According to initial buoyant reports in early February, enraged travelers rose up in a savage attack on the secretary of transportation. Hope was dashed when later reports indicated that the irritated travelers were actually rival warlords, the airport was the Kabul Airport, and Norman Mineta was still with us.
Thanks to the hard work of the Department of Transportation, which had already arrogated to itself responsibility for commercial air safety, 19 Muslim terrorists had absolutely no difficulty in turning four planes into cruise missiles almost simultaneously on Sept. 11, resulting in the death of thousands of Americans.
Outside of government work, that's known as a "failure." But in the government, it is grounds for greater responsibility. In its wisdom, Congress turned over yet more power to the Department of Transportation: Nice work – what else can you do for us?
Almost instantly, dreary, wrathful federal bureaucrats conceived of methods to make air travel still worse. Even those of us who burn with an all-consuming hatred for federal bureaucracies had to tip our hats.
First, the government prohibited airport screeners from looking for terrorists. Second, the government scrapped airline pricing systems that allow passengers to pay $2,000 to avoid 50-minute lines. Just like in the Soviet Union of beloved memory, "equality" was the important thing. (Except government officials like Cabinet official Tommy Thompson, who skip the airport lines.) We'll all die, but at least we'll all die together.
The only bright side is that in the government's obsessive drive for "equality," perhaps airport security guards will be forced to start searching Arabs now, too.
Ethnic profiling is the only reasonable security measure that has been thwarted in the war on terrorism. Every other anti-American, left-wing attack on the war has failed miserably. Liberals denounced military tribunals, FBI interviews with Arab student visitors, the detention of terrorism suspects, monitoring conversations of jailed terrorists and the treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo.
All to no avail – except ethnic profiling.
The whole country knows that goosing little old ladies boarding planes is not going to make us any safer. Even left-wing lawyer Floyd Abrams had the sense to say: "There's a big difference between being interned and being searched a little more at an airport." But we can't stop it. Transportation Secretary Mineta is angry and he wants America to suffer.
In early December, "60 Minutes" host Steve Kroft interviewed Mineta about his dogged refusal to permit an extra check of people who look like the next and last 50 terrorists.
Kroft noted that of 22 people on the most-wanted list right now: "[A]ll but one of them has complexion listed as olive. They all have dark hair and brown eyes. And more than half of them have the name Mohammed." (They are also all males in their 20s and 30s.) Thus, he asked Mineta if such people should be subjected to a little extra scrutiny. "No," Mineta responded, "not just on that basis alone."
Other more important factors, Mineta explained, included asking "things like, 'Did you pay cash for this ticket or charge it on a credit card? Do you have a one-way ticket or a round-trip?'"
Inasmuch as this was Steve Kroft and not Diane Sawyer conducting the interview, there was a relevant follow-up question: "Did the terrorists who flew into the World Trade Center have one-way tickets?" No, Mineta admitted, the Sept. 11 hijackers all had round-trip tickets they bought with credit cards.
Let the record reflect that among President George Bush's dazzling team of advisers, the only stink-bomb is the one Democratic holdover from the Clinton administration. It is absolutely contemptible that Bush will not rid us of this scourge.
It is safe to assume that it was not Mineta's stellar accomplishment of having sat on the House Public Works and Transportation Committee for 18 years that has led both Republican and Democratic presidents to seek his services so ardently. He is given plumb government jobs solely and exclusively because he is a minority.
But Secretary Mineta is burning with hatred for America. He has taken the occasion of the most devastating attack on U.S. soil to drone on about how his baseball bat was taken from him as a child headed to one of Franklin Roosevelt's Japanese internment camps.
As Mineta has endlessly recounted in interviews of late: "I remember on the 29th of May, 1942" – note that he remembers the day – "when we boarded the train in San Jose under armed guard, the military guard, I was in my Cub Scout uniform carrying a baseball, baseball glove and a baseball bat. And as I boarded the train, the MPs confiscated the bat on the basis it could be used as a lethal weapon."
Good God! A guard took Mineta's baseball bat as a child, and as a result he's subjecting all of America to the Bataan Death March! Someone please give him a baseball bat.