Thursday, February 7, 2008

Not the Osmonds

Is a conspiracy afoot by an unnamed Republican presidential campaign to draw votes away from former Massachusetts governor and Mormon Mitt Romney?

That’s what one Inside the Beltway reader wants to know, saying that at 7:30 p.m. on the evening of Super Tuesday, two young men claiming to be Mormons knocked on the front door of her Northern Virginia home.

“Interestingly enough, the Virginia presidential primary is one week away,” she notes. “I’m not normally the suspicious type, but it dawned on me that those two young men were not Mormons, but supporters from another presidential campaign … trying to hurt Romney with this religious card.”

She points out that most people “find it irritating to be interrupted during the dinner hour, and I think most door-to-door salespeople know that. I’ve never known any religious door knockers to canvass neighborhoods at night. And besides, these guys were not good looking enough to be Mormons.”

Beat McCain

While Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama continue to attack one another, albeit more subtly than prior to Super Tuesday, the Democratic National Committee is trying to shift the focus — or more accurately the direction of the arrows — toward Sen. John McCain, whom it sees as the Republican presidential nominee.

Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney are done,” Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean went so far as to declare yesterday, adding that Democrats “can’t wait for Hillary or Barack to win the nomination.”

Out of vogue

Percentage of Democrats in 2006 who said they supported the Iraq war when it began: 21

Percentage of Democrats in 2003 who said they supported the war: 46

Harper’s Index, February 2008

Potholes to playas

The Washington legislative office of the American Land Rights Association is going a bit afield to warn that Congress wants to seize control of every drop of U.S. water by giving the Army Corps of Engineers jurisdiction over everything from “bathtubs to baptismal fonts.”

Short of that clever stretch of the imagination, which did grab our attention, the Clean Water Restoration Act of 2007 would effectively amend the 1972 Clean Water Act by replacing the words “navigable waters” with “waters of the United States.”

The association contends the act defines waters of the United States with “such breathtaking scope” that federal agencies would be required to regulate every liquid square inch of the country.

Here’s the exact definition as proposed: “The term ‘waters of the United States’ means all waters subject to ebb and flow of the tides, the territorial seas, and all interstate and intrastate waters and their tributaries, including lakes, rivers, streams (including intermittent streams), mudflats, sandflats, wetlands, sloughs, prairie potholes, wet meadows, playa lakes [a flat dried up area, especially a desert basin], natural ponds and all impoundment of the foregoing, to the fullest extent that these waters are subject to the legislative power of Congress under the Constitution.”

Ultimate insult

With Senate Democrats up in arms after CIA Director Michael V. Hayden‘s acknowledgment this week that the agency used waterboarding on detainees following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Inside the Beltway reader Dick Tracey thinks he’s found a more suitable interrogation method.

The Washington-area resident just returned from two months in Japan, where he notes there are two traditional methods of interrogation: fumie and fumiji.

He sent us a recent newspaper clipping, in which a Japanese hotel operator was subjected to fumiji by his interrogator — forced “to step on three pieces of paper bearing the names of his father and grandson, while promising that he would become an honest man soon.”

Stomping on the picture of a loved one while promising to become an honest citizen is called fumie.

Happy Rat Year

“I send greetings to those celebrating the Lunar New Year, the Year of the Rat.”

President Bush, this week

John McCaslin can be reached at 202/636-3284 or

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