'The nearest thing to eternal life we will ever see on this earth is a government program.' – Ronald Reagan
I’ve been making fun of the granny-goosers at the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) for as long as they’ve been around. When they banned styling mousse and toothpaste from airliners, I joked that I was glad the goo bombers hadn’t been bra or briefs bombers. Little did I dream that an outfit as deeply incompetent as the TSA would survive long enough to see my jokes come true. But I simply didn’t understand the profound truth of Ronald Reagan’s observation about government bureaus and eternal life.
I’d be hard pressed to choose the greater screw-up, the jock bomber or the people charged with keeping jock bombers off of airplanes. The bomber failed to blow his own butt off even though, against all odds, he had carried the dreaded briefs bomb all the way from Nigeria to Detroit.
The TSA and other government security agencies couldn’t keep the jock bomber off the plane to Detroit even though his name was Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, he paid nearly $3,000 cash for a one way ticket, he had no luggage, he had no passport, and he needed help from a “well dressed Indian” guy in the Amsterdam airport to convince the airline people to let him on the final flight to Detroit sans passport. (he must have been really well dressed) His father had even called to warn the CIA about him in November.
They couldn’t stop a terrorist with a profile like that but I watched TSA officials on my last flight out of the States frisk a young mother while her husband held the baby, throw away her diaper rash lotion because it was in too large a container, and test the nippled bottles of baby formula for explosives. Let’s be honest, if they couldn’t stop Umar, what’s the point of any of these ritual humiliations we endure at airports?
In the end, Umar was stopped by a fellow passenger, just like the nut-ball sneaker bomber, Richard Ried had been years ago.
Never the less, in honor of the sneaker bomber we still genuflect at the alter of government incompetence by removing our shoes at check points all over the world. And in honor of the latest monument to official bungling, more ritual humiliation will be added, none of which will in any logical way enhance security.
Laptops will no longer be allowed in the cabin, though no laptop was implicated in the latest bombing try. No bathroom breaks will be allowed in the last hour of a flight so apparently terrorists will have to blow themselves up with full bladders, or before the beverage service stops. Blankets and pillows will be forbidden in the last hour of flight for whatever reason.
And finally, the crown jewel of high tech snooping, the adolescent wet dream from the days of X-ray glasses in comic book ads, the I-can-see-you-naked machines, are now scheduled to be installed at airports across the land.
Finally the crack professionals TSA, who already have been conducting stair-well strip searches of randomly selected women with nice hooters, will now get to electronically strip search everyone from Arab terrorists to our wives and daughters.
If any private security operation had shown a fraction of the bungling incompetence that our government has it would have been out of business long ago. But the bungling at TSA just keeps making their budget bigger, our flying more miserable, and my worst jokes come true.