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Can't touch this
May 25, 2011 2:00 PM   Subscribe

Last week the Texas House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill (House Bill 1937) prohibiting public servants from intrusively touching anyone seeking access to a public building or form of transportation. (TIME, Dallas News, Washington Times) The blogosphere touted the legislation as a move to criminalize TSA groping. Today, the bill was withdrawn from consideration by the state senate after a threat from the TSA and Department of Justice to "close down all the airports in Texas". Protesters are currently marching on the state capitol. posted by thescientificmethhead (93 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
I feel dirty when I find myself agreeing with something Alex Jones said or did.
posted by wierdo at 2:03 PM on May 25, 2011 [9 favorites]


This seems more like "Don't mess with Texas" states-rightist fervor than TSA outragefilter.
posted by blucevalo at 2:09 PM on May 25, 2011


“Naturally, Texans didn’t take to well to being threatened in that manner,” said Rep. David Simpson, the author of the bill

Well except when you withdrew it after the TSA pointed out you can't make a Federal goddamn law illegal even if you use a whole bunch of scare words in it over and over again, you moron. You tried to pass a bill saying you had the right to arrest Federal officials, thus making your attempt to secede a few months back look slightly less stupid.

Jesus, I hate the TSA too-absolutely fucking hate it- but is there anything more to this than finding "SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN" rhetoric for whatever nonsense bill Texas passed to wave its dick around this week?

Don't mess with Texas because they'll blog about it for days. Sheesh.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:11 PM on May 25, 2011 [22 favorites]


Supremacy Clause, what? I don't see why the threat of closing all of the airports in Texas was necessary. Federal law should simply trump under the Supremacy Clause. It's not like there's some weird mixed state-federal law regime for airports and airport security. The federal government runs the whole show.
posted by jedicus at 2:12 PM on May 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Federal law should simply trump under the Supremacy Clause. It's not like there's some weird mixed state-federal law regime for airports and airport security. The federal government runs the whole show.

And attention-whoring Texas part-time legislators would love getting more free air time out of this. You know what? Given that the alternative was a potential jailing of a TSA official for doing his job at minimal wage followed by weeks of cable news whining and tying up both state and Federal courts for months over this nonsense, the Feds being the adult in the room and telling Texas to stop whining or they'll take away the car keys was probably the right move this time around.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:15 PM on May 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


This is the kind of stupid you can look forward to coming from your White House in a couple of years if y'all don't start taking Rick Perry seriously as a contender in 2012. Don't say I didn't warn ya.
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:25 PM on May 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


He didn't really mean that, DR.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 2:30 PM on May 25, 2011


We have made many many bad moves in our foreign policy.
In domestic concerns, two big ones:
1. acquiring Texas from Mexico via war and allowing it to become a state.
2. not allowing the South to secede.
posted by Postroad at 2:31 PM on May 25, 2011 [14 favorites]


I wish legislators would pop in a

Whereas: it is not the case that the state of Texas can legally do this we declare this law a protest of federal law

It would make it so much easier for news outlets to sift through protest legislation and stupid legislation (but not protest/stupid legislation).
posted by munchingzombie at 2:32 PM on May 25, 2011



Anyway, the last I looked, Texas had major airline hubs going on at two of its airports. Shut those down, the airline industry falls apart.


Yep. I can't believe the Tea Party/Republicans didn't play chicken on this.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:35 PM on May 25, 2011 [8 favorites]


They could always secede in protest.
posted by zarq at 2:37 PM on May 25, 2011


Yeah you never see Texans bash New Yorkers or Californians, they shouldn't do likewise.
posted by stbalbach at 2:40 PM on May 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Putting aside the derptexas comments, I am kind of glad that there is a state government willing to stand up and advocate for its citizens (acknowledging, of course, that much of the motivation is political grandstanding). I wish more states would give the federal government pushback on things like the TSA.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 2:40 PM on May 25, 2011 [15 favorites]


I don't see the Federal Government being able to keep the airlines in Texas shut down for long if this bill were to be passed; we are, after all, the second most populous state in the union. We have 25,145,561 citizens as of the April 1, 2011 census numbers. That's far too many consumers for the major corporations to lose revenue from for very long. The financial meltdown hippybear alluded to above would include much more than just airlines losing revenue. Those flights don't just carry passengers; FedEx, UPS, and pretty much all shipping of materials in and out of Texas would be effected. Don't we also have quite a bit of the non-foreign oil reserves as well?

