- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Liberty and security

Suffice it to say, Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, Texas Democrat, is no fan of guns. In 2003, the National Rifle Association (NRA) took one look at her pro-gun-control voting record and gave her a rating of F.

That said, this column a few days ago was the first to report that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was alerted to a recent airport-security incident involving Mrs. Jackson-Lee, who serves on the Homeland Security subcommittee on intelligence, information sharing and terrorism risk assessment.

The congresswoman was going through security at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston when the alarm sounded not once, but twice. However, when she was placed in a queue for follow-up screening, Mrs. Jackson-Lee “complained” about the process, according to the DHS.

When she insisted on retrieving her personal carry-on items, a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer informed her that she would first have to be rescreened, at which point the lawmaker continued to complain.

Now, one group is actually coming to the congresswoman’s defense. Or is it?

“I cannot commend you enough for criticizing the humiliating and degrading treatment that travelers must endure undergoing security screening,” Michael L. Bane, founder of the Armed Passengers Project, writes in a two-page letter to Mrs. Jackson-Lee.

“However, one very valid question has been overlooked throughout the years of dialogue since September 11th. That question is whether the victims of Flight 93 — indeed, the victims of all the doomed flights — could have saved themselves as well as the lives of others if they had been allowed by law to carry weapons onboard,” he says.

“If they had been permitted to do so, they would have had, literally, a fighting chance to stop the hijackers and at least minimize the damage done on that fateful day.”

Mr. Bane’s project (www.armedpassengers.org) advocates restoring the basic human right of self-defense on planes, trains, buses and shops. He reminds Mrs. Jackson-Lee of what Ben Franklin said: “Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.”

Instant No. 2

One thing is for certain, there are more rats roaming around the city of Washington than there are Republicans.

Consider the 2006 mayoral election. In a city that counts 354,410 registered voters, Republican candidate David W. Kranich received only 6,744 votes last month, or about 6 percent of the votes cast.

We call this to your attention because, based on the documents filed with the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics, the District of Columbia Independent Party (DCIP) is expecting certification this month as the District’s newest political party and organization, representing the growing numbers of registered voters designated by the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics as “independent” and “no-party.”

Already the DCIP is touting itself as “the second-largest … voting group in the District of Columbia.”

Feeling blue?

What’s with all the blue neckties (particularly a certain shade of baby blue) appearing in Washington of late, including at the White House — and during Christmas season, no less?

Even yesterday’s White House pool report observed that for his early-morning meeting with President Bush, Defense Secretary-designate Robert M. Gates “got the clothing memo — both men showed up in dark pinstripe suits, white shirts and blue ties.”

Quote of the week

“I apologized to him in Philadelphia the other day. I said, ‘Bill, I take it back. My dog Millie did not know more about foreign policy than you do.’ And he was very understanding.”

— Former President George Bush, speaking in Tallahassee, Fla., this week about a criticism he made of Bill Clinton during the 1992 presidential campaign

Going for baroque

“When we’re earmarking money for opera houses, it’s no wonder the federal government is baroque.”

So says Rep. Jeff Flake, Arizona Republican, who, while his wordplay is clever, is not happy to discover a $250,000 earmark for the Bardavan Opera House in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., in one congressional appropriations bill for fiscal 2006.

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin @washingtontimes.com.

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