- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 17, 2010

PAT ANSWERS

Heard enough about “junk”? The ruckus over security pat-downs in airports could get a lot noisier. And more expensive. The Transportation Security Administration has yet to divine a clear policy on the sensitive nexus where personal liberty, national security and ethnic profiling collide. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano may have to become a real “big sis” in a hurry. Like, take charge, take names, bring order.

“If the TSA thought their policy rubbed people the wrong way now, just wait,” says Clinton J. David, a Dallas lawyer specializing in business disputes. “If Jewish or Christian women are subject to a different search than a Muslim woman wearing a burqa, this thing will end up in federal court. The Constitution gives us freedom of religion and freedom from unreasonable searches, but there are serious legal questions about what rights we forfeit when we buy a plane ticket and whether the TSA will be consistent in the way it applies the new pat-down policy.”

Then there is Fox News host Glenn Beck, who offered his own solution to security challenges, telling his audience, “You got a license to carry a gun? Well, carry it on the plane. You think that somebody’s going to get up with their box cutters with a bunch of Texans on the plane? Yeah. Get out your little box cutters. Boom.”

Syndicated radio host Armstrong Williams offered other reasoning. “Everybody should just go to the airport nude. That would solve the problem,” he tells Inside the Beltway.

COLD CALCULATIONS

So everybody was too busy to go - had to rearrange their sock drawers, organize caucuses, that kind of stuff. President Obama has postponed his proverbial “Slurpee summit” with top congressional leaders, originally scheduled for Thursday; now the group will meet Nov. 30. But in the never-ending irony of politics, not to mention marketing, 7-Eleven Inc. has stepped in to host an all-day “Slurpee Summit” of its own in Washington, “in the spirit of bi-partisanship” and with an open invitation to Mr. Obama and presumptive House Speaker John A. Boehner to join in, if so moved.

During the campaign, Mr. Obama often described Democrats as digging the car out of the ditch while Republicans were “sipping on a Slurpee.”

Complimentary “Purple to the People” Slurpees will be handed out at Union Station at midday Thursday, and there will be a free concert featuring Blues Traveler at City Center in the evening. The bodacious, high-carb drink - which has yet to be banned by the food police - could still make waves, however.

“We have made an offer to the White House to install Slurpee machines,” says 7-Eleven President Joe DePinto.

NOW HEAR THIS

As part of his ongoing “You Cut” common-sense cost-saving program, House Republican Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia has spun that radio dial and picked up static.

“This week’s winning spending cut is a proposal developed by Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado that would eliminate taxpayer funding for National Public Radio. When NPR executives made the decision to unfairly terminate Juan Williams and to then disparage him afterward, the bias of their organization was exposed,” Mr. Cantor says. “It is not the role of government to tell news organizations how to operate. What is avoidable, however, is providing taxpayer funds to news organizations that promote a partisan point of view.”

ROYAL TREATMENT

“Tuesday’s evening news broadcasts and Wednesday’s morning shows allowed a scant four and a half minutes of coverage to the conviction of powerful Democrat Charlie Rangel over ethics charges,” observes Media Research Center analyst Scott Whitlock. “In comparison, these same programs devoted 121 minutes to exhaustively examining every aspect of the announcement that Prince William is getting married, a disparity of 30 to 1.”

SAVE THE DATE

What with all the handwringing over Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele’s future in the party, this drama could rival “The Secret Storm.” Or maybe “Survivor.” Those who aspire to replace Mr. Steele will strut their stuff in six weeks at the National Press Club, when Americans for Tax Reform will host a debate among candidates for the chairmanship on Jan. 3.

“The actual vote for chairman will be made by the 168 members of the committee, but the impact will be felt by all,” says Grover Norquist, president of the host group.

He urges bloggers and activists to come up with pivotal questions for the hopefuls, who include former Michigan Republican Party Chairman Saul Anuzis, Republican National Committee Political Director Gentry Collins and maybe - or maybe not - Mr. Steele himself. Suggestions can be submitted at www.rncdebate.org in preparation for the Grand Old Party’s next big adventure. Mr. Steele, meanwhile, is still ready to rumble with rivals.

“Just two weeks after a resounding call for a change in direction all across the country, Congressional Democrats chose to ignore the elections and re-elect Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid as their leaders for the 112th Congress, continuing the same reckless, job-killing agenda that was just overwhelmingly rejected,” he says.

POLL DU JOUR

- 84 percent of voters encourage Congress to use “everyday language” when talking about legislation.

- 86 percent of Republicans and 74 percent of Democrats agree.

- 83 percent of voters overall say bills should be published online “so I can read them.”

- 84 percent of Republicans and 77 percent of Democrats agree.

- 52 percent of voters overall say key House debates should be scheduled “in prime time.”

- 45 percent of Democrats and 58 percent of Republicans agree.

Source: A C-SPAN survey of 1,200 midterm voters conducted Nov. 6-8.

- Static, ruckuses,clear thinking to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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