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So long, and thanks for all the fish.

So long, and thanks for all the fish...

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-- Best,

George Pyle

Holiday travel, TSA: 'Don't touch my junk'

It finally happened.

This intrepid editorial writer (if there is such a thing)/traveler (again, questionable on the definition) had her choice, either the box (otherwise known as the Advanced Imaging Technology -- or dreaded, body scanner), or an extremely personal pat down in front of a very large group of impatient and otherwise disinterested strangers. That is, if I chose not to go into a private (and time-consuming) area.

Which one?

Body scanner. Quick, easy solution for someone traveling from Baltimore Washington International Airport back to "sunny" Buffalo. Time had already been devoured in a slow-moving security line and, for the first time in years, the usual walk-through scanner had gone off. The sharp buzz was jolting. "Do you have anything in your pockets?" the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer politely asked. "No. Maybe it's the "bedazzlers" on my sweater. I've got another shirt on underneath. I'll put the sweater through the conveyor belt." Buzz!

"Are you wearing an underwire bra?" asked the helpful (male) TSA officer. Gee, that's a bit personal. Similar to the "boxers or briefs" question former President Bill Clinton received from a gutsy high school student so many years ago.

Well...OK. Now, it's a choice. Body scanner or pat down. Clock is ticking.

"I'll just step into the body scanner. Will it take long?"

"No," answered the TSA officer. "Stand on those footprints and hold your hands up."

Done. Exposed to some stranger, somewhere, forgotten for the moment and racing toward the gate. That wasn't so bad. Was it?

Apparently, this editorial writer wasn't the only one faced with the dilemma and who, after all the hemming and hawing, decided the best option was to meekly give in to a system TSA heads insist will offer the flying public better protection.

Resistance is futile.

Just ask opponents who promised mass protests at the nation's airports over the holiday weekend. The result: a faint whisper instead of an outcry, if the numbers and reports are to be believed. The Washington Post's Ed O'Keefe quoted TSA officials, "Everything went smoothly overall." At the nation's busiest airport, Atlanta's Hartsfield International Airport, 39 out of more than 47,000 passengers last Wednesday declined to use the machines. David Carr of The New York Times writes about "A Media False Alarm Over the T.S.A." 

Still, it didn't stop truly intrepid travelers like college student Jimmy who videotaped his Speedo-wearing adventure through the Salt Lake International Airport last week. You be the judge:

 

And then there was the passenger who refused to go through the body scanner and upon hearing he would have to undergo a full-body pat down threatened TSA workers, "...if you touch my junk, I'm gonna have you arrested." That statement earned John Tyner a talk with a TSA supervisor... 

Tyner didn't want anyone looking at his naked body. Understandable. And then there are some health concerns about low levels of radiation exposure. Also, understandable. Privacy. Security. Catching a plane. What are the options? And where are the limits?

When rushing to a plane, the decision becomes easier. Or, does it?

Dawn Marie Bracely/Editorial Writer

The day after the day after: Washington ...

   On the national and state levels, the brains in The Buffalo News Opinion corner continue to tease out the meanings of Tuesday's elections:

- Now what? - Buffalo News Editorial
   William F. Buckley Jr., the great guru of the 20th century conservative movement, described the conservatives' role in politics as "standing athwart history, yelling 'stop!'"
   The American electorate did exactly that Tuesday. The question now becomes whether the newly Obamasad empowered Republican Party, in control of the House and with much greater pull in the Senate, wants to do anything other than stand athwart everything President Obama may propose, or whether it has anything truly constructive in mind.
   Because history, despite Buckley's expressive turn of phrase, does not stop. The federal government will need to do things. ...
   The voters, now, must be on watch to see if either party wants to solve any of the nation's problems, or if one or both is all too happy to see them go unsolved, so that they can be used as a club to beat their rivals with in the next election campaign.
   Which begins right ... about ... now.

