Beltway Beat: Grab your kilts

Posted: Mar 06, 2002 12:00 AM
One of our favorite publications, the Scotsman, reveals that President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair will share this year's William Wallace Award, to be presented during Tartan Day celebrations in Washington April 9. Furthermore, the Scotsman's political editor, Hamish Macdonell, says both Bush and Blair are expected to attend this year's celebrations, "turning the event into the biggest and most important celebration of Scottish culture ever witnessed in the U.S." The body behind the award, the American Scottish Foundation, is said to be planning a major awards ceremony on Capitol Hill. Last year, the award was bestowed upon actor Sir Sean Connery, and the year before on then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi. Bush not only has Scottish ancestry, but Scotland was one of the few places he ever traveled to as a young man. Blair was born and educated in Scotland. NOT FORGOTTEN The National Capital Memorial Commission has unanimously agreed that a 3-foot plaque should honor post-Vietnam war casualties at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Congress two years ago authorized the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Commemorative Plaque to be erected at Washington's most visited memorial, which sits on three acres near the Lincoln Memorial. The plaque, recognizing those whose names are not eligible to be added to "the Wall" due to Pentagon policy, will likely be displayed near the Three Servicemen statuary. A number of Vietnam veterans died after their service to the country ended, many from Agent Orange-related cancer, among other war-related ailments. EXTENDED AUTUMN Whether global warming is the culprit or not, nary a snowflake has adhered to the U.S. Capitol dome this winter. Good riddance, says political operative Lyn Nofziger, who also is a poet (under the nom de plume of Joy Skilmer): "I thought that I would never know A D.C. winter without snow, A winter that just once or twice Dropped a wee bit of snow or ice, A winter that most ev'ry day Forced all the kiddies out to play Without their sleds or skis or skates, Or even caps to warm their pates. A winter more like spring or fall, A winter that was not at all. Though some may cheer when north winds blow, God bless those days when there's no snow." INDEPENDENT INTERNET The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (known as ICANN) was originally created to take over Internet responsibilities previously handled by the U.S. government, taking it international without interrupting or hindering the spirit in which it was created. The body also is in charge of coordinating the Internet's addressing policies, including domain names, such as .com and .gov, and more recently .info and .biz. Now, after meetings with his cyber-troops at the Willard Hotel in Washington, ICANN President and CEO M. Stuart Lynn is proposing that ICANN be restructured, to ensure that it serves average Internet stakeholders better. Still, rumors are swirling around cyberspace that the "new" ICANN would eliminate direct participation of Internet users and allow governments around the world to take over the Internet entirely. Quite contraire, Lynn informs this column. Instead, he argues that governments must play a role in guaranteeing that Internet public interests are represented, while not being hidebound in the very governmentlike processes and formalities that led to the creation of ICANN in the first place. CHEAP LABOR In the wake of Sept. 11, perhaps we should be taking a closer look at U.S. immigration policy, particularly its economic impact on black America. An analysis of the latest Census Bureau data by ProjectUSA indicates that while the economy boomed during the Clinton administration, adjusted figures for median household income failed to climb in many states because of the influx of low-income immigrant workers. "This phenomenon is particularly hard on the black community," says the group. "While African-Americans make up 12.5 percent of total U.S. population, they account for 25 percent of Americans below the poverty level. By depressing wages for low-income Americans in high immigration areas, mass immigration makes it disproportionately harder for large numbers of blacks to improve their financial positions." FUTURE LEADER "The board of directors of Black America's Political Action Committee (Bampac), chaired by Alan Keyes, has named Alvin Williams its president and CEO. Williams was co-founder and, until recently, executive director of Bampac, a nonpartisan political action committee founded in 1993 to mobilize black candidates and highlight the importance of the black vote. During his tenure, the donor base of Bampac grew to more than 133,000, contributing more than $1 million to black candidates seeking office. A member of the first President Bush's campaign and transition team, Williams has been named one of the "50 Leaders of the Future" by Ebony magazine and a "Rising Star" by Campaigns & Elections magazine. EXTRAORDINARY GALS Girl Scouts of the USA is celebrating its 90th anniversary by holding its first national awards dinner in honor of 10 "extraordinary" women, including Alma J. Powell, wife of Secretary of State Colin L. Powell; and Elizabeth Dole, Senate candidate in North Carolina and past presidential hopeful. "This select group of honorees serves as role models for today's Girl Scouts, exemplifying how all girls can pursue their greatest dreams and opportunities," says the Girl Scouts. "It promises to be a dramatic and high-energy event with D.C. dignitaries, celebrity honorees ... and hundreds of girls performing song and dance." President Bush and first lady Laura Bush will be the honorary co-chairmen of the fund-raising gala, to be held Tuesday, March 12, at the National Building Museum. Besides Mrs. Powell and Mrs. Dole, honorees include Val Ackerman, Martha W. Barnett, Gladys Kamakakuokalani Ainoa Brandt, Judge Glenda Hatchett, Marilyn Carlson Nelson, Esmeralda Santiago, Kathryn D. Sullivan and Vera Wang. WILY BUNCH A just-concluded nationwide poll of registered voters by Washington-based Wilson Research Strategies finds a majority - 44 percent - believe no matter how the country's campaign finance laws are written, politicians will always find legal loopholes to get the cash they need. Twenty-four percent, or fewer than one in four respondents to the survey of 1,000 registered voters, believe Congress' recently passed campaign finance reform bill will be an improvement over existing campaign rules. As for this column, which wasn't polled, we agree with 14 percent of those surveyed who conclude: "Congress regulating money in politics is like letting a fox mind a hen house."