McCaslin's Scrapbook

Posted: Jun 20, 2001 12:00 AM
COOLER BUREAUCRATS "I think I'm going to call Al Gore and see where he buys his earth tones so I have something to wear this summer," remarks one official with the Environmental Protection Agency, after receiving a memo sent to all EPA employees announcing a new "Business Casual" summer dress code: "With the onset of warm weather, the administrator (Christie Whitman) would like to invite all EPA employees to observe a 'Business Casual' dress code through the end of September. Consistent with the president's directive concerning reduced energy usage for federal facilities, EPA is taking a number of steps to conserve energy at all our offices and facilities, including adjustments to building temperature settings. To accommodate these efforts during the warm weather months, business casual attire will be allowed in order to make the higher temperatures more comfortable for employees." POTPOURRI POLLUTION Environmental Protection Agency research has found an air pollution threat from candles. That's right, burning candles indoors can produce high levels of particulates, says a Greensheets advisory forwarded by the Washington-based Cooler Heads Coalition. It notes that while the EPA cannot set indoor air standards, the agency conducted the research on candles after Congress requested information on all sources of particulates. CHECKS IN THE MAIL When can we expect to have those tax rebate checks from President Bush in hand? Match the last two numbers of your Social Security number to determine when your check ($300 for singles, $500 for single parents, $600 for married couples) will be in the mail: 00-09 July 23 ; 10-19 July 30 ; 20-29 Aug. 6 ; 30-39 Aug. 13 ; 40-49 Aug. 20 ; 50-59 Aug. 27 ; 60-69 Sept. 3 ; 70-79 Sept. 10 ; 80-89 Sept. 17 ; 90-99 Sept. 24 ; BATTLE STATIONS If they weren't already waging war, Republicans and Democrats would smell blood in the wake of former GOP Sen. James M. Jeffords' switch to independent. House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt opines that in the two weeks since losing control of the Senate, Republicans have "grown more isolated and more intolerant of dissenting views. Everything they've said, and everything the Republican leadership has said, is that ... they intend to be more vociferous in the advocacy of their right-wing agenda, and they don't intend to compromise." Gephardt quotes Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott as saying, "We're going to make war on the Democrats." TIME FLIES If you haven't already noticed, baby boomers aren't babies anymore. They're so grown up, in fact, that Congress is rushing to address issues related to the aging of 77 million baby boomers, and how America will handle all of them. In barely 10 years, the first bundle of baby boomers will begin to swell Medicare and Social Security rolls. As Sen. John B. Breaux, Louisiana Democrat and chairman of the Special Committee on Aging, warns: "Only a small window of time remains ..." Then again, as the saying goes: "Never regret growing old when some are denied the privilege." GOOMONGERS Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), who turns 54 this week, was surfing the other day - and not the Internet. "Most people know that I am one of the few surfers in Congress," the congressman notes. "Three days ago, I was in the ocean surfing off of my district off Huntington Beach. It was in the Bolsa Chica area and I was surfing there for two hours. It was a great day for surfing." Rohrabacher also scuba dives, calling himself an all-around "ocean person" who cares greatly about the environment and its stewards. Except when they lie. He recalls some 30 years ago being a young reporter assigned to cover a speech by ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau, "who happened to be one of my heroes." "Jacques Cousteau was speaking to these college students, and he was very pessimistic and I said, 'Gee, I just do not feel right about being so pessimistic about things in the ocean.' So, when I came up to him afterwards to do a short radio interview ... and I said, 'Mr. Cousteau, is not there some possibility that perhaps the oceans will be used as a source of food for us in the future beyond just catching fish, like aquaculture and growing oysters, and clams and lobster? Is that not a possibility?' "And he just came right up to my face and he said, 'Did you not hear me? Within 10 years the oceans will be black goo, totally dead, destroyed. The oceans will be lifeless. Did you not hear me?' "Of course, I never will forget that," Rohrabacher says now, "because this guy got right in my face and he put on a pretty good show for those kids." Surfing a few days ago, with "porpoises swimming by and ... the birds diving into the ocean nearby catching little fish," the congressman wondered why Cousteau - and other ecological alarmists of today - have felt they have "to lie to such a degree." "Jacques Cousteau was part of a movement," he concluded, "part of a movement that feels they have a right to lie and they have a right to frighten people, because they have a higher calling ... "This is the type of nonsense our young people are being fed in their schools every day," he says. "They are being lied to in the very same way." MINGLING WITH ADULTS They pay little, if anything. But internships in the nation's capital provide valuable learning experiences and often career launching pads -- particularly for those toiling under senior executives in the White House and atop Capitol Hill. Come to think of it, it's not unheard of for an intern to catch the eye of the president of the United States. Still, most internships aren't very glamorous. A whopping 700 young persons are tapped for White House internships every year, so the chances of a president ever knowing an intern by his or her first name are practically zero (one recent president, for instance, referred to an intern as "that woman"). Summer is the time of year when thousands of such nameless faces invade Washington's corridors of power (Congress attracts 4,000 to 8,000 interns a year, more than any other federal organization). To help them along, the Capitol Lounge on Pennsylvania Avenue -- one of the closest watering holes to the U.S. Capitol -- is distributing the "Intern Survival Guide Summer 2001" to its young customers. Among the pointers: -- In college, you may be at the top of the heap and close to graduation. Here you are at the bottom. Act accordingly. -- Do not order silly shooters. You are drinking with adults now. -- If you are in a conversation with someone older than you, pay attention. They can tell you are an intern (they may once have been an intern as well). Lying will not fool them. -- Relax, have fun; you can save the world later. WORLD TOUR Former President Bill Clinton, who's kept extremely busy on the world lecture circuit, will return to Washington June 28, as luncheon speaker for a John F. Kennedy School-Shorenstein Center conference on race and the press. Unlike the majority of his other speaking engagements, Clinton will appear for free at next Thursday's invitation-only event at the Hotel Washington, says school spokesman Doug Gavel. Clinton made headlines last week when it was reported he will receive $500,000 to deliver a speech to the state government of South Australia in February. SUCKING DIRT The brown sucker fish is the latest creature after Sen. James M. Jeffords to divide Congress. The National Council for a Republican Congress (NCRC) is condemning two dozen Democrats on the House Resources Committee for boycotting a committee hearing held in Oregon over the weekend attended by more than 6,000 residents. The hearing dealt with a recent ruling under the Endangered Species Act that cuts off 1,500 farms from irrigation water to protect the brown sucker fish. "Much like the arrogant French royalty centuries ago, congressional Democrats' message to Oregon farmers is let them drink dirt," says NCRC First Vice Chairman Marc Levin. "It is sad that many Democrats are so beholden to the radical environmental groups run by limousine liberals that they are oblivious to the plight of farmers whose way of life is being exterminated by the federal government." The Bureau of Reclamation ordered irrigation stopped along the Oregon-California border, leaving thousands of farmers hung out to dry.