This threatened shutdown would be biting off their own noses to spite their faces.
posted by schade at 2:49 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't see why we all can't get behind this. Any time anybody wants to decrease security-theater anti-terrorist tactics, we should should all support it.

And good luck shutting down Dallas-Forth Worth and George Bush. Despite all, it's a hub that is central to air travel. It's just as critical as O'Hare, and bigger than Atlanta.
posted by jabberjaw at 2:51 PM on May 25, 2011 [12 favorites]


All the posturing about Texas seceding or cutting off Texas is just that, posturing. It would be economic and political suicide for everybody concerned.
posted by kmz at 2:52 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


jedicus, how is it that the state of Texas cannot pass a criminal law making it illegal to touch someone's anus, buttocks, or genitals without consent? Seems to me they probably already have such laws on the books. Too bad the police and prosecutors are too chickenshit to use them. (as they are in every other state, I'm not singling out Texas)
posted by wierdo at 2:52 PM on May 25, 2011


There is a large part of me that thinks that the legislation has more to do with the fact that it is the federal government doing it, rather than the State Government. Stories like this and this and this at least allude to the fact that the TX gov/law enforcement in-general doesn't mind strip searching per se. Only when it's carried out by the feds.
posted by edgeways at 2:52 PM on May 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm seriously considering making DerpTexas my new user name.
posted by Slackermagee at 2:53 PM on May 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


I can't believe the Tea Party/Republicans didn't play chicken on this.

Don't kid yourself. The Bidness of Texas is Bidness. When the Tea Partiers stop giving Republicans the cover of "democratic grass roots" for tax cuts for the wealthy, the TPers will be wondering where their funding went...
posted by Mad_Carew at 3:02 PM on May 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


There is a large part of me that thinks that the legislation has more to do with the fact that it is the federal government doing it, rather than the State Government.

It's even simpler: they're only doing this because the President is a Democrat and the TSA is unpopular. If the President were still Republican, they'd be falling all over themselves to condemn anyone who dared speak against obvious and important safety measures in the WAR OF OUR FREEDOMS VERSUS TERROR!!! WHY DO YOU WANT OUR BABIES TO EXPLODE!?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:04 PM on May 25, 2011 [24 favorites]


they're only doing this because the President is a Democrat and the TSA is unpopular. If the President were still Republican, they'd be falling all over themselves to condemn anyone who dared speak against obvious and important safety measures

Ding!
posted by Devils Rancher at 3:10 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


For real, don't grope our babies isn't partisan.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:12 PM on May 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


Close down airports in Texas? they should have called the feds bluff, frankly. I seriously doubt the federal government would have the balls to actually do it.
posted by delmoi at 3:15 PM on May 25, 2011


Am I in bizarro-metafilter? People here are defending the TSA groping program?

Oh right it's Texas, so it's all about "crazy-don't mess with me-secessonists."
posted by Big_B at 3:16 PM on May 25, 2011 [12 favorites]


I don't see a single post in this thread actually defending the TSA's intrusive searching of airline passengers. Perhaps you're reading something different?
posted by hippybear at 3:18 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, it's really a lose/lose thing. TSA thuggery on one side, partisan Republican gamesmanship on the other.
posted by kmz at 3:21 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


If the President were still Republican

Yeah, pornoscanners and TSA groping looked a lot better to those guys when George W Bush was president.

The spectacle of watching (former talk radio jackass) Dan Patrick and Lite Guv Dewhurst facing off over the right of the TSA to manhandle my boobs and my husband's junk has been priceless, though. Just today at lunch I was telling my husband that as much as I hated to see Dewhurst win any kind of argument in the legislature, it was satisfying to see someone slap down Patrick.

(For those who don't live in Texas: part of this is about jockeying in the race to replace Kay Bailey Hutchison in 2012. Patrick is grandstanding for the Tea Partiers, even though he doesn't have a hat in the ring; Dewhurst is going for the sensible business/country club Republican vote and is seriously considering a run. We're also in the closing days of a biennial legislative session in which we got a sonogram law for women seeking abortions--one of the highest priorities of the session--but no action on the perpetual problem of school funding and no action on the structural deficit problem. We need some laughter here in Austin to keep from crying.)
posted by immlass at 3:22 PM on May 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


Actually the TSA could have just required anyone getting a connecting flight from Texas to go through security again. And then they could have just stopped doing security entirely, which would have illustrated how pointless the whole damn thing is.

