- The Washington Times - Monday, September 25, 2006

‘A total maniac’

We had hoped that conservative commentator Laura Ingraham would be the one to finally provide a rare peek into PresidentBush’s mountain-biking world, which for whatever reason rotates in secrecy.

Mr. Bush invited the popular syndicated Washington-based radio host along for this past Saturday’s two-hour-plus bike ride atop the dusty trails of the Secret Service training facility in suburban Maryland — although, as usual, there wasn’t a single sighting of the presidential trekkers.

“Of course it was OTR,” Miss Ingraham told Inside the Beltway afterwards, feeding us the presidential code for “off-the-record.”

Mr. Bush’s two additional biking partners that day included White House economic adviser Ed Lazear and White House photographer Paul Morse. So is everybody off-the-record?

“He is a total maniac on the bike. Unreal,” one of the cyclists (we are forbidden to say which one) told this column, referring to the commander in chief.

Bell gets DSL

Some 130 years after Washingtonian Alexander Graham Bell was issued U.S. patent No. 174,465 in 1876 for “Bell’s Improvements in Telegraphy” — better known today as the telephone — his great-grandsons Edwin S. Grosvenor and Hugh Muller anxiously opened the door last week to the inventor’s mountaintop home overlooking Baddeck Bay, Nova Scotia, and welcomed in the DSL technician.

“Finally getting DSL, I can’t wait,” beamed the 74-year-old Mr. Muller, who spends summers on the mountain. “We’ve been waiting a long time up here.”

Bell, no doubt, would be impressed with today’s Digital Subscriber Line, which carries high-speed information over ordinary copper telephone lines and into homes and offices.

“He’d suffer ‘DSL Overload,’” guessed Mr. Grosvenor, 51, of Bethesda, whose great-grandfather co-founded the National Geographic Society in 1888. “He loved to read the encyclopedia whenever he could. Imagine if he had the access to the world that the computer now provides. He’d be reading [online] all of the time.”

Bell, quite surprisingly, had a love-hate relationship with the telephone, notes Donna Johnson of nearby Baddeck’s Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site of Canada. “While the telephone provided his fortune, Bell refused to have one in his home office. He considered it a distraction,” she said.

“He believed that phones should only be for outgoing calls,” explained Mr. Muller.

Bell’s descendants, many of whom still reside in Washington (his granddaughter, Dr. Mabel Grosvenor, a retired pediatrician and the last surviving family member to have known Bell personally, turned 101 in Washington this summer), still own Canada’s Beinn Bhreagh Hall, a sprawling mansion Bell completed in 1893 and soon thereafter moved into permanently.

Bell died there in 1922 (seeking privacy, he fled Washington, considering its social life too stuffy and intrusive), but not until his “Silver Dart” airplane took to the air as Canada’s first-ever powered flight, and his cigar-shaped hydrofoil boat — Bell designed a fleet, actually — set a world marine speed record.

Today, the teacher, scientist and inventor is buried in a family plot alongside his wife, Mabel Hubbard, in a grassy meadow above their Canadian home. As Mr. Grosvenor noted, his great-grandfather picked the grave site after lying down in various places until finding the best view.

Patron Maggie

One week after her celebrated visit to Washington, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has stuck another feather in her cap: she’s now Lady Thatcher, patron of the Heritage Foundation.

The conservative think tank’s board of trustees has just handed Mrs. Thatcher the title by proclamation.

“We are lucky to have such a special relationship with a special woman who helped change the course of history,” says Heritage President Ed Feulner, delighted that the Washington foundation he heads is the only institution where Mrs. Thatcher has agreed to serve as patron.

“Lady Thatcher epitomizes the very ideals and values for which the Heritage Foundation fights,” adds Nile Gardiner, a former Thatcher aide and director of Heritage’s new Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom. “She is widely revered as one of the greatest political leaders of our time and has played a huge role in the advancement of freedom and liberty across the world.”

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



Click to Read More

Click to Hide