This Obsession With Air Security is Going to Kill People, for Real

 

If I have to read another stupid word about how I should submit to indecent assault like a good girl because it will save lives, I’ll explode. Can’t anyone think straight? It is absolutely the contrary: This stuff kills people. It kills people because the more unpleasant, time-consuming and humiliating it is to fly, the more people drive. The more they drive, the more they die.

This simple, obvious logical point about transportation safety–quite separate from any arguments about civil liberties and decency–seems entirely to escape everyone who keeps babbling on about how we all just need to stop whining and sacrifice for the higher good of the public. Al Qaeda would have to take down a jumbo jet every day to make the risks of flying equal to those of driving. So if you want to save American lives by means of social engineering and government humiliation, make mandatory groin examination the condition for getting a driver’s license, not boarding a commercial aircraft. This is where logic leads you, if the only thing you care about is reducing transportation fatalities.

If other concerns weigh in your judgement–such as, say, having any dignity left as a nation–you will have already arrived at this conclusion, of course.

There are 37 comments.

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  1. Profile Photo Inactive
    @NickStuart

    Evidently not enough people can think straight to judge from the nitwits reporting the news and the nitwits they interview (unless it’s balance, find one “if it keeps me safe” and one “this is outrageous” to roll on the news).

    If the terrorists want to kill a lot of people, they could do it in the crowd in front of security. We have hopefully reinforced cockpits and armed pilots to the extent that actually hijacking the plane and using it as a weapon is now unlikely.

    We could try doing what El Al does, profiling. Wonder how many people are willing to say “if it keeps me safe” to that?

    It remains to be seen if the burqa-clad will be allowed to take the special line used by politicians and high-ranking bureaucrats.

    • #1
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    @OkanAltiparmak
    Nick Stuart: If the terrorists want to kill a lot of people, they could do it in the crowd in front of security. We have hopefully reinforced cockpits and armed pilots to the extent that actually hijacking the plane and using it as a weapon is now unlikely.

    We could try doing what El Al does, profiling. Wonder how many people are willing to say “if it keeps me safe” to that?

    It remains to be seen if the burqa-clad will be allowed to take the special line used by politicians and high-ranking bureaucrats. · Nov 16 at 4:25am

    I’ll second all this…

    • #2
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    @Sisyphus

    My last airplane flight was in 2002, I do not miss it. Not that terrorism is the problem, the TSA is. Statistical deaths don’t enter in, since only civic planning wonks care about dumping marginal death rates in the calculation. The rest of us are more worried about traffic and gas prices.

    I cannot imagine how Obama could more perfectly cement his reputation for thuggery and incompetence than through this TSA. I cannot even work up much sympathy for air travelers, they have more affluence and clout on average than Joe six pack. It’s been obvious for years that TSA gets way too much funding for way too little competency and effectiveness. The change of administrations just took it from stupid to stupid cubed even in security theater terms. Republicans should send a thank you card to Napolitano daily.

    • #3
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    @TheMugwump

    Bureaucracies don’t exist to solve problems. They exist to serve the people employed in them. Here’s a profile of your average bureaucrat:

    1. He lacks perception. The average government clerk can neither see nor define the problem accurately.

    2. He believes that staying busy is the equivalent of solving the problem.

    3. The only real energy he puts into his job is directed toward climbing the bureaucratic ladder for higher pay and increased status (see public employee unions).

    4. He takes every possible day off and leaves the office at 4 PM.

    5. He defends his office by exclaiming “we serve the public” no matter how abysmal the service actually is. He tends to move on to another agency before he can be held accountable for the mess he’s made in his previous position.

    There is no cure for government bureaucracy except to abolish it. This is why conservatives demand limited government. The only effective way to reduce government is to cut the purse strings that fund the bureaucracy. Maybe someone employed in Congress will read this thread and take action. Probably not.

    • #4
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    @EJHill

    CBS News issued a poll this morning that says that 81% support full body scans. How many of those 81% actually fly and how many are exhibitionists?

    • #5
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    @LadyKurobara

    Three points:

    (1) Maybe we should copy the methods of the Israelis, who have the best, most efficient airport security in the world. Much of their security is based on (horrors!) profiling, conducted by women trained to study people’s faces. TSA officials will not even look you in the eye. They know you hate them.

