TSA’s Devious Pocketknife Feint

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TSA’s decision to allow small pocketknives on airplanes isn’t the most important news around, but Jonathan Bernstein has an interesting followup to my post complaining about Chuck Schumer’s demand that TSA reverse itself on this. He points out that it’s really hard to relax safety restrictions, because everyone knows that eventually something bad will happen and whoever did the relaxing will catch hell over it. So how is it that TSA worked up the courage to relax the rules on pocketknives? Bernstein gets Machiavellian on us:

So what I’ve wondering is whoever is making this happen over at TSA is actually really smart about that, and added “knives” to a collection of innocuous stuff to draw fire away from everything else. Not that I’m saying small knives should be banned, or even that TSA thinks they should be banned. Just that it’s probably a viable bureaucratic strategy to toss in one item on the list that politicians can go after, thus allowing everything else to go into effect.

This is….weirdly plausible. If everyone gets riled up over the knives, maybe they’ll forget all about the golf clubs and tiny baseball bats. It’s hard to imagine anyone at TSA actually having this conversation, since there would be too much risk of it leaking out, but who knows? Maybe those guys are more devious than we think.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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