McCaslin's Scrapbook

Posted: Jun 19, 2001 12:00 AM
NEW SPAIN Spanish President Jose Maria Aznar Lopez had something to say to President Bush Tuesday about the exploding Hispanic population in the United States. "At present, many U.S. citizens have Spanish as their mother tongue - a number which, in the next few years, will be more than that of Spaniards," Azner noted during Bush's first-ever visit to Spain. To the surprise of Uncle Sam, the 2000 census revealed 35 million Hispanics had overtaken 34 million blacks as the nation's largest minority group. That's one reason why Rep. Bob Barr, Georgia Republican - on the heels of one Texas town passing an ordinance requiring that all official business there be conducted in Spanish - introduced legislation last month to make English the official language of the U.S. government. Meanwhile, the American Journalism Review says the number of Spanish-language newspapers in the United States grew from 14 in 1990 to 34 last year, the number of weeklies increased from 152 to 265, and magazines doubled from 177 to 352. And if you think you're hearing more Spanish over the airwaves, you're right: There are currently 594 U.S. radio stations that broadcast in Spanish. "The language which we hear the president himself speaking better and better every day," Azner said of Mr. Bush. WATERGATE DEAN John Dean, barely 30 when he was appointed counsel to Richard Nixon, says he gave his boss ample time "to get out in front" of Watergate, and after the president chose not to, "it became clear they were going to make me the scapegoat." "I've often thought in hindsight that I was brought to the White House because I was young," Dean tells the Catholic News Service in a rare interview. He says he's convinced that had he not come forward, Mr. Nixon would have succeeded with the cover-up. "I was very uncomfortable when I saw things that I knew were wrong," says Dean. Uncle Sam, in fact, was so concerned with keeping Dean alive during his Watergate testimony that he was placed in the federal witness-protection program - hidden for 120 days in a government safe house in Baltimore. Today, Dean lives a far more secure life in California, where he's a private investment banker, writer and lecturer. JOIN THE PARTY In January, the chairman of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, Sen. Byron L. Dorgan, invited President Bush to address the Democratic Caucus at the Democratic Policy Committee's Issues Conference, an invitation the president accepted. Now, Dorgan has invited Vice President Richard B. Cheney to huddle with the Democratic Caucus next Thursday, June 21, at the weekly Democratic policy luncheon, an invitation the vice president has just accepted. Still, there's no truth to the rumor that Democrats are trying to persuade Bush and Cheney to switch parties. WET HEADS Rather than forecasting global warming 100 years distant, climatologists should instead worry about today's weather, advises Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA). The congressman recalls just a few years ago when "President Clinton was so committed to proving this (global warming) theory that he invited hundreds of climatologists who agreed with global warming to the White House. . . . "During that time in the White House, I understand a major storm broke out in Washington and was just drenching the entire area, and what happened is that, of all those hundreds of climatologists that came to the White House to reconfirm global warming, only three of them thought ahead enough to bring an umbrella." DISHONORING DADS With only two shopping days left before Father's Day, and who better to turn to for some background on this national observance than Stuart Miller, senior legislator for the American Fathers Coalition. In 1914, Miller educates, President Wilson issued the official announcement proclaiming Mother's Day as a national holiday that was to be held each year on the second Sunday of May, formalizing the English tradition of celebrating "Mothering Sunday," which can be traced back to the early 1600s. Although President Coolidge in 1924 supported the idea of a national Father's Day, it wasn't until 1966 - 52 years after the formalization of Mother's Day - that President Johnson signed a proclamation declaring the third Sunday of June as Father's Day. Now here we are in 2001, and some in Congress have proposed renaming Father's Day to "Responsible Fathers Day," which Miller can't stomach. "After only 35 years of recognition," he says, "our country seems to want to restrict or eliminate even that minuscule amount of appreciation." PARKING TAX Americans are spending more money than they think to park, whether they own a car or not. There are more than 6,000 Capitol Hill parking spaces reserved for employees of the House of Representatives, reveals Rep. Earl Blumenauer, "which cost the taxpayer more than $1,500 a year per employee." So this week, the Oregon Democrat, who pedals a bicycle to the vast majority of his meetings around Washington (often beating his colleagues who take cabs or cars), called on Congress to earmark funding for additional showers and locker space on Capitol Hill to encourage more of the congressional staff to bike to work.