The family of U.S. Air Force Maj. Gregory Stone was shocked to learn that video footage of the major's Arlington National Cemetery burial was included by Michael Moore in his movie "Fahrenheit 9/11."
Stone was killed in March 2003 by a grenade that officials said was thrown into his tent by Sgt. Hasan K. Akbar, who is on trial for murder.
It's been a big shock, and we are not very happy about it, to say the least," Kandi Gallagher, Stone's aunt and family spokeswoman, tells Washington Times reporter Audrey Hudson.
We are furious that Greg was in that casket and cannot defend himself, and my sister, Greg's mother, is just beside herself," Gallagher said. "She is furious. She called him a 'maggot that eats off the dead.'"
The movie, described by critics as political propaganda during an election year, shows video footage of the funeral and Stone's fiancee, Tammie Eslinger, kissing her hand and touching it to his coffin.
The family does not know how Moore obtained the video, and Gallagher said they did not give permission and are considering legal recourse.
She described her nephew as a "totally conservative Republican" and said he would have found the film to be "putrid."
"I'm sure he would have some choice words for Michael Moore," she said. "Michael Moore would have a hard time asking our family for a glass of water if he were thirsty."
If the trend continues, congressmen will have to stay up mighty late - or else awaken before the crack of dawn - to cast votes in the waning months of the 108th Congress.
Sleepy-eyed Democrats aren't amused by the Republican-led "wee-hour" voting, including a groggy Ohio Rep. Sherrod Brown, who calls the previous five days "a bad week in Washington."
"Never before when the Democrats were in control, or when Newt Gingrich was [Republican] speaker of the House, never before has this House of Representatives operated in such secrecy," he says.
"At 2:54 a.m. on a Friday in March," he begins, "the House cut veterans' benefits by three votes. At 2:39 a.m. on a Friday in April, the House slashed education and health care by five votes. At 1:56 a.m. on a Friday in May, the House passed the tax-cut bill, weighted especially towards millionaires, by a handful of votes."
Is that the worst of it?
"At 2:33 a.m. on a Friday in June, the House passed the Medicare privatization bill by one vote. At 12:57 a.m. on a Friday in June, the House eviscerated Head Start by one vote. And then, after returning from summer recess, at 12:12 a.m. on a Friday . . . the House voted $87 billion for Iraq," he continues.
Are you, sir, insinuating a Republican strategy - to cast votes in the dark of the night while newspapermen are home sleeping?
"Always in the middle of the night, always after the press had passed their deadlines, always after the American people had turned off the news and gone to bed," Brown insists.
"At best, Americans read a small story with a brief explanation of the bill and the vote count in the Saturday newspaper. And people here, the Republican leadership, know that Saturday is the least-read newspaper of the week."
How long has this been going on?
"In November, they did it again. The most sweeping changes in Medicare in its 38-year history were forced through the House at 5:55 on a Saturday morning."
Bill Clinton the future president of France?
Don't laugh, it could happen.
"Normally, you'd have to live in France for five years . . . [b]ut Clinton was born in Arkansas, which was once part of France, and which was then acquired by the United States in the Louisiana Purchase, making it 'a state or territory over which France has ever exercised sovereignty or extended a mandate or protectorate,'" reveals Matthew Continetti, a writer for the Weekly Standard.
French social scientist Patrick Weil was the first to report that French civil law permits "citizens of states or territories over which France has ever exercised sovereignty or extended a mandate or protectorate" to apply "immediately" for naturalization as a French citizen.
That would pave the way for Clinton - who longs these days to be president of something - to seek France's highest office.
"Clinton repeats this theme throughout [his new book] 'My Life,'" Continetti observes. "He just loved being president, he tells us, again and again and again. Absolutely loved it. With all his heart and mind and body, it seems. He'd do it all over again if he could."
Weil actually wrote to Clinton on Jan. 10, 2001, informing him that as a naturalized French citizen, "You would have the same full rights as all other French citizens. That includes running for the presidency."
France doesn't even require that Clinton renounce his American citizenship. However, he would need to purchase an official residence in France and learn the French language.
A congressional bill has been introduced to examine whether a black granite memorial to former Sen. Edmund S. Muskie along the banks of the Androscoggin River in Rumford, Maine, should become a part of the National Park System.
A son of Polish immigrants, Muskie was born and raised in Rumford. He joined the Navy during World War II, serving in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters. He became Maine's governor in 1954, a U.S. senator in 1958, Democratic nominee for vice president alongside Hubert H. Humphrey in 1968, and a candidate for president in 1972.
He was a secretary of state under Jimmy Carter, and later was named to Ronald Reagan's special review board to investigate the Iran-Contra affair. He died in 1996.
EVERY VOTE COUNTS?
"The president of the United States shook hands and nearly kissed a dog."
- Official White House pool report surrounding President Bush's impromptu stop in Pottstown, Pa., on his way to a campaign appearance in Lancaster. The dog, a 3-year-old American Eskimo, was named Vixen.
TRADING WITH FIDEL
The Miami Herald tells a most intriguing story of a 95-year-old Cuban-American woman who has just filed federal suit against Paris-based Club Med, accusing the resort chain of unjustly profiting from a five-star hotel it built on land that her family owned in pre-Revolution Cuba.
Elvira de la Vega Glen of Miami says she and her surviving son are entitled to compensation for a Club Med built in 1997 on a stretch of beach that her family owned for generations.
