John McCaslin

"If somebody had taken a picture, it would have been worth a million dollars. He looked kind of stunned."

So Carmen Mercer, vice president of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, described the reaction of President Bush after he finally learned her identity during a fund-raising dinner this week in Phoenix - but only after he smiled and posed with her for a photograph, shook her hand twice and autographed her name tag.

Suffice it to say, Bush and Mercer, who owns a restaurant in Tombstone, Ariz., have not seen eye-to-eye when it comes to public help in addressing illegal-immigration problems that plague her state.

Mercer helps direct more than 1,000 Minuteman volunteers who have patrolled the border separating Arizona and Mexico. In recent months, they have assisted federal authorities in the apprehension of thousands of illegal aliens who otherwise might have gained entry into the country.

In a telephone interview yesterday with The Beltway Beat, Mercer said "it was quite exciting to see the president this close up" at Monday night's dinner benefiting Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican.

After a friend of Mercer's told the president who she was, Bush said: "I knew I liked her the minute I saw her."


For weeks on end, the outspoken counsel for the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington - this group of minds questions whether global warming is man-made - became aware that somebody was intrigued with the curbside garbage he placed out for collection.

"This past summer, I and a select group of others learned that (Greenpeace) coveted our trash, apparently to feed their various conspiracy theories involving anyone who questions their dogma," says Christopher C. Horner. "Indeed, my own refuse began regularly disappearing the night before pickup.

"To have a little fun, I not only placed a few intriguing items throughout my otherwise boring refuse, but also let my two large-breed dogs in on it - liberally proffering a heat-cured week's worth of their best throughout each batch," he tells The Beltway Beat.

Recently, Horner learned that several Washington publications, namely The Washington Post, National Journal and Roll Call, "all passed" when offered "the results of the greens' dogged pursuit."

"All was not lost, as the German media sunk to our expectations," he says. "Der Spiegel, we learned last week, burned up the phone lines seeking comment on the greens' 'proof' of a purported, if hardly newsworthy, conspiracy that we were working with others to defeat Kyoto-related energy rationing."

"Greenpeace," Horner adds, should know that he recently sold his home - "to a couple of Marines just back from Fallujah (in Iraq), who may have different tastes in dealing with such trespass."


President Bush's long-awaited crackdown on illegal aliens isn't the reason 10 or so protesters on the Mexican side of the border held up a large banner yesterday as Mr. Bush's motorcade sped to a meeting on immigration issues in El Paso, Texas.

Instead, the group of protesters, all assumed to be Mexican, voiced their opposition to the Iraqi war.


It's been almost two weeks since Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean pledged that his party would stand strongly behind Rep. John P. Murtha in the wake of the Pennsylvania Democrat's emotional outburst over progress with the Iraqi war.

Now, Tom McMahon, the DNC's executive director, says, "From this day forward, the Democratic Party will commit to putting up a 'Shame on You' billboard in the home district of any Republican who attacks a veteran's service in order to score political points."

He says the first billboard will go up near Rep. Jean Schmidt's district office in Portsmouth, Ohio. The congresswoman, in the wake of Murtha's remarks, went onto the floor of the House and implied that her colleague was a coward, even though he served 37 years in the Marine Corps, received the Bronze Star, two Purple Hearts and the Navy Distinguished Service Medal.

The billboard message: "Shame on You, Jean Schmidt: Stop Attacking Veterans. Keep Your Eye on the Ball - We Need a Real Plan for Iraq."


That was newly credentialed Greek Ambassador Alexandros P. Mallias and TV talkmeister John McLaughlin discussing early Greek thinkers - Thales to Socrates - during a private dinner Monday night at restaurant Teatro Goldoni in Washington.

McLaughlin told the ambassador that he'd taken several years of classical Greek while in the seminary studying to become a Jesuit priest, and pointed out how beneficial both its language and linguistics remain for him today when it comes to English expression.

But it was six years of Latin studies, replied Mallias, that he most benefited from, particularly as a foundation for speaking French and Italian.

The 56-year-old ambassador, accompanied at dinner by his Swiss-born wife, Francoise-Anne Mallias, told The Beltway Beat that he'd just returned from Chicago and the 30th anniversary celebrations of the United Hellenic American Congress (UHAC). Joining him in the Windy City was Ambassador John D. Negroponte, U.S. director of national intelligence and the son of a Greek shipping magnate.

Mallias, whose family roots are in the high mountains of Arcadia (he and his wife spoke fondly of their country house on the island of Euboea), has an extensive diplomatic career, including as head of the European Community Monitor Mission in Sofia, Bulgaria, in charge of Bulgaria and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia - FYROM. He visited Skopje, Macedonia, several times, maintaining discreet contacts with FYROM's leadership. He is also a former ambassador to Albania.


"Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It's already tomorrow in Australia." - Charles Schulz, creator of the "Peanuts" comic strip, forwarded by B.J. Peiser


The string of hurricanes that struck several states, coupled with higher gasoline and natural-gas prices as winter arrives, are "giving a double punch to seniors, one of the country's most vulnerable groups," says Jerry Barton, chairman of the National Association for Senior Concerns.

The group was started this year as "the center-right alternative to the American Association for Retired Persons," Barton says. He says a significant response is to convene a national "Seniors' Summit" in cooperation with other seniors groups, the private sector and the Bush administration to "forge constructive strategies to ease hardships on the nation's seniors."

Participants in such a summit could ask Congress to defer big-ticket budget items in order to shift money to senior-related concerns, Barton says. He cited tackling Medicare reform; specifically, "reforming a system that is being systematically defrauded on a huge scale."

Barton challenged the AARP and other seniors groups to join in promoting the summit.

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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