   Related:
- Americans recalibrate - David Broder/Washington Post/Buffalo News
   The message to President Obama from Tuesday’s election could not have been plainer: Don’t abandon your goals. Change your way of operating.
Americans recoil - George F. Will/Washington Post/Buffalo News
   This election was a nationwide recoil against President Obama’s idea of unlimited government. The more he denounced Republicans as the party of “no,” the better Republicans did.
A path forward - Ruth Marcus/Washington Post/Buffalo News
   In the unhappy aftermath of another Election Day, an American president offered some wise words. “Our task,” he said, “is to be sure our leaders do not fail the American people.” Ronald Reagan was right. To my fellow patriots across the aisle: Let’s win one for the Gipper.
Sorting Out the Election - New York Times Editorial
   The Republican victory was impressive and definitive, although voters who made it happen were hardly spread evenly across the electorate. The victory was built largely on the heavy turnout of older blue-collar white men, most in the South or the rusting Midwest.
The Boehner Evolution - Wall Street Journal Editorial
   We're probably destined more for gridlock than accomplishment, which after the last two years is an accomplishment itself.
- Obama's challenge - Chicago Tribune Editorial
   He can start by recognizing that his overly ambitious policy agenda in his first two years signaled that the president is intent on enlarging the government and its power, regardless of the real-world consequences.
- Six Lessons From the Democratic Disaster - Eliot Spitzer/Slate
   President Obama lost his capacity to harness the support of the disaffected middle when he enhanced the bailout of Wall Street without getting anything meaningful in return. That was the emotional Rubicon for this administration. Had the bailout been accompanied by fundamental reform, genuine contrition, and actual pounds of flesh, the public might have accepted it. But when the banks, in the midst of the foreclosure morass and economic disaster, returned to the same old bonus behavior, the public sensed one thing: betrayal.
- Obama's Morning-After Plan - Tina Brown/The Daily Beast
   A president who thinks he can change Washington is as misguided as a new studio head thinking he can change Hollywood. He may say he’s arrived to foster new ideas and adapt the great novels he was raised on, but he will still wind up doing Pirates of the Caribbean IV or succumbing to some bollixed-up development process that ends in tears or  a frightful Nicolas Cage movie.

... and Albany

A shot across the bow - Buffalo News Editorial
   While the dust has not completely settled over the State Senate, most of the Assembly Democrats were able to maintain their incumbency, but not without sustaining a noticeable flesh wound.
   [Control of State Senate lies in three races - Buffalo News]
   Assembly Republicans picked up seven seats with another three or four still undecided. The minority Cuomovictory party could wind up with 48 to 50 members, possibly a little more after picking up seats from Western New York to Long Island.
   The effect was substantial in positioning the Republicans to overturn the current super-majority. The pickup sends a clear message that Assembly Democrats will have to start rethinking their votes and policies.
   Moreover, given the contradiction of Andrew M. Cuomo’s election as a reform governor and the Assembly’s stubborn devotion to the status quo, Democrats must recognize that they need new leadership. Locally, voters must demand that Erie County Democrats Sam Hoyt, Mark Schroeder and Robin L. Schimminger vote for someone other than Sheldon Silver as speaker. ...
   This election has shown that voters are willing to make comfortable incumbents pay the ultimate price. More bills may yet come due.
   Related:
- Sorry state of campaigns reflects on us - Rod Watson/The Buffalo News
   Our long local nightmare is over— and I miss it already. I miss it because looking back is a lot more fun than looking forward. The campaigns provided some of the best comic relief we’ve had in years.|
   The governing? Well, that’s another story. ...

   Elseweb:
   - John Sampson and Dean Skelos must move state Senate forward to bipartisan cooperation - New York Daily News Editorial
   The reality is that neither side has won, or will win, a majority solid enough to run the Senate in Albany's usual winner-take-all fashion, with one party claiming all the trappings of power and the other dished up crumbs.
    Which is why - no matter how the chips fall in disputed races - the house must be managed for what it is: a legislative body that's functionally split down the middle.
- Republican victories now balance the power - Poughkeepsie Journal Editorial
Andrew Cuomo must start now on Albany reforms - Rochester Democrat & Chronicle Editorial
- Cuomo brings high expectations back to Albany - Westchester Journal News Editorial

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

The morning after

   The instant analysis crowd in The Buffalo News Opinion corner today allow themselves to be a little bit hopeful that New York's new governor can turn things around.

- Cuomo’s task - Buffalo News Editorial
   The governor’s honeymoon begins for Andrew M. Cuomo. Given all that he wants to accomplish, it Itsandy may be short.
   Cuomo has done something far different from any politician before him. He has published a remarkable eight volumes of books touching on almost every issue of importance in great detail. His proposals are significant, but they all must travel through the Legislature, including Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. We will see if Cuomo’s approach to reasoning with Assembly members enables him to achieve his goals. ...

   Related:
- Cuomo faces heavy lift in fixing Albany - Donn Esmonde/The Buffalo News
  So now it is Andrew Cuomo's turn.
   It is his turn to be frustrated. It is his turn to be marginalized. It is, and I hope I am wrong about this, his turn to fail. ...
Congratulations. Now, get to work - Albany Times-Union Editorial
- The Cuomo Factor: NY’s next governor must spend his capital wisely - Syracuse Post-Standard Editorial
- Cuomo's challenge - New York Post Editorial
- Cuomo must confront the special interests - E.J. McMahon/The New York Post
- Cuomo can't wait even a day to start cleaning up the Albany mess - New York Daily News Editorial 
- Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver wins unopposed, but NY loses if he does not step down - Bill Hammond/The New York Daily News
Albany incumbents must realize voters still want major reform - Rochester Democrat & Chronicle Editorial
   ... Come January, there may not be many new faces in the Legislature, but there must be different and better results.
- After the vote Watertown Daily Times Editorial
   ... We need more civility in our politics and an overarching desire to work for the greater good. We can do better.

