Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Elves Discover TSA

By the Boiler Room Elves

Greetings! Undoubtedly you’ve noticed the marked decrease in quality around Commentarama in the past few months as we Elves left the Bossmen to their own devices. Lured away by visions of the jet-setting life, whisking in and out of towns, staying in posh business hotels, getting status on airlines and flying 1st class, we abandoned the Boiler Room to take a 100% travel job. Sadly, we found travel for work by commercial plane was not quite the same as jetting off by personal sleigh for vacation. Thankfully, we came to our senses and returned to our beloved Boiler Room before everything fell apart around here. . .

What’s wrong with commerical travel, you ask? Well, how about this little organization called the TSA?! (Toiletry Search Agency? Thousands Standing Around? This Sucks A --- ahem...) Have you seen what they’ve been up to lately?

Patting down 6 year olds! Never mind that TSA Director John Pistole said in November: “We’ve heard the concerns that have been expressed and agree that children under 12 should not receive that pat-down.”

Stun gun left on airplane after a flight! No one seems quite to know how that one got on board the JetBlue flight, but don’t worry, we’re assured that it appears no one wanted to use it in an attack. Whew.

○ How about the Nigerian man who was found on a plane with 10 expired boarding passes that got him through “security” and on board? Think a 95-year-old grandma could have gotten away with this? What if she hid her boarding passes in her Depends?

○ No worries, though, at least you’re not going to get cancer and die from the “Nude-O-Scopes!” Oh wait... TSA employees are already showing increased cancer rates. Hmmm....

○ All of this, of course, is when the Smurfs, excuse us, TSA agents aren't busy stealing things out of your carry-on while their compatriots harass you.
But is any of this worth it? The TSA says they are doing this to protect us. But if that's true, then why would they exempt kids from the search? Logically, that means they’re creating a massive security hole. Wouldn’t any reputable terrorist just hide their weapons on kids knowing they won't be searched?

Is this policy really about safety if they are willing to create such a security hole or is it just for show? If it’s not just for show, why do they keep talking about creating some sort of privileged person pass that lets you pay a fee (i.e. tax) to skip right through security? Do they really think terrorists are just too cheap to pay the fee?

Heck, does this strip search policy even work in the first place? Check out this video from a German TV show. As a demonstration, a man goes through one of the modern, cutting-edge Nude-O-Scopes -- with a screener who knows he is carrying items to be confiscated. He gets a few things removed from his person. . . and still has enough items concealed on himself for some nice pyrotechnics.

In the immortal words of Honorary Elf Ben Franklin -- “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” What would Ben say about those who give up essential liberty to be given the appearance of temporary safety?

50 comments:

T-Rav said...

Meanwhile, Arab guys shout "Allahu Akbar!" and pound on the cockpit door, and authorities speculate he was looking for the bathroom. (sigh)

So, precisely what must one do to become an Honorary Elf?

Koshcat said...

It has been an interesting road since 9/11; unfortunately straight to hell. When the idea of the TSA was first released, I thought maybe it would be a good idea. People formally trained rather than a weekend course at the Aurora Learning Center (Motto: We brew our coffee fresh each week!). Also perhaps some consistency with security. I'm sure prior to TSA (or BT) some of you experienced one airport doing a near strip search and another just pass on through. But it has gone horribly wrong. I knew there was trouble shortly after implementation when at DIA they were hasseling a little 80 year old lady about her knitting needles. All I was thinking is "I could take her out if she misbehaves.". It was unnecessary.

Yes, there was a security breach on 9/11, but the most important fix made was securing the cockpit. Am I the only one who thinks not allow a pilot to have a licensed gun is a little insane? "we saved those passengers from that crazy, rightwing gun lover." Obama would have been a hero if he shut it down ("I...have to...fix...all of the mistakes...of the previous...administration") but instead doubled down. Maybe if it actually did anything besides embarrass the incontinent and make young children cry, but as a security system it is worthless. They don't seem to get the concept od DIMINISHING RETURN.

