Thursday, February 3, 2011

TSA Pays Back the Unions

Just before Thanksgiving, TSA ran into some trouble with a little thing called “Gropegate,” where government airport “security” personnel molested travelers ostensibly to keep us safe from al Qaeda. Uh huh. At the time, I suggested TSA better clean up their act because airports all over the country had the option to toss out TSA and their expensive unions, and replace them with private contractors. Guess what? They found another option.

When Gropegate happened, it was revealed that the Screening Partnership Program allowed airports to replace government gropers with private gropers, and that sixteen airports had opted-out, including Kansas City and (surprisingly) San Francisco.

At the time, Republican Rep. John Mica (Fla.) wrote a letter encouraging airports around the country to look into the program as a means of cost savings, service improvement, and general betterment. TSA chief John Pistole responded to this letter that TSA was “neutral” on the idea, and said “[i]f airports choose this route, we are going to work with them to do it.”

But this is bad for unions, especially government unions. And if anyone owns the Democratic Party and/or Obama, it’s the unions. . . trust me, I’ve seen the deed. Well, lo and behold, last Friday Pistole suddenly decided to stop the program in its tracks:

“I examined the contractor screening program and decided not to expand the program beyond the current 16 airports as I do not see any clear or substantial advantage to do so at this time.”
Think about that statement. Pistole makes the decision that between two apparently equal alternatives, airports must choose the government employees over the “equal” private contractors. Does that make any sense? If there’s no difference, he shouldn’t care. He certainly shouldn’t be defaulting to an automatic increase in the size of government. And that doesn’t even count the fact that “equal” doesn’t mean what you think it does. I’ve been involved in privatizations in the past and I can tell you that the government is given huge advantages in the analysis on the order of a 30% boost.

How are the Republicans responding? Well, the old Republicans would have mumbled, applauded reluctantly, and crawled away. But those days seem to be over. Mica is promising hearings into this, and he has specific reasons:
“It's unimaginable that TSA would suspend the most successfully performing passenger screening program we've had over the last decade. The agency should concentrate on cutting some of the more than 3,700 administrative personnel in Washington who concocted this decision, and reduce the army of TSA employees that has ballooned to more than 62,000. Nearly every positive security innovation since the beginning of TSA has come from the contractor screening program.
I am liking these new Republicans!

Oh, and one more little piece of information to pass along. The two companies who make airport scanners more than doubled their lobbying last year from prior years. In 2005, they spent $2.18 million lobbying; last year they spent $4.52 million. For their increased investment, they received $80.9 million in contracts for scanners. . . scanners many experts say don’t work.

Interestingly, the main lobbyist for the biggest of these companies (L-3 Communications) is Linda Daschle. Daschle is a former FAA official and the wife of somebody. . . oh, what’s his name. . . oh, that’s right, the guy who handled the Democrats’ $250 million campaign to sell ObamaCare to the rest of us. . . the guy who couldn’t be Obama’s Secretary of Health and Human Services after it was revealed he hadn’t paid his taxes and had earned $5 million lobbying for the health care industry, the guy who once held Harry Reid’s job. Imagine that.


Unknown said...

Andrew: Another opportunity for the Republicans to reduce government, strike a blow at forced unionism, and increase efficiency by utilizing private enterprise. I'm just surprised it took the Democrats so long to realize the gap in their plan to make everyone a union employee, a government employee, or best of all, a unionized government employee.

This is a good and smart move on the part of the Republicans, and I think it may just resonate very well with the public. I'm beginning to catch some of your optimism.

CrispyRice said...

Yay Republicans! :)

You know, I easily start seeing red when I think about the TSA and what they're doing to us. I feel like I'm living in the old Soviet Union. I see that the TSA is starting to pop up at bus and train stations, too. How long before we have to get strip-searched just going to mall? Or show our papers to be allowed to leave town?

I guess once Daschle gets enough lobbying money, eh?


AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, Trust me, I've been a long-time doubter of the Republicans. They've shown an incredible ability to fold under pressure and to turn easy victory into stunning defeat. So I am truly amazed to see them finally standing up for the country.

This is a great opportunity to shrink the government and unions, and to boost not only the efficiency, but the courtesy and the safety of airports.

What really does surprise me, by the way, is that San Francisco opted out? What the heck?

Anonymous said...

"I guess once Daschle gets enough lobbying money, eh?"

With demoncrats, Crispy, enough is never enough. GRRRRRRRRR is right!

Anonymous said...

Just so you know, the anon above is TJ - I forgot to post that.


AndrewPrice said...

Crispy, A LOT of people share your anger at TSA. And I thought it was funny that Obama is selling the idea of using high speed trains because you won't run into TSA! For one thing, what does that say about TSA? For another, how can he square that with the spread of TSA?

