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Thumbs Up ... to the Transportation Security Administration officers who continue to do their jobs at the Quad-City International Airport, even as the federal government is in a partial shutdown.

Across the country, there have been reports of TSA agents, officers and other federal employees calling in sick. But the Quad-City airport's executive director, Ben Leischner, told the Times this week that people working here haven't been among them.

"We've got a great crew locally that are committed to safety and security at the airport. And we appreciate that. These are members of the community who live here and work here, so they're committed to doing their jobs," Leischner told our Sarah Ritter.

We understand the frustration among federal employees. None of us would like to face that prospect of working and not being paid, nor should any of us have to.

However, we are grateful for the TSA agents locally who know the hardship that would result without them being on the job.

Air service is vital to our community, and these TSA employees are a key part of it.

We only hope the White House and Congress will soon come to a solution to get us out of this morass.

In the meantime, thanks to the TSA agents — indeed, to all the federal workers who face this uncertainty and still continue to do their jobs. We know you're out there.

Thumbs Down ... to U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa. Over the years, King has been a reliably offensive commentator, especially on race- and culture-related matters. But, the words he spoke to the New York Times the other day just dropped our jaws.

Consider this passage from the article:

“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” Mr. King said. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”

Say, again?? Since when has white supremacy not been offensive?

Don’t answer. It’s a rhetorical question.

King, who represents western Iowa, got so much blowback that he issued a statement saying he's not a white nationalist or a white supremacist. But never once did he say that he was misquoted.

He, and we, know better.

This flap comes just as state Sen. Randy Feenstra, a Sioux City Republican, announced that he would challenge King in a primary in 2020.

It seems to us that King just handed him some fresh ammunition. Unfortunately, what he handed Iowa was yet another embarrassment. We know that King doesn’t really care what we, or any of the media, think of him or what he says.

However, we hope that our friends in western Iowa take notice — and that they remember it.

Thumbs Up ... to U.S. District Judge James Gritzner for striking down Iowa's "ag-gag" law. He issued a ruling this week that said the 2012 measure infringed on the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment protections.

At issue was a law the Iowa Legislature passed on the heels of a rash of investigations that brought critical attention to the state's agriculture industry.

Lawmakers wanted to protect the industry, so they made it a specific crime to gain access to an "agricultural production facility" under false pretenses.

Then-Gov. Terry Branstad signed the measure.

Critics said it infringed on the ability of advocacy groups and journalists to root out abuses, and on Wednesday, Gritzner ruled the law unconstitutional.

The judge had already said the measure was aimed at targeting speech based on its content. And in his ruling this week, he said "under strict scrutiny, a content-based law is presumptively unconstitutional and will be justified only if the state proves that the law is narrowly tailored to serve a compelling state interest."

That couldn't be done in this case, the judge said.

The Iowa Freedom of Information Council, which had filed a friend of the court brief, praised the ruling. (The Quad-City Times is a member of the council.)

We're grateful for the judge's ruling. We think lawmakers went too far with this legislation. It's clear it was aimed at protecting the agriculture industry. But we know that most farmers run their operations honorably. They don't need this kind of protection. There shouldn't be a law that protects the others.

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