Frank R. Hall and Associates
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   Sierra Madre, Ca 91024


POLITICS: According to satirist Mark Russell the word "Politics" comes from the Greek. "Poli" meaning "many" and "Tics" meaning "Blood sucking parasites". Patricia and I are devout Republicans who have been throwing a few bucks into political campaigns for years. We have supported a lot of losers including nearly everyone who has run for statewide office in California the last few years. We sent a check to Rick Lazio hoping it would help him beat Hillary Clinton. Alas, it didn't. Our biggest gift in the last election was to Jim Rogan who was targeted by Hollywood types after he served as a prosecutor in the Clinton impeachment, but he failed in his bid to stay in Congress. He couldn't match the deep pockets of Barbara Streisand and Alec Baldwin. Not all Hollywood types marched in lock-step though, Jim Belushi served on Rogan's campaign committee and we met him at a fundraiser.

We were particularly incensed when that "Turncoat" Jeffords of Vermont left the GOP, turning over control of the Senate to the Democrats. We vowed to put our money where our mouths had been all these years and try to do something "significant". So, we gave up a vacation we had planned for mid-year and used the money to support a group called the "Republican Senatorial Roundtable". In conjunction with that membership we received an invitation to attend "The President's dinner" on June 19th along with 6,399 of George "Dubya's" closest friends and supporters.

This little essay is the story of our adventures in Washington, D.C. while attending the Roundtable meeting and President's dinner.

I'm sure by this time all our Democrat friends have hit their "Delete" keys. If you haven't liked the first few paragraphs of this little piece, you're going to hate the rest of it. I recommend you bail out now.

In planning our trip we discovered that if we went back to D.C. for just the two days during which these events took place, it would have cost us $1,200 each in air fare. If we left early so as to stay over a Saturday night, the fare was only $330 apiece. No wonder the Airlines are on the brink of bankruptcy. We decided to go early and use the savings to pay our hotel bill at the beautiful Mayflower.

WASHINGTON POST 9-11: If you haven't been to Washington since the Terrorist attacks of September 11th, you will be surprised at how the city has changed. White cement barricades line many streets and Pennsylvania Avenue is completely closed so one can barely get close enough to see the White House way off in the distance. No tours of the White House are available to anyone except selected visits by school children.

The Capitol as well as the House and Senate Office Buildings are protected by the same metal detectors you've always had to pass through, but now they are manned by an abundance of armed guards who search your purse or briefcase with a fine tooth comb.
You are allowed into the Capitol building only if you have an appointment or if you are part of a tightly controlled official tour group, even then you can only enter through a heavily guarded side door.

There was only one small demonstration outside the Capitol building, a group of about 12 women wearing aprons and pounding on pots and pans with wooden spoons whenever the television camera was pointed at them. When a camera wasn't aimed at them they stood around silently until another camera crew came along at which point they became animated again. Their cause had something to do with welfare for single mothers. Patricia pointed out they seemed pretty well dressed for folks worried about their welfare checks.
This group, however, was as heavily guarded as if they had been a group of Hells Angels on Harleys. At least 6 armed police officers were close by.

The beautiful Mayflower Hotel was nearly empty on the weekend we were there. Things perked up a bit when Monday rolled around, but it was never more than half full. Tourism in DC has just fallen off the cliff since the "Outrage". Things are so bad that new commercials have been filmed featuring Laura Bush and several leading members of Congress aimed at increasing tourism in the Nation's Capitol.

SEEING THE SITES: Patricia and I had a couple of days to see the sites, but we have been to Washington many times before and had been to most of the usual sites, including most all the Monuments. The only one we hadn't seen was the Roosevelt Memorial, that monument to Political Correctness featuring FDR in a wheelchair. He went to such great lengths never to appear in public as a "cripple". What an insult to his memory that statue is.

One new site, on every street corner you will find a 4 foot statue of either a donkey or an elephant (Get it? Democrats? Republicans?) Each figure is decorated by a different artist. Chicago started this trend with statues of Cow's (get it? As in Mrs. O'Leary's?) several years ago, and now nearly everyone is doing it as sort of whimsical public art.

