- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 20, 2006

Our own border fire

Estimated number of Mexican outlaws on the opposite bank of the Rio Grande who opened fire with machine guns on federal and local law enforcement officers in Hidalgo County, Texas, last Wednesday night: 10

Estimated number of machine gun rounds fired at the U.S. officers (who dove for cover behind a dirt levee and did not return fire): 200 to 300.

— Source: Rep. Ted Poe, Texas Republican, a former federal judge

Welfare to work

It was exactly 10 years ago this week that the House passed the 1996 welfare-reform law, later signed by President Clinton, but not until after two vetoes.

As far as House Majority Whip Rep. Roy Blunt, Missouri Republican, is concerned, the 1996 reform law is “the most successful social program in the last 50 years.”

Working Wal-Mart

It’s one of the most wordy political Web addresses we’ve ever stumbled upon: www.abunchofgreedyrightwingliarswhoworkforwalmart.com.

And among the greedy — or at least the names that appear prominently on the anti-Wal-Mart site — are Kevin Sheridan, a former press aide at the Republican National Committee who now works for Edelman public affairs as spokesman for Working Families for Wal-Mart; Terry Nelson, national political director for President Bush’s re-election race in 2004; and Taylor S. Gross, a former White House spokesman under Mr. Bush who is a founding partner of the Herald Group LLC.

We found Mr. Gross hard at work yesterday at his H Street Northwest office, which helped start Working Families for Wal-Mart. Its mission: to foster open dialogue with elected officials and community leaders by conveying the positive contributions of Wal-Mart to working families.

So, Mr. Gross, are you in cahoots with the corporate giant?

“Any time a union shell group attacks me, I consider that a badge of honor,” he told Inside the Beltway.

In fact, it’s not a Republican, but rather a leading Democrat, former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, who is chairman of Working Families for Wal-Mart. He is busy helping the Arkansas-based retailer counter charges that it discriminates against blacks and women and pays sub-poverty wages, among other accusations leveled by its left-leaning critics.

Ballad of Doe

If you think behavior on Capitol Hill is outrageous today, imagine all the tongues wagging after arguably the most scandalous wedding ever performed along Pennsylvania Avenue — and by a Catholic priest, no less.

It was March 1, 1883, that a newly divorced (or so everybody was told) Colorado Sen. Horace Tabor married Elizabeth McCourt Doe — or “Baby Doe” — during a lavish, VIP-crowded ceremony at the Willard Hotel.

However, two days later, after word spread that the senator’s “divorce” to his first wife was invalid — and, on top of that, amid rumors that the couple had been secretly married months before by a justice of the peace — the Catholic priest became so outraged that he refused to enter the marriage into the records of our St. Mary’s Church.

The priest even handed back the $200 the senator had given him for his services.

Now, Barbara Bahny, director of public relations for the Willard, tells us that the Washington National Opera will revisit this infamous wedding ceremony with a special, one-date performance in October.

The opera’s Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists, fully costumed and staged and under the leadership of Placido Domingo, will perform “The Willard Hotel Wedding Scene” (from Douglas Stuart Moore’s “The Ballad of Baby Doe”), and at the same site of the 1883 wedding at the Willard, no less.

Invitations to this unique wedding will cost $85 each, and go on sale later this summer.

Old standbys

Democrats (and even a few conservatives we know) can’t quite figure out the U.S. response to all the turmoil in the world.

Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, New York Democrat and ranking member of the House Rules Committee, says that even during this time of “international crisis,” Republican leaders in the Congress are busy passing “meaningless legislation.”

“It doesn’t matter what the challenges this nation faces are,” she says in a statement. “Rising gas prices and a record national debt? Ban gay marriage. War erupting in Iraq and the broader Middle East? Protect the Pledge of Allegiance.”

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

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