Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Don't Mess with Texas' Junk

Here's the thing about Texas Governer Rick Perry: He makes me think, "Hey, remember when that nice moderate George W. Bush was governor?"

He was just a gosh-darn right-wing teddy bear.
Regular readers know that occasionally I've been critical of Gov. Perry's conservative agenda on this blog. Like here. And here. Oh, and here. I really only have two problems with Dick (or maybe it's Rick - make a note to check on that). One is that he's a hypocritical bigot who believes that government should stay out individuals' lives...as long as those individuals are well-off white males. Everyone else can be used as a political pawn to advance the interests and/or consolidate the power of people who look, think, and act like him.

Hallelujah, it's raining rich white men.
The other thing that bothers me about Gov. Perry is that he's a complete tool. A tool of his politcal party, I mean. A complete tool and a tool of his political party. There, that's better. If this man has done one single thing in the last decade that was motivated by a desire to do the right thing by the citizens of his state, I'd like to know what it is. Not the thing that would get him re-elected. Not the thing that would curry favor with lobbyists or cash-swollen PACs. Not the thing that would polish his national reputation. The right thing.

Not the Funny Thing, either.
"And very good they are - donations."
This tendency of Gov. Perry's to present himself as Uber-Republican has led him to take positions and back legislation that defies logic. Just last week he vetoed a bill that would have made it illegal to text while driving, calling it "a government effort to micromanage the behavior of adults." Meanwhile, he enthusiastically endorsed a bill forcing doctors to describe a woman's fetus to her before allowing her to have an abortion, which totally doesn't violate anybody's privacy or autonomy. The difference between the two bills, of course, is that opposing the former makes Perry look like a champion of individual freedom, while supporting the latter makes him look like a stalwart defender of the sanctity of life. At least until that life is out of the womb and has its brains splattered across the road by some dickwad who was texting while driving.

Out of my way, I have to veto an anti-texting bill!
This week, Gov. Perry is backing an issue that is way more important than Texas' cash-strapped school districts and increasingly polluted air: TSA pat-downs.  Yep, the Governor wants to make it a misdemeanor offense for Transportation Security Administration agents to touch your woo-woo when conducting airport screenings. And he must be serious about not wanting federal employees handling his junk, because he's put it on the agenda of the current special legislative session in Austin, which is costing taxpayers about a million bucks. But clearly this issue can't wait.

Maybe he's just unclear on the concept of a "suspicious package."
In the interest of full disclosure, I have to say that I haven't flown since the TSA instituted "enhanced pat-downs" last fall, so I haven't been subjected to one. Nor have I gone through the controversial full-body scanner that puts your entire, uh, entirety on display.

Come to think of it, maybe this is why Rick Perry
doesn't like the new security procedures.
I don't want some stranger in latex gloves running their hands down my body. Hell, I won't even get a pedicure. Someone touching my feet? Gross. And the idea of being patted and prodded and possibly poked is peculiar and perhaps a plundering of my personal privacy.

Sorry, I got carried away. Look, it's no secret that security protocols in American airports are something of a joke compared to those of other nations like Israel. They're inefficient and rely mostly on a series of ever more ridiculous restrictions imposed only after a specific threat is uncovered. So every time a would-be terrorist is caught (and they're always caught as a result of intelligence work, never because of airport security checks), we lose our right to wear shoes or carry shampoo or possess whatever household object the most recent loony tried to turn into a weapon of mass destruction. Now the TSA has decided the best way to minimize threats is to frisk every passenger like a common criminal without regard to probable cause or common sense. Even without the reports of old women and little kids being groped to the point of tears, the invasion of privacy is pretty insupportable.

But as usual, Gov. Perry isn't attacking the issue from the standpoint of human dignity or national security, neither of which is being served by the pat-downs. Instead, his argument is that the federal government can't come busting into Texas and handling our naughty bits. Groping Texans is a state issue, godammit.

We don't need Big Government to help us
treat human beings like sexual objects.
So Perry's proposed law would criminalize the touching of "the anus, sexual organ, buttocks, or breast of another person" during a security screening. I feel dirty just reading that. But that's not the point. The point is that the law would make it a crime for federal employees to do their job in Texas airports.

Again, I think the pat-downs are pretty offensive, especially since there's no evidence they work better than any previous method of screening. But guess what happens if federal agents are prohibited from enforcing federal law in an aiport that is subject to federal law?

No one knows for sure, because it hasn't happened yet, but it's a pretty safe bet that the TSA won't allow flights originating in Texas to land anywhere else if the passengers on board haven't complied with federal security regulations. And since current regulations require passengers to have their goodies either looked at or touched, it's most likely the TSA would curtail or simply shut down operations at Texas airports until it could up with a new inefficient security protocol.

This is what I mean when I say that Gov. Perry is an asshole. Rather, what I mean when I say that Perry acts out of politcal concern rather than the well-being of his state and its people. In what way does it benefit Texas to jeopardize our airports? How is this boneheaded bill anything other than mean-spirited grandstanding to score points with state and national conservatives?

One of these primates is an 800-pound gorilla.
I hope the Governor does decide to run for President, as he has made it clear he wishes to by denying it repeatedly. Then he can indulge in the time-honored tradition of abandoning his state to focus on a national campaign. I think he would make a horrendous President. But at least he would let go of Texans' junk and let us get on with the business of being a functioning part of America.

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