINK

Yes.

Posted by: URK on September 15, 2006 at 12:47 AM | PERMALINK

Posted by: Al on September 15, 2006 at 12:38 AM

Shorter Al:

Profits are more important than American lives.

Posted by: AkaDad on September 15, 2006 at 12:51 AM | PERMALINK

Please, tell us the identities of the shipping companies which have contributed to the Republican party, etc.

Got it.

http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/indus.asp?Ind=M

The shipping industry gives seventy some percent of its contributions to Republicans.

Next.

Posted by: trex on September 15, 2006 at 12:51 AM | PERMALINK

It's obvious that the reason real security measures are not taken is because there is no actual threat except those they themselves do.

And the reason things removing shoes and going sans toiletries is done is to condition people to blind obedience and submission to authority to that they will march to a concentration camp without so much as a whimper like lambs to the slaughter.

Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Posted by: NeoLotus on September 15, 2006 at 12:54 AM | PERMALINK

I'm all for 100% inspection (this could also help with small arms shipments and such), but why make the companies pick up the tab? Why can't this be subsidized? If this violates WTO rules, couldn't certain rules be made relating to national security with WTO suit mechanisms used to make sure that subsidies used for this actually go towards this?

Posted by: Reality Man on September 15, 2006 at 12:55 AM | PERMALINK

$8 was just too much to pay for security :

Schumer said the Homeland Security Department had been "derelict" by not requiring 100 percent inspections, that the technology existed to do it and that the cost would be $8 per container, not much when considering that it cost $2,000 to ship a container from Hong Kong to the West Coast.
Posted by: trex on September 15, 2006 at 1:06 AM | PERMALINK

Republicans are incredibly weak on Homeland Security, and the War on Terror.

Republicans refuse to inspect all airline cargo. They also refuse to secure rail, chemical, and nuclear plants.

Had enough? Vote Democratic

Posted by: AkaDad on September 15, 2006 at 1:07 AM | PERMALINK

They're probably waiting for late October to institute a 100% inspection rule by executive order in response to specific threats exposed by listening to terrorist chatter with warantless wiretaps based on information derived from detainees under duress of CIA torture and cuban hurricanes.

Posted by: B on September 15, 2006 at 1:08 AM | PERMALINK
Why is it reasonable to mandate a timetable for 100% pass rates on standardized tests for schoolchildren, but not reasonable to mandate a timetable for 100% inspection of cargo containers headed for U.S. ports?

Schoolchildren can't vote.

Posted by: Keith G on September 15, 2006 at 1:13 AM | PERMALINK

What Urk said:

Yes.

(I was wondering how far down I would have to go to get to the answer of what was supposed to be a rhetorical question.

Doesn't it seem like the Bush administration has made most rhetorical questions non-rhetorical?)

Posted by: Charles on September 15, 2006 at 1:22 AM | PERMALINK

In theory, better port inspections will make us safer, However, in practice, poor port security hasn't led to any terrorist attack.

In practice, harsh questioning of captured terrorists has prevented terrorist attacks. Real-world experience has shown that harsh questioning methods are more valuable than enhanced port security.

The reason, I believe, is that there are too many ways to attack us. No matter how many potential targets we guard, there are always others. The only reliable way to prevent attacks is effective advance intelligence. Unfortunately, that requires wiretapping, harsh questioning, review of financial transactions, and other methods offensive to traditional civil liberties. That's reality.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 15, 2006 at 1:32 AM | PERMALINK

What you really need is inspection prior to loading. Kind of a little late if the nuke blows as the container is lifted from the ship.

So how much would we trust the pre-loading inspection in another country?

Anyway, it's not an insuperable problem and certainly another thing about which the US could COOPERATE with the rest of the world.

On the same plane of irresponsibility are the nukes and nuclear material of the old soviet union. There's been no urgency about securing all that either!

Put the two together and I have to say I'm somewhat surprised we haven't had some kind of mass tragedy already.

And they'll still find a way to say it's Clinton's fault.

Posted by: notthere on September 15, 2006 at 1:45 AM | PERMALINK

In practice, harsh questioning of captured terrorists has prevented terrorist attacks.

Cite?

Here's one:

Prisoner interrogations at Guantnamo Bay...have not prevented a single terrorist attack,according to a senior Pentagon intelligence officer who worked at the heart of the US war on terror.

Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Christino, who retired last June after 20 years in military intelligence, says that President George W Bush and US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld have 'wildly exaggerated' their intelligence value.

However, in practice, poor port security hasn't led to any terrorist attack.

Yet. Security experts believe it is critical to safeguard our ports. This comes from analyzing probablities. You are not taking into account the fact that terrorist attacks on U.S. are very rare.

The only reliable way to prevent attacks is effective advance intelligence. Unfortunately, that requires wiretapping

sure, with judicial oversight

harsh questioning

no proof this works, and most seasoned interrogators will tell you that it does not

review of financial transactions

no argument there

and other methods offensive to traditional civil liberties.

not necessarily; that just sounds like excuse-making for the illegal stuff that has already gone on.

Posted by: trex on September 15, 2006 at 1:59 AM | PERMALINK

...In practice, harsh questioning of captured terrorists has prevented terrorist attacks....

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 15, 2006 at 1:32 AM | PERMALINK

The never, ever liberal brings his stunning interlect to bear.

What we do know: containers have benn used to carry contraband from cocaine to computers, cigarettes to people.

What we do know: some terror attacks have been prevented by good intelligence work and some have not.

What we do know: security services ran around this country on wild goose chases because of information extracted by torture from a held terrorist.

What we don't know: that any acts of terrorism have been prevented because we tortured someone.

I bet you also think that every one held by the US has been an A-class certified terrorist and should never see the light of day, right. And, anyway, even if they weren't, we're better off making mistakes on the side of our safety. Screw their rights.

So don't err on the side of morality, or inspection. Better to pull a few fingernails. Woohoo! You know how to have a good time!

Posted by: notthere on September 15, 2006 at 2:09 AM | PERMALINK

The reason for making companies pick up the tab is that it's part of the cost of doing business. There is a risk involved in bringing goods into the country, and it's right to charge the people buying those goods to cover the expense. The shipping companies, of course, will pass on their costs to their customers.

If you ask the government to subsidize it, they'll just make the deficit larger and make our children pay.

The inspection fees will make imported goods very slightly more expensive as compared to domestic goods. Some might see this as a feature, but it isn't going to be that large an effect.

Posted by: Joe Buck on September 15, 2006 at 2:14 AM | PERMALINK

And to follow what Joe Buck said, as an expense it will reduce the companies' taxable profit by a little bit per container, thus reducing the corporate taxes they (are supposed to) pay.

See? Everybody wins!

Posted by: Linkmeister on September 15, 2006 at 2:34 AM | PERMALINK

However, companies won't be the one paying for the additional costs, but it will be us. They will pass off the additional costs to the consumer. This will make imports more expensive while doing nothing to make domestically-produced products less expensive. This just makes the American consumer facing inflation and stagnant wages poorer. It could also lead to increased unemployment as inputs become more expensive, such as how Bush's steel tariffs led to the loss of American car manufacturing jobs. Subsidies or tax incentives could be used to keep the prices closer to market prices while paying for additional port security. We could probably also pay for it by cutting out some pork, such as anti-terrorism spending on mini golf courses in the rural Midwest and such.

