- The Washington Times - Monday, March 15, 2004

Guess who lost

“Other than to glorify an unnecessary death, we see absolutely no reason to celebrate such an occasion.”

So writes the Hamilton National Genealogical Society regarding the upcoming 200th anniversary of the 1804 duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton.

“This was an infamous occasion, and is not really celebrated by any of the Hamiltons,” the society informs fellow Hamiltons. “However, The Aaron Burr Association (ABA) is planning a reunion in July 2004 and wishes to invite the Alexander Hamilton descendants … [but] our society will not endorse, nor will we participate in, an event such as this.”

The Burr association, or so we’re told, will re-enact the fateful duel during its annual meeting this summer. Burr, who was vice president of the United States, and Hamilton, a former secretary of the Treasury, were bitter political opponents — at least until Burr fatally shot him.

God forbid

A portion of author Tom Clancy’s best-selling book “Debt of Honor” has been reprinted as the nightmare scenario of a new Cato Institute policy analysis study on the continuity of the U.S. government in event of a cataclysmic attack on Capitol Hill.

The terrorists who hijacked United Flight 93, which crashed into a Pennsylvania field on September 11, 2001, apparently had as their target the dome of the U.S. Capitol — when many senators and congressmen filled both chambers.

Here’s how such a deadly impact is described by Mr. Clancy:

“Nearly 300 tons of aircraft and fuel struck the east face of the building at a top speed of 300 knots. The aircraft disintegrated on impact. No less fragile than a bird, its speed and mass had already fragmented the columns outside the walls. Next came the building itself. As soon as the wings broke up, the engines … shot forward, one of them actually smashing beyond the House Chamber … the real damage took a second or two more, barely time for the roof to start falling down on the 900 people in the chamber … and an immense fireball engulfed everything inside and outside the building.”

Nomad’s land

Anybody for plopping onto a camel and taking a six-day trek through the Libyan desert?

Days after Secretary of State Colin L. Powell rescinded restrictions on travel to Libya — U.S. citizens for the first time in more than two decades can travel to Libya for tourism and academic research — an American adventure-travel guide says he will lead the first American journey across the rehabilitated terrorist nation.

Inside the Beltway has learned that Richard Bangs, who in 1976 led the first U.S. tour to mainland China, will lead a camel-supported adventure from the border town of Ghat across Libya’s huge sand dunes, past arguably the finest Roman ruins outside Italy, and spectacular archaeological sites like Leptis Magna and Sabratha, encountering nomadic tribes along the way.

Mr. Bangs is limiting this inaugural journey to 15 persons. The cost of each camel (land portion of the trip) is $4,150.

Mr. Powell dropped the travel restrictions after Libya’s strongman, Col. Moammar Gadhafi, announced he was abandoning his program to build weapons of mass destruction.

Fill a tartan

A bill designating April 6 as National Tartan Day, recognizing the achievements and contributions of Scottish Americans to the United States, has been introduced by Rep. Mike McIntyre, North Carolina Democrat.

If you didn’t gather, Mr. McIntyre is one of more than 11 million Americans who join this columnist in claiming Scottish roots, making our proud clan the eighth-largest ethnic group in the United States.

To educate public school children about Scottish influence on America, a National Tartan Day teachers guide is being made available to teachers across the land — www.TartanDay.org — while here in Washington a first-in-the-nation student competition on Scottish-American importance has been launched.

Unfortunately, there’s no Scottish Embassy, so winning entries will be displayed at the British Embassy.

Irish, too

Must he make it so hard to keep track?

First he’s French, then he’s Jewish, then black

Aye and begorra,

Sure’n tomorrow

It’s the Irish John Kerry comes back.

F.R. Duplantier

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

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