The next revolution begins here! Take back our dignity and nail clippers! We shall march forward with our e-ticket in one hand and an Aquafina in the other! They may take away our Bic lighter but they'll never take away our freedom! Join me my brothers and sisters to take down the TSA! Viva la resistance!

Tennessee Jed said...

My thinking is that perhaps the TSA is less about actually making us safer, as it is about letting the administration claim to be "making us safer." Then, of course, there was that wonderful opportunity to make sure the TSA were full time federal bureaucrats devoted to preserving their own jobs, and voila!

Koshcat, I don't think you are crazy or are the only one. Admittedly, the bad guys constantly adapt to defenses, hence the new notion of implanted explosive devices. I always used to think some kind of colorless orderless nerve gas similar to Goldfinger might be an option. Still, the cockpit is the last part of the castle to defend, so I'm all for arming the pilots and installing secret cameras throughout the aircraft.

AndrewPrice said...

Elves, thanks for the article and thanks for getting back to work on the boilers! Things were getting kind of messy down there with the gnomes you hired to replace you.

Jocelyn said...

The TSA is ridiculous, did you hear the latest yesterday about the woman with the poofy hair ? Ignoring the other part of the article, the fact that she went through a full body scan and TSA still requested to look through her hair begs the question about the capability of the full body scanners.

Jocelyn said...

Also, just a tid bit, that picture you have if from shirt.woot.com, which makes some comical shirts.

AndrewPrice said...

Jocelyn, Great, so now we're all going to have to shave our heads before we go through airports? It's like the revenge of the Hare Krishna!


(Thanks for the info on the image, I just found it on the web last night and thought it fit the Elves' article, but it didn't have any attribution where I found it. It does seem to strike the right amount of sarcasm for this topic though!)

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Since the Elves are ignoring me, claiming "I'm stuck at work," let me say that I totally agree. How in the world can anyone think that a 95 year old woman is a threat, but the screaming groups or Arabs.... whose people have a history of not being good with airplanes.... is just fine? It's a messed up world.

AndrewPrice said...

Koshkat, I agree entirely. I think this whole TSA thing demonstrates exactly what's wrong with how our government works. Yes, 9/11 was horrible and yes, we don't ever want it to happen again.... but that doesn't mean that any old thing the government wants to do it the answer.

The smart answer to 9/11 would have been to make it impossible to break into cockpit doors and then provide the pilots with guns and maybe put air marshals on flights again. Instead, our government hires 50,000 untrained people (many with criminal records) and has them strip searching little old ladies and feeling up kis? What kind of rational response is that?

And then you think about the point the Elves are making about how the TSA is willing to create a security hole as a matter of policy and it suddenly becomes clear that they don't believe these searches work, they are just doing this as a placebo to make the public feel like they're safe.

So because we are afraid of what twenty guys did one time, we don't do the easy thing to stop them, we rearrange our entire way of life? What kind of crap is that? That's what's wrong with trusting our government.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I definitely think TSA is about making people think the government is doing something rather than it is about actually doing something.

There are so many ways to bring down a plane it's impossible to stop terrorists if they really want to. And this current plan is probably the least effective of any plan they could have chosen. Also, the fact they would even think about creating these gaping holes in this supposedly effective policy tells us that even they know it's just for show and they are just responding to political pressure.

I think the problem is that in all crises, the government cannot be seen to be doing nothing. In other words, it is an axiom of modern government that you need to look like you are doing something to fix the problem and the more grandiose the activity the better.

But that's how you end up with TSA, with the TARP and with the GM bailout -- each of which took away our rights and cost us a fortune and achieved nothing.

The old saying that "we have nothing to fear but fear itself" is very true, with the caveat that the real thing to fear is government responding to that fear.

Pittsburgh Enigma said...

I personally think there will be some kind of tipping point eventually. I thought it was going to be last Thanksgiving (i.e. "don't touch my junk"), but that movement didn't get any traction. I also think it might have to wait until the next Republican administration. Has anyone noticed that there hasn't been a peep out of liberals about the TSA? I can't a remember a more gross violation of civil liberties and privacy in a long time, and yet where are the protesters on the left? In my opinion, they just don't want to make their messiah look bad. But as soon as he's gone, expect the leftists to come out en masse against the TSA.

