- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 28, 2006

Behind every man

Former Defense Secretary William S. Cohen celebrated the release of his political thriller “Dragon Fire,” which Arizona Sen. John McCain called “riveting,” Tuesday at the Nest at the Willard InterContinental Washington.

Mr. Cohen explained how his beautiful and charming wife, JanetLanghart Cohen, was an inspiration for one character in the book — at which point she shouted, “The assassin.”

Among those showing up to salute the Clinton administration’s Pentagon chief and former Maine Republican senator were columnist Robert Novak, ABC’s Sam Donaldson, and former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan and his wife, NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell.

Hillary’s nest

“What are the odds that on a Tuesday night, the president would be the star of a GOP fundraiser two houses away from Sen. Hillary Clinton, who was also hosting ‘an event’ at her spacious home in the lovely Northwest neighborhood a stone’s throw from some familiar embassies? Dueling money-raisers; ‘Tis the season.”

So observes the White House pool report on President Bush’s attendance at a private dinner hosted by Republican donors Wayne and Lea Berman, who is the White House social secretary.

Slow leak

Nobody deciphered the inner workings of Washington better than White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino, who noted yesterday: “It is curious that this document was finished and provided in April, and it doesn’t show up until we’re in the homestretch of the election. We’ve seen this pattern of behavior before.”

She was referring, in this latest case, to the previously classified National Intelligence Estimate on terrorism, which Democrats contend gives failing marks to President Bush’s war in Iraq.

Olive or twist?

Floridians in search of a stiff drink might well end up at the office of Republican Rep. Katherine Harris, a candidate to become her state’s next senator.

According to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Google’s search engine identifies the congresswoman’s office as one place to find “drinks” in the area.

A little detective work determined that the link was born from a June 2005 press release posted by Mrs. Harris on the Internet, describing a Sarasota Chamber of Commerce function with “complimentary drinks.”

Mrs. Harris did have cause for a toast Friday, when she received a pair of endorsements from President Bush and his brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Mrs. Harris is in a tough campaign to unseat incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, who is seeking a second term on Capitol Hill.

Real heroes

Hollywood has its Emmys; Washington has its Sammys.

At an awards gala last night hosted by the Partnership for Public Service, Service to America Medals were presented to nine outstanding civil servants. The top medal — Federal Employee of the Year — went to Dr. Nancy Cox, a scientist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who is helping the world prepare for a catastrophic flu pandemic.

“The [Sammys] are so important, because they tell the true stories of the remarkable work that our federal employees do each and every day,” notes Max Stier, the partnership’s president and chief executive officer.

“There is not a day that passes where government does not touch our lives in some way — whether it is ensuring the safety of the food we eat and the air we breathe, securing our homeland, or conducting cutting-edge research to cure disease.”

Stop the violence

Yes, Virginia, insects are animals. One flat-bodied variety is the cockroach, a household pest.

When not laying eggs in cereal boxes, cockroaches are among the most potent allergic triggers for asthma, especially among children. Nevertheless, notes the Washington-based Center for Consumer Freedom, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has declared its objection to a cockroach-eating promotion announced by the Six Flags Great America theme park.

“The idea is simple: Eat a cockroach, get a golden ticket to the front of the roller-coaster lines for the day,” the center says. “PETA calls the stunt ‘gratuitously cruel.’ Six Flags helpfully points out that the crunchy critters are ‘extremely low in fat and high in protein.’ Can we be serious for a moment? We’re talking about cockroaches.”

PETA even posts the contact information for Mark Shapiro, president and chief executive officer of Six Flags Inc., on its Web site, demanding that he put a stop to the “ridiculously cruel promotion.”

“Cockroaches may get a bad rap, but these gentle, complex, sensitive animals do not deserve to be eaten alive, especially not for a gratuitous marketing gimmick,” PETA states. “Given the proliferation of violence in today’s society, it is imperative that we teach compassion for all living beings.”

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

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