The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014
Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology
The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious
: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain
April 14, 2014
Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time
: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic
: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships
: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin
: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate
: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure
April 11, 2014
Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden
: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does
: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer
: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You
April 9, 2014
Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?
Samuel G. Freedman
: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau
: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau
: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease
April 8, 2014
Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease
Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear
April 4, 2014
A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children
Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet
Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds
Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves
April 2, 2014
Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?
Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities
It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene
Jewish World Review
Jan. 5, 2010
/ 19 Teves 5770
How every year we waste millions on wasteful homeland-security projects
All you frequent flyers out there know the drill. Take off your shoes, because of Richard Reid, the shoe bomber. Remove the hair gel from your backpack, because of the would-be bombers who targeted Heathrow using liquid hydrogen peroxide. When you get on the plane, you must also, from now on, be prepared to remove blankets from your lap before landing—too bad if you're asleep!—because of the Christmas Day underwear bomber.
When someone invents a way to hide explosive powder inside a toothbrush case, prepare to remove your toothbrushes, too. And while you're at it, throw a pinch of salt over your left shoulder as you walk onto the plane. But never, at any moment, imagine that the rigmarole of airport security is guaranteed to make you safer, for no one knows which of these measures, if any, is necessary.
Worse, no one has any financial or political incentive to find out. Since their hurried and heavily politicized creation, the fact is that neither the priorities nor the spending patterns of the Department of Homeland Security and its junior partner, the Transportation Security Administration, has ever been subject to serious scrutiny. They have never been forced to make hard choices. On the contrary, both have been encouraged, by their congressional funders, to spend money on more elaborate equipment every year in reaction to every perceived new threat, real or otherwise. So full-body scanners, unacceptable as recently as last summer, will now be rushed into use. In just a few years—under a Republican administration and mostly Republican congresses—these institutions thus grew into vast, unruly bureaucracies, some of whose activities bear only a distant relationship to public safety.
So customary has it become to repeat old, familiar lists of ludicrous public projects that readers who cannot bear to read the litany one more time are allowed to skip to the next paragraph. For, yes, it is true: Having started with 13 employees in January 2002, the TSA now employs 60,000, and in the process of its lavish expansion, the organization found it had money for all kinds of extras. As I wrote in 2005, some $350,000 of its $6 billion budget once got spent on a gym; $500,000 went toward artwork and silk plants; and untold millions are spent every year in overhiring, since the determination of when there will be long security lines at an airport has never really been the sort of thing at which the federal government excels. As for the Department of Homeland Security, its 2010 budget came in at $55 billion, some of which (according to economist Veronique de Rugy, writing in 2006) will invariably be spent on things like the $63,000 decontamination unit in rural Washington, where no one was trained to use it; more biochemical suits for Grand Forks County, N.D., than the town has police officers to wear them; and $557,400 worth of rescue and communications equipment apparently needed for some 1,500 residents of the town of North Pole, Alaska. Not to mention what is spent on the "needs" of the constituents of other important members of Congress.
But it is not the employees of the DHS and TSA who are at fault for these kinds of decisions. From the very beginning, security experts and even their own inspectors have been pointing to the absurdity of TSA's and DHS's spending patterns, many of which are driven by the latest scare story. (I wish I'd been at the celebratory New Year's party undoubtedly thrown by the manufacturers of those full-body scanners.) And from the very beginning, Congress has fought back against the critics, repeatedly allocating money to unnecessary local projects, reacting to sensational news stories, spending money in ways that suit its members, and then declaring itself shocked—shocked!—to discover that our multibillion-dollar homeland-security apparatus was unable to stop a clearly disturbed Nigerian from boarding a Detroit-bound plane.
Imagine, instead, that the TSA's vast budgets were dedicated to the creation of a cutting-edge computer network, one that could have made the security officers in Amsterdam instantly aware of the warning from the underwear bomber's father. Imagine that, instead of full-body X-ray scanners or long-haul-flight blanket deprivation, we had highly paid and trained consular officers in places like Nigeria. Even then, security would not be perfect. (I'm not even sure that airborne terrorism is the worst thing we have to worry about.) But it would make sense to have a smaller, less expensive, and less wasteful system. It would make sense to have a system based on real risks and priorities instead of the stories featured on cable news. It would make sense to fight the next battle, for once, instead of the last one. Sense, though, is not the criteria by which public money is spent in this country—and it hasn't been for a long time.
