Bird brains

John McCaslin
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Posted: Feb 16, 2006 10:05 PM

"Does anyone in the mainstream media hunt? Or know anything about hunting? Why do I bother asking?" writes Humberto Fontova in a letter sent to The Beltway Beat. (Actually, sir, we loaded up on dove and duck over the New Year's holiday. Why do you ask?)

"'Buckshot, buckshot, buckshot,' the term referring to the ammunition used in Vice President Dick Cheney's hunting accident, appears everywhere from The Washington Post to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. So please listen up: If Harry Whittington had been hit in the face and chest at 30 yards with buckshot, he would have died instantly," Fontova writes.

"Instead he was hit with birdshot, OK? These are very small pellets powered by a light charge of powder designed to kill small, light-skinned game like quail. Buckshot gets its name because it's designed to kill 200-pound deer. Army Rangers and Marines use buckshot-loaded shotguns for close range combat. OK?"

CARELESS AS CHENEY

A poll of 883 South Dakota bird hunters, conducted before Vice President Dick Cheney's weekend hunting accident, asked: "Have you ever been peppered with shotgun BBs?"

It so happens 484 of the hunters, or about 55 percent, replied "yes." And 365 of them said they were wearing orange vests when sprayed.

The poll was conducted by Pheasant Country ("where pheasant hunters come to roost"), a Web site sponsored by the Sioux Falls Argus-Leader newspaper.

PASS THE TWEEZERS

As one gun rights advocate describes the crime scene, James and Sarah Brady, founders of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, were "dancing in blood" after Vice President Dick Cheney's hunting accident over the weekend.

(Perhaps one day I'll write about a well-known Washington reporter who peppered a fellow columnist with shotgun blast after aiming low at an elusive bird.)

James Brady, the former White House press secretary wounded alongside President Reagan by John Hinckley Jr., said after the vice president's embarrassing bird hunt: "Now I understand why Dick Cheney keeps asking me to go hunting with him."

Reacts Joe Waldron, executive director of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms: "Only Jim Brady would be allowed by the mainstream press to make such a crude and crass comment and not be called down for it."

CIA 'INCOMPETENCE'

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA intelligence officer-turned-security consultant, sheds some outrageous light on 22 named CIA officers that an Italian judge now wants to question in connection with the clandestine capture and extradition of Egyptian cleric Abu Omar from a Milan street in 2003.

"The CIA operation, which is particularly embarrassing to all parties involved because it was run with the connivance of the Italian intelligence service SISMI, was poorly managed and marked by incompetence," Giraldi writes in the new issue of the American Conservative.

How embarrassing?

"Most of the CIA officers were carrying passports with false names, but at least four have been identified by their true names through phone records because they could not resist the urge to call their families," he says. "In one case, a female officer who was traveling on a false passport produced a frequent-flier card in her true name at her hotel so that she could receive mileage credit."

ENGLISH ANYBODY?

Dozens of lawmakers are expressing reservations about renewing multilingual ballot provisions when Congress reauthorizes the Voting Rights Act, saying they encourage linguistic division and contradict the "melting pot" ideal of America.

"They are a serious affront to generations of immigrants . . . that have made great sacrifices to learn English in order to become naturalized citizens," congressmen write to Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., Wisconsin Republican and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

In addition, creating special ballots and hiring Election Day interpreters at taxpayer expense to understand the immigrants increases errors and fraud, they contend. Take Flushing, N.Y., where the political parties were mistakenly reversed on ballots printed in Chinese, perhaps resulting in thousands of unintentional votes.

There are 30 states now requiring multilingual ballots, although one trumps them all: Election officials in Los Angeles had to hire more than 2,200 interpreters at a cost of $2.1 million to explain 2004 ballots in seven different languages.

'BROKEBACK' MINDED

There's more to values than just abortion and homosexual "marriage," but you wouldn't know it listening to the nation's elected officials.

"When most politicians speak of values, they only talk about abortion and gay 'marriage,'" observes Stewart Rassier, executive director of 2020 Democrats. "When Americans gather in cafes and churches, markets and mosques, shopping malls and synagogues, we speak about so much more."

His group, with the participation of religious leaders, has scheduled summits around the country to identify additional "moral values" that need attention to improve dignity among mankind.

DUBYA'S VALENTINE

That was performer Michael Feinstein, while tickling the ivories of a 1938 Steinway piano in the East Room of the White House on Valentine's Day evening, catching the attention of President and Mrs. Bush with his second selection, "Laura."