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Monday, January 19, 2009

Heroes On the Hudson--And the Rest of the Story

News reports have been filled in recent days with stories about US Airways pilot Chesley Sullenberger and his heroic landing of a passenger jet on the Hudson River, saving the lives of all 155 people on board.

But the mainstream media has not focused on the backstory of these remarkable events. So let's take a behind-the-scenes look at what allowed the "Miracle on the Hudson" to take place.

The blog emptywheel expertly pointed out that almost all of the heroes in this story are union members. Ironic, isn't it, in an age when union membership is in steep decline and a certain political party routinely bashes unions in its campaign rhetoric.

Perhaps the next time we hear a round of union bashing, we should consider these points from emptywheel:

The pilots, the flight attendants, the air-traffic controllers, the ferry workers, the cops and firefighters . . . all were union members. In fact, the splendid headline on the post said it all: "This Miracle Brought to You By America's Unions."

And emptywheel notes just two of the Congressmen, including our very own Richard Shelby of Alabama, who have made a career from bashing unions:

Bob Corker and Richard Shelby like to claim that unions are a failed business model. But I haven't heard much about Bob Corker and Richard Shelby saving 155 people's lives.

In a similar vein, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow had a thought-provoking report about the "Miracle on the Hudson." In fact, Maddow's key point was that these heroic actions were not necessarily a miracle at all. They came about because of people who had been trained, because of competence, and regulation, and investment in infrastructures and safety systems that are designed to react in times of peril.

Maddow's guest was Stephen Flynn, homeland-security expert and author of The Edge of Disaster: Rebuilding a Resilient Nation, a book about the need to fortify our nation's security.

You can check out the Maddow piece below. It is excellent viewing.

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