Of course it would be very difficult to sequester people getting of plane X from people boarding planes Y through Z.
they're only doing this because the President is a Democrat and the TSA is unpopular. If the President were still Republican, they'd be falling all over themselves to condemn anyone who dared speak against obvious and important safety measures
This is such bullshit. There are a lot of people who simply don't like this shit, regardless of partisanship.
posted by delmoi at 3:23 PM on May 25, 2011


Yeah, pornoscanners and TSA groping looked a lot better to those guys when George W Bush was president.
The TSA modified the groping (prior to that there had been no genital groping) after the Abdulmutalab bombing attempt, and before that the scanners were optional. People are upset because the policy changed.
posted by delmoi at 3:24 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


(former talk radio jackass) Dan Patrick

Hey, the Dan Patrick Show wasn't that bad.

Oh wait...
posted by kmz at 3:27 PM on May 25, 2011


Go Texas! Yes, they should've absolutely-o-fucking-lootly called the TSA's bluff. I've no idea if we'd've seen a unanimous result if the president was a republican, but I'd bet money the bill would've still passed.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:28 PM on May 25, 2011


Could we get a good deal on Schwarzenegger as a TSA feeler-upper?
posted by telstar at 3:31 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


The TSA modified the groping (prior to that there had been no genital groping) after the Abdulmutalab bombing attempt, and before that the scanners were optional. People are upset because the policy changed.

And when it was optional and for other people, "law and order" folks, a class which many of our Republicans here in Texas belong to, supported it. Now that it's goring their oxes, it's completely different. That's entirely different from civil libertarians of all political stripes who have opposed the program from day one. Patrick is certainly right on the issue of wanting people to be able to fly without getting their privates manhandled, but I've been watching the man's career since he was a local TV sports anchor, and I have no illusion that him being correct this time is anything but a stopped clock hitting its twice-a-day moment.
posted by immlass at 3:36 PM on May 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's my understanding that the 2001 law that created the TSA allows airports to opt out of TSA screening. If that's true, it seems to me there isn't a conflict here; Texas simply needs to create or hire their own screening force.

And there are so many ways to win from a conservative standpoint here... not only could you "stand up to Washington", you could go counteract the TraИspoЯtatioИ Socialist AdmiИistЯatioИ with good ol' American Private Enterprise... and if you want to throw in a pro-Israel angle, hire former El Al staff, who can probably do a better job without touching anybody than the TSA can with pornoscanners and freedom fondles.

So... why not, Texas?
posted by weston at 3:39 PM on May 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


This is such bullshit. There are a lot of people who simply don't like this shit, regardless of partisanship.

There are a lot of people who don't like this shit, period...

...and then there are Texas State legislators, who just passed a fucking law requiring transvaginal sonograms for many women seeking an abortion. A transvaginal sonogram means a doctor has to shove a probe up my vagina to show me a tiny cluster of cells.

Fucking rapists in the capitol and I'm supposed to applaud their bravery in "standing up" to the TSA? Fuck that.
posted by muddgirl at 3:39 PM on May 25, 2011 [45 favorites]


This is such bullshit. There are a lot of people who simply don't like this shit, regardless of partisanship.

Of course there are. Some of them are even Republican, and some of *them* are even Republican elected officials.

But the sole reason that Republican elected officials in Texas decided to start passing a law that obviously had no chance whatsoever of not violating the supremacy clause is, again, that the President nominally in charge of the program right now is Democratic.

If the President were still Republican, there would of course still be Republicans, and Republican elected officials, who disliked it or thought it was an intrusion on civil liberties. It's just that none of them would say so, and for damn sure none of them would be working to pass stunt legislation condemning it. Instead, they would be hailing it as a vital part of our safety and the war on terror, even though they don't actually believe that.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:54 PM on May 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm probably going to get flamed for this... but really, while I don't agree with the transvaginal sonogram bill... Nobody who is actually in the Texas state capital will be enacting this procedure upon you, and if you're going to a doctor for an abortion, last I checked, that also involves having things pushed into one's vagina. You're using inflammatory language which, in my eyes, is hurting your cause because of its extremity.

Your rhetoric around here has been overly sexual and angry lately. Not just here, but in other threads.
posted by hippybear at 3:56 PM on May 25, 2011


muddgirl's so right; if folks haven't seen it yet, Perry signed the bill yesterday; it requires even victims of rape or incest to get a penetrative transvaginal sonogram before they're allowed to have an abortion (though they're allowed to opt out of listening to the doctor's description as it violates them). It's an astonishingly invasive and despicable law, and the fact that Texas Republicans passed it right before this TSA stunt is the height of hypocrisy (this week).
posted by mediareport at 3:58 PM on May 25, 2011 [12 favorites]


Wow, hippybear, I'm utterly shocked. From the 2nd link I just posted:

...there is a vast difference between being vaginally penetrated by a health professional with one's consent while undergoing a desired and legal medical procedure and a mandatory, state-ordered penetration that one does not have the option to refuse while also being forced to hear a doctor describe the ultrasound image. Uninvited penetration is rape, whether perpetrated by a man jumping out from behind the bushes or legislating from the state capitol.