Pittsburgh Enigma said...

Ok, totally off topic, but has anyone been to Google today and noticed what anniversary they're celebrating today on the home page? The 450th anniversary of St. Basil's Cathedral!! Now if that doesn't prove that Google is just a bunch of communists, I don't know what does, LOL!

Any bets on when Google will be celebrating the anniversary of St. Peter's in Rome?

I'm still waiting for them to acknowledge December 25th, which is a national secular holiday in this country as well as a religious holiday.

Did anyone notice if they acknowledged July 4th? I wasn't in town that day.

Ed said...

Elves, You make an excellent point and who knows more about surveillance than Santa! Lol! Nice rant!

I stopped trusting the government long ago and this has always sounded like a scam to me.

Also, welcome back!

Ed said...

Pittsbugh Enigma, Google are a bunch of communists. They have completely excluded anything Christian or pro-American but they've covered every obscure and leftist holiday you can think of.

BoilerRoomElf said...

Ahhh, it's good to be home, everyone!

T-Rav, much like any cushy lifetime union position, you'd better be born to get into it. Honorary Elf, though, eh? We'll have to put out thinking caps (without bells) on for that one.

We can't stop people from shouting Allah Akbar on a plane - that would be discrimination!

Kosh - that's the spirit! We Elves are right behind you with our bottles of wine that we'd like to carry on, and our nail files, too!

You're absolutely right that securing the cockpit door was the most important thing. Do you think that any passengers are going to sit idly by and let anyone take over a plane anymore? Not going to happen...

BoilerRoomElf said...

Jed, we think you are absolutely right. It is about the scaring the American public until we are screaming, "Yes, PLEASE take away our freedoms and damn the Constitution!"

Mr. P. Enigma is right - if there were a Republican in the White House, the media would be screaming bloody murder.

Instead, we slowly let our rights be eroded away, and no one seems to mind because it's all "for safety!!"

rlaWTX said...

I am flying later this month for the first time in 2 years (Idaho is too far to drive for a long weekend!), and I'm getting kinda stressed about it. Luckily, the Midland International Airport is still pretty low-key. But I doubt Salt Lake will be on the way back.
< sigh >

I hang on to hope for a Republican Admin that fixes the TSA insanity!

[in 9/01, I was living in Alexandria, VA, and flew out of BWI or DIA pretty regularly starting in 10/2001. It was always interesting to see which airport was doing what checks in those early days. Once I was asked to get all of my stuff and leave a plane for a search because my name had come up on the random list and they had missed me on the way in. I got wanded and patted down and let back on. But in every odd situation the workers were so very polite, and even apologetic on occasion. Now, not so much.]

rlaWTX said...

And did I miss the MSM hooplah about the Nigerian guy? I heard about it in the Blogosphere, but nothing out in the "real" world. Did it actually make the Nightly News?


And about Nigerians: Northern VA is an interesting place - melting pot of the highest order. My boss (retail mgr from Massachusetts) really liked hiring Nigerians because he had had a Nigerian salesguy who was awesome - so, he was biased in their favor. It was kinda funny. While I was working in Fairfax, I knew several Nigerians, a Liberian, a couple of Pakistani, and and Afghani who went to elementary school with Karzai. I only worked with 1 kid who was born in VA, and that was only because his dad had been stationed at the Pentagon and then retired in NoVA. The other "locals" were from MD, PA & other mid-Atlantic states, then me from TX.

BevfromNYC said...

Securing the doors and getting "beefy" flight attendants has helped too.

I just got the "full treatment" last week. Unfortunately, I left a quarter and dime in my pocket, so I had to be groped. I guess if I had a taser or wore a burka, I wouldn't have had to go through the humiliation.

The very least they can do is get male models to do the groping. If Obama mandated THAT, I might fly more AND vote for him...maybe.

BoilerRoomElf said...

