McCaslin's Scrapbook

Posted: Apr 20, 2001 12:00 AM
FUTURE LEMIEUX Dillon Reio is just 8, but the Bowie, Md., hockey player, instead of asking for George W. Bush's autograph, had enough confidence to send his own autographed photo to the president. "My son realizes you are an avid baseball fan, but he wanted to give you a picture of himself playing hockey," the boy's mother, Donna Miller, told Bush after she appeared on stage with him at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event this week. Mrs. Miller handed the president a hockey trading card with her son's photo and his handwritten note: "To President Bush from Dillon." No last name, just Dillon. Surely the president knows who that is. "Make sure he wears a helmet," the president advised Mrs. Miller after glancing at the trading card. CORRECTNESS GONE MAD See-saws disappearing across America. Labels warning that coffee is hot. Good teachers, fed up, quit. Bad teachers can't be fired. These issues, not politics, matter to Philip King Howard. He's advised then-Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole on regulatory reform, has worked on overhauling civil service and other bureaucratic institutions with several governors, and helped then-Vice President Al Gore reinvent government. Now, the Manhattan lawyer, former special adviser to the Securities and Exchange Commission for regulatory simplification, and best-selling author of "The Death of Common Sense: How Law is Suffocating America," is returning to Washington later this month to promote his new book, "The Lost Art of Drawing the Line: How Fairness Went Too Far" (Random House, $22.95). He writes that politically correct reforms have become the enemy of freedom and common good. Today, he says, instead of making obvious decisions, principals, teachers, doctors and others who deal with the public go through the day looking over their shoulders. And for good reason, as we read on Page 59: "A great thing about bringing lawsuits in modern America is that it's so easy to threaten the adversary's entire livelihood. One stroke of a finger on the lawyer's word processor, and damages go from $100,000 to $1,000,000. Three more keystrokes, and we're suing for a billion dollars. This is fun." AGENT BARR Cuban President Fidel Castro will never trust Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA) -- or any other U.S. government "mafia" leader, for that matter -- with his life. From Congress we've obtained the transcript of a speech Castro delivered earlier this month, broadcast nationally on Cuban television, in which the Cuban leader -- long considering himself a target of U.S. hit squads -- has choice words not only for Barr's "Terrorist Elimination Act" but also for similar U.S. efforts to destabilize the island nation. "The U.S. government and its officials know very well the accuracy of my words," said Castro. "They, of course, keep quiet. You have to wonder why these people organize assassination plot after plot." Castro told the Cuban people that Barr -- "double 'r,' just like the bars visited by those who like to tip the bottle" -- has introduced a bill seeking to eliminate an executive order issued by the Ford administration in 1976 "that no employee of the U.S. government is to take part or conspire to take part in political assassinations." "You might remember that Senate commission that investigated and verified a small but highly scandalous part of the assassination plots organized against Cuban leaders during the first years of the revolution, and against me in particular," Castro said. "Apparently that resulted in the implementation of certain laws and this was one of those." NO POLICY With gasoline prices in excess of $2 per gallon in some states, a special symposium on national energy policy will convene in Washington Monday (April 23), although this time it's a summit of petroleum specialists, not politicians. Some of the nation's leading geologists and energy scientists who have discovered much of the nation's energy supply will present their views and recommendations during this particular national energy policy summit at the Washington Army and Navy Club. "It is time to hear from the experts," says the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), which is convening the symposium. Marlan Downey, former president of Shell Oil and Arco International who now heads the AAPG, warns the United States "faces an ever-growing production shortage of domestic oil and ever-increasing imports of foreign oil -- a dependence that holds America hostage." "The fact is, we lack an effective U.S. energy policy," says Downey. UNCLE SAM'S DISGUISE Bureaucrats investigating charges of misleading advertising in the milk-mustache campaign are the same government officials overseeing the dairy promotion, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) charges in a letter to the Federal Trade Commission. The PCRM called for the probe in July, filing a petition with the FTC detailing "false health claims" made by the federally run "milk mustache/got milk?" campaign. The FTC referred the case to the Agriculture Department. "It's a classic case of the fox guarding the henhouse," says PCRM attorney Mindy Kursban. "No wonder the FTC hasn't suspended these deceptive ads yet. Those in charge of investigating our charges are the very same people who work with the dairy industry to implement the milk-mustache campaign." The nonprofit health care advocacy group, comprised of 5,000 physicians, wants the probe transferred from the USDA to an independent scientific panel. The FTC so far has refused. The PCRM says the ads, featuring such celebrities as Elton John and Britney Spears, violate federal law by misleading the public with false health claims, and fail to draw attention to studies linking dairy consumption with higher rates of certain diseases.