Seriously, "you have to get penetrated to have an abortion anyway" is about as blockheaded and tone-deaf an argument as you can make in this one. You should retract it. muddgirl's dead on target on this one.
posted by mediareport at 4:00 PM on May 25, 2011 [27 favorites]


People are upset because the policy changed.

Yes. People, in general, are upset that the policy changed.

Republican officeholders, however, are a distinct subset of "people." Republican officeholders are just using an unpopular program to beat Democrats with. Just the same as the thousands of other things they did a 180 on when Obama won.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:00 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know, Louisiana was forced to violate our state constitution to comply with the drinking age at 21 law by being blackmailed with our own tax money via the denial of all Federal highway funds. Being based on the Napoleonic Code it contains a clause saying that at the age of 18 one acquires IIRC "all the rights and privileges of adulthood." The first time this went to the state Supreme Court they sensibly declared it unconstitutional, but a year later after a stern talk the lege sent them the exact same bill and the exact same judges squinted and decided it was OK.
posted by localroger at 4:01 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here is the Senate vote on the bill that created the TSA. It was approved by 50 Republicans, 49 Democrats, and an Independent. You don't get to make it a partisan issue.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:01 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


(Sorry, that was 50 dems, 49 Reps)
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:02 PM on May 25, 2011


if you're going to a doctor for an abortion, last I checked, that also involves having things pushed into one's vagina

AFAIK, RU-486 is taken orally, not as a vaginal suppository.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:02 PM on May 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Texas: It's illegal for airport workers to jam things in your vagina, but required for doctors visits.
posted by T.D. Strange at 4:04 PM on May 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


Texas simply needs to create or hire their own screening force.

Yes, but that would involve paying for it.
posted by immlass at 4:05 PM on May 25, 2011


I would say there is a major difference between having something inserted into your body because the doctor really has no other way to do something you want done and having something inserted into your body so some fuckwit politician can try to freak you out for doing something you've already decided you want done.
posted by localroger at 4:08 PM on May 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


mediareport: kind of hard for me to read something you post after my comment...

but as you wish. I retract that bit. Still not sure that muddgirl's rhetoric across the Blue has necessarily been on the best of levels here of late, but if I need to pursue that any further, I'll address it with her directly or via MeTa.
posted by hippybear at 4:08 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just used that because it was handy, hippybear; the idea should have been self-evident, just like cavalierly defending government-mandated vaginal penetration should have been self-evidently stupid. Glad to see you now agree. Again, muddgirl's dead on target on this one. They hypocrisy of Texas Republicans is breathtaking here, and no one should be supporting them for the TSA stance while ignoring the rape law they just passed.
posted by mediareport at 4:16 PM on May 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


If unnecessary, unwanted penetration of your body is mandated for the sole purpose of deterring you from having the procedure that you actually want to have done, it's not inaccurate to call it rape.
posted by stavrogin at 4:23 PM on May 25, 2011 [8 favorites]


jedicus, how is it that the state of Texas cannot pass a criminal law making it illegal to touch someone's anus, buttocks, or genitals without consent?
They can, of course. But if that law contradicts a federal law, the federal law trumps it. That's all there is to it.

If they don't like the federal law, their options are:posted by Flunkie at 4:28 PM on May 25, 2011


You're using inflammatory language which, in my eyes, is hurting your cause because of its extremity.

I don't find it extreme at all. I think it's angry. People have the right to get angry, just like people get angry about the TSA. Please feel free to tell all the people who are so so angry about the TSA to tone down their rhetoric, too.
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:32 PM on May 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


But if that law contradicts a federal law, the federal law trumps it.

What federal law requires the TSA to perform the current invasive pat-downs? I thought that was a matter of departmental policy set by appointed administrators.
posted by enn at 4:49 PM on May 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Bring a lawsuit to try to get the federal law declared unconstitutional

"If common sense tells us anything, it's that the government can twiddle your junk at any time, for any reason", Scalia's argument began.
posted by mhoye at 5:31 PM on May 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


What federal law requires the TSA to perform the current invasive pat-downs? I thought that was a matter of departmental policy set by appointed administrators.

