John McCaslin

After years of good-tempered competition between Congressional Quarterly Publisher and President Robert Merry and National Journal Publisher and President John Fox Sullivan, the pair is calling a truce.

"There is no feud," says Merry, who points out that the two Capitol Hill news publications are longtime market competitors - and competition, somebody once said, is a good thing.

Still, he adds, "John and I never pass up an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage in what is a very brutal market, to outmaneuver the other at every turn."

Merry says he and Sullivan were friends before they became competitors and that they resolved long ago that they would not let those competitive juices harm their personal relationship.

Smart decision. Merry's just-published book, "Sands of Empire," will be officially debuted - and toasted - at Sullivan's home this week.


Hats - beach hats, tennis visors, golf caps, sombreros - off to Rep. Scott Garrett, New Jersey Republican, who has pushed through an amendment limiting the number of federal employees who can attend international conferences.

"While it may be important to send scientists, 'experts' and essential staff overseas to attend conferences, I believe 50 people attending a single conference is more than sufficient," says the congressman.

In the past, he observes, such conferences attracted "hundreds" of federal bureaucrats, who jet off overseas at "an excessive amount of tax dollars."

The amendment, just approved by the House, says no more than 50 federal employees will be permitted to attend international conferences.


Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Charles E. Grassley, of all budget-conscious lawmakers, has been named Porker of the Month by Citizens Against Government Waste for "raiding" the federal cookie jar of $11 million.

Among "many projects" the Iowa Republican has effectively funded for his state is a feasibility study for a "beltway" around Polk County (we hereby warn readers in the Hawkeye State that constructing such a dangerous loop of asphalt leads to "The Beltway Beat" symptoms suffered by many in the nation's capital. These maladies often lead to scandals, and bigger scandals to "gates," like the granddaddy of them all, Watergate.)


Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the fairest landowner of them all?

You are, Uncle Sam.

The federal government owns 29 percent of all the land in America, according to the latest survey by the General Services Administration. Farmers, perhaps, will be interested to know that amounts to 653,299,090.2 acres.

John McCaslin

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

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