The Solomon Scandals
The D.C. newspaper novel, the media,the Washington area, tech and other surrealism: David Rothman at large
TSA airport ‘security’ bullies excel as unwitting Tea Party recruiters

image I’ll leave the graphic Orwellian details to The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, but the Transportation Security Administration has finally outdone itself in the crotch region—well, Americans’ crotch regions.

The idea is to bully travelers into submitting to “back-scatter” scans to avoid invasive pat-downs. Modern technology lets the TSA undress you.

image“Security theater,”  argue Goldberg and others, isn’t going to catch terrorists. The bad guys will just hide their explosives in body cavities that even Congress won’t let the feds inspect routinely. Alas, all the scanning and patting in the world could not have stopped the cargo bomb plot. Wait! Any connection between the TSA’s bullying and the topic of Garrett Epps’s post, headlined All Patriots ‘Know’ that Moses Wrote the Constitution? Just how would Moses and the Almighty have felt about the legality of back-scatter scans?

The Solomon Scandals ideally will be a good airplane read (if you get it past any TSA people who run across this post). But among other things, Scandals does explore the ugly topic of government and big media as intimidators and—at times—as privacy threats.

Please note that I am not a kneejerk fed-hater, or the media variety; quite the contrary. In fact, that’s one reason why I’m hardly a cheerleader for the TSA itself. In areas ranging from health to library technology, I would like to see more federal involvement, albeit with careful privacy protections. TSA’s gratuitous bullying of the citizenry weakens my case and aids the Tea Party movement’s cause. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the TSA victims’ anger hurts Barack Obama and the Democrats at the polls this week.

The irony is that if the Republican had won last presidential election, they’d probably have allowed the agency to be just as obnoxious and maybe even more so.

imageDetail: While some TSA employees come across from afar as goons, the real fault is with the politicians who empowered them—hoping that “security theater” will soothe the citizenry. I suspect that just the reverse is happening. Furthermore, what if some of the nine billion spent last year on the TSA had gone toward more effective anti-terrorism measures?

And speaking of Garret Epps: Isn’t it time that The Shad Treatment, which in some ways is The All the King’s Men of Virginia politics, made a comeback?

Remarkably I could not even find a separate listing for the novel in Wikipedia, just brief references on Epps’ bio page. Furthermore, I don’t see The Shad Treatment within the public libary collection in Alexandria, VA (pop. 128,282), where I live. In case you’re curious, by the way, here’s what “shad planking” means.

(CC-licensed photo taken by Silas216 of some kind of TSA scanning. The book cover is from an old Signet paperback.)

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