Posted by: Reality Man on September 15, 2006 at 2:36 AM | PERMALINK

Everyone is absolutely sure that the 61-37 vote margin was all Democrats on one side, and all Republicans on the other?

Posted by: wheeler on September 15, 2006 at 2:44 AM | PERMALINK

pifu: "中国癌症网 康网 中国文秘 ..."

Oh, yeah? Well, so's your mother -- and 溢性脱发治疗 to you, too!

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on September 15, 2006 at 5:12 AM | PERMALINK

One of the key motivations for unreasonable standards of accountability in schools is that teachers' unions are made up largely of Democratic voters and Republicans will stop at nothing to make Democrats and unions look bad. Kids not performing in school? Blame the mess on lazy union employees protecting guaranteed, taxpayer-funded jobs.

On the other hand, shipping companies are led by wealthy executives who donate to the GOP and support free trade and tax cuts. Holding them to lower standards, even when it means lives are at stake, encourages more campaign contributions that enable the GOP to remain in power. Scanning containers? Heck, that's an unfunded mandate imposed by Democrats on the private sector that will make America less competitive.

You see, all of American's problems are the Democrats' fault. We just don't get it.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on September 15, 2006 at 5:42 AM | PERMALINK

Well I'll be a contrarian here because I actually wrote some stuff about port security. It's practically impossible to inspect 100 percent of cargo without massively slowing down commerce. The technology and resources simply aren't there for that kind of inspection at this time. A complicated algorithm is used to inspect the at riskiest cargo.

However, having said all that - and I haven't read the bill - what port operators should really be doing is inspecting cargo just offshore from their ports. Because if cargo with explosives or whatever is loaded onto the port but it explodes before it is inspected then that port becomes inoperaable setting off a chain reaction in terms of affecting other ports that damaged port deals with. In other words, won't make much of a difference in inspection if the explosive is detonated as soon as it gets there.

Posted by: Vincennes on September 15, 2006 at 6:31 AM | PERMALINK

"In theory, better port inspections will make us safer, However, in practice, poor port security hasn't led to any terrorist attack."

Picture this commentor saying, on 9/10/01, that IN PRACTICE poor airport security hadn't lead to anyone hijacking airplanes and crashing them into skyscrapers. Picture this commentor later saying, with Condi Rice, that no one could imagine such a thing.

The time to think about preventing terrorist attacks is before they happen. The way to prevent terrorist attacks its to recognize about our weak points and protect them. But this commentor is having too much fun torturing hapless ignorant fools to think about that, although there is of course no reported instance of torture actually foiling a credible terrorist plot . . .

Posted by: rea on September 15, 2006 at 7:37 AM | PERMALINK

Well, just wait for it- "Nobody ever imagined that someone would ship a bomb in a container".

Actually, the containers themselves are a form of ecological arteriosclerosis. They pile up by the thousands and nobody can figure out what to do with them. They're not worth shipping back empty. It costs more to make a house from a container than to build it from scratch.

And what wonderful stuff do we get in the containers? I was looking at a box the other day, marked "144 6" Windmills". Yes, the American appetite for schlockey garden windmills is so great that we import them by the container load. If the empty containers are the arteriosclerosis, the contents are the Alzheimers plaque clogging our neural pathways.

Face it, we are the Ronald Reagan of the world community.

Posted by: serial catowner on September 15, 2006 at 8:01 AM | PERMALINK

And, given our proven ability to shoot ourselves in the foot, they don't need to actually send a bomb.

They could just send a huge note saying "Bang! You're Dead!"

Instant panic and container gridlock.

Posted by: serial catowner on September 15, 2006 at 8:04 AM | PERMALINK

When Republican's primary mantra (thanks to St. Ronald) is that all government is bad, they are predisposed to thinking no problem can be solved through legislating. They also fail to understand that the military IS government and they equate militarism with patriotism (which the Founders clearly did not), and so with all these bad ideas bouncing around their tiny craniums, they attempt to solve every problem with the military. Which has gotten us to the very ugly and unsustainable point we find ourselves at...

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on September 15, 2006 at 8:13 AM | PERMALINK

Republican foot-dragging on container inspections has an easy explanation: those containers now conceal hundreds, nay, thousands of illegal immigrants who have agreed to vote with the GOP for the first two presidential cycles after arriving in the country.

Posted by: Hedley Lamarr on September 15, 2006 at 8:24 AM | PERMALINK
Why is it reasonable to mandate a timetable for 100% pass rates on standardized tests for schoolchildren, but not reasonable to mandate a timetable for 100% inspection of cargo containers headed for U.S. ports?

I think both of those requirements are unreasonable, and probably unachievable. I'll bet that the 100% inspection requirement, when it passes (and I think a Democratic Congress lke the one we'll probably get in the fall would pass such a requirement), will be met in the same way the "No Child Left Behind" requirements have been met: by fraud.

I do think that the Republicans are probably against a 100% container inspection requirement because of the amount of money the shipping industry kicks their way. I also thnk the Democrats are in favor of it because of the amount of money the unions involved in the shipping industry kick their way.

But that's par for the course, isn't it? Both of the major parties make their decisions based on pleasing their contributors, not on merit.

Posted by: Nemo Ignotus on September 15, 2006 at 8:54 AM | PERMALINK

In theory, better port inspections will make us safer, However, in practice, poor port security hasn't led to any terrorist attack.

Oh, good Ford, that's a new level of dishonesty even for you, "ex-liberal".

Shorter "ex-liberal": In theory, closing the barn door will prevent the horse from getting out of the barn. However, in practice leaving the door open hasn't led to the horse escaping, so why close it?

Atta and his crew didn't choose to hijack airliners with box cutters at random, dipshit. They analyzed security and found a flaw.

And warned that al Qaeda might attempt a hijacking, Bush did...what, exactly?

In practice, harsh questioning of captured terrorists has prevented terrorist attacks. Real-world experience has shown that harsh questioning methods are more valuable than enhanced port security.

First of all, you gotta love -- well, no, you don't, really -- the euphemism of "harsh questioning" for torture. Of course, the further dishonesty of this unsupported assertion has already been pointed out uptheread.

Here's a clue, "ex-liberal": Bush is a liar, and repeating his false assetions doesn't make them true, no matter what your role model Goebbels said.

The only reliable way to prevent attacks is effective advance intelligence. Unfortunately, that requires wiretapping, harsh questioning, review of financial transactions, and other methods offensive to traditional civil liberties.

Nice straw man. None of those methods are offensive to traditional civil liberties, and all of them are already provided for, within limits and with checks and balances, in current law. What's offensive is the Bush Administration's admitted violation of said laws.

And your dishonest defenses of them, of course. Shame on you.

Posted by: Gregory on September 15, 2006 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

You know I almost never hear the Repugs use their "freedoms aren't worth much if you're dead" argument when speaking about their investments...perhaps they have found a way to "take it with them"...so what's this reason about it costs too much to secure the ports/inspect the containers because it will slow down the economy...SO WHAT...we'd be "safer" wouldn't we...isn't that what it's all about? SUCKERS!

Posted by: Dancer on September 15, 2006 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

PS..."harsh questioning" sounds so much more in line with what Jesus would want than "torture"! Gotta cover all the bases in a political world.

