Beltway Beat: Democrat is disguise

Posted: Apr 10, 2002 12:00 AM
What's the leader of the Democratic Party to do when a Republican president, barely six months before the mid-term election, continues to enjoy the highest public-approval ratings of practically any president in history? Say the president stole a page from the Democrats. "Bush pollsters know that Americans support the positions of Democrats; that is why the pollsters tell Bush to talk like a Democrat," insists Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe. "This is another example of the White House telling America one thing, but doing another." WHY CARRY CASH? Approximately 80 percent of the repatriation loans extended by the State Department to destitute American travelers abroad are not repaid, this column has learned. State Department responsibilities include assisting American citizens overseas who are in financial or medical distress, through the use of funds transfers or loans. But a just-concluded investigation by the department's office of inspector general (OIG) finds that only 20 percent of the 800 loans made on average to Americans each year are repaid. The law requires that a borrower provide the department with a verifiable address and Social Security number, as well as a written loan agreement and repayment schedule. But U.S. foreign-service posts, the OIG concludes in the report, don't always collect the mandatory information. Over the past five years, the annual amount loaned under the Repatriation Loan Program has averaged $688,000. SIMPLE MINDEDNESS The Conventional Strike Weapons Program Manager for Evolving Resources Inc., Faye Hawes, writes: "Yesterday, I was visiting the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., where I ran across the following quote, which hit me as very timely with recent events. Maybe President Bush, his Cabinet and our elected representatives in Congress should think about this quote as well: "If history teaches us anything, it teaches that simple-minded appeasement or wishful thinking about our adversaries is folly. It means the betrayal of our past, the squandering of our freedom.'" -- President Reagan delivered those words in Orlando, Fla., on March 3, 1983. FUTURE POLLSTERS Over at Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Va., where Republican Sen. John McCain learned his lessons several decades ago, Washington Program academic coordinator Peter P. Goodnow sent his International Relations Class into the streets to poll pedestrians (83 percent, it turned out, held college degrees or higher) on the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Asked whether this and other foreign policy issues "will strongly influence your vote in upcoming elections?" an impressive 44 percent replied yes, 36 percent said no, while the remainder were unsure or had no opinion. In addition, 60 percent of those polled said the American media favors Israel in its reporting, while 13 percent said it was biased toward the Palestinians. Only 11 percent said the media doesn't show allegiance to either country. MELTING OF AMERICA It seems incredibly odd to Mauro E. Mujica, chairman and CEO of U.S. English, that millions of people across the planet are learning and using English in record numbers, yet "there are groups in the United States trying to split this country up into linguistic ghettos where little or no English is spoken." Among the guilty parties, says the chairman: immigrants and representative groups, the ACLU, congressmen and senators, and President George W. Bush. "I blame the politicians," Mujica says in his office overlooking Pennsylvania Avenue near the White House. "I'm told the president does not want it. And if a Republican president does not want it, will I get it from a Democrat?" Namely approval of H.R. 1984, a bill introduced in the House to reaffirm English as the official language of the United States, establish a uniform English language rule for naturalization, and avoid misconstruction of the English language texts of United States laws. Partly for "political" and partly for "politically correct" reasons the legislation is stalled - not just by Congress but by a White House in which the president hails from Texas (just last month, Texas' two Democratic gubernatorial candidates debated in both English and Spanish). "Because (President Bush) wants this so-called 'Spanish vote' in two years," says Mujica, an immigrant from Chile who labels himself more conservative than most Americans. "Yet in reality there is no such thing as a Spanish vote. Half of recent immigrants don't even vote, and the other half, if they do vote, will vote Democrat." Just last month, Mujica found himself in the uncomfortable position of praising Senate Democrats for opposing and postponing a measure by the Bush administration to grant amnesty to thousands of illegal immigrants. "Immigrants who follow the rules should be rewarded, not those who break the law," the chairman scolded Bush, calling his measure "political pandering of the highest level." Ironically, the U.S. government has never adopted English as the nation's official language, even though 84 percent of Americans polled recently support the move. And while a multilingual population can be an asset to any nation, U.S. English believes a government operating in two or more languages is a formula for chaos and disaster. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 329 languages are spoken in the United States, none as prevalently as English and Spanish, the latter growing tremendously. "There is an invasion of this country right now," says Mujica, a successful architect and investor in numerous business interests, who is also chairman of the U.S. Fulbright Advisory Board. "I see a future that is very bleak; the American society is being replaced. In 25 years we won't recognize this country." Already the landscape is changing. While 27 states have made English their official language (Iowa the most recent last month), four states - Washington, Oregon, Rhode Island and New Mexico - have taken official action in support of multilingualism in government. And on a national scale, hundreds of thousands of children in the United States are currently being educated primarily in languages other than English; the U.S. Postal Service is training employees to communicate with customers in nine languages; the Internal Revenue Service distributes 1040 forms and instruction booklets in Spanish; and the Immigration and Naturalization Service has conducted U.S. citizenship swearing-in ceremonies almost entirely in Spanish. You don't need to understand English anymore to drive a car in America, either. In Maryland, drivers' license examinations are printed in English, Korean, Polish, Russian and Spanish, while in English and Spanish in Virginia and the District of Columbia. In California, tests are given in a whopping 32 languages - Arabic and Farsi to Hebrew and Japanese - Massachusetts in 25 languages; New York, 23; Michigan, 20; Rhode Island, 19; New Jersey, 15; Wisconsin, 14; and South Carolina and Georgia, 12. Only Alaska, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wyoming give tests only in English.