- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Pass the tweezers

As one gun rights advocate describes the crime scene, James and Sarah Brady, founders of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, were “dancing in blood” after Vice President Dick Cheney’s hunting accident over the weekend.

(Perhaps one day I’ll write about a well-known Washington reporter who peppered a fellow columnist with shotgun blast after aiming low at an elusive bird.)

Mr. Brady, the former White House press secretary wounded alongside President Reagan by John Hinckley Jr., said after the vice president’s embarrassing bird hunt: “Now I understand why Dick Cheney keeps asking me to go hunting with him.”

Reacts Joe Waldron, executive director of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms: “Only Jim Brady would be allowed by the mainstream press to make such a crude and crass comment and not be called down for it.”

Blood brothers’

On Feb. 3, the day she left for Iraq, Laura Ingraham received a phone call from Vice President Dick Cheney challenging the radio talk-show host to report what is “actually happening on the ground.”

Back broadcasting from her Capitol Hill studio yesterday after one week on Iraqi soil, Miss Ingraham feels she accomplished that mission: meeting, interviewing and sharing meals with U.S. and Iraqi troops, Sunnis, Kurds and Shia alike.

At one point, described as a nationally syndicated radio first, she hosted a live call-in segment from Camp Victory in Baghdad, where a crowd of American soldiers talked one-on-one to an audience that listened in on 325 radio stations.

What stands out the most from her trip?

“The genuine brotherhood that I saw between the Iraqi forces and their American military trainers,” the radio host told Inside the Beltway. “I mean, these guys are like blood brothers over there. You’ve even got Iraqi soldiers writing to the wives and families of the American military.”

Otherwise, she points to a widespread fear among Iraqi citizens that U.S. troops will pull out of Iraq too soon and former dictator Saddam Hussein will regain power.

“It’s a real concern,” says Miss Ingraham, who is sympathetic to the fear. “I mean, come on, Saddam has made a travesty of his trial.”

Soul lubricant

Greeks insist it was given to them by the goddess Athena. Thomas Jefferson said it was a gift from heaven. Former President George H.W. Bush didn’t say where he thought the olive tree came from, but rest assured he likes olives so much that he stokes his martinis with four of the ovoid fruits.

Where are we going with this?

How about Iraq. Uncle Sam knows that the highest-quality olive production occurs in areas that have mild winters and long, hot, dry summers. So the U.S. Agency for International Development is helping establish olive orchards in eight regions of the war-torn country, seeing olive production as “a potentially important cash crop for Iraqi farmers.”

We’re told that USAID is helping Iraq’s Ministry of Agriculture plant 16 demonstration orchards, using thousands of saplings that it hopes one day will branch into symbols of peace.

Food historian Patricia Solley, editor of SoupSong.com, says the “calming and healing properties” of olives have been documented since the beginning of time.

“In the Mideast, the story is told of Adam suffering from pain and complaining to God,” she writes. “At that, Gabriel descended from heaven with an olive tree, presented it to Adam, and said, ‘Plant it, then pick the fruit and press out its oil. It will cure your pain and all sickness.’

“Indeed, early Mideast civilizations believed it would cure every illness except death. And to this day, many drink half a cup of olive oil before breakfast to keep all systems well-lubricated,” according to Mrs. Solley.

Where credit is due

“Where is the love, especially on Valentine’s Day?” writes our friend Kevin McCauley, editor of the online version of O’Dwyer PR (odwyerpr.com), which monitors the public relations world from high atop New York’s Madison Avenue.

Mr. McCauley, who frequently appears in Inside the Beltway, had sent us yesterday’s item about Washingtonian David Keene landing the Algerian government image-improvement contract, but our original credit to him was accidentally dropped from the column. He can expect flowers and dark chocolates next year.

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

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