Lord, we ask of you a boon:
To bless our guests this noon.
We're so grateful they
Could come today -
And have to leave real soon!
- F.R. Duplantier
MAKE THE LIST?
Thanksgiving and Christmas go hand-in-hand at the White House this holiday season, as President and Mrs. Bush unveil the 2004 White House Christmas card, its inscription: "Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song."
Tomorrow, the first family will send out more than 2 million of the cards to family, friends, members of the Fourth Estate, and foreign dignitaries, each card - this year featuring the White House Red Room - bearing a Crawford, Texas postmark.
FOREVER A SPOOK
Rule one of a CIA agent is to be covert, but not after you retire.
So says Rep. Lamar Smith, Texas Republican, who complains about a recent front page story in the Washington Post quoting four unidentified former CIA officials.
"CIA Director Porter Goss is the latest Bush administration official to encounter the media bias Americans know well: the use of anonymous sources to level partisan charges," says Smith, who calls the frequent use of anonymous sources "part of the media's institutional problem."
The congressman says when anonymous sources are quoted "it is too easy for disgruntled former employees or others to settle scores."
ENVELOPE, PLEASE . . .
Neil Portnow, president of the Recording Academy that awards the Grammys, recently hosted the academy's signature event in the U.S. Capitol, "Grammys on the Hill."
And this year's winners are?
"All of us at the academy consider it a privilege to have the opportunity to recognize our distinguished honorees: Sen. Hillary Clinton, Rep. Mary Bono, and the legendary Natalie Cole," Portnow announced.
He said through hands-on action in Congress, the academy helps legislators understand the importance of sound cultural and intellectual property policies.
Bono, a California Republican, helped launch the Recording Arts and Sciences Congressional Caucus, a congressional body designed to advance artists' rights. Clinton, a New York Democrat, co-sponsored legislation to fight the violation of copyright laws.
U.S. sportsmen are rallying around British brethren after the anti-hunting movement spurred Britain's Parliament to issue a hunting prohibition that the Americans say "flies in the face of the citizens whose way of life is vested in the traditions of the countryside."
On Nov. 18, the House of Commons "rammed a bill" to ban hunting with hounds through Parliament by invoking the rarely used Parliament Act, notes the head of the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance. Barring appeal, the ban is to take effect by February 2005.
"The anti-hunting movement and an increasingly urbanized society that is removed from the traditions of the countryside have brought the sportsmen's community to its knees in England," says alliance president Bud Pidgeon, who warns the circumstances that contributed to the British hunting ban are in no way unique to that country.
"In the United States, animal rights groups spend millions (of dollars) on campaigns to end hunting," he says. "They focus their rhetoric and anti-hunting propaganda on the 80 percent of our population who dwell in urban areas."
Much reader response to our recent item about the Pentagon's decision to curtail its support of the Boy Scouts of America - despite enlisting many a Boy Scout in its ranks over the years.
Despite hosting Scouts on its installations and providing equipment, transportation and other services, the Pentagon panicked after being targeted by an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit. The ACLU complains the Scouts require members to believe in God.
Suggests Ray Carroll of Cumming, Ga.: "I believe that the Boy Scouts should amend the oath to insert, '. . . and will not volunteer for the armed forces of the United States, while fully supporting our country otherwise.'
"If the Pentagon does not want them, why should they want the Pentagon?"
"So, would somebody like to explain exactly how this one got through the staffing process?" asks our military insider, who forwards the newly-issued - upon order of the secretary of the Air Force, dated Oct. 27 - Air Force Policy Directive of regulations.
He draws attention to line four of page 13, which explains how two-letter codes for geographical entries specified in North Atlantic Treaty Organization Standardization Agreement shall appear whenever e-mailing - "(i.e., FR = France will be displayed Freedom Fries, France and will read freedom.fries.FR@scott.af.mil)."
Obviously, somebody updating Air Force regulations hasn't forgiven the French government for its unwillingness to participate in the U.S.-led war against terrorism in Iraq.
In the wake of France's neutral position, "french fries" were dropped from restaurant menus from Capitol Hill to California and replaced with "Freedom Fries."
Air Force Secretary James Roche, it so happens, announced his resignation last week.
PARIS ON THE POTOMAC
From May through September, the National Archives will present the exhibition "Paris on the Potomac," spotlighting Americans whose encounters with France have affected diplomatic, political, military or cultural life at pivotal moments in U.S. or world history.
"Diaries, journals, photographs and film from the National Archives illustrates how these individuals felt about Paris or how Paris felt about them," says a sneak preview of the exhibit sent to The Beltway Beat.
Because he is still serving his first of what will be two terms as president, and his official - and unofficial - correspondence with France remains to be archived for historians, President Bush, at least for this exhibit, will not be providing his thoughts about Paris, or vice-versa.
But check back in another four years.
TWO SHADES OF BLACK
A group of American black leaders is accusing liberal blacks and others of racism following President Bush's nomination of Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state.
Members of Project 21, a non-profit and non-partisan voice of the black community since 1992, are critical of "self-professed" civil rights leaders who remain silent on current and previous racial attacks on black Bush administration officials.
In addition, they cite political and newspaper cartoonists who have used Miss Rice's race as a point of ridicule. Singled out were cartoons by Pat Oliphant and Jeff Danziger that Project 21 says accentuate Miss Rice's black features and rural southern dialect.
Garry Trudeau, meanwhile, called Miss Rice "Brown Sugar" in his "Doonesbury" comic strip. And last week Wisconsin-based radio host John "Sly" Sylvester called Miss Rice "Aunt Jemima" and Secretary of State Colin Powell "Uncle Tom."