    (2) Of course, in American airport security, profiling is verboten. Apparently, so is common sense. Only the other day, I saw a picture of a TSA stooge treating an elderly Catholic nun in an inappropriate way. Of course! Since a typical terrorist is practically always a young, male, Muslim maniac, we must be sure to feel up the old nun! We take no chances, no sirree.

    (3) If you really want to complain, you may as well lay the blame where it belongs – at the feet of Janet Napolitano, a woman so clueless, so utterly hapless, so lacking in basic reasoning skills, that to call her a brainless, incompetent nitwit is an insult to nits. Thank you, Mr. Obama, for putting this non-entity in charge of Homeland Security. We all sleep so much better for it.

    • #6
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    @JohnMarzan

    I have to go thru body searches everytime I enter a mall, a bus terminal or use the Light Rail Transit. It’s the new normal.

    • #7
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    @user_19450
    EJHill: … and how many are exhibitionists? · Nov 16 at 5:09am

    Made me laugh. Though my coffee burned a bit when I snorted it through my nose.

    • #8
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    @Karen
    ~Paules: Bureaucracies don’t exist to solve problems. They exist to serve the people employed in them. Here’s a profile of your average bureaucrat:

    1. He lacks perception. The average government clerk can neither see nor define the problem accurately.

    2. He believes that staying busy is the equivalent of solving the problem.

    3. The only real energy he puts into his job is directed toward climbing the bureaucratic ladder for higher pay and increased status (see public employee unions).

    4. He takes every possible day off and leaves the office at 4 PM.

    5. He defends his office by exclaiming “we serve the public” no matter how abysmal the service actually is. He tends to move on to another agency before he can be held accountable for the mess he’s made in his previous position.

    Nov 16 at 5:07am

    Edited on Nov 16 at 05:09 am

    This false narrative is getting pretty old. If you think you can do better, go to usajobs.gov and give it a try.

    • #9
  10. Profile Photo Member
    @

    I read somewhere that the Proster who didn’t want his Junk touched said that in the last two years every plot so far has been stopped by passengers and not the screeners. Pretty Good track record for all those Suspected Terrorists forced to submit.

    ~Paules: Bureaucracies don’t exist to solve problems. They exist to serve the people employed in them. Here’s a profile of your average bureaucrat:

    1. He lacks perception.

    2. He believes that staying busy is the equivalent of solving the problem.

    3. The only real energy he puts into his job is directed toward climbing the bureaucratic ladder

    4. He takes every possible day off and leaves the office at 4 PM.

    5. He defends his office by exclaiming “we serve the public” .

    You forgot one;

    6. He knows the rules in the book by heart because he deals with them 6 hours a day 5 days a week, and when you, who will deal with them Once, or maybe Twice in a 5year period, (or even a lifetime) don’t have his level of understanding, he will treat you like a TOTAL IDIOT for not knowing what he knows.

    • #10
  11. Profile Photo Inactive
    @Bulldawg
    ~Paules: Bureaucracies don’t exist to solve problems. They exist to serve the people employed in them. Here’s a profile of your average bureaucrat:…

    2. He believes that staying busy is the equivalent of solving the problem.

    There is no cure for government bureaucracy except to abolish it. This is why conservatives demand limited government. The only effective way to reduce government is to cut the purse strings that fund the bureaucracy. Maybe someone employed in Congress will read this thread and take action. Probably not.

    He believes that appearing to be busy is the equivalent of the solving the problem.

    You are dead on about the cure for bureaucracy. Conservatives will never have significant impact until this is done because conservatives, by and large, do not look at government work as a good thing whereas liberals love it. Thus, federal bureaucracies are filled with liberal do-gooders while conservative are out, uh, actually…working and producing.

    • #11
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    @PhilB

    What else can we expect in a culture abandoned to PC-think? We can no longer make the reasonable discrimination that the human risk to air travel is confined to a small and dangerous segment of the population. Failing to focus on the obvious problem we end up with the TSA’s hands on our junk. Sad day for freedom.

    • #12
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    @BereketKelile

    I think that the invasive pat-downs can be rolled back if there’s enough of an uproar, a Tea Party-like rebellion. “Don’t touch my junk or I’ll have you arrested” is the phrase of the year in my opinion. Jeffrey Goldberg at The Atlantic came up with an ingenious idea (here) to deal with the searches: wear a kilt.

