My Stealthy Pro-TSA Agenda

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

Someone named Becky Akers outs me as a TSA supporter. Her smoking gun: Reason didn’t publish her when she tried to pitch us an article about TSA. Or something.

I don’t personally recall seeing any of her pitches. But judging from this sample, if it’s true that we passed it likely had more to do with her writing and analytical ability than her politics. (Leaving the airlines to provide their own security is fascism?)

She also links to a Fox News column I wrote that allegedly proves I’m just a TSA-lovin’ hypocrite. It is true. In that column, I did suggest Obama pick Jim Harper, Jim Mueller, or Bruce Schneier to head up the agency. I suggested those three precisely because any one of them would at minimum have forced the agency to respect the Fourth Amendment, and would likely have scrapped the agency entirely—or rendered it impotent.  (It’s actually more likely that none of the three would have taken the job.) I’d prefer that Obama nominate someone sensible to head up every federal agency. At least as opposed to, you know, someone who isn’t sensible. My first preference would be that he eliminate most of those agencies. But if ideological purity demands that we never even consider the reality of second- and third-best world choices, then I guess I’ll have to live with never quite making the cut as a Becky Akers-approved libertarian. But I think I can live with that.

Akers next finds fault with my using the word revamp in the column, instead of her preferred abolish. She also doesn’t quote my next line:

And by “revamp,” I mean “start over.”

Kinda’ adds some context, no? And then there’s this:

Why balk-o at a little unconstitutionality and tyranny if it means the neocons at Fox News will publish your prattle?

You’re right, Becky Akers. It’s unprincipled for a libertarian to write for a publication owned by Rupert Murdoch. Better to write for an outlet owned by someone who gives a damn about civil liberties. You know, like . . . the New York Post. Oh, and a play on my name! How fun! And original! With that sort of wit, you’re making me regret more and more that we never published you, Becks.

Make use of a search engine, you twit, and you’ll find that appeasing my neocon paymasters was never my objective over there. About half the time I used the column as a vehicle to bait and challenge the Fox crowd on these very issues, as well as the Iraq war, the drug war, and a host of other civil liberties issues. (The hate mail alone was worth more than the small sum they paid me.) This is also why they discontinued it. (If memory serves, the line was,”we’re taking the Views section in a new direction.”)

Now if you don’t mind, I need to finish up a column about how Obama should pick Becky Akers to head up the DEA.

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29 Responses to “My Stealthy Pro-TSA Agenda”

  1. #1 |  Ken | 

    I never read a web page that stank of stale sweat and cigarette smoke before.

  2. #2 |  K9kevlar | 

    Becky just needs a snake in her grass.

  3. #3 |  Cynical in CA | 

    “Leaving the airlines to provide their own security is fascism?”

    Rockwellians are big on the definition of fascism as a public/private partnership, so by that definition, given her premise of government regulation of private airline security, yes that would be fascism, much in the same way that Blackwater security is fascist.

    Now back to the haterz.

  4. #4 |  EH | 

    you have to admit, “balk-o” is gold.

  5. #5 |  Marty | 

    ‘twit’ is in my top 10… I’ve always loved it, it works in mixed company, it’s direct…


  6. #6 |  Rick H. | 

    Though I rarely take the trouble to comment on web articles, I do notice that so-called “blogs” (like LRC) which don’t allow any reader feedback are way down on my list of places to visit. It’s just off-putting. What are they afraid of? Or is it mere laziness, a desire to throw around words like arrivistes with impunity? In my view, there are only a few reasons for such one-way communication on the web, and most of them suck.

  7. #7 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    “Why balk-o at a little unconstitutionality and tyranny if it means the neocons at Fox News will publish your prattle?”

    Oh are we on that again? She sounds a wee bit like the baloon juice folks, doesn’t she? So she is essentially faulting Radley for dealing with reality and not hating the gubmint enough for the likes of Lew Rockwell and company. My my, beware the petulant tirades of a spurned writer!

  8. #8 |  TC | 

    Rick H, Very correct, if someone or some group desires to post up a bunch of stuff and expect you to just stuff it down without comment…. Well Fark Them.

