Capital Briefs: August 14-18

Bless the Brits:

Here’s a question that ought to be asked about the terror plot foiled last week in which Islamist “martyrs” reportedly intended to blow up a series of U.S. passenger planes as they flew across the Atlantic: What would have happened had the plotters not intended to fly from Great Britain? What if they had been planning to come from, say, Greece? Or Mexico? Or France? Would the plot have been detected in time?

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff was appropriately grateful to the British government for its efforts in aborting the terror plot. “I also have to give special thanks to our partners, the British government,” said Chertoff. “They have been terrific in terms of close information-sharing and close coordination, recognizing that both countries which are bound together with great common feelings of culture, are also, unfortunately, bound together by being targeted for terror. But because of the close working relationship between the British government and the U.S. government, we have managed to make sure that the people of both countries and the people of the world are safer.” The flip side of Britain’s tremendous vigilance against terrorism, however, was indicated by a report on CNN the day of the arrests that revealed why Britain’s vigilance is necessary. All 24 terrorists arrested, CNN said, were British citizens.

Schwarz Clubbed:

Former Rep. Pat Toomey ’s pro-free-market Club for Growth scored its first knock-out with Tim Walberg’s 53%-to-47% victory over Rep. Joe Schwarz (R.) in the Republican primary in Michigan’s 7th U.S House District. Walberg, an ordained minister who supports traditional values as well as fiscal conservatism, will come to Capitol Hill from the Michigan House of Representatives where he never voted for a tax increase in his 16 years of service.

Schwarz, on the other hand, was a moderate who supported legalized abortion and same-sex marriage and who sponsored or co-sponsored 43 bills calling for $26.65 billion in new spending in his first and only term. Schwarz blamed his loss on the “hard conservatives”—as he called them—who turned out for Walberg. The club is now focused on ousting Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R.-R.I.) and replacing him with Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey.

So Long, Cynthia!

We will hardly miss her. Georgia’s solidly Democratic 4th District handed Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D.) a pink slip for the second time in four years last week.

In 2002, after she made national headlines by accusing the Bush Administration of having prior knowledge of the 9/11 attacks, McKinney lost a primary to Denise Majette. When Majette left the House to run for the Senate, McKinney recaptured the seat in 2004. This time McKinney commanded the spotlight by striking a Capitol Hill police officer who tried to stop her as she scooted by a security checkpoint. She accused the officer of racial profiling and told reporters she struck him because she was “instigated by the inappropriate touching of me, a female, black congresswoman.” At the end of a press conference shortly after the incident, she forgot that her microphone was on, called one of her aides “a fool,” and then tried to forbid reporters from reporting the incident because, she said, it was “off the record.” Incapable of bowing out gracefully, McKinney appeared with supporters to sing an anti-Bush song by pop singers Pink and the Indigo Girls before finally making a post-midnight call to her victorious opponent, Hank Johnson.

Nay on Ney’s Heir?

Although Ohio election law provides for a new primary to replace Republican Rep. Bob Ney (who announced last week he was ending his re-election bid amid an ongoing corruption probe), there may be a glitch involving the state GOP’s favored candidate to replace Ney. State Sen. Joy Padgett, who declared for the Republican nomination after Ney’s announced exit, could be subject to the “sore loser” provision in Ohio election law. This law says that a candidate who lost one primary cannot run in another in the same election cycle. Padgett lost the lieutenant governor nomination in the May primary. Even Ney’s own polls showed him losing to Democrat Zack Space had he stayed in the race.

McCain’s New Bedfellows:

During the summer meeting of the Republican National Committee in Minneapolis, Minn., last week, newly-elected West Virginia GOP Chairman Doug McKinney told Human Events Political Editor John Gizzi that at the state committee meeting in which he was elected chairman, “The big news was [Mississippi Sen.] Trent Lott making a speech on behalf of John McCain [for President] in ’08.” Although Lott and McCain have long been considered bitter rivals in the Senate, they have apparently patched up their differences. The Mississippian is now firmly in McCain’s presidential camp. Also, Florida businessman Phil Handy, who co-chaired all of Republican Gov. Jeb Bush’s campaigns and who is a Bush family friend, has just signed on as national co-chairman of McCain’s “Straight Talk America” political action committee.

Teddy’s Warning:

Alyse O’Neill, president of the Naples, Fla., chapter of Eagle Forum, passes out cards with a quote from President Teddy Roosevelt that is especially timely in light of last week’s aborted Islamist terror plot, which involved British citizens in a scheme against their own country as well as the U.S. “In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith become an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else,” Roosevelt said in 1907. “For it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed or birthplace or origin.

“But this is predicated upon the person’s becoming in every facet an American and nothing but an American. There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag. We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language. And we have room for but one sole loyalty, and that is loyalty to the American people.”