Clicking on banner ads keeps JWR alive
Jewish World Review July 18, 2001 / 27 Tamuz, 5761

Debra J. Saunders

Debra J. Saunders
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Feinstein should learn her limit -- SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN, D-Calif., wants to butt into your life again. Last week, she sent a letter to the CEOs of seven major airlines, warning that if they don't implement rules that limit passengers to two drinks on domestic flights, "I am prepared to proceed with legislation."

Feinstein, you see, isn't aware that when people say, "There ought to be a law ..." it's just an expression.

Why has the good senator decided that she can tell you how much you can drink on a plane?

"In view of the 5,000 'air rage' incidents each year," she wrote, "I believe it is time for the airline industry to set standards voluntarily, or else Congress may step in."

Was there a study definitively linking alcohol to air rage that prompted Feinstein to threaten to slap the airlines with the heavy hand of federal law? No. A spokesman explained, "We have anecdotal evidence."

How special. Feinstein apparently doesn't need facts or research to propose laws that limit other people's freedom. She's heard anecdotes.

For those of you who are interested in facts, here are a few: The Air Transport Association, the lobbyist group for the major carriers, says that there were 610 million domestic passengers last year. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, 314 of these passengers were cited for unruly conduct.

This year, perhaps because of increased attention to the issue, there have been fewer citations -- 100 as of June 15. The FAA doesn't know how many were alcohol-related.

As Michael Wascom of the Air Transport Association noted, "We don't think that the hundreds of millions of law-abiding, cooperative passengers should be unilaterally penalized for the disruptive actions of a few."

What about Feinstein's claim that there are 5,000 "air rage" incidents annually? It's more factoid than fact. The number comes from the Air Transport Association, and it includes rude, disruptive behavior -- a loudmouth grousing about not making it into first class for example -- that does not result in legal action.

Wascom said the ATA used a ballpark figure -- between 3,000 and 4,000 air-rage incidents -- that came from feedback from carriers. (In other words, there is no hard data.) In other stories, advocates have racheted the number up to 4,000 to 5,000. Feinstein, her office confirmed, then took 4,000 to 5,000 to mean: 5,000. Call it inflated numbers for inflated lawmaking.

Even the Association of Flight Attendants -- which wants tighter rules on drinking and more training -- hasn't signed off on the idea. Said spokesperson Dawn Deeks, "At this point, we'd have to wait and see what the legislation actually asks for." It's hard to figure how flight attendants are supposed to keep track of who gets two drinks on a big flight. And: "We have to examine whether passengers drink more before they get on the flight."

I should think that flight attendants would appreciate having the discretion to dispense a third drink to a nervous flier -- especially when rules forbid them to serve drunken passengers and penalties for unruly plane behavior are steep.

Which leaves us with the question about what to do about politicians who are drunk with power? Hmmmm. Maybe a limit to two laws and two heavy-handed threats per year. Then maybe Feinstein would insist on hard facts before proposing to infringe on other people's rights.

Comment JWR contributor Debra J. Saunders's column by clicking here.


07/16/01: A drought of common sense
07/13/01: The catalog has no clothes
07/05/01: It's Bush against the planet
07/03/01: The man who would be guv
06/29/01: Wheeled, wired and free
06/27/01: O, fearful new world
06/25/01: End HMO horrors
06/21/01: Either they're dishonest or clueless
06/18/01: Freedom is a puff of smoke
06/15/01: In praise of going heavy: Yes, you can take it all
06/13/01: McVeigh: 'Unbowed' maybe, but dead for sure
06/11/01: Gumby strikes back
06/08/01: Los Angeles' last white mayor?
06/07/01: Kids will be kids, media will be media
06/04/01: Draw a line in the sand
05/30/01: Just don't call him a moderate
05/29/01: Operation: Beat up on civil rights
05/24/01: Of puppies, kittens and huge credit-card debts
05/22/01: Bush needs an energy tinkerbell
05/18/01: Divided we stand, united they fall
05/16/01: Big Bench backs might over right
05/15/01: Close SUV loophole
05/11/01: Kill the test, welcome failure
05/09/01: DA mayor's disappointing legacy
05/07/01: If it ain't broken ...
05/03/01: They shoot civilians, don't they?
04/30/01: Executions are not for prime time
04/12/01: White House and the green myth
04/10/01: The perjurer as celeb
04/04/01: Bush bashers don't know squat
04/02/01: Drugging our oldsters
03/30/01: Robert Lee Massie exercises his death wish
03/28/01: Cheney's nuclear reactor
03/26/01: Where California and Mexico meet
03/16/01: Boy's sentence was no accident
03/14/01: Soft money, hard reform
03/12/01: Banks, big credit lines and consumer bankruptcy
03/09/01: Free speech dies in Berkeley
03/02/01: When rats have rights
02/28/01: Move a frog, go to jail?
02/26/01: They knew they'd get away with it
02/20/01: How Dems define tax fairness
02/16/01: The jackpot casino Carmel tribe?
02/14/01: You can fight school success
02/12/01: Hannibal -- with guts this time
02/08/01: A family of jailbirds
02/05/01: Reality's most demeaning TV moments
02/01/01: Justice for the non-Rich
01/26/01: Hail to the chiefs of D.C. opinion
01/24/01: A day of mud and monuments
01/22/01: Diversity, division, de-lovely D.C.
01/19/01: Parties agree: Give back the money
01/17/01: Get tough with the oil companies, or forget pumping more Alaskan crude
01/15/01: Mineta better pray that no attending confirmation senator has ever driven to San Jose during rush hour
01/12/01: Europeans should look in the mirror
01/10/01: Dems' reasons for dissin' Dubya's picks
01/08/01: Jerry, curb your guru
01/03/01: A foe of Hitler and friend of Keating
12/28/00: Nice people think nice thoughts
12/26/00: The Clinton years: Epilogue
12/21/00: 'Tis the season to free nonviolent drug offenders 12/18/00: A golden opportunity is squandered
12/15/00: You can take the 24 years, good son
12/13/00: Court of law vs. court of public opinion
12/08/00: A salvo in the war on the war on drugs
12/06/00: Don't cry, Butterfly: Big trees make great decks
12/04/00: Florida: Don't do as Romans did
11/30/00: Special City's hotel parking ticket
11/27/00: No means yes, yes means more than yes
11/22/00: The bench, the ballot and fairness
11/20/00: Mendocino, how green is your ballot?

© 2000, Creators Syndicate