- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 23, 2010

TRAVELOGUE

Never home? President Obama has now spent more days out of the country than any other U.S. chief executive during his first two years in office: Fifteen trips to 26 countries, more than 55 travel days. Some hefty gas money, too: Air Force One costs about $181,757 per hour to operate, according to military sources. But Mr. Obama has not broken the record. Yet. Overall, Bill Clinton remains the most-traveled president with 55 total trips and 233 days abroad. He was out of the country just more than 29 days a year. In second place is George H.W. Bush. During his two terms he took 49 trips and was abroad 215 days, or almost 27 days per year.

“Thanksgiving travelers waiting in long airport lines know how much they’re paying for their trips, and as taxpayers they likewise deserve to know how much it costs to send presidents overseas,” says Demian Brady, a National Taxpayers Union Foundation policy analyst who crunched the numbers. “Only then can they have a rational conversation about whether the pomp of presidential travel is worth the price.”

TRAVELISCIOUS

The curtain goes up Wednesday on Thanksgiving security theater - including consumer boycotts of airport body scanners and much ado over perilous passenger pat-downs by Transportation Security Agency officers. A third of voters now say the methods constitute “sexual harassment,” at least according to a new Zogby poll. Also at issue: sanitation. Critics also say agents are not changing their gloves enough and germs are a factor. Meanwhile, TSA Administrator John Pistole now appears in a last-minute public service announcement on the protocols; there is also a new agency “holiday poster” that reads like Miranda rights: “You have the OPTION to request that the pat-down be conducted in a private room. You have the OPTION to have the pat-down witnessed by a person of your choice.”

Michael Wildes - a New Jersey immigration lawyer and anti-terrorism expert - puts it more graphically.

“A certain level of privacy and political correctness has to be sacrificed when terrorists have a gun to our heads,” he says. “Then again, it is shameful if the TSA and the government believes these measures to be enough. As we saw with recent thwarted attacks, terrorists are more efficient and have succeeded in wreaking havoc on our commerce and ease of commerce. We, in turn, need to continue installing proactive security measures rather than reactive ones.”

BUMPER PATROL

“I fired Pelosi. Guess who’s next?”

New slogan from the Republican National Committee, now emblazoned on bumper stickers, t-shirts, mugs, tote bags, buttons.

PARADE REST

Just like the 1969 moon landing, the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is faked. Well, in a fashion, says the Boring Institute, a cultural watchdog.

“Everyone has cooperated to keep the rest of the nation from knowing that what they watching on television is actually a 10-year-old videotape. It has been obvious to us for several years now that the parade weve been watching on television is the exact same one held in 1999,” quips founder Alan Caruba.

“One need only consider the fact that its always the same balloons like Snoopy, the Pillsbury Doughboy, Ronald McDonald and other beloved characters vital to the marketing of products. Three hours of mind-boggling, inane commentary never changes from year to year. I dont know why Mayor [Michael R.] Bloomberg cant just ‘man up’ and admit the city is too broke to handle all the police and other costs involved,” Mr. Caruba says.

“I’m sure he doesnt want to disappoint the kids, so why doesnt he put on a Santa Claus outfit and ride down the street by himself in an open-air limousine to keep the tradition alive?” Mr. Caruba concludes.

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