- The Washington Times - Monday, January 2, 2006

More of Murtha

We’re told that retired U.S. Marine-turned-Rep. John P. Murtha, who made headlines late last year by declaring that the war in Iraq “is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion,” will expand on that position at a town hall meeting in Arlington Thursday.

Rep. James P. Moran, Virginia Democrat, invited the Pennsylvania Democrat to be his special guest for the evening gathering, which will focus on Iraq, the congressman’s office tells Inside the Beltway. The meeting takes place from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the Rural Electric Cooperative Association on Wilson Boulevard.

“The United States and coalition troops have done all they can in Iraq, but it is time for a change in direction. Our military is suffering,” Mr. Murtha said last fall. “The future of our country is at risk. We cannot continue on the present course.”

President Bush was quick to disagree, although he stressed that Mr. Murtha is certainly entitled to his opinion.

King for a day

The controversy surfaced when Sen. John McCain, who was already slated to speak at a Spartanburg (S.C.) County Republican Party banquet on Jan. 16, agreed to participate in the city’s Martin Luther King Day celebration that same day.

State Rep. Harold Mitchell, a Democrat from Spartanburg, was the first to cry foul, albeit he now says his opinions were misrepresented. Spartanburg City Council member Linda Dogan, however, is sticking by her guns, saying that if the Arizona Republican — a likely 2008 presidential contender — is invited to address the crowd, then a Democrat of national prominence should share the stage.

Might we suggest former Sen. John Edwards, the party’s unsuccessful vice presidential contender in 2004, who lives just across the border in North Carolina.

Culinary monuments

Women all over Washington — for obvious reasons — can’t wait to get their hands on the latest 2006 Chefs Calendar, created by DC Coast, TenPenh, Ceiba and Acadiana restaurants.

“The first year we did the calendar, it was the ‘Naked Chefs Calendar,’ and everybody loved it,” says spokeswoman Simone Rathle. “In later years, we went in more of an artistic direction, but we’ve had so many requests to bring the ‘naked chefs’ back that we decided to do it again this year with the ‘Monumental Moments’ calendar.”

Open up the calendar to January, for example, and you’ll find DC Coast executive chef Jeff Tunks posing before the Washington Monument imitating George Washington — albeit this father of our country, clutching a strategically placed bushel of cherries, is barely clad in tennis shoes and a tricorn hat.

Additional chefs are photographed in various poses in front of the White House, U.S. Capitol, Lincoln Memorial, Supreme Court, U.S. Treasury, Union Station and the Kennedy Center.

Thousands of the unique calendars are distributed each year to the restaurants’ client base.Copies can also be had at any of the restaurant locations downtown.

(For the record: This columnist each year gives his calendar to his sister-in-law. “Not many guys want them,” Mrs. Rathle confirms.)

Show me the money

Highlights of Washington malpractice lawyer Jack Olender’s Top 10 Legal Predictions for 2006 (over the years, the lawyer has enjoyed a 90 percent success rate):

• Whether Major League Baseball and the Washington Nationals hit a home run or strike out, one thing is crystal clear — there will be a lot of lawsuits. “It will take years before the legal issues are resolved, perhaps by the U.S. Supreme Court.”

• Washington lawyer and former U.S. Attorney General Benjamin R. Civiletti upped the ante on lawyers’ fees to a whopping $1,000 per hour in 2005. Count on other big rainmakers to follow suit in 2006. “Clients need to claim bragging rights — ‘my lawyer charges more than yours.’”

• Highly qualified judges will become more scarce. “Because of the high fees and salaries commanded by prominent practicing lawyers, fewer top lawyers are willing to accept the more moderate salaries paid to judges. Federal judgeships, in particular, are becoming harder to fill because of the current bitter and divisive partisan politics.”

• Religious disputes end up in court. “The trend for disputants in religious controversies to go to civil courts to resolve their problems will escalate.”

• Suits to reduce school sales of soft drinks will fizzle. “This is not to say Coke and Pepsi will not see it in their self interest to reduce the volume of carbonated soda sales to schoolchildren.”

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

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