The Color of Money

Posted: Aug 01, 2007 10:15 AM
The Color of Money

Money grows on trees

"Dear Johnny," reads the letter addressed to Inside the Beltway from Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean.

"A hundred years from now, school children will read about Al Gore and his leadership to address global climate change. No one has worked harder or inspired more Americans to tackle the greatest threat the world has ever faced. Now it's time to add your name to the history books. Stand with Al and pledge to live a life that will protect our environment for generations to come."

Beneath his signature, in the spirit of saving planet Earth, obviously, Mr. Dean invites us to make a contribution to the Democratic Party.

'Steve' caucus

An unofficial count by Inside the Beltway yesterday revealed 209 caucuses (congressional member organizations) of the U.S. Congress. In other words, there appears to be a caucus for just about every congressman's primary interest or cause.
Some of our favorites: Out of Iraq Caucus, Victory in Iraq Caucus, Congressional Ski and Snowboard Caucus, Congressional Submarine Caucus, Congressional Zoo and Aquarium Caucus, Silk Road Caucus and of course the sparsely membered Friends of American Media Caucus.
We updated our caucus list upon receiving a letter this week from Phil Ross of Denver, a "political junkie" Republican who once headed the communications team for the House majority in the Colorado General Assembly.

"It occurred to me the other day that amid all the big and little special caucuses there's one I have dubbed the 'Steve Caucus,' a four-member collection of middle-age Jewish guys — two veterans and two freshmen, but all liberals — from different parts of the country: Steve Israel of New York, Steve Rothman of New Jersey, Steve Kagen of Wisconsin and Steve Cohen of Tennessee.

"I wonder if these fellas actually 'caucus' due to this dual commonality? It also would offer solace to Mr. Cohen, who was snubbed in being able to enter the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) despite representing a majority black district in Memphis."

Indeed, Mr. Cohen pledged that if elected last November to his 60 percent black district, he would apply to become the first white member of the CBC. As it turned out, he was refused admission on the grounds that whites have never been allowed in the club.

You don't say?

Chatting with Washington Post travel writer Gary Lee at a recent reception, we were intrigued to learn that his aunt, the youngest of his mother's sisters, happens to be none other than Anita Hill, the former law colleague of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas who during his confirmation hearing in 1991 accused him of sexual harassment.

Today, Miss Hill, who grew up in Oklahoma, is a professor of law and women's studies at Brandeis University in Massachusetts.

Mr. Lee had mentioned that he's written about his aunt on only "a few" occasions. Last year, in a story about reunions of black families, he wrote that as "part of an Oklahoma-based mini-African-American dynasty that includes five brothers, four sisters and dozens of uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces and nephews, I am more than familiar with the reunions ritual.

"Still, I wondered why African-Americans will drive halfway across the country to commune with second and third cousins once removed when folks from other cultures want to bolt out the back door when their relatives pull up in the driveway."

'Ripken Way'

It might not have generated as much publicity as being inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame, but let the record reflect that Congress this week also honored Cal Ripken Jr., albeit for his accomplishments off the field.

Legislation honoring Mr. Ripken with his own personalized interstate highway has been introduced by Democratic Rep.. John Sarbanes, whose state of Maryland fields the Baltimore Orioles, Mr. Ripken's team for his entire major league career.

"My bill would rename as 'Cal Ripken Way' Interstate 395 in Baltimore, which runs into the city and ends near Oriole Park at Camden Yards," announced Mr. Sarbanes, who said the honor surpasses the former Orioles shortstop playing "an incredible 2,632 consecutive games, passing Lou Gehrig's record of 2,131 on September 6, 1995."

More importantly, Mr. Sarbanes said, "Baseball fans and especially parents are too often disappointed when our American idols fail to live up to our American ideals. Too often, our sports stars are famous for all the wrong reasons, but time and again Cal Ripken Jr. has been a source of pride for baseball.

" 'The Ripken way' is in many ways synonymous with 'the American way.' When you ask people about American values, they often mention dependability, loyalty, humility, and old-fashioned hard work. Cal Ripken embodies these values."