McCaslin's Beltway Beat: Hillary for a Cal

Posted: Dec 07, 2001 12:00 AM
Who would have ever pictured Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton on a Topps trading card? "Enduring Freedom Picture Cards" is Topps' new high-gloss 90-card set, containing biographical information on civilian and military leaders entrusted to guide Americans through the war against terrorism. "Kids need to understand that the president and his team will keep them safe and that evil-doers will be punished," Topps tells us. "Our cards deliver the details in a medium with which they are familiar and comfortable." Biographical information on Mrs. Clinton's card reads: "Clinton, wife of former U.S. President Bill Clinton, was elected to the Senate in 2000." Ironically, this columnist had Mrs. Clinton's trading card in my pocket when I held open the door for the former first lady as she left the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Tuesday. Unfortunately, she appeared too preoccupied to autograph her card, which no doubt would make it even more valuable in a trade. TRUNKS OF SMALLPOX Although it was never proven in a court of law, there was no doubt in the mind of Union Army Judge Advocate General Joseph Holt that the Confederate government had committed biological warfare against the United States. So writes former Pentagon official John W. Hinds, a published Civil War author whose current work in progress is "Let Our People Go! The History of Parole, Exchange and Imprisonment in the American Civil War, 1861-1865." "The delivery and selling of trunks full of smallpox-contaminated clothing in Washington, D.C., was only one effort in a major Canadian-based Confederate government-sponsored 'irregular warfare' project," reveals Hinds. Clement C. Clay, an Alabama born, prewar U. S. senator and Jefferson Davis confidant, was the leader of several terrorist projects, which included projected assassination attempts on President Abraham Lincoln, Secretary of State William Seward and Vice President Andrew Johnson; the burning of New York City; attacks on Buffalo and Detroit and Saint Albans, Vt., and a biological-warfare attack on the nation's capital. The smallpox-contaminated clothing delivered to the nation's capital would not have generated newspaper headlines, Hinds observes, for smallpox was not then an uncommon disease. Smallpox was the fourth-largest killer of Union troops in the Civil War. "The Union Army doctors had available a crude form of antitoxin for the virus that, if applied in time, could prevent the disease," says the author. "But often the troops who were vaccinated with the so-called 'cow pox' serum thought the treatment might be worse than the disease. "Some of the less-fortunate soldiers watched in eye-widening disbelief as their vaccinations blossomed into enormous running sores that took weeks to heal and left silver-dollar and larger-size scars that they carried to their graves." TRAINING TERRORISTS "There are many firearms courses available to the public in the USA, ranging from 1 day to 2 weeks or more. These courses are good but expensive. Some of them are only meant for security personnel, but generally they will teach anyone. It is also better to attend these courses in pairs or by yourself, no more. Do not make public announcements when going on such a course. Find one, book your place, go there, learn, come back home and keep (it) to yourself." -- Manual "How Can I Train Myself for Jihad," confiscated among the ruins of a radical Islamic safe house in Kabul, Afghanistan, and read on the floor of the U.S. Senate by Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I. ARCTIC SLEDDING Whether one agrees or not with Minnesota Democratic Sen. Mark Dayton's opposition to oil exploration and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge of Alaska, at least - unlike the majority of Congress - he's personally ventured into the rugged region for a firsthand look. On two separate occasions, in fact, the senator has trudged well north into the remote wilderness area - once on a two-week expedition with internationally renowned Arctic explorer Will Steger. "We trekked through fresh snow above our knees through near white-out conditions to the top of the Continental Divide," Dayton informs us. "Then we slid down the other side, frequently using our backpacks as toboggans and our boot heels as runners." BOY BOMBER The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 have given us Americans living today a glimpse into the tragedy experienced by the men and women who survived the attack on Pearl Harbor 60 years ago this Friday, the "infamous" day of Dec. 7, 1941. And Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, says while there are myriad ceremonies commemorating this 60th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, one event in particular - in Fredericksburg, Texas - stands out for several reasons. First, it's the only national event staged by the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association that's open to the public, with more than 300 survivors of the attack traveling to Fredericksburg for the ceremony. Second, Fredericksburg is the birthplace of Navy Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, commander in chief of the Pacific during World War II. Finally, the keynote speaker at the Fredericksburg ceremony is no less than the youngest pilot to fly with the Navy during World War II, a lieutenant junior grade who piloted TBM Avengers in combat from the deck of the aircraft carrier USS San Jacinto. The lad's name: George H.W. Bush, who went on to become the 41st president of the United States and the father of the nation's present commander in chief. LICKING BONUSES The nation's largest taxpayer-advocacy group is calling on the U.S. Postal Service to abandon its plans to distribute more than $200 million in executive bonuses before year's end. "For USPS to give out hundreds of millions of dollars to its executives this year would be unconscionable," says Citizens Against Government Waste Vice President Leslie K. Paige. Between 1996 and 2000, the USPS passed out more than $1.4 billion in bonuses, including $284 million last year, when it lost money. How much in the red is the Postal Service? On Tuesday, it reported a $1.7 billion loss for this fiscal year. As a result, the Postal Service now foresees raising the price of a first-class postage stamp from 34 cents to 37 cents.