- The Washington Times - Monday, September 26, 2005

Arriving late

From Paris to London to the Great White North, President Bush and his administration fielded a barrage of criticism for their slow federal response to Hurricane Katrina.

Then there’s the opinion of David Warren, a columnist for Canada’s Ottawa Citizen, which we find worth repeating.

“There’s plenty wrong with America,” writes Mr. Warren. “I’m tempted to say that the only difference from Canada is that they have a few things right. That would be unfair, of course — I am often pleased to discover things we still get right.

“But one of them would not be disaster preparation. If something happened up here, on the scale of Katrina, we wouldn’t even have the resources to arrive late. We would be waiting for the Americans to come save us, the same way the government in Louisiana just waved and pointed at Washington, D.C. The theory being that, when you’re in real trouble, that’s where the adults live.”

Russia’s Katrina

Reading the various news outlets in Moscow and Tokyo, we see the Russians and Japanese are intrigued, if not left hysterical, by the claims of a TV weatherman that Japan’s Yakuza mafia used a KGB-made electromagnetic generator to cause Hurricane Katrina to strike America at a most vulnerable point.

Meteorologist Scott Stevens, a nine-year veteran of KPVI-TV in Pocatello, Idaho, is quoted by the Associated Press as saying that the artificially created hurricane was a bid to avenge Japan for the Hiroshima atomic bomb attack — and that the technology will be wielded again to hit another U.S. metropolis.

In fact, Mr. Stevens states as much on his own Web site — www.weatherwars.info — by no means the first American to speculate on ways to create and control a storm. He “became convinced of the existence of the Russian device when he observed an unusual Montana cold front in 2004,” the AP notes.

“I just got sick to my stomach because these clouds were unnatural and that meant they had [the machine] on all the time,” Mr. Stevens said. Plus, he pointed out, the name Katrina certainly sounds Russian (and don’t forget Ivan last year).

Perhaps it comes as no surprise that Mr. Stevens has the full support of his TV bosses at KPVI (who are obviously as ratings-driven as network news executives in New York).

Insists KPVI General Manager Bill Fouch, “He’s very knowledgeable about weather, and he’s very popular.”

New interest

You might say that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is the cover girl of the inaugural issue of the American Interest, a new foreign-policy magazine created by a who’s who of leading foreign-policy thinkers.

A reception will be held this evening at the Willard Hotel to celebrate this strictly “nonpartisan” magazine, its 21 distinguished contributors including Miss Rice, former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski and Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat.

Among other features, the premiere issue has predictions on the challenges the next president will face, how America will wield its power as “the Last Sovereign,” the surprising endurance of family-based businesses and the question of whether Hollywood has a tin ear to the cultural desires of its audience.

And, as in the rest of America, we read differing opinions on Iraq: Elliot Cohen of the American Enterprise Institute asserts “the basic decision to overthrow SaddamHussein’s regime was not merely correct, but courageous,” whereas Boston University professor Glenn Loury argues “nothing in the logic of America’s position in the world, nothing inherent in our political culture, and nothing of vital interest to the United States necessitated this misadventure.”

As publisher Charles Davidson observes: “This publication is a much-needed forum for serious and civil analysis of U.S. behavior on the world stage.”

A 12-member editorial board will lead the magazine, among them Mr. Brzezinski, author Francis Fukuyama, German’s Die Zeit publisher Josef Joffe, and Nobel Prize-winning economist Douglass North.

Lousy to lovely

So many reporters were on the guest list for Congressional Quarterly’s 60th anniversary party at the Decatur House that it made us wonder who was covering the news this weekend.

A sampling of the media lineup — talk-show host Diane Rehm; ABC’s Cokie Roberts, Hal Bruno and John Cochran; MSNBC’s Pat Buchanan and his wife, Shelley; the Hill’s Al Eisele, Time’s Matt Cooper, Slate’s John Dickerson, CBS’ Bill Plante, and political pundit Mark Shields.

CQ president and publisher Bob Merry said the publication was born when famous Kansas newspaper editor William Allen White complained to fellow editor Nelson Poynter than he couldn’t get enough information about Congress to keep his readers informed.

“Poynter responded by creating CQ as an information wholesaler for the newspaper market,”Mr. Merry said. “It was a lovely civic idea, but it was a lousy business. It wasn’t until libraries and later trade groups discovered the CQ weekly that the company began to thrive.

“Now we have nearly 400 employees and a strong niche in the Washington information industry.”

For our many readers outside the Beltway, there are few better places than the Decatur House to throw a party. Completed in 1818 for naval hero Stephen Decatur, it’s one of the oldest surviving homes in the nation’s capital and one of only three remaining residences in the country designed by the “father of American architecture,” Benjamin Henry Latrobe.

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

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