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Inside the Beltway

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SWITCHING GEARS

It's been 17 years and change since I began penning Inside the Beltway for The Washington Times. Shortly thereafter, the daily column became a feature of the Los Angeles Times Syndicate and Chicago's Tribune Media Services. And as technology has progressed beyond paper, so has the column, appearing regularly on popular Internet sites, including Townhall.com.

In 2004, upon publishing the book "Inside the Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops and Shenanigans From Around the Nation's Capital," a question was posed on how many columns I had written to date. I counted then about 3,600, give or take a few dozen, a number that's grown today to about 5,100 columns.

Figuring each column contains five or six news items, I've filed about 28,000 stories, the majority of them exclusive in nature.

Today, this one-time broadcaster is proud to be joining longtime San Francisco radio personality Melanie Morgan as co-anchor of The Times' new morning-drive radio show, set to debut nationwide Monday with special guests.

"America's Morning News" is syndicated by the Talk Radio Network, which has developed and launched long-form radio programming for such national talents as Laura Ingraham, Michael Savage and Monica Crowley. From a state-of-the-art studio bordering The Times' bustling newsroom, this unique joint venture hits airwaves coast to coast from 6 to 9 a.m., five days a week, showcasing The Times' investigative and accountability journalism.

As for Inside the Beltway, rest assured the column will always remain a major daily feature, albeit I welcome aboard a much-needed primary co-columnist, who will be announced shortly. Until then, keep reading - and now stay tuned.

NAY TO HIMSELF

It's embarrassing enough when a lawmaker miscasts a vote on Capitol Hill.

But it's really embarrassing when you vote against your own bill.

Rep. Jim McDermott, Washington Democrat, stood up late last week to explain "for the record that I inadvertently voted against a bill which I had co-sponsored and intended to support."

The Pakistan Enduring Assistance and Cooperation Enhancement Act would provide for a new framework for U.S. assistance to Pakistan.

LONG APOLOGY

Nine U.S. senators, including Democrat Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and Republican Sam Brownback of Kansas, have submitted a concurrent resolution again apologizing for the enslavement of blacks and for segregation.

The resolution points out that that millions of Africans and their descendants were enslaved in the American colonies and the United States from 1619 through 1865 - "brutalized, humiliated, dehumanized, and subjected to the indignity of being stripped of their names and heritage."

The system of slavery, the resolution states, "and the visceral racism against people of African descent upon which it depended became enmeshed in the social fabric of the United States," and whereas slavery was abolished in 1865 with the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, "Jim Crow" would later create separate "and unequal societies for whites and African-Americans."

The resolution, therefore, "apologizes to African-Americans on behalf of the people of the United States for the wrongs committed against them and their ancestors who suffered under slavery and Jim Crow laws."

On July 8, 2003, during a trip to Goree Island, Senegal, a former slave port, President Bush acknowledged that slavery was "one of the greatest crimes of history."

MUST SUPPLY HORSE

When it comes to securing (or trying to secure) our nation's borders, what a difference a century makes.

As pointed out by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Arizona Democrat, when the United States Border Patrol was established 85 years ago, its only posts were in Detroit and in El Paso, Texas.

"The first agents were issued a badge and a revolver, but they had to provide their own horses and saddles," she noted. "Fortunately, the federal government paid for the feed."

The congresswoman's 8th Congressional District in southeastern Arizona is home to the Border Patrol's Tucson sector, which represents a mere 13 percent (114 miles) of the U.S. border with Mexico, yet accounts for close to 50 percent of the agency's apprehensions and drug seizures.

THE OTHER RAUL

Yes, that is Raul Castro the U.S. Congress is saluting, but not Cuban President Raul Castro, younger brother of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

Rather, tributes are for Arizona's first Hispanic governor, whom President Lyndon Johnson appointed U.S. ambassador to El Salvador in 1964. He went on to become ambassador to Bolivia before winning his 1974 campaign to become Arizona governor.

As history would have it, Mr. Castro never completed his gubernatorial term. President Jimmy Carter asked him to serve as ambassador to Argentina, and he accepted. He's now retired and living, where else, in Arizona.

• John McCaslin can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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