Posted by: Dancer on September 15, 2006 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK

Why do Republicans hate America?

Posted by: molly bloom on September 15, 2006 at 9:05 AM | PERMALINK

Well, the Repugs must be something right - Marinus van der Lubbe still has not been able to attack us - But many of the neo-conjobs are still hoping - Ach, we'll be able to pass so many new laws.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 15, 2006 at 9:06 AM | PERMALINK

Re; "Shippers would have picked up the cost."

You don't honestly believe that do you?

Posted by: Randy on September 15, 2006 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

One points out that inspecting at an offshore point raises the possibility of transshipping the "cargo" around the inspection point; drop a dinghy with your nuke in it, cruise around the visual range of the converted oil rig or whatever, then get picked back up by the now-certified-safe ship. Do it in someone's radar shadow if you're really paranoid about getting caught.

Doing some inspections is a good idea, yes. Mandating 100% is probably impractical, as it'd throw a big monkey wrench in getting stuff cleared. We don't do 100% strip searches at the airport, not just because we don't want to strip off personally, but because we don't want to wait six hours in line in order to get on a plane. Same principle - you get a large part of the security with a random screening (especially if the screening concentrates on shipping containers from questionable points of call - nobody's civil rights are violated by profiling big metal boxes!)

Overall, this sounds like a good attack purely because it'd be relatively easy to pull off. It's also hellishly risky, because if you DO get caught, then your nuke gets caught along with whatever team you had babysitting it... essentially, you've just fired a very very slow nuclear missile at the US, and you won't know when it gets intercepted (that is, until some city fails to be blown into glass, or worse, until the US retaliates by leveling your nation into a parking lot...)

It'd be much less risky to send it to Mexico and smuggle it north in a bundle of drugs. We have thousands of tons of material smuggled over the border every year as it is; wouldn't you send a nuke in THAT way, rather than somewhere that leaves a big paper trail pointing back to you?

Posted by: Avatar on September 15, 2006 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

If Republicans had any idea about even the basic concepts of economics they wouldn't have spent hundreds of billions of dollars to occupy a country whose GDP was just one tenth as much prior to the fiasco.

Posted by: gregor on September 15, 2006 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

If I were a terrorist, and managed to get my hands on a nuclear weapon, I'm going to get it into the country. I'll buy a corporate jet or a small yacht, or just hire 20 guys to carry it across the desert. Once across the border, I've got an SUV waiting. I can pick any city at random and hit it within 48 hours.

Port security is not the issue. Keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists is.

Posted by: Randy on September 15, 2006 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

Are Republicans really that far in thrall to the shipping industry?

Shipping industry?

Do you have any idea how much this would cost Walmart and Ikea? Would you intentionally make Rob, Jim, Alice, and Ingvar sad? I don't think you've seen their puppy dog eyes.

Posted by: toast on September 15, 2006 at 9:33 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, Thomas1,

If 5 mph speed limits are good enough for golf carts, why not the rest of America?

You don't hear of too many lawyers getting run over and killed on the cart paths, now do you? Of course, dying professionally (at St. Andrews and elsewhere) is another matter.

Is it time to put away our Jerry Ford golf helmets?

P.S. If you read my post I didn't call for 100% inspections. I'm sure Thomas Bayes can be called upon here for expert assistance. But what punishments (excuse me, incentives) will we dole out when shipping companies fail to meet their inspection quotas? Will we give vouchers to manufacturers so they can use the nearest "magnet" shippers? Will we shut them down???

Better idea -- adopt systematic, offshore container scanning procedures, preferably funded by the shippers. And what about building secure technology into the boats themselves that could broadcast the results of on-board scans over encrypted networks as the boats arrive near port?

Posted by: pj in jesusland on September 15, 2006 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

Why would you expect republicans to put a timeline on anything?

Posted by: rational on September 15, 2006 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

Why the "Good Ford" all the time?

Chuckles is not only dishonest, he also isn't very well read. ;)

Posted by: Gregory on September 15, 2006 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

Thomas1:

Paul's letter to the Romans was written by Jesus? Who knew?

The fact that you're referencing the alleged scribblings of a Jewish scholar-cum-Christian missionary from Turkey two thusand years in his grave to make ethical judgments about human rights in twenty-first century America tells me everything I need to know about your worldview.

Posted by: Andrew Wyatt on September 15, 2006 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

pj,

Ports are for efficiently loading and offloading very large quantities or items. You don't need a port for a single nuclear weapon. Nor do you need a freighter. A yacht, fishing boat, SUV, or medium sized aircraft will do just fine.

Again, Port security is not the issue. Keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists is.

Posted by: Randy on September 15, 2006 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

Paul simply had a connosieur's appreciation of torture - he was a class-A persecutor of Christians until own his conversion. Paul never met Jesus, and certainly didn't quote him as approving of torture. By the way, most of Romans is an exhortation to obey the law, even if you don't like it. Maybe, thomas1, you should bring that to the attention of the Bush justice department.

Posted by: Jersey Tomato on September 15, 2006 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

".....but not reasonable to mandate a timetable for 100% inspection of cargo containers headed for U.S. ports? Are Republicans really that far in thrall to the shipping industry?" - Kevin


And also not reasonable to interrogate jihadists in a manner that might make them offended or uncomfortable. Are the Democrats really that far in thrall to the Fundamentalist Islamic movement?


"During a speech, he quoted a 14th century Byzantine emperor who said the prophet Mohammed had brought "things only evil and inhuman". - Pope Benedict


Poor little Muslims were offended and proceeded to riot and destroy things. I would like to offer my opinion:

Fuck Islam.


Posted by: Jay on September 15, 2006 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

Thomas1:

I would argue the entire Bible was written by Jesus, but what good would that do since you already dismissed any such "alleged scribblings" out of hand?

I dismissed the Bible's utility as the basis for an ethical system, but not the fact of its existence. However, I'm not aware of any Christian theologian who would endorse the view that Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God the Father, wrote the entire Bible. Many who accept biblical inerrancy certainly advance the doctrine that the Bible is the divinely inspired word of God, that God the Father or the Holy Spirit directly guided the hand of each author who contributed to the text. You could contort this into the statement that "Jesus wrote the entire Bible," but it would be smipler to admit that you misspoke when you attributed the words of Paul or Tarsus to Jesus of Nazareth.

Posted by: Andrew Wyatt on September 15, 2006 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

How to win the war on terror by administration supporter Jay:

Fuck Islam

Posted by: toast on September 15, 2006 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

"How to win the war on terror by administration supporter Jay:" - toast

Actually I am not much of a supporter. I would be much harsher than GW. Bush is still trying to fight a politically correct, sensitive war, and that's why were still fighting. He should take a lesson from one of our greatest Presidents (who happen to be a Democrat) FDR, and end this thing now.

Posted by: Jay on September 15, 2006 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

I'm all for 100% inspection (this could also help with small arms shipments and such), but why make the companies pick up the tab? Why can't this be subsidized?

Exactly - why shouldn't taxpayers pay the costs of private, for-profit industry? Run with that one, why don't you?

Posted by: benjoya on September 15, 2006 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

I did not misspeak. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." John 1:1.

Given that your stratagem for theological argument is to quote Bible verses sans explanation, Thomas1, I suppose I'll have to make some assumptions about the doctrines you accept.

