The terrorist who set his pants on fire yesterday on a crowded plane is a Christmas bookend to the Thanksgiving White House party-crashers--reminders that, as the Marx Brothers would put it, there is "no sanity clause" in our contract for security in today's world.
Both incidents undermine the belief that poverty and oppression are the main sources of danger, with the perpetrators turning to be scions of the wealthy, a Virginia vineyard owner and a Nigerian bank chairman.
The other usual suspects for blame will not lessen our anxiety, either. A Congressional Republican who is running for governor of Michigan, Pete Hoekstra jumps in to burble, "People have got to start connecting the dots here and maybe this is the thing that will connect the dots for the Obama administration."
The Detroit flight scare comes complete, not only with a political clown like Hoekstra but a heroic passenger, the Dutch filmmaker who suffered burns by jumping the fumbling terrorist and helping avert disaster for the 288 others on board.
In the coming days, there will be scrambling to place retroactive responsibility, particularly since the would-be bomber's father says he alerted authorities to the views of his son who reportedly lived in a $4 million London apartment.
There will also be "tightening" of airline terminal procedures and reassuring speeches from Homeland Security, but the sad truth is that breaches of safety for plane passengers, White House dinner guests and everybody else are just part of the way we live now.
While we must do everything possible to avoid them, they are going to keep happening, especially at times when most Americans are trying to enjoy the traditional comforts and pleasures of life that stir envy and rage in disordered minds. Luckily, at least for now, not all of their efforts are lethal.