Jocelyn, it seems that every day brings another new story of TSA atrocities! Lovely!

Thanks, Ed! It’s good to be back! And you’d better watch out (so to speak) or Santa will step up his surveillance!

rlaWTX, just leave yourself plenty of time to get through security. You never know what will set them off. Keep your eyes open and depending on the airport, you can often pick a lane that will funnel to a regular machine, not the Nude-O-Scope.

BoilerRoomElf said...

Sorry to hear about the full treatment, Bev. An increase in air marshalls would be a better solution, too. Tell me those guys aren’t going to take care of business!

And Mr. Engima, we Elves have given up on Google. Any company that completely ignores Christmas is no good in our book! We prefer Bing, but that may have something to do with our fondness for Bing Crosby too.

BoilerRoomElf said...

And Andrew, you would know that we’ve been “stuck at work!” Ever since you begged us to come back, you’ve been working us like crazy!!

Try replacing us with gnomes... they left little gardening tools all over the place... surprised they didn't take all the B's and E's off the keyboards... grumble, grumble...

patti said...

andrew: so far, i've been able to avoid air travel and getting felt up by the TSA. gives me the punches just thinking about it.

p.s. link'd!

patti said...

um, sorry about that name link to nowhere. this should fix it.

CrispyRice said...

LOL, love the picture!

I agree with arming the pilots. It's crazy not to. I feel like the USA has gone insane with the way we do security with flying.

Also, I really don't like the mission creep that is showing up. The TSA has been showing up on trains and busses and metro stations. How on earth do they get away with randomly searching people getting off a subway?? It is very police-state-esque.

LawHawkRFD said...

Elves: I'm glad to have you back, and I hope you noticed the new water cooler we had installed for you. Please remember that you only get two breaks per day to use it. I did notice that one of your trips included a visit with the International Brotherhood of Short People and Press Operators Union. Good thing we don't have card check--yet.

But something good always comes out of these things. Now you know why Andrew and I have that private, tax-deductible corporate jet.

H.Elf Ben Franklin's Ghost said...

"They who trade liberty for the appearance of security deserve a President like Barack Obama. . . but no one could be that stupid, could they?"

- Me (1792)

BoilerRoomElf said...

Patti, perhaps you should get together with Bev and demand those GQ TSA agents! Then you wouldn't mind so much...

Crispy, you're right about mission creep! That's why the "Just don't fly if you don't like it" is fundamentally flawed.

T-Rav said...

P.E., hey, at least they're celebrating something Christian. True Communists can't have any of that opiate religion, ya know.

Bev, did the TSA guy at least call you later? :-)

BoilerRoomElf said...

BossManLawHawk, we appreciate the new cooler! >>thumbsup<< Any chance you could fill it with, ummm, adult beverages on Fridays?? Then we may not go visit the Brotherhood so soon again...

GhostMan - naaaah, no one could be that stupid!

LawHawkRFD said...

Elves: If it will keep you away from the union, do you prefer gin or vodka (have to keep the color out so strangers visiting the boiler room don't notice it isn't water). We must at least pretend we're a sober lot.

AndrewPrice said...

BRE, We'd be happy to fill the new cooler with adult beverages like Ensure! ;-)

AndrewPrice said...

Pitts, T-Rav and Ed, Google is an evil empire that revels in rubbing their nose in traditional American, conservative and Christian ideas. They are also a fascist company that loves to spy on people, steal their data, and break laws. But then... isn't that the liberal way, talk about being exclusive while being exclusive, and then turn into a bunch of digital Nazis.

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, I had the same experience in Northern Virginia. I lived in Alexandria, Arlington and Crystal City for more than ten years and I got to meet people from all over the world. Some were nice. But when you got them in clumps, then things went wrong -- like the Somalis who used to urinate in the elevator of my building or would spend their days smoking dope on the sidewalk outside.

I actually uses to drive right by the Pentagon every morning on the road where the plane hit. That morning I missed the plane by about 20 minutes.

I actually think I haven't flown since 9/11. Most of my family has and I've spent time at airports, but I think I haven't personally flown -- just a coincidence not a political statement.

