- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Safer than phoning

Given all the hoopla surrounding the National Security Agency gaining access to John Q. Public’s telephone records, we have to wonder if that’s what Jimmy Carter’s former White House National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski and Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California were discussing during their private lunch for two yesterday at Teatro Goldoni on K Street.

On the other hand, the pair might have been weighing President Bush’s long-awaited proposal to “combat” illegal aliens, a major topic of concern to Mrs. Pelosi’s constituents.

Nip it in the bud

Several months ago, Australia’s most prominent Catholic Church leader, Cardinal George Pell, made headlines by declaring that “Islam is not a tolerant religion.”

This past weekend, the Sydney archbishop traveled to tiny Front Royal, Va., delivering the commencement address to Christendom College’s 2006 graduating class. For anybody, like him, concerned about radical Islam, the Oxford-educated Cardinal Pell didn’t disappoint.

Indeed, he focused on a “new challenge” facing the world and its threat to Western civilization.

“I want to say a few words about Christendom’s most enduring enemy, not to re-kindle ancient hatreds but to stress the need for discerning cooperation, to work for progress and coexistence, to avoid disaster. I want to talk about Islam,” he began.

“September 11 was a wake-up call for me personally. I recognized that I had to know more about Islam. You, too, need such knowledge. After the attack, many people were claiming that Islam was a peaceful religion. I decided to look into this myself and began to read the Koran. I recommend you to do the same because the challenge of Islam will be with us for the remainder of our lives.”

He made a point of emphasizing “Islamic terrorism” and “jihad” and its emphasis on waging war, warning graduates that “these terrorists want to provoke a clash of civilizations. As far as possible, we should not oblige them.”

Gore rations

Forget about all the controversy surrounding “The Da Vinci Code.” Al Gore’s own documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” similarly premieres in Washington today.

And coinciding with that release, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) is set to unveil a national global warming alarmism TV-ad campaign at the National Press Club today.

Mr. Gore “has always promoted causes that would require taking decisions away from the people and putting them in the hands of an expert elite,” Myron Ebell, the CEI’s director of Energy and Global Warming Policy, observed recently.

“That is what he has in mind when he says in [an] interview, ‘We ought to have a level of commitment comparable to the Apollo program and World War II combined. We ought to be pulling out all the stops. Everything is at stake.’”

Mr. Ebell fears that like World War II, when Uncle Sam took control of the economy and rationed energy, “Mr. Gore’s ideal would be to give each person a book of energy rationing coupons and every year put fewer coupons in the book. It is a program of mandatory energy starvation.”

Stressing smoking

We had to laugh at Sebastian Ahrens, managing director of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, who provided Inside the Beltway with a tour of the plush, five-star German expedition vessel Hanseatic while it was moored in Old Town Alexandria this week.

Asked whether smoking was permitted aboard the ship, Mr. Ahrens answered that while a “no-smoking” policy has been considered, passengers for the time being can puff away.

After all, he pointed out, one of the ship’s guest lecturers of late was the chain-smoking former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, who was accompanied on his educational cruise by his wife, Hannelore, also a persistent smoker. Only when the elderly couple “had food in their mouths,” Mr. Ahrens noted, were they without lit cigarettes.

Which brings us to a rather intriguing European newspaper clipping from August 2003, later picked up by Agence France-Press, explaining the Schmidts’ amazing smoking habits:

“Good news: Smoking is good for you, ex-German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt’s wife said yesterday. Hannelore Schmidt, 84, says she won’t speak on television if she is not allowed to smoke. ‘It keeps my brain ticking, otherwise I can’t work,’ she said.

“Husband Helmut, also 84, is a fiendish smoker as well, rarely seen without a cigarette in hand. ‘If we stopped smoking at our age, the resulting stress for our systems would be more dangerous than a whiff of nicotine,’ Schmidt’s wife added.”

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

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