This has been a minor news item at best, but I've derived a good deal of enjoyment from the not-quite-infamous Rand Paul TSA incident. For the unaware, Paul Jr. refused a patdown search at Nashville International Airport (as subsequently released security video footage shows). Eventually he was turned away at the security checkpoint. While he was calm during the incident, he turned into a great big ol' drama queen afterward and blew the incident beyond any reasonable proportions. The speed with which the Paul Sr. campaign turned this into a talking/debating point – Trampling the 4th Amendment! Tyranny! Loud Noises! – suggests that the entire incident was premeditated and staged for political effect. The campaign hysterically described the event as Paul Jr. being "detained indefinitely."

“The police state in this country is growing out of control,” Ron Paul’s campaign said. “One of the ultimate embodiments of this is the TSA that gropes and grabs our children, our seniors and our loved ones and neighbors with disabilities. The TSA does all of this while doing nothing to keep us safe.”

Wow, what a compelling controversy.

The TSA is of course a signature issue for the paranoid Liberty-loving Pauls, and the bedraggled agency has become a lighting rod for criticism from conservatives of all stripes in the past few years – surely you recall the enthralling "Don't touch my junk!" brouhaha from 2010. It's the kind of don't-you-dare-inconvenience-me hissy fit that stands in for a serious discussion of political issues in this country. The rich irony, of course, is that the TSA is direct creation of the right-wing histrionics that followed 9/11. On the one hand they demand the illusion of security provided by wars, technology, and lots of people in badges performing searches (badges being the Authoritarian-Follower personality type's version of a favorite blankie). On the other…you know, privacy and The Constitution and I'm a Very Important Person who doesn't have time for long lines at the airport.

These apparently contradictory urges actually make sense as long as we recognize that right wing suburban America does want more airport security, just not for themselves. Why is the TSA inconveniencing all of us with searches? Why don't they just pull the brown people out of the line and search them since we all know who the real terrorists are anyway? People like Rand Paul want a TSA that accomplishes the primary task of government as people like him see it: making white people and people with money (to the extent that the two groups do not overlap in his mind) feel safer. It's the best of all worlds, an America in which the the people with badges keep their eyes on the colored folks while good God-fearing patriots like Us are left to enjoy our freedom.

I can't read Rand Paul's mind, but let's say there is smoke suggesting fire on this issue. You may recall his statements against the Civil Rights Act during the 2010 campaign, or perhaps Ron Paul's various statements suggesting some problems with race issues (note that his "plausible deniability" argument regarding his newsletter evaporated last week thanks to some good investigative journalism). Maybe the Pauls are true Libertarians, or maybe they have some racist tendencies, or maybe they're just garden variety modern conservatives who demand total freedom and total security simultaneously – for themselves, of course. Everyone else is fair game.

29 thoughts on “SAY IT LIKE YOU MEAN IT”

  • But weren't Timothy McVeigh, Terry Nichols, David Koresh, Ted Kaczynski, the whole host of urban terrorists known as Operation Rescue and Kevin Harpham white?

    So if we were to actually profile terrorist threats to America, Lil' Paul is him.

  • Flight 93 proved we do not need a "TSA". I don't think we ever did. Sure, weapons screening as before the TSA is OK just to weed out Koresh, McVeigh and the Kaczynski's. But even if that's incorrect, I'd rather take my chances with the terorists than the TSA. It's just wrong.

  • As George Carlin used to say, "Airport security is nothing but a theater show to make white people feel better about flying."

  • > "It's the kind of don't-you-dare-inconvenience-me hissy fit that stands in for a serious discussion of political issues in this country."

    It's about a lot more than "inconvenience"; are you actually mocking the people who see this as a serious Fourth Amendment violation? I also find it strange that you dismiss this as a purely right-wing issue (and a racist/classist one at that). I know a lot of people from across the spectrum that object to TSA overreaching, but the majority of them are left-leaning, not right. Furthermore, those that do object to TSA activity (the naked scanners or the genital groping or both) are not also out there demanding or even wishing for more airport security, contrary to Ed's claims about "contradictory urges"—who exactly are these people that are supposedly demanding more security while also complaining about the security theatre at the checkpoints?

