Monthly Archives: January 2014
|Ex-TSA agent Jason Harrington|
The Politico Magazine published a provocative point of view piece by Jason Edward Harrington titled: “Dear America: I Saw You Naked– And yes we were laughing. Confessions of an ex-TSA agent.” The article drew back the curtain on exposing the naked truth on Transportation Security Theater. Harrington is an aspiring young writer who joined the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) after graduating college in 2007. Harrington presumed that it would be a short stint before pursuing a creative writing degree, but he remained with the most public branch of the Homeland Security Administration until 2013.
The former agent’s recollections confirmed many cynics assumptions about the TSA. Unfortunately, some of the revelations are worse than one would imagine for a professional part of government supposedly committed to ensuring safety in the homeland.
Harrington hated having a job which required him to pat down the crotches of children, the elderly and even infants. The ex-TSA officer chaffed at the absurdity of confiscating jars of homemade apple butter or nail clippers from airline pilots as they might impose risks to a flight. Morale at the TSA was the lowest among all federal workers. According to Harrington, the TSA rank and file privately felt that “[T]he agency’s day-to-day operations represented an abuse of public trust and funds.
The salient question is Why TSA employed such egregious customary operating procedures?
A striking passage from Harrington’s account was:
Most of us knew the directives were questionable, but orders were orders. And in practice, officers with common sense were able to cut corners on the most absurd rules, provided supervisors or managers weren’t looking.
Some of the lingo which is recounted in the Harrington piece reveals the voyeur tendencies operating in Transportation Security Theater, the morose morale issues and the danger of letting putative quasi- Law Enforcement Officers run wild with power.
•Bin Loader: What a TSA employee is for the first month of his or her employment.
•Code Red: Denotes an attractive female passenger wearing red
•Retaliatory Wait Time: Result when a TSA officer doesn’t like your attitude.
•X-ray X-ray X-ray!: Code for an attractive female passenger, general.
•White Shirt: Labeling a TSA agent still under the impression that the job is a matter of national security.
As the jargon indicates, TSA agents could act in a puerile manner with impunity against passengers, gawk at every body imperfection and hassle anyone for whom they did not care, claiming “random searches” for national security.
In the wake of 9/11, some might make excuses for TSA overreach. But to paraphrase Ben Franklin’s warning: Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither. As Jason Harrington’s expose of Transportation Security Theater shows, we are not getting the security while the TSA is taking liberties with the flying public.
It is worth reading Jason Harrington’s TSA confessions if you want to laugh while you cry. Harrington’s prospective novel based upon his TSA experience to still elicit a wan smile about a truly sad situation over Transportation Security Theater.
|Artist Mauro Pallotta with his graffiti art “Superpope” Francis (photo: Andreas Dueren/CNA)|
Mauro Pallotta is a 41 year old artist and sculptor based in Rome. But Pallotta may better be known as a celebrated street artist based on widespread notoriety of his graffiti “Super-Pope” Francis on the Via Plauto, a tiny cobble stoned street in the Borgo Pio district near St. Peter’s Square in Rome (Vatican City).
Pallotta (a.k.a. Maupal) was inspired to do the piece one evening when he was reading a comic book and the image of the Pope appeared on television. Pallotta opined:
“I thought of representing this Pope, Francis, as a super hero of the
Marvel (Heroes), simply because, according to me, he is one of the few
people who, having a real power as a Pope, he uses it for the good like
the superheroes of the American Marvel.”
It dawned on the artist that this Pope also had superpowers in the form of humility and empathy.
Pallotta likened Super-Pope to “It’s a little bit like Greek mythology brought to modernity.” In depicting Pope Francis as a superhero using his papal authority for the good, the pontiff is shown as a pop style dressed in his understated white cassock, simple shoes and an iron pectoral crosscross as the Super-Pope carrying a black briefcase labeled “Valores” (meaning values in both Latin and Spanish). This symbolizes that the first New World Pope only carries his Christian values.
A red and blue scarf is hanging out of the briefcase, which is for the Argentine San Lorenzo de Football (soccer) club, which the Pope been a fan of this underdog team since his boyhood.
Pope Francis greeted players from San Lorenzo at the Vatican in December after a Wednesday general audience to congratulate them on winning the Tornial Incial championship.
Pope Francis has repeatedly spoken of the spiritual values of sports teams. His Holiness exhorted Argentine and Italians sports clubs that: “[R]ugby is like life because we are all heading for a goal, we need to
run together and pass the ball from hand to hand until we get to it”.
The artist explained that the San Lorenzo soccer scarf brought Super-Pope Francis to being human. However, considering Pope Francis’ connection between sports and spirituality, carrying the San Lorenzo scarf with his values “baggage” , it can be seen as a reminder that even a “Super-Pope” needs the support of his underdog team to achieve the goal of advancing the kingdom of God.
Vatican Communications embraced Pallotta’s Super-Pope folk art tribute by posting it on its Twitter feed.
|2014 State of the Union Word Cloud (graphics: USA Today)|
|Jayson Collins sitting near Michelle Obama at 2014 State of the Union Address|
|[C] Rep. Rosa DeLauro, [front L] Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee [back C] Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz hardily cheering President Obama’s 2014 State of the Union speech|
|[Front row 2nd L] Army Ranger Cory Remsberg at the 2014 State of the Union address|