- The Washington Times - Friday, February 5, 2010

SAFETY FIRST

Homeland security appears to be a work in progress for the Obama administration, compounded by hand-wringing and dithering: What about the rights of terrorists, what about the proper protocols for airline passenger screening?

The proverbial big stick may be in vogue among the citizenry, however. A Zogby International poll released Friday reveals that the nation favors some muscle when it comes to homeland security: 54 percent of Americans support “ethnic and religious profiling” when it comes to preventing a terrorist attack, while 71 percent favor full body scans at the airport. And three-fourths of the respondents agree there is “too much political correctness in the discussion of terrorism.”

And while President Obama did not include homeland and other national security spending in his proposed spending freeze, another decision made a year ago troubles some observers. In February 2009, the Obama administration downgraded the Homeland Security Council, absorbing it into the National Security Council, points out TeviTroy, a fellow at the Hudson Institute and former deputy secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services during the George W. Bush administration.

Former Homeland Security director Tom Ridge is not keen on the idea either, telling Congress last year that this merger “would diminish and potentially damage” the council.

“Trying to reinvent the wheel is an old trick in politics, especially with new administrations,” Mr. Troy tells Inside the Beltway. “President Obama sold himself, more than any other one thing, as not Bush - remember all the talk of ‘change.’ But effectiveness should trump ideology. Things that worked under Bush - like our homeland security approach - should not change, just because a new regime is in charge.”

FORCE YES, PARTY NO

It’s stupendous. And maybe even colossal. Several hundred journalists are chronicling the National Tea Party Convention, now under way despite efforts by the New York Times and other news organizations claiming the event was racked with discord.

Former Colorado Republican congressman Tom Tancredo welcomed participants to Nashville, Tenn., Thursday night; Sarah Palin will cap off the festivities Saturday night with an hourlong speech plus a question/answer session, an event to be carried live on C-SPAN, Fox News, MSNBC, Japan’s NHK network, Reuters TV and Pajamas TV.

Some have advice for the exuberant movement, which will grow even more so when the Tea Party Express III - a monthlong cross-country bus tour - begins next month.

“The tea party movement should avoid the temptation of forming a third party. It would be a disaster for the cause of freedom and limited government,” counsels Richard A. Viguerie, chairman of ConservativeHQ.com.

“Tea party leaders should work to be a third force in politics in order to influence governmental policies, as well as the Republican and Democratic parties,” he adds.

EYEWITNESS

“There’s a media crush here. I’m getting calls from journalists in Singapore and Italy. And you know, I don’t think the folks at MoveOn.org would get this kind of response from the press. But this convention is not about us talking to the media. It’s about us talking to each other, and it’s about one particular motto: ‘change Congress, not America.’ ” - Surge USA founder Bruce Donnelly, in a report to Inside the Beltway from the floor of the National Tea Party Convention.

THE BROWN TRAJECTORY

Scott Brown, the newly-minted senator from Massachusetts, may have taken Edward M. Kennedy’s “seat,” but he didn’t get the late senator’s desk. Sen. John Kerry made off with that particular item of furniture as if it were a treasure. There was some tut-tutting on both sides. Enough already. It’s a desk.

Mr. Brown, a Republican, will set up shop in Mr. Kennedy’s office - No. 317 Russell Senate Office Building - which has been described as plush, coveted and even beloved in a number of press accounts. The young lawmaker has been reserved during all the hubbub, telling the press gaggle before his swearing in, “It’s time to get to work.”

Bingo.

“The competition to be the next hot political property is very rigorous. Like Sarah Palin, Scott Brown appeals to disaffected Americans. But the new senator does not have the public platform that Mrs. Palin enjoys as a Fox News correspondent,” James R. Gomes, director of the Mosakowski Institute for Public Enterprise at Clark University, tells Inside the Beltway.

“It’s his record that counts. Mr. Brown will amass a significant public record during the next two years. What he does with that will determine if he stays on public radar, or recedes into the dim background.”

JUST SO YOU KNOW

An alert for White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, now on an apology tour for the imprudent use of the “r-word” and the “f-bomb” - and the rest of us, too.

The American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities recommends that the term “mental retardation” be replaced with the more respectful terminology of “intellectual disability.” Sens. Barbara A. Mikulski, Maryland Democrat, and Michael B. Enzi, Wyoming Republican, in fact, have introduced legislation to eliminate the terms “mental retardation” and “mentally retarded” from the U.S. federal law books.

“We understand that people with intellectual disabilities face enough challenges every day, that they don’t need to deal with a pejorative label,” says Joanna Pierson, president of the group.

POLL DU JOUR

• 75 percent of Americans say there is “too much political correctness” in the discussion of terrorism.

• 97 percent of Republicans and 94 percent of conservatives agree, along with 57 percent of Democrats and 46 percent of liberals.

• 54 percent of Americans support ethnic and religious profiling to prevent terrorism.

• 86 percent of Republicans and 82 percent of conservatives agree, along with 27 percent of Democrats and 18 percent of liberals.

• 71 percent of Americans favor full body scans at airports.

• 69 percent are willing to sacrifice “some privacy for security.”

• 51 percent of Americans expect a “major terrorist attack” in the next year.

• 79 percent of Republicans and 78 percent of conservatives agree, along with 26 percent of Democrats and 17 percent of liberals.

Source: A Zogby International poll of 2,003 adults conducted Jan. 15-18.

Asides, murmurs, snow shovels to [email protected]ashingtontimes.com

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