- The Washington Times - Monday, July 28, 2003

End of an era

The death of Bob Hope, America’s most-loved comedian, reminded us of something we’d read in the September 2003 newsletter of the American Council for Immigration Reform.

Datelined Victorville, Calif., a city of 40,000 about 35 miles from Los Angeles, a reprinted New York Times story stated that the community’s biggest tourist attraction, the Roy Rogers-Dale Evans Museum, will be moved to Branson, Mo., leaving “a big hole in the heart of Victorville,” says Mayor Terry Caldwell.

“There was a wholesomeness synonymous with Roy Rogers,” observes the mayor, and moving the museum “marks the end of an era here.”

But not everybody is sad, however.

“Roy Rogers? He doesn’t mean anything,” says Rosalina Sondoval-Marin, who was having a beer in the El Chubasco Bar on historic Route 66. “There’s a revolution going on and it don’t include no Roy Rogers or Bob Hope.”

And, adds the immigration watchdog group, “probably no Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Truman, or Reagan either.”

Under our noses

Those ranting about the many weeks it is taking to find any Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) should consider Spring Valley, one of Washington’s most prestigious neighborhoods.

Eighty-five years ago, Spring Valley was the testing site for what are still some of the deadliest chemical weapons known to man. At the end of World War I no one bothered cleaning up the WMDs, which were dumped into improvised shallow holes.

“Sixteen presidents — about half of them Democrats — have failed to find these non-hidden and documented toxic materials within about 1 square miles of space,” notes Frederick D. Hunt Jr., of Bethesda. “The biggest breakthrough was made by children playing.”

As a little boy playing there in the 1950s, Mr. Hunt says he used to occasionally find empty shells and other military equipment.

“I also have a vague memory of knowing where some of the firing sites had been — information ‘discovered’ by authorities 45 years later,” he says. “The most recent major searches … were made by the Clinton administration.”

Meanwhile, hundreds of senior Democratic congressmen, past administration officials, party faithful and lawyers — even then-Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson — “have been so unconcerned about finding known WMDs that they have paid top dollar to live on this known toxic testing and disposal ground,” Mr. Hunt points out.

And it’s no wonder President Bush can’t find Iraq’s WMDs.

“His father, former President Bush, moved his family about 30 years ago to Spring Valley on or near one of the suspected deadliest areas,” the area resident says.

My dog ate it

Usually every day that Congress is in session, one or more lawmakers step up to the microphone and give a “personal explanation” as to why they were absent for a roll-call vote.

Others will approach the lectern and request that their vote be changed, explaining that they mistakenly voted “aye” when they’d intended to vote “nay.”

Take Rep. Dennis Moore, Kansas Democrat, who wanted it made perfectly clear that he was not responsible for missing an important roll-call vote last week: “Mister Chairman, I was unavoidably detained due to a U.S. Airways plane malfunction,” he said.

After Mr. Moore was finished offering his excuse, Rep. Sue Myrick, North Carolina Republican, stood up to explain, in no uncertain terms, why she had cast the wrong vote in the same roll call.

“Mister Speaker, due to exhaustion, I mistakenly voted on roll call vote 445. I should have voted ‘nay,”’ she said.

The tired Mrs. Myrick and other physically and emotionally drained members of the House departed Washington hours later for their summer recess.

Stake your ground

A Virginia congressman who sits in the same nightmarish traffic as other Washington commuters has concluded that the transportation infrastructure of the national capital region has “reached the saturation point.”

Rep. James P. Moran is warning that a “disruption on any single thoroughfare, be it rail or road, can overwhelm other roadways and shut down the entire region.”

Already, the Democrat says, rush-hour conditions in and around Washington have become “a 24-hour phenomenon. For more than a decade we have suffered some of the worst traffic congestion in the nation.”

The former mayor of car-choked Alexandria says that “unfortunately, as we look to the future, the traffic situation only grows worse.”

Between now and 2020, he reveals, the Washington region can expect both a 43 percent increase in population and a 43 percent increase in employment.

John McCaslin, a nationally syndicated columnist, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or [email protected]

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