"When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?" So said John Maynard Keynes when a dearly held belief of his was confronted by new facts. He changed his mind and was not ashamed. I am an extreme empiricist. Show me the facts, and I shall make up my mind. Show me the new facts, and I shall change my mind.
Last week, goaded by Drudge's hordes, I took my stand against the opponents of the scan and the pat-down. I thought they were hysterics and very funny or provocateurs and obnoxious. Also, they inspired in me a few facetious sallies. That vulgarian John Tyner -- who won himself a place in Bartlett's "Familiar Quotations for Slobs" by telling the patter-downers, "If you touch my junk, I'll have you arrested" -- was too much. Junk? Speak for yourself, Mr. Tyner. I filed my column, dismissing the protesters and confident that the Transportation Security Administration, though essentially bureaucrats, was saving us from another 9/11. Then all hell broke out.
Even on The American Spectator's website I was excoriated, sometimes courteously but not always. I did note a disconcerting current of thoughtfulness among my critics -- and, of course, a love of liberty. Could this be another manifestation of the tea party movement, that admirably liberty-loving band that has risen in the land? It had all the earmarks of intelligence, intellectual rigor and regard for constitutional liberty. Big Brother, stand back! Moreover, some of my colleagues at the magazine were in a state of rebellion, one being Mark Hyman, who, having served in intelligence in the 1980s, is given to writing very thoughtfully about security matters. He thought the TSA a joke. Maybe Drudge's hordes were right. Maybe the TSA was taking liberties. Possibly it is the TSA that should be screened for sex offenders and other weirdos in its ranks.
The next day, I hopped the Acela down to Washington from New York. Naturally, I chose the quiet car. I chose it as much for the quiet as for the gigantic controversies when one of quietude's neurotics runs into a rider who cannot read the "Quiet Car" signs that abound or does not care. KABOOM, the maniac for quiet blows up and creates a charming fracas. It never fails to amuse me. At any rate, I was halfway to D.C., when Sean Hannity's aide called saying Sean would like a word with me upon my 4 o'clock arrival in our nation's capital. He, too, was among my critics.