You seem to be advocating Trinitarianism, the concept of Jesus as Logos (q.v. the Chalcedonian Creed), biblical inerrancy, biblical inspiration, and adherence to the decisions of at least some of the ecclesiastical councils regarding the accepted books and passages of the Christian Bible.

Seems to me an awfully tenuous tower on which to base the declaration that Jesus of Nazareth accepted torture as a morally permissable action for Chistians. There's a lot of elaborate exegesis and thin assumption in there, not to mention the acceptance of the judgment of old men long dead as inerrant and uncorrupted by politics, power, and personal rivalries. Especially considering the passage you originally cited does not, under a textualist reading, advocate torture as a morally permissable action for Christians:

"Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake."

Posted by: Andrew Wyatt on September 15, 2006 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

benjoya,

One way or another, tax payers and/or consumers will pick up the tab.

But again, port security is irrelevant. Without doing 100% inspection of every single boat, plane, truck, and person crossing our borders, at any point on the border, there is no way to stop a terrorist with a bomb once he or she has the bomb. A 100% search at the ports, while very costly, would still be just a fart in a whirlwind. We have to keep them from getting the weapons. Once they have them, they will use them, and we won't be able to stop them. We might get lucky once, maybe twice, but the third or fourth will get through. And they only have to get through once.

Understand this, and you understand that Iraq is just one move in a very deadly game of chess.

Posted by: Randy on September 15, 2006 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

Last year the nation's ports took in a record $1.21 trillion in goods from countries outside North America. Corporations are unlikely to be overly concerned with the cost of container scanning, since they will simply pass the cost on to the consumer. They are far more likely to be concerned with the impact on the entire just-in-time logistics network.

In addition, note this from the cited article about scanning containers in Hong Kong:

"Since January 2005, every container entering the truck gates of two of the world's busiest container terminals, in Hong Kong, has passed through scanning and radiation detection devices."

From this sentence we know the Chinese (in part of Hong Kong, at least) are scanning outbound cargo, not inbound from ships. (The outbound cargo comes on trucks through the gates.) This being China, they have less of a problem with identifying outbound shippers and inspections from false positives. This could account for their report of no delays involved in the scanning process. We have no idea if their procedures will work as well in other ports, nor does the article tell us how they handle inbound containers.

Posted by: Trashhauler on September 15, 2006 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

"Why is it reasonable to mandate a timetable for 100% pass rates on standardized tests for schoolchildren, but not reasonable to mandate a timetable for 100% inspection of cargo containers headed for U.S. ports?"

Because schoolchildren are political pawns while the business of the Publican't Party is greasing the wheels of business.

Posted by: Cal Gal on September 15, 2006 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

"Poor little Muslims were offended and proceeded to riot and destroy things. I would like to offer my opinion: Fuck Islam."

You call that an opinion? Why not go express that in the center of Baghdad. Please.

Posted by: Kenji on September 15, 2006 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK
Why is it reasonable to mandate a timetable for 100% pass rates on standardized tests for schoolchildren, but not reasonable to mandate a timetable for 100% inspection of cargo containers headed for U.S. ports?

Well lots of reasons: for one, the former is an imposed standard that is designed to be failed to discredit the public schools, after all, so it doesn't require any effort at all beyond establishing a timetable, or any consideration of feasibility; for another, Republicans aren't interested in security, they are interested in using insecurity as the lever to sell policies unrelated to security that have the superficial impression of providing security.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 15, 2006 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

"And also not reasonable to interrogate jihadists in a manner that might make them offended or uncomfortable. Are the Democrats really that far in thrall to the Fundamentalist Islamic movement?"

~Jay

Jay, you are incredibly stupid.

Posted by: Ace Franze on September 15, 2006 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote: "Why is it reasonable to mandate a timetable for 100% pass rates on standardized tests for schoolchildren, but not reasonable to mandate a timetable for 100% inspection of cargo containers headed for U.S. ports?"

Mandating standardized tests puts money in the pockets of Republican Fascist Party supporters who produce the standardized tests and the prep courses for them, for example The Washington Post, whose right-wing-dominated editorial page acted as a bullhorn for the Bush administration's sickening lies about nonexistent "Iraqi WMD" and which just hired a former Bush speechwriter to contribute more pro-Bush op-eds:

The Washington Post Co. yesterday reported that profit in the first quarter increased to $66.6 million ($6.87 per share) from $59.4 million ($6.15) in the comparable quarter a year earlier, due primarily to increased operating profit at its Kaplan education division. Revenue increased to $833.9 million from $759 million, despite a 22 percent decline in ad sales at Newsweek.

Revenue for the growing Kaplan education division increased 26 percent, to $325.4 million, while operating income increased 58 percent, to $32.6 million. The division includes prep courses for standardized tests and online higher education classes and career training.

--- The Washington Post, 05/07/2005

Whereas mandating container inspections would take money out of the pockets of the Republican Fascist Party supporters in the shipping industry.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 15, 2006 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

So, of what use would an actual theological argument be?

I can think of two uses.

To highlight the inherent inconsistencies in a wide swath of Christian theology accepted by modern American Christians, assuming arguendo the fundamental posits of Christianity, and thereby expose the destructive and unholy nature of the alliance between evangelical American Christianity and the Republican party.

Also, on a personal note, I enjoy debating theology, atheist though I might be. Conservative Christians often make the the mistake of assuming that I can't talk the talk just because I don't believe their ghosts and goblins anymore. It's amusing to demonstrate the all-too-frequent lack of serious philosophical and rational thinking about their own beliefs, not to mention rank textual and historical ignorance.

Posted by: Andrew Wyatt on September 15, 2006 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

"Subsidies or tax incentives could be used to keep the prices closer to market prices..."

Hahahahahahah.

Posted by: jefff on September 15, 2006 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist wrote:

"Whereas mandating container inspections would take money out of the pockets of the Republican Fascist Party supporters in the shipping industry."
________________

Well, that's obviously not true. If they all have to do it, the cost is simply passed on to their customers and ultimately to the consumer.

Posted by: Trashhauler on September 15, 2006 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

Randy,

You state, "Port security is not the issue. Keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists is."

What on earth are you suggesting? That scanning containers will not keep weapons of mass destruction or their components out of the hands of terrorists??? The Israeli government and just about every country with a seacoast would take issue with such a wacky security strategy.

And don't forget, America has hundreds of airports. Why do we scan baggage as well as sweep the airplanes if, as you say, keeping weapons out of the hands of terrorists should be our main priority?

Rather than making sense, your position sounds like an Ann Coulteresque rationale for invading Middle Eastern countries and killing innocent Muslims.

Do you have any evidence that invading Iraq has directly prevented a single attack on the United States? Military intelligence tells us our actions in Iraq have greatly expanded Shiite and Iranian influence in the region, and that this has created more threats for the US than existed before the invasion.

In the face of these mounting security threats scanning America-bound cargo containers is the least we could do.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on September 15, 2006 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

Didn't I just post the link to the shipping industry giving thirty some percent of its contributions to Democrats?

http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/indus.asp?Ind=M

Posted by: trex on September 15, 2006 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with the comment that we should subsidize port inspections rather than making the poor shipping companies pay for it. We can pay for the subsidy with one more tax cut for the richest Americans. There are Bush-haters and terrorist sympathizers who might wonder how you pay for increased expenditures by reducing revenues, but they just don't understand modern Republican patriotism. Why do they hate America?

