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Inside the Beltway
Question of the Day
Stop at the deli
Diplomats from terrorist-supporting nations would not be able to venture more than one-half mile beyond the United Nations complex in New York City under a bill to be introduced by a U.S. congressman.
“One-half mile is more than enough space for lodging, food and other necessities, but it will be easier and more cost-effective for the intelligence community to monitor suspected individuals when necessary,” explains Rep.Paul Broun, Georgia Republican.
The congressman says the United States is required under the 1947 United Nations Headquarters Act to allow diplomats into the country for official business, including foreigners who would otherwise be ineligible for U.S. visas.
“In keeping with our agreement, we are allowing large numbers of individuals from state sponsors of terrorism into our country, and to add insult to injury giving them diplomatic immunity,” he says, noting that between 2002 and 2007 the State Department issued more than 6,600 visas to delegates and representatives from such nations.
Mr. Broun points to Iran, where there are no U.S. diplomats stationed, yet Iranian diplomats posted in the U.S. “enjoy access and diplomatic immunity,” while in 2002, 2003 and 2004 “personnel from the Iranian Mission to the United Nations were caught photographing and videotaping the New York City subway and other popular landmarks.”
Those guilty Iranians, by the way, were consequently expelled. Now, the congressman says if such intelligence gatherers can’t be stopped from entering the United States, “the least we can do is limit their access.”
Or as the headline reads: “Obama’s Shoulder Gesture Goes Over Some Heads.”
Few are ducking anymore, it would appear. The Washington Post’s Richard Cohen is talking aboutBarack Obama brushing the dust off his shoulders in the fashion of a popular rap musician or two, as are ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, the New York Times‘ Maureen Dowd and MSNBC host Joe Scarborough.
“What’s he doing?” wondered the latter, while watching the Illinois senator dust himself off at the podium recently.
On theRoot.com, Mr. Prince notes, Melissa Harris-Lacewell, a Princeton professor, was ecstatic. “Did you see it? Did you see Barack brush his shoulders off?” she wrote. “Like every other hip-hop generation voter in America I went crazy when he did it. I almost couldn’t believe it. It was a perfect moment.”
“But while some were in ecstasy over Obama’s hip-hop connection, others have seen reason for alarm,” writes Mr. Prince, who is black.
He points to a recent issue of Human Events magazine alerting its readers: “Jeremiah Wright is not the only supporter Barack Obama needs to explain.
“Although the media has finally exposed Barack Obama’s ties to the unhinged pastor, his support from rappers who propagate equally pernicious nonsense has gone almost entirely unnoticed,” Evan Gahr wrote. “The rappers have good reason to praise Obama. He has at times been an apologist for their ‘music.’”
Imagine you were suddenly absent from work, missing an important meeting or deadline, and the next day you not only had to face your boss, but explain your being AWOL to the entire country — and in writing, no less.
Welcome to Capitol Hill, where congressmen are required to provide a “personal explanation” to the speaker of the House whenever they miss casting crucial votes, a lawmaker’s most important congressional duty.
Like a schoolteacher, the speaker has heard every excuse imaginable: from being stuck in a U.S. Capitol elevator to being so “stressed out” that a sick day was in order. One of the most common explanations for being away without leave are flight or other travel delays.
Most congressmen, or so we’ve observed over the years, prefer to provide as few details as possible about being absent, which isn’t surprising considering each and every excuse is published in the Congressional Record — the same way small-town newspapers print the names of drunk drivers and sex offenders.
So, rather than admitting they were sitting on a beach in Florida, or participating in the opening day of hunting season in Iowa, the lawmakers inform the speaker in writing that they “unfortunately” were “detained” and therefore “unable to vote.”
Then there are the handful of congressmen who provide TMI (too much information), like Rep. Tim Mahoney, the Florida Democrat who was running against incumbent Republican Rep. Mark Foley until the latter stepped down for sending inappropriate e-mails to a congressional page. If he’s out horsing around, Mr. Mahoney doesn’t mind saying so for the record:
“Madam Speaker, on April 17, 2008, I missed votes because I was attending my daughter Bailey’s equestrian event. Bailey is competing today at the 2008 Varsity Equestrian National Championship in Waco, Texas. She is a senior at Oklahoma State University and has been a member of the OSU equestrian team since her freshman year.”
c John McCaslin can be reached at 202/636-3284 or
By Michael P. Orsi
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