- The Washington Times - Monday, July 31, 2006

Fasting eternal

The late terrorist mastermind Abu Musab Zarqawi is doing more than pushing up daisies. He’s fasting, too.

Yes, that’s Zarqawi — or at least his ancestral tribal name — along with his hometown of Zarqa, Jordan, listed on Code Pink’s roll of protesters who are “fasting” in hopes that U.S. troops will be withdrawn from Iraq.

And how did the once-notorious terrorist’s name wind up on the peace and social justice group’s list, among celebrity fasters like the ice-cream-licking Cindy Sheehan?

It was submitted by a merry prankster from the D.C. chapter of FreeRepublic.com, we’ve learned, a conservative group that for more than a year has done battle with Code Pink every Friday night — holding dueling demonstrations outside the gates of Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

“To get past the eagle-eyed moderators of the list, his tribal name was submitted: ‘Ahmed Fazil Najal-Al-Khalili, Zarka, Jordan,’” the prankster tells Inside the Beltway. “Zarqawi got a head start, beginning his fast 28 days ahead of [Code Pink] — on the day he died.”

Code Pink began its fast on July 4. The campaign is scheduled to end on Sept. 21.

Bound for Big Apple

You might recall us drawing attention to lobbyist Dan Berger, otherwise known as the “K Street Picasso,” after spotting one of his abstract portraits hanging on a wall of Washington’s Palette restaurant titled, “Is Maureen Dowd Necessary?”

Now, Miss Dowd, the New York Times columnist and author of the book “Are Men Necessary?” can get a firsthand look at the portrait (which, we had opined, wasn’t the least bit flattering).

Mr. Berger tells Inside the Beltway that he was recently invited by Nicholas Bergman, co-owner and director of the respected Caelum Gallery in the Lower Manhattan neighborhood of Chelsea, to open a monthlong show, as well as be represented by his gallery.

“And of course, I accepted and signed on,” says Mr. Berger, a banking lobbyist who was previously chief of staff for Rep. Katherine Harris, Florida Republican.

The New York show will run from Jan. 9 to 27, with an opening party to be announced.

Behind the scenes

MSNBC is gearing up for the pivotal 2006 midterm elections by naming veteran broadcaster Tammy Haddad as its Washington vice president of operations, overseeing political and election coverage from the network’s studios overlooking Capitol Hill.

Chris Matthews is no doubt pleased and relieved, as Mrs. Haddad will remain executive producer of his popular evening show, “Hardball.”

“‘Hardball’ is the smartest political program on cable, and one of the reasons it is so good is Tammy Haddad,” MSNBC General Manager Dan Abrams said in a statement.

Mrs. Haddad, who is well known in Washington circles, was a creator and longtime executive producer of “Larry King Live” on CNN. She’s also been senior broadcast producer for NBC’s “Today” show, and was affiliated in one capacity or another with icons David Letterman, Tom Snyder and John McLaughlin.

Normal guy

The subject of the hearing was global warming, called to order by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, chaired by Rep. Joe L. Barton, Texas Republican.

The witness was Edward J. Wegman, director of the Center for Computational Statistics at Virginia’s George Mason University.

Mr. Barton: “There’s been some attempt to portray you as a pawn of this committee, or me personally. I am told that you voted for Vice President [Al] Gore for president in the year 2000. Is that correct?”

Mr. Wegman: “That’s correct.”

Mr. Barton: “So you’re by no means a radical, wild-eyed, right-wing Republican?”

Mr. Wegman: “No, sir.”

Jack meets Dragon

That would be Washington malpractice lawyer Jack Olender’s name listed as among the country’s top litigators, or so opines the savvy new legal publication Lawdragon.

Albeit Lawdragon, like its mythical name, did a little slashing of Mr. Olender’s bio. Rather than the $200-million-plus cases the lawyer has brought to settlement or verdict, Lawdragon took the liberty of slashing his victories in half.

“I’ve had judges do the same thing from time to time,” replies Mr. Olender.

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

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