I'm not the biggest fan of TSA security procedures myself, but I probably prefer them to the laughably ineffective regime that existed prior to 9/11. And I definitely prefer them to what the bedwetting wingnuts who want us to resort to ethnic profiling measures immediately instead of messing around with random searches, which they consider "political correctness."
Guys like wingnut Georgia GOP Rep. Paul Broun, who was on Fox News yesterday with Shannon Bream sharing his expertise -- the guy sits on the Homeland Security Committee, which is a disconcerting thought indeed -- because of TSA procedures he witnessed recently in an airport:
BREAM: Congressman, thanks for joining us today. What did you see that has you so upset?
BROUN: Well, Shannon, what happened at the airport is, uh, an elderly lady walked -- ah, followed me behind in the screening process, and she was patted down. A little kid was patted down. And this guy in Arabian attire just walks right through.
And the point of all this is that we have to focus upon those people who want to harm us. TSA has been abysmal -- abysmal failure. We're spending eight billion dollars a year on this, and we're -- we're focusing on these total body scans, these enhanced patdowns. We need more, uh, intelligence.
That we do, Congressman, that we do. In Congress, especially.
Broun wants everyone who wears "Arabian dress" to get the thorough patdown at TSA security checkpoints -- even though anyone even half-knowledgeable about antiterrorist security can tell you that no terrorist will wear garb that attracts attention to themselves. They are uniformly intent on blending in and being unnoticed. Anyone wearing "Arabian dress" is actually not likely at all to be a terrorist.
But that ain't no nevermind to someone like Broun. He has bigger fish to fry here:
BROUN: We need to focus on those people who are trying to harm us as a nation. And so it's absolutely critical for us change from this wasteful, um, inefficient -- type of screening that's going on at the airport. It's wasting billions of dollars and we need to start focusing upon what is absolutely going to help prevent people from being killed. And that's to get the human intelligence out there -- some -- infiltration into these various groups so that we know who is gonna harm us and so we stop these attacks, instead of wasting the taxpayers' money, instead of having this big hassle at the airport. It's costing American taxpayers, as well as the airline industry, billions of dollars.
See, Broun is one of those many Republicans who thinks that simple ethnic profiling measures will do the job and make us good and secure, and probably save us a bundle in the process. Skip the random patdowns and replace it with simple profiling of Muslims, and voila! No more need for a TSA.
This is, of course, rank stupidity guaranteed to get people killed, because it is guaranteed to make us more vulnerable. As we've explained previously:
If you want to profile every "known Muslim," you're going to have a hell of a time in countries like Indonesia and the Philippines, considering that their populations are a mix of the world's religions, and any Muslim who wanted to pose as a member of, say, a Christian church in order to fool authorities could do so with ease.
This just underscores how foolish the whole notion of racial profiling actually is, because when you embark on such policies, they actually make you more vulnerable, not less.
That's because terrorists are not that stupid. If you begin profiling for Middle Eastern men, they will find Indonesian or African or European operatives to perform the same task. If you begin profiling for Muslims, they will find ways to conceal their religious preferences.
We know two things about profiling, especially ethnic, religious, or racial profiling: 1) These policies expose the profilers to being gamed by terrorists; and 2) They are always a tremendous waste of resources and inevitably are counter-productive.
Sounds like your classic conservative solution: Hey, let's just make matters worse!
And waste a bundle of money while we're at it.
The best part is listening to Broun provide a down-home rationale for ethnic profiling, straight out of Dukes of Hazzard:
BREAM: But Congressman, how tough is this job now for the TSA, just to see the way that somebody is clothed, or see the pigmentation of their skin to automatically have to suspect them? That puts them in a tough place.
BROUN: Well, it does, Shannon. But the thing is, if a guy who's a young man robs a bank and goes and jumps in a blue Camaro with racing stripes and flames on it and goes running off, you say -- does the police put out an all-points bulletin saying, 'There's a person driving a motorized vehicle. Look for them.'
You know, we've got to focus on those who want to harm us. And the way we do that is we have to have the human intelligence, and we have to stop this inane political correctness that's going on.
Political correctness is not -- eh -- won't save any lives. But focusing on those that want -- will harm us -- uh, will. We've already seen how political correctness run amok has cost lives with Major Hasan out in Texas at Fort Hood. We've got to get past that, we've got to start focusing on those people.
All of which raises the question: Is Paul Broun the stupidest member of Congress? Really, you can't help but watch this performance and wonder.
I remember back in the day that the political columnist Jack Anderson ran an annual piece naming someone or other the "dumbest member of Congress". (I remember this because two of my congressmen from Idaho -- George Hansen and Steve Symms -- were perennial winners.) I don't think anyone does it anymore, but someone should. Because Paul Broun would win. A lot.
Joe Conason, in fact, named Broun the stupidest member of Congress last year. I'd say he's in the running again this year.
This is a guy who, just days after the 2008 election, declared that "he fears that President-elect Obama will establish a Gestapo-like security force to impose a Marxist dictatorship." When one of Broun's supporters wished aloud for someone to shoot President Obama, Broun laughed and brushed it off. This is the guy who thinks a vital piece of legislation is to declare a "Year of the Bible".
On health care, Broun was equally reality-based (which is to say: not at all), saying thing like this:
"If ObamaCare passes, that free insurance card that's in people's pockets is gonna be as worthless as a Confederate dollar after the War Between The States -- the Great War of Yankee Aggression."
In July, Broun declared that the public insurance option "is gonna kill people." Later in the month, he argued that "ObamaCare" would "give every single one of those illegal aliens health insurance." At a town hall meeting in September, Broun literally walked away from a constituent who couldn't get health coverage after telling him, "If you have a suggestion, send it to me." And, just a few weeks ago, he introduced "alternative" legislation that would eliminate Medicare altogether.
Yesterday, Broun escalated his attacks on the Democratic reform bill, saying that its passage will "destroy America as we know it today."
Yep, he's back in the running.