- The Washington Times - Monday, October 9, 2006

Preparation is key

We spent the weekend reading former Attorney General John Ashcroft’s new book, “Never Again: Securing America and Restoring Justice,” which leaves us wondering whether the U.S. had adequately prepared to start the war on terrorism.

Mr. Ashcroft on September 11, 2001, was flying aboard a small jet to Milwaukee to read to a group of schoolchildren — yes, the same thing President Bush was doing in Florida that fateful morning.

Suddenly, the pilot shouted back that the attorney general needed to call the Justice Department Command Center in Washington immediately. “That can’t be good news,” Mr. Ashcroft recalls thinking.

A former Missouri governor and U.S. senator, Mr. Ashcroft made the call, and within seconds, his staff and the FBI agents who accompanied him saw the color drain from his face.

“The world has changed forever,” he turned and told them. “The country will never be the same.”

As for the subsequent war, he recalls legendary football coach Vince Lombardi preaching that the will to win is not the most important thing; the will to prepare to win is most important.

“Anyone who gets into a fight wants to win,” writes Mr. Ashcroft, “but if he hasn’t prepared ahead of time, he will be at a distinct disadvantage.”

Exhale

Asked yesterday whether the Bush administration might rethink its policy on the legalization of marijuana, White House Drug Control Policy Director John Walters said don’t hold your breath.

“Of the roughly 7 million people we have as an estimate that need treatment because of dependence or abuse of illegal drugs, roughly 60 percent are dependent on marijuana,” Mr. Walters told C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers.”

Furthermore, he said, “More teens are dependent on marijuana than all other illegal drugs combined.”

Banking on Ann

Speaking of authors, leading liberals hope that conservative activist Ann Coulter never goes away. After all, they’re busy banking on her immense popularity.

Lisa De Pasquale, director at the American Conservative Union’s Conservative Political Action Conference, counts not one, not two, but three books against Ann Coulter that the publishing world has rolled out in recent days.

There is Susan Estrich’s “Soulless: Ann Coulter and the Right-Wing Church of Hate,” which hits bookstores tomorrow; “Brainless: The Lies and Lunacy of Ann Coulter,” by Joe Maguire, also released tomorrow; and “I Hate Ann Coulter,” brought to us by four anonymous authors.

“The four authors claim that they are remaining anonymous for their own safety,” Ms. De Pasquale writes in Human Events, referring to fear they say they feel from Miss Coulter’s “wing nut” followers.

Change of heart

That would be Russell Simmons, the founder of Def Jam Records, the man who single-handedly implanted hip-hop and rap into American music culture, cutting a 60-second radio ad about why he supports Republican Michael S. Steele for U.S. Senate in Maryland.

“Yo, what’s up, y’all, it’s Russell Simmons,” begins the ad, during which Mr. Simmons acknowledges that he came to Maryland four years ago to campaign against the black lieutenant governor. “Today, I come here to stand beside him.”

Big challenge

It was difficult not to notice Dave Kranich at last week’s Capital Baron’s Ball at the Andrew Mellon Auditorium, benefiting the American Cancer Society. Albeit, when you’re a Republican candidate for mayor in a heavily Democratic District of Columbia, you’ve already found one way to stick out in the crowd.

But just in case nobody noticed, atop his tuxedo lapel the candidate affixed a bright blue Dave Kranich for Mayor campaign sticker. So does he actually think he can win this November?

“Absolutely,” he replied, presenting us with his campaign platform that supports improved education, affordable housing, voting rights, and lower taxes for the lower and middle classes. “I’ve always enjoyed a challenge.”

As for his background, perhaps you’ve sampled one of Mr. Kranich’s smoothies (his first endeavor during the mid-‘90s was creating a successful bottled fruit-juice smoothie.) He then went into the Christmas tree business.

Today, when he’s not stumping for votes, the resident of Dupont’s Ward 2 is a residential real-estate agent with Washington’s Randall Hagner Ltd.

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


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