I join the not-flying list

Count me with those who will not be flying until the TSA procedures requiring either a full-body X-ray scan or a grope are rescinded. This is meaningless security theater taken to a Kafkaesque extreme, and I won’t consent to it even passively. When the airlines feel enough pain from refuseniks, they’ll push back faster than we can.

The whole gallimaufry of escalating “security” restrictions since 9/11 has been a bad joke out of Monty Python parody, achieving nothing; tiger-team tests reveal that the ridiculous ease with which weapons and bombs can be slipped through has changed not one bit.

The Israelis, targeted by terrorists more ferociously than any country on earth, have never had a single hijacking or bombing and rightly laugh at our “security”. It’s all Kabuki theater, a ritual intended to pantomime seriousness in the absence of any actual seriousness. If we actually cared about security we’d arm the air crew, and if we really cared we’d arm the passengers.

It was always bound to come to this. Once “security” was based on the premise that only planes full of disarmed sheep are safe, the full-body scanners and genital-groping were as inevitable as night following day – and, in the future, so will be body-cavity searches. But perhaps scanning and groping will prove to have been the reductio ad absurdum of that strategy; there are signs that the revolt against it might become serious enough to inflict damage on revenue that the airlines can’t tolerate.

Causing enough pain to the airlines that the TSA buckles is only the first step, though. It’s not just the regulations that are broken, it’s the pervasive sick-think behind them. I will know that illness has been cured only when I am not only permitted but encouraged to wear my personal weapons onto an airplane.

174 thoughts on “I join the not-flying list

  1. If I knew this before I bought my tickets I would have taken the train.

  2. But the Israeli technique involves… PROFILING! That’s DoublePlusUngood CrimeThink.

    You can’t ask questions that make Muslims uncomfortable, or you’ll just create more terrorists!

  3. I don’t think we need to arm the passengers. We need only set a bounty on hijackers. A higher bounty could be paid if the passengers keep the hijacker alive to answer questions.

    The rules of engagement have changed. Everybody knows it. It’s only right to encourage people to do what they would do anyway.

  4. Ben Franklin said it best:
    “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

    I’m in favor of a National CCW with an airline certification, mostly for the training aspect. I’m also ex-military and from a CCW state (AZ).

  5. And the most ironic part about this whole thing is that while they molest individual travelers, the airlines are using the spare capacity on the very same airplanes to carry commercial cargo — which doesn’t go through any of the checkpoints.

    If the muslims want to take down one of our airplanes, all they have to do is build a bomb triggered by altitude, ship it via commercial air freight, and watch the news to see which plane blows up.

  6. The Israelis don’t do racial profiling– one of their worst attacks was by Japanese. They do behavioral profiling.

    I’m not going to claim that they never slip into racial profiling, but they’re philosophically opposed to it for very good reasons.

    I have no idea what the Israeli policy is on armed passengers. Anyone know?

    If you must fly, advice based on Milgram. Some of the text may be in Kafkatrap territory– I’m in too much of a hurry with Philcon prep to go over the whole thing, and I think the cartoon is of interest.

    TSA humor about child molestation. Nasty stuff.

  7. Ron Paul has introduced a bill which is very succinct and fully addresses this problem. HR 6416. If your congressman or senator fails to vote for it, vote them out.

    A BILL

    To ensure that certain Federal employees cannot hide behind immunity.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

    SECTION 1. NO IMMUNITY FOR CERTAIN AIRPORT SCREENING METHODS.

    No law of the United States shall be construed to confer any immunity for a Federal employee or agency or any individual or entity that receives Federal funds, who subjects an individual to any physical contact (including contact with any clothing the individual is wearing), x-rays, or millimeter waves, or aids in the creation of or views a representation of any part of a individual’s body covered by clothing as a condition for such individual to be in an airport or to fly in an aircraft. The preceding sentence shall apply even if the individual or the individual’s parent, guardian, or any other individual gives consent.

  8. BTW, if memory serves, Israel has had exactly one aircraft hijacking, very shortly after the country was founded. They got very serious about security on the spot.

  9. I have a close friend who’s a flight attendant. Until she told me otherwise, I assumed that flight personnel were exempt.

    The fact that they’re not is ridiculous. She has access to the cockpit. She could take down the plane by assaulting the pilot while his co-pilot was in the bathroom, lock the door, and steer the plane downward.

    Of course, them screening anyone like this is ridiculous. My next family vacation, which will be to Colorodo (I’m in NJ) will likely be by train.

  10. I sent this e-mail out to some friends yesterday… I have to fly for work, but drive whenever I can instead. Pleased send it around…

    Subject : The TSA is totally nuts

    I thought they were bad before,
    http://www.optoutday.com/
    http://www.ourlittlechatterboxes.com/2010/11/tsa-sexual-assault.html
    http://www.pennandteller.com/03/coolstuff/penniphile/roadpennfederalvip.html

    …but this tops it.

    TSA pats down a screaming toddler
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/sfmoms/detail?entry_id=77140

    Video here…
    http://www.vimeo.com/16865565

    At what point will the public say enough is enough?

    Lee

  11. >At what point will the public say enough is enough?

    I think that’s happening now.

    In a backhanded way, I’m actually glad we’ve reached this point. Because the logic of hoplophobia has a kind of fragility to it; once anyone questions the most absurd manifestations, they tend to find that the same questions apply to more “reasonable” restrictions as well. We may have reached the point, after the Heller ruling, where sick-think is being destroyed by its own contradictions.

    To wit: if you can’t keep weapons out of the hands of terrorists, criminals, and psychotics even with unacceptably extreme intrusions on liberty and personal dignity, why try to keep anyone from carrying?

  12. Eric, do you think that you can do the ‘arm the passengers’ thing without strictly banning alcohol drinks?

  13. >Eric, do you think that you can do the ‘arm the passengers’ thing without strictly banning alcohol drinks?

    How many shootings are there in bars? It’s a non-issue.

    In any case, I’d trade an alcohol ban for the weapons ban in a hot second. Even if I drank.

  14. How many shootings are there in bars?

    While I’m not actually opposed to arming passengers and agree with your stance, I do have to point that are quite a few bar shootings. So, no, I wouldn’t say it’s a non-issue.

    On the other hand, I don’t know how many people would agree with you on an alcohol ban. After all, if your average Euro-troll is to be believed, we’re a nation of rude, drunken rednecks. :)

  15. Supposedly, 4 out of 5 Americans (presumably the same ones that use Crest) agree that the full body scanners are a Good Thing.

    If 4 out of 5 think it’s good, and 4 out of 5 of the remainder go along to get along, that only leaves 4% of us who will drive instead of flying. I doubt the airlines will notice.

  16. esr Says: How many shootings are there in bars? It’s a non-issue.

    I know of one. He was an NYPD sergeant who drew and fired on someone he saw carrying in a bar. The dead man turned out to be another cop.

    Even back in Dodge City, Kansas, when Wyatt Earp was one of the town policemen, you had to check your guns upon entering a saloon. Alcohol and gunpowder don’t mix.

  17. Last I checked, the Israeli method was highly manpower-intensive, non-automatable, non-gadget-y, required fairly intelligent and trained screeners, and required trust /in/ those screeners. None of these will fly in the US market, for reasons that I’m sure have been rehashed to death by people more qualified than I.

    As regards the CBS poll, I really want to see more info on polled population. I assume it was a near-random distribution, but would be interesting to see respondent rates vs home state, respondent location, and respondent population density. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/11/15/politics/main7057902.shtml?tag=contentMain;contentBody has what little info I’m using.

  18. 4 out of 5 think it’s good, and 4 out of 5 of the remainder go along to get along, that only leaves 4% of us who will drive instead of flying. I doubt the airlines will notice.

    Which is why I think refusal to fly is a lousy protest. If you can’t get enough people to participate in order to put hurt on the airlines, then your protest has basically no visibility and creates that much less work for the TSA.

    I think flying, and opting for the grope, is a much more effective choice. It’s probably just as unpleasant for most TSA agents as for the passengers, and it’s labor-intensive. If even 5% of flyers opt out, it basically amounts to a DoS attack on the system.

  19. TSA humor about child molestation. Nasty stuff.

    I think you’re missing the joke. See my above comment that the grope is probably just as unpleasant for most TSA agents as for the passengers. That wallpaper is in the same spirit as posting a Dilbert comic on the wall of one’s cubicle.

  20. Don’t get suckered into thinking the opt-out clause fixes the problem. Read the FAQ — airports participating in the opt-out program still have to use the same security guidelines. “TSA sets the security protocols and standards for all commercial airports nationwide, to include airports participating in SPP.” So, you know, same policies.

    It bugs me that Rep. Mica is not making this clear. I don’t know if he’s simply interested in getting the government out of the security business or if he’s working for his campaign contributors. I’ve seen some allegations of the latter but his campaign contributions aren’t weighted in that direction. Yeah, Raytheon gave him some money, but overall he’s getting more cash from various air travel groups. Either way, though, it’s fairly uncouth of him to pretend that opting out would change the security procedures.

  21. I don’t think the TSA is “security theater,” I think it’s real security. It’s just that it’s not security aimed at stopping terrorists. Instead, it’s aimed at stopping passengers from taking action against terrorists.

    In the minds of the TSA and its bosses, passengers rising up to stomp a hijacker is at least as bad a crime as the hijacking itself. (If not worse: The hijacker likely had a legitimate grievance, while the passengers are just a bunch of barbaric bitter clingers.) Therefore, the primary aim of TSA security is to remove from the passengers both the means and the will to resist. If a terrorist slips through, well, that’s a security failure. Bad, but unavoidable. But if a terrorist slips through and is brought down by the passengers, that’s two security failures – an outcome even worse than if the terrorist succeeded.

    The goal of the TSA isn’t to prevent another Twin Towers; it’s to prevent another Flight 93.

  22. >I do have to point that are quite a few bar shootings

    Be careful of drawing conclusions like that based on Google searches. There’s a bad selection effect there, the same one that causes most people to grossly overestimate the incidence of firearms crime in general. It’s diagnostic of the problem that LS reported knowing of only one, and that was a blue-on-blue between cops, one of whom thought the other was a mook.

    I wasn’t guessing when I spoke. In fact, crimes that match everybody’s mythical idea of a “bar shooting” – J. Random Upstanding Citizen gets drunk and pots another J.R.U.C – are extremely rare, to the point that it’s debatable whether the species exists at all. Shooters in those situations are essentially always criminal-deviant lowlifes with long rap sheets, the shootings are escalations of hand-to-hand violence rather than initiations, and the venues are dive bars in and around which non-firearms violence is common. In fact, the single most common form of bar shooting happens not with uncontrolled drunken firing, but when a loser in a fistfight (or his buddy) leaves the bar and brings back a gun with the express intent of shooting the winner. These are criminal shootings in bars, not bar shootings as popular myth would suppose they occur.

    It would be hard to imagine a context less appropriate to analogize from if you’re thinking about the risk of alcohol-lubricated shootings on airplanes. The kinds of lowlife who get into such fights don’t fly, because they don’t have the money to fly, because they’re loser mooks who can’t hold a job. Or, commonly, because if they flew out of town they’d be breaking probation or parole. The brightly lit cabin of an airplane is not a dive bar and doesn’t encourage dive-bar behavior. And, finally, the presence of lots of armed J. Random Upstanding Citizens citizens nearby is very effective at suppressing mook behavior.