Posted by: Aeolus on September 15, 2006 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

And why aren't our guys writing articles about how Republicans aren't serious about winning the War on Terror. They want ever more tax cuts, they won't ask companies to do their part and pay for port security, and they've chosen to allocate terrorism funds based on political clout not actual risk of attack. If they were serious about winning the War on Terror they'd be willing to sacrifice some of their policy preferences, not just things Democrats like - civil liberties, etc.

Posted by: Mavis Beacon on September 15, 2006 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas1 - I think he might have mentioned it, had he ever bumped into him. As it is, he only ever claimed to have heard his voice on the road to Damascus. In any case, you claimed that Jesus supported torture, citing Romans. That is incorrect.

Posted by: Jersey Tomato on September 15, 2006 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

"I don't think...that Republicans hate America." - thomas1

"I don't think....anybody anticipated the level of violence that we've encountered.." - VP Dick Cheney 6/19/06

"I don't think....anybody anticipated the breach of the levees..." - President GWB 9/1/05

"I don't think....anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and...use an airplane as a missile." - National Security Advisor Dr. Condoleezza Rice 5/16/02

Posted by: mr. irony on September 15, 2006 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

And thus, yet another thread dissolves into the inevitable spate of facile snarkiness. lol

Posted by: Trashhauler on September 15, 2006 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK


thomas1: Over 15 million containers imported per year into the U.S. would be a nightmare to inspect each one


as opposed to a nuke exploding in a major u-s port?

1-percent doctrine sucks...huh...

Posted by: laffin-at-gop on September 15, 2006 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

I'm glad to see that Thomas1 backed off of an argument in which he so painfully wrong, for once. Any student of religion knows that the Bible is an historical document written by humans in a political context. The New Testament was written years after Jesus died (often not by first-hand sources), and that it was then translated and edited by various factions to serve the church's needs of the moment. And Th1, if you think translations from Aramaic to Greek to English haven't tweaked it some more, you are ignorant of history, language, and culture.

By the way, you spend an inordinate amount of time and energy here. I hope you've made a huge donation.

Posted by: G on September 15, 2006 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

I think he might have mentioned it, had he ever bumped into him. As it is, he only ever claimed to have heard his voice on the road to Damascus. In any case, you claimed that Jesus supported torture, citing Romans. That is incorrect.

I think, JT, that Thomas1' elaborate doctrinal beliefs lead him down a convouluted path to the conclusion that "Jesus wrote the entire Bible," but since he is unwilling to debate an apostate on theological matters, who can say?

Of course, you are correct that the verse(s) he quotes says nothing facially on point about torture being a morally permissible action for Christians, so the argument is somewhat spurious.

Posted by: Andrew Wyatt on September 15, 2006 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, I've looked into this more, and that percentage includes ALL "transportation" sectors like UPS, Ford, GM, etc. When you look at just individual container companies, some give more to Democrats:

http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/affiliates.asp?ID=D000000148&Type=P&Cycle=A (40% to Democrats, 60% to Republicans)

http://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/lookup2.asp?strId=C00397893 (70% to Democrats, 30% to Republicans)

Posted by: trex on September 15, 2006 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

It is all a lie!! Look there is 260 million people in the U.S. at least 100 million above 21 years old,Anyone of them could go to Walmart,Costco,Sears or any number of places and buy the matierals to make a bomb.If someone is hell bent on blowing us up it would take no time at all to blow something up.The fact that this has not happened tells me The threat is not any where near where these scared little righties say.

Posted by: Mann Coulter on September 15, 2006 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

Spoofing me with the 12:08 and 12:32 posts? And lame points, to boot? Somebody must be pretty angry, and fairly chickenshit.

Make your lame points under your own handle.

Posted by: trex on September 15, 2006 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't Kevin's thread about NUCLEAR bombs though, Mann? You can't get those at WalMart.

Posted by: trex on September 15, 2006 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

Well, that's obviously not true. If they all have to do it, the cost is simply passed on to their customers and ultimately to the consumer.

Posted by: Trashhauler

True, but if the $8 per container cost is accurate, then it's a question of spreading that over the contents of the container. Obviously there could be quite a range, but I'd think the absolute minimum number of units would be in the nieghborhood of 2,000; I know my company imports items from China that go ~4,000 units to a container. So pretty minimal impact to the consumer (~0.004 USD).

I'll pay it for 100% inspection at the ports. This is, after all, an existential struggle for civilazation itself: "In truth, it is a struggle for civilization." --GWB

Gotta do our part.
: )

Posted by: cyntax on September 15, 2006 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Trex you sir are an IDIOT.It is about terrssst haven't you heard the President.We have terrssst trying to kill any way they can.And you can put a Chem bomb in a Conex box too.A nuke in a Conex box is not very likely They tent to be very large and cumbersome.

Posted by: Mann Coulter on September 15, 2006 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

pj,

Re; "What on earth are you suggesting?"

I'm not "suggesting" anything. I've stated plainly several times now that if terrorists get their hands on a nuclear weapon they don't have to use the ports to get it in. A true 100% inspection would require inspecting every single boat, plane, truck, or small group of people crossing our borders at any point. Just think like a terrorist for a minute. Why deal with port security when you can just drop it off on a channel island and let a shrimp boat pick it up? - Or have a small group of guys carry it across the border to the nearest dirt road with a pickup waiting? Remember prohibition? Remember the smuggling? The g-men were never able to stop it. Nor did the union blockade stop the blockade runners during the civil war.

They've only got to get 1 weapon through. Just 1. Get it? We cannot let them have it.

Posted by: Randy on September 15, 2006 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

trex wrote: "Isn't Kevin's thread about NUCLEAR bombs though, Mann? You can't get those at WalMart."

We're working on that. The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Posted by: NRA on September 15, 2006 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Randy,

Is there any reason not to have a mulitlayered defense? I think you're right that denying nukes to the terrorists is necessary. But why can't inspections at ports be a part of our defenses? Inspecting at the "ship from" ports would also seem prudent, as some commenters have suggested (and I think we do this for some locations now).

Posted by: cyntax on September 15, 2006 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Trex post at 12:32 I like when these righties post and use the now ever famous SOME.Would you like to elaborate on that more or are you happy with SOME!!!

Posted by: Mann Coulter on September 15, 2006 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

I mean gee there is still the matter of all those Chem and Bio weapons that we never found don't they count antmore.Or is it only Mushroom clouds we are suppose to worry about,Bush can't seem to make up his mind and it confuses us.

Posted by: Mann Coulter on September 15, 2006 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

We are getting to multilayered defense, cyntax. You don't want 5 mph speed limits, do you?

5MPH in parking lots sounds about right. But I'm not at all convinced that this can be accurately characterized as the equivalent of slowing out highways down to 5MPH:

    This is not a pie-in-the-sky idea. Since January 2005, every container entering the truck gates of two of the worlds busiest container terminals, in Hong Kong, has passed through scanning and radiation detection devices. Images of the containers contents are then stored on computers so that they can be scrutinized by American or other customs authorities almost in real time. Customs inspectors can then issue orders not to load a container that worries them.

