Minority missives

Posted: Oct 18, 2005 12:05 AM

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, is downright disgusted with Rep. Tom DeLay, what with the pair of indictments handed down against the Texas Republican.

So she sat down and wrote about her displeasure, mailing her opinions to a fellow House minority leader in the Connecticut General Assembly. (Pelosi, obviously, has come to think that Democrats sit in the minority of every elected body in the country.)

Polite Republican that he is, state House Minority Leader Robert M. Ward took the time to write back.

"Thank you for . . . alerting me to alleged Republican 'abuse of power' and 'arrogance and corruption' in Congress," began Ward, observing that legislative impropriety and abuse of power have long been of concern to him in his minority position.

"Unfortunately, there is a rich history in Connecticut of 'arrogance and corruption' by the majority party's legislators," he said.

Pelosi then read about the Democratic lawmaker from Norwalk who was convicted of accepting a cash bribe for helping somebody obtain a pistol permit; about the Democrat from Hartford who resigned when slapped with 85 criminal counts of bribery, fraud and witness tampering; and the Democrat from Pomfret who resigned after pleading guilty to charges of sexual abuse.

"Just last month, state Sen. Ernest Newton of Bridgeport resigned his seat and pled guilty to accepting bribes in exchange for securing state contracts, and abusing campaign funds," Ward said. "It should be noted that all the legislators I mention have one important thing in common with you, congresswoman: They are all Democrats.

"P.S. It is my fondest hope that your assumption that the Democrats are the minority in the Connecticut House proves to be prophetic," Ward said.


What a week it's been in the life of Harriet Miers.

It's even hard for the White House to keep tabs on who supports and who opposes President Bush's choice to sit on the Supreme Court. So, the president's lieutenants have kept busy all week "outreaching" (we think that's what it's called) to the various factions.

This process is best explained by White House spokesman Scott McClellan:

Reporter: "Scott, the president has said that religion was part of Harriet Miers' life, and the White House's outreaching has mentioned the fact that she does go to this conservative Christian church -"

Mr. McClellan: "Outreaching - reaching out."

Reporter: "Reaching out, outreaching. No such efforts were made, not to this extent, anyway, in terms of Chief Justice John Roberts. No one in the White House even mentioned his religion, as best we can tell. Why is this the case?"

Mr. McClellan: "In terms of outreach? . . . I think when you're talking about our outreach, or reaching out, we do reach out to a lot of people. . . . But what we emphasize in the outreach to people we talk to is that she has the qualifications and experience and judicial philosophy that is needed on our nation's highest court."


Our recent item on the scientific prediction of a life-ending collision between the Earth and an asteroid in 2035 assures Beltway Beat fan Doug Hecox of Washington that it only "sounds like bad news. However, it is surely being seen as good news by the Social Security reform movement."


Some 100 congressional staffers joined Muslim community leaders and diplomats from Islamic-majority nations for the third annual Ramadan "Iftar" - fast-breaking dinner - on Capitol Hill this week.

The Iftar was held in the Rayburn House Office Building and was co-sponsored by 11 House members. It featured the breaking of the fast and the Islamic sunset prayer, or "Maghrib."


From Arlington, the executive director of ProEnglish, a national organization that advocates for making English the official language, is blasting the Ohio Civil Rights Commission for filing "an absurd and dangerous complaint" against a restaurant owner for posting a sign reading "For Service Speak English."

K.C. McAlpin calls the complaint against Tom Ullum of the Pleasure Inn in Mason, Ohio, "a blatant violation of the owner's First Amendment right of free speech and a total misreading of a state law banning refusal of service based on national origin."

ProEnglish is offering legal assistance toUllum.

Insists Ullum: "The sign means exactly what it says - none of the employees speak any language other than English and, therefore, would be unable to communicate with any patrons who are not well-versed in the English language."


The official White House pool report of President Bush's motorcade this week from the White House to DAR Constitution Hall, a distance of maybe two blocks, observes:

"It took us 45 seconds to get there, but it was a minute-long ride on the way back. Hmmmm, a very mysterious 15-second deficit, no?"


You've likely seen a photograph or two of the Rev. Luis Leon, rector of St. John's Church across the street from the White House. Most often he's seen chatting with President Bush, whom he accompanies to the church stoop after Sunday-morning services.

And now, as our good friend and radio host Paul Harvey would say, for the rest of the story.

From 1960 to 1962, in a program partly funded by Uncle Sam, 14,048 children and teenagers from Cuba arrived in the United States - sent here by parents terrified that the new communist government under Fidel Castro "would ship their children to Soviet work camps," according to the National Archives.

Not surprisingly, the historians tell us, Operation Pedro Pan is the largest recorded exodus of unaccompanied minors ever in the Western Hemisphere.

We refer to the National Archives because on Thursday evening, Oct. 27, Elly Choval, founder and chairperson of Operation Pedro Pan Inc., will moderate a discussion in its William E. McGowan Theater featuring three former Pedro Pan refugees. And talk about achievers:

- At the age of 15, Eduardo Aguirre Jr., emigrated from Cuba as one of the unaccompanied minors. Until earlier this year, the former chief operating officer of the Export-Import Bank served as the nation's first-ever director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, an undersecretary position in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. This summer, he was named by President Bush to be the new U.S. ambassador to Spain, presenting his credentials to King Juan Carlos I on June 29 (interestingly enough, the ambassador's wife, Maria Teresa, was also was sent to America by her parents at the age of 15.)

- Maria de los Angeles Torres is professor of political science at DePaul University in Chicago. She was a mere child of 6 when she departed Cuba, obviously confused about the reasons for her uprooting (she chronicles her childhood and later adult emotions in the recent book, "By Heart/De Memoria: Cuban Women's Journeys In and Out of Exile.")

- In 1961, at the age of 12, Luis Leon came with sister to the United States. Given they were baptized into the Episcopal Church in Guantanama, Cuba, they were cared for by the Episcopal Church in Miami. Luis never forgot the church's generosity. After graduating from the University of the South, and receiving his masters in divinity degree from the Virginia Theological Seminary in 1977, he began a spiritual journey that saw him building inner-city parishes. He served as rector of Episcopal churches in Delaware, New Jersey and North Carolina before becoming director of refugee resettlement for the Diocese of Maryland.

Now, as he does most every Sunday morning from his picturesque church in Lafayette Square, the Rev. Leon delivers timely sermons to the leader of the free world sitting up straight in one of the front pews - asking the congregation, at the same time, to keep him in their prayers.


In its most recent Insiders Poll, the National Journal asked Republican political insiders to grade the top leaders on Capitol Hill, including House Speaker Dennis Hastert of Illinois.

One politico who gives him an "A" writes: "Speaker Hastert has found himself facing the perfect storm: investigations of top Republicans like (Tom) DeLay, (Bill) Frist, and (Karl) Rove. The speaker presents himself as an island of calm surrounded by stormy seas."

While another insider, who gives hims a "C" for the current report card, states: "His biggest failing is that many think him a figurehead to DeLay's Rasputin: Now may actually be his moment."