- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Sears catalog?

Daily constitutionals became difficult for millions of Americans when former Vice President Al Gore introduced mandatory 1.8-gallon flush toilets, which barely is enough precious water to handle the end result.

Instead of conserving water, we stand there — from Washington, D.C., to Walla Walla, Wash. — cranking the handle twice when once used to do the trick.

Now it appears that Mr. Gore’s water-saving commodes are just the “first step” toward having no water at all in the bowl.

So reveals Christopher C. Horner, senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington, who directs our attention to the first annual international “Dry Toilet 2003” conference, to be held in Finland in August.

Researchers and other stakeholders from Germany to Mexico will examine topics ranging from technical development of dry toilets (my grandparents in Montana called their dry toilet an outhouse), human waste as fertilizer, and our favorite, “toilet culture.”

The three-day conference begins Aug. 20 with a get-together cocktail.

Foul hit

Professional baseball players haven’t even moved back to Washington and already the city fathers are out to tax them.

Legislation H.R. (no Home Run) 1450, supported by D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton and backed by the D.C. Council, would allow elected officials of the constitutionally crafted federal city to tax pro baseball players, managers, trainers and other team members if they travel to Washington to play ball.

Supporters of the proposal suggest that such a tax could help fund the construction of a new stadium in the city, which hasn’t seen a home run since Frank Howard took aim at the Anacostia River.

“Let’s put this in perspective,” says Dan Perrin, executive director of the American Taxpayers Alliance. “What other profession, besides baseball players, fly into Washington, D.C., for three working-day stints and then fly out? You guessed it, members of Congress.”

So Mr. Perrin and his alliance are calling on members of Congress to either apply the proposed percentage of income tax to themselves or leave it on the legislative cutting-room floor.

“Perhaps the District of Columbia should tax all the out of town executives who come to Washington to lobby Congress,” he suggests. “Furthermore, taxing a special class of people, based on their choice of occupation is simply unfair and unconstitutional. How about a journalist tax [that’s going too far, Mr. Perrin], or lawyer tax, or a member of Congress tax?”

Ask and receive

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice put the heightened threat of terrorism on the side burner long enough to tell graduates of the Mississippi College School of Law in Jackson that they have a responsibility to be “optimistic” in their lives.

“I first learned this lesson from hearing stories about my paternal grandfather,” she said. “Grandfather Rice was a poor farmer’s son in Eutaw, Alabama. One day, he decided to get book-learning. And so he asked, in the language of the day, where a colored man could go to school.

“They said that a little Presbyterian school, Stillman College, was only about 50 miles away. So he saved up his cotton to pay for the first year’s tuition. After the first year, he ran out of cotton and he needed a way to pay. My grandfather asked the school administrators how those other boys were staying in school, and he was told that they had what was called a scholarship.

“And, they said, ‘If you want to be a Presbyterian minister, you could have a scholarship, too.’ My grandfather said, ‘That’s just what I had in mind.’”

The moral of the story, she said: “In America, it is not about where you are coming from, but where you are going.”

Forgotten wars

Congress wants Americans this Memorial Day to reflect on the sacrifice that brought the United States to where it is today, which means remembering some forgotten wars.

“Memorial Day is unique among American holidays,” says Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Michigan Democrat. “On Memorial Day, we do not honor a particular date or event, a battle or the end of a war. On Memorial Day, we do not honor an individual leader, a president or a general.”

Instead, she says, observing Memorial Day is to “pay homage to the thousands and thousands of individual acts of bravery and sacrifice that stretch back to the battlefields of our revolution and are on display today in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan.”

This year, the senator suggests Americans reflect on the 50th anniversary of the armistice that ended the Korean War.

“Notice I said Korean War,” she says. “I did not say ‘the Korean conflict.’ I did not call it a police action. I’ve met too many Korean War veterans. I’ve heard too many of their stories. It was the Korean War. About 2 million Americans served on active duty with the United States armed forces during the Korean War. And nearly 55,000 never came home.”

The Korean War, she points out, is often referred to as “the forgotten war.”

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

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