Unfortunately, whether pat-downs are "required" is not the Constitutional test. The test is whether or not pat-downs are "authorized" by federal law. In this case, TSA is well within its authority to mandate pat-downs. (Whether or not pat-downs are actually Constitutional under the 4th Amendment, though, is a different issue.)

Because airports deal in interstate commerce, the federal government has every authority to do whatever it needs in order to regulate it, within reason. Under the Constitution, laws (including regulations and policies) promulgated by the federal government trump state laws. Because of this, I'm almost certain that the Texas law is unconstitutional.

That doesn't mean, though, that the sentiment can't be carried up to Congress for a federal law that takes that authority away from the TSA. Keep in mind that Texas has 32 reps in the House, a sizable chunk with a lot of sway.
posted by jabberjaw at 5:32 PM on May 25, 2011


Can you imagine an activist time-traveling from the United States in 1968 to the United States in 2011? How can you even get here from there, they'd probably wonder.
posted by maxwelton at 5:45 PM on May 25, 2011


Can you imagine an activist time-traveling from the United States in 1968 to the United States in 2011?

Luckily, full-body 4D cavity searches of American time travelers were only have been made mandatory in 2036.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:02 PM on May 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's my understanding that the TSA has specifically disclaimed police powers, in that they can't actually arrest you at a checkpoint if you don't cooperate. They need to call the local PD/airport PD for that.

So wouldn't it make more sense to pass a law that prohibits police in Texas from arresting people who refuse to cooperate with the TSA grope-downs, much the same way that certain states have prevented their police from detaining illegal immigrants?
posted by madajb at 6:10 PM on May 25, 2011


weston writes "Texas simply needs to create or hire their own screening force. [...] "So... why not, Texas?"

Money. Texas would have to pay for it. As much of the right believes you should pay for what you are getting the solution is obvious: Pornoscanning and groping fees. $5 co-pay from every one going through the checkpoint. Heck they could even make money.

localroger writes "You know, Louisiana was forced to violate our state constitution to comply with the drinking age at 21 law by being blackmailed with our own tax money via the denial of all Federal highway funds. Being based on the Napoleonic Code it contains a clause saying that at the age of 18 one acquires IIRC 'all the rights and privileges of adulthood.' The first time this went to the state Supreme Court they sensibly declared it unconstitutional, but a year later after a stern talk the lege sent them the exact same bill and the exact same judges squinted and decided it was OK."

Ya, I totally don't get this even after it was explained to me.
posted by Mitheral at 6:17 PM on May 25, 2011


Mitheral, the LA drinking law thing (which was hideously unpopular in every corner of the state) was when I figured it out. It's really very simple. "They" are a bunch of evil motherfuckers and they do what they want and because they have the guns and howitzers and H-bombs whether we're "their" citizens or not they deal with us as they deal with everybody: If we get in their way, they roll over us and do what they want anyway. As far as punishing people for doing anything that might be fun, that's just pure sadism. They are our pimp and we are their bitches, and they keep us in line through fear.
posted by localroger at 6:32 PM on May 25, 2011


This is Metafilter at its' best: were this a blue state everyone here would be cheering, but since it's Texas, well, they're a bunch of knee-jerk reactionaries who still want to kill non-Christians so we should just mock them.

Look, you may not like how Texas postures or agree with a lot of its politics, but I would think that the TSA is one issue Metafilter could get behind them on.
posted by tgrundke at 7:01 PM on May 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


thanks, I'll pass. Tex Leg can go whistle for my support, the assclowns.
posted by warbaby at 7:15 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Look, you may not like how Texas postures or agree with a lot of its politics, but I would think that the TSA is one issue Metafilter could get behind them on.

So basically the enemy of my enemy is my friend? The world doesn't work like this.

If the TSA passed a new ruling such that only immigrants who don't vote would get patted down, would the Texas legislature give a crap? Of course not (heck, would you give a crap?) I can guarantee that they would back down in one hot minute if it meant that their balls wouldn't be the balls getting fondled.

I simply don't support jackasses the 1% of the time that our interests align if they will throw me under the bus when they get what they want.

And this has nothing to do with "Texas bashing." I actually live in Texas, and I volunteer and I donate and I vote to try and make this a better place.
posted by muddgirl at 7:18 PM on May 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


We have made many many bad moves in our foreign policy.
In domestic concerns, two big ones:
...
2. not allowing the South to secede.


