- The Washington Times - Monday, February 2, 2004

Courting Hispanics

Aiming to attract Hispanics in the 2004 elections, Republican House members will be told today by GOP leaders that “attracting the Hispanic vote does not entail altering our party’s fundamental principles.”

“In 2004, immigration will be a highly contested issue,” the National Republican Congressional Committee says in a lengthy memo obtained by Inside the Beltway and to be distributed today. “Since President Bush’s immigration-policy announcement, opponents and pundits have denounced this as an election-year ploy to court the Hispanic vote.

“Undoubtedly, diverse opinions exist across the board — within our party, among Democrats, the media, and also the very Hispanics a new policy will have the greatest impact on.”

Republican members will be told to focus on numerous policy issues “Hispanics care a great deal about”; namely, the economy, small business, education, health care and homeownership.

And in tailoring messages to Hispanics, members are asked to keep “values” in mind.

“Hispanics are traditionally highly family-oriented, placing great importance on taking care of their children and the elderly,” the NRCC states. “They value work ethic and integrity, finding honor in earning one’s money as opposed to taking shortcuts to success. Most Hispanics have sacrificed a great deal in order to come to the U.S., sometimes traversing dangerous routes and risking their lives, believing that this country is the place where dreams come true.”

The NRCC even suggests congressmen “consider hiring a Spanish-speaking staffer in the district office who can “maintain a Hispanic voter-contact database and reach out to Hispanic organizations throughout the district.”

In the meantime, the lawmakers are advised to translate biographies and Internet Web sites into Spanish.

Marine harassment

U.S. military training in the war against terrorism has been curtailed and even canceled so as not to “harass” marine mammals.

“Vague” language of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, amended last year in the National Defense Authorization Act, has had a “damaging effect” on military training, according to the president of the Navy League, causing “exercises at night and in shallow waters to be canceled or conducted under unrealistic conditions … to ensure that marine mammals were not ‘harassed.’”

The principal purpose of the law, passed by Congress in 1972, was to stop the inadvertent killing of hundreds of thousands of dolphins in the tuna nets of Pacific fishing fleets.

“We support the goals of the MMPA and the efforts of environmentalists to ensure that the world’s marine mammals continue to flourish,” Navy League President Sheila McNeill writes to Congress in a letter this column obtained yesterday.

Congress last year amended the MMPA because broad wording “left the law open to almost any interpretation,” she notes. “The ‘harassment’ of marine mammals was defined as any act that had the ‘potential to disturb’ behavior such as breathing, feeding or migration. Even environmentalists complained that this vague definition placed all involved in an impossible situation.”

William T. Holgrath, assistant administrator of the National Marine Fisheries Service, told a congressional committee last May: “The definition is overly broad and does not provide a clear enough threshold for what activities do or do not constitute harassment.”

Meanwhile, the deployment of a vital submarine-detection system — Surveillance Towed-Array Sensor System, Low Frequency Active — was delayed, the league president tells Congress, because special-interest groups claimed its sound emissions posed a risk to marine life. The system is considered a centerpiece of the Navy’s quest to guard against quiet diesel-electric boats deployed by North Korea and Iran.

The Navy already funded a $10 million independent research program, conducted in part by Cornell University and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, which found the system could be employed with “minimal risk” to marine mammals.

Nonetheless, special-interest groups sought intervention of the courts, and last October, a U.S. District Court in Northern California issued a permanent injunction restricting military operations of the sensor system. The Justice Department has filed a notice of appeal.

Roman rises

Former Washington Times congressional bureau chief and Supreme Court reporter Nancy E. Roman has been named Washington director of the Council on Foreign Relations.

She currently is president of the G7 Group, which advises Wall Street on the economic implications of political developments, as well as legislative and regulatory policy.

In announcing the prestigious appointment yesterday, council President Richard N. Haass said Mrs. Roman is “the ideal person to engage council members, the administration and Congress, the corporate world, and the media.”

Before joining this newspaper, Mrs. Roman was press secretary and legislative assistant for foreign affairs to former Rep. E. Clay Shaw Jr., Florida Republican.

“One of the things I’m really excited about is expanding the congressional program,” she told us yesterday. “I am also interested in bringing more international economics to the congressional agenda. The international economy is a huge part of foreign policy now — subjects ranging from the dollar to trade really deserve attention.”

Founded in 1921, the independent, nonpartisan council of scholars produces and disseminates ideas so policy-makers, journalists, students, and interested citizens can better understand the world.

John McCaslin, a nationally syndicated columnist, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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