- The Washington Times - Monday, January 7, 2002

Send our regrets
Anthrax-delayed U.S. mail is finally being slid into the proper Washington mail slots.
Take the nice invitation to Attorney General John Ashcroft's holiday reception, held at the Justice Department on Dec. 4.
"Due to heightened security conditions," the invitation required an R.S.V.P. of no later than Nov. 28.
However, the no-doubt sufficiently irradiated invitation has just now arrived in our mailbox, exactly two months after its Nov. 7 postmark.

Anthrax hysteria
National Public Radio is trying to link the Traditional Values Coalition to the anthrax scare.
Or so the conservative coalition charges, informing Inside the Beltway that NPR reporter David Kestenbaum telephoned coalition executive director Andrea Lafferty on Thursday "to insinuate that the organization was somehow involved in mailing anthrax-filled letters to liberal senators."
Mrs. Lafferty said the NPR reporter asked her if the FBI had contacted the coalition. She then expressed shock at Mr. Kestenbaum's comments, asking why he thought that a "church group" was involved in sending anthrax through the mail.
The reporter, according to the Traditional Values Coalition, replied that he'd seen a coalition press release that was critical of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and fellow Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, both of whom received anthrax-tainted letters. The news release was critical of the senators' efforts to remove "so help me God" from the oath administered to individuals testifying at Senate hearings.
"It was quite an episode," the Rev. Lou Sheldon, head of the Traditional Values Coalition, told Inside the Beltway in a telephone interview. "I was really shocked. The pure assumption here, and the NPR thrust, was that we were a potential anthrax hoax group.
"We haven't heard the end of this yet," he added. "I'm not sure how deep the left will dig to discredit conservative Christians."
As for Mr. Kestenbaum, he confirmed to Inside the Beltway that he was trying to track down any people who might have been interviewed by the FBI about anthrax, "including scientists."
"The letters were sent to Democrats, and one question you have to ask is why," Mr. Kestenbaum told us. "Clearly, if the letters were sent to Republicans, you would have to look at environmental groups, for example."
For the record, Mr. Daschle said recently that he believes the deadly anthrax-laced letters mailed to his Capitol Hill office were perhaps sent by somebody who previously worked for the military.

Political pop-ups
When subscribers of Juno Online Services, a widely known Internet access provider in the United States, log on to retrieve their e-mail, a political survey pops up courtesy of the Democratic National Committee.
"Dear Juno Member: America is currently facing many challenges at home and abroad," the pop-up message tells Juno subscribers. "The Democratic National Committee is interested in hearing the viewpoints of Internet users like you on the issues facing our nation."
If they choose to participate, Juno subscribers are then asked to rate the importance of several hot issues of the day, starting with improving security against terrorism, lowering taxes, protecting Social Security and Medicare, reducing classroom size, protecting the environment and protecting the right to bear arms.
A spokesman for United Online Inc., a leading Internet service provider that recently acquired Juno, told Inside the Beltway that the DNC paid to place the survey on the site, and said Juno "isn't taking any [political] position."
We were alerted to the DNC pop-up by Juno subscriber Donald Thorson, who not surprisingly once worked for the Republican National Committee.

Girl stuff
"Just like every other woman in America, I carry a lipstick, a hairbrush, and Altoids."
First lady Laura Bush, appearing in the current issue of Good Housekeeping

Come and repent
You never know who is reading The Washington Times. Last week, we poked fun at the new $75 million Sen. Robert C. Byrd Telescope, which we happened upon along Route 28 in the remote West Virginia hamlet of Green Bank, where there are more deer roaming around than people.
Or so we wrote.
"Next time you're in the mountains, be sure to drop in to the Green Bank Presbyterian Church for Sunday services," writes the church's pianist, Agnes Doyle Kalland. "Services start at 11:15 (or just after that, when the preacher gets there from the first of the 3 churches on his Sunday route)."

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