Why don't we want to do this at all ports shipping into the US?

Posted by: cyntax on September 15, 2006 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Cyntax,

I see no problem with applying security measures at ports - lots of things can come in through ports that we don't want in the country. But statistical methods will suffice. If I remember my statistics, a 25% random sample yields a 95% degree of confidence - or something like that.

But nuclear weapons are a whole other issue. A 100% inspection of ports will be costly, but it will not provide anything close to a 100% degree of confidence, because the terrorist are unlikely to use the ports to bring such weapons in - and they certainly don't have to.

Sorry, inspection of ports is not the answer. I'll leave it to you to ponder what is.

Posted by: Randy on September 15, 2006 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

cyntax, from my post above:

"From this sentence we know the Chinese (in part of Hong Kong, at least) are scanning outbound cargo, not inbound from ships. (The outbound cargo comes on trucks through the gates.) This being China, they have less of a problem with identifying outbound shippers and inspections from false positives. This could account for their report of no delays involved in the scanning process. We have no idea if their procedures will work as well in other ports, nor does the article tell us how they handle inbound containers."

Posted by: Trashhauler on September 15, 2006 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

Trashhauler,

I read that but I didn't see why that wouldn't be effective at other ports shipping into the US:

    Hutchisons chief executive, John Meredith, is an outspoken advocate for improving container security and has championed the Hong Kong pilot program, which runs in one of its terminals.

    Hutchison Port Holdings along with PSA Singapore Terminals, Dubai Ports World and Denmarks APM Terminals handle nearly eight out of every 10 containers destined for the United States. If they agreed to impose a common security fee of roughly $20 per container, similar to what passengers are now used to paying when they purchase airline tickets, they could recover the cost of installing and operating this system worldwide. This, in turn, would furnish a powerful deterrent for terrorists who might be tempted to convert the ubiquitous cargo container into a poor mans missile.


Posted by: cyntax on September 15, 2006 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Randy,

Inspection at ports isn't the answer but no one thing is: it's part of the answer. Why build a hole into your defenses when you can patch it up?

Posted by: cyntax on September 15, 2006 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

Randy,

Yeah, yeah. Keep nukes out of the hands of terrorists is the real issue.

So why is President Bush unilaterally extending US nuclear weapons technology to India? Not only does India have a domestic terrorist problem if its own, but this will only incent Pakistan to accelerate their nuclear weapons development. Pakistan . . . hmmm . . . let's see . . . isn't that the country where the CIA thinks Osama bin Laden is holed up?

And why does President Bush want to flout the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty? Doesn't this encourage other nuclear powers to develop their own new weapons of mass destruction?

And what kind of money and attention is President Bush devoting to Non-Proliferation? Very little, relative to the size of the potential threat you describe.

Check out Hans Blix's latest proposals for controlling weapons of mass destruction at http://www.carnegieendowment.org/npp/weapons/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3000059.

You remember Hans, right? The one with the correct assessment of WMDs in pre-war Iraq.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on September 15, 2006 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

Because it will cost too much for little to no added benefit -- see above re: false positives -- I bet you didn't even know that coffee and bananas set off these detectors. The biggest problem with even an effective system, cyntax, is if the port itself is a target too.

$20 a container is too much? I don't see that at all.

I didn't see anything in the article about coffee and bananas setting these detectors off and wasn't aware that either product shipped from HK. I think you might be talking about problems the NJ port but I'm not sure they're using the same detectors as HK, can you clarify?

If consider doing inspections at the out-bound ports, are you still concerned that the port is a target?

Posted by: cyntax on September 15, 2006 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

As far as I can tell, what the usual gang of Bush-bootlickers are saying is that we just have to accept that it's inevitable that eventually terrorists will smuggle a nuclear weapon into the USA, detonate it, destroy an American city and kill millions of Americans.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 15, 2006 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

In 2003, few if any cargo containers were screened by radiation monitors, Chertoff said.

That's because Bush kept refusing to budget the money for port security, despite desperate pleas from the Coast Guard. They asked for 7.1 billion to secure our ports, Bush budgeted $46 million. I guess the rest of the money we'd normally use to keep ourselves safe is tied up in no-bid cost-plus contracts in Iraq.

And it was the Democrats who sponsored the Maritime Transportation Security Act after 9/11 and have been fighting Republican unwillingness to find it ever since.

http://democrats.senate.gov/dpc/dpc-new.cfm?doc_name=fs-109-2-43

Posted by: trex on September 15, 2006 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

National security? Of the United States? Since when are liberals interested in that subject?

Oh I don't know, probably since I took an oath to defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic. That was almost 20 years ago. How long have you been an armchair general mhr? Was it back when you started listening to Rush?

Posted by: cyntax on September 15, 2006 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

The $20 per container is not the only "cost" -- I would think the delays and other impacts on our economy like mhr points out would be larger --
Delays out of HK? I'm skeptical. That is one fast moving port. And remember:

    Hutchisons chief executive, John Meredith, is an outspoken advocate for improving container security and has championed the Hong Kong pilot program, which runs in one of its terminals.

Or don't you trust an industry exec to know his own business? Sounds like you're trending anti-business there T1.

we still don't know what the benefit is for those costs.
Now that's the sort of critical thining we like to see, and speaking of costs with no apparent benefit, the Iraq War is now at ~$314,828,490,000. You know that war, the one that has nothing to do with 9/11 according to President Bush?

Posted by: cyntax on September 15, 2006 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

Woops "Preview" not "Post":

The $20 per container is not the only "cost" -- I would think the delays and other impacts on our economy like mhr points out would be larger --

Delays out of HK? I'm skeptical. That is one fast moving port. And remember:


    Hutchisons chief executive, John Meredith, is an outspoken advocate for improving container security and has championed the Hong Kong pilot program, which runs in one of its terminals.

Or don't you trust an industry exec to know his own business? Sounds like you're trending anti-business there T1.

we still don't know what the benefit is for those costs.

Now that's the sort of critical thining we like to see, and speaking of costs with no apparent benefit, the Iraq War is now at ~$314,828,490,000. You know that war, the one that has nothing to do with 9/11 according to President Bush?

Posted by: cyntax on September 15, 2006 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

It's pretty simple really, kids don't contribute much money to poloticians.

Posted by: ron on September 15, 2006 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

Cyntax,

Its got to be cost effective. I would certainly pursue technological approaches (radiation scans and the like), but opening every container seems pointless as well as expensive.

pj,

I don't have the answer, I just understand the problem. What do you do about a small group of madmen with the ability to destroy a city? And how do we know where they will come from? We've got Iran and N. Korea in our sites today, but tommorrow it could be Russia or China, or Venezuala, Pakistan, or Mexico. Shall we just sit back and try to be friends with everybody? I don't see that as being likely to work. We're the rich and everybody hates the rich. I'm not sure that aggresive action will be effective either. I really think we're going to just keep trying different approaches until something seems to work. Maybe we won't be able to democratize the world, but its worth a shot. It will be great if it works. And if it doesn't we'll have to try something else. I do know one thing. If these madmen do succeed in hitting us, if we lose New York, or Washington, or Denver, or Seattle, our thirst for vengeance will be unquenchable. And that too is an option - to be sure that our enemies know this. Iran should understand clearly that Tehran will burn as New York burns.

