Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Slow News Week For The TSA

“TSA abuses American travelers” has become the new “dog bites man”: bad news but barely newsworthy, since it happens all the time.

Here’s a random sampling of TSA terror from the last seven days:

In Kansas, TSA punished a four-year-old girl for giving her grandmother a hug. The Daily Mail reported:
The girl was accused of having a gun and declared a 'high security threat', while agents threatened to shut down the whole airport if she could not be calmed down.

When asked about the overbearing treatment the girl received, a TSA spokesman did not apologise and insisted that correct procedures had been followed.

Of course the spokeman insisted correct procedure was followed. Terrorizing children (and shoving hands down their pants) is correct procedure.

When the agents started screaming at the little girl and accused her of having a gun, she got scared and tried to run away, thus further infuriating the TSA. That’s the type of person the agency recruits: sociopathic high school dropouts who believe “Only terrorist four-year-olds are afraid of giant screaming strangers who fondle their genitalia.” Screaming at them is proper procedure; a TSAgent who doesn’t make a child cry is a TSAgent who isn’t doing his job.

Curtis Burns, the odious propagandist calling himself “Blogger Bob,” said this about the four-year-old terrorist’s treatment:
We did recently roll out new procedures that reduce the need for pat-downs of children. These new screening procedures include permitting multiple passes through the metal detector and advanced imaging technology to clear any alarms as well as the greater use of explosives trace detection.  These changes in protocol will ultimately reduce – though not eliminate – pat-downs of children. But… this is one of those examples where a pat-down of a child was necessary.

It was explained to the family why the pat-down was needed and at no time did our Officers suggest the child was carrying a firearm. We’ve reviewed the incident and determined that our officers followed proper current screening procedures.
Of course they did. TSA has yet to find a single terrorist, but when they dispense terror to innocent people it’s always fine because that’s the procedure.

The TSAgents at JFK airport didn’t want their colleagues in Kansas upstaging them, so they upped the ante by terrorizing a seven-year-old with cerebral palsy.
Flying is always difficult for the family, but this week was particularly dreadful, Frank and his wife, Marcy, said.

With her crutches and orthotics, Dina cannot walk through metal detectors and instead is patted down by security agents. The girl, who is also developmentally disabled, is often frightened by the procedure, her father said.

Marcy Frank usually asks the agents to introduce themselves to her daughter, but those on duty on Monday were exceptionally aggressive, Joshua Frank said, and he began to videotape them with his iPhone.

“And the woman started screaming at me and cursing me and threatening me,” he said.
And you deserved it, because asking a TSAgent to behave like a decent, thinking human being is as unfair as asking a kid with cerebral palsy to walk without her crutches. The child simply lacks the physical musculature to walk, just as the TSAgent lacks the section of the cerebellum where “empathy” resides in people who aren’t sociopaths.

To Blogger Bob’s credit, though, even he hasn’t tried making excuses (yet) for another TSA officer based at JFK. Lateisha El was arrested for throwing hot coffee on an airline pilot after he asked her to tone done her use of profanity and the word “nigger.” Ms. El, who is 30, displays the impulse control of a two-year-old yet to outgrow her tantrum stage. That’s the quality of person TSA recruits to terrorize people in the name of fighting terrorism.

In San Antonio, Texas Congressman Francisco Canseco said he was assaulted during a TSA patdown. News station KENS-5 reported:
"The agent was very aggressive in his pat-down, and he was patting me down where no one is supposed to go,” said Canseco.  “It got very uncomfortable so I moved his hand away.  That stopped everything and brought in supervisors and everyone else."

