Posts Tagged ‘ TSA

The Bikecast Episode #47: On Having One’s Little Libertarian Touched (or TSA Gropefest Part II)

This bikecast is a restatement of and expansion on the previous episode. The current anger over TSA screening can serve as a point of reference for unconsciously patriarchal anti-authoritarians. The humiliation and violation that airline passengers are experiencing at the gropey/grabby hands of federal agents are identical to those that women and other “2nd (or 3rd or 4th) class citizens” have been experiencing for decades and centuries. That their accounts were discounted or ignored might provide some insight into the incredulity around and negative response towards anti-TSA/no-fly activists.

On the flip side, that the TSA agents aren’t on par with national socialists tried at Nuremburg–a point made to counter the sometimes hysterical reaction emanating from the newly threatened–doesn’t mean that other hysterical reactions of libertarians and anti-authoritarians aren’t justified. The TSA might not be a war crime tribunal worthy organziation, but there are plenty of war crime level individuals and branches of government. Hysterics are appropriate in far too many cases.

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The last podcast’s show notes cover this episode as well. With the holiday travel weekend behind us, I’ll use this space to do a quick run through of the highlights. In a predictably bizarre role reversal, the political right came out against the TSA policy, a legacy of the Bush regime demonstrating, the umpteenth time the relative prioritization of security theater vis political theater.

Sadly, Alisa nailed the political left’s majority position, that anti-TSA trouble makers should shut up a do what they’re told. There is a variety of rationales: that they’re paid libertarian provacateurs, that they’re exposing Americans to terrorism/are terrorists, it’s the price we pay for security and so forth. Here’s a good roundup along with notable exceptions (to which I’d like to add Pandagon and Big Think).

The Nation really went out of its way to connect the anti-TSA sentiment to Koch funding. It’s primary innuendo weaving was done at the expense of John “Touch My Junk and I’ll Have You Arrested” Tyner. None other than Glenn Greenwald popped up to lay on a smackdown of the Nation piece. To which (in the name of completing the tale), Mark Ames and Yasha Levine responded with this defense and the Nation published this partial apology. One last link collects together responses from three other anti-state types who were mentioned as part of the vast wingless conspiracy.

Not especially important, but interesting and worth ten minutes of work time. Anyway, good on you Glenn G. and the several other lefties still in the system but unwilling to flow with their majority.

The Bikecast Episode #46: Alright, How About Nobody Touch Anybody’s Junk

There’s a well known pattern governing the spread of evil. The first to fall are those out-of-power. Isolated, mistrusted, and without recourse, the smaller, the weaker and the outnumbered are inevitably the first victims of any societal ill. Eventually, the cancer–ever growing–will begin to affect the privileged classes. They had, until now, ignored the pleas for help from those who had succumbed. Now they look around desperately, wondering why no one comes to their aid as they cry out, “If you touch my junk, I’ll have you arrested.”


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Thus we find the forces of human dignity facing off against the dehumanizing empire over one of the more minor matters in the ever growing catalog of state crimes: airport security. Additionally, the fight is against, essentially, “bad touches,” something that women and children spend much of their time avoiding or enduring anyway.

And thus the question of, “why?” is quickly answered. The physical control, domination and humiliation that characterizes patriarchy has finally reached it’s latex glove into the genital area of the soi-disant privileged class (or law abiding citizenry, if you will).
I’ll let Lindsay Beyerstein and Amanda Marcotte fill you in on the details. Their analysis is spot on.

My message is primarily to the “freedom movement.” Being scanned and groped by the TSA might give you a pretty direct metaphor to empathize with the complaints and concerns that women–among others–have been expressing since they were no longer set on fire for talking in public.

I mean this as a helpful suggestion: capture your experience of outrage and stand with those that live in a world of perpetual violation. Most people resonate with the message of peace and freedom, but it sounds odd and false when one warns against a state imposition of a regime of violence and humiliation that someone has already experienced–and may still be experiencing–in their private lives.

