McCaslin's Beltway Beat: Litigant's smorgasbord

John McCaslin
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Posted: Jan 18, 2002 12:00 AM
Washington political (and now sports) observer Ann Sheridan, president of the Georgetown Ignatian Society, wonders what precedent will follow "our Council of Governments' efforts to change the Redskins name because it offends Native Americans?" "Are Cardinals, Padres and Angels an affront to Christians?" she offers as examples. "Will members of Wicca claim religious prejudice and persecution by the Wizards? Are Bill Clinton and the others who refused to serve their country going to boycott Dodgers games? Will short people demand respect when the Titans and Giants kick off? Should the Navy throw the Admirals in the brig? "What if," she asks, "the Redskins were really named after the red potatoes grown in Ireland?" OK, now you've gone too far, Mrs. Sheridan! AMERICAN PIES Tremendous response and enthusiasm, much of it from Texas and Wyoming, to the revelation in my last column that Uncle Sam is studying cattle manure as a cheap and plentiful energy resource. "I believe that instead of Uncle Sam stumbling onto something, he 'stepped in' something," reacts reader Peter Weeks to our terminology. "And, of course, if this ever came to pass that we began using 'cow pies' to fuel our economy (and therefore we 'encouraged' the production of these pies), the liberals would then complain that we were adding to global warming from all of the methane produced from these same cows. "Sometimes stepping in it isn't a good thing," he concludes. At the same time, Carter Fletcher, of Lower Gwynedd, Pa., educates: "As you probably know, the fuel uses of cow, buffalo and horse manure have been known and used for over a century in this country (though I've been assured that if you have a choice of either of the first two, don't use the last one). "I'm particularly glad, however, that the federal government has finally learned of them, since Washington seems to be the biggest producer of all three." YALE'S TURN Observing its 65th reunion, Yale's Class of 1937 has issued a call for the ROTC - banned at Yale since the Vietnam War - to be restored to the campus. "The new threat of a long, continuing (anti-terrorism) struggle confronting our nation," is the reason given by class secretary Rynn Berry, who with his surviving classmates is dedicating this year's reunion milestone to the memory of the 514 Yale men, and other Americans, who died in World War II. Albert Bildner, a former Navy ROTC member in the Class of '37, points out that today's world and its inhabitants, "including the Yale faculty and students, are notably different in spirit and temperament than those of the late 1960s, when Yale banned the ROTC program in the throes of the Vietnam War. "But, 40 years later, it is a more dangerous world," he says. "There is a need for ROTC at Yale, particularly after the surprise attack by Osama bin Laden, fueled by an ideology which sees the United States and Western culture as it mortal enemy." Bildner adds rather bluntly: "Yale should not expect other people to carry the burden of defending the country while Yale students do nothing in defense of the United States." Advocates for restoring the ROTC on the Connecticut campus recall a rich and storied affiliation between the American military and Yale, which offered thriving ROTC detachments of every service. But the program was expelled from the campus in 1969 after Yale's faculty voted to revoke credit for ROTC courses. At present, Yale students wishing to participate in the ROTC do so at the University of Connecticut, a 90-minute drive each way. "Perhaps worse," Berry charges, "Yale accepts ROTC dollars but refuses to grant credit for ROTC courses." (Today, the Yale faculty continues to make political waves; 171 of its faculty members last year opposed giving President Bush, a Yale alumnus himself, an honorary degree because they felt it came too early in his tenure. It apparently didn't bother them that Theodore Roosevelt, FDR and John F. Kennedy were all offered honorary Yale degrees during their first years as president. (In fact, the same faculty that last year shunned President Bush for being a newcomer saw no problem inviting freshman New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton to speak during the 2001 commencement weekend.) ENOUGH SUN We've learned that Robert Carleson, chairman of the conservative-leaning American Civil Rights Union - dubbed the "constructive alternative to the ACLU" - is moving ACRU's headquarters from San Diego to Washington in the next few weeks. "We are coming to Washington to get closer to the media in our debates with the American Civil Liberties Union," explains Carleson. The ACRU policy board consists of former Attorney General Edwin Meese III, former Judge Robert Bork and Linda Chavez, president of the Center for Equal Opportunity, among others. One of its major projects is the Scouting Legal Defense Fund, headed by Meese. GO FIGURE It's not dandruff that has climatologists scratching their heads, but rather word that the continent of Antarctica might not be melting after all. Gretchen Randall, Chicago director of the National Center for Public Policy Research's John P. McGovern Center for Environmental and Regulatory Affairs, points to a study by University of Illinois researcher Peter Doran showing temperatures in Antarctica have been falling 1.2 degrees Fahrenheit per decade since the mid-l980s. "This disputes earlier claims that temperatures were rising in Antarctica, but earlier readings were taken on the peninsula rather than inland, where the latest reported readings were taken," notes Randall, who like certain scientists believes computer models can't accurately forecast future climate change. "This study demonstrates that climate change on this planet is still little understood," she says. "Past predictions of drastic changes have not happened and now scientists supportive of the global-warming theory admit they are 'confused' by the recent cooling in Antarctica." The National Science Foundation's Longterm Ecological Research team has gathered temperature data near Antarctica's McMurdo Sound since 1986. While temperatures have risen on the peninsula closest to South America, scientists are unable to explain why temperatures are falling in the interior.