Latest Posts

  • Tweet Untweet: TSA Gets Comfortable with Small Knives

    Tags: TSA, Tweet Untweet, Twitter
  • Ron Paul's Family Sucks at Airport Travel

    The Pauls are good at so many things. Eloquently defending civil liberties against the encroachment of executive power. Getting ignored by the mainstream media. Playing baseball.

    Getting through an airport without becoming a national news story, however, is not in the Paul family skillset.

    First there was Rand Paul's run-in with the security state at a Nashville airport. This weekend, Rand's 19-year-old son William Hilton Paul was taken into custody on charges of underage alcohol consumption, disorderly conduct and public intoxication at a North Carolina airport. He's since been released, but was forced to post a $750 bond, even after performing a weak do-you-know-who-I-am routine:

    While in the custody of the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office, reports say William Hilton Paul identified himself as the son of Sen. Rand Paul.

    I can't believe that didn't do anything for him!

    He may have had better luck pleading a case of mistaken identity. Forbes (screenshot above) seems to think 19-year-old William Hilton Paul's mugshot is a perfect match for 85-year-old billionaire William Barron Hilton, who I suspect is much better at growing facial hair and holding his liquor.

    Rand Paul Introduces Air Traveler Bill of Rights, Fails to Include Beyonce Provision
    There Will Always Be a Paul Running for President

    Tags: Alcohol, Crime, Rand Paul, Ron Paul, TSA
  • TSA Hired Alleged Molester Priest to Make Us Safer

    One rare locus of agreement between congressional Democrats and Republicans concerns the Department of Homeland Security's Transportation Safety Administration. Yes, it's a corrupt boondoggle that does little to keep Americans safe, but it's our  bipartisan corrupt boondoggle that does little to keep Americans safe, so long may it grope.

    Fortunately, the TSA has redeeming features. Americans looking for career advice are always being told to "do what you love," and in the case of one alleged pedophile, the TSA made dreams come true

    About four months after being defrocked by the Diocese of Camden in 2002, Thomas Harkins had a new job as a security officer, including patting down passengers, with the Transportation Security Administration at Philadelphia International Airport.

    The TSA hired the former priest before completing a background check, the agency recently confirmed. According to a church document, the diocese revealed to the TSA in 2003 as part of the background check that Harkins had been removed from ministry because of allegations he had molested two grade-school girls. Harkins was never criminally prosecuted, but the diocese settled civil lawsuits for $195,000.

    The TSA took no action as a result of the disclosure.

    Now, now, you say, "An organization that has a higher tolerance for child molestation than the Catholic Church is an institutional failure." I say, the government has finally discarded an outdated civil service system in favor of hiring people based on qualifications. No Al-Qaeda "grade-school girl" will be smuggling a bomb in "her" pants under the TSA's watch.

    Tags: Catholic Church, Crime, Homeland Security, Religion, Sex, TSA
  • Rand Paul Introduces Air Traveler "Bill of Rights," Fails to Include Beyonce Provision

    On the one hand, the possible invalidation of the Affordable Care Act by the Supreme Court may leave pat-down searches by the Transportation Safety Administration as the sole source of affordable screening available to millions of Americans. On the other hand, it is kind of rude for the TSA to freedom-fondle senior citizens and not even followup with a phone call.

    To solve the latter dilemma, Senator Rand Paul, himself a victim of government reach-arounds, has introduced a measure to apply a few of the protections from the original Bill of Rights to the passenger screening process

    Paul's proposed bill of rights legislation would give the TSA one year to implement a speedier screening process for pre-cleared frequent fliers at airports with more than 250,000 annual flights, permit travelers who fail to pass imaging or metal detector screening to go through the screening again rather than be subjected to an automatic pat-down, and eliminate pat-downs for travelers age 12 and younger and 75 and older unless the screener has a "high degree of suspicion" that the passenger is carrying a prohibited item.

    All this sounds good, but it fails to take into account the needs of our  most vulnerable minority: the celebrity-American. I believe Paul's counterparts in the House made themselves very clear on this point…

    The US House of Representatives has a very important announcement, they would like the TSA to stop patting down Beyonce when she passes through airport security.

    Rep. Mike Rogers, head of the House Homeland Security Transportation Subcommittee recently told the agency that Beyonce is "not going to blow a plane up."

    I like Paul's broader proposal better. First, the exposure of important people to the TSA screening process, whether they're famous entertainers or U.S. Senators, is what generates support for greater privacy protections in the first place. If only the "suspicious" were targeted, Congress would never care. See, for example, "stop, frisk."

    Second, failure to include Beyonce-Americans in the potential screening process is going to totally undermine the TSA agent recruiting process.

    Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images News/Getty Images

    Tags: House of Representatives, Rand Paul, Senate, Transportation, TSA
  • TSA Groping About to Become More Expensive

    The question "Just how little tactical competence can a political party exhibit without becoming utterly irrelevant to the electoral process?" is about to have an answer. This little

    The Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday moved forward with legislation to increase airline passenger security fees, beating back a GOP attempt to keep them at current levels.

    The 2013 Homeland Security appropriations bill would increase one-way fees for passengers from $2.50 to $5 in order to close a budget shortfall at the Transportation Security Administration.

    On the one hand, since 2012 is the  fifth year in a row that healthcare costs have increased between 7 and 8%, a TSA examination is increasingly the most cost-effective option for Americans' gyno- and proctological needs. Plus, Republicans insisted on paying for the shortfall with cuts to local governments and "emergency food and shelter funding." And anyway, they're not sold on the importance of any wands that are waved outside a vagina.

    On the other hand, this is the lonely hill on which Democrats have chosen to make their stand? The committee vote followed partisan lines, with every Republican voting against the $315 million subsidy and Ben Nelson the sole Democrat to break ranks. Most likely, Democrats insisted on a passenger fee increase because they couldn't think of any other funding method that could irk the public more. Perhaps they should have considered a special levy on puppy owners, or an excise tax on ice cream.

    The official Democratic argument is that the burden of the TSA should be borne by those who benefit from it. Unfortunately, those beneficiaries are mostly in our nation's funeral home business. Since flying is significantly safer than driving, the increased inconvenience of going through airport security increases automobile deaths due to people deciding to drive instead of fly by 500 per year. So perhaps this strategy is actually brilliant: if Democrats kill off the most TSA-phobic Americans, they'll have a chance at holding on to the Senate.

    Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images News/Getty Images

    Tags: Budget, Democrats, Republicans, Senate, TSA