    • #13
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    @RPD

    One must ask, what exactly is the problem TSA is trying to solve? Post 9/11 hi-jacking has become a non starter. Smuggling an effective weapon is too bulky. I’m unconvinced that these searches serve at all as an anti hi-jacking measure.

    So we are left with explosives. We had the shoe bomber, the undie bomber. I dread the discovery of a body cavity bomber, what new search will that inspire. I am more convinced that current scanning/frisking is totally ineffective at screening for actual threats.

    • #14
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    @MichaelTee
    Karen

    ~Paules: Bureaucracies don’t exist to solve problems. They exist to serve the people employed in them. Here’s a profile of your average bureaucrat:

    1. He lacks perception. The average government clerk can neither see nor define the problem accurately.

    2. He believes that staying busy is the equivalent of solving the problem.

    3. The only real energy he puts into his job is directed toward climbing the bureaucratic ladder for higher pay and increased status (see public employee unions).

    4. He takes every possible day off and leaves the office at 4 PM.

    5. He defends his office by exclaiming “we serve the public” no matter how abysmal the service actually is. He tends to move on to another agency before he can be held accountable for the mess he’s made in his previous position.

    Nov 16 at 5:07am

    Edited on Nov 16 at 05:09 am

    This false narrative is getting pretty old. If you think you can do better, go to usajobs.gov and give it a try. · Nov 16 at 6:32am

    The trick for USAJobs.gov is enter as many keywords as you possibly can within the limit.

    • #15
  16. Profile Photo Inactive
    @dittoheadadt
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: If I have to read another stupid word about how I should submit to indecent assault like a good girl because it will save lives, I’ll explode. Can’t anyone think straight? It is absolutely the contrary: This stuff kills people. It kills people because the more unpleasant, time-consuming and humiliating it is to fly, the more people drive. The more they drive, the more they die.

    I’m not sure I accept the premise that people will choose to drive rather than fly when airport security practices reach a tipping point. Other than for short-haul flights, for whom, really, is it a viable option to drive instead of fly? Anyone gonna pack up the car and drive to Orlando from Boston or Chicago or Dallas or Seattle? How about even something equivalent to Boston to NY – who’s going to drive 5 hours oneway rather than fly for 45 minutes just to avoid the TSA? Maybe a few. Maybe.

    If there’s stats to prove me wrong, fine. But I think it’s a false premise that there’s lots of people who would choose cars over planes because of airport security idiocy.

    • #16
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    @MichaelTee
    RPD: One must ask, what exactly is the problem TSA is trying to solve? Post 9/11 hi-jacking has become a non starter. Smuggling an effective weapon is too bulky. I’m unconvinced that these searches serve at all as an anti hi-jacking measure.

    So we are left with explosives. We had the shoe bomber, the undie bomber. I dread the discovery of a body cavity bomber, what new search will that inspire. I am more convinced that current scanning/frisking is totally ineffective at screening for actual threats. · Nov 16 at 8:23am

    I disagree. The right kind of charge will blow the cockpit door wide open without significantly damaging the plane. It doesn’t take much explosive, hence the unwelcome security measures.

    The real free market solution is personal aircraft.

    • #17
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    @RPD
    Michael Tee

    I disagree. The right kind of charge will blow the cockpit door wide open without significantly damaging the plane. It doesn’t take much explosive, hence the unwelcome security measures.

    The real free market solution is personal aircraft. · Nov 16 at 8:52am

    The guy/guys who try to place a charge on a cockpit door are going to end up tied to their seats with belts.

    Learning to fly and get licensed for private aircraft is a fairly onerous process even before you get to the expense. Otherwise that sounds like an ideal option.

    My personal rule is that anything within 8 hours is driving distance. After that I’ll fly if I can’t possibly avoid the trip.

