John McCaslin

Four area World War II veterans are among those being honored this weekend by a society in France dedicated to remembering America's sacrifices on behalf of the French.

The Association of Vieux Pistons de Lixheim (The Old Pistons from Lixheim) will pay tribute to the 44th Infantry Division for its bravery and sacrifices during the liberation of Alsace-Lorraine during the bitter winter of 1944-45.

Amazingly, two veterans of the campaign, 84-year-old Jack Harney of New Carrollton and 85-year-old Bill Henoch of Potomac, both combat infantry soldiers, had not known each other during the war but met at the World War II Memorial in Washington.

"Almost unbelievably," Mr. Harney told Inside the Beltway Monday, they learned they were members of the same company -- G Co., 71st Infantry Regiment -- and had "fought together in the snows and mud of eastern France."

They've since reunited with two other veterans of the 44th, David Weaver of Falls Church and John Fountain of Silver Spring.

"The French Society will ride vintage U.S. Army vehicles from that era," Mr. Harney says. "Dressed in U.S. Army uniforms, they will trace the paths of the 44th Division from its initial deployment at Embermenil, near the city of Nancy, through its battles to clear the area of the occupying Germans. In the process the division brought to a standstill the eastern prong of the German attack in the Battle of the Bulge."

Thrills and groans

Washington political observer Howard Mortman (ExtremeMortman.com) has just posted another batch of the Top Ten Funniest Political Quotes So Far In 2008.

"Fortunately ... a wealth of material to work with," Mr. Mortman notes. "The challenge was trimming, not scrambling."

In our opinion it's difficult to beat No. 2 on the list, figuring MSNBC "Hardball" host Chris Matthews actually admitted: "It's part of reporting this case, this election, the feeling most people get when they hear Barack Obama's speech. My, I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don't have that too often."

But former President Bill Clinton did not disappoint, expressing in no uncertain terms: "The country is groaning and moaning and screaming for change to turn this country around and get it working again."

End of an era

A "Bring Back Bill & Hillary Clinton" campaign button fetched 99 cents Monday on the Internet auction site eBay.

Rookie agent

It remains to be seen how much hot water surrounds former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge now that he has filed -- 20 months after the fact -- a required Justice Department registration for work he performed for Albania starting in September 2006.

Kevin McCauley of O'Dwyer's Public Relations News (odwyerpr.com) pointed out that the Foreign Agents Registration Act requires lobbyists to file with Justice within 10 days after agreeing to work on behalf of an overseas government.

Mr. Ridge had signed a one-year contract with Albania to the tune of $480,000. The contract revealed he was the "lead on strategic advice provided to the prime minister" on homeland defense, according to O'Dwyer's.

A Ridge Global spokesman said Mr. Ridge did not realize he was required to file as a foreign agent in this particular instance. He filed on June 12.

Dole off Dole

We see the "Dole North Carolina Victory Committee," which raised campaign money for North Carolina Sen. Elizabeth Dole, has been handed a $20,000 civil penalty by the Federal Election Commission for violating multiple provisions of the Federal Election Campaign Act.

On top of that, from June 2002 through May 2003, according to the FEC, Earl Allen Haywood, assistant treasurer for the Dole North Carolina Victory Committee, embezzled $155,750 from the committee.

Mr. Haywood was fined only $5,000 and is prohibited from working or volunteering for federal political campaigns for 10 years. In issuing the lenient penalty, the commission says it took into consideration Mr. Haywood's criminal conviction on related charges, his cooperation with the FEC during the investigation, and personal financial hardships.


John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on Townhall.com and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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