- The Washington Times - Monday, April 23, 2007

Another rumor

Spring has sprung in Washington, and just in time for this past weekend’s ballroom-to-rooftop festivities coinciding with the annual dinner of the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA), which was founded under not-so-unusual — by Washington standards — circumstances in 1914.

“Rumors had leaked that the Congressional Standing Committee of Correspondents would be asked to decide which reporters to invite to an unprecedented series of regularly scheduled press conferences planned by Woodrow Wilson,” the WHCA said.

“Horrified by this intrusion on their turf, 11 reporters formed the WHCA, decreeing that its ‘primary object shall be the promotion of the interests of those reporters and correspondents assigned to cover the White House.’ ”

Wouldn’t you know, the “leak” proved unfounded. And the WHCA “lay dormant” until 1920, when somebody had the idea to hold a dinner. Not until 1924, a decade after its founding, did Calvin Coolidge become the first president to attend what is now an annual star-studded event.

Some compadre

After hesitation because they share the same roots, one of the more prominent Hispanics in the United States is calling on Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to step down over his role in the Bush administration’s firing of eight U.S. attorneys.

“I like the guy,” said New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a 2008 Democratic contender for the White House, and whose mother was Mexican. “You know, he’s a fellow Hispanic. He came up from very humble means. He’s an able guy. But it’s obvious that he wasn’t engaged in his department and couldn’t answer [last week’s] testimony in the Senate.”

Mr. Richardson made his comments during an interview with District-based talk-show host Bill Press, heard over Sirius Satellite Radio and other stations.

Mr. Gonzales is the first Hispanic U.S. attorney general.

Coming invasion?

What do the war in Iraq and Cuban dictator Fidel Castro have in common?

That all depends on which of the problems is laid to rest first.

Sen. Bill Nelson, Florida Democrat, warns that the ongoing battles in Baghdad and beyond have stripped his state of its National Guard equipment: short 500 Humvees, short 600 trucks, short 500 long-haul trailers, short 20 wreckers, short 4,400 night-vision goggles.

Florida’s 11 National Guard helicopters, meanwhile, reportedly will be shipped to the Middle East sometime next year, the senator is told.

One worry: The equipment shortage could spell further disaster when the next big hurricane strikes. “If the big one comes and the big one is a Category 4 or 5 hurricane hitting a densely urbanized part of Florida direct from the water, the Florida Guard is going to need every bit of equipment it can get to respond to that emergency,” Mr. Nelson said.

But there’s another threatening storm, he adds, that could strike the state in the not-so-distant future: a massive wave of humanity.

When Mr. Castro dies, “is chaos going to erupt and suddenly a mass outmigration of thousands and thousands of people trying to get to the United States?” he asks. “That is also when you need the National Guard.”

Land of Oz

Political spin from Earth Day yesterday is provided by Rep. Rahm Emanuel, Illinois Democrat and former high-ranking Clinton White House official, who is applauding the first meeting last week of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.

Mr. Emanuel also is proclaiming that Chicago leads the nation in “going green.” Apart from a goal of relying on renewable energy for a quarter of city operations, the congressman said, the Windy City has planted or negotiated the construction of more than 2 million square feet of rooftop gardens — “more than all other U.S. cities combined.”

Nuclear reaction

So you want to go to work for Uncle Sam?

Partnership for Public Services has handed Inside the Beltway the “Best Places to Work in the Federal Government” rankings — were you aware there are more than 280 federal agencies? — based on a survey of 221,000 bureaucrats. They are:

1. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

2. Government Accountability Office

3. Securities and Exchange Commission

4. National Aeronautics and Space Administration

5. Department of Justice

6. Department of State

7. Social Security Administration

8. General Services Administration

9. Environmental Protection Agency

10. Department of the Army

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

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