Posted by: Randy on September 15, 2006 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

mhr wrote: "... marxist-leninist Democrats ..."

You must be the dumbest dumbass dittohead ever born.

Jay's got some serious competition here for the coveted Stupidest Commenter Ever To Post On Political Animal prize.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 15, 2006 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

Its got to be cost effective. I would certainly pursue technological approaches (radiation scans and the like), but opening every container seems pointless as well as expensive.

Randy, I agree cost effective is good, and just going off the article about what's being done at HK, it sounds like they're scanning every container coming through the one terminal, but only inspecting ones that are suspicious:

    every container entering the truck gates of two of the worlds busiest container terminals, in Hong Kong, has passed through scanning and radiation detection devices. Images of the containers contents are then stored on computers so that they can be scrutinized by American or other customs authorities almost in real time. Customs inspectors can then issue orders not to load a container that worries them.


Posted by: cyntax on September 15, 2006 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

T1, what's your point with that post? Other than it would cost a lot of lives and money if a nuclear device was detonated on US soil, and to me that just argues for spending money on port security.

Posted by: cyntax on September 15, 2006 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

That "benefit" obviously is that the terrorists have not attacked in the U.S. since 2001...

Not obviously at all. We didn't invade Iraq until 2003; how was the Iraq war preventing terrorism then? President Bush himself said Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. So it must be something else.

Posted by: cyntax on September 15, 2006 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Our focus, however, needs to be on making terrorism a less viable option and killing the terrorists who are left so that they never get nukes in the first place.

Funny but there's lots of people in the military that don't see it that way, but then these are just the experts in counter-insurgency, we better not listen to them: [emphasis mine]

    Retired Lt. Col. Terry Daly, a counterinsurgency expert who served as an Army intelligence officer and provincial adviser in Vietnam, has an interesting op-ed in Monday's New York Times. In it, he argues that the solution to the seemingly intractable security situation in Iraq might not be a few more soldiers it might be a few good cops instead:

      There is a difference between killing insurgents and fighting an insurgency. In three years, the Sunni insurgency has grown from nothing into a force that threatens our national objective of establishing and maintaining a free, independent and united Iraq. During that time, we have fought insurgents with airstrikes, artillery, the courage and tactical excellence of our forces, and new technology worth billions of dollars. We are further from our goal than we were when we started.

      Counterinsurgency is about gaining control of the population, not killing or detaining enemy fighters.

      A properly planned counterinsurgency campaign moves the population, by stages, from reluctant acceptance of the counterinsurgent force to, ideally, full support.

      American soldiers deride "winning hearts and minds" as the equivalent of sitting around a campfire singing "Kumbaya." But in fact it is a sophisticated, multifaceted, even ruthless struggle to wrest control of a population from cunning and often brutal foes. The counterinsurgent must be ready and able to kill insurgents lots of them but as a means, not an end.


And wasn't this a thread about doing 100% inspection at the ports? Kind if feels like your changing the subject a tad. Maybe we can continue this on the Special Forces post Kevin has going?


Posted by: cyntax on September 15, 2006 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

So to sum up, Bush and the Republican legislators value profits for Wal Mart over securing our ports and keeping Americans safe, and have fought programs to make us safer every step of the way and underfunded the ones that passed.

Posted by: trex on September 15, 2006 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

trex-- yeah, pretty much.

Posted by: cyntax on September 15, 2006 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, it is just Republicans, and the money is woefully short according to security experts and the ports themselves.

Here's another link exposing the abysmal Republican record on Homeland Security spending:

http://releases.usnewswire.com/GetRelease.asp?id=72252

Posted by: trex on September 15, 2006 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

My complaint, and the complaint of security experts, the Coast Guard, Port Authorities, and even former military officers with security expertise, is that since 9/11 Republicans have consistently underfunded necessary measures to keep Americans safe.

And, to the extent that they have allocated monies, it's largely been due to almost unceasing pressure from Democrats to do so.

And, on occasion the administration has then used bureaucratic measures to keep these funds from being available.

Well, that only describes a portion of my complaint. The rest has to do with egregious tax cuts and an unnecessary War that is siphoning money from our Treasury and into the pockets of big business with no good result.

Posted by: trex on September 15, 2006 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

A rock could come speeding by from space and hit the U.S costing 75 million lives 1.3 trillion dollars.So what is the point???????????

Posted by: Mann Coulter on September 15, 2006 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

Randy,

You think it's because America is rich that terrorists have targeted us? President Bush says it's because they resent our freedoms.

Both of these sound like Republican projections of what you want reality to be so you can use the military and all manner of civil and human rights violations to rationalize your response. Show me where al Qaeda says they attached America because America is rich and America is free.

In fact, OBL and others have told the world repeatedly they are attacking America because of our treatment of the Palestinians and our troops' presence in Middle Eastern countries.

You should take some time to really listen to others instead of putting words into peoples' mouths that merely confirm your own predisposed way of thinking.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on September 15, 2006 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas says:
The problem, of course, with spending $1.2 billion...

But no problem spending 300+ billion on our excellent adventure in Iraq right?

bottom line: inspection every container is simply too costly given finite resources.

IRAQ - simply too costly given finite resources.

Posted by: ckelly on September 15, 2006 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

pj,

I think these particular terrorists have targeted us because we support Israel and because we have troops in Arab lands - that's what they say and I have no reason not to take them at their word.

My point is that America is a rich and powerful nation. And for this reason we will always have enemies. Today - Islamic radicals. Tomorrow facists, communists, anarchists, the desperately poor, the fearful elite, democrats, republicans, or perhaps mormons. Who knows. The fundamental change is that if a small group of our enemies can obtain a nuclear weapon, they can kill hundreds of thousands in a single blow. It is not a problem that can be ignored or wished away. Imagine a world where it is no harder for the "freedom fighter" to get his hands on a nuclear weapon than it is now for him to obtain a katyusha rocket.

Posted by: Randy on September 15, 2006 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

For the US to remain "rich" -- for example, for the US with 4% to 5% of the Earth's human population to continue to consume 25% of the Earth's total production of oil every year -- will indeed require massive ongoing military expenditures to maintain US control over those resources, so the US can continue to gluttonously consume and shameless waste them, and keep the rest of the Earth's population poor and powerless, so they cannot do anything about it.

Except resort to terrorism.

Randy wrote: "The fundamental change is that if a small group of our enemies can obtain a nuclear weapon, they can kill hundreds of thousands in a single blow."

Of course, George W. Bush can do that now, thousands of times over. And right-wing extremist Bush supporters who comment on this site regularly demand that he do just that -- "wipe out cities" was the phrase that rdw used, for example.

Don't you think that people around the world have reason to feel threatened by that sort of madness?

Ultimately the only answer is for nuclear weapons and the technology to make them -- including so-called "commercial" nuclear power -- to be abolished and forever banned from the face of the Earth.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 15, 2006 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK

Re; "Ultimately the only answer is for nuclear weapons and the technology to make them -- including so-called "commercial" nuclear power -- to be abolished and forever banned from the face of the Earth."

I think you're on the right track. But I would say that the first step is to stop proliferation, even if the use of force is required to do it.

Posted by: Randy on September 15, 2006 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

Randy wrote: "But I would say that the first step is to stop proliferation, even if the use of force is required to do it."

