- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Biden’s premonition

Talk about being prescient.

The date was Sept. 10, 2001, and Delaware Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. appeared before a National Press Club audience to warn of looming terrorism with unconventional weapons that included “the belly of the plane.”

Now, almost five years later, the senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who is seeking his party’s 2008 presidential nomination, will once again address members of the club. He will deliver what is being touted as “a major address on rethinking America’s future security.”

In his Thursday address, according to club organizers, Mr. Biden “will critique the Bush administration’s performance and outline his own comprehensive approach to homeland security and vision for restoring what he calls America’s ‘place in the world.’”

Meltzer’s best

Cori Meltzer, the wife of five-times New York Times best-selling author Brad Meltzer, couldn’t believe her eyes when opening the family’s mail one day: former President George H.W. Bush was writing to request that the author autograph his latest political thriller.

Always mapping out his next book, Mr. Meltzer took it a step further. He contacted Mr. Bush directly (the former president explained that he and his wife, Barbara, have a fine collection of Mr. Meltzer’s books) and the two agreed to meet.

“Could I come to Houston and see what the life of a former president is like?” Mr. Meltzer had asked. As it happened, he and the Bushes spent an entire week together, the author taking scrupulous notes.

“And then I went to visit former President Clinton at his office in Harlem,” Mr. Meltzer tells Inside the Beltway in an interview. “One day these are the most powerful men on the planet, the next day they are stopping at red lights.”

You’ll find both former famous presidents at the top of Mr. Meltzer’s acknowledgments in “The Book of Fate,” a three-year project that hits bookstores today. And while the book is fiction (“Every novel is a lie that tries to sound like the truth,” Mr. Meltzer writes of his careful attention to detail), the author weaves in many mysterious facts, not the least being the “hidden” street grid of the District, reproduced on the book’s inside covers that George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and French engineer Pierre CharlesLEnfant all had a hand in designing.

Add to that fact that Washington was a card-carrying member of the Freemasons, the worldwide fraternal organization of secret initiations and rituals, and you’ll be studying your federal street map more closely. (Yes, Washington Circle, Dupont Circle, Logan Circle, Mount Vernon Square and the front door of the White House form a perfect five-pointed star, one of the most widely used religious symbols in the world. Several centuries-old Masonic symbols can be traced from Washington’s street designs.)

“It’s a mind-blower,” Mr. Meltzer tells this column.

Oh, and it’s also true that a book party will be held for Mr. Meltzer Thursday evening in Washington at the House of the Temple, headquarters of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, hosted by the Brotherhood of the Freemasons.

Go figure.

Ending ignorance

Because of questions and “concern” surrounding his endorsement of Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele for the Senate, hip-hop icon Russell Simmons has published the following statement in the Afro American Newspapers:

“Some of my liberal friends and associates are quite upset with me for personally endorsing [Mr. Steele] … Steele is conservative and a Republican. I am an Independent who has, in the past, supported numerous Democratic candidates with the recent exception of my endorsement of the re-election of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a moderate Republican.

“At a time when the ranks of the poor and impoverished across America and throughout the world are on a steady increase, I am going to support and endorse those political leaders who are bold enough to commit publicly to playing an active leadership role in building an effective legislative strategy to end poverty and ignorance. Real leadership, however, should not be limited, solely defined or circumscribed only by political party affiliation.”

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

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