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Rob Kall Headshot

TSA as a Metaphor

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The abuses TSA has subjected Americans to represent the way that the White House and both parties have abused the middle class for the past ten years.

So, you're being visually raped or, by groping, legally violated in a way that outrageously trespasses on your privacy.

The head of the TSA plays hardball with members of congress.

Obama's Homeland Security appointee, "Big Sis" says all is good.

This feels like another one of those "good job Brownie" moments.

You're thinking that it's just not worth it anymore -- traveling by air. But then, you need to get somewhere, probably a vacation you've gotten a bargain on, so you put up with the violations of privacy and indignities like everyone else. Or maybe you're a business traveler. Not to worry, your frequent traveler special pass will work and you won't have to be subjected to the same abuses as the hoi polloi.

You probably know that former Homeland Security head Chertoff's security consulting firm, Chertoff group, has been working for Rapiscan, one of the two companies that have benefited from over $100 million in sales of the scanners that are causing the uproar. A high powered political appointee leverages his connections while and after working for the government. That's the way it's done. Of course, there are no laws preventing such abuses.

We in the middle class have been subjected to a plethora of abuses that embarrass and shame us, that exploit us and leave us feeling naked and exposed.

The head of the TSA, John Pistole, is the former assistant head of the FBI. It is no surprise that such a man has no regard for the attack on the privacy and the sense of violation that millions of Americans have experienced or anticipate experiencing. That's the way the FBI has done things, with the support and encouragement of the White House and both parties in congress.

And of course, while there are many citizens who find these new assaults on our personal freedoms offensive, there are many millions more who have no problem with the next layer of rights that have been peeled away. Some of those millions rationalize that it doesn't affect them, so it doesn't matter.

And is it surprising that this mess is being laid at the feet of Obama and the Democrats... and they are embracing it because they think that being oafish with homeland security is part of what they need to do to avoid appearing weak on security? or that this gives the right (I started to say "far right" but that's an oxymoron nowadays) a new angle to attack the leader of the Democratic Party, Barack Obama, for violating constitutional rights (the Glen Beck edition of the constitution?)

Yes, this debacle is another example of the ham-handed, incredibly incompetent management of the intersection of image and policy by the Democrats setting the policies and handling the response. It is another example of the incompetence and failure of the Obama presidency. Yes. Managing difficult situations is a key element in leadership -- one that Obama and his team of media and public opinion experts have proven disastrously inadequate at handling. How will this PR disaster turn out? The Democratic administration will screw up so badly that TSA workers will probably soon lose their jobs as the services of TSA are privatized. Will it be a big surprise that this will lead to several possibilities? Maybe a subsidiary of Xe, formerly Blackwater will get a big contract, or maybe Haliburton -- now a foreign based company. Or maybe the privatization will be handed to some other company that is a US subsidiary of some European company, or maybe even a Chinese one. Whatever path the privatization takes, that'll be one more US job category that has been downgraded, because I guarantee you, the privatized workers will be paid less than the government workers... and god forbid workers get paid a decent wage. Why shouldn't they be paid the minimum wage like the vast majority of displaced workers who now struggle on Walmart hourly rates?

When we hear a report of a cancer victim being excruciatingly embarrassed by these assaults on privacy -- leaving soaked in urine, for example -- it is reasonable to see this as a metaphor for the millions of painful moments that the close to 60 million Americans without healthcare, who can't afford ostomy products, let alone ostomies, or whose families have sacrificed food or the roofs they live under to pay for health care bills that legislators have enabled to rise to out of control levels.

Travelers are not happy being exposed to toxic x-rays, and they don't believe the government agencies that say the levels of radiation are safe, well, because those agencies work more for the corporations than the people who need protection. So they have a choice of toxic radiation exposure or having their "junk" groped. There are no good choices.

So how does the TSA and, we can reasonably speculate that it's doing it with White House oversight, handle this? They turn off the scanners. They shut down the "security." What the hell. The budget has been expended. Chertoff's client has received the money -- that's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds, by the way -- money that's supposed to help create jobs. Jobs where? This is a company founded in the UK.

The Bush administration used to claim that we were at war with terrorists who hated us for our freedoms. Between Bush and Obama, between the Democratic and Republican congressional leaders, those freedoms are becoming less and less an issue as they've been assaulted, diluted or outright taken away. If the Bush claim was right, then Osama has won.

So, if you're thinking of traveling, even walking out your front door, get ready to do what air travelers do -- bend over and prepare to pay more and to be violated beyond any level you could have imagined a few years ago. And be assured the blame is bi-partisan.