The USA has not lived up to its commitments under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to work towards nuclear disarmament. And the Bush administration has rewarded nations like Israel, India and Pakistan, which are not signatories of the NNPT and have developed and built nuclear weapons arsenals in defiance of the NNPT.

Meanwhile the Bush administration threatens "the use of force" against Iran, which is a signatory of the NNPT, whose nuclear program to date is in compliance with the NNPT, whose leaders have repeatedly stated that they have no intention of developing nuclear weapons and that to do so would be "against Islam", and which the CIA and the IAEA say is a decade away from the ability to create nuclear weapons even if it aggressively pursued doing so.

That is not what I would call taking nonproliferation seriously. If anything, the Bush administration's policies and actions have been encouraging nuclear weapons proliferation.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 15, 2006 at 7:44 PM | PERMALINK

SA,

Well, I'm glad you're convinced that Iran has no intention of developing nuclear weapons. If they do not develop them, we will not be forced to confront them.

Posted by: Randy on September 15, 2006 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with you, SecularAnimist.

The NRA's guns-for-all approach to self defense is no way to protect a nation from terrorist nuclear threats.

It's wrong to characterize this as a "war on terror." In wars we kill people and blow things up as our enemies try to do the same to us. This is exactly what we want to prevent.

Terrorists typically have no government nor any fixed address. They operate like criminals -- they move around, run rackets, do business in underground markets, frequently using coercion. They hide and launder money and ruthlessly kill people who get in their way.

The military is the wrong tool for winning against this kind of opponent. What we are really trying to do is prevent crime -- hideous, destructive crime. Yes, the stakes are high but we have to stop associating high stakes with B-1 bombers. Sophisticated, multi-faceted police and anti-terror work is what's called for, with international cooperation.

This is one reason why trust building and anti-terror activity go hand-in-hand. We need allies with eyes and ears on the ground, around the world. This is precisely why President Bush's anti-terror approach is failing overseas.

I know, you say "let the Iraqis and al Qaeda kill one another, as long as its over there we're OK." This is cruel. Furthermore, rather than feel secure in the absence of large-scale terror attacks on the US since 9-11, we should be looking at the Middle East as a harbinger of things to come.

We need to take the fight against terrorist criminals in a completely different direction, one that President Bush is incapable of pursuing given the policies he has constructed and the constituency that supports them.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on September 15, 2006 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK

Anybody that things we need 100% container inspection is clueless.

We do not need to inspect containers arriving from China, Korea and Japan which I would guess represent at least 50% of shipments.

Just an FYI, but if a nuclear or chemical device is detonated in a port what difference would it make if it was detonated while still on the ship or if it was first moved 100 feet onto shore?

Posted by: mark on September 15, 2006 at 9:24 PM | PERMALINK
Anybody that things we need 100% container inspection is clueless. mark at 9:24 PM
Anyone who cannot conceive of transshipments is clueless.
...If they do not develop them, we will not be forced to confront them. Randy 8:03 PM
Out of idle curiosity, what is Bush's plan from dealing with nuclear armed North Korea and Pakistan? After all, Pakistan has already sold nuclear data and technology, so by Republican doctrine, they are the danger that Iran supposedly will become.
...you are dealing with someone...Thomas1 on 5:55 PM
Still busy fighting straw men, chuckles?
... I think Iraq is worth it or not ...Thomas1 5:26 PM
Yup, you're one of those heroes who won't put either your skin or your wallet where your mouth is.
...Our focus, however, needs to be on making terrorism a less viable option and killing the terrorists who are left so that they never get nukes in the first place. Thomas1 2:34 PM
Bringing the fight to people in Afghanistan and Iraq is certainly one of bin Laden's goal of making it easier to kill Americans and to unite the Muslim world against the West. As for spending money, you are adverse to spending your own money but supportive of deferring the cost to future generations. Lastly, Pakistan has nukes already and they are your "ally" despite the fact they are not aiding the GWOT because they resist action against bin Laden, and because the people of Pakistan support Hezbollah, Hamas, and bin Laden, as do Iraqis for that matter. Posted by: Mike on September 15, 2006 at 11:06 PM | PERMALINK

All this hot air is just "neo-con lite" and hasn't gotten the Democratic Party anywhere since 9/12. Remember Tom Daschle - and the last Democratic Senate majority - trying to go the Admin one better on every dumb idea RE "security"? Where is Daschle? Where is that majority?

Americans are already sick of excessive and off-point security measures, which they intuitively know are dumb-ass. Does one person believe that an airliner NOWADAYS could be comandeered with an Uzi, much less a box-cutter? So why are we taking our shoes off at airports, and surrendering disposable razors, when you couldn't blast your way into a airline cockpit with anything less than firepower which would destroy the airliner?

HERE is where Democrats should be saying "Had Enough? Vote Democrat!" That's an argument we can win. We have spent five years posturing as more "serious" as the President on security - with "serious" defined as SERIOUSLY STUPID - and the result is always that yesterday's surveys always show that Americans give the edge to the Pres.

Duh! The opposition party is supposed to oppose. It would have taken some courage for a few months after 9/11, but what's the problem now?

Truman said that if you give the people a choice between a Republican and a republican, they choose the Republican every time. And if you give them a choice between Neo-Con, and Neo-Con Lite...they figure "buy cheap, get cheap". All you do by offering the "economical alternative" is strengthen the presumption that the good stuff is worth having...and then that's what the folks want - the best.

Democrats need to offer something different. Grandstanding riders for Zero-Tolerance seaport inspections won't get it

Posted by: Andrew II on September 16, 2006 at 12:51 AM | PERMALINK

According to Stephen Flynn former Director, Office of Global Issues for the National Security Council and current senior fellow for national security studies at the Council on Foreign Relation states the following about why we should strive for 100% container inspection, "Should that breach involve a weapon of mass destruction, the United States and other countries will likely raise the port security alert system to its highest level, while investigators sort out what happened and establish whether or not a follow-on attack is likely. In the interim, the flow of all inbound traffic will be slowed so that the entire intermodal container system will grind to a halt. In economic terms, the costs associated with managing the attacks aftermath will substantially dwarf the actual destruction from the terrorist event itself."

Posted by: reality on September 16, 2006 at 3:26 AM | PERMALINK

Andrew II,

Re; "...dealing with nuclear armed North Korea and Pakistan..."

Good point.

North Korea - containment.
Pakistan - cooperation.
Iran - containment.

Given that the trend towards further proliferation will probably continue, cooperation is probably the best we can hope for.

Posted by: Randy on September 16, 2006 at 6:54 AM | PERMALINK

Thomas1: Our focus, however, needs to be on making terrorism a less viable option and killing the terrorists who are left so that they never get nukes in the first place.

Russia already tried that.

Didn't work.

And won't work as long as conservatives keep funding and arming one group of terrorists to combat another and creating more terrorists than they kill with a puerile foreign policy, incompetent military execution, and a faith-based national security program that focuses on the wrong border and the wrong threat.

Posted by: Advocate for God on September 16, 2006 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

Randy

I believe you are responding to a different poster.

I am new here, and chose the handle "Andrew II" to distinguish myself from the poster who already calls himself "Andrew"

Best,
Andrew II

Posted by: Andrew II on September 16, 2006 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: dd on September 17, 2006 at 9:11 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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