  23. esr says:
    > When the airlines feel enough pain from refuseniks, they’ll push back faster than we can.

    Or ask for a bailout/handout. If the number of refuseniks ever gets high enough.

  24. BTW, a useful term I’ve heard going around to describe recent TSA behavior is “gate rape”. Spread that meme far and wide.

  25. >We may have reached the point, after the Heller ruling, where sick-think is being destroyed by its own contradictions.

    >To wit: if you can’t keep weapons out of the hands of terrorists, criminals, and psychotics even with unacceptably extreme intrusions on liberty and personal dignity, why try to keep anyone from carrying?

    Is that what’s going on? Seems to me like the game-changer is that you don’t have to love or even believe in your rights any more to hate the way they’re infringed upon, because the nature of the infringement is now something we’ve been wired by evolutionary psych to hate since before we had the higher cognitive functions to even begin to reason about natural rights. Men are seeing their wives given the choice between being photographed naked by strangers or groped by strangers, and that’s enough to make most mammals angry. I don’t even have a wife, and it makes me mad as hell. I’d like to believe it’s bootstrapping people into the kind of abstract reasoning you describe, but I tend to think most aren’t getting beyond “Get your hands off her!”

  26. @esr: I’m not sure what the statistics really are, and if you have some pointers that might help. But what I can say is that I do know quite a bit about the effects of alcohol on the brain. (My wife is a former substance abuse counselor.) Alcohol directly affects the parts of the brain that are responsible for inhibiting or suppressing one’s words and actions. This means that people under the influence of alcohol will say and do things that they would normally suppress if they were sober. Impulsivity, in particular, is greatly exaggerated, especially in people who are already impulsive by nature. Similarly, people who have a tendency towards aggression will become more aggressive under the influence of alcohol.

    Putting a gun in the hands of someone normally impulsive with somewhat aggressive tendencies and subsequently liquoring them up can definitely be a recipe for disaster.

  27. >because the nature of the infringement is now something we’ve been wired by evolutionary psych to hate since before we had the higher cognitive functions to even begin to reason about natural rights

    Right, I agree. That’s what makes these measures emotionally unacceptable. I’m looking at the consequences of that. Beliefs follow behavior; most people, having found the gate rape emotionally unacceptable will be fertile ground for the argument that if you can’t keep weapons out of the hands of terrorists, criminals, and psychotics even with unacceptably extreme intrusions on liberty and personal dignity, why try to keep anyone from carrying?

  28. While I’m not entirely optimistic this will prompt some sort of mass uprising (though it’s not out of the question around the holidays), and those of us angered in advance and on a hair trigger anyhow about civil liberties stuff aren’t a big enough customer base to single-handedly shut down the practice, I do think there is still some hope that enough people will stop flying to shut this down. I suspect there will be a big group of people who just think twice about flying. Not necessarily get angry or sue the state or jump up and down or loudly announce that’s why they’re not flying, just… weighing it in the balance and that much more often deciding it’s not worth the hassle. And I think that will add up to enough for the airlines to have to take action.

    I especially think that it’s worth remembering most people still don’t know about this stuff. I do not know anyone personally who has flown under these rules. This holiday, the number of people hearing first-hand accounts will rise. And again, those first hand accounts may not be of the horror of creeping fascism, but… who’s going to give a positive account of this? Security theater was fine and dandy until your naked family was the star of the show.

  29. >Alcohol directly affects the parts of the brain that are responsible for inhibiting or suppressing one’s words and actions.

    You are quite right. However, it is also true that the perpetrators of gun crimes – in bars and elsewhere – are overwhelmingly drawn from a small cohort of the population, about 3%, that is highly deviant on many measures including propensity to other forms of violence, high rates of automobile accidents, addiction to alcohol and drugs, cross-addiction to multiple drugs, low IQ, and chronically poor impulse control. These are the people some cops call “mooks.” Google for “Don B. Kates”; he’s done a lot of excellent research and writing on this point.

    The mistake you (and many otherwise reasonable people) make is to suppose that because alcohol disinhibits, it can and does cause people who are not in this cohort to behave like mooks. But in fact that kind of break is very rare. Like other drugs, the behavior of people intoxicated by alcohol is strongly constructed by peer group and setting. Normal, functioning members of society, associating with normal functioning members of society, get plastered and Xerox their buttocks or screw each other in closets and that’s about the end of it.

    What non-mooks do not do when drunk, as a rule, is shoot each other even if they have guns handy at the time. Nor do they hit each other with baseball bats. If alcohol disinhibition were sufficient to enable that sort of highly deviant behavior the statistics of weapon crimes (and other violent crimes) would look greatly different than they actually do. Among other things, you’d have drunken, disinhibited neighbors in middle-class areas going at each other with fists and improvised weapons. In fact this sort of crime is vanishingly rare.

    >Putting a gun in the hands of someone normally impulsive with somewhat aggressive tendencies and subsequently liquoring them up can definitely be a recipe for disaster.

    But in fact, liquoring someone up and giving them a gun is almost never a recipe for disaster unless they are a member of the highly deviant and poorly controlled 3% of mooks. What I’m trying to get across to you is that intoxication is not predictive of weapons crimes. You only think it is because you have cause and effect confused. What is predictive both of intoxication and weapons crime is being a mook.

  30. Also, as far as firearm statistics go –

    A man in the usa who kills someone with a firearm is most likely to kill:

    A) A child
    B) A woman
    C) Another man
    D) None of the above

  31. I’m visiting my parents over christmas.
    To prepare for this I walked over the the ticket counter at the main railway station (I pass there every day on my commute to work) and plunked down cash and bought a train ticket. At no time was an item with my name on requested. The tickets don’t carry my name, and in fact I could even sell them to someone else without a problem.
    When I leave on the 24th, I’ll spend 8 hours on a train. I’ll cross three national borders, but I won’t have to show my passport. I won’t have to be screened or x-rayed. I can take as much luggage as I can carry. There will be no paper trail. I will be a long trip (flying would be 4 hours, for and after transport included) but I’ve got a lot or reading to catch up on anyway.
    Sometimes Europe does beat the US when it comes to personal liberties.

    It was my new years’ resolution this year not to fly. So far I’ve kept it.

  32. The whole gallimaufry of escalating “security” restrictions since 9/11

    Try August ’96, when the explosion of TWA-800, which turned out to have had nothing to do with terrorism, led to a major tightening of “security” regulations and the accompanying theatre. That’s when they started demanding ID in order to fly. Mark B. was turned back from the airport on his way to LACon III, because he wasn’t carrying any ID; because of his severely impaired eyesight he has no driver’s license, and he had never needed any kind of ID to fly domestically before.

  33. It’s a shame that the right doesn’t believe that this is a conspiracy on the left to make flying less pleasant, cut down on flying, and hence reduce carbon dioxide production. That might actually get some opposition.

  34. “It’s a shame that the right doesn’t believe that this is a conspiracy on the left to make flying less pleasant, cut down on flying, and hence reduce carbon dioxide production. That might actually get some opposition.”

    I do not think this would fly as it is the right that wants to limit all those people moving around unchecked.

    Yes, puns were intended.

  35. I flew El Al to Israel — in October 2001 — and found the conversational screening pleasant enough, but quite disconcerting. One seemingly random question I was asked was “How much did your camera cost?” Happened, I didn’t know. My late ex-husband bought it after we were divorced, and years later, when I was visiting his second wife (and widow), I mentioned that I needed to buy a camera because I was going to Israel and mine was unreliable, and she gave it to me. Nobody would make up such an improbable answer, but I think the answer isn’t the point — the person next in line was asked what deodorant he had with him — it’s that people with dangerous intentions respond differently to completely unexpected questions, and there are so many possible unexpected questions that no one can be trained to respond to all of them as an innocent person would.

    If a wife suspects her husband of an affair with his secretary (alter stereotypical genders as you wish) she probably won’t get an honest answer if she starts the conversation by saying, “Darling, there’s something extremely important we have to discuss . . ..” But if they’re both frantically rushing about the house trying to get the kids off to school and themselves to work, she could say, as if casually, “Herb, when you and Maisie rent a room for a quick one, how do you decide what hotel to use?” and if he has to think about what an innocent answer would be, it takes — noticeably — too long.

    I have no idea whether that’s the theory behind El Al’s screening procedure, but it would make sense. If you intend mayhem, you have to think — too long — about every answer because it may betray your intentions.

  36. Maybe its all a plot to justify spending on “High Speed Light Rail” [tm]

  37. >In any case, I’d trade an alcohol ban for the weapons ban in a hot second. Even if I drank.

    eeek! Danger, Will Robinson. You’ll have them petting us down for alcohol next.

    Police the behaviour, damnit.

    I’m in South Africa. I’m allowed to drink as much as I want while carrying a firearm (concealed carry only). I am not allowed to handle a firearm under the influence.

    Makes perfect sense to me.

  38. For once, our political thoughts run in the same process. I would heartily advocate a full boycott of airlines by all right thinking citizens across the world. This will definitely make them sit up and take notice.

    I think people slowly lose their consciousness of being paying customers with legal rights and subscribed to the airlines’ and transport authorities’ constant message that we give up more and more rights in order to be “safe”. How else can we buy the crap of “overbooking” that many airlines practice and sometimes leave genuine passengers with tickets to catch the next flight with several hours’ delay?

  39. A few years back I already heard that air routes that circumvented the USA started to appear. People were more and more unwilling to make a stopover in the US. Given all the hassle of making a change in the USA, I would try to get a flight that does not touch US air space at some cost.

    And maybe, that is one of the points of these exercises.

    I know that the elite in some countries, eg, Russia, really detest tourists (and foreigners in general) and make visits as difficult as they can. Maybe the US too have such people in high places.

  40. Also, as far as firearm statistics go –

    A man in the usa who kills someone with a firearm is most likely to kill:

    A) A child
    B) A woman
    C) Another man
    D) None of the above

    None of the above. It is my understanding that men commit suicide by gunshot far more often than they shoot some other person, hence the higher success rate of suicide of men versus women. Women are more likely to use less violent, but also less effective methods of offing themselves.

  41. But in fact, liquoring someone up and giving them a gun is almost never a recipe for disaster unless they are a member of the highly deviant and poorly controlled 3% of mooks. What I’m trying to get across to you is that intoxication is not predictive of weapons crimes. You only think it is because you have cause and effect confused. What is predictive both of intoxication and weapons crime is being a mook.

    I definitely see the logic in that. Of course, you also have to consider that alcohol also causes people to make mistakes. What if some well-meaning liquored up individual shoots an olive-skinned person whom, in his liquored-up state, he mistook for terrorist? Additionally, what about the hazards associated with drunken people mishandling a weapon?

    These problems, I think, would be much rarer events, but they are still a hazard are they not?

  42. >What if some well-meaning liquored up individual shoots an olive-skinned person whom, in his liquored-up state, he mistook for terrorist? Additionally, what about the hazards associated with drunken people mishandling a weapon?

