No sooner did we write that National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice may try to muscle out fellow Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger in a bid for California's top political seat - dethroning embattled Gov. Gray Davis - and "Rice for Governor" campaign buttons have hit the streets.
The GOP Shoppe (www.gopshoppe.com), official vendor for the 2000 Republican National Convention and the 2001 presidential inaugural, started peddling the Rice buttons this week for $3 each - half of which goes to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.
"The Leadership California Needs," the buttons say beneath Rice's name, although she and Schwarzenegger have only expressed an interest in the California post.
Meanwhile, CNN talking head Tucker Carlson displayed an "Arnold for Governor" button on TV this week, then surprised former Bill Clinton adviser James Carville with a personalized button that read: "James Carville supports Bush/Cheney '04."
What else is big in political paraphernalia this non-election year?
"The Bush Bobblehead Lapel Pin," replies Brian Harlin, president of the GOP Shoppe. "That's right, a lapel pin with a Bush bobbing head. It's the new thing and very popular."
It reads like science fiction, but a computer scientist and former "Educator of the Decade" says he's discovered the exact method for locating any concealed weapons of mass destruction in Iraq by analyzing visual satellite data through "spectrometry."
Richard R. Sills said in a phone interview from his New York City home that he was summoned to the Pentagon June 9 to give a two-hour presentation on his patented "Analog Processing System."
"There were 10 people at the meeting" who were interested in the latest technology for uncovering hidden weapons in Iraq - bombs to biological-warfare agents, he said.
With the assistance of Sen. George Allen (R-Va.), Sills gave a similar briefing last November to Leslie J. Deutsch, chief engineer of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology but was later informed by letter that the lab already possessed "better techniques than mine."
"If better, why are they not using them to identify where these weapons of mass destruction are?" Sills asks. He'll pose that question at the National Press Club July 23 in a briefing titled, "Scandal Brewing Re: Weapons of Mass Destruction."
Michael Deaver, one of President Reagan's chiefs of staff, is writing a book to be published by William Morrow titled Why I Am a Conservative.
"For the book, I am asking well-known people, from all walks of life, who hold conservative viewpoints, to express in their own words why they are a conservative," Deaver has written to one journalist in Washington.
"Your response can be expressed in a paragraph, a page, or more. You may also include a drawing or sketch if you wish."
ADAM AND EVE
Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary defines marriage as "the institution whereby men and women" are joined together. And freshman Rep. Marilyn Musgrave aims to keep it that way.
"As you know, for over 200 years here in America - and centuries around the world - marriage has been the legal union between a man and a woman," says the Colorado Republican, who has just introduced the Federal Marriage Amendment to protect and defend the legal status of marriage from "imminent destruction."
The congresswoman notes that judges in Hawaii and Alaska rewrote the definition of marriage in recent years, only to have residents of both states pass amendments to their constitutions to protect the sacrament as a union between a man and a woman.
The married Musgrave (to a man named Steven) is concerned that current and pending court cases will throw away all legal protections of marriage as a union of man and woman.
Just a short walk from the National Cathedral in Washington sits the Liberian ambassador's residence on Fulton Street NW, albeit nobody's been home for several years.
In fact, the residence has sat empty for so long that neighborhood residents and even a church have tried to purchase the vacant but valuable piece of property. But even without an ambassador to the United States, the Liberian government has refused to sell.
Now, at the strangest of times, amid all the turmoil in the civil war-torn country, as President Bush is demanding that Liberian President Charles Taylor relinquish power, life is coming back to the Liberian residence.
"We have been very busy," Liberian Embassy spokeswoman Florence Kamara tells this column, confirming that restoration of the residence has begun.
So you're optimistic, then, about the future of Liberia?
"Of course I am," Kamara said, echoing thousands of Liberians who rushed a convoy of U.S. officials in the capital of Monrovia this week and insisted that U.S. assistance will help restore peace to the embattled nation.
Liberia does have a charge d'affaires assigned to Washington, Aaron B. Kollie, and given the international spotlight aimed on his country he's been busier than most ambassadors here.
"We've been getting lots of phone calls," Kamara said. "Our office is open."
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Gen. Tommy Franks, former commander of the U.S. Central Command, concluded testimony Wednesday on operations in Iraq before the Senate Armed Services Committee adjourned into closed session.
Leaving the hearing room, Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, the committee's ranking Democrat, and Sen. Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia got into an elevator.
Certainly the two senior Democrats would have something to say about the just-concluded testimony and the inability of U.S. forces to pinpoint the whereabouts of ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Sure enough, Levin turned to Byrd.
"You've got to see 'Spellbound,'" he said.
Byrd said nothing.
"It's a takeoff on the (national) spelling bee," Levin continued. "It's one of the funniest films I've seen in a long time. You've got to see it."
Byrd remained stoic, unmoved by what he was hearing.
"Sen. Byrd doesn't watch films," Levin turned to tell another passenger. "But I'm telling him he's got to see this one."
Total silence in the elevator.
Finally, the West Virginian's curiosity got the best of him.
"What's it called again?" he asked.
"'Spellbound,'" Levin was delighted to repeat.
For those who haven't seen the documentary, it showcases eight kids who are vying for the American Spelling Bee championship.
Demonstrations Saturday (July 5) to protest President Bush's foreign policy ahead of his visit to South Africa "were a flop," the Sunday Times of Johannesburg wrote beneath the headline, "Dismal Turnout for Anti-Bush Protests in South Africa - 9 placard-waving protestors."
"Only nine placard-waving protesters picketed outside the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria," the South African newspaper reported, "while double that number turned up for the demonstration outside the U.S. Consulate in Johannesburg."
Meanwhile, covering the same protests but counting a far different number of participants, the New York Times wrote that organizers "promised demonstrations against what they describe as America's 'imperial agenda,' though a dry run on Saturday drew only a few hundred people."