- The Washington Times - Friday, July 19, 2002

Pentagon thongs

The Select Committee on Homeland Security has been scrambling to complete urgently needed homeland-security legislation before the dreaded sleeper terrorist cells awaken.

One of the stumbling blocks, according to Rep. Henry A. Waxman, ranking member on the Government Reform Committee, has been that President Bush's proposal sought to transfer to the new Homeland Security Department a vast array of responsibilities that have nothing to do with homeland security.

"Such as administering the National Flood Insurance Program, cleaning up oil spills at sea, and eradicating pests like the boll weevil," notes the veteran California Democrat, who has spent almost 30 years in Congress.

In addition, Mr. Waxman points out, procurement provisions of the president's original proposal expanded the use of government-issued credit cards for purchases of items up to $5,000.

Just this week in his committee, the congressman reveals, "we heard testimony how these cards are being used at strip clubs and to buy Victoria's Secret at taxpayer expense."

Mr. Waxman says he's written to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, stressing that the administration should be curbing such abuses, not expanding them.


Terrorist worms

Why has Congress been undertaking such a close examination of what federal agencies and responsibilities should fall beneath the umbrella of the new Department of Homeland Security?

Consider the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, one proposed "transferred function" that hardly is related to homeland security.

Among its duties: Regulating the exhibition of animals in zoos and circuses; addressing problems with nonmigratory resident Canada geese; monitoring and eradicating the fruit fly and Asian longhorned beetle; enforcing the Horse Protection Act; maintaining the Missing Pets Network; and ensuring that the screwworm is not reintroduced by terrorists, we must now assume into the United States.


Happy hunting

Every so often, we like to check up on the Boy Scouts of America, incorporated in 1910 and chartered by Congress in 1916 to provide an educational program for boys and young adults to build character, to train in the responsibilities of participating citizenship, and to develop personal fitness.

As for worthwhile jamborees this summer?

"Earlier this month, Boy Scout Troop 895 from Falls Church went on a trip to a Scout camp in Medicine Mountain, South Dakota," Virginia Scout leader James L. Zackrison informs Inside the Beltway. "Part of that trip included a visit to Mount Rushmore."

And what were the Scouts taught at this towering national landmark?

"As part of the presentation at the monument, a park ranger gave a 30-minute talk about the four presidents and their significance to the nation," Mr. Zackrison says. "The talk began with the basic rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The interesting part was that the ranger emphasized the last of these, but defined it in terms of how the four presidents spent their spare time entertaining themselves, or as she put it, pursuing happiness:

"Washington sought fun in farming, Jefferson in reading, Roosevelt in hunting big game, and Lincoln in splitting rails. The audience was invited to reflect on this, and on how we pursued our own happiness while visiting South Dakota," continues the troop leader.

"Way back when in high school, I learned that the constitutional phrase 'pursuit of happiness' dealt with property rights, but then, I may have been dozing off during that lecture. Then again, maybe there's not sufficient legal or adult supervision of the park rangers when they write their presentations."


Levy's not alone

According to the latest Harper's Index, the percentage of Washington, D.C., murder cases opened last year that remained unsolved by year's end: 66 percent.


Mixed breed

The fertility clinic messed up

And assigned to my wife the wrong 'cup':

Thanks to their help,

She delivered a whelp

And I'm now the proud pop of a pup.

F.R. Duplantier


Closing a chapter

"I'm gonna probably go to jail, but a lot of good people have gone to jail."

Rep. James A. Traficant Jr., Ohio Democrat, trying to look at the bright side of things after a House panel yesterday found him guilty of violating congressional ethics rules by evading taxes and taking kickbacks and bribes. The 61-year-old Traficant, a former sheriff, will be sentenced on July 30 and faces at least a half-dozen years in prison.


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