I understand the next thing will be random searches at airports, not just of travelers.

In terms of how much money is enough? I'd say no amount of money is enough. I think the hypocrisy is stunning. These are people who blast the rich and lobbyists and private enterprise, and then use their influence to get filthy stinking rich.

We should introduce an income limit on liberals Congresscritters. Let's let the reality match the rhetoric!

AndrewPrice said...

TJ, I totally agree. This is pure Democratic hypocrisy. Isn't it funny how so many of these hard core socialists -- like Pelosi, Harmon, Daschle, the Kennedys, Soros... all people who want to take from everyone else so they can spend the money instead... isn't it funny that they're all filthy rich?

How in the world do they square the garbage they've been spewing out of their mouths for years with their money grabbing and influence peddling?

It really ticks me off. As you and Crispy say... grrrrrrrrr!

AndrewPrice said...

P.S. You can always view the images in a bigger size if you click on them. So if you can't read this one, just click on it. It's kind of funny.... disturbing... but funny.

DUQ said...

Nice picture there, Andrew.

The thing that gets to me is - does anyone think the TSA is doing any good? We've been surrendering our rights in the cause of fear, and it's a fear that statistically simply isn't justified.

In fact, since you're more likely to die in a car accident than on a plane, the number of deaths increases dramatically as more people stop flying and start driving to avoid these over bearing "security" measures. The incentives are perverse, and we end up with more dead people than if we were having hijackings on a regular basis.

Thanks, TSA.

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, I don't think they do any good, at least not more than they used to do before the Feds took over. And I understand that the scanners are not capable of finding a lot of very serious weapons. It strikes me as an attempt to placate the public, rather than protect the public.

Thanks, I saw the photo and had to laugh, though it also makes me pretty angry.

CrispyRice said...

TJ - you're right. It'll never be enough. Ugh.

Andrew, SF is big hub for United with lots and lots of business travel. The business folks are NOT happy with the TSA, and let's face it, the airlines know which side their bread is buttered on.

And yes, I understand the TSA's new motto is "random and everywhere." They are in fact now randomly stopping people in airports - people who aren't even traveling anywhere! - and swabbing their hands to check for chemicals.

It's seriously like a dictatorship. What gives them the right to treat me like a suspected criminal, just because I came onto the airport property to pick someone up?

Please excuse me while I go bang my head against something.

Unknown said...

Andrew: That one's easy. San Franciscans don't want screeners seeing the men's frilly underwear or the women's strap-ons. Privacy, you know, like setting up tents on city streets so passersby won't see the sex going on. Being good socialists, they assume that private enterprise won't be as good at scanning and groping as union and government employees. And they know that if private, non-union companies do the screening, the pictures of their nether regions won't be shown in continuous loop at a drunken union kegger.

DUQ said...

You're right, Andrew. It is about placating the public, most of whom fly once a year if that and just chalk it up to "Well, it's safer this way now."

BevfromNYC said...

I'm sorry, but I like my bi-monthly TSA grope. It's the most fun I've had in a long time...KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF MY TSA GROPE!!! Now if they could just kick up a notch and let me pick out the groper, preferably a Chippendale-ish type, that would be really cool...oh, wait...we're supposed to be against this...sorry, nevermind.

What Crispy said -
Bad TSA, bad GrrrrRRRRRRRRRrrrrr!!

Tennessee Jed said...

finally the GOP grows something to grope. Long over due. Just think, people, we have a lot we owe to Barrack Oboverreach afterall.

AndrewPrice said...

Crispy, "But it's for your safety...." that's a laugh. This is what happens with government power, it grows and it grows stronger. That's why we need to rein it in wherever we can.

And while it doesn't sound like a big deal to do random swabs, just wait till those turn into full body searches too.

You might be right about San Francisco, it's just that San Fran has never let the interests of business get in the way of building a little paradise!

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, That is truly twisted, that they want "inefficient business" rather than efficient government. . . but it strangely makes a lot of sense. I feel like my mind has just expanded -- and my soul died a little. :-(

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, People will often accept all kinds of nasty things in the name of safety. It's really disturbing what you can get away with if you just whine hard enough crime/terror/danger.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, LOL! Think of it this way, if they switch to private gropers, maybe they'll innovate? So maybe you will eventually be allowed to pick your groper? :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, In many ways, we owe Obama a real debt -- he seems to have woken up the American people and forced the GOP to grow a backbone! Those are no small achievements!

Joel Farnham said...

This is good news Andrew!

I wonder when they will shift the TSA to buses and what not? You know, to keep the unions employed?

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, My understanding is that they're already sniffing around train stations, but I don't have any specific details on that yet -- or on the bigger role out, except that the plan seems to be to expand to trains and buses.

