- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 2, 2004

Parochial attire

White House correspondents planning to cover the upcoming meeting between President Bush and Pope John Paul II are being told to sport their Sunday best.

“Men should wear dark suits and dark shoes,” says a White House memo. “Women should wear dark skirts — below the knee — covered legs, and closed-toe shoes. Women meeting the Pope are required to wear a veil.”

If lady scribes don’t own a veil, one will be provided by a White House advance team.

Cicada farmer

An entrepreneur named Howard set up his deep-fryer at Alexandria’s Del Ray Farmers Market and cooked up a batch of tempura-coated cicadas, served on skewers and sold for 50 cents a bug.

“His presentation was great,” conceded one woman, who nonetheless declined the delicacy. Still, Howard raked in an estimated $100, which impressed several of the nearby farmers.

One man’s cause

President Bush was in Nashville recently attending a hospital technology seminar at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and fund-raising dinner at the home of Mr. and Mrs.Clay Jackson.

At the latter event, there were three tiers of contributors: $2,000 to hear Mr. Bush speak, $10,000 for a photo opportunity and $25,000 to dine with the president.

“Tight-fisted conservative that I am, I chose the lowest-priced option,” Paul H. Kuhn Jr. tells Inside the Beltway.

“The president was terrific,” he adds. “He spoke for about 30 minutes and was both humorous — ‘I want every American to have a home like the Jacksons’ — … and serious when he touched on Iraq and other global issues.”

After the remarks, Mr. Kuhn found an opportunity to engage the president in a brief (Mr. Bush said exactly three words), but direct conversation.

“As he passed by, I hailed, ‘Mr. President. Medical marijuana.’ He paused, looked directly at me, and asked, ‘For or against?’ I responded, ‘My late wife never would have made it through [chemotherapy] without it.’

“He continued eye contact and gave a quick nod, which indicated clearly (to me, at least), ‘I got it.’ Not, ‘I agree,’ but, ‘What you said registered,’ ” Mr. Kuhn says.

Apples and oranges

The Department of Homeland Security’s color-coded terrorism threat levels have been criticized as too confusing or too simplistic, leading to calls by many state jurisdictions for Uncle Sam to provide more specific information and guidelines to assist them in their response.

Robert Stephan, special assistant to Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, will consider those concerns when he meets today with Thomas C. Frazier, executive director of the Major Cities Police Chiefs Association of North America, at McGraw-Hill’s Homeland Security Summit and Expo at the Washington Convention Center.

Kicking things off this morning will be former Sens. Warren Rudman of New Hampshire and Gary Hart of Colorado, co-chairmen of the U.S. Commission on National Security for the 21st Century.

Among concerns to be addressed are infrastructures that many Americans take for granted, such as the Internet, electricity, the 911 emergency system, ATM machines, air-traffic control systems and real-time financial transactions — all of which rely on computer networks that are increasingly connected and dependent upon each other. A failure in one network can cause cascading failures of other networks.

Dixie strains

No offense to the Confederate Memorial Committee of the District of Columbia, but we always chuckle when reading our annual invitation to the Confederate Memorial Ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery, site of the 90-year-old Arlington Confederate Monument.

“This year we have expanded our program … and we will now increase the number of verses of ‘Dixie’ to five!” reads the invitation.

“If you cannot hold up while singing five verses of ‘Dixie,’ then just take a few seconds to listen to the strains of this Confederate anthem as it floats across the countryside once belonging to Robert E. Lee.”

Lee wrote that his affections and attachments to his 1,100-acre estate and mansion overlooking the Potomac River — atop what is now Arlington National Cemetery — “are more strongly placed than at any other place in the world.”

On April 17, 1861, Virginia adopted an Ordinance of Secession. Five days later, Lee resigned his commission in the U.S. Army and left for Richmond. The next time he saw his confiscated estate it had become a military cemetery.

Sunday’s ceremonies begin at 3 p.m. at the Confederate Monument. This year’s speaker is James Robertson Jr., great-grandson of a Confederate soldier and alumni distinguished professor at Virginia Tech.

• John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or [email protected]washingtontimes.com.

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