- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 4, 2006

Sign your own book

The New York City gathering was in celebration of senior Fox News Channel correspondent Eric Shawn’s blistering new book, “The U.N. Exposed: How the United Nations Sabotages America’s Security and Fails the World.”

But at Wednesday evening’s book party at the Upper East Side restaurant Elaine’s, John R. Bolton, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, actually took to signing several copies of Mr. Shawn’s stab at the U.N. — obviously giving his seal of approval to the content.

Fox News Channel founder Roger Ailes and host Bill O’Reilly, and former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, each made an appearance.

Job well done

“It’s a great day in the District of Columbia. I had three goals in mind when I started this process: get a baseball team, get a stadium and get an owner. Today, we got all three.”

— D.C. Council member Jack Evans, speaking to Inside the Beltway after yesterday’s groundbreaking for a $611 million baseball stadium for the Washington Nationals and new team owner Ted Lerner.

Car salesman

Al Gore has resurfaced, telling Men’s Journal about his frustrations with Congress dragging its feet over global warming, how he thinks our planet during his lifetime will suffer a large-scale catastrophe from rising temperatures, and his family’s use of hybrid cars.

Mr. Gore said he and his wife, Tipper, “just got a Lexus hybrid, and our family are big fans of the Prius.”

Sex and the IRS

We were surprised to see Bill Brannigan, who for three years covered the Vietnam War for ABC News and later served as a press officer at the World Bank, on stage for the Little Theatre of Alexandria production of “Love, Sex and the IRS.”

Actually, Mr. Brannigan has performed in more than a dozen area theatrical productions in the past seven years.

Also among the Little Theatre cast is Greg Christopher (the IRS auditor), a real-life appellate lawyer for the Federal Communications Commission who for two years was an improvisational role player at the FBI and Secret Service academies.

Barack’s letter

Inside the Beltway caught up with actor Hill Harper, currently starring in “CSI: NY,” while he was in town promoting “Letters to a Young Brother: Manifest Your Destiny.”

The Harvard Law School graduate who holds a master’s degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government (yes, ladies, he was recently named one of People magazine’s Sexiest Men Alive), says he hopes his published letters help guide young men who’ve had no role models in their lives.

Besides his own correspondence, Mr. Harper includes a letter from Sen. Barack Obama, Illinois Democrat.

“For African-Americans in this country,” Mr. Obama writes, “we have additional hurdles to overcome — the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow, and the ongoing problems of discrimination.”

However, the successful “don’t waste time on self-pity … don’t spend time focused on how unfair life is. They don’t blame other people for their problems and they don’t use race or poverty or hardship as an excuse for failure.” Rather, he says, they “take responsibility for their actions and they try to focus on not just themselves, but on others.”

He cites the man who complained that “he had no shoes, until he saw a man with no feet.”

All declared

Ducking into the Federal Emergency Management Agency yesterday, we obtained a list of federally declared disasters by year and state, going back to the start of such presidential declarations in 1953.

Thus far in 2006, for instance, there have been 18 disaster declarations by President Bush. There were 48 in 2005, 68 in 2004, 56 in 2003, 49 in 2002 and 45 in 2001 — two of those being the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, when urban search and rescue workers rushed to the Pentagon from as far away as New Mexico.

The most disasters for one year — 75 — were declared by President Clinton in 1996, mainly blizzard- and flood-related. The years 1958 and 1959 were the most tranquil in the United States, with only seven declared disasters each year, including Hurricane Dot, which struck Hawaii.

What state takes top honors for hosting the highest number of disasters? That would be Texas with 77, followed by California (70), Florida (57), Louisiana (51) and New York (50).

Locally, Virginia has endured 37 disasters since 1953; Maryland, 17; and the District, seven, including Tropical Storm Isabel in 2003 and the “Blizzard of 1996,” which wreaked havoc on the nation’s capital.

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

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