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Gulag: A History
Nearly 30 million prisoners passed through the Soviet Union's labor camps in their more than 60 years of operation. This remarkable volume, the first fully documented history of the gulag, describes how, largely under Stalin's watch, a regulated, centralized system of prison labor-unprecedented in scope-gradually arose out of the chaos of the Russian Revolution. Fueled by waves of capricious arrests, this prison labor came to underpin the Soviet economy. JWR's Applebaum, a former Warsaw correspondent for the Economist and a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, draws on newly accessible Soviet archives as well as scores of camp memoirs and interviews with survivors to trace the gulag's origins and expansion Sales help fund JWR.
Comment on JWR contributor Anne Applebaum's column by clicking here.
12/30/09: The next decade will be bad for authoritarian regimes except one
12/15/09: The Apocalypse Is Not Upon Us
11/24/09: Superpower without a partner
11/17/09: Why has the global response to swine flu been so politicized?
11/10/09: After the wall fell
11/03/09: Angela Merkel's Quiet Revolution
10/20/09: Will the President of Europe Be a Gifted Pol or a Compromising Bureaucrat?
09/29/09:What Is Iran Afraid Of?
09/22/09: Letting Europe Drift
09/17/09: Greed and fear are proving stronger than companies' commitment to free speech
09/08/09: Will Obama Fight For Afghanistan?
09/01/09: The Polish Prologue
08/20/09: Why Afghans Need a Vote
07/29/09: No Burqa For Clinton
07/14/09: The Summit of Green Futility
07/09/09: Obama Puts Medvedev Ahead of Putin
06/30/09: In Morocco, an alternative to Iran
06/23/09: An overlooked force in Iran
06/16/09: Some good in a bad election
06/09/09: Why Is the Right Doing So Well in Europe?
06/02/09: Is China Pulling Strings in North Korea?
05/26/09: What a Member of Parliament Deserves
04/22/09: The Twitter Revolution That Wasn't
04/14/09: Do we really need interactive exhibits to bring Jefferson to life?
04/07/09: No Nukes? No Thanks: Obama's odd obsession with universal nuclear disarmament
03/31/09: What's Loud, Unnecessary, and Costs $75 Million?
03/03/09: European Disunion
02/24/09: Who cares what Hillary Clinton says to China's leaders about human rights?
02/17/09: Witless protection
02/10/09: Our Ticket Out of Afghanistan
01/27/09:Why some foreigners can't believe Obama won the presidency fair and square
01/20/09: A Flight Test for All of Us
01/14/09: Europe's New Cold War
01/07/09: Pointless Peace Proposals
12/30/08: The magnificent rhetorical legacy of the Founding Fathers
12/23/08: Do riots in Athens portend demonstrations in Paris and Cincinnati?
12/16/08: Breach of Trust: Bernard Madoff's massive fraud will cripple American capitalism
12/09/08: In praise of charismatic politicians
12/03/08: Moscow's Empire of Dust
11/20/08: Getting Past Mythmaking In Georgia
11/12/08: In Praise of Political Rock Stars
10/03/08: Election Day myths you must resist
09/30/08: Not just a metaphor: Lehman Brothers was economic's 9/11
09/04/08: Class of '64
08/28/08: Did Hillary really help the Barack cause?
08/27/08: Show of Power, Indeed
08/19/08: What Is Russia Afraid Of?
08/13/08: When China Starved
08/11/08: Two of the world's rising powers are strutting their stuff
08/05/08: How Alexander Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago changed the world
07/29/08:The Hour of Europe Tolls Again … But are European politicians up to the task?
07/15/08: Why Does Obama Want To Campaign in Berlin?
07/01/08: Citizen Athletes: How did a guy who can't speak Polish end up scoring Poland's only goal of Euro 2008?
06/24/08: Why do we expect presidential candidates to be kind?
06/17/08: Pity the Poor Eurocrats
06/12/08: Is the World Ready for a Black American President?
05/28/08: The Busiest Generation: America seems to value its children's status and achievements over their happiness
05/20/08: Leave Hitler Out of It: The craze for injecting the Nazis into political debate must end
05/13/08: A Drastic Remedy: The case for intervention in Burma
05/07/08: A Warning Shot From Moscow?
04/23/08: Radio to stay tuned to
04/17/08: China learns the price of a few weeks of global attention
04/01/08: Head scarves are potent political symbols
03/26/08: The Olympics are the perfect place for a protest
03/19/08: Could Tibet bring down modern China?
03/12/08: Have political autobiographies made us more susceptible to fake memoirs?
03/05/08: Why does Russia bother to hold elections?
02/20/08: Kosovo is a textbook example of the law of unintended consequences
02/06/08: A Craven Canterbury Tale
02/06/08: French prez' whirlwind romance reminds voters of his political recklessness
© 2009, Anne Applebaum. By permission of the author