I've posted before on the TSA (here, here, here, here, and here.) I had some hope for a little assertion of federalism from Texas. The Texas legislature, after the U.S. Attorney John E. Murphythreatened that the TSA would ban all flights out of Texas if the measure passed, got cold feet about a measure to rein in TSA officials' sexual assaults on airplane passengers. There was still hope to reintroduce the measure (forgive me if I don't have all the details of Texas legislative procedure down but I think this is close enough), but Governor Rick "Tin Ear" Perry has quashed my hope by letting the bill die in the legislature. Why tin ear? Because, as writer Edmund Burke put it:
Perry continually claimed a need for a "consensus" when strong majority votes were there all the time and the Executive Committee of the State Republican Party had urged him to do so soon after the start of the special session.
As Burke notes, a Texas newspaper, the Longview News Journal reported that, "The governor's office received more than 10,000 phone calls, emails or other correspondence in favor of Simpson's bill from May 16 through June 20, a News-Journal open records request revealed. There were 13 messages against the measure."
Fortunately, that's just a loss in one battle, not in the war. I was visiting a friend in Detroit last week who makes about two airline trips a week, which works out to four times a week to go through TSA or their private-sector counterparts in various airports such as SFO. (The private-sector firms are required contractually to do what TSA does.) When I denounced TSA over the years, starting in 2002, my friend saw it only as a minor annoyance. That has changed.
My frequent-flyer friend told me that he has noticed two things since the groping started. First, he has seen the attitude of TSA employees change with the new procedures. In his words, "they seem more like East German police" than they used to. Second, other frequent flyers are getting upset. Going through the Syracuse airport a couple of weeks ago, my friend commented during a TSA grope, "This is stupid." The groper replied, "If you keep this up, I'll call the police and have you arrested." My friend held out his hands in front of him in the "invite handcuffs" gesture and said, "Go ahead. Arrest me. I'm an American. I have freedom of speech. Go ahead and arrest me for exercising my freedom of speech." "Move along," replied the TSA groper.