- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 6, 2005

Speak for yourself

Reporters were told initially that the Hurricane Katrina press conference Friday at the National Press Club was being called by members of the Congressional Black Caucus, Black Leadership Forum, National Conference of State Legislatures, National Urban League and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

As expected, black congressmen wasted no time criticizing the slow federal response to the massive storm, albeit Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Ohio Democrat, assured the audience: “The issue is not about race right now. There will be another time to have issues about color.”

Now, the National Conference of State Legislatures informs Inside the Beltway that it was “mistakenly included as an endorser of statements” made at what it labels a “Congressional Black Caucus press conference.”

“The issue discussed at the press conference today was not voted on at any of NCSL’s business meetings nor was it ever considered,” says the nationwide bipartisan organization.

Intel failure

The complete lack of preparedness by the federal government in responding to Hurricane Katrina “is one of the most significant intelligence failures in history, ranking right up there with Pearl Harbor and 9/11.”

So writes Roger Pielke Jr.,a scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., in the Sept. 4 edition of Science Policy.

He says it “will be important in the coming months for Congress to investigate this policy failure with every bit of effort that it did after 9/11. The question that needs to be asked, and it is not too soon to begin asking, is why was the federal government so unprepared for the disaster in the face of robust scientific knowledge about the disaster at all time scales?

“This is especially in light of the fact that the government completely reorganized itself [into the Homeland Security Department] after 9/11 to improve the nation’s preparedness and response to catastrophes.”

No time to party

Among other canceled celebrations in Washington, CNN in Washington has postponed its glitzy event scheduled for Thursday to celebrate “The Situation Room,” anchored by Wolf Blitzer.

“It’s due to the overwhelming circumstances in New Orleans,” explains Washington publicist Janet Donovan of the VIP party that was to have taken over all of restaurant Teatro Goldoni on K Street.

The new program, airing locally from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., is modeled on the concept of the White House Situation Room — albeit in place of the president, it is Mr. Blitzer debriefing CNN’s correspondents, analysts and guests. (No differently from at the White House, Hurricane Katrina has been the most pressing “situation” of late, although President Bush’s nomination yesterday of Judge John G. Roberts Jr. to succeed William H. Rehnquist as chief justice of the Supreme Court will soon share center stage.)

Substitute chefs

Given the tremendous loss of human life and personal property, it may seem ridiculous even to think about what New Orleans has lost in its restaurant sector, says our good friend John Mariani, a columnist for Esquire and Wine Spectator.

Still, the author of the Encyclopedia of American Food & Drink says “if any city on Earth seems to revolve around and exist for food, it [is] New Orleans. … New Orleanians live, sleep and breathe food and love their restaurants as much as the millions of visitors who came solely to eat there.”

Now, with bayou stoves submerged in water, Mr. Mariani is helping spread word that top chefs here in Washington will join forces Monday as the soon-to-open Acadiana restaurant at 901 New York Ave. NW becomes “the po’ boy headquarters of a fundraising effort.”

Participating chefs serving up brown-bag carry-out po’ boys for a donation of $25 include Jeff Tunks (Acadiana, DC Coast, Ten Penh and Ceiba), Robert Wiedmaier (Marcel’s), Michel Richard (Citronelle), Roberto Donna (Galileo), Ris Lacoste (1789), Cesare Lanfranconi (Tosca), Frank Morales (Zola), Todd Gray (Equinox), Cathal Armstrong (Restaurant Eve), RJ Cooper (Vidalia), John Besh (August, New Orleans), Jeff Buben (Vidalia and Bistro Bis), Kevin Scott (New Orleans Bistro), and John Wabeck (Firefly).

Monkey business

Defending the “great research” accomplished for senior citizens by Covance Inc. at its Vienna, Va., laboratory is Jim Martin, president of the 60 Plus Association of nonpartisan seniors. The lab has come under attack by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for purported “physical and psychological abuse of monkeys.”

Says Mr. Martin: “I want to start PETS: People for the Ethical Treatment of Seniors — to combat PETA.”

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or [email protected]

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