McCaslin's Beltway Beat: Room for error

Posted: Feb 13, 2002 12:00 AM
The fiancee of Washington-area resident Malcolm Ross boarded a flight at Washington Dulles International Airport recently, but not before she was body-searched and her suitcase completely emptied by airport security personnel. Which was OK by her, so long as such extraordinary security measures keep the flying public safe. However, when her bag finally arrived at her destination of Jakarta, Indonesia - after service stops in Frankfurt and Singapore - it was empty. "Everything was taken," Ross says. "But that can be replaced. My concern is how this can happen during this heightened state of security. Someone gets (the luggage) out of the shed, does whatever they want to it, and then puts it back into the stream. It's just terrifying." KING AS KING Rep. Diane E. Watson, D-Calif., will host a congressional screening Wednesday (Feb. 13) in the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center Amphitheater for "The Rosa Parks Story," a new CBS TV movie depicting the life of the "mother of the civil rights movement." What's intriguing about the movie, which will air Sunday night, Feb. 24, is that Dexter Scott King, Martin Luther King Jr.'s son, makes a cameo appearance as his father. Actresses Angela Bassett (Rosa Parks) and Cicely Tyson (Rosa Parks' mother) both plan to attend the congressional screening. YOU CAN HAVE IT When GOP Sen. Frank H. Murkowski of Alaska last year invited official members of Washington on a far-reaching expedition to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, an icy and desolate region of Alaska that President Bush wants to tap for oil, senior White House adviser Mary Matalin signed up to go. Matalin and the rest of the fact-finding delegation flew first to Anchorage, then on to Valdez, from there up to Prudhoe Bay, where nearly 2 million barrels of oil a day flow into the trans-Alaskan pipeline, and finally into Barrow, the northernmost - and often coldest - town in the United States. How cold was it? Matalin and her fellow expeditioners, including Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton, awoke on their first and only morning in Barrow to an outdoor temperature of minus 35 degrees Fahrenheit - minus 65 degrees with the wind chill. ENDORSING SHORTY Co-founder of The American Prospect magazine is none other than Robert Reich, labor secretary in the first term of the Clinton administration and now a candidate for governor of Massachusetts. With the recent declaration of his candidacy for the state's highest office, Reich (who stands 4 feet 6 inches tall, his magazine sees fit to point out) has taken a leave of absence as the magazine's regular columnist. "The Prospect is verboten from formally endorsing candidates for office - something about our tax status," the magazine's editors observe. "Accordingly, we feel compelled to call your attention to the large number of short individuals who played decisive and heroic roles in the grand pageant of American history." They point to James Madison, the "Father of the Constitution," who stood only 5 feet 4 inches tall. John Adams, architect of the Treaty of Paris, by which this nation formally secured its independence from Britain, hardly towered over others at 5 feet 7 inches. The list includes the "Little Giant," 5-foot 4-inch Stephen Douglas, "without whom Lincoln would have looked pretty silly debating all by himself," the Prospect notes. "As Fiorello La Guardia (5 feet 2 inches) - the consensus choice as America's greatest mayor - once noted during a discussion of the requisite height for a New York City water-and-power inspector: 'What's the matter with a little guy? What's the matter with a little guy?' "And we say, what indeed?" WORTH QUOTING "All knowledge doesn't repose here in Washington, D.C. There is a great deal of knowledge - maybe more so - with the state legislatures than in Washington, D.C." -- Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, addressing fellow senators in recent days. TIRED OF BUCKETS Should Sen. John F. Kerry and his wife, Teresa Heinz, accept a personal invitation to travel during next week's Senate recess to Kaktovik, Alaska, population 260 - the lone community located within the entire 20 million acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) - they'd better pack plenty of toiletries. The Massachusetts Democrat received a written invitation to visit from the Inupiat Eskimos, who "for thousands of years" have lived in the remote village called Kaktovik. They are a people who, for the most part, have been overlooked by the world, not just in the past, but even now as congressional debate begins anew over oil drilling within the ANWR. "Our homeland is by no means a wilderness area untouched by man," says the invitation, which expresses "deep concern" because Kerry and his wife have publicly voiced opposition to oil drilling in the refuge. "We sincerely desire the presence of your wife, Mrs. Heinz, as she too recently expressed in a public advertisement that she is opposed to the responsible development of our homelands," writes Fenton Rexford and Eve Ahlers, president and chairman, respectively, of the Inupiat community. And what kind of responsible development would the villagers like to see? "For us, responsible development means the right to live healthy and productive lives," the letter states. "It means flush toilets and running water, two elements key to sanitary living conditions." (If running water would be a treat for the Alaskan residents, imagine the smiling faces if Mrs. Heinz showed up with a crate or two of ketchup.)