    Not too sure why so many folks seem to be hell bent on fighting against one another rather than clarifying and then forging a common front. It really puzzles me.

    But then some would actually have to do something called research beyond the headline for such.

  9. #9 |  Troy | 

    WE are on to you Radley. I always knew you were a statist stooge who loves government and despises the bill of rights.


  10. #10 |  Butler T. Reynolds | 

    I enjoy visiting LRC from time to time, but it’s that kind of junk from Becky that makes me always read their stuff with reservations and skepticism. That piece was as bad as something Leonard Peikoff would write.

  11. #11 |  JOR | 

    While LRC* has published some worthwhile material in the past, their articles and especially their blog have gotten shallower and shallower since the Dubya days ended (in the Clinton days, when they were all still seriously invested in the idea that the American right-wing is basically libertarian, they were much worse than they are today, so perhaps there’s some hope). Their blog especially is a childish den of groupthink and thoughtless echo-chamber gotcha-blogging. Their ridiculous one-way feud with Reason and anyone associated with it is a particularly pathetic example.

    *I’m probably one of LRC’s few critics who think it’s been at times too big-tent and not consistently anti-statist enough.

  12. #12 |  Rob Robertson | 

    Whoa, Radster, pull up.

    Becky Akers has written some great articles on the dangers of the TSA over many years now, and we do NOT need the libertarian/individualist community further fractured at this critical juncture. The in-fighting between the LRC/LvMI ‘paleolibertarians’ and the Reason/Cato/Beltway ‘cosmotarians’ simply must stop right now. It was tough enough to be a Libertarian in Massachusetts when we were the lowly “1%ers”, but now that we’re down to .3% and the walls are going up around America, it’s even more important that we find common ground to put a halt to the growth of the authoritarian police state.

    Take a deep breath, reset, and try again. It’s that important.

  13. #13 |  tarran | 

    Ooohhhh Butler, that is quite a low blow.

    I don’t know if you read the Smeared by a Randite article on today’s front page at Lew Rockwell but it’s quite interesting to read in juxtaposition to Becky’s comment, particularly when you consider that Rothbard refers to some articles he wrote for Reason magazine. :)

  14. #14 |  Mojopin | 

    Is this twice in one week where Radley has dragged someone thoroughly over the coals for their own idiocy?

    I like!

  15. #15 |  Radley Balko | 

    I don’t have a problem with LR or Mises, and really have no interest in the paleo/cosmo (for lack of a better term) war. In fact, people I admire very much write for those sites, including Will Grigg, Bill Anderson, and Art Carden. This was just too amusing to resist.

  16. #16 |  tarran | 

    There is a bit of a back story here that many people aren’t aware of; the shameful way in which the Koch brothers purged Rothbard from the Cato Institute after he objected to their meddling in personell issues.

    Rothbard, Lew Rockwell, and the other people in their ambit then went on to found the Mises Institute to do what they had been promised they could do when the Cato Institute was founded. And, they have been correct, the Cato Institute has been more focused on how to reform government, while the LVMI has been pursuing a more radical libertarian agenda.

    For example, on the subject of public schools:
    LVMI says abolish them entirely, that state control of education invariably leads to the children being propagandized by those who control the state.

    Cato promotes school vouchers to allow parents to shift their children from one government approved school to another.

    And this is typical of the stances on nearly every issue.

    Of course, if one is not aware of the back story, the LRC/LVMI hatred of Cato, Reason and other inside-the-beltway libertarian groups makes little sense. Certainly, I wish they would tone it down and turn the other cheek.

  17. #17 |  Failure | 

    Radley’s basically agreeing with Becky Ackers and showing a shitty attitude about it.

    It would’ve been more honorable if he just said “She’s right. Fuck it.” and saved a few keystrokes.

  18. #18 |  Joe | 

    But don’t we all love TSA workers fondling our junk?

    I flew this holiday and did not experience any bad junk fondling. Still, it doesn’t change the fact that the TSA not making flying safer, just more expensive. And the precedent of them having unrestricted access to my nooksack is one I want to roll back.