    See above. Most people do a good job of not drawing weapons when they know they’re impaired. Rates of firearms accidents are well correlated with rates of firearms crimes.

  43. Bryant>Don’t get suckered into thinking the opt-out clause fixes the problem. Read the FAQ — airports participating in the opt-out program still have to use the same security guidelines. “TSA sets the security protocols and standards for all commercial airports nationwide, to include airports participating in SPP.” So, you know, same policies.

    The difference: independent contractors are NOT government agents, and are NOT immune from legal action. They can be held accountable in a way that TSA agents cannot by law.

    ESR: This, and several other discussions have changed my mind re: carrying on plains. I withdraw my previous arguments on the matter.

  44. Aaron said, “It’s a shame that the right doesn’t believe that this is a conspiracy on the left to make flying less pleasant, cut down on flying, and hence reduce carbon dioxide production. That might actually get some opposition.”

    @Aaron: Right vs. left is a false dichotomy. It is actually those who want to control everything vs. those who want liberty.

    Winter replied, “I do not think this would fly as it is the right that wants to limit all those people moving around unchecked.”

    @Winter, yes, because we all know that Janet Napolitano is such a right wing kook.

  45. Indeed: some airports are *already* starting to respond:

    http://wdbo.com/localnews/2010/11/sanford-airport-to-opt-out-of.html

    Orlando Sanford International Airport has `opted out’ from TSA screening–deciding to hire private security-firms instead.

    I’ve seen some people taking a `don’t penalise their *airports*–they’re not the Bad Guys, and there’s nothing they can do but go along with it’ stance; if that wasn’t manifestly bogus before, it is now.

  46. @ Winter:

    >>“It’s a shame that the right doesn’t believe that this is a conspiracy on the left to make flying
    >> less pleasant, cut down on flying, and hence reduce carbon dioxide production. That might
    >> actually get some opposition.”

    > I do not think this would fly as it is the right that wants to limit all those people moving around unchecked.

    You’re going to have to define your terms on this. Most conservatives I know–and being part of the Gun Culture, the Military Industrial Complex, and a Mid-westerner I know a LOT of conservatives–don’t really give a fly fuck who travels where INSIDE the country, or OUTSIDE the country. They only care when what is outside comes in, and then only to the extent that those people aren’t felons, aren’t infected with difficult to treat infectious diseases, and are following the immigration laws.

    Now, if you want to generate a reasonable political map that doesn’t put both libertarians and facists on the same side and then propagate those terms sufficiently broadly that everyone knows what you mean, or if you want to be a little more clear when throwing out witticisms like that we can have a conversation.

    Otherwise you look like a peasant.

  47. @Don:

    Nearly everbody carries on the open plains. We just want to be able to carry on closed planes as well.

    Sorry, we all have our weaknesses.

    @Morgan Greywolf:

    I carry. And I drink. Sometimes to excess. Usually I know ahead of time that I’m going to drink and don’t carry. Or if I know I’m carrying (which is easy to determine, if I’m not at the gym or between the house and the gym there is a loaded gun within reach.) I don’t drink more than one. The thing is, once you get out of the cohort that ESR references, and out of the 3-5% right next to them that are one step from that behavior, you KNOW you’re impaired and you modify your behavior accordingly.

    @LS:

    > I know of one. He was an NYPD sergeant who drew and fired on someone he saw carrying in a
    > bar. The dead man turned out to be another cop.

    I presume this was in NYC where if anyone is carrying a concealed firearm they are either a cop or a criminal (of course there is a large population in the intersection of the Euler Diagram of those two sets).

    In places where carrying a concealed weapon is more commonly done (out here in Flyover Country) that would be a LOT less likely to happen.

  48. Recent experiential evidence underlying the failure of current airport “security” measures:

    I travel with a team frequently. Almost always air travel. A couple of weeks ago we headed to FL. After we arrived, one of the teammates opened his laptop case which he had carried on board and used, and to his surprise he discovered he left his rather sizeable folding knife in his bag. It was a pocketknife yes, but much larger than a box cutter. He had waltzed right through the scan and search processes with his blade in his laptop bag which was empty of laptop and electronic equipment for search and scan.

    As an experiment he tried to get this through on the way home, but they caught it that time. Too bad it only takes a one way trip to cause some serious hurt. Good thing our team is part of the Defense apparatus, eh?

  49. Supposedly, 4 out of 5 Americans (presumably the same ones that use Crest) agree that the full body scanners are a Good Thing.

    As the ever-germane Techdirt pointed out, it’s all about framing: The question was asked in such a way that it omitted mention of either radiation or privacy concerns. I wonder, if you asked people “Do you support government programs designed to limit the harm done to society by undesirable elements?”, what percentage would “support the Final Solution”?

  50. It honestly frightens me that our “elites” think we’d go along with this. IMHO they’re capable of just about anything and have no qualms about it. This has been a long 10 years.

  51. > @Aaron: Right vs. left is a false dichotomy

    Don’t think I was praising either. That’s like saying “Sox vs Cubs” is a false dichotomy. It’s certainly true that any real difference between the teams is minimal, but in terms of the fans defining themselves against the other, there are significant repercussions.

    With politics, again, in terms of policies, mostly. In terms of tactics, mostly. In terms of the politicians, mostly. But each side is all too willing to blame the other. I just wish we could capture and redirect that energy to something useful.

  52. > These problems, I think, would be much rarer events, but they are still a hazard are they not?

    Yes, but not in any meaningful sense. (All of the O2 molecules within 1′ of my head could move away, but ….)

    There’s a huge difference between the number of things that are possible and the number of things that are worth worrying about.

    If you’re trying to make a reasonable argument, ignoring likelyhood and cost (of worrying/”the cure”, etc) is ….

  53. As the ever-germane Techdirt pointed out, it’s all about framing: The question was asked in such a way that it omitted mention of either radiation or privacy concerns.

    Good point. As loathsome as conservatives often are, and as much as they tend to support things like the PATRIOT Act, it is a little hard for me to believe that the group who is most concerned with modesty, and who was (rightly) sounding the alarm about inappropriate behavior during mandatory school “health exams” a few years ago, would accept and welcome invasive backscatter and millimeter wave scanning, even if it meant keeping dirty furriners out.

    Speaking of modesty, if you want to piss off fundamentalist Muslims even more, a great way to do it is to subject them to forced violations of their very strongly-held principles of propriety, making every airport suddenly a mini-Gitmo to them.

    And no, the current security policies in place weren’t engineered to prevent another Flight 93. They were engineered to screen and prevent the most obvious means of terrorism — weapons, bombs, and things which might be used to make them — without focusing on the people themselves and their intentions. America is caught in a double bind: on the one hand, this is the one thing that really matters. On the other hand, American law enforcement has huge black marks on its record when it comes to racial profiling, discrimination, and double standards. It’s Pangloss parity: as long as everyone is receiving equivalently abusive and degrading treatment at the security checkpoint, no one can sue for discrimination. Israelis do things their way because they don’t give a shit how racist they are perceived as being.

  54. I’m not sure it’s really the “right”, the “left”, or even the “people” being afeared of things. I think at this point it is simply what a very disconnected government thinks the people will be afraid of and put up with. As if being ruled by any of those three choices wouldn’t be bad enough, now we’re being ruled by their distorted reflection.

  55. November 24 is National Opt-Out Day. They’re asking that everyone who flies on this day to opt-out of the naked body scanners. Basically, give the TSA a big headache.

    I’m not sure which method would cause change faster; refusing to fly or giving the TSA a big headache. As long as enough people tolerate the current situation, it won’t change.

  56. When will we reach the point where people realize that you CANNOT possibly block against every threat? Instead of finding a realistic way to keep everyone reasonably safe the TSA is trying out their ludicrous plan of profiling against every possibly dangerous inanimate object. That’s what all those lists of banned items are: a form of profiling objects instead of people (much to everyone’s annoyance). Besides, I can’t imagine terrorists trying to take over a plane with nail-clippers over just blowing it up to begin with. With all the hassle that has been caused, mixed with the money/time/sanity lost; it sure seems like the terrorists are, maybe not winning, but definitely keeping it close.

  57. Dammit, we should just hire him to run the agency and be done with it.

    Bruce Schneier certainly knows more about security than anyone at the TSA …

  58. @Linda – thanks for that very interesting glimpse into the El Al techniques of conversational screening. I knew nothing of them before, but upon reading your recollection I was struck by how remarkably intelligent their approach is. Truly brilliant. Go Yids! ;)

    I haven’t flown since the braindead 9/11 ‘security’ measures landed on our lives like a fetid cow pie. I drive. I like driving. I take it easy, plan for the extended travel and enjoy the country that I pass through on the way. I think my life is richer for the experience.

    Otherwise, people like me – with their head in the 21st century – use virtual conferencing for business. It’s a game-changer.

  59. The difference: independent contractors are NOT government agents, and are NOT immune from legal action. They can be held accountable in a way that TSA agents cannot by law.

    Government agents aren’t immune from legal action. That’s… kind of an odd thing to say; people file lawsuits against government agents and agencies all the time.

  60. Archie Bunker’s solution was to issue each passenger a one-shot pistol when they get on the plane.

    This reminds me of the result of a thought experiment I did on hearing how Obama’s health care plan had extended the power of the federal government to such an extent that the courts are willing to consider
    it’s constitutionality.

    The bill added at tax for not having health insurance/care, because failing to do so meant that when you needed it, the existing system would provide it, and the expense would then have to be covered by the
    public. So we have a tax that encourages you to get health insurance, and use the money to cover the expense you create by not doing so.

    The thought experiment is: Describe the absolute worst thing (from the democratic viewpoint) that the republicans could do with that nifty new federal power.

    My answer: the “family defense fund”. We have a lot of court cases
    setting the precedent that the police areArchie Bunker’s solution was to issue each passenger a one-shot pistol
    when they get on the plane.

    This reminds me of the result of a thought experiment I did on hearing
    how Obama’s health care plan had extended the power of the federal
    government to such an extent that the courts are willing to consider
    it’s constitutionality.

    The bill added at tax for not having health insurance/care, because
    failing to do so meant that when you needed it, the existing system
    would provide it, and the expense would then have to be covered by the
    public. So we have a tax that encourages you to get health insurance,
    and use the money to cover the expense you create by not doing so.

    The thought experiment is: Describe the absolute worst thing (from the
    democratic viewpoint) that the republicans could do with that nifty
    new federal power.

    My answer: the “family defense fund”.

    We have a lot of court cases setting the precedent that the police are not required to protect citizens, but to investigate crimes after the citizens become a victim. This, of course, means that victims generate expenses for the police department that are covered by the public. Citizens who are capable of defending themselves are less likely to become victims, and so don’t generate those expenses. We should therefore tax people who can’t defend themselves to encourage them to correct that situation, and use the proceeds to fund local police departments.

    For the purposes of this bill, owning and carrying a handgun with the appropriate permits qualifies as being capable of self defense, and would be the main way to avoid the tax. not required to protect
    citizens, but to investigate crimes after the citizens become a victim. This, of course, means that victims generate expenses for the police department that are covered by the public. Citizens who are capable of defending themselves are less likely to become victims, and so don’t generate those expenses. We should therefore tax people who can’t defend themselves to encourage them to correct that situation,
    and use the proceeds to fund local police departments.