    • #18
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    @TheMugwump
    Karen

    This false narrative is getting pretty old. If you think you can do better, go to usajobs.gov and give it a try. · Nov 16 at 6:32am

    False narrative, eh? I’m currently watching the school where I taught being wrecked by a new administration. Since I departed last year, the faculty has been reduced from 28 to 24 and the administration increased from 10 to 13. If you understand that the special education department of 5 teachers is almost entirely administrative, you have in reality a bureaucrat to teacher ratio of 18 to 19, or nearly one to one. Add in the administration at the district and state levels and you discover that public education is a jobs program for bureaucrats. Meanwhile, classroom size has increased from 15 to 25 students on average and the remaining faculty is teaching 6 sections instead of 5. The current principal is over at the State Dept. of Ed. more often than he’s on campus. What do you suppose he’s doing over there? Case closed as far as I’m concerned.

    • #19
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    @Claire
    dittoheadadt

    I’m not sure I accept the premise that people will choose to drive rather than fly when airport security practices reach a tipping point. Other than for short-haul flights, for whom, really, is it a viable option to drive instead of fly?

    I can support this with tons of anecdotal evidence (including everyone on Ricochet who says “I don’t fly anymore, it’s too much of a hassle”–I presume they all still visit relatives and so forth). I’d certainly opt to drive shorter distances in the US now, even if it is more dangerous; I just cannot bear the hassle of flying in America these days. I’ll look for statistics to back this up, though. Does anyone have any at the ready?

    • #20
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    @PhilB

    Great piece by Byron York: http://bit.ly/aLapvQ

    My favorite gem —

    In addition to being large, impersonal, and top-heavy, what really worries critics is that the TSA has become dangerously ineffective. Its specialty is what those critics call “security theater” — that is, a show of what appear to be stringent security measures designed to make passengers feel more secure without providing real security. “That’s exactly what it is,” says Mica. “It’s a big Kabuki dance.”

    Byron makes the point that the TSA doesn’t have an exclusive mandate for airport security. Federal law allows airports to engage private contractors, still using federal funds. Is that feasible? Will it make things any better?

    I fly several times a month. It ain’t fun.

    • #21
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    @Karen
    ~Paules

    Karen

    False narrative, eh? I’m currently watching the school where I taught being wrecked by a new administration.

    Edited on Nov 16 at 09:30 am

    So, your experience allows you to paint all public employees with the same brush? It really isn’t productive to make such broad generalizations, and a bit myopic.

    As far as limited gov’t at the federal level, I’d ask conservatives how much they support a strong national defense. If you want to lay blame for an inflated federal workforce, then blame the folks who initiated the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, created DHS, and expanded the DoD, NSA and other agencies. DoD is the largest employer of federal workers, with the VA running second. You can’t have a strong armed forces and a robust national security strategy without a big federal workforce. One of the biggest bureaucratic endeavors to engage in is war. That’s not to say that Claire’s point is untrue, I just wish when it comes to discussing reforming the federal workforce and policies, we’d use a chisel instead of a jackhammer.

    • #22
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    @MichaelTee
    RPD

    The guy/guys who try to place a charge on a cockpit door are going to end up tied to their seats with belts.

    My personal rule is that anything within 8 hours is driving distance. After that I’ll fly if I can’t possibly avoid the trip. · Nov 16 at 9:13am

    Ceramics won’t get picked up in the metal detectors. Recall it isn’t sole actors who hijack planes.

    For trips under 600 miles, it’s actually safer to drive than it is to fly, especially if you drive an SUV.

    • #23
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    @CalvinDodge
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.

    I can support this with tons of anecdotal evidence (including everyone on Ricochet who says “I don’t fly anymore, it’s too much of a hassle”–I presume they all still visit relatives and so forth).

    [snip]

    I’ll look for statistics to back this up, though. Does anyone have any at the ready? · Nov 16 at 9:41am

    Sorry, I have no statistics – only personal anecdotes. The time and hassle of airport security was one of the factors which led us to drive from Denver to Chicago for a recent vacation, rather than flying.

    It’s easy to say that “people won’t choose X over Y because of the cost in time or money”, but time after time it turns out that many people do just that. Add “get a free X-ray or grope, and be threatened with an $11,000 fine if you complain”, and I think you’ll see more people electing to drive or not go at all.

    • #24
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    @OkanAltiparmak

    At Ronald Reagan International Airport, Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano reiterated points she made in a column published Monday in USA TODAY — that the imaging technology does not violate fliers’ privacy.

    But, she said, “if there are adjustments we need to make to these procedures as we move forward, we have an open ear. We will listen.”

