Monthly Archives: January 2014

Some Exposing of the Naked Truth About Transporation Security Theater

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.


Matthew Brodeur on Hockey

Jay Leno on Spying


Lady Gaga on Life

Lady Gaga

Some Marveling at Super-Pope Francis via Graffiti Art

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.

Graffiti art in Buenos Aires, Argentina of Pope Francis &San Lorenzo Football Club (photo TripAdvisor)

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.

Vatican Super Pope Twitter
The Super-Pope graffiti art lasted but a day, as Rome’s decorum police acted faster than a speeding bullet took down this street art in record time.

Bishop Edward Burns on Faith

Adele on Temperament

Adele insecurities

HRC on Memoir-ies (sic)

Snapshots of the State of the Union

President Barack Obama gave his fifth State of the Union (SOTU) address to Congress.  The 6923 words spoken over 69 minutes formed an instructive word cloud.
2014 State of the Union Word Cloud (graphics: USA Today)
President Obam  wanted to emphasis work, newness and make Congress.  Note that the word cloud excluded common English words like “I”.  But to be fair, Mr. Obama seems to have done a better job at being self referential  as unofficial Twitter total count: 50 “I”s, 11 “mys” and 8 “me”s.
When Vice President Joe Biden was not resting his eyes, he often had a demonic grin which would scare trick or treaters at Halloween. 
The President made plenty of acknowledgments during his State of the Union speech,  including prefunctory welcomes to the grandees gathered in the House Chamber, as well as eleven guests which the White House brought to focus on  Mr. Obama’s stated priorities.  It is ironic that the Obama Administration made a big deal about having former pro basketball player Jayson Collins in the Presidential box, presumably because of his very public declaration of his sexual preferences last Spring.  
Jayson Collins sitting near Michelle Obama at 2014 State of the Union Address
Yet Collins did not even merit a shout out by name, only to be a prop for the Obama Administration’s concern about homosexual rights as America participates in the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russian Federation.
To make his point about how there can be upward mobility in America from humble origins, President Obama stopped using composite parables and credited House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH 8th) with rising from being son of a bar keep.
Speaker Boehner’s silent thumbs up seemed like a response which seemed reminiscent of his late night television appearances.  It is unclear if Mr. Boehner blushed due to his deep tan.
The State of the Union audience was less contrarian than when Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC 2nd) shouted “You lie” at Mr. Obama September, 2009 speech before a Joint Session of Congress.  Supreme Court Associate Justices Alito, Scalia and Thomas chose not to attend, but this is understandable considering how Mr. Obama attacked the High Court in 2010 during that State of the Union Speech. 
But this did not mean that there was an abundance of decorum for the State of the Union.   Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CN 2nd) stood up and pumped her fists in the air during prized passages of the speech. 
[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
But at least Rep. DeLauro’s animated atta boys drew attention to some hideous coifs and outfits in the Chamber. 
President Obama used a more restrained tone in delivering his State of the Union speech, often opting for the emphatic horse whisper to underline his points.  However, Frank Luntz’s focus panel thought that Mr. Obama’s delivery lacked passion and credulity.  In fact, the Luntz group noted that Mr. Obama kept mispronouncing the proposed My-IRA program and then expected the audience to intuit the parameters of the policy.
There was a torrent of passion displayed at the end of President Obama’s State of the Union address as he pointed to the Presidential box, where First Lady Michelle Obama was sitting besides 30 year old Army Sgt. 1st Class Cory Remsberg, a Ranger who served ten tours in Afghanistan who was severely injured by an IED in 2009. 
[Front row 2nd L] Army Ranger Cory Remsberg at the 2014 State of the Union address
Assuredly the alluvia of applause from the attendees was not for the First Lady’s dress.
There were two other noteworthy events attached to this year’s State of the Union speech.  One of the attendees of the speech was Will Robinson, invited by Rep. Vance McAllister (R-LA 5th).  Robinson was attired in what he would typically wear on Duck Dynasty, as seen shaking hands with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI 1st).
Another noteworthy moment needs to be seen to be believed.   As part of the post State of the Union spin, Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY 11th) gave an interview to NY 1.  When the reporter went off script and asked about the Congressman’s fundraising controversy, Grimm reacted harshly.
At first, Rep. Grimm walked off the interview, then he reproached the reporter with threats which sounded like it was from the Sopranos.

Charlie Cook on Politics

Charlie Cook King Obama

Paul Ryan


Ted Cruz against POTUS excess