- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 5, 2004

Mint condition

“Mint has attributed her longevity to the use of One-A-Day vitamins and her lasting good looks to daily use of Oil of Olay.”

— Rep. Charlie Gonzalez, Texas Democrat, who walked onto the House floor this week to wish a happy 109th birthday to constituent Arminta Lestarjette Ulrich, known simply as “Mint” to her friends.

Royal pair

Will King George retain his White House throne, or might we have King John?

While there’s plenty of primaries left, odds are the president of the United States between 2005 and 2009 will be either George Walker Bush or John Forbes Kerry, both of whom have considerable “royal descents,” according to Gary Boyd Roberts’ new book, “Royal Descents of 600 Immigrants” (Genealogical Publishing Company of Baltimore).

Three of Mr. Bush’s royal forebears were Robert Livingston the Elder of New York, first lord of Livingston Manor; George Elkington of New Jersey; and Col. Walter Ashton of Virginia.

As for Mr. Kerry, his mother was a Forbes whose ancestor, the Rev. John Forbes (died 1783), was a noted Anglican clergyman and magistrate in east Florida. Forbes’ wife was Dorothy Murray, daughter of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s matrilineal immigrant ancestors, James Murray of North Carolina and Massachusetts and Barbara Bennet of North Carolina. Thus, Mr. Kerry and Roosevelt are fourth cousins twice removed.

Mr. Kerry’s mother’s mother was Margaret Pyndal Winthrop of the family that founded Massachusetts Bay, a granddaughter of Robert Charles Winthrop, speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and a great-grandson himself of Revolutionary statesman James Bowdoin, for whom the college is named.

Freshman lettuce

More proof the recession is over: Three “green” congressmen, all Republicans, have broken the all-time freshman fund-raising record.

In 2003, Rep. Phil Gingrey of Georgia raised more than $1.5 million, Rep. Mike D. Rogers of Alabama raised more than $1.1 million and Rep. Bob Beauprez of Colorado more than $1 million. The previous record of slightly more than $1 million was set in 2001 by then-freshman Rep. Mike Rogers, Michigan Republican.

In addition, according to National Republican Congressional Committee figures obtained yesterday, Mr. Gingrey set the new cash-on-hand mark for a first-year man — $941,000 — while also paying off $125,000 in debt.

Amish preservation

After years of trying to win protection for preserving the way of life of his Amish constituents, a Republican congressman from Pennsylvania has finally succeeded.

Rep. Joe Pitts, whose 16th District encompasses Amish-rich Lancaster, has been pushing the Amish Labor bill ever since he first came to Congress eight years ago. Now, President Bush has signed the bill into law.

It allows Amish teenagers to enter apprenticeships after they complete their formal schooling, which is equivalent to eighth grade, exempting them from federal child labor laws that ban anyone under 18 from operating heavy machinery, such as saws used in furniture making.

“This is the way they learn to make a living,” says Mr. Pitts. “The president’s signature on this bill is a victory for the Amish, for religious liberty, and for diversity in America.”

The Protestant congressman points out that the Amish came to America to escape persecution, to worship and live freely, and their life and customs have remained mostly intact.

“They do not ask for Social Security or unemployment or anything from the government,” he says. “They just want to be left alone to raise their children and make a living.”

Abstinence anyone?

Susan Harrison serves on a Raleigh, N.C.-based task force empaneled to support abstinence sex education in schools.

She was “delighted” when President Bush spoke in favor of abstinence in last month’s State of the Union address.

“I was dismayed, however, a few days later by what I found on the Health and Human Services Web site [www.hhs.gov],” Mrs. Harrison says. “Enter ‘abstinence education’ in the search mode, you will turn up many links to several multimillion-dollar organizations that actively lobby against abstinence education.

“D.C. doublespeak at its best,” she says.

We clicked on link No. 6 on the HHS Web site and found a fact sheet presenting the pros and cons of abstinence-only sex education curriculum in the classroom, suggesting that “a comprehensive sexuality curriculum that includes safe sex education is more effective.”

“I don’t know whether to laugh or cry,” says Mrs. Harrison.

“The president is on the cutting edge in promoting abstinence rather than condoms for combating epidemic levels of sexually transmitted diseases. Let’s hope [HHS] will soon catch up.”

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

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