On Sunday we took a cab to Georgetown and explored the many shops, including a Hat Shop. Since a doctor recently told me to keep my nearly bald dome covered, I thought I'd see if I could find something truly distinguished. The shop owner hovered near by and made several suggestions. He brought me one particularly appealing wide brimmed number, which I tried on. Patricia took one look at me and broke out in hysterical laughter. I said to the shop owner, "This is not a good sign." He agreed and rushed to find another hat for me that Pat wouldn't find quite so humorous.

On Monday we went to the only other decent shopping place within the city limits of D.C., the "Union Station". The main railroad and Metro station for D.C., Union Station has been completely redecorated and is crammed full of interesting stores and shops for commuters to dally on their way in or out of town. It was a lot of fun.

Then we went to the American History Museum, part of the Smithsonian. Pat said it reminded her of Disneyland, as 4 out of 5 visitors seemed to be screaming children. The Smithsonian has a reputation as one of the most "Politically Correct" institutions in the country. You may remember the flap they created when they wanted to show a display arguing the Second World War from the Japanese perspective next to the display of the Enola Gay. In the American History Museum there is a display called "Impeachment" where school children are taught about the sins of Richard Nixon, who was never impeached. But they learn only that Bill Clinton was "Acquitted" in his Impeachment trial, Acquitted is hardly the word one would use to describe a man who plea-bargained on his last day in office. Anyway, we didn't stay in the American History Museum for very long.

DINING: Washington has some great restaurants and we visited a few.

On Monday night we met our friend George Sladoje at one of our favorites, Ruth's Chris Steak House. George, who lives in our hometown of Sierra Madre is the President of the California Power Exchange. He was in D.C. to give testimony before the Federal Energy Commission, which is still trying to figure out how Gray Davis got us into this electricity mess. Ruth's Chris has opened units in California in Irvine, Beverly Hills etc., but they just aren't the same as the ones in the east like Washington or New York where they are famous for "the best steak in town".

At Union Station, we had lunch at B. Smith's a very upscale Soul Food restaurant. Pat had the "Pulled Pork" sandwich while I had the crab cakes with collard greens. We recommend it highly.

We had good Italian Food at Anna Maria's near Dupont Circle and terrific New York Style thin crust Pizza at Bertucci's a couple of blocks from the Mayflower on Connecticut Ave.

While we could walk to many of these eateries, it is still not advisable to stroll the streets of Washington without knowing where you are. While Rudy Guliani made New York City into a place where you need have no fear walking around, there has not been a similar reformer performing miracles in D.C. It's not quite as bad as San Francisco, but you'll still have to step over sleeping bums and fend off panhandlers in many areas.

ON CAPITOL HILL: On Tuesday Patricia and I called on two Congressmen, Ed Royce, who represents the district in Orange County where two of my Health System's hospitals are located, and David Dreier who represents our home district and is the Chairman of the House Rules Committee.

Congressman Royce is on the House Intelligence Committee and he shared with us some interesting stories about our War on Terrorism. He is instrumental in the legislation to create a Department of Homeland Security and is no fan of so-called "privacy legislation" which is handcuffing the FBI and CIA in there efforts to get the "Bad Guys". We met him in his office in the Rayburn Building and he graciously agreed to have a picture taken with us.

Congressman Dreier met us in the office of the Rules Committee in the Capitol Building. He asked our indulgence while he ate lunch, then produced an apple, which he ate with gusto. He told us that it's all he has for lunch every day, which no doubt accounts for his trim appearance. Asked if he would mind if we had our picture taken with him he said, "Are you kidding, I'm a politician, I insist we have our picture taken together.

I spoke with both Royce and Dreier about critical Health Care legislation in which our Health System is interested, and both were very helpful.

THE REPUBLICAN SENATORIAL ROUND TABLE: On Tuesday afternoon we registered for the Roundtable events which included a dinner at the Museum of Women in the Arts that evening . The following day in the Mayflower Hotel there were 6 roundtable discussions involving Republican Senators. Then, of course, the highlight of the event was the "President's dinner"

During registration Patricia met a woman who claimed to be the only Republican in Marin County - probably true. We quickly learned that the 180 or so people attending were far from the flashy Hollywood types you see at Democrat Fundraisers. Many were first generation Americans and about 10% were Black with a like number of Asians. The only ethnic group not noticeably represented was Hispanics.

