Not just airlines

John McCaslin
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Posted: Mar 18, 2005 12:00 AM

There was further cause for celebration at Tuesday evening's relaunch of Washington Flyer magazine at the Palette Restaurant.

Consider the 40 lucky guests who claimed round-trip tickets to anywhere Independence Air flies.

Then there was some good economic news to report. Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority President and CEO James E. Bennett told the crowd that a record 23 million passengers passed through Washington Dulles International Airport in 2004, an increase of 35 percent over 2003. Another 16 million passengers traveled through Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, a jump of 12 percent over the previous year.

As for Washington Flyer, published by the Magazine Group on behalf of the airports authority, it's taken a new direction - politics, dining and travel to Washington's hottest neighborhoods - and has a revitalized look under Editor in Chief Lauren Paige Kennedy, who came to the magazine in August from Conde Nast in New York.

"I couldn't be more excited," she tells The Beltway Beat. "In terms of editorial and design, it rivals anything out there."

Like the new March/April issue, in which Washington biographer Kitty Kelley, who's told all and then some about President Bush, Nancy Reagan, Frank Sinatra, Jackie Onassis and Elizabeth Taylor, has her own life examined by the Flyer's editor in chief.

When asked what kind of child she was, the author replied: "Precocious. I was about 8 years old when I first saw that word. I had sneaked a peak at the 'parental comments' on my little sister's report card. My mother had written that my sister was doing very well, 'considering her precocious older sister.'

"I yelled into the library, 'Mama, what does p-r-e-c-o-c-i-o-u-s mean?' Realizing what I was reading, my mother said, 'Pretty. It means very, very pretty.'"

COST OF CONGRESS

With 3,000 guests paying $2,500 per ticket to hear from President Bush, the National Republican Congressional Committee banked nearly $8 million at Tuesday night's fund-raising dinner for the 2006 midterm elections.

It was just one of 67 Republican campaign-related events held through Thursday in Washington.

A number of VIP guests at the Washington Hilton fund-raiser paid $25,000 for a table, which allowed them to have their mugs snapped with Bush.

SPINNING 45s

Five years ago, polyester and bell bottoms were the costumes of choice for Kara Kennedy Allen and Linda Semans Donovan's (nicknamed Bolla) joint birthday celebration, albeit the two birthday girls were decked out in matching 1970s flight attendant attire, complete with pins that read "fly me."

For the pair's 45th birthday bash this week at Starland Cafe in Washington, what better theme than to "spin a couple of old 45s," or so the invitation read.

It's been a tough few years for Kennedy Allen, a married mother of two and the only daughter of Massachusetts Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. In 2003, she was diagnosed with lung cancer and had to have a portion of her right lung removed.

RICH HISTORY

Renowned photographer Tom Baril put a unique medium known as "photogravure" on display last night in Georgetown.

The Ralls Collection commissioned the photographer, once a printer in Robert Mapplethorpe's studio, to create a portfolio of 10 images illustrating the rich history of Washington.

A photographic printmaking process originating in the early 1850s, photogravure is celebrated for its ability to create a rich range of tones and illuminate subtle nuances of the subject.

Baril's work has been featured everywhere from Amsterdam's Stedelijk Museum to the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University. An opening reception was held Wednesday night by gallery owner Marsha Ralls.

MUMMS IS ON ICE

"Please accept this bottle of champagne as a token of our esteem for your effort to move the dialogue away from privatization and towards the issue of solvency - which privatization does not address."

So reads the note attached to a bottle of Andre champagne, shipped this week to Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, compliments of Brad Woodhouse, who left the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) to become spokesman for Americans United to Protect Social Security.

Our first question to Woodhouse yesterday: "Couldn't you guys do better than a bottle of Andre?" (Andre Champagne Extra Dry: $3.49)

"Maybe when President Bush pulls his privatization plan off the table we can send a good bottle to the senator. What's a good one, Mumms?" asks Woodhouse. "Two weeks ago, we didn't have carpet in this office. Our desks look a little bit better than sawhorses."

Not for lack of support.

The new nonprofit grass-roots organization, operating with millions of dollars in seed money and contributions from the likes of the AFL-CIO and everyday Americans, is led by Democratic campaign veterans Paul Tewes, former political director of the DSCC, and Steve Hildebrand, who didn't fare as well running the unsuccessful 2004 re-election campaign of former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota.

Americans United is buoyed of late by a still-emerging split in the Republican Party over Bush's Social Security partial-privatization drive.

"I am not surprised," says Woodhouse. "When people hear the pros and cons of Social Security privatization they react negatively to the president's proposal. Social Security represents the foundation of retirement security for most Americans, and it should be shored up, rather than replaced with a privatization scheme that is really untried and untested - and which would require steep benefit cuts and massive new national debt and . . . an almost certain additional tax burden on Americans."

NATION'S NURSE

It's back to work for Hadassah Lieberman, wife of Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, who tells The Beltway Beat she's joining Hill & Knowlton's Washington office as senior counselor in its health and pharmaceuticals practice.

(But not before we found her at home Wednesday preparing a London broil and bean-soup lunch for 20 teenagers attending her daughter's 17th birthday party).

"I want to be where the action is," says Lieberman, who hopes to draw on her political experience in concentrating on health care policy and public health initiatives. Since the 2004 presidential campaign, she's remained active on the speakers' circuit addressing women's health and politics.

WROUGHT WITH FRAUD

A Republican congressman wants to stop the Visa Lottery program, the annual lottery established by Uncle Sam in 1990, whereby 50,000 foreign nationals are chosen at random to enter the United States and become permanent residents.

Virginia Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte says the program poses national security risks and is wrought with fraud. He's not alone in his concerns.

The State Department's inspector general issued a scathing report in 2003, warning that the lottery "contains significant threats to national security from entry of hostile intelligence officers, criminals and terrorists" and is "subject to widespread abuse."

And get this - officials found during the 2003 lottery process that 364,000 duplicate applications were submitted by foreign nationals.

BROADCASTING AGAIN

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) has awarded a grant to veteran Washington broadcaster and former Ambassador Richard W. Carlson, vice chairman of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), to develop a television documentary series examining the global war on terrorism.

Carlson says the series, co-produced with FDD senior fellow Barbara Newman, will explore intelligence and special-operations efforts to fight terrorism here and abroad. One segment will investigate the terror group Hezbollah and its activities in more than a dozen American cities.

The grant was awarded under PBS' America at a Crossroads initiative, which will provide up to $20 million during the next three years to those who wish to develop and broadcast films on the challenges America faces in the wake of Sept. 11.

A former ambassador under President Reagan, Carlson is a past director of Voice of America and was president and CEO of the CPB.