Friday, November 16, 2001

As you probably know, there is considerable unfinished business on Capitol Hill, and much of it is tied to the horrific events of September 11 and your wallet. For example, the House and Senate are still haggling over airline safety legislation, and there are so many loopholes in U.S. immigration policies, I wouldn’t be surprised if Osama bin Laden turned out to be hiding on the streets of the nation’s capital with a student visa tucked in his turban.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m all for America opening up her doors to the tired and the poor and giving refuge to certain seekers. But let’s be real. This house of endless opportunities, wedged as it is between Canada and Mexico, is also bounded by two oceans enough of a challenge to turn Moses into a Doubting Thomas.
Seriously, Congress is sloughing off. I mean, the muckrakers perched on the Hill don’t seem to have any problem working out deals that benefit their own safety and security, while the rest of us remain vulnerable. Remember the initial anthrax scare? When both the House and Senate, led by Senate Minority Wimp Trent Lott, tried to hightail it back to their hometowns at the first whiff?
Well, now they’re preparing to retreat under cover at Ft. McNair at the first sign of danger. They also are considering 24-7 patrols by the D.C. National Guard Military Police and agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). Seems U.S. Capitol Police are complaining about being overworked and their Democratic friends in the House and Senate are concerned about morale. Rep. Cynthia McKinney, for one, recently fired-off a letter to the sergeant at-arms of the House, complaining about officers “working 70-plus hour a week [and] barely seeing their families.”
Hmm. I wonder if that includes the officers I saw the other night in uniform, with radio in hand, in a clearly marked U.S. Capitol Police patrol car over at the Costco in Arlington buying tons of Folgers coffee, creamer, etc.
More important, do you wonder if they wonder how their brothers and sisters in the armed forces stationed in the Middle East feel?
Are the grounds and surrounds of the U.S. Capitol and the people who occupy them more precious than the other lots in this federal district or the other people who live, work and visit here? Are members of Congress who act and think otherwise elitist?
I think they are worse. I think they are hypocrites. And I think it is extremely liberal-minded, certainly unpatriotic, dare I say un-American, that both houses of Congress are shirking their primary responsibility and wasting so much valuable time and money wringing their hands for their personal safety.
You know, this is the same bunch who 12, 24, 36 months ago pressured Bill Clinton to reopen Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House. Back then, the U.S. Secret Service thought it necessary to beef-up security for our commander of mischief. Today, his critics have redefined “bunker mentality.” Back then, they chastised D.C. Mayor Marion Barry as a grand pooh-bah for having a security detail. Today, they’re proposing the same for themselves.
Look, I’m sure some of you are of the opinion that I’m riled up about something unimportant. Well, you’re entitled.
But when the bill comes due, when the Democrats start blustering next year about raising taxes to pay for more Capitol Police, or FBI agents or ATF agents or DEA agents or IRS agents, or Secret Service agents, or U.S. Customs agents, or immigration agents, and sky marshals for the airlines, don’t say you weren’t warned.
In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a Kodak moment to turn over while you ponder that other scenario.
Ordinarily, all an immigrant who wants a student visa need do is produce a piece or two of identification, get someone to vouch in a letter or two and wham, bam he’s in. Once he gets here, nobody and I mean nobody checks to see if he is in school. While nobody’s looking, he schemes with his buddies and detonates a truck bomb under the World Trade Center. No joke. It happened in 1993. Check it out, if you don’t believe me.
What’s really scary is, while Congress isn’t looking, it could happen today, too.
Peace out.

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