By Jefferson Flanders

With a doffed cap to Jimmy Cannon, nobody asked me, but…

SHOULD TRANSPORTATION SAFETY ADMINISTRATION airport screeners be allowed to unionize? Congress thinks so, but author Becky Akers says in a Christian Science Monitor op-ed piece that the legislation “could add about 50,000 dues-paying members to union rolls while breathing new life into TSA’s unofficial slogan: Thousands Standing Around.” President Bush is likely to veto the bill if it reaches his desk.

Akers makes a broader point in her piece, “A better way than the TSA,” arguing that TSA, funded by $5 billion in tax money, is incompetent and that privatizing security is the solution:

Privatized protection isn’t a panacea, but it’s better than the TSA. Without that federal straitjacket, security wouldn’t be uniform and easy to game: each airline would adapt its policies to its own routes, destinations, and customers. Meanwhile, experts could design security systems without mandates from bureaucrats who understand paperwork and politics but not planes and passengers. Jets worth billions and the repeat business that comes only from satisfied, living customers will compel the airlines to provide potent protection.

Would a more market-based solution work? I’d argue that it would, but only if airlines’ screeners were subjected to security spot checks (the same tests that TSA screeners have repeatedly failed) with huge fines for failure.

THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD HAS DEALT A SERIES OF STINGING DEFEATS to Wendy McCaw, owner of the Santa Barbara News-Press, upholding a newsroom vote to unionize in the fall of 2006, and finding against the newspaper on “a string of unfair labor charges, including the unlawful firing of seven staffers engaged in union activities.”

The NLRB rulings are the latest development in the long-running battle between McCaw and her newsroom which began in July 2006 with the resignation of several editors who said McCaw was improperly interfering in editorial decisions. Since then, some 38 employees have quit or been fired. McCaw has also faced criticism from many civic leaders in Santa Barbara for her handling of the dispute.

McCaw singlehandedly is reviving the colorful old image of the newpaper publisher as narcissist, meglomaniac and tryant—in the tradition of Colonel Robert R. McCormick, William Loeb, and Frank Munsey, about whom William Allen White once wrote: “He had the talent of a meatpacker, the morals of a money-changer and the manners of an undertaker.”

”TRIUMPH OF THE FEMBOTS,” MEGHAN COX GURDON’s commentary in the Wall Street Journal mocks the notion that “getting pretty, young, scantily clad women to writhe for the camera is a way of empowering them,“ the rationale for television shows like “Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search for the Next Doll.”

Gurdon writes: “Depravity dressed up as empowerment is fast becoming the cultural trope of our times.” She is right to question why feminists haven’t spoken up publicly about the trend.

THE COUNTRY GROUP LITTLE TEXAS, reunited after a six-year hiatus, has released a single, “Missing Years,” a great road song about coming home and appreciating the virtues of a small town, with lead vocals from Porter Howell and an Eagles-like harmony on the refrain. Watch for it to move up the country charts.

THREE CHEERS FOR A FRENCH COURT RULING IN FAVOR of Charlie-Hebdo, a satirical weekly, (and its director), rejecting charges that its reprinting of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed incited hatred of Moslems.

According to the Associated Press, the court ruled that the weekly showed no intention of insulting Moslems with the caricatures, several of which had first appeared in a Danish newspaper and triggered violent protests throughout the Muslim world.

The verdict should also be seen as a victory for France’s Interior Minister and presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy, who sent a letter to the court backing Charlie-Hebdo, saying he preferred “an excess of caricatures to an absence of caricatures.”

As George Orwell once wrote (in the preface to “Animal Farm”): “If liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

THE WORD FOR THE WEEK is from Yogi Berra, former Yankee catcher and noted American philosopher: “The future ain’t what it used to be.”

Reprinted from Neither Red nor Blue

Copyright © 2006 Jefferson Flanders

All rights reserved

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