Canseco told the KENS 5 I-Team the agent said he too was assaulted when Canseco pushed his hand away.
Typical TSA attitude: we’re allowed to sexually molest you and you're not allowed to react in any way. But that’s been the case from the start; as early as November 2010, with the molestation policy less than a month old, I noted that
The agents of the Transportation Security Administration have been sobbing their little hearts out because they just can't understand why Americans have to be all rude and cranky rather than passively adopt submissive-criminal body poses while uniform-wearing thugs fondle their genitals. Union officials are especially outraged that people who are just following orders should actually be blamed for what they do.
In Foreign Policy magazine, Stephen Walt rhetorically asked “Can TSA make flying any worse?” and immediately explained how:
The lines and pointless interference at Logan Airport were no worse than usual yesterday, but one TSA employee did manage to add a new wrinkle of misery to the experience. As we all stood in line like obedient sheep, he recited the usual litany about removing belts, shoes, liquids, emptying pockets, etc. At the same time, he also kept up a loud, non-stop monologue of unfunny, mildly sexist, and occasionally offensive jokes, to an entirely captive audience of travelers. No doubt he thought he was providing an amusing diversion, but he didn't seem to notice that no one was laughing. And given the ever-present threat of a strip-search, nobody was going to tell this loudmouth in a uniform to just zip it. So in addition to the degrading inconvenience of the security checkpoints themselves, they've now added noise pollution.
I’ll end my blog post here, not because I’m running out of anecdotes but because I’m running out of room to post them. Remember, though: the TSA stories I posted here are exceptional only because they’re so unexceptional. You simply expect TSAgents to shove their hands down people’s underwear nowadays, you expect them to terrify toddlers who have the gall to cry while they’re being molested, you expect them to behave like toddlers themselves whenever their authority is challenged.

There’s a reason TSA goes out of its way to recruit high-school dropouts to fill its ranks: the agency does not want agents intelligent enough to realize “Molesting little children does nothing to make our country safer.” They do, however, want agents incapable of thinking in the long-term; a high school senior who thinks “I hate school, but if I can just hang in there for a few more months I’ll get my diploma” is a high school senior who thinks, period, and the TSA clearly can’t function if its agents run around doing that all day.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Minor Blogger Sings The Major-General's Song

Everybody sing along with me:
I am the very model of a far-left ideology
with multitudes of flaws in my political psychology
I hate the war on terror and I quote its sins historical
From Abu Ghraib to TSA, in order categorical
I'm very well acquainted, too, with matters scientifical,
I understand Chas. Darwin and I think he's quite terrifical
On constitutional damage I'm seething with a lot o'news,
With many gloomy facts about our government's constant abuse.
That's for whoever came to my blog today after searching for the terms "Jennifer Abel is a far left ideology." (Not even has one, which I don't; is one.)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

TSA's MIssion Creep Is Making America A Police State

In today's issue of the Guardian I spent 800 words belaboring what should be obvious: the TSA's mission creep, leaving airports to expand in bus terminals, train stations and even highways, is turning our once-free country into a police state.

They say the first step to solving a problem is admitting it exists. Great: been there, done that, but what do we do next?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Read It For The Articles. Really!

Dear reader, if you go to the newsstand and buy the May 2012 issue of Playboy, YOU CAN SEE ME INSIDE . . . . no, wait, that came out wrong. Let me try again: if you go to the newsstand and buy the May 2012 issue of Playboy, you can read my anti-TSA column, which starts out like this:
America has a long record of warped attitudes surrounding sex and nudity -- this magazine's legal history proves that -- but before the days of the Transportation Security Administration, the problem was one-sided: if you wanted to display your gender-specific body parts or have your sexy bits rubbed by someone other than your legal spouse, you risked trouble. But if you wanted none of that, the government backed you completely.
It's on page 42 which, as any Douglas Adams fan knows, is the ultimate answer to life, the universe and everything.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Calling All TSA Bootlickers: Justify THIS

Ever since the TSA adopted its mandatory molestation policy for anyone flying in American airspace, the agency’s apologists have trotted out the same timeworn excuse: “If you don’t like it, don’t fly!”

Now it looks like they’ll have to update it: “If you don’t like it, don’t travel on any public roadways!”

Last week, on the day before Good Friday, the Department of Homeland Security in conjunction with TSA’s snakelike VIPR squads held a mass checkpoint on the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel (also known as “the stretch of Interstate 64 connecting the cities of Hampton and Norfolk, Virginia”).

