John McCaslin

The winners are ...

It's almost time for Washington and Lee University's 100th-anniversary mock convention, which means it won't be long before we know who will win the 2008 presidential primaries.

Seriously, the mock convention boasts an accuracy rate so high that it has only been wrong once since 1948. It was Harry Truman who once said, "This is a real convention."

"The convention started in 1908 after William Jennings Bryan spoke to the Washington and Lee student body," Jacob Geiger, convention press chairman, tells Inside the Beltway. "Past speakers include Harry Truman, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter."

This year's keynote speaker will be 2004 Democratic presidential candidate and retired Gen. Wesley Clark, whose kickoff address is set for 8 p.m. May 25 on Lee Chapel Lawn.


Hardly a day goes by that the president of the United States doesn't send an official message to Congress. White House messengers used to race their horses down Pennsylvania Avenue and up Capitol Hill to deliver the latest word from the president.

These days, presidential messages don't rely on horsepower of any kind, as each are sent to Congress electronically, which makes them easier for us to retrieve.

Yesterday, for instance, President Bush wished to assure Congress that in accordance with the provisions of the Strom Thurmond National Defense Authorization Act of 1999, four items approved for export to China would "not" be detrimental to the U.S. space-launch industry, nor would the material measurably improve the missile or space-launch capabilities of China.

The items: a four-axis filament winding machine for China's water-purification and treatment industries; a computer-control system to upgrade the winding machine; an isostatic press for manufacturing automotive spare parts; and last but not least, a machine to be used in the production of graphite-and-glass composite golf clubs.

Welcome as skunks

If you didn't hear, it's "Whistleblower Week" in Washington.

Actually, Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican, kicked off the unprecedented observance highlighting the courage and patriotism of whistleblowers, who often risk their careers to expose fraud, waste and abuse in order to protect Americans and their taxpayer dollars.

Mr. Grassley has always appreciated whistleblowers, conducting extensive congressional oversight into virtually all aspects of the federal bureaucracy from information supplied to him by the leakers.

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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