John McCaslin

"I think it's fantastic," says Richard T. Hines, a Washington lobbyist with South Carolina roots, referring to Virginia Republican Rep. Virgil H. Goode Jr.'s address on "Robert E. Lee the Virginian," to be delivered Wednesday at the Sons of Confederate Veterans' (SCV) Jefferson Davis Camp 305 Christmas party.

"It's time that we are reminding folks of the principles that built this country, the loyalty that Robert E. Lee had to the small platoon, the loyalty that he had to the state, that's what Robert E. Lee was all about," said Mr. Hines, who finds similar character traits in Mr. Goode.

"Virgil was born an independent in Virginia, and he joined the GOP [Republican Party] very reluctantly," he notes. "He is an independent-minded, conservative Virginian."

Following Mr. Goode's remarks, SCV National Commander in Chief Chris Sullivan will be on hand at the Holiday Inn Rosslyn in Arlington to present the congressman with the Stephen D. Lee Award on what is the 200th anniversary of Lee's birth — which, we might add, the SCV isn't celebrating without controversy.

In Richmond, for example, the city government has been criticized for spending a half-million dollars to "polish the controversial monument of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in time for the Sons of Confederate Veterans to celebrate his birthday."

"Last year, the Department of General Services shelled out some $450,000 to clean up the statue," adds the outspoken anti-Lee group the Richmond Defender, referring to the statue on Monument Avenue. "And last fall, the state's Department of Historic Resources added the statue to the official Virginia Landmarks Register, also in preparation for Lee's birthday."

Name game

Short of a murder without a body, there's nothing the 24-hour cable-TV news channels relish more than the formation, landfall and effects of a hurricane.

It's now gotten to the point where there is tremendous media hype surrounding a new trend of so-called "hurricane experts" making annual predictions of the number of storms that will unleash their fury (and much-needed rain, thank you) on the overdeveloped coastlines (and drought-stricken regions) of the U.S.

Now, the nonpartisan National Center for Public Policy Research is criticizing the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for "inflating" the count of tropical storms.

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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