- The Washington Times - Monday, January 9, 2006

Awaiting the envelope

Increasingly, the place to be spotted — by Inside the Beltway, at least — is Old Town Alexandria’s Landini Brothers, which is celebrating its 30th year of serving Northern Italian food in the traditional Tuscan style just one block from the Potomac River.

This past Friday night, restaurant hosts Franco and Piero Landini welcomed, among others, Vanity Fair columnist Christopher Hitchens, who was chatting it up with conservative activist GroverNorquist; National Rifle Association Chief Executive Officer Wayne LaPierre and the NRA’s second female president, Sandra Froman; and former Georgia Republican Rep. Bob Barr, of Bill Clinton impeachment fame.

Then there was former House Minority Leader Robert H. Michel of Illinois, who told this column how “distressed” he’s become over accusations of election-year corruption that has led embattled Rep. Tom DeLay, Texas Republican,to step down as House majority leader, while other lawmakers await their fate now that lobbyist Jack Abramoff has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to bribe public officials, fraud and tax evasion.

“This is a blight on the institution,” said Mr. Michel, who served 38 years in Congress, including as House Republican leader from 1981 until he retired in 1995. He still attends briefings and other meetings on Capitol Hill.

“This has distressed me, to say the least,” he said. “When I was a leader and would welcome a new class of freshmen [congressmen], I would sit them down and explain, ‘These are the laws of this body and institution. This is what you can and cannot do. And whatever you do, don’t press the envelope.’”

Rediscover America

If there’s any silver lining to be found in disgraced lobbyist JackAbramoff’s treatment of American Indians, it’s the newfound attention that everybody from Congress to the national press is paying the country’s earliest inhabitants.

Take legislation just passed by both houses of Congress that improves the availability of federal housing money to American Indians. As noted by Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, New York Democrat, American Indians have an overall poverty rate twice that of the rest of the United States.

It’s estimated that about 90,000 of American Indian families are homeless or live in very poor conditions, a third of those who have homes lack adequate sewerage systems, and almost 10 percent don’t have safe drinking-water systems.

Behind the Bush

A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) — demanding the White House release Justice Department memos outlining whatever authority there is for President Bush, during the war on terrorism, to spy on certain people in the United States without court oversight — has been hand-delivered to Justice Department headquarters by DNC General Counsel Joe Sandler.

Actually, it took three DNC officials to load up, haul and deliver the FOIAs, as there were 160,000 separate requests — each printed and boxed up — signed by party supporters in the past two weeks.

The Justice Department has 20 days to respond, although the DNC says it could be sooner depending on the outcome of a secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court hearing this week on the legal authority for the domestic-wiretapping program.

Now beyond Osama

BinLaden’s notable absence during the past year has underscored al Qaeda’s shift from a group to a movement — and indicates that even when he is not seen to be in control, the movement will keep steaming right along on course. This indicates that if bin Laden is alive and eventually is taken out by the United States, the movement will continue. Ideologies are much harder to kill than individuals.”

Fred Burton, Terrorism Intelligence Report dated Jan. 3, 2006, published by Strategic Forecasting Inc.

Yum!

Get a load of the National Rifle Association’s “Recipe of the Month,” posted on its Web site, for “Squirrel and Dumplings.”

The mouth-watering feast calls for 5 or 6 squirrels, 4 cups of water, 1 large sliced onion, 1 cup of chopped celery with leaves, 1 medium sliced carrot, 2 tablespoons of salt, a quarter-teaspoon of pepper and 6 tablespoons of flour.

Combine these ingredients in a “large kettle with tight cover,” boil until the squirrels are “tender” and season to taste. The recipe was sent in by Jean Ledford of Atlanta.

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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