    Basically, this post appears to be straw man arguments from start to finish. Disappointing.

  • Security isn't all that tight, though the searches etc make you think it is.

    A colleague of mine moved and put the kitchen knives in a seldom used pocket of his day sized backpack, put the backpack in a box and brought the box to his new place. When unpacking, he somehow left the really big scary sharp knife in his backpack, and then used the pack traveling on flights literally around the world. On the seventh flight, a security check caught him. "Sir, is this your pack? What is THIS? " My colleague. "OH…Now I know where the good kitchen knife went during the move…"

    And then there is the cute, very talkative and charming 20 something daughter of friends of mine. She had checked baggage from Barcelona to Stockholm and somehow managed to get onto a flight to Frankfurt instead of her booked flight to Stockholm. In Frankfurt she somehow persuaded the airline to put her on the flight from Frankfurt to Stockholm for free.

    How many passport/ticket checks did she waltz past?

  • Middle Seaman says:

    First a correction: not all Muslims are brown. Most Arabs are lilly white as Newt and the Pauls.

    The TSA, the Patriot Act and Homeland Security are typical knee jerk reaction by the non-democratic US political system. Actually, of the three, TSA is the most benign. Some form of entrance security is now universal although the artifacts involved differ. The Chinese check your luggage when you arrive.

    Shoes, laptops and certain sharp instruments are allowed trough in quite a few airports.

  • @blahedo: the Left has always been opposed to both TSA and DHS and that li'l piece of legislation that spawned them. The Right gave birth to them, and created the false argument that if you opposed it, then you *must* be a supporter of terrorism too.

    Gun totin' Billy-Joe-Bob from Kansas was all for gettin those dirty un-Merucun brown ppl rounded up. However, when they made him have to take his shoes off he started howlin' about how he was going to get his guns because of the "fascist government". Who ironically has now gone from peaceful law abiding gun owner—and no one really cared how many guns he owned—to someone the authorities now want to have words with because he's gone McVeigh.

    So no, there isn't a straw man here.

  • c u n d gulag says:

    Maybe they want to start their own airline?

    "Aryan Airways."
    "If you're white, we'll treat you right! So fly Aryan, where the only other color than white you'll ever see, is the blue of the skies, and the color of the staff's eyes."

    And leave the hook-nosed, brown, black, yellow, and red, people to fly American, or some other Heathen Communist airline.

    All I've got to add is that, at my age, buying an airline ticket is the only way I'll ever get groped again!

  • I'll stick up for Ed on this one. I want more TSA, not less. Everyone of us should be full-body and rectally scanned. My guess is that Rand got his little fifis hurt because it was a brown skinned gov't worker that was insisting that he be checked, like everyone else. I mean, didn't they know who he was???

  • Yes, we're all sick of the TSA. Just ask yourself this, in all seriousness: How quickly would you fold up the snake flag and get back in line if another right-wing Republican assumed the presidency?

  • Don't forget, the conservatives were ALL FOR the TSA – as long as the workers weren't unionized.

    A few months after Sept. 11, the WTC hadn't been fully cleaned up yet, and that was the huge sticking point. More safety for all – aas long as it doesn't cost too much.

    And yeah, none of Our Elite Media Stars had any problem with the TSA or our "police state" either until 2010 when it inconvenienced them. The absolute transparency of that astounded me, and I don't astound easy.

  • @Rick

    How old are you…?

    This is a repeat pattern.

    Go back to the drug laws. Go back to any laws against behavior that the majority doesn't practice. As long as it was the 'other' that was being busted, it was waaay cool. (And the 'other' had not everything to do w/ color – it was largely NMC (not middle class) people.)

    When the MC kids started getting into trouble, well… maybe we need to look into this a little further.


  • @acer

    I think your OWS scum friends' behavior (not necessarily all their ideas) is more repugnant than any NoBamanistas.


  • @bb –
    No comment on the OWSers, except that the New York Post and FOX couldn't effectively demonize them without making a bunch of shit up. I assume they're sincere in their beliefs, a favor I'll also grant to the Tea Partiers. God knows I'm disgusted by security theater.

