John McCaslin

More than one reader got a kick out of the sequence of clues in the Washington Post's “Daily Crossword” for October 23, by Randall J. Hartman:

“16. Can't stand

“17. Conservative commentator Coulter.”

Speaking of which

“This isn't Russia. This isn't China. This isn't name your country with leaders that crack down when they don't like what somebody says out there.” At least not yet, says Rep. Greg Walden, Oregon Republican. The congressman is warning that the reintroduction of the Fairness Doctrine, as proposed by Democrats to counter popular conservative viewpoints expressed over the airwaves, would be an inch towards “silencing government critics,” not to mention “oppression of a free press.”

“I mean, this stuff is real,” he says.

Silent films

Hollywood ranks are AWOL when it comes to fighting the war on terrorism, but fortunately that wasn't always the case.

The World War II-era contributions of several leading Hollywood filmmakers will warrant a special screening and discussion at the National Archives Building in the coming weeks. Among the acclaimed movie directors who quickly enlisted into the armed services and were assigned to film units are Frank Capra (”It Happened One Night,” “You Can't Take it With You”), John Huston (”The Maltese Falcon”), William Wyler (”Wuthering Heights,” “The Little Foxes”), John Ford (”Stagecoach, The Grapes of Wrath”), and George Stevens (”Alice Adams,” “Gunga Din”).

“During the second World War, there was recognition at the highest levels of government that the production of truly imaginative and inspiring films must be left to the talents of Hollywood's most creative minds,” Archives explains. “There, they contributed to an unprecedented endeavor to document the war and inform Americans, both overseas and on the home front, of their particular stake in the war effort.”

The screening and discussion will be held Nov. 14 at 6:30 p.m. in the William G. McGowan Theater.

Relax, or move

Watching all the cable TV news coverage of the seasonal wildfires burning their way across southern California - and ultimately through the front doors of houses people insist on building on what is actually a desert floor - has left many Americans anxious.

So no better time to consult with Alan Caruba, founder of the the National Anxiety Center, who reminds us that infernos like these have been raging across California for hundreds of thousands of years. It's just that now there are hundreds of thousands of homes built in their paths, with more going up every year.

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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