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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Tierney of Lies: Edition 1

In his column today, John Tierney suggests that the TSA should stop bothering with pocketknives and scissors, since cockpits are now reinforced and pilots trained not to open up no matter what. Could be reasonable. Tierney argues that the problem is the federalization of the TSA, which is another argument for another day (though I can't help remembering what a bang-up job those private companies used to do....). He also says that "a former T.S.A. official told me" that "Rather than treating every airline passenger as a potential terrorist, you should husband your resources and concentrate on the higher-risk passengers." We'll leave the profiling discussion for another time.

Let me instead focus on Tierney's discussion of Republican desires to re-privatize airline security screening:
"Right now T.S.A. is the regulator, the auditor and the operator of airport security," said Representative John Mica, the Florida Republican who is chairman of the House aviation subcommittee. "That never works. It's a total conflict of interest."

Mr. Mica has tried - and failed so far because of Democratic resistance - to pass legislation making it easier for airports to switch to private companies. I hope he succeeds this fall, but I'm worried that the T.S.A. may sabotage him. [Emphasis added.]
Ah, yes. Those poor, insufficiently powerful House Republicans. Their Herculean efforts at oversight constantly thwarted by an indifferent Administration, they must also face the indignity of overpowering "Democratic resistance". How do they get anything done?

6 Comments:

Anonymous bu$h ate my baby said...

Jonah,

Welcome back!

Hmm, so you're not happy when Republicans ram through legislation without working with Democrats, and you're not happy when they appear to be trying to achieve compromise legislation that listens to Democratic concerns. Not much legislation left -- though personally that's how I like it.

8/16/2005 1:12 PM  
Blogger Jonah B. Gelbach said...

gee, peter, i thought the points i was making were:

1. the gop has nearly total control of the house and pays no attention to democrats when it is unnecessary (which is to say the vast majority of the time);

2. when the gop leadership can't get what it wants under the usual rules, it simply ignores them;

i'd be delighted to hear that the issue with mica's proposed legislation is that

a. mica really, really wants to convince dems that it's a good idea on the merits,

b. so far he hasn't been able to do so, and

c. until he succeeds in his attempt to use evidence, logic and persuasion, he feels it would be wrong to ram through his legislation.

but you know, somehow i doubt that's it. perhaps you can find some evidence to the contrary.

but until then i'll stick with my prior: house republicans do virtually whatever they want except on those few occasions when a large enough number of their own members won't support them, and even then when the gop leaders care enough about the issue they break arms, promises and rules until they get what they want.

8/16/2005 1:22 PM  
Blogger Jonah B. Gelbach said...

ps thanks for the welcome back

8/16/2005 1:23 PM  
Blogger strategery4 said...

Wow, you can just feel the love. Topic?

though I can't help remembering what a bang-up job those private companies used to do

Why not have this dicussion today? Ya got something better to do or something? I felt compelled to interject because the private-guys-fucked-up stuff is laregly a canard. Did some testers get through their screens? Yes. Did their screws ups contribute to 9/11 -- which was the sentiment that was really behind federalization IMO? Absolutely not. Box-cutters were allowed by the pre-9/11 rules; that's why they were used. And who set those regs? Not Argenbright (?) Security, that's for sure.

At least the federal idiots who replaced them don't have total job security (right?). Otherwise, I can only imagine what the lines and the hassles would be like.

8/19/2005 12:07 PM  
Blogger Jonah B. Gelbach said...

s4, you make some good points. but i wasn't referring only to the box-cutters thing (which you say wasn't their fault -- i'll take your word for it). i have pretty vivid memories of the piss-poor performance of the min-wage folks from the many flights i took in the years before 9/11. "look over there" seemed like it would often have been sufficient to smuggle whatever you wanted on board. not that i think the current system is perfect, but measured in terms of the most basic question -- do the security screeners pay attention and appear to give a damn about doing their job -- i think things are a lot better (based only on my own anecdotal experience).

my main point in this post was really about the gop's House of Autocracy, but i think there are serious reasons to doubt whether pvt markets can handle security screening more effectively than govt agencies. what exactly will happen to pvt companies that screw up? we've seen that this administration and congress -- like most, i think -- were very hesitant to let airline-industry firms suffer losses due to the 9/11 failures. if you don't fire the firms when they screw up, there is no incentive (after all, passengers don't get to choose their screeners). sure, govt agencies don't always provide optimal incentives, but at least there is the prospect of accountability.

8/19/2005 12:26 PM  
Blogger strategery4 said...

Forgot to say I did agree with you re the utter ludicrousness of blaming House Dems for holding up thsi legislation -- as if they actually had any power! Hah!

8/19/2005 3:47 PM  

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