Exhibit A - Text of a phone message left by Rep. Charles B. Rangel, New York Democrat, for The Beltway Beat this week:
"This is Congressman Rangel. . . . The quote you assigned to me in a recent Beltway Beat column is probably the dumbest thing I've heard of. I don't know where the hell you got the Willie Lynch story, but it would be helpful if you checked it out and find some way to say you made a mistake."
Exhibit B - Text of a speech, as it appears in the Congressional Record, attributed to "Hon. Charles B. Rangel of New York in the House of Representatives, Monday, July 25, 2005":
"Mr. Speaker, I rise today to alert my colleagues of a dangerous condition that threatens the health of our society - the destruction of the black family. The black family has yet to recover from the destructive effects of slavery.
"In 1712, British slave owner Willie Lynch was invited to the colony of Virginia to teach his methods of keeping slaves under control to American slave owners. Almost 300 years later, the techniques that he prescribed seem to have not only been successful in controlling slaves, but lasting as a means of weakening and destroying the black family."
As Rangel read in our column earlier this week, the "Willie Lynch" he cited is an urban legend based on a document widely circulated via the Internet in recent years.
His office later called us to say that the congressman does now recall his statement and he stands corrected.
LOOK IN THE MIRROR
As expected, there has been much reaction to Rep. Charles B. Rangel, New York Democrat, blaming a fictitious British slave owner for being behind today's destruction of the black family.
Gene Williams writes: "As an American of African descent, 70 years of age, I can tell you who is responsible for the breakup of the black family. Charlie Rangel and the far leftists in the (Congressional) Black Caucus, the leadership of the Democratic Party and those so-called 'educators' who keep black children in the public school system.
"Oh, I don't want to forget the NAACP, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton or the ersatz academics like Cornell West and Michael Eugene Dyson. These individuals and organizations keep our people angry, ignorant and locked into a state of perpetual victimhood. They are despicable and destructive."
Author Laura Merriott writes to say she has just completed a chapter in a new social-ethics book - copies of which she's offered to send to this columnist and to Rangel - that details how numerous social problems such as poverty, crime, sexually transmitted diseases, infant mortality, school dropouts, drug use and gang involvement that "affect blacks more as a percentage of the population . . . are a result of one behavioral choice - choosing to engage in hetero(sexual)-homosexual sex outside of the traditional boundary of the long-held conservative value: marriage."
She says "someone needs to tell Mr. Rangel that slavery was abolished years ago - and (this) is one behavioral choice that keeps black families broken."
CALL AN ARCHITECT
We think we've figured out the reason President Bush and Democrats don't see eye-to-eye, why gasoline prices have skyrocketed, why Social Security is threatened with extinction and why the war in Iraq isn't going any smoother.
The main entrances to the White House face north and south - not east.
Spiritual leader Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is calling on Bush and other world leaders to examine the layout of all government buildings in their countries. He says a proper entrance to the east will bring harmony and success to the government, while an improper entrance to the south - Mr. Bush greets all visiting heads of state at the south door to the White House - or west will be the unseen cause of a great deal of governmental problems, unrest and failures.
"People do not know that a greater part of the negative influences in life comes from the wrong layout of the buildings in which they live and work," the maharishi says. "This is because the direction of the entrance of the office building or residence produces an influence of happiness, harmony and cordiality - or conflict and problems for the people."
For this reason, he urges leaders to abandon all improperly designed buildings - "as if an earthquake had hit the buildings."
"These buildings should be immediately rebuilt with a proper layout and orientation to the rising sun in the east," the maharishi advises.
He also cites scientific research documenting how brain neurons fire more coherently when a person faces east, and that "is the basis of how coherently he thinks and behaves."
We might point out the main entrance to the Oval Office, off the Rose Garden, as well as the front door of the U.S. Capitol both face due east.
DIG TO AMERICA
A two-day project is under way to destroy an illegal tunnel discovered between the United States and Canada, about 90 miles north of Seattle.
Rodney G. Benson, special agent in charge of Seattle's Drug Enforcement Administration office, says the 360-foot-long underground tunnel - it runs from a Quonset hut in Canada into a living room of a house in the United States - was discovered July 20. Since then, it's been under 24-hour guard by Customs and Border Protection officers.
At least three Canadians and two Americans have been arrested so far in connection with the tunnel, which was briefly used to smuggle drugs. However, U.S. Attorney John McKay was quoted as saying its presence "threatens the security of countries, whether it is used to smuggle drugs, contraband or even terrorists."
According to the Justice Department, construction crews will be "cutting through the roadway directly above the tunnel and removing the wood beams used as supports."
After that, and to make certain nobody starts digging again, crews will place steel and cement barriers at the U.S. entrance to the tunnel, then begin filling the void with controlled density fill (CDF) - an expanding liquid foam that consumes crevices and hardens like rock.
SEEDS OF CHANGE
Back when President Clinton was in power, this columnist received a small package in the mail from Dr. Sidney Markowitz - K Street's "Hollywood Smile" dentist.
Rather than a new toothbrush, the package contained a packet of seeds: "Arkansas Traveler Tomato - Seeds of Change."
I recall carrying the seeds home to my dad, a retired FBI agent whose very first assignment from J. Edgar Hoover during World War II was to the FBI field office in Little Rock, Ark. Soon, he was producing a bountiful crop of Arkansas Travelers.
Earlier this week, Washington publicist Janet Donovan had her checkup with Dr. Markowitz. Wouldn't you know, instead of a toothbrush, the dentist handed her a bag of "Texas Beef Tomatoes," juicy fruit from President Bush's home state. The dentist is giving them to all his patients these days.
"The tomatoes were gorgeous, all neatly packed in red, white and blue patriotic plastic flag bags," Miss Donovan notes. "At least someone in Washington is nonpartisan these days."
(Given the dentist's propensity for politics and produce, we'll be the first to warn you in 2008 if he begins peddling New York tomatoes.)
It's not often we write two items on the same day about tomatoes. But it so happens that an "Iraq Reconstruction Update" arrived in our mailbox from the U.S. Agency for International Development dealing with just that.
Tomato farmers in Iraq, it turns out, "are harvesting higher yields thanks to improved technologies learned under the Open Field Tomato Demonstration initiative of USAID's Agriculture Reconstruction and Development for Iraq (ARDI) program."
ARDI established tomato plots in Baghdad, Diyala and Babylon and introduced "drip irrigation, black plastic mulch, and fertilization," yielding plentiful vines.
Regarding our previous item on the upcoming National UFO Conference - and accusations by some UFO enthusiasts that government officials have hidden evidence of UFOs ever since President Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration - Beltway Beat reader Loretta Werres of Ocean View, Del., reasons:
"I find it easier to believe in UFOs than to believe that Congress could keep this information a secret (or keep any secret, for that matter) since the 1940s."