Sooo, yeah . . . welcome to the big tent everybody. As will become progressively clearer, there are many unlikely alliances in the struggle against patriarchy/tyranny . Going forward, we will discover that those we thought were political allies are actually the enemy of integrity: libertarians who themselves physically dominate and violate the persons of those around them and progressives who want men to join women and children on the lower tiers of human society for the safety and convenience of governing institutions[1].

Update:

A perfect example of an attitude that I would like to see properly categorized with “If you aren’t a terrorist, then you have nothing to be afraid of,” or, “If you don’t like it, you can leave the country”–dangerous, stupid, evil positions:

. . . I feel more convinced than ever that America gets many things wrong about sex. Right there near the top of the list is our attachment to the idea of consent.

In Paris, it seems as if the straight male attitude toward consent is that it doesn’t exist. At clubs, bars, bistros, in the street or on the Metro, Parisian men lobby very aggressively for sex. At the clubs in the 8ème, off the Champs-Élysées, and all along Rue de Rivoli, it is fairly common to watch men literally grab and touch the girls who weave through the crowd.

What a dick. (h/t pandagon, original article here)

  1. [1] I realize I just sort of threw that last one in there. Alisa predicted that someone would take this angle, but I haven’t seen it yet. Instead of accepting non-violation of genitals to be a universal good and demanding that no one be groped at a security checkpoint nor anywhere else, we can say that everyone should be violated equally–I’m happy that nobody I like has recommended this course of action.

The Bikecast Episode #45: Iraq For Sale and Creepy War Profiteer, Michael Chertoff

Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers covers the art form of syphoning tremendous wealth from the body politic into the hands of state corporations under the guise of “defense.” In recent years, this racket has become even more sophisticated as the military moves from purchasing materiel from “private” sources to hiring out for services previously provided internally.

In the days of Smedley Butler, war meant ridiculous profits around the provision of goods: leather, nickel, sugar, meat, cotton, steel, coal, garments, etc. Today, similar artificial profits are realized by corporations serving meals, washing laundry, building infrastructure, and providing internal security for the military.

This serves a number of purposes: it allows for misrepresentation of the size of the military presence overseas and it allows avoidance of auditing and oversight (what little there is to begin with). Most importantly, however, it allows for unimaginable amounts of wealth to be appropriated by the corporate-political ruling class with a minimum amount of political effort.


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As usual, when I listen back to my (very brief) review of someone else’s work, I sound far more critical towards it than I feel. This podcast is no different–I end up picking nits rather than doing a traditional review. But hey, I’m a nit-picker. It’s what I do.

Iraq for Sale covers alot of interesting material and is well made. The unspoken position that I believe underlies the documentary is that “re-nationalizing” the peripheral services that have been outsourced to “private” corporations would lead to a more efficient, less corrupt, “better” military. I’m skeptical of this position and believe that it surrenders a crucial point. The fraud, waste and abuse around lives and wealth in Iraq is a function of the warfare state. That the people involved are nominally “military” or “civilian” is irrelevant.

At the end of the bikecast, I touch on another war profiteer who is making his money from the domestic police state. Michael Chertoff’s security consulting group has a client, Rapiscan Systems, which is one of two manufacturers of the backscatter x-ray machines currently in the news[1]. While the big news is the constitutionality of being imaged without clothes, the real story[2] is how a creepy, incompetent [3] evil fuck like Michael Chertoff can, apparently, bring about the irradiation and intrusive imaging of every airline passenger in the united states in order to pocket a few million dollars in the process.

For more on the Chertoff story:
Mother Jones (from before the current porn/cancer/grope fiasco): The Airport Scanner Scam
Glen Greenwald (apparently no relation to Iraq for Sale director/producer Robert Greenwald): The Obama administration’s war on privacy
The Hill: GOP lawmaker: Full-body scanners violate Fourth Amendment (yeah, cause they give a shit).
Alternet: Details of the increased lobbying by Rapiscan

  1. [1] I claim, mistakenly, in the bikecast that M.C. is an executive for Rapiscan–my bad, Mike.
  2. [2] at least for this episode of the bikecast
  3. [3] Thanks to the commenter for setting me straight