Paying for lunch

John McCaslin
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Posted: Jan 15, 2004 12:00 AM

We got a chuckle out of the following memo sent to several Florida congressional chiefs of staff from Kirk Fordham, chief of staff to Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) who's resigning to work on former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez's campaign for the Senate. It regards a going-away reception for Fordham at a Capitol Hill restaurant:

"We are on for a noon lunch tomorrow at Hunan Dynasty. Looking forward to seeing you all. As a small going-way gift, please bring along your boss's fundraising list on an unwrapped CD-ROM."

Martinez, at the urging of Bush adviser Karl Rove and others in the White House, recently departed the Cabinet and announced his candidacy for the Florida Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Bob Graham, a Democrat.

'NO-MAN ZONE'

Sen. Charles E. Schumer's Republican opponent in New York is pushing a program designed to protect the country's 47,000 critical infrastructure facilities - reservoirs, dams, pipelines, oil refineries, chemical plants, ports and power stations - from terrorist attack.

Addressing how one guards so many facilities and thousands of miles of shoreline and borders 24 hours a day, 7 days a week "without calling up millions of Americans to serve on foot patrol," Senate candidate Michael Benjamin says look no further than inexpensive video cameras, or webcams.

The small cameras, or "US HomeGuard" system, would be installed throughout all critical infrastructure facilities and monitor areas where no person (or vehicle) should ever be - a "no-man zone."

(The ACLU would obviously be happy because by monitoring only "no-man" zones there would be no violations of personal privacy.)

Every five seconds, the candidate explains, each webcam would send an encrypted photo via the Internet to a central processing center. Pictures would also be sent whenever the webcam's heat or motion detectors are triggered. The entire process, including alerting local authorities to possible breaches of security, is completed in a matter of seconds.

Benjamin has been a securities trader on Wall Street since 1998.

LIVING HISTORY

Historians, educators, Academy Award recipients, notable filmmakers, actors and celebrities will descend on Washington next month for the first annual Black History Month Film & Discussion series.

The sponsoring FLOW Foundation has secured Visions Cinema Bistro Lounge and the Republic Gardens for the first-ever history sessions coinciding with the city's observance of Black History Month.

"Black History Month is an important time for culture and American history," says project coordinator Corey Jennings. "We felt that the Washington, D.C. metropolitan community . . . deserve to be reacquainted with the experiences and contributions of persons and organizations that have made history."

Among the more notable individuals and groups planning to come "face to face" with the public include two-time Academy Award winner and two-time Emmy winner Russell Williams II, Maya Angelou, the Association of African-American Vintners, Tuskegee Airmen, Buffalo Soldiers, Negro League Baseball players, Tommy "Tiny" Lister, Woody Wilson, National Council of Negro Women, J. Weldon Norris and the Howard University Choir, filmmakers Michael and Christine Swanson, the Slave Descendants Freedom Society, African-American Civil War Museum and Steven Torriano Berry.

CIRCA 1859

Were those alarming predictions of mass extinctions due to future global warming - splashed across the front pages of many newspapers last week - yet another salvo in the ideological battle to frighten the public into believing in catastrophic climate change?

Yes, Competitive Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow Iain Murray says of the startling predictions first reported by the journal Nature.

"Not only are the conclusions outlandish, but the theory upon which the entire article rests has been itself thoroughly disproved," charges Murray. "The authors used a theory from 1859 that the absolute area of animal habitat controls the number of possible species, despite ample proof in recent years that that simply isn't true.

"Without that connection, any predictions about actual extinction rates are hogwash."

The Nature article suggests as many as one million species could go extinct by 2050 due to higher earth temperatures. As CEI notes, only 12,000 species of approximately 14 million living on earth today are considered threatened with extinction.

DEAR BEATRICE.

Every so often we receive a letter from a reader that's too good not to publish. Such is the letter from Ray Stevens, professor emeritus of English at McDaniel College, Westminster, Md.

Along with his letter, he attached another, which he titles: "From one English professor to another English professor."

Writes Prof. Stevens: "You might be interested in an off-the-cuff response of one English professor (emeritus) to another English professor (a dear friend of 25 years) who wrote to me, among other things, about not voting for George W. Bush because of Iraq.

"'Beatrice' is a lovely person," the professor says of his colleague, "but unfortunately, a product of late '60s graduate school education and a devotee of NPR who lives in New York City.

"I, on the other hand, am one of the few troglodytish conservatives remaining in the Modern Language Association (44 years and counting) and was formerly the Southern Baptist president of the H.L. Mencken Society," he continues. "I write this not in need of another publication; but if you wish to twit a post-colonialist or two, you are welcome to it."

His letter to the professor reads, in part:

"Beatrice,

"On Bush: Sorry, but I disagree. I see the 100,000-plus mass graves and am thankful someone in the world had courage enough to try to put a stop to carnage somewhere in the world . . .

"And I read about al Qaeda papers found in Iraq, and terrorist groups there, and Saddam Hussein paying families of Palestinian child-bombers to blow up Israelis and themselves in the name of Allah . . .

"And a former president whom Hussein tried to assassinate; and a succeeding president who did nothing meaningful to try to stop such things, and who watched and then abandoned Somalia to terrorism as thugs in Mogadishu dragged American troops through the streets, mutilating their bodies . . .

"And I remember the bombing in New York City in 1993 when nothing meaningful was done - and Khobar Towers, and the USS Cole, and Bali, and a sodomite president who apparently had a chance to get Osama bin Laden in the mid-'90s, but who was too pre-occupied with interns to be bothered . . .

"And I see that now Gadhafi is perhaps getting the message after Iraq . . . and a new government is being formed in Afghanistan, and one is forthcoming in Iraq - with all its problems - that promises at least much more freedom than anyone else has over that way, with the exception of Israelis, who are worth defending despite rampant anti-Semitism in Europe . . .

"And I have a son who fought through Desert Storm - where we did not finish the job we started, and who is now back over there, having spent four months in Iraq with the 4ID (Fourth Infantry Division) trying to resolve continuing conflicts - and is now in Saudi Arabia, an officer with two Bronze Stars from Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom in the U.S. Army, who has not forgotten Sept. 11 and who, like many young soldiers, fight there sacrificing to try to avoid another 9/11 . . .

"And I listen to charlatans on the campaign trail comparing George Bush to Hitler. God help us if people do not see 9/11 as a warning. Do we just sit and wait for another, or do we try to meet terrorist adversaries where they are being bred by the tens of thousands?

"It tears at my soul to say such things, especially because I have a son on the firing line."