On the transit strike:
The full weight of the law must swiftly be brought to bear on the Transport Workers Union for having the irresponsible lawlessness to shut down the transportation system that is New York's lifeblood. Gov. Pataki and Mayor Bloomberg must seek severe sanctions against TWU President Roger Toussaint, his treasury and, sadly, the 33,700 workers who were thrown off a cliff by their leaders.
Pataki and Bloomberg must ask a judge to:
- Jail Toussaint and his bull-headed lieutenants.
- Impose fines on the TWU that double daily and are large enough to bankrupt the union within days.
- Hit every transit worker who walks with a penalty of two days' pay for every day out, as the law allows.
Then, Pataki and MTA Chairman Peter Kalikow must hang tough. There can be no amnesty for those who have broken the law, disrupted the lives of millions, jeopardized public safety and dealt a blow to the city's economy. There can be no making nice to extortionists.
The state Taylor Law bars strikes by public employees, so walking out would be unacceptable under any circumstance...
Since 1999, transit worker salaries have more than kept pace with inflation, rising to an average of $63,000 for train operators and $54,000 for conductors. The MTA proposal would have boosted those numbers to $68,000 and $59,000 while opening the door to substantially more. Toussaint responded by demanding raises totaling more than 25% and refusing what he called givebacks.
Even so, the strike is not ultimately about wages. It's about the MTA's health and pension costs. Because both are skyrocketing, the agency faces a deficit of almost $1 billion despite planned fare hikes. Riders and taxpayers are going to get hammered unless expenses are brought into line. And that's just fine with Toussaint & Co.
One of the newstations interviewed Ed Koch who was the Mayor during the 11 day walkout in 1980 who emphasized, "There can be no amnesty for strikers or the union."
On President Bush and wiretapping:
President Bush patiently explained: "The reason it's secret is because if it's not secret, the enemy knows about it." Well, of course. How hard is that? And we're not inclined to work up much of a froth over the fact that the U.S. has been listening in on phone calls to and from, say, Afghanistan since 9/11.
Spying on Americans, this is being called, because the administration chose not to seek warrants for the eavesdropping, but it looks more to us like an all-out effort to protect the country in a time of war. Granted, the legalities are not all that clear, but Bush has at least a colorable claim to be exercising lawful authority.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, for one, says the President can constitutionally bypass the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and monitor communications to and from home soil, just as the National Security Agency listens in where it pleases around the world without judicial review. While Congress sorts it out, we'd suggest the administration start asking the judges who handle national security cases for warrants as often as feasible. And we'll dismiss without deep thought the ravings of Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold that the lately reported eavesdropping constitutes an "outrageous power grab."
That's not exactly what we're hearing here. The White House briefed congressional leaders of both parties before the listening started, and it appears to have paid dividends. According to The New York Times, the spying played a role in busting the Al Qaeda operative who had targeted the Brooklyn Bridge.
What a shame the President's lustier critics weren't around six decades ago, so they could have complained about Allied code-breakers working the Axis intercepts.
Wow. Brief, hard-hitting and eloquent.