John McCaslin

Last year, Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, Texas Democrat, took one look at the list of names for the 2003 Atlantic hurricane season and cried racial discrimination.

The outspoken congresswoman charged that Ana, Bill, Claudette, Danny, Erika, Fabian, Grace, Henri, Isabel, Juan, Kate, Larry, Mindy, Nicholas, Odette, Peter, Rose, Sam, Teresa, Victor and Wanda (this columnist's mother's name) were all too white and "all racial groups should be represented" when these swirling monsters plow ashore.

Particularly "African-American names," the congresswoman said.

You can be the judge of whether Uncle Sam, tasked with giving hurricanes their handles, bowed to the congresswoman's wishes. Already making their impact felt this horrific 2004 hurricane season were Alex, Bonnie, Charley, Danielle, Earl, Frances, Gaston and Hermine, while a most powerful Ivan (sounds Russian-American) and Jeanne are precariously poised to wreak havoc on our lives, limbs and property.

Still awaiting formation are Karl, Lisa, Matthew, Nicole, Otto, Paula, Richard, Shary, Tomas, Virginie and Walter.


More now on yesterday's item about the national Democratic Party appealing for financial aid in hurricane-battered Florida, where a succession of deadly storms has seriously hampered fund-raising efforts at a critical time in the 2004 campaign.

"In line with that," writes Beltway Beat reader Larry Whitehurst from Wisconsin, "I actually tuned to Air America radio and heard one of the morning-show hosts . . . comment that she believed it when she heard that . . . the Bush administration is seeding clouds over the Atlantic to enable more hurricanes so that Florida voters will not be able to reach the polls."

Have you been eating too much cheese, Whitehurst?

"When I heard this, I fell out of my chair laughing," he insists. "I sure hope most other listeners did, because those that would believe something like this . . . should not be allowed even near the election voting booths."


A Vietnam War veteran who managed to drive a stake right through the middle of the 2004 presidential campaign, perhaps ultimately spoiling whatever chances Sen. John Kerry had at becoming president, will be saluted during an invitation-only book party at Morton's in Washington next Tuesday.

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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