"The land, now part of a valuable tourism area, was seized by the Cuban government after the Fidel Castro revolution," explains the Herald, saying the suit charges the resort company with violating the U.S. Trading With the Enemy Act.
"I'm bringing this case because the people who are there have no business being there," Glen informs the newspaper. "It was the most beautiful beach in the world, oh, the most beautiful beach."
Representing the woman is Washington lawyer Stuart Newberger of the Pennsylvania Avenue law firm Crowell & Moring LLP. He says the State Department is looking into whether Club Med violated the Helms-Burton Act, which prohibits "trafficking" in property confiscated from Cuban-Americans.
Club Med tells the newspaper that it will defend itself "vigorously."
Let us continue our series of items on proposals to place former President Ronald Reagan's portrait on various forms of U.S. currency, having written last about legislation to place the Gipper's face on the front of every $10 bill printed after Dec. 31.
"Printing his likeness on the $10 bill is a fitting tribute to a leader who inspired the forces of freedom to victory over the evils of communism, won the Cold War and restored America's economic vitality," says Rep. J.D. Hayworth, Arizona Republican.
Of course, the $10 bill features Alexander Hamilton, a Founding Father and the first secretary of the Treasury. When it was suggested that Reagan's mug shine on the dime or half-dollar, Democrats not willing to erase the images of former Presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy cried foul. We jokingly pointed out that there was no immediate reaction from the Alexander Hamilton fan club - until now.
"Today in St. Croix, where we walk, where [Hamilton] lived and worked, we are celebrating his life," says Delegate Donna M.C. Christensen, Virgin Islands Democrat. She says that although Hamilton was a great American, "it is not widely known that he was from St. Croix, my home."
"Alexander Hamilton relocated to St. Croix from Nevis at the age of 9," Christensen notes. "There, he developed the exceptional accounting, finance and writing skills which later propelled his career."
"Other than that second inning, the game was pretty good."
- Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, after Republicans beat his team 14-7 in the 43rd annual Roll Call baseball game for charity. A 5,000-plus crowd, including Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Lou Brock, saw the Republican team score 10 of its runs in the second inning.
THINK ABOUT IT
During a question-and-answer session at the Council Bluffs Public Library in Iowa, first lady Laura Bush was asked whether she's seen Michael Moore's so-called documentary, "Fahrenheit 9/11," which is highly critical of her husband's administration.
Mrs. Bush: What do you think?
Reporter: I think that you haven't.
Mrs. Bush: I think that would be right.
BILL TO FRAME
Amount of cash President Bush left last week at a lemonade stand in Raleigh, N.C.: $10.
Dismayed by "deepening divisions" in America and specifically the South, a dozen prominent white Southerners - historians and academics alike in cahoots with former President Jimmy Carter - have set out to retake the country.
"Of course, other good books dissecting the Bush regime have appeared, but ours will be the first critique of the government coming out of the South's white liberal tradition, a segment usually lost in the overwhelming tide of the region's conservatives," Mildred Inge Wakefield, publicist for "Where We Stand: Voices of Southern Dissent," tells this column.
The launch of this 12-essay anthology - penned by "not just another bunch of New York liberals," with the foreword by Carter - was to tak place Monday at the National Press Club in Washington.
Among the essayists: John Egerton, author of "The Americanization of Dixie: The Southernization of America"; Dan T. Carter, past president of the Southern Historical Foundation and author of "From George Wallace to Newt Gingrich: Race in the Conservative Counterrevolution, 1963-1994"; and Washington resident Leslie W. Dunbar, director of the Southern Regional Council during the turmoil of the 1960s, who remains closely involved with the cause of Southern democracy (he most recently authored "The Shame of Southern Politics").
"The modern Republican ideology requires belief in American supremacy - of our power, privilege, morality, of our right, independent of the claims of criticisms of other governments and peoples," Dunbar writes.
"The white Southern-led current Republican Party espouses similar unilateralism. It is the old South's ideology of white supremacy, now writ large and become Republican U.S.A. supremacy."
MAN AND WOMAN
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican, will join hands Monday with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Congress of Racial Equality as the Senate begins debate on the Federal Marriage Amendment, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
"Our efforts to let the people decide the future of marriage in America preceded this  election and will continue so long as activists strive to overcome public opinion by striking down our marriage laws in court," says Matt Daniels, president of the Alliance for Marriage.
He says most Americans think homosexuals "have a right to live as they choose. But they don't believe they have a right to redefine marriage for our entire society."
Last week, Congress took a closer look at human trafficking and slavery - its forms today ranging from forced prostitution and child soldiering to involuntary servitude and sweatshop labor.
The latest State Department "Trafficking in Persons" report identifies up to 800,000 modern-day slaves transported across international borders every year. As many as 17,500 of those are brought into the United States.
Human slavery is the third most lucrative form of trafficking, behind drugs and guns.
As of last week, the official military personnel files of 56 million U.S. veterans who served the nation since 1885 will be permanently preserved in the National Archives after a signing ceremony with John W. Carlin, archivist of the United States.
Preserving the files is considered crucial for not only veterans and their families, but genealogists, biographers and historians.
"Stirring talent combines with common touch."
Headline of this week's Financial Times of London surrounding John Kerry's choice of John Edwards as his running mate.