If I see anything specific, I'll let you know.

But think of how great it would be for the unions if they could add another 100,000 union employees at bus stations and train stations!

Joel Farnham said...


Now that is a sobering thought.

I swear, Obama won't be happy until this country is a police state complete with internal passports and armed uniformed Federal goons in every hamlet.

AndrewPrice said...


Here's a quote from Pistole around July of last year. He apparently is including Subway stations:

"Given the list of threats on subways and rails over the last six years going on seven years, we know that some terrorist groups see rail and subways as being more vulnerable because there's not the type of screening that you find in aviation. From my perspective, that is an equally important threat area."

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, Isn't it funny that a man who came to power complaining about Bush turning the country into a police state where the rights of individuals (terrorists) weren't respected, would now be busy expanding the policing powers of the federal government everywhere and taking away more rights on all fronts. The left must be so proud!

Joel Farnham said...


With useful idiots like Ed Darrell leading the way, Obama didn't have too many problems.

That is, until the Republicans came to power. Fortunately people like Ed are losing their ethereal power over citizens.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, I saw you were having some problems with Ed. Welcome to the blog world! LOL!

But seriously, people are willing to fall for any power grab if you only phrase it right. Even things that make no sense whatsoever, people will happily fall for. It's kind of sad.

StanH said...

The revolving door is one of the most infuriating parts of the cesspool that is Washington. I’ve become so cynical, when these bastards harp about something, I wonder what their angle is. The incestuous relationship between Washington, K-Street, and Wall Street, is one that must be fractured. Lobbying is a critical part of our system, however institutional lobbying is insider trading, a felony in the real world.

It is good to see our guys finally question democrats on their blatant hypocrisy. We’ll see!

Joel Farnham said...

Problems? I am messing with his mind. What little he has left. It is fun playing with these guys. They are so full of it with their answers and attitude. Most of the time they get tired and quit playing. Oh well.

T_Rav said...

So wait, that's an actual book or pamphlet you have as the image? When I saw that on Red Eye, I was sure they were kidding. Ick.

AndrewPrice said...

Stan, The connection between K-Street/Wall Street and government is really a problem and it's damaging to everyone. We really need someone to put in place much stronger limits on lobbying.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, It's not nice to introduce liberals to actual facts instead of made-up-liberal facts. You could end up blowing their minds! LOL!

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, It's a joke, it's not real. But it really captures the sense of gropegate.

Ed said...

I hope the Republicans get this program open again. This is a flagrant attempt to save the unions and should not be allowed.

@T_Rav, I thought for a moment the pamphlet was real too, but that would be too incredible.

T_Rav said...

Aha. Thanks for clearing that up for me Andrew. Is there a troll giving you and Joel grief I don't know about?

T_Rav said...

Oh, wait. Never mind, I saw what you all are talking about. I've tangled with that guy at BH before, and he's loony. There's no way to make him see any other side than his own; he just strings a bunch of incidentals together and tries to make it look like a refutation. I would be surprised if he's even a tenth as intelligent as he's trying to sound.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, That's what this is. As I mention briefly in the article, the privatization rules are rigged to protect the unions in the first place, but when it's even, the benefit of the doubt should go to the private sector. For Pistole to stop this program when it clearly works at least as well as government workers is pure ideology or pure protectionism.

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav and Ed, While I do often make my own images (or manipulate existing images), most of the time, it's easier to take something that's already out there and is relevant.

This image struck me as very appropriate. I didn't mean to imply that it was really issued by TSA, I just meant to say that the whole idea struck me as pretty messed up, but also as something I could see coming out of TSA.

In terms of the guy Joel is fighting with, I would normally join that debate, but he and Joel seem to be having such a good time that I figured I'd let them duke it out -- plus, it's been a really busy day.

One of the problems with liberals, as you note, is that they get an idea in their head and then they spin "logic" to keep that idea alive, rather than test the idea with logic. I've argued with many who simply could not see that they had no basis to support their claims or that the facts they were relying on were discredited or even contradicted their own positions. It's very difficult to deal with people like that because there is no way to prove anything to them that they don't want to believe.

I don't know if this guy falls into that category or not (I haven't looked at anything he's cited yet), but I've found that to be very typical of liberals.

Writer X said...

Mica is my hero this week! While they're on a roll, though, I also hope they'll have a hearing to investigate why so many groups are getting waivers from Obamacare. They need to turn up the heat.

AndrewPrice said...

Writer X, That would be an excellent hearing! The first question they should ask every one of these groups getting a waiver is "how much money did you give to the Democrats?"

I think the answer would shock people.

It's the same thing with the new carbon rules the EPA put out. . . GE "somehow" got a waiver. Imagine that. The same GE that's teaming with Obama to promote these rules!! Talk about an outrage!

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