INSIDE INSIDE THE THE BELT­WAY

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By John McCaslin

the re­moval of dou­ble let­ters, which have al­ways been a de­ter­rent to aku­rate spell­ing.

“Also, al will agree that the horibl mes of the silent ‘e’ in the lan­guag is dis­gras­ful and it should go away.

“By the 4th yer, peo­ple will be re­sep­tiv to steps such as re­plac­ing ‘th’ with ‘z’ and ‘w’ with ‘v.’

“Dur­ing ze fifz yer, ze un­e­sesary ‘o’ kan be droid from vords kon­tain­ing ‘ou’ and af­ter ziz fifz yer, Ve vil. have a real sen­sibl risen styl.

“Zer vil. be no mor. trull or di­fikul­tis and evrivun vil. find it ezi tu un­der­stand ech oza. Ze dream of a united urop vil. fi­nali kum tru.

“Und eater ze fifz yer, Ve vil. al be speak­ing Ger­man like zey vaunted in ze for­est plans.”

A cap­i­tal ghost town

Wash­ing­ton is ground zero for things that go bump in the night.

As a re­porter for the old Wash­ing­ton Star ob­served in 1891, “Wash­ing­ton is the great­est town for ghosts in this coun­try.”

Across the Po­tomac River, Old Town Alexan­dria is abuzz of late about sight­ings of a child spirit thought to be that of Robert E. Lee, who grew up at 607 Oronoco St.

GhosthunterRoseEd­mondssur­mises that be­cause of the blood­shed the Con­fed­er­ate gen­eral wit­nessed in the di­vi­sive Civil War, “Lee’s ghost has re­gressed back to his less-com­pli­cated child­hood years.”

“A 4-year-old Lee has been seen play­ing in the yard of his child­hood home in Alexan­dria,” she re­ports. “The boy is some­times ac­com­pa­nied by a phan­tom black dog and two ghostly girls who may be his sis­ters.”

This colum­nist hap­pens to be a long­time friend of Tom Horan, photo ed­i­tor of the As­so­ci­ated Press in­Wash­ing­ton.Mr.Ho­ranused­tobe the overnight care­taker of Lee’s boy­hood home, his bed­room di- rectly above the kitchen.

IphonedMr.Ho­ran­tore­lay­word about re­cent sight­ings of the young spirit and his pet.

“The dog is Black Jack. It was Lee’s dog,” the photo ed­i­tor said with­out hes­i­tat­ing. So you’ve seen it? “I can tell you one thing that is le­git­i­mate, which took place when city ar­chae­ol­o­gists dig­ging in the [fenced] yard left two-foot-square quad­rants that got cov­ered by an overnight snow­fall,” he said. “I will never for­get go­ing out one morn­ing and see­ing dog prints in the mid­dle of the dig.” And that’s scary? “There were no dog tracks lead­ing up to the site,” he said. “In other words, they just ap­peared right there in the mid­dle of the dig, hon­est to God.” Did you ever see lit­tle Lee? “I never saw a lit­tle boy, but hon­estly, I woke up one night, and there was a house ser­vant stand­ing over me. I’m not mak­ing this up,” Mr. Horan said. “I was drip­ping in cold sweat.”

If Pres­i­dent Bush felt a chill in the White House air last week, it prob­a­bly was the ghost of Abra­ham Lin­coln.

Ev­ery time there’s a na­tional calamity, po­lit­i­cal or oth­er­wise, Lin­coln’s spirit ner­vously floats about the ex­ec­u­tive man­sion. Surely, with all the par­ti­san mud­sling­ing lead­ing up to the Nov. 7 midterm elec­tion, the Repub­li­can Lin­coln was on edge.

Han­sHolzer,au­tho­rof­morethan 100book­son­thep­ara­nor­mal,writes in “In Quest of Ghosts” that Mary Evan, ser­vant to first lady Eleanor Roo­sevelt, didn’t be­lieve in ghosts un­til she saw Lin­coln’s dis­em­bod­ied spirit sit­ting on the edge of a bed pulling on his boots.

Other White House ser­vants have seen the bearded Lin­coln rest­ing qui­etly in his bed, or gaz­ing through the oval win­dow above the main en­trance to the White House. And once, the late Queen Wil­helmina of the Nether­lands, an overnight guest in the White House, heard some­one knock at her door.

“She got up, opened it, and saw the ghost of Pres­i­dent Lin­coln stand­ing there look­ing at her. She fainted, and by the time she had come to, he was gone,” Mr. Holzer writes.

Pres­i­dent Ford’s daugh­ter, Susan, was in the Lin­coln Bed­room when she en­coun­tered Hon­est Abe; and Pres­i­dent Rea­gan’s daugh­ter, Mau­reen, swears she saw Lin­coln’s translu­cent form stand­ing next to the bed­room fire­place in 1987.

Given this colum­nist’s sur­name, I’ve long been a fan of No­bel Prizewin­ning­nov­el­istWil­liamFaulkner’s char­ac­ter Isaac McCaslin. In “The Old Peo­ple,” which ap­peared in the 1942Faulkn­er­col­lec­tion“GoDown, Moses,” McCaslin con­cedes ghosts are among us:

“Be­sides, what would it [a ghost] want, it­self, knock­ing around out there [in the plan­e­tary heav­ens], when it never had enough time about the earth as it was, when there is plenty of room about the earth, plenty of places still un­changed­fromwhatthey­w­erewhen the blood used and plea­sured in them while it was still blood?”

Like McCaslin, one re­cent Fox News Chan­nel poll shows that a ma­jor­ity of Amer­i­cans be­lieve in spir­its in one form or an­other: 79 per­cent be­lieve in an­gels, 34 per­cent in ghosts, 24 per­cent in witches, and 4 per­cent wor­ried about vam­pires.

Mul­lah rocks

That was syn­di­cated colum­nist Mark Steyn — “The man who likes to poke the world in the eye,” blared one re­cent head­line — belt­ing out a RodSte­wart­clas­sicwhileague­ston “Bill Ben­nett’s Morn­ing in Amer­ica” ra­dio show re­cently.

Dis­cussing his gloomy new book, “Amer­ica Alone: The End of the World as We Know It,” Mr. Steyn was wax­ing on the hypocrisy of Is­lamism and re­called how U.S. mil­i­tary forces dis­cov­ered vin­tage eight-track tapes of Mr. Ste­wart’s mu­sic in Tal­iban leader Mul­lah Omar’s com­pound af­ter the lib­er­a­tion of Afghanistan in 2001.

Sud­denly, Mr. Steyn broke into song, riff­ing on the Ste­wart hit, “ Da Ya Think I’m Sexy.”

Mr. Ben­nett’s pro­ducer, Seth Leib­sohn, told the Belt­way: “It was a unique mo­ment for a talk show, but­not­souniq­ue­forBen­nett’sshow, where the for­mer ed­u­ca­tion sec­re­tary of­ten breaks into song given his love of ‘50s rock and roll.”

Au­dio of Mr. Steyn’s spon­ta­neous per­for­mance can be heard at ben­nettmorn­ings.com.

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

As­so­ci­ated Press

Many oc­cu­pants of and vis­i­tors to the White House have felt the spirit of Abra­ham Lin­coln — lit­er­ally. His ghost is said to haunt the man­sion.

File photo

Tal­iban leader Mul­lah Omar isn’t the only un­likely Rod Ste­wart fan. Colum­nist Mark Steyn ran­domly broke into “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy” on Bill Ben­nett’s ra­dio show.

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