- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 11, 2007

Why I’m angry with Congress

Gary Andres’ Op-Ed “Why Americans hate Congress” (Thursday) referred to the Gallup poll and approval ratings and said that “the way lawmakers address key issues emerges as the main culprit behind why Americans hate Congress.” I am disgruntled with Congress, but is it, as Mr. Andres suggests, because I “cannot relate to how the House and Senate set their agendas?” Am I apprehensive about Iraq, the war on terror, mismanagement and a waste of funds etc.?

No. My concern is that our senators and representatives have ceased to be real people with real jobs and status in real life where they earn an honest living and must abide by the rules and suffer the inconveniences of those rules set by lawmakers in Congress. Exalted and puffed up on the rarefied air they breathe in their Capitol Hill offices, moved from place to place in limos or on Air Force jets, they have lost touch with America. They have forgotten that they are public servants and that the mandate for Congress was to protect and secure our borders and facilitate interstate commerce.

The big concern in the news over the last few days has not been the travesty of the Border Patrol agents thrown into prison — where one of them was assaulted — or our National Guard being given orders to retreat and handed cards instructing them on how to respond if taken hostage on the border, but whether House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will have to suffer the inconvenience of having to wait while her plane, graciously supplied by our Air Force, lands for refueling on the way to California.

The money they are taking is our money. They have allowed death taxes, capital-gains taxes and gift taxes while allotting themselves huge retirements and health benefits that would not be necessary if they were kicked out of politics by term limits and sent back to their “day jobs.”

Mr. Andres, it is not hate I feel but anger.

ANN WESTERMAN

Vienna

Montgomery’s pandering politicians

Following the day-laborer crisis is like watching an episode of the “X-Files.” Shadowy figures, back-room deals, foreign intrigue, aliens and last but not least government officials with not the least regard for the citizens they are pledged to serve.

Montgomery County politicos, rubber-stamped by their “Stepford” city council members in Gaithersburg, have plotted once again to place criminal interests above the safety and concern of citizens and legal residents (“Montgomery planners OK day-labor center,” Metropolitan, Friday).

The usual suspects — Commissioner Meredith Wellington, County Executive Isaiah Leggett, County spokesman Patrick Lacefield et al. — blindly march down the path of complicity. All of them pander to foreign governments involved in an ongoing criminal enterprise.

We hear such propaganda phrases as “better than nothing,” “middle path,” “temporary” and “practical solution” from politicians so weak, so frail, that they tremble at the possibility of doing what is lawful not just convenient. They are so terrified of CASA and La Raza that they shirk from their legal duties as defenders of their citizens.

These politicians preach that day-labor centers are needed to train and find jobs for workers. I do believe that many local, state and federal programs already exist to do just that. If such is the case then day-labor centers are nothing more than havens for illegal aliens who cannot take advantage of other programs because they are illegal.

Our local leaders need to take off the rose-colored glasses, get their fingers out of their ears and hopefully get their heads out of the sand.

WILSON FARIS

Gaithersburg

A Barry trap?

I am sure that support for D.C. Councilman Marion Barry’s proposal to allow handgun registration in the District of Columbia (“Barry aims for gun-ban hiatus,” Page 1, Wednesday) is well-intentioned, but there is a problem. At best, the proposal, if made into law, will have no effect; at worst, it is a potential trap.

Since 1976, individually owned handguns have been banned in the District unless they were registered at that time. So any unregistered handgun now owned by any individual in the city is illegal. There are no “honest citizens” in possession of unregistered handguns, since such possession is ipso facto proof of criminal activity. There are no gun stores in the District in which anyone could buy a gun in the 90-day interval proposed by Mr. Barry, and it is illegal under federal law for a District resident to bring a handgun into the city. So any unregistered handgun owned by any resident of the city is not only illegal under city law, but proof that federal law has been violated.

Even if an amnesty for violation of the District law is part of Mr. Barry’s proposal, any person presenting a handgun for registration could be arrested under federal law for illegally transferring a handgun across the District line or being in possession of an illegally transferred handgun. Is Mr. Barry well-intentioned, or is he trying to set up those otherwise honest people who have chosen to violate gun laws in order to try to stay alive in a city where crime is often tolerated by the police and political leaders?

The only real way to allow District residents the right of self-defense is to totally repeal the current law and return to the waiting period and police check law in effect prior to 1976.

JAMES E. KEENAN

Middletown, Md.

Reckless and irresponsible

Cal Thomas’ opinion piece ” ‘Spartan and skimpy’ budget” (Commentary, Friday) takes my comments out of context when referencing my response to President Bush’s drastic cuts to our nation’s homeland security priorities in his 2008 budget.

As a member of the Senate’s intelligence committee and the homeland security appropriations subcommittee, I know all too well the threat that America faces. Mr. Bush uses our domestic vulnerability as a way of justifying his reckless decision to go to war in Iraq, while his budget provides weak funding for vulnerable targets at home.

Despite signing a law last year to provide $400 million for port security grants, the president only requested $210 million. The budget also provided no increase for rail and transit security grants. Ports are high-threat targets for terrorism, with approximately 11 million containers coming into major U.S. port cities each year. They must be kept safe and secure.

The president’s budget also cuts critical federal support for our nation’s first responders. In 2002, I fought to put $900 million in the federal checkbook for first-responder grants, now the president is only requesting $287 million. Yet we know the need has not declined.

Make no mistake — this is spartan and skimpy.

Mr. Thomas writes that “Democrats never have enough of our money to spend on their favorite entitlement programs.” Making sure our ports and rails are safe, and that first responders have the resources they need, is not an “entitlement.” And I will never stop fighting for them.

SEN. BARBARA A. MIKULSKI

Washington

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