The Hightower Report

Code Red on Deodorant Sticks; and Save Us From Our Protectors


Osama got my deodorant. I put up quite a fight, but the "al Qaeda types," as Dick Cheney so sweepingly calls them, prevailed in the end.

As you undoubtedly know, since the British police uncovered that terrorist scheme to blow up some trans-Atlantic flights with liquid explosives, our crack homeland security team has upped its color-coded security warning and launched a massive program of frisking every American passenger to confiscate all liquids, gels, and lotions. Osama bin Laden might be reclining in a hammock in some Pakistan cave, but he's got our government authorities spending billions of tax dollars to detain millions of Americans – even if we're only flying from Poughkeepsie to Peoria – so they can grab our shampoo, toothpaste, sunscreen, and other such weapons. What do you bet those cagey al Qaeda types hold a big chunk of stock in Proctor & Gamble?

Of course, being a patriot, I complied with homeland's panicky new rules, as best as I could figure them out. But, since I found no mention of a ban on stick deodorant, I packed a tube. On my outbound flight, the screener opened up my deodorant, called over a supervisor, and said: "Isn't this a gel." "No," he proclaimed, "it's a solid." Hallelujah, I exclaimed, one small commonsense victory over Osama!

On my return flight, however, homeland authorities took a totally contradictory stance … and seized my offending deodorant. They were nice about it, even suggesting that I trek back to the counter and check the little tube. No, thanks, I said, surrendering it to Osama.

It was a natural deodorant, too, with aloe vera, witch hazel, and coriander in it – no artificial preservatives, much fewer explosives. But wait, I now see that lichen extract is also listed as an ingredient – maybe that's what set them off. Anyway, we can all feel safer knowing that Osama has halted the flight of our deodorant sticks in America.


Excuse me for a moment while I break away from the herd.

Conventional wisdom – as put forth by the Bushites – says that the stringent new security regimen being imposed on us in America's airports is absolutely necessary to make us safe. Be good boys and girls, they bark, get in line and stay there, surrender your toothpaste and shampoo, keep an eye on your fellow passengers, don't ask questions … and be very afraid. All this to protect you.

Well, if I thought Bush, Cheney, Rummy, Chertoff, and Gang really were protecting us, or if I thought they even sort of knew what they were doing, I might be a good boy and moo along with the herd. But, on two huge levels, our protectors are failing us.

First, they're stupid enough to think that terrorists are stupid, that the bad guys will keep doing the same thing, rather than figuring out new ways to attack us. So their airport security "plan" has been to keep looking for box cutters and shoe bombs. Until a few weeks ago, Bush was actually trying to cut funding for research on ways to detect someone bringing liquid explosives onto a plane! And now that certain liquids have been found by the Brits to be a weapon, the Bushites have twisted our whole airport security system into a liquid disposal crew – apparently unaware that terrorists will have moved on to a new approach.

Second, rather than pursue strong foreign policies to reduce the desire of foreigners to attack us, the Bush Gang has become a terrorist recruitment poster. Its members have turned Iraq into the world's foremost terrorist training ground, and they continue to side with and even arm monarchs and dictators in the Muslim world who brutally repress and impoverish their people.

This is pathetically weak leadership. Far from making us safe, our "leaders" are a threat to America's security – even as they foment fear and use it as a political shield.

For more information on Jim Hightower's work – and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown – visit You can hear his radio commentaries on KOOP Radio, 91.7FM, weekdays at 10:58am and 12:58pm.

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Osama bin Laden, Homeland Security, terrorism, foreign policy

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