Diplomatic godson

John McCaslin

5/16/2007 11:46:40 AM - John McCaslin

Diplomatic godson

When State Department official John Herzberg brings up the late Jeane Kirkpatrick, President Reagan's ambassador to the United Nations, there are two reasons to listen.

"I would just like to say that the implication that Jeane opposed the invasion of Iraq in 2003 is incorrect. I know this, both because Jeane is my godmother, and also because I was with her when she was the head of our delegation to the U.N. Human Rights Commission, which began its session that year at exactly the same time that we were invading Iraq," Mr. Herzberg tells this column.

The State Department spokesman had read our item this week quoting conservative commentator Pat Buchanan, who had called attention to Mrs. Kirkpatrick's "frontal assault on today's neoconservative dogmas about America having an historic mission to democratize mankind."

While Mr. Buchanan never said Mrs. Kirkpatrick opposed the Iraqi invasion, he did say that if President Bush had heeded her "wise counsel, America would not be in the hellish mess it is in today."

"She most definitely supported the invasion for the purpose of removing Saddam Hussein, who she regarded as a threat to our national security during the global war on terror," Mr. Herzberg states for the record.

Cellular research

Cell-phone use is not a disease, so why is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studying it?

That's the question at least one Republican staffer on Capitol Hill was asking after learning about this federally funded research.

"The trend away from land-line phones affects the telephone industry, 911 emergency-service providers, and government and private polling organizations, which rely heavily on random calls to households with wired telephones," the Associated Press article reported Monday about the report authored by Stephen Blumberg, senior scientist at the Atlanta-based CDC.

In an e-mail, our friend the congressional staffer asks: "Wonder why we don't have a cure for cancer yet? Maybe it is because federal bureaucrats waste funds intended for health research on silly studies."

Altered history

John Lockwood has watched with interest as tobacco products are banned in more and more places around Washington. And they don't have to be lit.

"Consider the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, and its Roosevelt-and-Fala [FDR's famous Scottish terrier] double statue," notes the Washington historian. "Somewhere during the design process, Mr. Roosevelt's trademark cigarette holder was dropped. The visitor will now find FDR extending two fingers at him — horizontally, that is."

Indeed, there were cries of "political correctness" in 1997 when President Clinton dedicated a cigarette-less Roosevelt memorial, midway between the Jefferson and Lincoln memorials. And it wasn't just FDR's familiar cigarette holder that was scrapped.

The nearby statue of Eleanor Roosevelt is all but naked without her trademark fox fur draped around her shoulders.

Double duty

"I'm very proud of what they have accomplished, though I have to admit that it will be good to have them back in the office full time."

So reacted Washington malpractice lawyer Jack H. Olender, after his firm's Melissa Rhea and Elizabeth Frey spent their last days as presidents of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C., and the Maryland Trial Lawyers Association, respectively — the first instance known when two lawyers from the same office have served simultaneously as presidents of two different state trial lawyers associations.

Eagle eyes

Dean and Jim Thomas, brothers and book publishers from Gettysburg, Pa., thought the Civil War documents they spotted for sale on EBay looked familiar. In fact, Dean Thomas recognized them as ones he'd photocopied two decades ago, while conducting research at the regional National Archives in Philadelphia.

He immediately contacted the National Archives, and a short time later former Archives intern Denning McTague was arrested for stealing 164 documents, 161 of which have now been recovered. He will be sentenced on July 12.

The Thomas brothers were honored in recent days by Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein, who commented that the National Archives "has a great responsibility to keep the nation's documents safe and secure, but we can't do this without the public's help."

He called the Thomas brothers' catch "extraordinary."