Knock, knock . . .

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff travels with an entourage almost as big as rapper Snoop Dogg's posse. Interestingly, though, the man with so much security - who is also the nation's top immigration official - has had illegal workers cleaning his house.

Turns out the undocumented workers provided by a Maryland cleaning company sailed through Secret Service checks before entering Chertoff's house.

The owner of the cleaning company, James Reid, has been fined $22,880 by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. But Reid raises a good question that Chertoff should answer: If Homeland Security can't police Chertoff's home, how well is it policing the U.S. borders?

An image upgrade

Three cheers for President-elect Barack Obama, who says he will try to "reboot America's image" among the world's Muslims by following tradition and using his entire name - Barack Hussein Obama - in his swearing-in ceremony.

That this nation is seen as anti-Muslim in the Islamic world has helped terrorist organizations recruit would-be martyrs to fight us. Obama is a Christian but says he wants to repair America's reputation, and, toward that goal, also hopes one day to give a speech in a Muslim capital.

He told the Chicago Tribune this week that his administration will be unyielding in stamping out terrorist extremism but also "unrelenting in our desire to create a relationship of mutual respect and partnership with countries."

Born in the USA

Now that the Supreme Court has refused to hear a case questioning President-elect Barack Obama's citizenship, this canard needs to die.

This fight has been waged by people whose objections to Obama have more to do with his political positions than whether he meets the constitutional requirement to be a "natural born" citizen.

Official records from Hawaii, where Obama was born, should have stopped this nonsense long ago. But, regrettably, documented facts don't mean much to those delusional Americans who refuse to accept that Obama is, just like them, a citizen of this country and not the wolf in sheep's clothing they are so determined to make him out to be.

No guns allowed

It doesn't compute, but Gov. Rendell, with the same pen strokes he made to decrease a police officer's chances of being shot, increased the risk that a tourist in a Pennsylvania park might take a bullet.

Legislation that Rendell recently signed stiffened penalties for pointing a gun at an officer, but it also relaxed Pennsylvania's ban on carrying loaded weapons in state parks.

Gun-control advocates at CeaseFirePA supported this bill with a split personality because it also extends the statute of limitations to prosecute illegal gun traffickers.

But the law could put park visitors in jeopardy, especially since the Bush administration also is lifting the 25-year federal ban on carrying concealed, loaded guns in most national parks and wildlife refuges.

The incoming Obama administration should reverse the ruling. America's parks are already crime-free, for the most part.

Gun-slinging tourists shouldn't be allowed.

Let's hope it's a trend

This week, Gov. Rendell's office was crowing, with justification, over Pennsylvania's pulling off the largest competitive sale of municipal bonds for capital projects since the nation's credit markets froze with the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy.

The sale was coupled with the reaffirmation by rating agencies of the state's AA bond rating, with Harrisburg credited for its "moderate debt burden and generally conservative financial operations."

Maybe the good news for the state can be seen as a ray of hope that the national credit squeeze is easing.

A sad anniversary

As people make plans to celebrate the holidays, they should take a moment to remember a sobering event that occurred around this time 20 years ago. On Dec. 21, 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 was destroyed over Lockerbie, Scotland, by a bomb placed by Libyan terrorists, killing 270.

Congress recently passed a resolution honoring the victims, co-sponsored by Sens. Frank R. Lautenberg and Robert Menendez of New Jersey. "Today, we honor their memory and vow to continue to do everything in our power to bring all who commit terrorist acts against innocent Americans to justice," said Lautenberg.

In 2003, Libya accepted responsibility for the Pan Am attack. But it wasn't until Oct. 31 this year that Libya paid the final amounts it owed to settle the case.