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Yeah, the sequester cuts are going to force the TSA to freeze hiring, and will cause delays of up to 90 additional minutes for air travelers, said the sequester scare-mongers. Apparently, though, that’s not reason enough to forego the purchase of $50 million worth of spiffy new uniforms for the TSA “agents”. What the hell was wrong with the old uniforms?

Republican lawmakers have written to the head of the Transportation Security Administration questioning whether a recent contract for new uniforms worth as much as $50 million was money well spent — when officials are warning that budget cuts will cause staff shortages and flight delays.

“The rationale behind the timing of TSA’s uniform contract and other uncertainties surrounding the contract award raise concerns,” the lawmakers wrote. The letter to TSA chief John Pistole was signed by Reps. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and John Mica, R-Fla., who each chair House oversight subcommittees.

The letter comes after the TSA agreed on a deal last month worth up to $50 million to purchase new uniforms. Agency officials signed the contract just days before the start of the $85 billion in federal budget cuts known as sequester.

The TSA, while trying to avert furloughs, says it will first use a hiring freeze and a reduction in overtime to cut costs — while warning this will still result in longer lines at the airport. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano earlier this month said wait times were already going up, though there are mixed reports on such delays.

Sure, the timing of the contract signing raises questions, but then the continuing existence of this giant ever-expanding useless money-sucking, air-traveler inconveniencing federal boondoggle raises questions, too. My guess is no questions related to TSA get a satisfactory answer.

via Lawmakers question TSA $50M uniform contract in light of sequester | Fox News.

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This story says a lot about the high quality of “agents” hired by the TSA.

A bumbling TSA agent “playing around” with a pepper-spray container at Kennedy Airport fired the caustic liquid at five fellow screeners yesterday, sending all six to the hospital, a source told The Post.

The agent, Chris Yves Dabel, discovered the device at the Terminal 2 security checkpoint and tried to determine if it was real, a source told The Post.

He told Port Authority cops that he “found the canister on the floor and thought it was a laser pointer.”

“They were playing around with it,” said one Kennedy Airport official.

The screener sprayed five other TSA agents around him, sending all six to Jamaica Hospital and halting security checks at Kennedy for at least 15 minutes, police said.

No passengers reported injuries. Dabel refused medical attention.

TSA officials scrambled to keep the embarrassing incident under wraps yesterday — until The Post began inquiring about it, a source said.

When did any pepper spray canister you ever saw look even remotely like a laser pointer? Or vice-versa?

via Horsing-around TSA agent at JFK accidentally pepper-sprays five other screeners, sending them to the hospital – NYPOST.com.

It’s good to know, with funds stretched dangerously thin, that we’re addressing the important issues. I know – this one already happened, but there’s absolutely no reason to believe this kind of ridiculous BS isn’t going on right now. I’d be willing to bet some of your money on it.

The federal government is looking into the serious issue of the “conflict” between humans and elephants. To help out on that important issue, the government generously gave $3.8 million of your tax dollars to study the matter.

The princely sum was awarded in 2011 and 2012 for the African Elephant Conservation grant and was sent to “any African government agency responsible for African elephant conservation and protection and any other organization or individual with demonstrated experience in African elephant conservation.”

Despite the millions offered, the federal government assured our African partners that no documentation or credentials were required to apply for the grant.

As CNSNews reports, the grant objectives were “to provide financial assistance to support projects that will enhance sustainable conservation programs to ensure effective, long-term conservation of African elephants.”

More is coming for 2013, despite the sequester that the President said would shut down the government.

via Feds Waste $3.8 Million to ‘Decrease Human-Elephant Conflict’ | Wizbang.

I bought an Olloclip lens system for iPhone 5 from Amazon. I got the email that said hey, you’re order shipped! By USPS. Having gotten this disappointing message before, I nonetheless tried to track my package, knowing what I’d get:

usps tracking information

 

Great. I ordered online to have the convenience of not going to a store, but you’re telling me that I can find out where the hell my package is by going to your store. Fail.

I had not thought about the left’s quest to make gay marriage “equal” with heterosexual marriage in this way. Later in this piece, Daniel Greenfield summarizes gay marriage, and other aims of the left’s insatiable egalitarian impulse: “Equality is merely a pretext for deconstruction. Change the parameters of a thing and it ceases to function. Redefine it and expand it and it no longer means anything at all.”

Think about that with respect to the educational system, particularly with regard to college. For years, the progressives in our society have said “everyone ought to have the opportunity to go to college.” Almost every kid coming out of high school now thinks they “ought” to go to college. Even if he isn’t college material, and would be better suited for a vocation that didn’t require accumulating tens, and even hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, that kid has been convinced by a whole raft of actors along the way that he should have “equality” of opportunity (and in the progressive mind, outcome – but that’s a different post).

The idea is inexorably embedded in our society’s collective mind now. Hey kid, you should have the chance to go to college! Don’t have the money? No problem. We’ve set it up so that huge sums required for tuition are easy to get. Everybody’s equal; everybody has a college degree; none of them can find a job, because there aren’t enough positions requiring advanced degrees in art history or women’s studies. In a lot of ways,  because “everybody” gets one, today’s college degree is equivalent to the high school degree of a generation ago – it just costs a lot more for the privilege.

