Tag: TSA

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Following the attacks of September 11th, Congress passed the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA), creating the Transportation Security Agency (TSA). The TSA replaced private security screening companies with one government agency. Since then, air travelers have bowed to pat downs, bans on water bottles and other inconvenient, intrusive procedures as the “new normal” at […]

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Your Government Inaction: TSA and Beer


I just returned from visiting family and friends in New Mexico. On these trips, I always have an extra suitcase so I can bring back brews not available in The Great State of Texas.™ In order to not lose any of the precious liquid, I wrap the individual beer cans in newspaper, put them in quart Zip-Lock® bags, then put three or four at a time in gallon freezer bags.

I’ve been doing this for several years without incident or spillage. In March, the Southwest Airlines® desk agent asked why my case was so heavy. When I showed him, he bawled me out for not putting enough padding around the cans. He made me wrap my clothing around the gallon bags and slapped a “FRAGILE: HANDLE WITH CARE” sticker on the side of my suitcase.

So this time, I put the double-bagged cans in padded carriers. When I arrived home and opened the suitcase, everything fell out in a heap. All of the cans of beer had been removed from the closed carriers and sealed bags, then returned higgity-piggity. None of the plastic bags had been resealed, and the zippered partition between the halves of the suitcase had not been closed. There was a slip of paper in the case stating, “You’ve been inspected, have no fear.” Apparently, TSAIGA is not concerned about beer spilling all over the interior of the airplane cargo hold.

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Rich McFadden of Radio America break down Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s request that red-state Democrats remain neutral on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. They also cannot believe that some Democrats are seriously considering the idea of almost doubling the federal budget to pay for Sen. Bernie Sander’s Medicare-for-all program. And they cannot find any examples of malfeasance in the Boston Globe story about the TSA’s passenger-monitoring program that tracks people who sweat too much and urinate too often.

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America blast congressional Republicans over their embrace of scrapping the adoption tax credit and for considering an end to the property tax deduction.  They also slam the TSA for failing miserably yet again in the latest test designed to see if our blue-shirted friends can actually stop guns, knives and bombs from getting through checkpoints.  And they get a kick out of USA Today suggesting you could add a chainsaw bayonet to an AR-15 rifle.

A Tale of Travel, the TSA, Tuna, and Terrorists


When you re-enter the United States on a Monday evening after a short vacation, it is better for your blood pressure to assume the TSA will only have four people working despite having thirty+ empty booths available for more staff.

You will be less stressed if you don’t ponder why your government hasn’t prepared for flights the airport must have known were landing, which might have clued someone into the predictable length of the incredibly long line that will then form in front of those four agents.

United, Obamacare and Big Coercion


Flying home recently on a United black-eye red-eye to Los Angeles, I couldn’t help but reflect on how the parallels between the airline industry and Big Government go a long way to justifying Americans’ contempt for both. The former has for years been shoehorning ten seats into rows which previously had only eight, which is fair enough: that’s the free market in action. But to then charge a fee for the “extra legroom” made scarce as a result? That suggests a scorn for customers normally associated with the political class for its customers.

As evidence, consider how both parties to varying degrees cater to those who receive health insurance subsidies as a result of Obamacare while largely ignoring those who have lost their health insurance as a result of Obamacare. Seen in this context, the ordeal of passing TSA inspection is a kind of boot camp to harden soldier-flyers for the real deal.

The fee-based model now favored by airlines becomes increasingly indistinguishable from a racket: “Nice carry-on you’ve got there, it’d be a shame to lose it.” Some are asking why don’t airlines simply institute a bidding system in which those passengers willing to cough up the most money can avoid an ass kicking altogether. The reason why not is simple: because government regulations place a cap on the amount of money airlines may compensate passengers booted from their flights in order to accommodate employees of the friendly skies. Gee, I wonder who came up with that idea, regulators or the airline industry? (Google “regulation capture” and see if an image of a smiling airline lobbyist waving back at you doesn’t appear on your computer screen.)

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What strange things do you do that you worry might get reported as terrorist activity? For many years, my greatest fear was my metronome, which I had reason to carry around with me wherever I went, including on plane flights. I mostly used it for its tuner function, but it wasn’t hard to accidentally press […]

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The Blue Menace


Pasted image at 2016_01_06 12_47 PMThe passengers on United 93 removed a major threat to our national security: The potential for commercial aircraft to be transformed into missiles against specific targets. The remaining threat — largely from explosives — is real, but basically limited to the crew, passengers, and people immediately below them. Though nothing to scoff at, the risk to airplanes is no more grave than the risk to other potential targets.

