A Latte Liberals?

Supersize Me

"McDonald’s and Starbucks are the yin and yang of franchise food and drink," according to Paul Taylor of the Pew Research Center. Its new study finds that Americans frequenting the latter trendy coffee franchise are most likely leaning left.

"Ever heard the phrase ‘latte-drinking liberal’? Evidently, there’s something to it," says Mr. Taylor. "Among self-described liberals, Starbucks carries the day, 46 percent to 33 percent. Among conservatives, McDonald’s prevails, 50 percent to 28 percent."

No Bunny Train?

Unlike Las Vegas Democratic Mayor Oscar Goodman, Nevada Rep. Shelley Berkley, a fellow Democrat, thought twice about criticizing President Obama when she took the House floor in recent days to bash critics of Sin City.

Mr. Goodman, you will recall, said Mr. Obama has contributed to Las Vegas’ recent economic decline by warning companies not to visit the convention city on the taxpayer’s dime.

"That’s outrageous, and he owes us an apology," scolded the mayor. "He owes us a retraction."

Mrs. Berkley, a former hotel executive, says: "I’m mad and I’m not going to take it anymore. I’ve had enough of my colleagues bashing my district, my hometown and the community I love. … I’ve sat back as Las Vegas has been maligned, insulted and lied about for the sole purpose of making political points."

But rather than Mr. Obama, who got the anti-Vegas dice rolling, she singled out Sen. Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, for highlighting a Las Vegas "mob museum" as one example of wasteful federal spending; Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, for criticizing a costly "Sustainable Las Vegas" research project; Louisiana Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal for decrying a Las Vegas-to-California maglev train route; and Rep. Trent Franks, Arizona Republican, who remarked this week that the same maglev train would transport happy passengers from Disneyland to the Moonlit Bunny Brothel.

"I grew up in Las Vegas. I’ve never heard of the Moonlit Bunny Brothel," says the congresswoman. "But I guarantee that maglev train is not going there."

Wrong Fight to Pick

"Let’s be blunt: Democrats are screwing with the wrong man," writes another of this country’s African-American leaders, Bob Parks, a member of the national advisory council of Project 21 and a senior writer for the New Media Journal.

"They are proceeding with the assumption that Rush Limbaugh is a political figure, a seriously misguided assumption. Mr. Limbaugh is not encumbered by any re-election land mines, so he doesn’t have to worry about his actions coming back to haunt him later. He is purely driven by getting more listeners and having the White House and Capitol Hill Democrats mention him by name is a promotion dream come true."

Death of News?

According to the Columbia Journalism Review, the number of journalists who have lost their jobs since January 2007: 12,000.

The question now, say editors of the magazine: "Will somebody come up with a way to support serious reporting in a digital age?"

More Transparency

Hats off to Democratic Sens. Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Mark Udall of Colorado for having just introduced a resolution to amend the standing rules of the Senate to state:

"Not later than 48 hours after the request, each request for a congressionally directed spending item for an appropriations or authorization bill made by a senator shall be posted on the senator’s web site. The posting of the request for a congressionally directed spending item shall include the name and location of the specifically intended recipient, the purpose of the congressionally directed spending item, and the dollar amount requested. If there is no specifically intended recipient, the posting shall include the intended location of the activity, the purpose of the congressionally directed spending item, and the dollar amount requested."
Short-Changed

A young man walked up to LaDonna Hale Curzon, executive producer and host of Sarah Palin Radio, and handed the surprised talk-show host a million-dollar bill featuring the face of President Obama, albeit with a cigarette dangling out of the corner of his mouth, looking suspiciously, shall we say, very "Chicago-land" like.

There never has been a million-dollar bill, but that hasn’t kept people from trying to spend one. In March 2004, Alice Regina Pike attempted to use a $1,000,000 note with a picture of the Statue of Liberty to purchase $1,671 in goods from a Wal-Mart in Covington, Ga. She was promptly arrested.

In 2001, a man purchased a sundae at a Dairy Queen with a $200 bill featuring the face of then-President George W. Bush and received $198 in change. In 2003, an unknown person in North Carolina used a $200 bill (once again, with Mr. Bush’s likeness) at a Food Lion to purchase $150 in groceries. The cashier obligingly cashed the fake bill and presented the perpetrator with $50 in change.

Eroded Enough

Former Republican Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia has sent a letter to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., urging him to back off his attempt to restore the so-called "assault weapons" ban of 1994.

Mr. Barr, who supported Mr. Holder’s appointment despite some policy differences, called on the attorney general to focus instead on restoring the civil liberties of American citizens following "eight years of Bush administration policies eroding Americans’ civil liberties."