What do you mean by "we", white man?
posted by alms at 7:27 PM on May 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Wow, it only took like an hour to derail the thread into "things we don't like about Texas". By this standard, MetaFilter users are unable to approve of anything that happens in 90% of the world.
posted by shii at 7:35 PM on May 25, 2011


The DOJ attempted to justify their action by an appeal to the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution and by claiming that the bill "would conflict directly with federal law." However, HB 1937 already grants a defense to prosecution for an offense that the actor performed pursuant to and consistent with an explicit and applicable grant of federal authority that is consistent with the United States Constitution.

"The bill clearly states that an agent is exempt from prosecution as long as a constitutionally sanctioned federal law directs them to perform the invasive, indecent groping searches-including touching breasts, sexual organs and buttocks," noted [Simpson].

"Instead of threatening to shut down flights in Texas, why doesn’t the TSA just show us their statutory authority to grope or ogle our private parts?" asked Simpson.
via
posted by finite at 7:41 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Luckily, full-body 4D cavity searches of American time travelers were only have been made mandatory in 2036.

Even luckier, those 4D scans are conducted yesterday from across town, so you never even feel them.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 7:44 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


And when it was optional and for other people, "law and order" folks, a class which many of our Republicans here in Texas belong to, supported it.
Yes, why would anyone oppose an optional scan? Before the new policy, if people didn't want to get scanned, they didn't have too.

The reason people didn't oppose mandatory scans and groping before was because there was nothing to oppose. (except for the much more minor groping that didn't involve touching the groin area)
It's my understanding that the 2001 law that created the TSA allows airports to opt out of TSA screening. If that's true, it seems to me there isn't a conflict here; Texas simply needs to create or hire their own screening force.
Airports started to do that, but then the TSA decided to stop allowing it, saying they "didn't see the value" in allowing airports to opt out. So yes, people did try it after the new policies came into force. This "Texas won't hire their own screeners because they don't want to pay for it" isn't true. The TSA is not allowing it.
Here is the Senate vote on the bill that created the TSA. It was approved by 50 Republicans, 49 Democrats, and an Independent. You don't get to make it a partisan issue.
If these new regulations had been put up for a vote in congress, I doubt they would have passed. But instead they were imposed by fiat by the TSA director.
posted by delmoi at 7:45 PM on May 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Postroad: "We have made many many bad moves in our foreign policy.
In domestic concerns, two big ones:
1. acquiring Texas from Mexico via war and allowing it to become a state.
2. not allowing the South to secede
"

Lately whenever I read your comments I wish you would secede from Metafilter.
posted by Roman Graves at 8:07 PM on May 25, 2011


Video from the Texas Tribune: Alex Jones and [more than] 200 protesters storm Texas state capitol over TSA bill
posted by thescientificmethhead at 8:38 PM on May 25, 2011


Hate the TSA but hate Texas even more. I guess I'd suck it up and take my airport groping if it meant all Texans couldn't fly.
posted by photoslob at 8:52 PM on May 25, 2011


The drama continues. Lite Gov Dewhurst (R-Business) says he'll allow it up for a vote:
Defending himself against charges that he lobbied against passage of a controversial airport groping ban, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst says he will give the bill another chance to be passed into law later tonight.
I think the chances are better now that there is so much light and heat applied to it than before.

And photoslob, if you don't like us, please feel free not to talk to us.
posted by Mad_Carew at 8:57 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hate the TSA but hate Texas even more. I guess I'd suck it up and take my airport groping if it meant all Texans couldn't fly.

I said this earlier... but do we have to do this? Really?
posted by hippybear at 9:00 PM on May 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


This is Metafilter at its' best: were this a blue state everyone here would be cheering, but since it's Texas, well, they're a bunch of knee-jerk reactionaries who still want to kill non-Christians so we should just mock them.

Not entirely. It's also how and why they're doing it. How -- in a manner that's sure to lead to the issue's ultimate failure, perhaps in court, so it's just posturing and grandstanding. Why -- to attract the reactionary anti-washington vote that's too low-information to realize they've just been grandstanded. The truth of it is, as mudirl has pointed out, if these bastards really gave two shits about people being groped, the abortion sonogram thing wouldn't have just gone to the governor yesterday. You're being cynically sold a bill of goods. A pig in a poke.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:06 PM on May 25, 2011


This is Metafilter at its' best: were this a blue state everyone here would be cheering, but since it's Texas, well, they're a bunch of knee-jerk reactionaries who still want to kill non-Christians so we should just mock them.
I frankly don't think that the fact that this is in Texas has anything at all to do with my reaction, which is that I am opposed to unconstitutional remedies to issues of questionable constitutionality.

