- The Washington Times - Monday, June 27, 2005

First-class trio

Michael Helfrich is president of Blueforce Development Corp., which develops distributed command-and-control applications for the Pentagon, the Department of Homeland Security and first-responders.

And when he’s not busy with that, he keeps a blog on the Internet.

“As I mentioned in the previous post, I am at the 4th Annual Government Symposium on Information Sharing and Homeland Security in New Orleans,” read yesterday’s posting. “Quite an apropos trip to be taking, given an opportunity to witness a rare moment on the outbound flight from Boston earlier this morning …

“I noticed several GIs waiting to board the flight at Logan [International Airport],” he continues. “These folks were surrounded by family members in the departure lounge; hence, it was clear that these guys were headed into harm’s way.

“Shortly after the doors were closed on the flight, I noticed a great deal of movement in the first-class cabin. Three men were standing up and collecting their belongings. They headed into coach class, where they offered the GIs their seats up front.

“It was a rare moment. These GIs were enlisted men, all clearly destined to be thrown into the thick of things. Yet, people who had probably paid handsomely for seats in ‘first’ were happily exchanging places. Save for the two characters sitting next to me, the entire coach cabin erupted in cheers.”

Why stop now?

Jennifer Moire, media relations manager at C-SPAN, gives an unnamed viewer the credit for creating two Web sites for C-SPAN junkies — one for Democrats, the other Republicans — who want to continue political debate after the network’s popular sounding board, “Washington Journal,” goes off the air until another day.

The greeting at the Republican site (www.cspanrepublicans.com), which mirrors the Democratic version (www.cspandemocrats.com):

“Finally, a place for those right of center to communicate unique, diverse points of view with each other. Reflecting the politics of the day as observed through our only true window on Washington, C-SPAN.

“This Web site was born out of the aggravation of hearing opinions by guests and callers on the daily C-SPAN show ‘Washington Journal,’ but being denied the ability to engage anyone directly in continued debate after the segment or show was over.”

Saluting America

Congress today will get a jump start on the Fourth of July, as House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist host the 2005 Congressional Flag & Independence Day Celebration in the Caucus Room of the Cannon House Office Building. First lady Laura Bush is the chairwoman for the event.

Among the featured guests: Eric Braeden of TV’s “The Young and the Restless,” James “Moby” Carney of “Moby in the Morning,” and Adrian Cronauer, the former U.S. Air Force sergeant and disc jockey who was portrayed by Robin Williams in the hit movie “Good Morning, Vietnam.”

Empty chambers

Nebraska state Sen. Ernie Chambers is being condemned by the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms after he proposed that violators of a concealed-weapons measure up for consideration have their trigger fingers shot off.

Besides his foot in his mouth, committee Chairman Alan Gottlieb says, the lawmaker has inserted into otherwise serious debate what amounts to “the ravings of someone who has overdosed on self-aggrandizement.”

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or [email protected]

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