John McCaslin

During a recent question-and-answer session with reporters in Chicago, first lady Laura Bush was asked: "Mrs. Bush, as you enter into this next political campaign, perhaps your husband's last. ..."

"It will be his last. I can tell you that," interrupted Mrs. Bush, who we might point out was promised by husband George W. Bush on the couple's wedding day that she would never have to give a political speech.

LOWER THE FLAG?

Soon, more American flags could fly at half-staff for the ordinary Joe.

House Republican Conference Secretary John T. Doolittle (R-Calif.), says the current Federal Flag Code is "archaic" because it doesn't allow local officials to authorize the flying of flags at half-staff if a municipality seeks to honor a deceased current or former city official.

As it now flies, only the president and governors can order flags flown at half-staff to commemorate local heroes or dignitaries.

"This is an arcane and needless hurdle that needs to be corrected," says Doolittle.

TAX INCREASE, ANYONE?

A billiard table with a price tag of $2,295. An aquarium valued at $2,929. Premium satellite and cable TV packages billed at $4,843 (including pornographic-movie hookups). Fish costumes and a hand-stitched salmon tent threaded for $16,250.

Just a few recent items bureaucrats purchased with taxpayer-funded credit cards, says Washington Waste Watchers, citing General Accounting Office probes.

FAIR DECK

As far as the founder of Newt's Playing Cards is concerned, there's enough mudslinging in politics without dealing partisan jacks, queens and kings.

"In a world of negative attitudes, we feel there is a market for positive politics," explains James Esteph. "It seems you can find plenty of political playing cards that are negative."

So, what Esteph's Ohio company has done is create a deck of cards with 52 positive reasons to re-elect President Bush "without ripping apart other candidates." And before Democrats cry joker, Esteph's company also has produced Democrat Playing Cards (www.newtscards.com), all intended to encourage people to vote in the 2004 election.

GONE BATTY

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) has joined with U.S. government and wildlife conservation organizations to address a newly discovered problem: bats hitting wind turbines. (No wonder a concerned Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy doesn't want windmills dotting the serene seascape of Cape Cod.)


John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on Townhall.com and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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