He wrote that "focusing on reinstating a bad – and totally unnecessary – lapsed federal law, when there are so many truly positive and vital matters before the Department of Justice, would be inconsistent in my view with the clear mandate you enjoy to restore integrity and confidence in the government of which you are an important part."

Do Tell

Fresh from its successful campaign to end the ban on photos of returning fallen military at Dover Air Force Base, a large group of "progressive" veterans, as they call themselves, has launched a campaign to end the military’s "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" policy.

Enacted in 1993, the policy seeks to discharge members of the military who are homosexual. A bill was reintroduced in recent days by Rep. Ellen O. Tauscher, California Democrat, to do away with the policy.

Out of Sight

Pat Cleary is senior vice president of one of Washington’s larger public-affairs firms. He previously held top positions at the National Association of Manufacturers and at the Labor Department, and is past chairman of the National Mediation Board.

That said, in light of the "billions" and "trillions" of dollars now being tossed around Washington like Monopoly money, Mr. Cleary points out that suddenly "millions just seem so quaint."

"Millions are now spillage down there on Capitol Hill, a mere rounding error," he says.

Thus, he’s encouraging members of Congress, and President Obama for that matter, to get back to reality by reading the children’s book "How Much is a Million?" by David M. Schwartz.

"Maybe it’ll help get their brains around the concept," he notes.

Sure enough, we have found on Amazon the 20th-anniversary edition of "How Much is a Million?" (ages 4-8, $6.99). And how much is a million?

According to the book, it would take 23 days to count to a million. Otherwise, a goldfish bowl large enough to hold a million goldfish could hold a whale. And if a million children climbed on each other’s shoulders, they would reach higher than an airplane could fly.

So how much are a billion and trillion? Mr. Schwartz writes that if a billion children made a human tower, it would reach past the moon. And a trillion children standing on each other’s shoulders would practically touch the rings of Saturn.

Addendum

Inside the Beltway reader F. Osborn writes: "In your Dec. 31, 2008, column you published my recommendation that Barack Obama take a college-level economics course. After reading parts of his recent budget proposal, I would like to reduce my recommendation to a basic course in arithmetic."

Greens and Golds

Awarded by Congress, the Congressional Gold Medal (along with the Presidential Medal of Freedom bestowed by the president) is the highest civilian award in the United States.

That said, we’re told that the House Financial Services Committee is finalizing legislation that would award prestigious Gold Medals to golf greats Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods in recognition of their service to the nation in promoting excellence and good sportsmanship.

In addition, Mr. Woods would be honored for "breaking [racial] barriers with grace and dignity by showing that golf is a sport for all people."

Ellis and Obama

"There has been a lot of use of the term ‘pork barrel’ lately," Washington historian John Lockwood can’t help but observe, referring to the billions in spending doled out by President Obama and the Democratic leadership.

Mr. Lockwood tells us he’s been digging through old books and newspapers to find out when "pork barrel" first appeared in its present context. "I found the term was being widely used by the 1880s," he reveals.

In fact, the Dirksen Congressional Center educates "pork barrel" became a political reference in the post–Civil War era, derived from the plantation practice of distributing rations of salt pork from wooden barrels. These days it’s used to describe legislation loaded with special projects for lawmakers to distribute to constituents, courtesy of the federal taxpayer.

Back to Mr. Lockwood, the earliest use of the phrase he found was published in the New York Times on May 9, 1884. The historian forwarded a copy of the clipping, headlined "Wrangling in the House" (suffice it to say, the House of Representatives, historically speaking, is a confused bunch):

"Mr. Singleton made a fruitless effort in the House of Representatives today to call up the bill providing for a new building for the Congressional Library. Mr. Holman objected to the consideration of anything but appropriation bills, and the result was a struggle which lasted over an hour.

"Mr. Ellis was anxious to call up the bill lending $1 million to the New Orleans Cotton Exhibition, and so he helped to keep back the Library bill. Mr. Reed joined Mr. Singleton in pleading for the latter measure, and Mr. Stockslager added to the confusion by trying to open the public buildings pork-barrel.

"So many motions were made that the friends of the Library bill lost their reckoning and voted against their own motion, thinking they were opposing Mr. Stockslager. When the mistake was discovered Mr. Singleton moved a reconsideration of the vote. Mr. Ellis promptly proposed to table this motion, and by a vote of 134 to 34 this was done.

"Then the House went into Committee of the Whole, and there was another long wrangle, ending at last in a victory for Mr. Ellis."


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