Political Scrapbook

Posted: May 04, 2001 12:00 AM
CHAIRMAN BENNETT? William Bennett, former education secretary and drug czar, is the name we hear to become the next presidentially appointed chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. The commission is currently chaired by former Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams and consists of nine board members, including Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, head of the Washington Catholic Archdiocese, and former Assistant Secretary of State John R. Bolton -- all of their terms are set to expire May 14. Of late, commissioners testified seven times before Congress, held hearings in India, Pakistan and Vietnam, and interviewed numerous representatives of victims of religious liberty violations. HIGHER THAN NEWT Michael Cronin, one-time congressional aide to former Rep. Tim Penny, Minnesota Democrat, was back on Capitol Hill, albeit sporting a new collar. One worn by a Catholic priest. Father Cronin gave politics a shot 13 years ago after graduating from college, but after two years in the hallowed halls of Congress he heard a far higher calling than that of lawmakers, leaving in 1990 to pursue studies for the priesthood. Father Cronin, a priest in Minnesota, was Congress' guest chaplain last week. BLACK HISTORY Two outspoken congressmen from opposing parties are joining forces for the sake of their black heritage. House Republican Conference Chairman J.C. Watts Jr. (R-OK) and Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) will introduce legislation this week to establish a National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall in Washington. The new museum would be housed in the Smithsonian's Arts and Industries Building and would house a permanent collection of artifacts and historical materials showcasing over 400 years of black history and culture in this country. WASHINGTON WALNUTS President Clinton's former White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta was back in Washington this week sporting a California tan. "I was on a tractor last week," Panetta explained. "My family has a walnut orchard. When I was first elected (to Congress), my father said I was perfectly suited for Washington because I've always worked around nuts." ROTUNDA YOGA "Please don't disturb the senator, he's breathing." Don't laugh. Every Monday and Friday afternoon starting in June, posture and breathing exercises will commence in Room 628 of the Senate's Dirksen Building. "With regular practice it will increase your flexibility, balance, breath control, and will enhance your overall health," senators and their staffs are told by the Senate Office of Education and Training, proud sponsor of "Yoga on Mondays & Fridays." CHINESE SYMPTOMS Internet posting by Washington-based Judicial Watch: "The Web site you are currently looking for is experiencing technical difficulties. At this time, all evidence suggests that hackers are responsible for these difficulties. Over the last couple days, there have been reports of Chinese hackers targeting U.S. sites in retaliation for the recent tensions in U.S.-Chinese relations. We especially suspect this scenario due to the fact that all symptoms related to our problem are the exact same symptoms being reported widely over the last 12 hours from high levels at the U.S. Department of Transportation and Microsoft."