June 23, 2006

Adios and Hallelujah - Norman Mineta Is Finally Gone

Hatched by Dafydd

Norman Mineta has announced his retirement as secretary of transportation, effective July 7th:

U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, who spearheaded an unprecedented overhaul of transportation security after the September 11 attacks, announced his resignation on Friday.

Mineta, 74, the lone Democrat in President George W. Bush's Cabinet, will leave on July 7 after 5 1/2 years on the job. He not only was the nation's longest serving transportation secretary but the most visible as well.

Transportation Department spokesman Robert Johnson said Mineta will announce his plans in the coming weeks but would not say if he had another job. Johnson said Mineta informed Bush of his decision to resign earlier this week.

I hope he gets a great job -- somewhere far away from public policy.

Mineta is a classic "September 10th" Democrat, and his post-9/11 tenure as secretary of transportation has been disastrous. The only Democrat in Bush's cabinet, Mineta was a holdover from Bill Clinton's administration, where he was (briefly) secretary of commerce.

Mineta is responsible for two utterly insane policies, each of which has actually impeded our national defense against terrorism:

Norm Mineta, Crusader Against Profiling

Just ten days after the attacks, Mineta swiftly moved to solve the most pressing problem facing America in the wake of Moslem Arabs flying two jumbo jets into the World Trade Centers, one into the Pentagon, and a fourth -- prevented from reaching its target in Washington D.C by the heroism of its passengers -- into the ground in a field in Pennsylvania.

Acting with speed and rapidity, Mineta contributed to secure Americans from terrorist attack: on September 21st, 2001, he forbade airlines from "profiling" in their searches or questioning of passengers; all searches would be conducted on passengers chosen randomly.

Airlines were required to pay as much attention to elderly grandmothers from Dubuque as they did to young male Arabs. Or Moslems. Or immigrant males from Saudi Arabia who look nervous, shake with agitation, and continually mumble "Allah-hu akbar" as they board the plane.

Since resources are limited, even in the hunt for terrorists, that meant that groups of young males from Pakistan or Jordan or Sudan were left alone so that airlines could focus on searching and interrogating a pregnant thirty-something from Kansas or a seventy year old black janitor from Queens.

This folly is breathtaking in its refusal to deal with the facts:

  • We were attacked by young Arabs recently here from the Middle East;
  • The threat to America primarily comes from known jihadi hot spots there and in Central Asia, Indonesia, Malaysia, and a few other places;
  • Those who might attacks us typically exhibited very obviously suspicious behavior -- which Mineta would not allow airlines to take into account when chosing people to investigate.

This as insane as ordering the police, when they cruise around looking for gang-bangers on the prowl, to stop and investigate senior citizens working quietly at their jobs rather than a mob of teenaged and twenty-something males roaming the streets wearing "colors."

And what was Mineta's explanation for his mental fugue? That when he was a boy, his family was "profiled" by Franklin D. Roosevelt and sent to Manzanar -- and they took his baseball bat away and wouldn't give it back.

I can well understand Ann Coulter's frustration (she would be as likely to be detained at the airport today as the next Ramzi Binalshibh, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, or Mohammed Atta) when she wrote, "Someone please give him a baseball bat." (It's not my fault that Townhall.com strips out minor formatting issues like paragraphination.)

Ten days after 9/11, Norman Mineta was more worried that we might round up all the Arabs, Indians, and Sikhs and whisk them off to relocation camps than he was that al-Qaeda, having just successfully struck the United States and sent us reeling, might swing a second time.

Norm Mineta - Fashion Mavin

After months of hair-pulling, and after President Bush directly ordered it, Mineta reluctantly embraced the new policy of having armed air marshals fly on commercial flights. To prevent, you know, that 9/11 thing from happening again.

I can only imagine that he was initiallly so reluctant for two reasons:

  • Suppose another group of mad Moslems tried to seize control of an airliner and fly it into the Sears Tower (to pick a target also in the news today), Mineta was terrified that in the ensuing gunfight, as the air marshals wrested control away from the al-Qaediacs, some passenger might get hit by a stray bullet. Just think, he could sue the Transportation Security Agency!
  • As we all know, guns often explode on random occasions, all on their own, sending a bullet flying in some unguessable direction. Mineta, well aware of this possibility from frequent conversations with his old pal Chuck Schumer, must have sweated bullets (sorry) that if the round happened to go through a window, then many of the passengers would be sucked out the half-inch diameter hole by the irresistable force of nearly one whole atmosphere of pressure differential between inside and outside the cabin.

Didn't I see that in some James Bond movie?

Be all as it may, having been dragged, kicking and screaming, to accept having armed marshals riding the airlanes, Mineta was certainly not going to allow them to create a bad impression of his agency. They would behave themselves as gentlemen with sartorial respectability.

Thus he ordered the undercover air marshals to wear suits and ties and have neatly trimmed hair and no facial hair as they flew about.

The idiocy of this order is hard to convey, but I doubt it's even necessary. You fly, right? Look around the cabin and see how many people are dressed as if they're headed to the opera. (For that matter, the next time you're at the opera, look around and see how many of those patrons are dressed as if they're headed to the opera.)

This uniform -- for that is what it is, and it may as well be replaced by something blue with braid and brass buttons -- is like a neon sign screaming, "stab me first, I'm a Federal Air Marshal." No amount of reasoning, ordering, or wheedling could budge the dapper Mr. Mineta. If the TSA must allow marshals to fly undercover, then they certainly wouldn't be allowed to look sloppy while doing so!

Mineta is, quite simply, incapable of wrapping his brain around the fact that we are at war; like nearly all his Democratic brethren, he is fundamentally unserious when it comes to terrorism. Think of him as a natty and anti-profiling Barney Fife.

He may be a capital fellow, convivial, a laugh-riot at D.C. cocktail parties... but he has been a catastrophe as transportation secretary, and Bush has been a fool for keeping him on so long. America is better off not having Norm Mineta to kick around anymore.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 23, 2006, at the time of 4:06 PM

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» Why Did Norman Mineta Resign? from Preemptive Karma
When Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta resigned a couple of weeks ago, the latest in a series of cabinet officials and other VIPs to submit resignations, I was curious why President Bush would have nudged him out the door. Despite being the onl... [Read More]

Tracked on July 6, 2006 8:28 AM


The following hissed in response by: Bill Faith

Excellent post, Dafydd. I linked from Don't let the door hitcha in the *ss, Norm

The above hissed in response by: Bill Faith [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 23, 2006 6:09 PM

The following hissed in response by: Bill Faith

Excellent post, Dafydd. I linked from Don't let the door hitcha in the *ss, Norm

The above hissed in response by: Bill Faith [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 23, 2006 6:09 PM

The following hissed in response by: Bill Faith

Sorry for the double post. I'll try to be more careful next time.

The above hissed in response by: Bill Faith [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 23, 2006 6:10 PM

The following hissed in response by: Big D

Ahh Norm,

But he saved us during 911, right? That was how the press painted him. Bush reading My Pet Goat while Norm heroically at the wheel.

Bush is not a very bipartisan guy...wait...Norm was a democrat? Yeah but the only one out of ....a dozen cabinet officials. Hardly counts.

Goodbye and good riddence. Wonder if he has plans for the enxt election....

The above hissed in response by: Big D [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 26, 2006 10:59 AM

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