- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 18, 2010

OFF ON A JUNKET

The great Department of Homeland Security airport-pat-down controversy is aloft. Rep. Ron Paul has introduced the American Traveler Dignity Act before Congress; the Texas Republican says he aspires to “protect Americans from physical and emotional abuse by federal Transportation Security Administration employees.” Unlikely allies are emerging, such as the Republican Liberty Caucus and the American Civil Liberties Union, which simultaneously denounced the federal agency. Meanwhile, “Don’t touch my junk” - uttered a week ago by disgruntled passenger John Charles Tyner - has emerged as an instant cultural motto, with his encounter with TSA officers called the “Tyner Mutiny” by a gleeful press. The phrase itself now is emblazoned on T-shirts, baby bibs, hats, lapel buttons, dog sweaters, bumper stickers and thermos bottles as a symbol of personal liberty, not to mention timely entrepreneurship.

There’s a rally flag, this designed by Chicago blogger David Burge, who also penned parody lyrics to be sung to “Come Fly With Me” - with apologies, he says, to Sammy Cahn, Jimmy Van Heusen and Frank Sinatra. They go a little something like this: “Comply with me, before you fly away, remove those shoes and take a cruise through my peekaboo X-ray…” A spinoff video is coming here: http://iowahawk.typepad.com. And not to worry, the controversy has a respectable shelf life, Mr. Burge says.

“As for whether this story has legs, we have not yet begun to mock,” he tells Inside the Beltway.

LOCAL STATIC

There is some murmuring that nimble Philadelphia talk-radio host Michael A. Smerconish - who landed a lengthy, cozy sit-down interview in the White House with President Obama last year - may be on the shortlist to become White House press secretary, to replace Robert Gibbs,himselfrumored to become Democratic National Committee chairman and manager of Mr. Obama’s re-election campaign. “It’s not far-fetched. And Smerconish would make the press conferences very interesting,” says a source.

BLOWIN’ IN THE WIND

It’s been a year since the “Climategate” scandal clouded the skies for global-warming scientists who manipulated weather data to suit their alarmist agendas. But it’s still sunny in political or scientific establishments, says the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Center for Energy and Environment. Indeed, Al Gore will be attending the splashy U.N. Climate Change Conference in Mexico on Dec. 2.

“Unfortunately, the scientific and academic bodies have closed ranks to whitewash Climategate. They have been unwilling to see what is now in plain view,” says center Director Myron Ebell. “They expect the public to continue to support energy-rationing policies that will cost tens or hundreds of trillions of dollars on the basis that this handful of alarmist scientists in England and the U.S. can be trusted.”

Adds policy analyst Ben Lieberman, “Climategate confirmed the suspicions most Americans have about climate change. And those suspicions were on display Nov. 2 as many congressional supporters of ‘cap and trade’ got the boot.”

UNKINDEST CUTS

“Every time Washington wakes up with a deficit hangover after decades of spending binges, those who study serious problems of national debt can’t resist the easy but unfair route of trying to balance the budget on the backs of veterans,” says American Legion National Commander Jimmie Foster, on confronting some recent recommendations.

Indeed, separate debt-reduction commissions - chaired by former Sen. Pete Domenici and Clinton-era Budget Director Alice Rivlin, plus former Sen. Alan Simpson and Clinton White House staffer Erskine Bowles - could change military retirement-pay formulas and delay payments until eligible vets reach age 60.

“Tell it to the Marines,” Mr. Foster observes. “I want these commissions to look a 22-year-old Marine in the eye and say that if you retire at age 40, after 20 years of service and three, four or even more tours of being shot at in Afghanistan, that you still have not done enough to receive your retirement.”

WONK AHOY

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