Se habla Espanol?

John McCaslin
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Posted: Aug 30, 2005 12:00 AM

Mauro E. Mujica, chairman of U.S. English, is blasting an unprecedented school board vote in Dallas County, Texas, that requires school administrators to learn Spanish or else lose their jobs.

"This is part of a frightening trend, where English-speaking Americans are being asked to learn a foreign language, while nothing is expected out of non-English-speaking immigrants to America," says Mujica, an immigrant from Chile whose office is one block from the White House.

"Instead of forcing their administrators to learn the language of immigrants, the district should open its facilities to programs that teach immigrant parents English."

Mujica notes that Dallas County ranks 138th in the nation in the percentage of residents who speak Spanish at home, but is ninth in the concentration of Vietnamese speakers, eighth in the concentration of Urdu speakers and 14th in the concentration of Korean speakers. Yet the school board's language "outreach" program makes no attempt to reach other immigrant families.

BRING IT ON

Dorothy Helms, wife of retired North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms, says liberals are ready to "torpedo" the official release of her husband's memoir, "Here's Where I Stand."

Then again, controversial books sell like pancakes, so Mr. Helms in his retirement will certainly welcome the publicity - good or bad.

Mrs. Helms says it's taken her husband two years to write the memoir. Coinciding with its release, North Carolina Republican Sens. Elizabeth Dole and Richard M. Burr in the coming weeks will co-host a Washington salute to Mr. Helms at the Marriott Crystal Gateway.

Meanwhile, despite being in declining health, Mr. Helms has kept busy issuing a statement or two in advance of publication. One such statement, provided to this column by his office in North Carolina, concerns the former senator orchestrating strong opposition to centrist Republican and former Massachusetts Gov. William F. Weld's nomination to be President Clinton's ambassador to Mexico.

"My objection to William Weld wasn't based on the way he conducted himself as governor or even how he would conduct himself as an ambassador in a place other than Mexico. India was where I wanted to send him," Mr. Helms now states.

And as for Weld announcing in recent days that he is gearing up for a run for governor of New York, Mr. Helms says: "One of the things that makes America so great is that anyone can run for public office, and it's up to the voters to decide who will best serve them. I wish Mr. Weld well."

ALL MY ROWDY FRIENDS

Who better to back you up on the presidential campaign trail than Hank Williams Jr.?

The Beltway Beat is told that during a recent meeting in Tennessee, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who has his eyes on the White House in 2008, got a "pledge of support" from the country music star, who has been a vocal supporter of President Bush over the past six years.

"Hank has been a big supporter of the Republican Party," Nashville PR mogul Kirt Webster, who represents Mr. Williams, told Inside the Beltway by telephone yesterday. "And he told Mr. Frist that he would be there to support him."

GRAMMY TIME

Speaking of mixing music and politics, Gloria Estefan, Desmond Child and Earl Klugh will be among musicians lobbying Congress early next month at the first-ever Recording Arts Day on Capitol Hill.

In fact, Estefan, we're told, has planned a unique jam session with certain members of Congress for the Sept. 7 event ("American Idol" judge Randy Jackson will also be on Capitol Hill and perhaps will rate this unusual performance), which is in partnership with the Recording Arts and Sciences Congressional Caucus and the Recording Academy.

That same evening, the academy will honor Estefan, Sen. Lamar Alexander, Tennessee Republican, and Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, at the annual "Grammys on the Hill" dinner at the Willard Inter-Continental Hotel. Alexander is chairman of the Senate's Songwriters' Caucus, while Hoyer has been an active advocate in Washington for creators' rights.

SCRATCH TWO

The following letter, from the Family Research Council to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, speaks for itself and deals with the California Democrat's claim last week that she represented 145 million women on issues such as abortion.

"Could you clarify how you arrived at this number?" wrote Connie Mackey, vice president for government affairs, and Pia de Solenni, director for women's issues.

"According to the 2003 American Community Survey of the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 144,513,361 women and girls in the United States and, given our democratic environment and diverse society, we are confident in suggesting that the views of these women are not all represented by you.

"California, the state you represent, has about 17.5 million women and girls," the women note. "If you are suggesting that you represent 145 million women because of your stance on Roe v. Wade, polls show that women are consistently becoming more pro-life. . . . We look forward to the explanation of your statement."

'HOPEFUL'

Approving a new constitution in war-torn Iraq has been difficult for all sides, even for the White House and members of the press.

Take White House deputy press secretary Trent Duffy, who, while aboard Air Force One last week en route to Salt Lake City, was asked by a reporter whether President Bush that day would address stalled negotiations on the Iraqi constitution.

"Yes," Duffy replied. "He'll talk about how we're hopeful that the Iraqis will continue to make progress on their constitution."

"Why are you hopeful?" was the follow-up question.

"Well, we're hopeful," Duffy replied. "We're hopeful, and they're still at the table."

One can't be more "hopeful" than that, certainly.

Except when a White House pool report of the question-and-answer session was released to reporters, it quoted Duffy expressing "confidence" instead of hope.

