- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 12, 2002

Noble: Undersecretary for Transportation Security James Loy, for taking and implementing a commonsense approach to airport security.

Air travelers departing from Reagan National Airport might soon find themselves so shocked by their ability to park close to the terminal that they automatically answer "no" at the baggage check-in, only to realize that no one had asked them if their bags had been in their possession at all times. They might mull over the matter at the gate, sipping from a cup of Starbucks that they somehow took through the magnetometer, or while filing their nails during the pre-boarding, using a clipper that they had carried in their carry-on baggage. It might only be while standing and stretching their legs shortly after the plane has reached its cruising altitude that they realize that they hadn't been pulled out of line for a random pre-boarding search, and that no one else had been, either.

Even if they do remember the small hassles that somehow aren't there any longer, they probably won't think to thank Mr. Loy but they should.

Since taking over a couple of months ago, Mr. Loy, formerly commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, has taken a commonsense, passenger-friendly approach to the situation. He's talked to airport managers, held candid conversations with members of Congress and invited input from industry officials. Perhaps most importantly, he's grounded his policies in practicality and reality.

One important outcome was his compilation of a "Stupid Rule Review," which targets foolish mandates he hopes to change. He has already eliminated the rote questions asked at baggage check-in, the rule against carrying nail-clippers and eyelash curlers in carry-ons and the ban on bringing coffee through security checkpoints. Still on the admiral's list are prohibitions on parking within 300 feet of a terminal, random pre-boarding searches and Reagan National Airport's 30-minute rule, which prohibits passengers from standing or moving from their seats within 30 minutes of air-travel time from Reagan.

Hopefully, the admiral will succeed in his quest to bring sanity and convenience to airport security preferably sometime before the winter holidays.

Knave: Singer Harry Belafonte, for his outrageous remarks against Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Could it be that the easy beat of Caribbean music is just an audio front for something terribly subversive? That lurking within the rhythm of reggae and the sound of steel drums, there lurks a beat that causes otherwise reasonable Caribbean singers to conspire to launch diatribes against Republicans?

Call it the Calypso Conniption Cabal. This week, Mr. Belafonte joined "The Charmer," Louis Farrakhan, in the club. In an interview on San Diego's 760 KFMB earlier this week, Mr. Belafonte compared Mr. Powell to a plantation slave who had sold out his principles and thus enjoyed the privileges of staying in the house with his master.

Specifically, he said, "There's an old saying, in the days of slavery, there were those slaves who lived on the plantation and there were those slaves that lived in the house. You got the privilege of living in the house if you served with the master … exactly the way the master intended to have you serve him… Colin Powell's committed to come into the house of the master. When Colin Powell dares to suggest something other than what the master wants to hear, he will be turned back out to pasture."

While Mr. Belafonte was blasted by outraged black politicians and pundits, Mr. Powell responded with style and grace. He called Mr. Belafonte's remarks "unfortunate," and suggested through a spokesman that his accountants believed he was much "better off as a field hand" in the private sector, where Mr. Powell commanded a rather better salary than he does now.

Before he sounds another note so sour, Mr. Belafonte would be wise to leave Mr. Powell to his policy-making and abandon his conspiracy of crooners.

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