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

County concerns: Add the auditors. Confirm the culinary.

   The score-keepers in The Buffalo News Opinion corner, doing our own sort of audit, today insist that Erie County should not be cutting auditors from the comptroller's staff, and that Niagara County should move ahead with a deal to put NCCC's Culinary Institute in the old Rainbow Centre.

Restore the auditors - Buffalo News Editorial
  County Executive Chris Collins [right] has cut a wide swath through a critical function of government by Chriscollins reducing [County Comptroller] Mark C. Poloncarz’s office by 36 percent, to 27 employees, including only two auditors. Collins should either retract his decision, or the County Legislature should do its part by restoring some positions, although there is slim hope that it could override an all-but-certain veto by Collins.
   The county executive’s action even has the county’s state-appointed financial control board up in arms. ...
   [Collins blasted over gutting of audit team - Buffalo News, Oct. 21]
   The comptroller is independently elected and performs critical duties. His oversight of county spending plays an integral role in the checks and balances that make democracy work. Collins’ budget cuts would subvert that role. ...
   [Note to the county executive: Hey, Chris, your official and campaign websites are both offline. Are those budget cuts, too?] 

Make this work - Buffalo News Editorial
   Efforts to create a downtown culinary school in the heart of Niagara Falls should move forward cautiously but with an eye toward making it work. This is no time for foolish obstruction.
   This $26.1 million project would rescue a derelict shopping mall that sits on prime land in one of the world’s most recognizable names in tourism. By turning the vacant Rainbow Centre mall into the new home of the Niagara County Community College culinary arts institute, downtown Niagara Falls will get a sustained dose of what it has been missing — vibrancy — and the county will bolster its entire tourism sector.
   [Agency paves way for culinary institute - Buffalo News, Oct. 26; County lawmakers wary of NCCC mall plan - Buffalo News, Oct. 24]
   The agreement is now in the hands of the Niagara County Legislature. It is structured so that the county can walk away with the slightest notice. But if it works, it could mean growing the current 395-student culinary institute and related tourism and hospitality majors into 800 to 1,000 students in downtown Niagara Falls. It’s no small matter that colleges would welcome with open arms the chance to set up a culinary program in an international tourist destination visited by millions each year. ...

   And, even though none of the above characters is on the ballot today, a reminder:

Adamrighttovote
-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

Endorsement wrap-up

  One of the nice things about being an editorial writer is that, unlike all those TV ads people have been flooded with the last few weeks, when real live political candidates come to visit with us, they are always on their best behavior. Many of them have been by in the last month or so, courting the Editorial Board for our endorsements.
   It is a lot of work, but also the best way of gaining some understanding of just who these people are and what they want to do.
   We have discharged that duty for another year.
   Tomorrow, it's your turn.

-  Vote Tuesday - Buffalo News Editorial
   One of the most bizarre campaign seasons in memory will end tomorrow and voters will have to decide on the next governor, federal and state legislators and various local offices.
   It is vital that every registered voter take part in the process in deciding whether New York’s next governor will be State Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo or Buffalo businessman Carl P. Paladino. Or, whether the State Senate will, indeed, swing back toward a Republican majority.
   Key seats remain up for grabs, including judicial, county clerk and other local offices. The News has not endorsed in all races, but it is important that voters also do their own due diligence in deciding the best candidates to deliver solutions.
   This campaign season has revealed the depths of voter frustration and outright anger at a system that favors the politically connected to the detriment of constituents. The “tea party” has tapped into that outrage and has offered various candidates throughout the country from which to choose.
   Elections always produce some degree of change. How much, and in what direction, are determined in part on how many people take the time to vote. It’s not only our duty, it’s in our own interest.
   The News has offered its own opinions on a selection of candidates. This guide is meant to recommend, not require, as voters make independent and personal decisions.

   Governor: Andrew M. Cuomo [editorial] [website]

   State Attorney General: Dan Donovan [editorial] [website]

   State Comptroller: Harry Wilson [editorial] [website]

   U. S. Senator: Charles E. Schumer(i) [website]

   U.S. Senator [partial term]: Kirsten E. Gillibrand (i) [editorial] [website]

   Congress, 27th District: Brian Higgins (i) [editorial] [website]

   Congress, 28th District: Louise Slaughter (i) [editorial] [website]

   Congress, 29th District: Matthew Zeller [editorial] [website]

   State Senate: 58th District: Jack Quinn [editorial] [website]

   County Clerk: Kathy Hochul (i) [editorial] [website]

(i) denotes incumbent