The constant drumbeat from the left that everybody should have the “right” to marry whomever they choose has subtly insinuated its way into the mindset of today’s young people. When I see high school and college kids whom I know were raised in church to understand that marriage is the sacred union of a man and a woman glibly changing their Facebook profile pictures to let everyone know they “support marriage equality”, I know the progressives are accomplishing their goals in public education. When traditional marriage is rendered indistinguishable from any other form of convenient civil union, it no longer means what it once did. In a lot of ways, our society is already far down the road of deeming marriage between a man and a woman for the purpose of procreation meaningless, and certainly no longer a sacred institution.

The only question worth asking about gay marriage is whether anyone on the left would care about this crusade if it didn’t come with the privilege of bulldozing another civilizational institution.

Gay marriage is not about men marrying men or women marrying women, it is about the deconstruction of marriage between men and women. That is a thing that many men and women of one generation understand but have trouble conveying to another generation for whom marriage has already largely been deconstructed.

The statistics about the falling marriage rate tell the tale well enough. Marriage is a fading institution. Family is a flickering light in the evening of the West.

The deconstruction is destruction. Entire countries are fading away, their populations being replaced by emigrants from more traditional lands whose understanding of the male-female relationship is positively reactionary. These emigrants may lack technology or the virtues of civilization, and their idea of marriage resembles slavery more than any modern ideal, but it fulfills the minimum purpose of any group, tribe or country– it produces its next generation.

The deconstruction of marriage is not a mere matter of front page photos of men kissing. It began with the deconstruction of the family. Gay marriage is only one small stop on a tour that includes rising divorce rates, falling childbirth rates and the abandonment of responsibility by twenty and even thirty-somethings.

Each step on the tour takes apart the definition and structure of marriage until there is nothing left. Gay marriage is not inclusive, it is yet another attempt at eliminating marriage as a social institution by deconstructing it until it no longer exists.

There are two ways to destroy a thing. You can either run it at while swinging a hammer with both hands or you can attack its structure until it no longer means anything.

Read the whole thing; it’s very good: Sultan Knish.

Government institutions at all levels wield tremendous power over our lives, and threaten our liberties with their decisions about what we can and cannot do. Those decisions are frequently made under the influence of people with a lot of money. Money equates to power in a lot of people’s minds. Some fret about the concentration of wealth in America, that the “rich” are running everything. Daniel Greenfield, in his blog Sultan Knish, points out that wealth is not concentrated among the millionaires and billionaires in this country – it’s concentrated in the government (my bold emphasis on the discouraging paragraph in the middle).

The 2008 presidential campaign cost 5.3 billion dollars. Another 1.5 billion for the House and the Senate. And that’s not counting another half a billion from the 527s and even shadier fundraising by shadowy political organizations. But that’s a small investment when you realize that they were spending billions of dollars to get their hands on trillions of dollars.

Do you know of any company in America where for a mere few billion, you could become the CEO of a company whose shareholders would be forced to sit back and watch for four years while you run up trillion dollar deficits and parcel out billions to your friends? Without going to jail or being marched out in handcuffs. A company that will allow you to indulge yourself, travel anywhere at company expense, live the good life, and only work when you feel like it. That will legally indemnify you against all shareholder lawsuits, while allowing you to dispose not only of their investments, but of their personal property in any way you see fit.

There is only one such company. Its called the United States Government.

It wasn’t always this way. There used to be limitations on executive and legislative power. But those limitations are gone along with the top hat and the diamond stickpin. Under an ideological cloak of darkness, politicians act as if they can do anything they want. Public outrage is met with alarmist news stories about the dangers of violence, as if this were the reign of the Bourbon kings,  not a democratic republic whose right of protest is as sacrosanct as its flag and its seal. Instead the republic is dominated by political trusts, party machines, media cartels, public sector unions and a million vermin who have sucked the cow dry and are starting in on its tender meat.

You need to read the whole thing: Sultan Knish: Government Money.

Glenn Reynolds (the Instapundit) has a column in USA Today that makes a lot of sense. There ought to be a waiting period before legislation gets passed in the heat of the moment. Wait, hasn’t that already been tried? President Obama promised to do this before he was elected in 2008 as the *cough* most transparent administration in history; it’s a promised that has continually been broken (notice that article was written in 2009, and already it was broken several times – now, nobody remembers it). It almost seems like politicians don’t really want citizens to know what’s in legislation before they pass it. Hell, it seems like they don’t even know what’s in bills before they pass them. Remember reviewing Obamacare before it was passed? Oh right: gotta pass it to find out what’s in it. Thanks, Nancy.

After the state of New York passed its far-reaching and poorly thought out post-Newtown gun law with unseemly haste, I suggested that we might need a waiting period for laws more than for guns. After all, the idea behind waiting periods for guns was that people might get overexcited and do something rash, but would “cool off” if they had to wait a few days before getting their hands on a dangerous instrument. But laws are dangerous instruments, too, and legislators seem highly prone to sudden fits of hysteria.

Suddenly, I’m hearing agreement with this idea from an unlikely source — New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a tireless champion of gun restrictions. The 7-round magazine restriction that was a major feature of the New York law turns out to be unworkable and to make the state’s police (who aren’t exempted from the law’s coverage) criminals if they carry their usual Glocks.

Bloomberg observed: “We just got to start to thinking a little bit more about the implications of things before we rush to legislate and rush to legislate everything.”

That’s a really great quote from Nanny Bloomberg, huh? Yeah, “we just got to start thinking a little bit more…” – except when it’s convenient for us to ram something through in the heat of the moment that fits our agenda.

via Waiting period for laws, not guns: Column.