    I simply disagree with the idea of the Obama admin as some sort of historical outlier. 2001-08 did happen, and it would have been a splendid time to start bitching about the TSA and "big government" in general. What took them so long?

    I just think it would be interesting if the baggers seriously asked themselves where they were during the Bush years, instead of treating Obama as some sort of historical outlier. The American right's ability to repress all memory of the years 2001-08 is something I truly envy.

  • Every politician in the world should have to go through the same airport screening as the rest of us peons, instead of getting the velvet treatment. The most intrusive laws would disappear overnight..

  • Of all the things that have happened since 9/11, TSA is the least worrisome in my mind, regardless of your political affiliation.

    First, let's not pretend that we didn't have airport security prior to 9/11. What we had was a patchwork system of security provided by some private and some public providers. (Typically airports, through money paid by the airlines, contracted with a private security provider.) There was nothing inherent to this system which would protect your privacy more so than a public system and security procedures tended to vary much more than they do now.

    Second, where are these people flying in and out of? Granted, I'm a 30 something white women that often travels with kiddos in tow, but I fly a lot, in and out of the country, and have never been "molested" in any sense of the word. Last summer I flew with a broken leg and since I couldn't go through the scanner without crutches or wheelchair, I had to go through a full body pat down. My screener (a woman) was efficient, courteous and respectful throughout. She explained exactly what she was going to do and I was happy to oblige. I realize our sense of privacy and personal space is somewhat relative, but seriously, what are they complaining about?

  • I would say that our airport screening is no more invasive that what I've experienced in other country's airports. After the screener in Munich got through with me I'm pretty sure we're going steady.

    If you really want a treat try Tel Aviv – be sure to pack a lunch because you're going to be there a while.

  • @major kong

    The 'concerned patriots' didn't tear up any stuff or hurt anybody. OWS regardless of their relative cleanliness or hippiness cannot make the same claims.

    I am judging behavior here, not their ideas. Crazy Glenn said this was coming a couple years ago ('The Coming Insurrection' was exposed by GB)

    FOX ain't makin' up Oakland now are they?


  • @bb

    Big difference between a 2-hour, corporate sponsered Tea Party rally and any large group of people (I don't care who they are) occupying a space for an extended period of time.

    I also don't recall any OWS people walking around with semi-automatic rifles or signs that said (We didn't come armed – this time).

  • @MKong

    You are behind the curve boss, check out the destruction that's going on in Oakland (and some of what went on in Wis last year by the goon-ions)

    Signs and totin' AR-15s are theater in comparison – Nobody was hurt and no stuff got torn up.

    @other posters

    To the criticism about what about 2001 – 2008. You are right! Libertarians were bitchin' about a lot of that stuff. Conservatives were slow to come around because it didn't immediately affect them.


  • Conservatives were slow to come around because inside every Conservative is an authoritarian trying to get out.

  • the gradual erosion of personal liberties is what this signifies. the business and government abuse and petty abuse of power. Raising air fares, smaller seats, stuck on grounded flights/tarmacs for hours. the total disregard for what flying used to be. now flying is a hassle and expensive.

    like i have to pay for someone to abuse me? and the fear! oh god, the fear that is used to steal my freedom away and label it "good for me."

    as if. as if we haven't had "terrorists" in this country for years forcing their "views" on us. From the anti-abortionists to the imposition of Christian law by the minority upon the majority. the endless and smothering abuse of a small "loud" group. Terrorists American style from the Right.

    Authoritarian behavior that can't be questioned ever!

    Terrorism is an American "growth" industry. being on the "wrong" side of the war on America, it is just plain disgusting to see how far this Gestapo state has devolved all around us.

    so we "should" pity the poor Senator or Rep who has to endure what the "little People" do. Flying and the TSA, are just one more example of the Big Brother state.

    this just didn't happen overnight. Thanks to the Right wingers and their Religious BS, this "fear" has destroyed the America we inherited. Freedom from freedom, and now Obama is the cause of it all? lol. Obama is just another Big Brother, the one following Bush II., Clinton, Bush, and God Himself St. Reagan.

    just obey Big Brother and if you do nothing "wrong", you have nothing to worry about.

    Obeying Authority and not questioning why. the new commandment

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