    For the purposes of this bill, owning and carrying a handgun with the appropriate permits qualifies as being capable of self defense, and would be the main way to avoid the tax.

  61. yeah…you need to clean that up, repost, and let esr delete that garbled mess ;)

  62. Ya know…

    I think there might actually be a market for radiation shielded cup-and-codpieces if this passes.

    “Want to send a message to the TSA? Want to make sure that the backscatter radiation doesn’t doom YOUR offspring to working for the TSA? Solve both problems at once with The Intimidator.

    This insertable codpiece and testicular cradle is lined with six layers of radiation stopping materials, while the polypropylene lining wicks away moisture, keeping you cool and dry when Federal Agents are feeling your junk. It’s also guaranteed to show up through whatever layers of clothing you’re wearing on both backscatter and millimeter band radar, making your 14 inches of erect virility painfully obvious to public servants.”

    I am halfway surprised that the adult entertainment industry (which skews amazingly Libertarian) hasn’t started promoting the 24th as “Have A Boner For Freedom” day. The gist is for male passengers to make sure that they’re going through the scanners with a state of arousal on them to make the person who has to monitor the output regret coming in to work.

    Hmm. Wonder where I can promote that idea.

    (And I wonder how much it would cost to get rad-proofed codpieces/testicular cradles/concealed scabbards for machetes/ into the market…)

  63. I am an Israeli and it so happened I flew recently to Israel from the US and back. I was lucky not to be subjected neither to porn-scanner nor to the heavy petting from a TSA agent, but even without that the comparison between Israeli and US security is striking. In Israel, they actually talk to a person they are checking – what a novel idea! Turns out, things don’t kill people – people kill people. They do have scanners, they do check the luggage, but they manage to do it in a way that does not include people seeing you naked or grabbing you crotch – and it takes me less time than in the US! I didn’t even have to remove my shoes!
    Now, I know Israel is a small country with just one airport and US is huge. But maybe, just maybe, US could take some lessons and have TSA do less crotch-grabbing and more terrorist-catching.

  64. Filing lawsuits is one thing….being immune from them is another.

    OK.

    Here’s the text of Frontero v. Richardson, in which a citizen sued the then Secretary of Defense and won. Here’s Bivens, the fundamental case law establishing the right to sue federal agents in federal court. Bivens is great case law in this example because it was about the Fourth Amendment, which is pretty darned applicable to recent TSA activities.

  65. Bryant, I did not claim that you *cannot* file a lawsuit against the government, and I am glad to read the decision you linked – were it otherwise, we would be well down the road to tyranny. My use of the term “immune” was a tad literal and absolute….I should have written “effectively immune”. Gubmint looks after its own. Nice little protection racket they got going ;)

  66. These huge machines are bulky, expensive and have limited monochrome image resolution.

    Fast-forward 10, 15, 20 years.

    They’re cheap, small and render images of naked people in full color HD. They’re installed on every bus, subway turnstile and at the entrance of almost any public building. Instead of security guards looking at surveillance cameras, they’re watching all the naked people entering the facility.

    Storing and archiving the images, of course.

  67. FWIW, I find this whole thing an interesting study in human behavior. Let me speak from a female point of view, first of all. If you ask any woman if it is OK for a government official to grab and massage her breasts, and slide their hands up her skirt until they meet “resistance”, I am sure there is no woman in the world who would think this is acceptable.

    However, you listen to people talking about it and you get to understand the bubble people live in. Not being able to fly is a huge inconvenience, and in fact is likely to loose some people their jobs. I find it fascinating to see all these women squirming to find some justification in their minds to explain how this action, which is quite simple criminal assault, is actually quite ok. One woman said, after all that they were highly trained agents, and clearly we can trust them. One wonders how some people get out of bed in the morning.

    If I flew for a living, say a sales person, then, and my job was jeopardized by my refusing to put up with this, it is no different than my boss calling me into his office and demanding that he feel me up or I will be out of a job. Sorry, it is different, I can sue my boss and retire on the winnings.

    Personally, I think the biggest problem is something the TSA cite as a positive, namely that the back scatter images are viewed in a walled off room. I say put it all on the public monitors so you know what they are looking at. Really? guys looking at pictures of semi naked women and children in a dark hidden room? It is an outrage.

    Simply speaking, for sensible, rational people, women and children in particular, as far as I can see, the TSA, without legislative action, has just shut down the US air transportation system. I assure you, I am neither going to go on the TSA gonzo strip show channel, nor let some unpleasant government functionary squeeze my boobs or grab my privates. Planes are basically no longer an option for thinking people.

    Of course that means more people on the road, and far more deaths than terrorists ever created. But, as I am sure the TSA guy would say, “that’s not my department.”

  68. > Speaking of modesty, if you want to piss off fundamentalist Muslims even more, a great way to do it is to subject them to forced violations of their very strongly-held principles of propriety, making every airport suddenly a mini-Gitmo to them.

    This Christian isn’t at all interested in having my wife of three (all very modest) daughters subjected to either the strip or the grope. There are reasons that peeping and sexual assault are illegal. These rules make us less safe. We are less safe from being peeped and less safe from being groped. We are also less safe from travel death. The figure I read was that 130 people die every quarter (520 people a year) because people are avoiding air travel due to this security theater. Cumulatively, that’s now more people than died on 9/11.

    No, I don’t know the source of the figure. Yes, it’s easy to either manipulate or get wrong that sort of statistic – for one thing, some of those non-fliers might be more afraid of terrorists than the TSA.

    Me, I’m always afraid I’ll say the wrong thing or forget to leave a knife behind or some such stupidity and get arrested. I’m much more afraid of the TSA than terrorists. Terrorists are kind of exciting and give you a chance to be a symbol or a martyr. I suppose it’s really the same for the TSA, now that I think about it. I feel better already! Now I have more chances for being a hero – but this time against the stupidity of our government.

    Yours,
    Tom

  69. @Mr. Burnside:
    > …making your 14 inches of erect virility painfully obvious to public servants.”

    I ain’t cutting it in half for ANYBODY.

    :)

    @SM:

    The problem is that Jews are smarter than Gentiles so it is easier for Israel to find smart people to do this than it is to find smart Americans.

  70. William O. B’Livion> Nearly everbody carries on the open plains. We just want to be able to carry on closed planes as well.

    Err, I’m a computer nerd. English was my second language (after C ;^).

  71. Dan> Otherwise, people like me – with their head in the 21st century – use virtual conferencing for business. It’s a game-changer.

    Fine and dandy, but you can’t remotely install and setup entire networks in businesses all over the country without strapping a plane to your ass. I work for a small company with a covey of engineers that install customers’ networks, do network transitions, etc. and there’s no way to mount switches, install routers, do wiring ,etc. without being there.

    The customers use us because of the lack of consistent skills in many areas. Believe me, if you could virtualize this work and get consistent standards of quality, we wouldn’t be spending $100+K/yr/customer on air travel.

  72. Bryant> Government agents aren’t immune from legal action. That’s… kind of an odd thing to say; people file lawsuits against government agents and agencies all the time.

    Yes, and the cost of defense against such law suits is born by you and me, not the offender. If they overstep their bounds, there are no real consequences (unless you can PROVE they intentionally violated a law).

    If a private organization has to defend itself, it will (either directly or indirectly though higher insurance premiums) have to bear that cost itself. Therefore, the private organization will be MUCH more cautious about that line than a unionized government employee.

    Private organizations are ultimately answerable to the market, where unelected bureaucrats are answerable to almost no one. I much prefer the private solution to the Federal for these reasons, and law suits against the TSA are mostly a waste of time.

  73. Jessica Boxer> Of course that means more people on the road, and far more deaths than terrorists ever created. But, as I am sure the TSA guy would say, “that’s not my department.”

    If we don’t unscrew this, Osama has won. Game, Set, Match.

  74. I gotta say, this has become the most surreal thing I think I’ve ever experienced.

    It’s like everybody in the Federal Government has lost their mind at once.

    I cannot believe that this is just because of the Administration alone.

    I guess the question is, is the change in the House likely to change anything? I’m dubious.

  75. re: Isreal:

    In Israel, they actually talk to a person they are checking – what a novel idea! Turns out, things don’t kill people – people kill people.

    Exactly. I really enjoyed Linda Seebach’s story and link to the article on Israeli airport security. The Israelis seem much better prepared to thwart terrorism than here in the U.S. — and rightly so, given the military and political instability of the region. Asking people mundane questions and carefully gauging their response to those questions seems like a good idea.

    The funny thing is that it’s not as if this technique — along with others mentioned — aren’t already in 24×7 daily use by the Department of Homeland Security at U.S. border crossings every day. (I used to live in Detroit and regularly made crossings into Windsor). Seeing as how TSA is part of DHS, it shouldn’t be a problem for them to get the TSA people together with some training from the Border Patrol folks. They both work for the Director of Homeland Security, after all, right?

    Gotta love government incompetence.

  76. # Don Says:
    > I guess the question is, is the change in the House likely to change anything? I’m dubious.

    Certainly not, it was those new guys that put the whole apparatus in place in the first place. I don’t remember the details but it was public outcry that got the TSA to back off the last boob grabbing plan, and only public outcry will work here. And frankly, I am less than confident that it will. The public outcry isn’t all that loud, and the bastions on the right are not particularly owning this issue (though Ann Coulter wrote a pretty powerful column on the subject in her usual bombastic way and Rush Limbaugh did bang on about it for a while I hear.)

    Getting rid of the whole thing? Not a chance. Private contractors in place? Maybe, but so long as they are controlled by the TSA, it will make practically no difference. Eric’s dream of CCW on a plane? Not in my lifetime. Currently my plan is to invent the next youtube and fly on private jets only :-)

    Sorry, but the terrorists already won a pretty big victory, and frankly George Bush is far more responsible for that capitulation that Barak Obama ever was.

  77. Morgan,

    I suspect it will take a catastrophic failure (or two) before idiots in DC will listen to the experience of the Isrealis.

  78. # Don Says:
    > I suspect it will take a catastrophic failure (or two) before idiots in DC will listen to the experience of the Isrealis.

    I think you are incorrect. From what I have seen, almost without exception the political solution to the failure of any government program, is more of that government program, or a different, larger, more invasive government program.

  79. “…the political solution to the failure of any government program, is more of that government program, or a different, larger, more invasive government program.”

    We should at least be honest enough to make that the 28th Amendment ;)

  80. Government agents do have immunity from lawsuits. Qualified immunity, that is. Bivens suits have to overcome that qualified immunity, by showing that the defendant knew what he was doing was illegal, or else that the law was so clearly established that the defendant had a duty to know that it was illegal. If there was any reasonable basis for the defendant not to have known he was breaking the law, he’s immune.

  81. I have to take extreme exception to the reference to any Monty Python parody. Must I point out that they, in the “Holy Grail”, did come up with a viable test for a witch that even by the witches admission was “a fair cop”.

    I heard one woman, a TSA “screener’s” wife, on the radio trying to make the point that her husband was “just following orders” and how he was taking his life in his hands showing up for work each day to keep us safe. I briefly remembered the trials post WWII. It didn’t work then either.

