John McCaslin

Still paying

"Nonsense," writes Inside the Beltway reader James McIntosh, regarding our item yesterday on the Architect of the Capitol boasting of taxpayer savings of $2.2 million per year after installing energy-efficient comfort-control systems and lighting that shuts off automatically when nobody is in the room.

"Unless taxes are cut by the $2.2 million, taxpayers save nothing," Mr. McIntosh points out.

Honest scribe

That was a group of familiar Washington columnists dismissing during dinner-table conversation the old notion that writers drink to excess.

At which point one confessed: "Actually, I'm a drinker with writing problems."

Cyclical doom

"I was pleased to read in your column that others are discovering that the media hype over 'global warming' is nothing new," writes Scot Christenson, director of communications for the Business & Media Institute.

He was responding to our item yesterday about a Page 2 headline discovered in the Nov. 2, 1922, edition of The Washington Post: "Arctic Ocean Getting Warm; Seals Vanish and Icebergs Melt." The newspaper told how "great masses of ice have now been replaced by moraines of earth and stones," and "at many points well-known glaciers have entirely disappeared."

Mr. Christenson took the opportunity to forward an institute study outlining how the media, including the New York Times, Newsweek and Time, have warned about impending climate doom four different times in the past 100 years.

"It would appear that media hype is as cyclical as the climate," he concludes.

Sing it, Alphonso

Education Secretary Margaret Spellings and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso R. Jackson recently toured a revitalized "uptown" Memphis, Tenn.

"We had a chance to visit Humes Middle School," noted Mr. Jackson. "It's Elvis Presley's alma mater, by the way. I believe it's down at the end of Lonely Street."

Good one, Mr. Secretary, who was actually recalling the lyrics to the Presley favorite "Heartbreak Hotel."

In fact, Humes Middle School is located on North Manassas Street. Today, the school enrolls 760 students, almost 99 percent of whom are black.

Obama in Spanish

We're told that 2008 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, who speaks limited Spanish, is the latest White House hopeful to confirm his participation in the Univision Network Presidential Forum, to be held Sunday, Sept. 16, at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla.

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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