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The Kiss That Stopped the World

Stupid is as stupid regulates.

By Hobbes  |  January 14, 2010

For a century or more, Hollywood has made countless billions marketing romance.  We've all seen the scenes: the swelling music, the handsome hero and beautiful leading lady, the heart-stopping smooch that seems to go on forever as the world stands still.  Not many of us will get to enjoy such an overpoweringly emotive experience, at least not very often in our lives.

Far, far fewer of us have managed such a spectacular kiss that the world, or at least a good chunk of it, actually did stop in response.  One Haisong Jiang, 28, of Piscataway NJ, is now a member of this elite club.

In Newark over the holidays, ten thousand people were stuck in a closed terminal for half a day and flights carrying many thousands more were delayed all across the country.

According to various news sources, the trouble started when someone ran backwards through the security checkpoint exit, thus getting into the "secure" terminal area without being screened.  Isn't there a TSA guard posted there to prevent this?  Shocking news: he had left his post unguarded - for which offense he has yet to be fired, thanks to a dogged defense provided by a union that's not even allowed to collectively bargain on his behalf.

More shocking news: the TSA camera recorders hadn't worked in days, and TSA supervisors didn't have the right phone number to call airline security staff and see if their cameras were any more use.  By the time they got their mitts out from under their rear ends and onto the airline tapes - wonder of wonders, an airline service that actually functioned! - hours had passed with the terminal closed down and a small-city-worth of people cooling their heels.

What caused this total collapse of what is supposedly a modern transportation system?  Yes, obviously the TSA incompetence and buffoonery to which we are now so well accustomed and which has yet to cause so much as one official head to roll.  But there was an underlying cause - the mystery man who went into the terminal without a ticket.

Who was he?  Was it Osama bin Laden with a missile launcher?

Muhammad Hussein with a suitcase full of Semtex?

Rambo with a chain-fed machine gun?

No.  It was Romeo seeking one last kiss from Juliet.

Please! Not in front of the TSA!

Love in a Time of Inanity

The Associated Press tells the tale:

A man believed to have breached security to bid his girlfriend goodbye, triggering the shutdown of a busy Newark Airport terminal that led to snarled flights worldwide, was arrested in New Jersey and faces a trespassing charge and a fine of up to $500, punishment a senator says should be much harsher... Jiang, who is Chinese, is a doctoral student in a joint molecular biosciences program at Rutgers University, one of his roommates said early Saturday. He said Jiang was born in Jiangxi, China, and has been in the U.S. since 2004.  [emphasis added]

Now, it's conceivable that this is all a sophisticated jujitsu-style Red Chinese plot to collapse our economy, in which case we eagerly await the CIA report saying all is well.  More likely, it's exactly what it appears to be: a love-sotted college student whose amour overpowered his prudence.

Not exactly an event unprecedented in human history, is it?  And precisely because it is so common, historically we've arranged things so that excessive love and affection don't hurt anybody other than the participants.  Such excesses of emotion are more likely to create lives than end them, aren't they?

The young often complain that the old have forgotten what it's like to be young and in love.  They have a point.  Now comes an aged and pompous Senator to express his august opinion:

New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who was briefed on the arrest, said authorities found Jiang with "sheer, hard police work" of sifting through records and following leads. But he expressed anger that Jiang faces a charge he described as a "slap on the wrist" and will only be given a fine of about $500.

"This was a terrible deed in its outcome - it wasn't some prank that didn't do any harm - it did a lot of harm because it sent out an alert that people can get away with something like this," Lautenberg said.

The senator called Jiang's actions "premeditated" and said even though the his actions were relatively benign, "what he did was a terrible injustice" to the thousands of people who were inconvenienced.  [emphasis added]

With all due respect to the Senator - and that's not very much - what planet is he living on?  When an ordinary Joe doing something inherently harmless, predictable, and indeed which has happened countless times in the past can cause utter chaos, the fault isn't Joe's.  The fault belongs to whatever moron set up the system in such a way that chaos would be the inevitable result of entirely predictable human nature.

One can't help but feel sympathy for poor Mrs. Lautenberg, whose life must have been entirely devoid of husbandly romance for lo these many years.  What sort of idiot makes it impossible for lovers to bid a parting adieu?  Yet that's what the TSA does - no standing at the curb, no loitering in the terminal, no accompanying to the gate.

Have they never heard the saying "True love will find a way"?  Sure enough, true love did, and caught the TSA with its collective head where it ought not be - though they wouldn't even be able to find a bomb secreted in that selfsame place.

What sort of imbecile sets up "security arrangements" which, when they fail at one single obvious point, shut down one of the busiest airports in the nation?  Have they never heard of redundant systems or defense-in-depth?

Mark Twain gives us the answer:

Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.

There was no TSA nor federal bureaucracy when Mark Twain was writing; the mind reels at what he might have had to say about them.  The more Sen. Lautenberg, Janet Napolitano, and Barack Obama himself try to shovel the blame onto star-crossed lovers and a minimum-wage union-defended loser in a dead-end job, the more clear it will be that they themselves are the ones who need the boot.

A reckoning is coming.  Let's pray that it is brought by voters at the November polls, and not by another Mohammed with an improved pair of Mark 2 explosive panties.  But that's a different sort of movie.