- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 19, 2009

Wars and tumult start when all the big shots go off on vacation, some say. Think about it. The halls of power are deserted while world leaders are off enjoying a chocolate-dipped twirly cone at some quaint country eatery. And somewhere a skirmish is brewing.

With apologies to advance teams everywhere, we’ll envision the Obamas in Hawaii and the Bushies at Kennebunkport. Mitt Romney ponders the clear waters of Lake Winnipesaukee, Rahm Emanuel sports Raybans in the Hamptons. Vladimir Putin is probably at some nice dacha while what’s-his-name in Iran and the guy in North Korea are — well, somewhere in leisure mode.

Yeah, well.

“Asset managers, diplomats and politicians disappearing for long summer vacations should beware: if history is any guide, major events from wars to crashes happen disconcertingly often when everyone heads to the beach,” says Peter Apps of Reuters.

Last summer, Russia went to war with Georgia. The mortgage crisis and credit crunch fomented in the summer of 2007 while July 2006 brought the Israel-Lebanon war, Mr. Apps observes.

But wait. There was the Asian financial crisis in July 1997, Russia’s ruble crisis in August 1998. Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990. World War I broke out in August 1914, and World War II really got rolling in June 1941.

“The thesis that these things happen in the summer — wars, financial crises, etc. — is interesting but hard to prove. The standard explanation has always been that people are away from their desks and so it is all dealt with by second-stringers,” theorizes

Sam Wilkin of Oxford Analytica, a research group.

Yeah, well.

“This year could be a particularly risky summer. Markets are jumpy after the turbulence of the previous year, and politics are made more volatile by rising unemployment and economic pain,” Mr. Apps says.

Our solution here at the twirly cone desk? The big shots should take a vacation together. Imagine. A road trip. The country eatery. Maybe some water skiing. The wives could talk. Stranger things have led to harmony among nations.

Geneva 101

The Red Cross is handing out more than emergency blankets these days. The charity wants American schools to teach humanitarian law to the young and restless.

“President Barack Obama recently said ‘there are responsibilities that all nations have even in war.’ As our country debates the treatment of prisoners during wartime, it is important to understand the rules of armed conflict in the Geneva Conventions,” the Red Cross says.

The charity is now offering a public petition on Facebook, calling on school officials to offer the Red Cross course “Exploring Humanitarian Law” in high school history and social studies class.

“The U.S. plays an important role in foreign affairs. Accordingly, international humanitarian law should be taught in our schools to ensure we continue to understand and observe the limits of armed conflict. The curriculum presents multiple viewpoints with a non-partisan approach. Students learn that there are no easy answers in war, and that armed conflict inevitably raises serious dilemmas and trade-offs,” the charity advises.

Number of signature so far? Just under 9,000 with a goal of 50,000 by the middle of August.

Quotes of note

Martin Luther King Jr. was a Republican!” — Billboard in Houston, from Ragingelephants.com, a black conservative group.

“Dr. Martin Luther King was not a Republican or a Democrat. Dr. King was bigger than a political party.” — Quanell X, president of the New Black Panther Party, to Fox News.

“While Democrats politicize ‘torture,’ ‘domestic spying,’ the Patriot Act, and now the CIA’s efforts to defeat al-Qaeda, Republicans are generally supporting Obama’s Pakistan policy for the greater good of protecting our national security. Eventually, people do figure out who the grown-ups are.” — Andrew McCarthy, National Review.

By the numbers

33 percent of Republicans and 31 percent of Democrats are married.

20 percent of Republicans and 40 percent of Democrats are single.

17 percent of Republicans and 37 percent of Democrats are separated.

22 percent of Republicans and 42 percent of Democrats are divorced.

26 percent of Republicans and 42 percent of Democrats are widowed.

12 percent of Republicans and 41 percent of Democrats live with someone.

Source: A Gallup poll of 29,351 adults conducted June 1 to 30.

Days of yore

Undercover information — the Women’s Rights Convention took place in Seneca Falls, N.Y., on this day in 1848. Major agenda item: Revolutionary ladies’ “bloomers” were introduced by Amelia Jenks Bloomer to a most appreciative audience.

President Arthur 125 years ago today issued a proclamation granting the federal government power to quarantine people entering the U.S. to avoid the spread of, uh, “pestilence.”

Happy birthday to former Democratic lawmaker and presidential hopeful George McGovern, born in Avon, S.D., in 1922.

Yes, of course you remember it. Hum the plaintive 1960s anthem “It Must Be Him” today, the 19th anniversary of chanteuse Vikki Carr’s performance for the opening of the Richard M. Nixon Presidential Library in 1990. The kindly Miss Carr — still touring — sang that day for Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and George H.W. Bush and all their spouses, along with Henry Kissinger, Alexander Haig and Gene Autry.

Contact Jennifer Harper at [email protected] or 202/636-3085. Follow her at twitter.com/harperbulletin.

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