    I keep hearing the Government officials talk about the TSA as a “professional” organization. I find that a bigger joke than anything Monty Python ever did. I have been flying since 1971, the days when you got “dressed up” because you were flying. I was stranded in MA for 3 weeks when 911 happened and have lived through the confusion ever since. From 1980 through 2008 I was flying at least once a week, most of it being upgraded. Since 2008 my business trips have been less than 500 miles so I drive. It’s cheaper, less trouble, and in most cases faster. My current business travel is about 750 miles and I still do it by car. All this was before the Enhanced Pat Downs.

    There is nothing professional about airport security. The search of 85 year old nums and 3 year old children doesn’t make sense when they are still NOT screening the CARGO.

    Besides the the shoe and underware bombers were coming INTO the US and the Fruit-of-Caboomb bomber was on the TSA WATCH LIST
    and shouldn’t have been on any plane anywhere.

    At one time, back when, I believed the government was doing BS screening to reassure the nervous public that they were doing something – we are well past that now.

    Considering that any nut-job could set off a bomb in the security line or terminal and shut down all airport traffic indefinately doesn’t seem to have gotten through to the government.

    In reality the terrorist have won beyond their wildest dreams and the US Government is too worried about being PC to be effective.

    So I drive and carry where my CCP allows and typically don’t accept work where it isn’t accepted.

    I also understand that the TSA is thinking of instituting screening at train and bus terminals. Joy!

  82. Jessica Boxer: I speculated elsewhere that the TSA may, as a result of intersecting laws, be making it illegal to require you to fly. An act is legal in one context does not mean that exact same act is necessarily legal in another context. Employers are legally barred from doing a wide variety of otherwise legal things by law. In particular, quite a lot of otherwise legal acts that could be deemed “sexual harassment” are forbidden. Generally you can’t just dodge around these things by getting someone else to do it on your behalf. You can’t sue the feds, you can’t sue the TSA, I would imagine you can’t sue the airline, but who’s to say you can’t sue an employer forcing you to fly under these constraints? In my non-lawyerly opinion it’s not even particularly a stretch, either in the letter or the spirit of these laws.

  83. # Jeremy Bowers Says:
    > but who’s to say you can’t sue an employer forcing you to fly under these constraints?

    I’m not a lawyer, but I doubt you are right. Generally speaking, if you can’t actually do the job you are being paid for, regardless of who’s fault it is, you would have no case. For sure, the employer probably has to make reasonable accommodations, but if they are inadequate, you are probably gone. So, for example, if my job requires me to travel internationally every other week, and I have small children. If my husband normally takes care of them, and he is killed in a car accident, I can’t travel any more, and I loose my job. I have no case in this situation.

    That is probably especially so in TSA case where it is only your opinion, contrary to government authorities, that groping isn’t acceptable.

  84. Another story in the TSA saga:

    TSA Pat-Down Leaves Passenger Covered in UrineUpdated: 56 minutes ago
    Lauren Frayer

    AOL News (Nov. 21) — A Michigan man who survived bladder cancer in 2007 has now been forced to survive humiliation at the hands of the TSA, whose airport screeners spilled urine on him during a recent security check at Detroit’s airport.

    Thomas Sawyer, 61, was flying to Orlando, Fla., on Nov. 7 with his wife to attend a wedding. Since having part of his bladder removed because of cancer, Sawyer wears a urostomy bag attached to a tube from his abdomen.

    He said he asked TSA agents if he could be screened in private because of his medical condition. “One officer looked at another, rolled his eyes and said that they really didn’t have any place to take me,” the retired special education teacher told MSNBC. “After I said again that I’d like privacy, they took me to an office.”

    “I tried to warn him that he would hit the bag and break the seal on my bag, but he ignored me,” Sawyer said. “Sure enough, the seal was broken and urine started dribbling down my shirt and my leg and into my pants.”

    “I was just so embarrassed, so humiliated,” Sawyer also told The Detroit Free Press. He’s filed a complaint with the Transportation Security Administration.

    Typical – the “professional government official” ignored him.

  85. @Don:
    >It’s like everybody in the Federal Government has lost their mind at once.
    >I cannot believe that this is just because of the Administration alone.
    >I guess the question is, is the change in the House likely to change anything? I’m dubious.

    This is what you get when you spend a century voting for people who give you larger government with more rules and ever more unaccountable bureaucrats.

    It’s not Obama. It’s not even G.W. Bush (although he IS more to blame than Obama). It’s a linear extrapolation of everything our government has been doing since the 1920s at least. Most people of, let’s be frank, lower caliber. Implement technical solutions to training problems instead of insisting on better training. Hiring more people means more budget which means more power.

    Tear! It! Down!

    Sorry, bad morning.

    You want security? Arm the pilots. Not some pussy ass “you can carry if you want to”. No, as a condition of being a pilot on a national or international route you MUST maintain a certain level of proficiency with a pistol and EVERY seat in the cockpit has a holster with a pistol. The Flight attendants get their choice–they can get trained with firearms and/or tazers. Put an armed and trained plain clothes official on every plane, or at least every other one.

    And when you do have an “event” trace it back to it’s origins and salt the fucking earth.

  86. Just as a follow up to the subject of loosing your job over these screenings comes this.

    In summary a flight attendant who had had breast cancer, a mastectomy and a prosthetic breast, was instructed by the TSA that she had to remove the prosthetic and show it to the agent. This is clearly profoundly humiliating, and this woman, who flies for a living is going to be required to do this once a day? I don’t see any way she can reasonably be expected to do this once, never mind every day. As I said, it is an outrage. Unfortunately, what is more of an outrage is the simple fact that there is a hardly perceptible public murmur about this. Americans have been beaten into pathetic doormats.

    We unfortunately live in a country where I can say things like: “I am neither going to go on the TSA gonzo strip show channel, nor let some unpleasant government functionary squeeze my boobs or grab my privates” and quite a lot of the public think that saying that makes me a crazy loon.

  87. We unfortunately live in a country where I can say things like: “I am neither going to go on the TSA gonzo strip show channel, nor let some unpleasant government functionary squeeze my boobs or grab my privates” and quite a lot of the public think that saying that makes me a crazy loon.

    And, more importantly, if you were actually in the airport security screening process when making this refusal, even if you were willing to give up your ticket and leave the airport, you are not only a crazy loon, but you also a criminal. Welcome to Nazi Germany.

  88. All this is great, and I too won’t fly when I can get there some other way reasonably…but I’m going to Paris for a Hercules developer’s conference in a few weeks, and my Blazer won’t get me there.

  89. # Jay Maynard Says:
    > but I’m going to Paris for a Hercules developer’s conference in a few weeks,

    You’ve got to know your limits, I guess. Let me offer you a scenario… The next attempted terrorist attack works like this. Six terrorists push a stick of torpex into their butts to blow up a plane. Their plan is discovered. Now the TSA deems it is necessary for all people to have a full body cavity search before getting on a plane. Would you still go to Paris? Lets say they also required you to supply all your biometrics, fingerprints, iris, photo before you got on the plane. Are you still going? What if they next required that your laptop be submitted to a search and all non registered software be deleted. Still going? What if they demanded a copy of all the files on your laptop before you got on, to scan for terrorists plans. Still going? What is your breaking point? Mine is passed, I hope yours is never reached.

    Enjoy Paris, it is a beautiful city. Don’t miss the Musée D’Orsay or Montmartre.

  90. Don: “I suspect it will take a catastrophic failure (or two) before idiots in DC will listen to the experience of the Isrealis.”

    How many little catastrophes add up to one big one?

  91. Whether you’re looking at it “right” I don’t know, because only a judge could decide, but you’re missing my point. Employers are not allowed to make sexual harassment a precondition for a job. Even in a freely-entered-into employment situation, they are not allowed to make it contingent on you putting up with sexual harassment. This is not about your ability to perform the job; this is about their making part of the job actively being sexually harassed. They’re not allowed to make that part of performing your job. It’s not a failure of the employee, it’s the employer doing something they aren’t allowed to do, if my theory holds any water.

    Also note that I’ve phrased that carefully; I’m actually comfortable calling this sexual assault, and have in other places, on the grounds that if I did it, that’s what it would be called, and I deny that the TSA has a special enough exemption to warrant an exemption morally, even if they do legally. But sexual harassment is an even lower bar; look at what has been legally ruled to be sexual harassment and tell me requiring someone to either see you essentially nude or have one of these “enhanced” patdowns isn’t far on the side of what employment law considers sexual harassment.

  92. Jeremy,

    Your point is even broader than you think. We aren’t allowed to sexually harass our customers or suppliers either. Anyone you do business with in any capacity is not allowed to sexually harass you, nor you them. Again, something useful for the National Organization of Women to do and they are silent.

    Yours,
    Tom

  93. Tom: California NOW is on it. It’s the second result on Google if you search for National Association for Women TSA. And heck — the left was worried about this earlier this year. I’m sure the right was too.

    When we’re fighting a war against intrusion into our lives, is it really the right time to be sniping at people who might agree with you? Reminds me of when I was in Iowa City umpteen years ago trying to convince UIowa to keep library hours long. The organized student left on campus was too bothered by politics to work with the local conservative campus newspaper, and too full of itself to work with the service unions. The results were sad.

  94. @Jeremy Bowers:

    I doubt that employers can be held responsible for what happens at airports, even if flying is a condition of employment. If employers were requiring employees to undergo a backscatter x-ray prior walking in the door at the office, that’s one thing, but what happens on the premises of a third party that the employer has absolutely no control over is another issue entirely.

    I’m no lawyer, but what I do know is that especially in areas of business and employment law, the law and the courts tend to follow common sense. And it just doesn’t make sense to hold employers responsible for the TSA’s actions regarding the backscatter x-ray machines or the “enhanced” pat downs.

    I suppose we’ll see what happens if anyone decides to pursue this course of action, however.

  95. Since I’m doing the local “over the river and through the woods” thing for Turkey Day, I won’t be able to participate in “opt-out” Day, but I am planning a 2000 mile trip to visit my sister over Xmas-NewYears.

    I’m going to purchase post cards, and mail one at each stop (at least one, probably two) and at the beginning and end points
    to the CEO of each one of the 3 airlines that have non-stop flights to my destination. Each postcard is going to remind them that I *could* have flown and provided revenue, but their sheep-like acquiescence to TSA’s peep and grope tactics is costing them money.

    This is the way you get the airlines to push back: show them that it’s costing them cold hard cash.

  96. > Most people do a good job of not drawing weapons when they know they’re impaired.

    I should hope so. Here in Texas, a concealed carry license holder may not carry a handgun while intoxicated. Violation is a Class A misdemeanor under Texas Penal Code, §46.035.

    But then, in Texas, you can’t carry concealed in a bar anyway.

    A license holder may not carry a handgun on or about the license holder’s per- son under authority of the Act in the following places:
    (1) On the premises of a business that has a permit or license issued under Alcoholic Beverage Code, Chapters 25, 28, 32, 69, or 74, if the business derives 51% or more of its income from the sale or service of alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption. Posting is required by the Act, but an establishment’s failure to post is not a statutory defense to the license holder. Violation is a third degree felony under Texas Penal Code, §46.035.