Which rather makes one wonder why we continue to tolerate the existence of the Transportation Security Administration, especially given the risks to liberty it poses. As the Cato Daily Podcast notes, the TSA is now contemplating turning away passengers from states that don’t comply with the Real ID Act,* making it harder to opt out of body scanners. The agency is increasingly the spearhead of the movement to make domestic travel a privilege that can be granted and revoked at the whim of the federal government.

Of course, one could argue that the same is true of our highways, the use of which is conditional upon our education, licensing, and registration. But the analogy breaks down quickly. At least until recently, if you displayed a valid license plate and stayed within the confines of your lane and the law, that was generally enough for you to go about your business at liberty. In other words, travel by automobile still functions largely under a presumption of innocence, and most of the reasons you’d come to the attention of law enforcement relate directly to concern for others’ safety. The contrast to airline security in this regard could hardly be more pronounced.

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I’m accustomed to being isolated politically. When I lived in San Francisco, for example, I was not only president of the Bay Area Republicans Club but I was also the member. Other places I’ve lived – Wheaton, Illinois, Boulder and Denver, Colorado, Herne, Germany and Long Beach, California have only reinforced to me the truth […]

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As I was saying… When airlines began charging a fee to check-in a single piece of luggage, I was downright naive: “Now my bag is more likely to arrive with me!” I thought. I assumed the fee wasn’t for placing my bag on just any plane but on my plane. It was bad enough in […]

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50 Shades Of TSA


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We’re just shy of fifteen years into the Global War On Terror. While the law of averages says the next fifteen will yield better results, at this juncture simply being allowed to keep our shoes on when boarding a plane seems like a major victory.

No serious person expected this war to be won in less time than it takes to fire TSA serial gropers (i.e., three months). But at least the consolation for participating in this airport kabuki was knowing that the terminal and plane was free of guns, makeshift explosives and excessive concentrations of toothpaste. Now we learn that the head of the TSA has been “reassigned” after covert tests conducted by the agency’s inspector general found that screeners at airports failed to detect prohibited items 95 percent of the time.

Five Proposals For Reforming The TSA


Your tax dollars at work.Fourteen years is more than enough time for the so-called services of any government agency to go from “controversial inception”  to an “untouchable entitlement.” No agency exemplifies this quite like the the Department of Homeland Security and its enforcement minions at the TSA.

Why is this so? Much of it is due to the managed expectations of Americans themselves. Far from being resentful, many Americans seem grateful at the FAA’s overturning of its long-overdue ban on such brazenly unpatriotic behavior as reading a Kindle after the plane has left its gate.

No longer is the government the last one in the room to get the joke – that attribute belongs to government’s primary constituency: progressives.

The Joylessness of Air Travel


Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 11.02.51 AMThe proliferation of needless regulations breeds cynicism and contempt for government, which is about the best thing you can say for it. Nowhere is this more obvious than at airport security, where I was recently instructed that I must forfeit a tin of pomade. At John Wayne airport, no less.

For the record, I didn’t let them take it: I simply applied it to my hair where, apparently, it’s perfectly permissible. That’s right: six ounces of hair gel in your carry-on bag and the assumption is that you could be a terrorist. But six ounces in your hair? “Well then! Welcome aboard!”

I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve endured the humiliation of an airport pat-down. More than once I’ve been told by the TSA agent “When I reach sensitive parts of your body I’ll use the back of my hand.”

The Party Of Government


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Only one thing can be said with confidence about the upcoming midterm elections: that semi-retired lawyers will retain a majority in both houses of Congress.

Disgust with federal incompetence is seeping into our bones and Americans are not taking it in stride.

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As the arrival of America’s newest pre-existing condition dominates the headlines, worries over the Ebola virus have wreaked havoc on Wall Street, causing the S&P 500 to post its worst three-day slide since November 2011. But if Ebola thinks it can just waltz into this country and diminish Wall Street’s wealth, then Ebola doesn’t know President […]

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My wife just texted me from Columbus International Airport. She says everything has changed. No more shoes off, no more liquids out, no more body scanners! What’s going on? Is Columbus some kind of test airport? This would be ridiculously good news for liberty, privacy, sanity, and simple convenience! Has anyone else seen this in […]

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Airport Security vs. Being Admitted into Prison: A Comparison


Passing through airport security seems more and more like being admitted into prison. First they confiscate two things: anything remotely sharp and… your belt. Then you’re standing in line with a bunch of barefoot people holding up their pants up with one hand and their sole possessions in the other. The travelers who passed through security hours earlier are looking on and chanting “Fresh fish! Fresh fish!”

Upon reflection, that last part doesn’t sound plausible enough to deem reliable memory. But you get the idea.