Inside the Beltway

Can’t trust anybody

Number of press conferences at which President Bush has referred to a question as a “trick”: 11. — Harper’s Index, January 2004 issue.

Retaking America

On the heels of a controversial order by the Homeland Security Department to place armed air marshals on certain U.S.-bound international flights comes legislation now before Congress to prohibit the use in this country of identification cards issued by foreign governments, including consular ID cards.

“Aside from aiding and abetting illegal immigration, acceptance of consular ID cards is placing American security matters in the hands of foreign governments,” says Rep. Scott Garrett, New Jersey Republican, who introduced the legislation this month.

Specifically, it targets the use of foreign-issued ID cards for verifying the identity of a person who opens an account at a financial institution.

“Easy access to banking and financial institutions was one of the critical weaknesses in our system exploited by terrorists on September 11th,” Mr. Garrett says.

Feeling guilty?

Remember to act responsibly if you are “drinking and driving” tonight.

This month marks 70 years since the end of prohibition, described as a disastrous attempt to purge alcohol from American life, resulting in a booming black market, increased crime and alcohol abuse, wasted tax dollars, and lost civil liberties.

And while some assume that such a “misguided experiment” would never be tried again, so-called “neoprohibitionists” are attempting to limit alcohol consumption through indirect means, the Cato Institute’s Radley Balko writes in a new study.

“There’s a new anti-alcohol fervor afoot,” he says in “Back Door to Prohibition: The New War on Social Drinking.” Besides higher taxes, bans on advertising and restrictive zoning regulations, Mr. Balko argues that groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving are pushing for ever more stringent drinking and driving laws, beyond the point where they would deter truly intoxicated drivers.

“‘Drunks’ have been replaced by ‘drinkers,’ ‘drunk driving’ by ‘drinking and driving.’ It’s a subtle change, but a significant one,” he says of language used by anti-alcohol activists.

Monday quarterback

Newt Gingrich is returning to Capitol Hill, this time to speak at the Capitol Hill Civil War Round Table on Jan. 5.

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