Pity the Poor Airlines


Is there a worse business in the world to be in than the commercial airline industry? That’s the thought that keeps coming to me as I watch the nightmarish TSA security screening story unfold in all it’s gropey, feeley, naked-scannery ugliness.

It’s bad enough that any company that wants to turn a profit by flying large numbers of people form point A to point B has to contend with a half dozen or more labor unions, all competing for a tighter grip on your short hairs. That fact, along with rising fuel costs and increased competition from upstarts that don’t carry the crushing burden of decades of union pension obligations, forces you to try to cram more and more people into jets with fewer and fewer amenities.

On top of that, over the last ten or 15 years blowing up one or more of your planes has become an obsession for a large, scattered group of religious fanatics. Meanwhile, an insane level of political correctness grips our culture, particularly our government, rendering it impossible to take rational security measures. Thus, only irrational security measures remain on the the table.

There are other, more troubling questions that keep presenting themselves to my mind each time I read another TSA strip search horror story . . .

What does the TSA know that we don’t know? What have our intelligence services uncovered that is driving this maniacal level of vigilance? And is the information of a nature that revealing it could panic the public, or represent a crippling blow to an already struggling airline industry?

The stubborn insistence by the TSA to continue these screenings in the face of a tidal wave of public outrage means something. The question is, “what?”

On a Lighter Note . . .


Behold, Super Mamika. (via BoingBoing):

Sacha Goldberger found his 91-year-old Hungarian grandmother Frederika, a WWII survivor, feeling lonely and depressed. To cheer her up, he photographed her dressed up as a fictional superhero. To his surprise, she loved it.

What to do when your holocaust survivor grandmother is depressed? “Take pictures of her dressed up like a superheroine” is not the first answer that would come to my mind. But it worked for Sacha Goldberger. Most of these pictures made me laugh out loud. Enjoy.


Skip This if You're in a Good Mood

I don’t want to harsh anyone’s buzz. So, if you’re still basking in the afterglow of the elections or simply working on focusing on happy thoughts today, then, (1) good for you and, (2) skip this post. This way lies sadness.

Yesterday brought us a pretty sobering analysis of the U.S. economic situation in light of the Feds new round of Quantitative Easing, a.k.a., QE2, from John Browne, Senior Market Strategist at Euro Pacific Capital. The whole thing is worth your time, but here are a couple of excerpts with comments. Browne begins by explaining QE2 and its objectives:

Despite its paternalistic rhetoric, the Fed really has just a few simple goals: allow for the perpetual expansion of the federal deficit, push up stock prices to create the illusion of wealth, and stimulate consumer spending. To do this, the Fed will hold interest rates near zero for the foreseeable future, and will buy some $600 billion of US Treasury debt by April of next year.

So, the Fed is printing money and using it to buy our government’s debt in the form of Treasury bonds. Now, upon hearing this, you may be wondering how the above scheme represents an “injection” of money in to the economy. Keep in mind that over the last two years, supposedly in order to unfreeze the credit markets, the Fed has been printing money like crazy and loaning to banks at 0% interest. And those banks have been taking that free money and loaning it to the government at whatever interest rate Treasuries are paying.

That’s great work if you can get it. But it doesn’t create a lot of jobs. Browne continues:

Having already committed $1.7 trillion in the first round of quantitative easing, the Fed is rolling the dice once again – despite ample evidence that their costly remedy won’t work.

Exactly. As I’ve pointed out in this space before, we are seeing a pathetically weak recovery in jobs because the Obama Administration has been waging and continues to wage a multi-pronged attack on the job creating class, i.e., businesses. Virtually every department of the Executive branch has been involved in some form of assault on business owners. Why? Because doctrinaire liberals are fundamentally opposed to  (non-unionized) business and view profits, profit-seeking, and rational business practices like hiring the best qualified candidate regardless of race or gender and firing slackers as evil.

So back to my original question . . . How does is the Fed buying a bunch of government debt supposed to help revive the economy? Browne helps us with that:

Now, by monetizing almost the entire federal deficit through QE-2, the Fed hopes to give Congress the breathing room to enact reforms before skyrocketing interest rates bankrupt the Treasury. Meanwhile, the central bank hopes that the expected inflationary consequences will be nullified by a resulting broad-based recovery. But an economist as knowledgeable and experienced as Chairman Bernanke should know by now that any real economic revival will come from private industry, not government. The money printed by the Fed will indeed flow into the economy, where it will push up asset prices in many sectors. Already commodity prices are soaring. But inflation cannot create real growth.