Thus, a subsequent pool report corrected: "Trent Duffy disputed use of the word 'confidence' on the Iraqi constitution. He said he specifically said 'hopeful.' He said he chose his words 'carefully.'"

CULINARY OPERA

As the pair accomplished with Pampano in New York, legendary opera director Placido Domingo and Mexican-born chef Richard Sandoval have collaborated to open a new restaurant - Zengo - on Seventh Street Northwest near Chinatown.

The Latin-Asian restaurant, which will open in early October, will be a "home away from home" for Domingo when the Washington National Opera general director is performing in the nation's capital.

It is noted that since he was a child, Domingo, whose grandmother owned a restaurant, dreamed of following in her footsteps. And if Zengo is anything like Pampano, Washingtonians will be flocking to the 195-seat establishment. Pampano, after all, was named best new restaurant in America by Esquire magazine in 2003.

Sandoval says he will merge Latin foods of his heritage with Shanghai-born chef Alan Yu's Asian ingredients and techniques.

And get this: Yu will be having his own homecoming of sorts, having worked as a young man at his parents' restaurant in Chinatown. He was later executive sous chef under Michel Richard at Citronelle in Georgetown, and more recently was executive chef for Jean George Vongerichten's 66 restaurant in New York.

POLITICAL GAS

Democrats in need of a campaign slogan for 2006 might consider, "It's the gasoline, stupid."

Even Republicans aren't happy about Americans' paying upwards of $3 per gallon of gas, or so we read in a letter North Carolina Rep. Walter B. Jones has sent to fellow Republican Rep. Joe L. Barton of Texas, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Concerned about the dramatic "spike" in gasoline prices - up 44 percent this year - and its impact on the economy, Jones is calling on the chairman to schedule "urgent" hearings as soon as the House reconvenes from its late-summer vacation.

He warns that the "skyrocketing price of gasoline is threatening to derail our economic expansion."

GOD AND GUNS

Catholic World News (CWN) has published an intriguing story about Washington gun lobbyist John Michael Snyder criticizing the Vatican's representative at the United Nations for endorsing an "international gun-control scheme."

Archbishop Celestino Migliore cooperated in "a direct attack on the God-given right of law-abiding citizens to self-defense," CWN quotes Snyder, who takes issue with the archbishop's statements in support of a proposed U.N. program to eradicate illicit trade in small arms.

Snyder fears such approval would lead to worldwide gun control under U.N. auspices and deny private citizens, including Americans, the right to own firearms without explicit approval.

"When push comes to shove," says the Catholic Snyder, "the ability of an individual to defend life from terrorist and other violent criminal action depends on whether or not that individual can get and use guns."

MIXED CELEBRATION

That was recent Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong and a group of his friends sharing a celebratory dinner last week at DC Coast.

Keeping fit, Armstrong's guests sipped chilled cucumber soup with a dollop of caviar, followed by tuna tartare. For dessert, pastry chef David Guas wrote in chocolate around the plates Armstrong's motto, "Live Strong."

And to help the cyclist celebrate his seventh Tour de France victory, DC Coast uncorked complimentary champagne for those at the table.

Unfortunately for Armstrong, dinner was served on the heels of Jean-Marie Leblanc, director of the Tour de France, claiming that the cyclist had "fooled" the sports world and should apologize for purportedly taking a performance-boosting drug during the race in 1999.

"For the first time - and these are no longer rumors or insinuations, these are proven scientific facts - someone has shown me that in 1999, Armstrong had a banned substance called EPO in his body," Leblanc told the French sports daily L'Equipe.

Armstrong, who went bike riding with President Bush at his Texas ranch earlier in the week, denied the accusations, saying on his Web site that he has "never taken performance-enhancing drugs."

THEN AND NOW

We're told former Secretary of State James A. Baker III will lead a presidential delegation to Gdansk, Poland, to attend the 25th anniversary of the Solidarity movement.

Other members of the delegation will include U.S. Ambassador to Poland Victor Ashe, who was mayor of Knoxville, Tenn., until 2003, and lost a 1984 Senate bid to Al Gore in a landslide.

Also making the trip are Daniel Fried, assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs; former Sen. Hank Brown, who is president of the University of Colorado system; and Irena Kirkland, widow of former AFL-CIO President Lane Kirkland. GLASS HOUSES

What's the saying, "He who lives in a glass house shouldn't throw stones?"

Sean Rushton, executive director of the Washington-based Committee for Justice, writes to members of the Fourth Estate covering President Bush's nomination of Judge John G. Roberts Jr. to the Supreme Court that one should consider the source.

"Reporters: As you finalize stories on People for the American Way's charge today that John Roberts is extreme, remember to consider recent amicus briefs filed by PFAW:

"People for the American Way opposes pornography filters on public library computers; regulation of hardcore Internet pornography; restrictions on simulated child pornography; school choice; voluntary prayer in public places.

"People for the American Way supports deleting "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance; redefinition of traditional marriage; voting rights for felons; forcing the Boy Scouts to permit openly gay scoutmasters; partial birth abortion; judicially imposed tax hikes; removing the Ten Commandments from public settings; racial quotas in college admissions."