  19. #19 |  JOR | 


    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: if libertarianism were politically (as opposed to merely morally and practically) viable, it wouldn’t matter how nastily we libertarians fight each other. Patriarchal tribalism ruled the world for most of human history, in spite of patriarchal tribes’ tendency to genocide each other every chance they get. Monarchies, republics, and warlords ruled the world for thousands of years, in spite of the various monarchs, rebublics, and warlords who fought horrifying and destructive wars with one another (usually against similarly constituted political entities; warlords were usually fighting other warlords, monarchs other monarchs, republics other republics, etc.). Industrial empires (of both the “capitalist” and “communist” variety, not that there’s much difference between the two) have ruled the world for hundreds of years now, in spite of furious mutual hatreds and frequent, destructive wars.

    When, or if, libertarians get their chance, all our petty internal brawling and sniping won’t have weakened us. In fact, the more vigorously we confront each other over our vices, and keep doing so, the more likely our turn at the wheel will be something truer to libertarian principles than just another round of the same old powermongering and racketeering.

    Whatever Ackers’ other merits, she deserves ridicule for her thoughtlessness and unfairness and (possible) dishonesty here. As we all do when we act or speak or write thoughtlessly or unfairly or dishonestly.

  20. #20 |  JOR | 


    Their feud with Reason is silly precisely because Reason is not really part of the Kochtopus. Reason is even more of a “big-tent” libertarian production than LRC is, so of course when LRCers want to cosmo-bait Reason they can probably find some kind of material to work with. But too often they veer off of mere thoughtless absurdity into what can only be stupidity or dishonesty, as Ackers has done here.

  21. #21 |  fish | 


  22. #22 |  witless chum | 

    Geez, lady, the airing of the grievances is supposed to be more toward the end of December.

    I do think the balk-o thing is charmingly stupid and amusing, like “Ace Ventura:Pet Detective” rather than annoyingly stupid and not amusing like “Bruce Almighty.”

  23. #23 |  Tolly | 

    The hell with her –
    The one reason I continually read this site is that the Mr. Balk-o (ZING!) tends not to have ANY sacred cows, TSA, Federal or otherwise. Not to mention the attention he brings to people locked up after being railroaded in bullshit drug, forensic or SWAT cases.

    And yeah, Ms. Akers’ style of writing seems too couched in snarky attempts at wit to invest too much time in reading…

  24. #24 |  Tom Barkwell | 

    Your FoxNews column was how I was first introduced to your work, Radley, and that of Reason. I suspect you had a bigger impact over there than you may realize (at least on those willing to use reason).

  25. #25 |  SJE | 

    I think we should pick Becky Ackers to head up the DEA: actually, the DEA’s next ill considered raid into hostile drug mafia safe house.

  26. #26 |  Mattocracy | 

    There are too many libertarians who play the “who’s the biggest and bestest libertarian in the room” game. A lot lib’tarians play that game because if they played the “which libertarian in the room has made the biggest impact” they wouldn’t score any points.

    Libertarians who turn on their own kind are hacks for themselves instead for a party or political identity. Hacks are always bad news. Just because they share the same letter in paranthesis with you doesn’t mean they should get a free pass. That’s what Republicans and Democrats do.

  27. #27 |  pyo1 | 

    If you think the squirrelbait fondling is bad, look at what they did to the woman in OKC this morning. That is right down the street from me.

  28. #28 |  Windy | 

    I’ve been a reader of REASON almost since its inception, I also read at LRC almost every day. I make the effort to sample ALL the libertarian sites I possibly can over each week and I would like to see all the libertarian infighting stop and real cooperation begin to take root. The libertarian philosophy will never become a “force to be reckoned with” when we libertarians are splintered into numerous groups who constantly bicker amongst ourselves, remember the warning about “a house divided”. I think it is true that most Americans lean libertarian, but are just unaware of it, thanks to the dissing of libertarians and libertarian philosophy by major media and the duopoly. What we really need to do is connect with those Americans to show them they actually agree with us on most issues of personal liberty.

  29. #29 |  Jesse Walker | 


    Funny thing about that Efron article: Sam Konkin — the guy who coined the word “Kochtopus” — generally liked it, even though Efron was way to his right, because he perceived it as an attack on the Koch wing of the movement. Those were the days when Rothbard got Koch money & Reason didn’t.