Among the people we met were a man and woman, both doctors, who had given up their faculty positions at Stanford to take up practice in Scotts Bluff Nebraska. We became friends with the Millers, a couple from northwest Missouri who farm 2,500 acres with no employees, just themselves and a few of their 8 children who have not yet left the farm. They are very proud of their two oldest sons who are Marines, one joined on September 12th. Most of the people in attendance were this sort of "salt of the earth".

The Tuesday dinner at the Museum was attended by 15 Senators. One of those, Mike Enzi of Wyoming and his wife sat at our table. A very gregarious man, he soon had our rapt attention as he told anecdotes about various Washington characters. When he saw we were from California he told us he sits on a sub-committee of which Barbara Boxer is chair. We asked if she is really as big a "Twit" as she appears on television. He said, "In spades" and then told of several instances in which she had made a fool of herself.

The dinner speaker that night was Lynn Cheney and, of course, she got two standing ovations. She spoke about the importance of teaching history to children. She said, "Since public schools don't teach history any more it is up to parents to make sure that their children learn about the great American heroes". She pointed out, "When George Washington left Washington D.C. after 8 years as President it was the first time in the history of the world that a leader had peacefully and voluntarily turned over his office to a successor."

That night we had brief speeches by Senators Bill Frist of Tennessee, Gordon Smith of Oregon (the only Republican Senator on the Left Coast) and John Ensign of Nevada.

During the panel discussions the following day we heard from Senators Larry Craig of Nebraska, Kay Bailey Hutchinson of Texas, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky along with Senators Frist, Ensign and several others. My personal favorite was Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania who told us that he had come to Washington as a "Deficit Buster" intent on producing surpluses. He said that now, however, after seeing how both houses of Congress spend money like a "Drunken Sailor" when a surplus exists, he favors automatically returning any surplus directly to the people in the form of tax rebates.

DINNER WITH DUBYA That night we put on our finest duds, a tux for me and a long gown for Patricia and were taken by bus to the Washington Convention Center for our "Dinner with Dubya". More than 6,500 people attended and to show you how far we were from the dais, our table number was 673.

While politicians are by and large great fundraisers, they have yet to learn one of the most important lessons of fundraising - donors should have the best seats.

Security at the Convention Center was tight, but, no more so than going into the Capitol. We were ushered into the huge auditorium. We were struck by how many young people there were. There were also many interns and Congressional staffers sitting at all of those excellent Congressional tables. There were no plunging necklines or gaudy jewelry, no plaid dinner jackets or sneakers sans socks.

There were huge screens around the auditorium where the speakers and entertainers were projected. Before the meeting was called to order patriotic songs by popular singers were played, such as Ray Charles' "America" and Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA"

At the exact stroke of 7 PM, President and Mrs. Bush entered from the wings. After their standing ovation, Country Singer Amy Grant sang a hymn as the invocation and we were all invited to say the pledge of allegiance, "under God" included. After President Bush proposed a toast, he began his speech. It was wonderful. He talked about the importance of individual responsibility and that he wants to create a situation in this country where "everyone who wants a job can have one." He talked about the search for the terrorists and said, "We will chase down the murderers one by one until we have them all."

He also said wonderful things about his wife, Laura, and pointed out that he gets her morning coffee every morning. Then he said, "I hope I don't get the rest of you guys in trouble". He spoke for about 40 minutes and when it was finished everyone in the audience wanted him to say more. What a thrilling moment that was.

During dinner, Country and Western star Vince Gill, the husband of Amy Grant who had sung earlier, entertained. He was introduced by Senator Frist of Tennessee and Don Nichols of Oklahoma who argued about which state could take credit for him. He was born in Oklahoma, but, now lives in Nashville.

The meal itself included steak, shrimp, potatoes and asparagus served in amazingly quick time considering the number of people in the room. It was perhaps less than one would expect given the price of a ticket.

Dinner was followed by dancing, but we had to catch our bus back to the Mayflower.

The following morning before we flew home we learned that the White House had been evacuated the night before because of a stupid private pilot that had violated their air space. President Bush was angry that he hadn't been notified, but, we weren't - he might have had to leave before speaking.

WAS IT WORTH IT? Every dime!



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