Preserving Lee

John McCaslin
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Posted: Dec 03, 2007 10:31 AM
Preserving Lee

"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.

Last week marked the official end of the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season, the center notes, and for the second year in a row NOAA's forecast was wrong: "NOAA had predicted there would be seven to nine hurricanes, three to five major hurricanes and [13 to 17] 'named storms.' The season ended with just five hurricanes, two of which were major (category three or above) and 14 named storms."

Still, NOAA was close to its projection.

Yes and no, says the center's vice president, David A. Ridenour. NOAA, he points out, "makes no mention that it started naming 'subtropical storms' for the first time in 2002."

Furthermore, he says, few take into consideration the new state-of-the art equipment that enables observers to detect hurricanes they might otherwise have missed in the past, which "mirror the findings of Neil Frank, former director of NOAA's National Hurricane Center, who says that as many as six of this year's named storms wouldn't have been named in past decades."

Hold your 'horses'

Let's get this straight: Democratic strategist James Carville agrees the Democratic-led Congress leaves a lot to be desired, and yet more of the same is better?

"I'm not going to sugarcoat it. I'm as frustrated as you are that more hasn't gotten done in this Congress," Mr. Carville says. "It's because we need more horses. Fifty-one Democrats in the Senate just isn't enough."

Fine and dandy

Inside the Beltway reported in its previous column that the Media Fund (TMF), a tax-exempt campaign organization that targeted President Bush for defeat and Sen. John Kerry for victory in 2004, recently was fined $580,000 for violating federal campaign laws, the seventh-largest civil penalty in Federal Election Commission history.

From its inception through 2004, we'd written, the Media Fund raised more than $59 million.

Now, column reader Gene Therriault of Vero Beach, Fla., points out: "Looks like TMF raised $59 million and spent it any way they wanted. Then they were fined about 1 percent. Is that a good deal or not?"