    Which means, of course, that shootings in bars in Texas are never committed by law abiding concealed carry licensees.

  97. @bud says: “This is the way you get the airlines to push back: show them that it’s costing them cold hard cash.”

    No, they won’t push back.

    They’ll go crying to Congress for a bailout.

    They’ll feed them all kinds of sob stories: “Airlines bankrupt! Jobs lost! Passengers stranded! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!”

    After all, Congress bailed out the banks, and the car companies; why not the airlines, too?

    And they’ll GET it, too. Because neither Congress nor the President are MAN enough to step up and say, not just “No,” but “HELL NO!”

  98. @Jessica:

    Personally, I think the biggest problem is something the TSA cite as a positive, namely that the back scatter images are viewed in a walled off room. I say put it all on the public monitors so you know what they are looking at. Really? guys looking at pictures of semi naked women and children in a dark hidden room? It is an outrage.

    I absolutely agree, except for the whole virtual nudity thing. I’m no exhibitionist, but my visceral reaction to the whole thing is that a) you’re not groping me; and b) if you want to view me naked, I don’t want you doing it in some back room without witnesses, so why don’t I just strip everything off here right in front of the line, and give you a few twirls so you can take everything in? What do you mean you’ll have me arrested for indecency? You claim you don’t want me to be too ashamed to let you view my naked body, but ashamed enough to not let anybody else view my naked body — don’t you see the irony in that.

    Hey, here’s an idea — let all the passengers on a flight screen each other — put them all naked in a room together an hour before the flight takes off. Then if anybody dies, it’s their own damn fault for doing such a piss-poor screening job. The airlines could even provide rubber gloves and lube that the passengers could use on that one guy who doesn’t look quite right.

  99. It’s good to see that there’s *something* which will get the American public up on its hind legs.

    If terrorists decide to settle for gun fights that are likely to get three or four people killed rather than getting control of the plane, then arming the passengers and/or pilots isn’t the right solution. I’m not sure what is.

    Phil R. says: Seems to me like the game-changer is that you don’t have to love or even believe in your rights any more to hate the way they’re infringed upon, because the nature of the infringement is now something we’ve been wired by evolutionary psych to hate since before we had the higher cognitive functions to even begin to reason about natural rights. Men are seeing their wives given the choice between being photographed naked by strangers or groped by strangers, and that’s enough to make most mammals angry.

    This isn’t a good match for what I’ve been seeing online. It’s mostly been either people getting angry on their own behalf, or getting angry for the sake of large groups (for example, people who’d been raped). I think I’ve seen more concern for children than spouses. Admittedly, my sample isn’t random, and it isn’t huge. What have other people been seeing?

    You’re writing this as though women speaking up for their own point of view isn’t on your mental radar.

    I agree that there’s probably evolutionary reason for having boundaries about being touched, but I don’t think it’s necessary to add hypothetical arguments. It’s actual present people who’ve found something they won’t tolerate.

  100. > You’re writing this as though women speaking up for their own point of view isn’t on your mental radar.

    You’re right. Not that it’s not on my mental radar, but that I wrote as though it wasn’t. I let my imagination run away with me and described the scenario most likely to make my own blood boil.

  101. After reading about those security procedures elsewhere, all I can say is that I’m glad I’m not in the US and have no plans of going to the US at any time.

    @Morgan Greywolf

    I’m no lawyer, but what I do know is that especially in areas of business and employment law, the law and the courts tend to follow common sense. And it just doesn’t make sense to hold employers responsible for the TSA’s actions regarding the backscatter x-ray machines or the “enhanced” pat downs.

    Leaving legalities aside, if I were employed and my employer gave me a choice between flying to the US for business or getting sacked, I’d gladly get sacked. And then sue him for forcing me to accept a situation that I found intolerable. Whether I succeed or not, my intention would be to put across a very strong message.

    If people started reacting with increasing anger to situations like these, the world would be a much better place. Sadly the sheep are the mainstay of the population in most countries. And modern “civilization” is increasingly softening up people and making them vulnerable not just physically but mentally and spirtually as well.

    Sometimes I think we are far too “civilized” for our own good. You know, those who claim that fart smells of roses if that fart is emitted by *insert object of their adoration here*. The group which can rationalize most evil with their so-called intellectual capacity. Those who can browbeat others with their wizardry over words and slogans. Those who would rather take the easiest way out of anything than make a protest that would be heard.

    That’s why government is increasingly invading our private spaces. Give me heart over head any time. We can make mistakes with our intellectual apparatus and find endless ways to dissect and interpret the world around us, but our hearts/instincts seldom go wrong when it comes to fundamental issues of life. When I see something wrong, my heart tells me it’s wrong much before my head can figure out why it is so wrong! Sadly we are all giving up that instinct in favour of sterile intellectual achievement.

  102. Medium Wave> How many little catastrophes add up to one big one?

    Unfortunately, an almost infinite number. My point was to say that it will take repeated proofs of the assertion that this is just security theater before there’s even a chance (and as Jessica I think pointed out, a very limited one at that) that these dunder heads will listen to people with real experience.

  103. Jessica (and others): You’ve made a few comments about how quiet people are being about this. While there are a lot of people ignorant about it at the moment (mostly because the elections are over, and everybody has returned to “Dancing with the Stars” – Damn that Palin girl, it’s a conspiracy I tell you!), to those who are flying, or may have to fly for work, and to those who listen to any form of political talk (either on TV or radio), they have one of two reactions: complete outrage, or gallows humor. Neither of these bode well for these policies.

    Hopefully, when Granny gets felt up on her way to see the grand kids for Thanksgiving, this will change. It became a big deal here in SA because one of the first people to complain openly about it was a blogger who attended a marathon here 2 weeks ago. The fact that she spoke about it here in SA after the experience, and wrote about it on her blog (the entry was linked earlier in the thread) has made it front-page local news. People here are hopping mad and there’s apparently some discussion by City Council about dropping TSA at the airport (but I don’t think it’s serious yet, I’m counting on Granny to change that).

    In general, this is likely to be a protracted battle. As I said before, I’m not hopeful the House freshmen will actually change any of this, due to simple bureaucratic and legislative momentum.

    On a brighter note, looks like Ron Paul might at least be able to get some answers from Bernanke & Co.. So, think about that while the TSA agent has his hands down your pants. That’s my “Happy Place” :^).

  104. I no longer fly commercial. Only private small aircraft, and I’m going to get an instrument rating so I can fly without so many weather limitations. If I need to go international, I’ll go to Canada first and fly out of there. Otherwise I drive. Take the back roads and stop at the local greasy spoon. CCP states only. Bed and breakfast rates are very reasonable, and a lot more pleasant than motel 6. You will enjoy life a lot more than the flying sewer pipe full of sheeple. It’s good they are grumbling and I hope they do roll this back, but honestly the bureaucracy is incapable of rolling back. Anybody who eliminates any perceived security measure will be attacked as weak on security and blamed if any future attack happens by….the sheeple themselves. I fully expect random road blocks, cavity searches and these damn things on every building and street corner. Manned by the typical mouth breathing reprobate in a funny costume; before it all finally comes unglued….

    The problem is we have become a nation of cowards. They shake in their skins at the thought of any threat no matter how minuscule. They need daddy to protect them. Well, the vet is going to feel you up to make sure the livestock is all healthy. Surprise, surprise.

    >You want security? Arm the pilots. Not some pussy ass “you can carry if you want to”. No, as a condition of >being a pilot on a national or international route you MUST maintain a certain level of proficiency with a pistol >and EVERY seat in the cockpit has a holster with a pistol. The Flight attendants get their choice–they can get >trained with firearms and/or tazers. Put an armed and trained plain clothes official on every plane, or at least >every other one.
    >
    >And when you do have an “event” trace it back to it’s origins and salt the fucking earth.

    preach on brother……..

  105. I think such measures make America lose many potential foreign tourists. One day I will come over for a visit but not until I will be treated with some amount of dignity, although my major concern is not quite TSA but the humiliating interrogation my immigration officers. A different symptom of the very same problem I think. Tourists expect to be treated like customers, not potential terrorists, potential welfare-beggars or potential illegal workers, and if they don’t get it they go elsewhere, I think this a logic every businessman easily understands, politicians, bureaucrats not so much.

  106. “I think flying, and opting for the grope, is a much more effective choice. It’s probably just as unpleasant for most TSA agents as for the passengers, and it’s labor-intensive.”

    What about raising some funds and hiring obese, smelly, farty people to fly to and fro and opt for the grope? :) Even if such strategy would not be very useful (they would simply hire some folks from the gutter who just don’t care), at least it would get into the annals of IRL trolling, and that’s at least something :)

  107. A lot of the TSA people are ex-military and they don’t like this either. It really is sexual harrassment for them, as well.

    I wouldn’t want to feel up a bunch of nervous men all day. Jessica, would you want to feel up a bunch of nervous women all day? Even cops and prison guards don’t have that kind of schedule.

    Yours,
    Tom

  108. “at least it would get into the annals of IRL trolling”

    I mean maybe I have a too vivid imagination or a bit childish, but I could _so_ imagine an amateur YouTube video titled “TSA: Close Encounters of The Hambeast Kind” :-)

  109. When you act indignant they will say it’s ‘part of the job’

    If you make them look silly…and get enough other people to as well, things may change.

    Perhaps if we could fundraise enough to run a video showing lookalikes of President and Mrs. Obama and daughters getting patted down by people in TSA uniforms…

    Then ask “If it happens to you, why not to them?”

  110. Tom DeGisi Says:
    > Jessica, would you want to feel up a bunch of nervous women all day?

    No, but I find it hard to think of any circumstances in which I would work for the government in any job of that nature, regardless of the groping potential, so I am probably the wrong person to ask. I might say that for the record, I am sure that most TSA agents are decent people trying honestly to protect the public from danger. No doubt they live in the TSA think bubble, but I am sure they don’t set fire to kittens for fun. Nonetheless, the fact is that in any organization, and especially in ugly unionized fungible jobs like this, there are a not insignificant number of truly disturbed people. No doubt, it is impossible to fire even the worst psychos. From what I hear there are now reports of TSA agents actually sticking their gloved hands into women’s underwear. To me that sounds like a porn movie, not a legitimate government function.

    When as part of your job you demand a women pull out her prosthetic breast, or bust a guys colostomy bag, and watch him humiliated, covered in piss and poop, asking for permission to to pull up his underwear, one wonders what sort of bizarre twisted justification you can formulate in your brain to think that this is both normal and good. I guess it takes a lot of brainwashing to get that through these people’s heads.

    However, one thing I will say is that I don’t think the solution is to arm passengers and pilots (though I think that part of the solution should be air marshals on planes, and I don’t have a problem with CCW on planes.) The problem is that there are scenarios where this doesn’t help. The guy who smuggles in some explosives, which he detonates in the bathroom is not going to be beaten by a 38 special. Of course, just because it isn’t a complete solution doesn’t mean it isn’t a partial solution.

  111. Ken Burnside Says:
    > If you make them look silly

    Isn’t it against the law to make government officials look silly?

    “Bend over and drop your shorts Mr. Burnside.”

  112. Simple solution. Eleven years ago, I got my private pilot’s license. I have not flown commercial in the continental 48 states since that day.