Exactly right. But please note Browne’s point that the primary goal of QE2 has been to stave off the national bankruptcy crisis caused by the skyrocketing Obama-Reid-Pelosi deficits long enough for Congress  to “enact reforms” that will help businesses (or at least stop threatening them). Meanwhile the Dems who still handily control both houses of Congress until January continue to talk about enacting Cap-and-Trade legislation.

What the Fed is doing, essentially, is forcing consumers to spend their cash hoardings. Until the economic and financial policies of the government change dramatically, those who are tempted to invest their savings within the United States risk increasing regime uncertainty. So, much of our domestic capital is flowing into hard assets and overseas markets.

This will do nothing to help the festering wounds underlying the US economy.

Yes. But here’s the problem. Even after January, the real war on business is likely to continue through the Executive Branch via Obama’s surrogates–Holder at Justice; Sibelius at HHS; Solis at Labor; Jackson at EPA; and so on.

What would it take to see those policies reversed before January of 2013 when a new president can be sworn in?  Only a bunch of doctrinaire socialists changing pretty much everything they believe and think about the way the world works. That’s all.

AQ Plane Bomb was 17 Minutes From Detonating

According to the large and impervious-to-reason 9/11 Truther crowd, Al Qaeda is pretty much a fictional construct of the neocons. A hapless bogeyman concocted by the sinister BusHitler and friends, a.k.a. “the powers that be” (TPTB), to scare the “sheeple” into surrendering their freedoms.

Side Note: If you’re ever reading a blog post and the writer uses the acronym TPTB or the term sheeple, and they are serious, you can safely disregard anything that follows. Just back slowly away from that web page without making any sudden movements that might be interpreted as an Illuminati hand signal.


That brings us to the most recent attempt by Al Qaeda to blow up some commercial jets in mid-air. It now appears that was precisely what the Yemeni Al Qaeda cell was attempting to do. (I know, I know . . . that’s just what they want me to think.)

Today we learn AQ came astonishingly close to succeeding.

French and British intelligence have both confirmed that the cell phone to which the bomb on a UPS plane in East Midlands, UK was linked had 17 minutes remaining on its countdown timer when the bomb was defused.

Blowing up big planes in mid-air has been a dream of AQ planners going back well before 9/11. If you’ve read The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 which, by the way, still remains the best inoculation around against “9/11-was-an-inside-job fever,” you know that AQ’s Khalid Sheik Mohammed masterminded a nearly successful plan to blow up U.S. passenger jets over the Pacific back in 1995.

In know there are lots of people praying that these ongoing AQ plots will be exposed before they can bear fruit. Mark this one down as a win for the pray-ers. With a little help from the intelligence services.

A Few Words About "Smugstock I"

. . . a.k.a. Jon Stewart’s “Fear of Sanity” festival.


A big turnout, (though not quite as big as Glenn Beck’s event) is not surprising.

When two wildly popular comics throw a free concert on the mall in Washington D.C. promising to feature a some kicking musical acts; add jillionaires like Arianna Huffington offering free bus transportation from New York City; and then  throw in the bonus of encouraging attendees to feel superior to 80% of the U.S. population . . . well, you’re going to get a hundred thousand people or so to show up.

(For perspective, keep in mind that when Simon and Garfunkel staged a free reunion concert in Central Park back in 1981, about a half million people converged on the event.)

Naturally, at an event billed as a call for the restoration of sanity to American political discourse, many attendees wore silly costumes.


Advocates and apologists for the Stewart-Colbert event are quick to point out that, in arguably the most serious moment of the event, the playing of a slickly produced video, Keith Olbermann is held up for criticism alongside Bill O’Reilly.

Of course, it’s not that the Stewart-Colbert fans disagree with Olbermann’s politics. They just despise the uncool, ham-handed, spittle-flecked way in which he criticizes conservatives and Republicans. In other words, it’s not Olbermann’s message, it’s his style that all wrong. And with this group, everything is graded on style points.


Stewart has been tough on Obama lately and some have pointed to this as evidence against overwhelming liberal bias in the media. What these arguments ignore is that Stewart, as with Bill Maher, and other high-priest pundits of America’s emerging hipster class, is attacking Obama and the Democrats from the Left.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Respect My Authoritah
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Rally to Restore Sanity

In other words, so hyper-liberal are Stewart and friends, that the most liberal President in 100 years is too conservative for them.

In fact, in his “serious” remarks at the D.C. rally, Stewart made some excellent points about the need for compromise, concession, and conciliation in politics. But on his show in recent months, he has consistently berated Obama, Pelosi and Ried for not using the Democrat’s sizeable majorities to jam even more liberal legislation down the throats of an unwilling American public.

We used to call that hypocrisy. But I believe the hipsters view it as nuanced irony.


Update: Here’s Jim Treacher offering: “Great Moments in Civility, with Your Host, Jon Stewart”