There are better ways to fix this than by breaking something else.
posted by Flunkie at 9:13 PM on May 25, 2011


And photoslob, if you don't like us, please feel free not to talk to us.

Aw c'mon, I was just having a little fun. If it makes you feel any better I live in Florida.
posted by photoslob at 9:13 PM on May 25, 2011


Well, it certainly helps me feel superior. :-)
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:16 PM on May 25, 2011


The reason people didn't oppose mandatory scans and groping before was because there was nothing to oppose.

We are not talking about "people", we are talking about the Texas legislature. Indeed, the Texas legislature did not oppose things under George Bush that he did not actually order. I will admit to exaggeration for humorous effect. But in no wise did they oppose any other abrogations of civil liberties promoted by the Bush administration, Homeland Security, or other branches of the federal government. The bill under discussion is not primarily about stopping TSA agents from groping people; nobody in their right mind expects it to do so even if it passes and becomes law, because of the court challenge that would follow. It's about grandstanding to Republican primary voters in Texas in 2012, which is why the Texans who are speaking up in this thread, including those who are otherwise opposed to pornoscans and groping, are unenthused about this measure.

This "Texas won't hire their own screeners because they don't want to pay for it" isn't true.

The fact that the TSA would not allow the state to do it is not relevant to the financial and political calculations that keep Texas from offering. As long as the TSA is responsible for your bad experience in airports, the federal government is taking your tax dollars to pay for unnecessary programs that violate your rights. Taking responsibility for airport screening would involve both raising taxes and/or fees (unacceptable) and hiring both screeners and bureaucrats to run the program (also unacceptable). Even if other states had successfully opted out, the likelihood of Texas opting out would be close to nil.

Like the no-groping bill itself, the question of whether or not the state could get together an opt-out proposal is an internal matter of Texas politics. None of this is about the TSA or civil liberties other than in name. The fact that the TSA is in the wrong about groping does not make Dan Patrick a hero for using them to promote his own political agenda.
posted by immlass at 9:28 PM on May 25, 2011


Dead Again! Watching the Texas Senate make sausage is the 2nd most fun you can have in Austin that involves politicians...
posted by Mad_Carew at 9:44 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Austin local news coverage of the protests: Fox 7, KXAN.

Several comments in the thread point out the apparent hypocrisy of the Texas legislature passing an invasive abortion deterrence bill while also grandstanding for civil liberties with the anti-TSA bill. I agree that the abortion legislation is repulsive, however for many Texans (not just legislators) there is no ideological disconnect between the two bills. The conservative/fundamentalist Christian wing sees both bills as attempts to protect children (i.e. protecting unborn babies from abortion and born babies from TSA goons, as satirized in the above comments), and the libertarian/Ron Paul demographic (and I know plenty in Texas, not just Alex Jones listeners in Austin) believes in protecting civil liberties for all citizens, and sometimes this includes the unborn, as it does in Dr. Paul's rhetoric.

(and photoslob: as someone who moved from Austin to Orlando last year, I've got to tell you that you have no business disparaging Texans)
posted by thescientificmethhead at 5:26 AM on May 26, 2011


Hang on, we had a chance to both challenge the TSA AND make it harder for Texans to leave Texas, and we didn't take it? What the hell went wrong?
posted by Legomancer at 6:40 AM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


however for many Texans (not just legislators) there is no ideological disconnect between the two bills.

No question of that. I wasn't pointing out the "disconnect" (although as a woman I'm pretty damned sure sticking a sonogram up my privates so I can exercise my legal rights is a violation of a bunch of things, starting with ME) so much as pointing at the priorities of the legislature this session. They have 180 days and they haven't gotten redistricting and school finance done, and have barely managed to get the budget for the biennium together. But they still have time for the sonogram bill, an emergency and one of the highest priorities of the session according to Rick Perry, and for this piece of legislative grandstanding (which was withdrawn without a vote because it didn't have the numbers to pass), and for a lot of stuff like declaring 42 the state domino game. I like 42, and I'm not upset about it being the state game or anything, but damn, is that really what they need to be working on?
posted by immlass at 6:43 AM on May 26, 2011


I dunno, less real work from them means fewer boneheaded laws getting passed.