    Discounting the cost of getting my license (approx $5K at the time, closer to $10K now), since we own our own airplane the cost of flying ourselves is usually about equal to the cost of two tickets.

    Even more surprisingly, even though a jetliner travels at about 500 mph, I often arrive before the airline passengers. When one adds in the before flight time (drive to a commercial airport – 30 min to 1 hour, arrive at the airport minimum 1 1/2 hours early to allow for parking, baggage claim, and the lovely TSA groping), often at least one mid-trip stop and possibly transfer and the after flight time (checked bags? rental car), I can often arrive before the commercial passenger.

    I drive to my local GA (General Aviation) airport (15 minutes), pull the plane out of the hangar and go through my pre-flight (15 minutes), fly to my destination (another GA airport, usually within 15 minutes of my ultimate destination) at a leisurely 150 mph, pick up my rental car which was delivered to the FBO (or often use the FBO’s courtesy car for free) and we’re gone.

    I love to fly.

    bobk

  113. One other important point that is often lost in this discussion. After all this searching, all this technology, all those “laptops out of your bags”, all this “could you remove your belt ma’am”, all that stick your hands in my pants, all the billions of actual dollars, all the hundreds of billions of dollars in opportunity cost with important people standing in line, all the lives lost in the car accidents, what is the total count of terrorists caught?

    That would be zero.

    Your government at work.

  114. @JessicaBoxer:

    I think that’s why esr calls this ‘meaningless Kabuki theater.’ But in any respect, you’re right. Even the Richard L. Skinner, Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security, has said that “the ability of TSA screeners to stop prohibited items from being carried through the sterile areas of the airports fared no better than the performance of screeners prior to September 11, 2001″ according to this article.

    Read the link, because it shows how private contractors have outperformed the TSA. And I have to say that this should surprise no one: private contractors have a financial stake in what they do, whereas the TSA folks get paid the same whether a plane gets hijacked or bombed or not. With their contract and their pay on the line, of course the private contractors are going to do better: this is how capitalism works. Duh.

  115. With their contract and their pay on the line, of course the private contractors are going to do better: this is how capitalism works. Duh.

    While this is true in the general case, I’m not convinced of its truth in this case. The average TSA screener is more motivated than the average government employee because the stakes are higher: they do indeed see their job as keeping terrorists from knocking planes out of the sky (whether it actually is or not), and that tends to be motivational. A significant fraction is also veterans that see it as another way to serve their country, and veterans are also more motivated on average. Finally, the TSA has managed to instill a culture of “not from my airport, they’re not!”, which explains the zeal TSA screeners show.

    I must admit that I feel more than a little guilt over giving individual screeners a hard time, especially those whose motives are pure. It feels a lot like calling soldiers nasty names on their return to the US. It’s not entirely their fault that they’re carrying out massive systematic violations of the civil rights of law-abiding Americans in the name of security theater. Unfortunately, they’re the ones we can reach, and they are doing the job voluntarily, so they’re going to catch the brunt of the public backlash. There’s also some validity to the argument that it’s a legitimate tactic to make their jobs unpleasant enough to induce them to quit.

  116. I’d like to see if anyone has followed the money and published their findings. Those refrigerator sized machines must have been very expensive. I’m guessing that whoever makes them has contributed heavily someone in congress or the executive branch to make those a part of the whole homeland security package.

    I’ll be traveling out of the country on Sunday and I’m torn between the scan and the grope. They both sound like so much fun. Maybe if I’m nice I can talk them into letting me have both. :)

    Seriously, if you’re really bothered by this you might want to look at the ACLU’s page on the subject. They have a complaint form for people to talk about their experiences at the airport.
    http://www.aclu.org/technology-and-liberty/what-expect-when-getting-new-tsa-pat-down

  117. # Jay Maynard Says:
    > I must admit that I feel more than a little guilt over giving
    > individual screeners a hard time, … It feels a lot like calling
    > soldiers nasty names on their return to the US.

    Your statement made me pause for a minute and think. However Jay, there is one big difference. Unlike soldiers, TSA agents can quit.

    > It’s not entirely their fault that they’re carrying out massive
    > systematic violations of the civil rights of law-abiding Americans

    But it is their fault that they personally contribute to it when they have other alternatives (like getting a real job.)

    > There’s also some validity to the argument that it’s a legitimate
    > tactic to make their jobs unpleasant enough to induce them to quit.

    But don’t you find this curious Jay? They might quit because a few passengers dis them or are angry at them, but they don’t quit because they see the old guy whose colostomy bag they bust, covered in piss and poop asking permission to pull up his underwear? They don’t quit when they are instructed by their employer to grope up 9 year old girls, who are pleading with the mommy to make it stop? They don’t quit when their boss demands they stick their hand down the panties of a rape victim, who is sobbing hysterically, reliving her abuse? What sort of cruel, cold hearted bastards can put up with that for more than a few days?

    I don’t feel sorry for people who have to endure a small amount of complaining by the public, when they themselves are responsible for the legitimate cause of that complaint. It is kind of like the kid convicted of murdering his parents begging the court for mercy because he is an orphan, don’t you think?

    The “I was only following orders” defense only has any legitimacy if the alternative to following orders was a firing squad. It doesn’t work when your alternative is getting another job.

  118. I wonder, when well the TSA screeners start feel like the jailers. At some point, they will have to react to the constant abuse by the public for “doing their job,” and I’d guess it will be something like the reaction of the students in the Stanford Prison Experiment.

  119. Don, considering that the reported feeling among the screener corps is anger at being misportrayed in the media, it may happen sooner rather than later. That will be the real test of just how professional they are.

  120. Jay, I think you’re right. It’s a natural reaction to the combination of “them vs. us” and barely check authority. The worst thing (in my opinion) is that when the fit hits the shan, the screeners are going to be the ones on the wrong end of the legal stick, rather than the authoritarian morons in charge. Some guy making $60K/yr to grope you will be the one who takes the blame, rather than the guy making $300K who gave the order.

    Same song, second verse…

  121. [Jessica:
    > But it is their fault that they personally contribute to it when they have other alternatives (like getting a real job.)]

    I’m guessing that, for most of them, that job is the highest paying job they’ve ever had and, given the state of the economy, it’s probably not possible for most of them to find something with equal pay and equal benefits in short order. Sometimes it’s easy for those of us with prestigious degrees or in-demand skill-sets to state that someone else should take a moral stand and just quit.

    I agree with Jay that the majority of them really do feel that they’re working hard to protect us and take pride in doing their job thoroughly, even in the face of the insults and jeers from the people they’re trying to help. The people who need to be beaten up are the ones setting these policies, not the ones with the task of enforcing them.

  122. BPS, that’s still just a further refinement of “they were just following orders”.

    If you like, I feel sorry for them that they have been put into a position where the only ethical thing for them to do is quit. Well, actually, it’s not just a concession, I really am sorry for them. Nevertheless, “I had to do this unethical thing because it was the best paying job I could find” is a terrible, terrible defense.

  123. Jeremy Bowers> Nevertheless, “I had to do this unethical thing because it was the best paying job I could find” is a terrible, terrible defense.

    It’s not a defense recognized either in US courts, or at the Hague (as many Nazi’s found out). They ARE violating the 4th Amendment, that is clear, and if the they aren’t covered by Sovereign Immunity and similar laws, they’ll at least be liable in civil court when the whole charade come crashing down.

  124. If you make them look silly

    Isn’t it against the law to make government officials look silly?

    Yes. In fact, sometimes if you make a gun-toting government official look silly, it’s a capital offense with immediate, unappealable sentencing.

    Eric points out that the average legal gun-toting citizen is very unlikely to commit a crime, but I think that likelihood increases dramatically if the legal gun-toter is a cop. Not that all, most, or even a high percentage of cops are bad — most are really good people, but the profession is certainly attractive to power-mad, trigger-happy people, and the heavy unionization makes it hard to weed those out.

    The other thing to remember — whenever anybody starts spouting off about how we need to cut some slack for people who enter the noble profession that people need, that is thankless, dangerous, low-paid work at all hours of the day, the only proper response is “Cab driver? Yeah, I have the utmost respect for those.”

  125. “…They might quit because a few passengers dis them or are angry at them, but they don’t quit because they see the old guy whose colostomy bag they bust, covered in piss and poop asking permission to pull up his underwear? They don’t quit when they are instructed by their employer to grope up 9 year old girls, who are pleading with the mommy to make it stop? They don’t quit when their boss demands they stick their hand down the panties of a rape victim, who is sobbing hysterically, reliving her abuse? What sort of cruel, cold hearted bastards can put up with that for more than a few days?…”

    Exactly. This “we’re the victims here” response is so sickeningly full of shit I’m almost tempted to buy a ticket for the expressed purpose of unleashing an ungodly barrage of verbal hell at these mindless gubmint drones. They’ll want to quit after I’ve dealt with them. And probably seek therapy too.

  126. For those of you who don’t read slashdot, ht for this link.

    It is a video of Adam Savage (yeah, that guy) talking about how he accidentally carried two eight inch razor blades onto a plane by accident, and how this happened despite the fact that he had a full body scan.

    This is the real irony here. All this horrible abuse. Sophie’s choice — submit to an outrage or never travel on a plane again. And yet it is completely ineffective.

    How many terrorists have they caught this way again? That would be zero.

    One wonders whatever happened to shame. One wonders why our press is so delinquent that they don’t hold he TSA accountable in any way, never asking the obvious question: “prove you have kept us safe.”

    What is really funny, in a gallows humor sort of a way, is the the source of this thing, the guy with the bomb in his pants, wouldn’t even have got caught in the best of circumstances — he got on the plane in Amsterdam.

  127. @ Dan

    >Exactly. This “we’re the victims here” response is so sickeningly full of shit I’m almost tempted to buy a ticket for the expressed purpose of unleashing an ungodly barrage of verbal hell at these mindless gubmint drones. They’ll want to quit after I’ve dealt with them. And probably seek therapy too.

    Though I sympathize with your desire to make a stand, I fear the time to effect change is rapidly growing short. When that time is up, you will have to think in a different manner to avoid becoming the plaything of these people.

    This was exactly the psychological device the Nazis used. In order to get otherwise normal humans to do despicable things they turned it around….look what horrible things the Jews make me do. I am the victim. What I do is honorable because I do my duty in spite of this horrible thing. Time honored tactic. Scary for those of us paying attention.

    I was also struck while reading a Von Braun biography recently about how the Nazi bureaucrats fought with each other tooth and claw to be at the head of the pile, even after it was obvious to anybody with a brain that the whole thing was coming to an end. Totalitarian bureaucrats, empowered troglodyte mouth breathers, a population scared of every bump in the night, and a desperate economic situation is a frightening combination.

    Why did we fight the cold war or WWII? Somebody please remind me.

  128. Oh Jessica! There you go again, being logical and all. Now just hush and let them take care us. ;^)

  129. Jeff Read Says: “Speaking of modesty, if you want to piss off fundamentalist Muslims even more, a great way to do it is to subject them to forced violations of their very strongly-held principles of propriety, making every airport suddenly a mini-Gitmo to them.”

