- The Washington Times - Monday, July 10, 2006

Quote of the week

“I’ll be sure to stop by his office when I get there. I won’t be bringing coffee.”

— Maryland congressional candidate Raj Peter Bhakta, an Indian-American, blasting Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware Democrat, for “belittling” Indian immigrants to the United States when remarking on C-SPAN, “You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I’m not joking.”

Try Motel 6

Larry King can’t seem to relax lately in his hotel rooms, no matter how plush.

In Washington several weeks ago, the TV host was among guests evacuated from the Ritz-Carlton hotel on 22nd Street Northwest when the fire bell sounded during the late evening. He and his associate smelled smoke beforehand, but assumed it was from cigars.

Yesterday morning, Mr. King was sitting in his room at the Regency Hotel on Manhattan’s Upper East Side when a four-story building nearby exploded and collapsed.

“I’ve never heard a sound like that,” the interviewer told his network, CNN.

Norm’s news

It didn’t take long for former Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta to negotiate a job in the private sector, days after stepping down from his Cabinet post.

The longest serving secretary in Department of Transportation history will join consulting giant Hill & Knowlton as vice chairman, effective July 24 (oh well, he deserves a vacation).

A Democratic congressman from California for 20 years, Mr. Mineta served as commerce secretary under President Clinton.

Mixed composition

Were Washingtonians booing National Symphony Orchestra associate conductor Emil de Cou for injecting politics into Saturday evening’s all-Beethoven concert at Wolf Trap, or just weighing in on the hunting ability of Vice President Dick Cheney?

When explaining a performance of Wellington’s Victory — Ludwig van Beethoven’s composition commemorating the Duke of Wellington’s victory over the French in 1813 — Mr. de Cou drew attention to Mr. Cheney when referring to muskets in the hands of the British.

“Initially, there were a few boos, but those boos were replaced by thunderous applause,” says Inside the Beltway reader Steve A. Brown. “It is not clear if the boos were directed at the conductor for taking a shot at Mr. Cheney, or the boos were directed at Mr. Cheney.

“Likewise, it was not clear if the applause was a slap down for the conductor in support of Mr. Cheney, or an endorsement of the conductor against Mr. Cheney.”

Bremer on board

That’s Ambassador L. Paul Bremer, former presidential envoy to Iraq who served as administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority before handing over power to Iraq’s interim government in 2004, joining the board of the democracy-minded International Republican Institute.

Mr. Bremer’s career in the State Department spanned 23 years and eight presidencies, including as ambassador-at-large for counterterrorism during the Reagan administration. He’s spent another 14 years off and on in the private sector, including as managing director of Kissinger Associates, a strategic consulting firm headed by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

Countdown begins

You’d think 2006 was a presidential election year, given how much effort Democrats are putting into November’s midterm elections. The aim: Retake control of both houses of Congress.

The biggest nationwide campaign push so far will come July 29 with 31 events in Georgia and 42 in Ohio, for instance. Democratic National Committee Executive Director Tom McMahon explains that the date marks 100 days until Election Day.

Sans earplugs

Without leaving Capitol Hill, members of Congress Thursday will try their hands at a machine-gun firing range.

After they empty those chambers, they will pilot a fighter airplane, perform hands-on surgery, evacuate a major city from an impending hurricane, and design their own skyscraper.

Rep. J. Randy Forbes, Virginia Republican, says it’s all part of the Congressional Modeling and Simulation Caucus’ inaugural M&S Capitol Hill Exhibition, to be held in the Cannon House Office Building.

“This event will give decision-makers in Washington the opportunity to witness and experience hands-on the ability and potential of modeling and simulation,” says Mr. Forbes, the caucus chairman.

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

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