Semper Fi

John McCaslin
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Posted: Sep 26, 2003 12:00 AM

Groundbreaking ceremonies will be held today (Friday, Sept. 26) for the National Museum of the Marine Corps, the first museum dedicated to telling the stories of the U.S. Marines.

We're told that every element of the museum - from its symbolic design to interactive exhibits - is designed to provide visitors with a fantastic experience. Thus, the museum's slogan: "Expect to Live It."

For example, one exhibit will be a room designed and acclimatized to simulate the conditions Marines experienced during the Korean War. Another will feature an obstacle course similar to those used at boot camp.

The museum will be located at the Quantico Marine Corps Base in Virginia, just south of Washington, D.C. along Interstate 95. Attending the groundbreaking will be Marine Commandant Gen. Michael W. Hagee.

THE FEW, THE PROUD

Days before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, two U.S. Marines armed with a bottle of Brasso, sponges and cloths got on their knees and began polishing the brass base of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial flagpole bearing the Marine insignia.

The Marines undertook the late-evening buffing because the Marine Corps insignia had become "dingy and tarnished."

However, a U.S. Park Service ranger, sporting a goatee and wire-rimmed glasses, soon arrived and informed the Marines that they were violating "SOP" - standard operating procedure. He ordered them to cease their polishing because the Brasso could harm the base.

"It's not the way we do it," the ranger said.

Now we learn that the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund has hired the Stuart Dean Co., which specializes in restoring monuments and statues, to "finally polish the flagpole base," says fund founder Jan C. Scruggs.

He says that while the base of the pole has been vandalized and has deep gouges from a knife or screwdriver, the new "polishing techniques will keep the base looking pristine and shiny for two years."

That isn't to say Marines can't assist with periodic polishing.

"U.S. Marines have been polishing their emblem and can continue," Scruggs says, "but must use Carnuba wax."

IRRESPONSIBLE BUNCH

Does anybody wish to respond to the World Watch Institute's bizarre claim that Hurricane Isabel was a likely result of global warming?

"Hundreds of thousands of people have lost power, water and phone service - thousands have had their homes damaged or destroyed - and all the World Watch Institute can do is point the finger at industry," reacts Competitive Enterprise Institute President Fred Smith.

"Hurricanes occurred a thousand years before the first combustible engine - back when the only emissions came from cooking fires. I find it irresponsible, if not reprehensible, that World Watch seizes upon a natural disaster to advance their radical and misleading environmental agenda."

APPLE PIE?

Baseball's not a pastime yet in Russia, but the sport has gained enough popularity to field a Russian boys' all-star baseball team, which arrived in Washington this week on a goodwill tour.

On Monday (Sept. 22), the Russian youngsters, aged 10 to 13, visited the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, then defeated Washington's Head First All-Stars by a score of 5-1 (the two teams play a double-header Saturday to complete the series).

Tuesday, Hall of Fame pitcher turned Kentucky Republican Sen. Jim Bunning joined Jack and John Hillerich of Louisville Slugger to present new bats and equipment to members and coaches of the Russian team when it visited Capitol Hill.

Wednesday, the boys headed to Cooperstown, N.Y., to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame. Today (Thursday), they are scheduled to play a Harlem team - a game Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to attend. The team is also expected to meet with President Bush in Washington.

The existence of Russian baseball was news to both the Russian Cultural Center and the Russian Information Center in Washington when we called to inquire.

"Frankly, I have no idea about baseball in Russia," said a man at the RIC.

I DO

We've picked up Nigel Hamilton's new 785-page comprehensive biography, "Bill Clinton: An American Journey - Great Expectations," the first of a two-volume series that reconstructs the former president's background and career with some much-welcomed psychological insight.

Clinton, the author explains, is the quintessential baby boomer: blessed with a near-genius IQ, yet beset by character flaws that made his presidency a veritable soap opera of high ideals, distressing incompetence, model financial stewardship and domestic misbehavior.

The Clinton White House, as a result, fed the public an almost daily diet of scandal and misfortune.

"Poor Stephanopoulos, a Republican turned idealistic Democrat," Hamilton says of top Clinton aide George Stephanopoulos, "a warrior who in his heart of hearts would have been better suited to the right-wing Republican crusade. ...

"At the time, however, he 'kept my anger inside to avoid demoralizing the interns and volunteers.'"

If you purchase this thick, eye-opening volume, keep it on the top shelf away from the children (not that the former president hasn't already taught kids enough in the kinky category), for Hamilton tells all, unlike Hillary Rodham Clinton's current "tell-all."

As for the New York senator putting up with her husband's shenanigans for so many years, the author explains that her marriage was arranged from the start as a "political, not social, event," in which she agreed to tolerate his extramarital "relations."

"It wasn't an ideal setup from the point of view of a proud woman, but it was frank, and it was pioneering, not only in Arkansas, but in modern, compassionate America," Hamilton writes. "She would not expect Bill to be sexually faithful in their partnership, but she would expect him to observe reasonable discretion - to avoid rubbing her face in his sinful escapades."

An agreement, in other words?

"On the basis of her understanding with Bill," the author says, "she was eventually convinced - or convinced herself - that they could make it to the very top, in the fashion of the French, as America's first modern 'power couple.'

"She therefore said yes."

PROBING GREENPEACE

A complaint has been filed with the Internal Revenue Service against Greenpeace, urging that the environmental organization be investigated for violating tax laws.

Mike Hardiman, executive director of Public Interest Watch, said Greenpeace's complex structure masks its misuse of tax-exempt contributions.

"American tax law very clearly differentiates between taxable and tax-exempt contributions, and the ways in which they can be used," Hardiman says. "Greenpeace has devised a system for diverting tax-exempt funds and using them for nonexempt - and oftentimes illegal - purposes.

"It's a form of money laundering, plain and simple."

Greenpeace, in a statement, denies the accusations.

The complaint charges that during one three-year span, a Greenpeace entity diverted more than $24 million in tax-exempt contributions. Such contributions, the complaint states, are supposed to be used for "educational" programs, but instead funded non-exempt activities.

A review of IRS filings and annual reports for tax years 1998, 1999 and 2000 shows that Greenpeace Fund Inc. funneled tax-exempt contributions to nonexempt programs, the complaint continues.

Examples cited include: blockading a naval base in protest of the war in Iraq, boarding an oil tanker for a "banner hang," breaking into the central control building of a nuclear-power station and padlocking the gates of a government research facility.