I had no idea Midland had an International Airport? How big is Midland?

AndrewPrice said...

Crispy, The problem with giving the government power is that it never lets it go. It just keeps taking more and more. First airports, then train stations, someday your house if we let them.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, I hate to admit it, but hiring models to do the groping would probably make flying a lot more popular.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, About the jet, Obama took it. He said we were rich fat cats or something like that... or maybe it was cat rich?... and he took the plane to give it "to the little people" in his cabinet. Fortunately, it doesn't work anyways since our mechanics were part of the Slackers Union International.

AndrewPrice said...

Ben Franklin's Ghost....

I blame Ben and the boys for not putting a conservative IQ test in the constitution as a requirement to be allowed to vote.

BoilerRoomElf said...

Excellent BossManLawHawk! We'll take either! You can keep the Ensure for yourself, BossManAndrew...

AndrewPrice said...

BRE, You did say adult beverage and that's what Ensure advertises itself as! LOL!

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: You mean we have to travel business class? Do you think the BREs could hijack Air Force One? I have no intention of glowing in the dark and/or getting felt up by degenerates. This is war!

rlaWTX said...

GQ TSA agents!!! I'd fly more than every 2 years!

I moved into NoVA on August 11, 2001. My ex worked in Pentagon City. He had a 4 hour drive home on 9/11 (7 miles).

How do you not fly??? Do you just drive where ever you go? Or just not go anywhere?

When the airport was built they had delusions of grandeur... and there's something about being designated International that's super duper good. Midland has just over 100K. There's another 95K in Odessa, and more in the towns around. We are 5 hours from El Paso, 5 hours from Austin, 5 hours from Dallas, so a lot of folks fly thru Midland. Oh, and technically it's the Midland/Odessa International Airport, but Midland is mad about that (30 years later) because Odessa didn't help pay for it... ;)

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, If by "business class" you mean "walk," then yes, that fits our budget! :-)

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, It took me the same amount of time to go 6 miles -- my office was in DC and they kicked us out into the streets. What a mess.

I haven't flown because I haven't gone anywhere that wasn't within driving distance for some time. Also, the times I have (like DC to Colorado) have usually been to move or I brought a lot of junk with me and had to drive. Plus, I actually like driving a lot -- especially out West.

Sounds like you all should put a special tax on people from Odessa who use YOUR airport! ;-)

Colorado has had airport issues too. Denver's airport was a national joke for some time. And our airport got rebuilt because our town decided they were going to become a huge hub or something, but that fell apart so they replaced a fine airport with 8 gates with a hugely expensive and pointless airport with 8 gates. Ah... government at work. :-(

BevfromNYC said...

T-Rav, sadly it was woman who groped me. At least they could make it more fun.

The MTA tried for a short while to randomly search backpacks on the NYC subway, but they only did it at the hub stations. It didn't last very long when pretty much everyone noticed that a terrorist could just get on one of the smaller out of the way entrances. So unless they were searching at all 468 entrances along the entire 714 mile system, it would be pointless.

As far as I know the TSA has done very little to implement any security searches on the trains, buses, or seaports.

BevfromNYC said...

BRE's - It's good to have you back. I was worried. Anyway, when you get your new "water cooler" up and running, how about a homecoming party. I'll supply the cookies or do guys already make those yourselves? I forget...

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: I was afraid that was what you meant.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, It sounds pretty pointless to search random backpacks on the subway. But pointless is as government does.

(P.S. Don't encourage the BRE to drink, they don't need more encouragement! Our liquor bill from the boileroom is HUGE!!)

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, Yep.... we walk. LOL!

BoilerRoomElf said...

Bev, a party will be great! We'll make cookies, but we'll also take any cookies that are offered to us. Maybe we can get the BossMen install an extra cooler for the festivities. Christmas in July, anyone??

Also, don't think the TSA is giving up on metros and trains. Look for their VIPR (Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response) teams. The Elves are quite sure they're only scratching the surface of what they would like to be doing...

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