    I fully expect that at some point the TSA’s response to this will be to exempt Muslims, and only Muslims, from these invasive security procedures, in the name of respecting their religious freedom.

  130. News reports that they are being good little sheep here in Boston. The protests of the scansploitation machines at Logan that the authorities were so concerned about did not come to pass.

    Maybe the would-be protesters just took the BoltBus this Thanksgiving. But people should be loud about this shit. I’m disappointed in Boston. I thought at least Stallman and his shaggy friends would be out there.

  131. Naw, not RMS. If it’s not about having software written by impoverished programmers who can’t sell their work for money, he’s not interested.

  132. > This was exactly the psychological device the Nazis used. In order to get otherwise normal humans to do despicable things they turned it around….look what horrible things the Jews make me do. I am the victim. What I do is honorable because I do my duty in spite of this horrible thing. Time honored tactic. Scary for those of us paying attention.

    Maybe partly, but the Milgrim Experiment shows that merely being in authority is usually sufficient. Scary, but then reality can be scary, no?

    Yours,
    Tom

  133. @ Daniel Franke Which is why I think refusal to fly is a lousy protest. If you can’t get enough people to participate in order to put hurt on the airlines, then your protest has basically no visibility and creates that much less work for the TSA.

    If enough people stopped flying, period, the airlines would lobby and TSA would eventually get pressured into backing down. People are more likely to stop flying than they are to face down a TSA officer in the flesh (if you’ll pardon the expression).

    I don’t see why giving them PERMISSION to grope me instead of agreeing to the machine scan is a superior form of protest. Yes, it might be enough of a burden on TSA to make them stop if they had to grope everybody, but they aren’t going to grope everybody, whether or not people “opt out.”

    Better still would be to refuse both a scan and a grope, as this man did, and force TSA to decide whether it will use force to keep an otherwise well-mannered citizen off a plane: http://noblasters.com/post/1650102322/my-tsa-encounter

    Sadly, most people won’t go through that much grief.

  134. @ Jessica Boxer But it is their fault that they personally contribute to it when they have other alternatives (like getting a real job.)

    Maybe a lot of TSA screeners *don’t* have the alternative of getting a real job; it is still a crappy job market out there. :-(

  135. # Catherine Raymond Says:
    > Maybe a lot of TSA screeners *don’t* have the alternative of getting
    > a real job; it is still a crappy job market out there. :-(

    I hear your husband is a great shot. If the job market was so crappy that the only job available to him was hitman, I think he would remain unemployed. I loved Nancy’s quote that the yuppie Nuremberg defense was “I have to pay the mortgage.”

    FWIW, this is a whole other subject by the way of how oppressive the whole concept of “employment” really is. It has totally divorced people from the idea of providing value for their services. But I could rant about that for more time than you would all listen, so I won’t.

  136. @ Daniel Franke Which is why I think refusal to fly is a lousy protest. If you can’t get enough people to participate in order to put hurt on the airlines, then your protest has basically no visibility and creates that much less work for the TSA.

    I missed Daniel’s comment the first time around, thanks to Cathy for reviving.

    Just to be clear, I am not refusing to fly as a protest hoping to somehow bring the system crashing down. I am refusing to fly because I don’t want some scuzzy pseudo cop sticking her hand down into my underwear or looking at pictures of me naked in some dark room.

    Just call me a prude, but I am funny about things like that.

  137. @ Tom DeGisi

    Thanks for the nice compliment, though I don’t think I add any more value to the proceedings than Jessica or any of Eric’s regulars.

  138. FWIW, this is a whole other subject by the way of how oppressive the whole concept of “employment” really is. It has totally divorced people from the idea of providing value for their services. But I could rant about that for more time than you would all listen, so I won’t.

    You have our health care system and our tax system to thank for that. If you are productive but not employed, then you are “self-employed” and must pay additional taxes for that. It’s fucked up in precisely the same way that giving welfare moms more money for squeezing out more kids and not getting a job is fucked up. Furthermore, the prices for individual health insurance are through the roof. A group plan with an employer is pretty much the only way for many Americans to afford health care. The correct and easy way out, the way in which literally every other industrialized nation has solved this dilemma — universal government health coverage — is simply not on the table, not even with an unabashed lefty in the White House.

    So yeah, employment sucks, but guess what: in 21st century America it’s a better value proposition than most of the alternatives to the vast majority of citizens.

  139. @ Jessica Boxer,

    > Just call me a prude, but I am funny about things like that.

    Bingo.

    @ Catherine Raymond,

    I’m always glad to see Jessica and other regulars, too. Your appearances are rarer. Perversely?, human beings value rarity. I wonder if Eliezer Yudkowsky has covered this.

    @ Jeff Read,

    > The correct and easy way out, the way in which literally every other industrialized nation has solved this dilemma — universal government health coverage — is simply not on the table, not even with an unabashed lefty in the White House.

    The McCain plan, which I’ve wanted for twenty years, solves this dilemma. It is also correct, and far, far easier.

    Yours,
    Tom

  140. Jeff Read Says:
    > You have our health care system and our tax system to thank for that.

    Right on Jeff.

    > If you are productive but not employed, then you are “self-employed”
    > and must pay additional taxes for that. It’s fucked up in precisely the
    > same way that giving welfare moms more money for squeezing out
    > more kids and not getting a job is fucked up.

    Jeff, have you and Sarah Palin been hanging out or something?

    > Furthermore, the prices for individual health insurance are through the
    > roof. A group plan with an employer is pretty much the only way for
    > many Americans to afford health care. The correct and easy way out,
    > the way in which literally every other industrialized nation has solved
    > this dilemma — universal government health coverage

    Thank god! I was beginning to get this sick feeling in my stomach. Agreeing with Jeff Read on everything? Social issues? Economic issues? Am I loosing my edge? But here, sir, we gladly part company.

    By “every other industrialized nation” you mean all the ones that are falling like flies because of their massive over commitment to exactly these sorts of programs? Those guys?

    The solution is not for the government to take over, the solution is for the government to let go. The reasons health insurance privately purchased is so damned expensive are many, but they certainly include:

    1. People are divorced from the cost due to the fact that the tax system and culture demands employers provide it.

    2. The fact that people are divorced from the cost means people expect it to pay for ridiculous things, like band aids and aspirin from insurance rather than a credit card.

    3. Costs are so high because the regulatory burden is out of the world crazy.

    4. Costs are so high because the courts allow ridiculous verdicts against doctors for simple mistakes and non mistakes.

    5. Costs are so high because 80 year old men have to pay for maternity coverage, because the government requires that of all insurance policies.

    6. Costs are so high because the employer provision (basically the governments fault) so not many people are looking for health insurance privately. Costs are so high because there is no cross state competing.

    7. Costs are so high because insurance companies can’t control what they put in their offerings due to minimal coverage requirements by state governments. (No name your own price here.)

    8. Costs are so high because doctors and other medical services providers are forced to accept Medicare which pays its bills late (6 to 12 months on average) and pays only a fraction of the cost (60% of invoice on average) so us private paying schmucks have to pay for the seniors twice — once out of our paychecks and once out of or medical insurance premiums.

    And so forth. As I said before, the solution to failed government programs is not bigger government programs.

  141. > Sadly, most people won’t go through that much grief.

    Especially now that TSA has announced that they’ll hold you indefinitely, proscecute yu as a terrorist, and fine you $11,000 for not completing he screening process.

  142. > If you are productive but not employed, then you are “self-employed” and must pay additional taxes for that.

    I’ll bet that Read is referring to the employer’s half of SSI. If so, he’s wrong. Yes, the self-employed have to pay both halves, but he’s wrong in thinking that it isn’t part of the taxes levied on the employed by others.

    Hint – folks pay all the time for things that aren’t itemized.

    > It’s fucked up in precisely the same way that giving welfare moms more money for squeezing out more kids and not getting a job is fucked up.

    Read will have to take that up with his fellow progressives.

    > Furthermore, the prices for individual health insurance are through the roof. A group plan with an employer is pretty much the only way for many Americans to afford health care.

    Bullshit.

    I’ve paid for individual insurance. It was no big deal, and I was over 50 and overweight at the time AND I had “Cadillac” coverage. Change any of those things and it would have been even less.

    Yes, there are folks who are hard to insure. However, most of them will only have problems if they let coverage lapse. Since the argument is that they have chronic expensive conditions, you’d think that they’d be on top of the whole “don’t let coverage lapse” aspect.

  143. What Jessica said, and also, as she has pointed out at other times we need to correct the incentives that prevent companies from spending money developing vaccines and antibiotics.

    Yours,
    Tom

  144. Tom DeGisi Says:
    > we need to correct the incentives…

    If by “correct the incentives” you mean “butt out” I’d agree.

  145. I flew on Wednesday. Wore bike shorts and my Sri Lankan sarong. I said “no thank you” to the scanner, and was asked to step aside. Took a few minutes, but they got a groper for me. Didn’t feel like he was particularly touching my genitals, although he did go all the way up my leg. Explained exactly what he was going to do just before he did it. It was just a slightly more thorough pat-down than they used to do to selectees, only now everybody is a selectee. I’d rather be groped than go through the nudotron anyway. I should have said “That felt nice. How much do I owe you?”, but I was nice to the guy and didn’t.

    I did see a hot blonde go through the nudotron, and was wondering what she looked like through the nudotron. I tried taking her clothes off with my eyes, but I’m sure the X-ray did a much better job.

    Oh, and did I mention that this wasn’t the TSA? So rather than not flying, perhaps a more pleasant experience would be had by all by refusing to fly out of TSA-occupied airports.

  146. Jessica,

    I was thinking of protecting them from various lawsuits, among other things. Haven’t you written here about this?

    Yours,
    Tom

  147. I keep wondering if I can ask the following set of questions at an airport.

    “You are a Federal agent yes?”

    “May I see your warrant to inspect my bags? What evidence are you looking for, and in relation to which crime, please?”

    I would have far far fewer problems if the individual airlines (who can make a case for prevention of damage to capital assets) or actual state law enforcement (under the auspices of the Port Authority) were doing this for clearly stated ends.

    However, I cannot see any way in which the TSA as constituted isn’t a 4th Amendment violation.

  148. However, I cannot see any way in which the TSA as constituted isn’t a 4th Amendment violation.

    I agree. However, the Fourth Amendment – as well as the First, Second, and Fifth – have effectively been repealed at the airport.

  149. # Ken Burnside Says:
    > However, I cannot see any way in which the TSA as constituted isn’t a 4th Amendment violation.

    Ah, that’s because you didn’t go to law school and don’t know the secret code. Unfortunately the Constitution means what the courts say it means, and they have found that this is not considered a fourth amendment violation on several occasions (though AFAIK it has never been at the Supreme Court level, only the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.)

    It just shows the strange, twisted logic of the legal mind when we can read the fourth amendment and say the TSA doesn’t violate it, yet we can also claim that the constitution guarantees an inviolable right to an abortion, or when they hold that the first amendment does not guarantee the right of candidates to purchase TV advertising to talk to voters, or the right of people to protest against a war. And don’t get me started on the 2nd.

    BTW, did you know that the origins of the phrase “cry fire in a crowded theater” was in defense of a law that put people in jail for protesting a war? Not many people know that, you should look it up.

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