I'd rather they were spending time voting on 42 and making it a felony to lie about the size of your fish (not "lie about 'your fish'", that would be different) than to have them work on anything from Perry's list of "legislative emegencies" (the sonogram bill, voter ID, state support for a balanced federal budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution, eminent domain and a ban on sanctuary cities).
posted by Mad_Carew at 7:17 AM on May 26, 2011


Hate the TSA but hate Texas even more. I guess I'd suck it up and take my airport groping if it meant all Texans couldn't fly.

Hang on, we had a chance to both challenge the TSA AND make it harder for Texans to leave Texas, and we didn't take it? What the hell went wrong?

You know what? Fuck All Y'all.

You realize that half the people voting on this were Democrats, right? You realize that there are more Democrats in Texas than in many other state, by pure numbers. You realize that deciding that 24,782,302 people are worthless because of some stereotypical cartoonish ideas you have is the rankest, foulest prejudice and pretty much makes any opinion you ever have again worthy of being dismissed.

I was excited to see a Mefi post about this because I wanted to read more about it and hear some intelligent discussion of the complexities of the situation and the law. But apparently, I'm a member of a group that can't be taken seriously, ever.
posted by threeturtles at 7:26 AM on May 26, 2011 [12 favorites]


Flunkie wrote: They can, of course. But if that law contradicts a federal law, the federal law trumps it.

I don't believe that's the case unless said federal law specifically states that it preempts all other laws on a the subject. Even if it does, it would be pretty hard to argue that a law making it a requirement that TSA agents screen airline passengers preempts state criminal law unless it specifically talks about such laws and not "laws on the subject of this bill" or whatever the usual language is.
posted by wierdo at 7:30 AM on May 26, 2011


Perry's "legislative emergencies" are all grasping efforts to ingratiate himself with the Republican base. Devils Rancher isn't whistlin' Dixie; Perry is positioning himself for a presidential bid.

Texas Tribune brief: Tense budget negotiations continued Wednesday, but it didn't take long for an airport "groping" ban, an ensuing rowdy protest and vicious political sniping to steal some of the spotlight.
posted by thescientificmethhead at 7:32 AM on May 26, 2011


I'd just like to say that David Simpson guy is one of my local representatives. I met him while I was quietly counterprotesting a Tea Party on the courthouse lawn, and he came over to shake my hand and chat with me for a while about how he respected me for my disagreement et cetera. Nothing he said or did gave me any legitimate reason to be uneasy about him - in fact, he was highly charismatic and I found myself drawn to him during the conversation - but as soon as he walked away I felt incredibly, inexplicably skeeved out.

My conclusion is that he might be a psyker or something.
posted by titus n. owl at 9:24 AM on May 26, 2011


I know this conversation is dead, but someone sent me this link this morning, and I thought I'd add it:

Legislation barring federal Transportation Security Administration security personnel from conducting patdowns or using body scanners have been offered in New Jersey, Hawaii, New Hampshire and Texas. -source

I guess the people in New Jersey, Hawaii, and New Hampshire are all a bunch of dumb-fuck rednecks politically grandstanding as well.
posted by Orb at 7:30 AM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Grandstanding? Sure. How could a clearly-unconstitutional bill be anything but grandstanding?

It's really disingenuous to lump all objections to an action in one big bin. I don't think Texans are dumb-fuck rednecks, but I do think the Texas legislatures looooves them some grandstanding.
posted by muddgirl at 7:38 AM on June 1, 2011


How could a clearly-unconstitutional bill be anything but grandstanding?

Is the bill really inarguably unconstitutional? I see the arguments about the general reach of federal authority, and I'm sure they have some weight. But the pornoscan/invasive search policy isn't statutory, could arguably run afoul of the 4th, and I don't see why some state law that only narrowly limits security implementations is necessarily antithetical to either the TSA's specific stated purpose or the supremacy clause... unless one accepts the idea that a TSA that must limit highly personal invasive searches to situations with probable cause also cannot perform its statutory functions (and even then, I'd think you could still argue that statutory functions that require violations of the 4th aren't valid).

That doesn't, of course, mean the Texas legislature isn't grandstanding instead of doing something useful. I'm just arguing that whatever their actual intentions are, I don't think the bill itself is beyond plausibility.
posted by weston at 12:06 PM on June 1, 2011


Fine, an arguably-unconstitutional bill -- look, do you really think the Supreme Court would uphold such a state law? I don't know about law but I do know about Politics.
posted by muddgirl at 12:08 PM on June 1, 2011


I don't know. Like a lot of Metafilter, I'm often discouraged by court decisions. But I'm surprised sometimes.
posted by weston at 2:35 PM on June 1, 2011


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