The Richmond Times-Dispatch noted
The Homeland Security exercise that slowed traffic at the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel on Thursday morning was a routine sweep and not a response to any perceived threat or danger, the Virginia Department of Transportation acknowledged Friday…. "These exercises happen a few times a year in our region," [a VDOT spokesman] said. "Unfortunately, we are not permitted to let the public know ahead of time when it is going to happen because of the security involved, but it is an exercise that is done on a regular basis to make sure all the safeties and securities are met."
The paper didn’t say how long the backup lasted, but local commenters at the Travel Underground forum reported delays of 90 minutes.

Old conventional wisdom: get to the airport two hours early, to give TSA sufficient time to violate your constitutional rights before boarding.

New conventional wisdom: drive to any location 90 minutes early, to give TSA sufficient time to violate your constitutional rights en route.

I grew up in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia, and when I was a kid, my dad crossed the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel every day to get to work. When I was in college, I did the same thing. And now, TSA-style checkpoints will be the norm for everyday commuters like us? Employees in Hampton Roads are supposed to accept that they’ll be late for work, college students in Hampton Roads must expect to miss the occasional class or final exam … and for what? Not because any “perceived threat or danger” justified closing the bridge, because some DHS flunky wanted to conduct a random search for no reason, no suspicion, fourth amendment protections against unreasonable search be damned.

And, of course, commuters must be polite and respectful to the TSA, no matter how stressed out they are over things like “Dammit, my boss will fire me for being late!” or “Crap, my final exam starts in ten minutes and I’ll fail the class if I don’t take it!” If you’re rude to the TSA, you’ll be arrested on some catchall charge like “disorderly conduct,” and the Supreme Court has already ruled in favor of mass strip-searches of all people arrested for even the most minor of offenses.

So, even though the charges against you will most likely be dropped, you’ll still undergo the humiliation of being forced to strip, squat, spread ’em and show the emptiness of your various orifices. The consequences for disobedience grow harsher every day.

Can I call the USA a police state now, without being accused of hyperbole?

Friday, April 06, 2012

Good God, It's Good Friday

Every year, to celebrate Good Friday, my household traditionally consumes an all-meat dinner. Since our financial situation currently precludes our going out for the traditional steak dinner, we've decided to make do with bacon cheeseburgers. (Why flip the bird at the food bans of one Abrahamic religion, when you can offend all three at once?)

Monday, April 02, 2012

Supreme Court Upholds Forced Nudity For Safety's Sake

O happy day, especially for those who support the individual mandate of Obamacare: the Supreme Court ruled today that forced strip-searches and cavity searches are acceptable for all arrestees, even those arrested for extremely minor offenses.

Albert Florence was arrested for non-payment of a traffic fine. (Well, actually, he DID pay the fine; it's just that the cops who arrested him couldn't be bothered to confirm this.) So the cops stripped him naked and probed inside his various orifices, all in the name of "safety." That's simply the standard treatment Americans are being groomed to expect: wanna travel on mass transit? The TSA wants to look at your naked body and feel your various sexy bits, for "safety." Wanna exercise your first amendment right to peaceful protest? After the cops arrest everyone involved, you will be stripped and probed.

Personally, I'd say if you're arresting so many people for minor offenses that you can't even preserve their safety without stripping them naked, you need to stop arresting so many people. But of course America's not going to cut back on its punishment infrastructure; it's the only growth industry our economy has.

You supporters of the individual mandate, let me guess: you looked at our country, with its highest prison population in the world, and said "Where inmate numbers are concerned, WE'RE NUMBER ONE!! But there's still room for improvement."

The only thing worse than being sick and uninsured in America is being sick, uninsured and arrested for non-payment. But I suppose low-income, uninsured people like me aren't entirely "people," are we? We're just the eggs you have to break if you want to make an omelet.

I don't think people understand: in America, you don't sic the cops on people because you want to help them.
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