    She added that “if people want to travel by some other means, they have that right.”

    (http://www.usatoday.com/travel/flights/2010-11-16-airportpatdowns16_ST_N.htm)

    On the other hand, here’s how it’s done in Israel. Maybe she can ask and listen to them: http://online.wsj.com/video/how-israel-screens-for-terrorists/987D025A-145D-42F5-9756-7B43CC7613CE.html

    • #25
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    @dittoheadadt
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.

    dittoheadadt

    I’m not sure I accept the premise that people will choose to drive rather than fly when airport security practices reach a tipping point. Other than for short-haul flights, for whom, really, is it a viable option to drive instead of fly?

    I can support this with tons of anecdotal evidence (including everyone on Ricochet who says “I don’t fly anymore, it’s too much of a hassle”–I presume they all still visit relatives and so forth). I’d certainly opt to drive shorter distances in the US now, even if it is more dangerous; I just cannot bear the hassle of flying in America these days. I’ll look for statistics to back this up, though. Does anyone have any at the ready? · Nov 16 at 9:41am

    The hassle of flying pales in comparison to the hassle of driving, IMHO, and I love long drives. Shorter distances may be driven, fine, but how many people live close enough to do that? And if they do, would they really have considered flying instead? Anything within 4 driving hours is quicker to drive, anyway.

    • #26
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    @LadyKurobara

    Here is The Right Way To Do It:

    http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/744199—israelification-high-security-little-bother

    All we have to do is wrap that article around a good, stout stick and start whacking away at Janet Napolitano’s oak-like noggin and maybe, just maybe, she might get a clue.

    • #27
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    @dittoheadadt

    Lots of anecdotes, not much in the way of statistics yet, to support the premise. I find it hard to believe there are many people who would choose to drive 10 hours instead of flying for 2 hours. Just doesn’t seem rational or likely.

    I fly at least once or twice a month (and usu. through Philly!!) and I really don’t understand all the complaints about flying. Now, to be sure, the TSA really stands for Too Stupid Already, but I’ll take a 45-minute flight over a 5-hour drive any day of the week. Other than getting through security, flying is no big deal most of the time, really.

    As for the grope-a-thon that’s starting, I wonder if I’ll be allowed to request a female inspector. I’d feel funny having a male grope me. I’m male. Think they’ll accommodate my request? If women can make that request, can men?

    • #28
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    @Misthiocracy

    It takes a lot for “progressives” to surprise me. I’m really quite used to the truly bizarre statements that come out of their mouths.

    But I gotta admit, my progressive friends have managed to surprise me with the level of their support for genital pat downs.

    “If you don’t like it, then don’t fly.”

    There is NO FREAKING WAY they would support genital pat downs if a Republican was president.

    The weirdest thing is that I’m in Canada, so the president shouldn’t really matter. We have full-body x-rays AND we have a Conservative government. Logically, they should be rallying against a “sinister, right-wing plot”!

    But because the US president is the-anointed-one, they support genital pat downs … in Canada.

    I thought I’d seen it all, but now I have definitively been flabbergasted by the progressive mind.

    Canadian socialists love Obama so much, it feels like they will stay silent on any alleged Conservative Party transgression as long as “Obama did it first”.

    Weird, weird, weird.

    • #29
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    @dittoheadadt
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.

    dittoheadadt

    I’m not sure I accept the premise that people will choose to drive rather than fly when airport security practices reach a tipping point. Other than for short-haul flights, for whom, really, is it a viable option to drive instead of fly?

    I can support this with tons of anecdotal evidence (including everyone on Ricochet who says “I don’t fly anymore, it’s too much of a hassle”–I presume they all still visit relatives and so forth).

    I wouldn’t be too quick with that presumption. Maybe the relatives come to visit them instead, and fly. Maybe they stay home and do things nearby. Maybe the internet (Skype, email, etc.) is enough of a substitute for those for whom flying is too much of a hassle…if those people really exist. :-) Are there really enough people who’ve truly eschewed flying for driving because of airport hassles (as opposed to fear of flying, or for some other reason) to impact the fatality statistics? It just doesn’t pass my giggle test.

    Let’s remember, too, that Dick Gephardt and Hillary Clinton, among others, used anecdotes to prove points that were ultimately debunked.

    • #30

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