- The Washington Times - Monday, August 24, 2009

Y’ALL COME

The official remembrance of 9/11 is not what it used to be under the Obama administration. This year, the survivors of those who died at the Pentagon got a casual electronic “e-vite” for the annual wreath-laying at the memorial site as if it were a trite invite to a party, a source tells Inside the Beltway. Survivors were also referred to a recorded telephone announcement rather than a human contact for information.

“The e-vite was cold and disrespectful, addressed to ‘Dear family.’ We were instructed to print out the invitation and bring it along. Many of us thought it was a joke. But it wasn’t a joke,” says a survivor who lost a spouse when American Airlines Flight 77 - hijacked by terrorists and flying at 530 mph - slammed into the Pentagon at 9:36 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2001.

The impact killed 183 people ranging in age from 3 to 71 years, plus the six terrorist hijackers.

“I don’t want to be part of some photo-op, if that’s all this is going to be. Some of us are thinking about not going. The Defense Department was always so sensitive to survivors in the past. We got a printed invitation, and there was a very courteous contact person who helped us along for years. He’s gone, too. I get the feeling DoD doesn’t want to make a big deal about 9/11 anymore. Now, it’s like nothing,” the source says.

“I’m not one for huge deals. I don’t think we need a great big event here. But an e-vite and a recording? People still need to remember. We can’t become complacent.”

SAVAGE REACTION

Scotland’s release of Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi continues to infuriate a spate of notables - including PresidentObama, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen - who are convinced that the decision was no humanitarian gesture, but a naive attempt to enhance trade between Britain and Libya that ultimately mocked justice.

Talk-radio host Michael Savage is particularly piqued, given that his name remains on a list of “undesirables” banned from Britain.

“They put me on this list of murderers and terrorists as a political favor to Islamic nations,” Mr. Savage tells Beltway.

And it’s still on the list, even as al-Megrahi goes free, he says. Mr. Savage’s Web site was also compromised by unknown hackers Saturday, adding to his disquiet, and a sense that the general public is not paying attention to the possible opening volleys of a war between East and West.

“The public is blind, deaf and dumb. And we are ripe for the loss of our freedom,” Mr. Savage says.

NO BULLIES ALLOWED

Forget flag-waving and school auditoriums. Town meetings are now hip. A D.C. eatery normally known for open-mic nights and poetry slams, Busboys and Poets, will stage what they bill as a “REAL town meeting” on health care reform Monday night.

“Combining philosophical and practical dialogue, we’ll explore the ‘wicked problem’ of health care in the United States and the possible solutions,” says organizer Pamela Pinnock.

Alex Moll of the National Issues Forum and Bill Corbett of the Center for Voter Deliberation of Northern Virginia will moderate. Haiku and iambic pentameter, presumably, are welcome.

SPACE PACER

Stephen Colbert has at last achieved lofty fame. Well, at least he’d like to think so. A treadmill waggishly named after the comedian will rocket into the heavens aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery in about 24 hours. Mr. Colbert, in fact, will deliver a personal message to astronauts about 7:15 p.m. Monday via NASA television.

Is he urging the crew on, or applauding its tenacity? Let’s hope so. But Mr. Colbert is more likely to crow about the snappy new COLBERT treadmill soon to be delivered to the International Space Station. Oh. ‘Scuse us. The acronym stands for Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill. For weeks, Mr. Colbert, the host of Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report,” urged his viewers to suggest that NASA name something, anything after him. NASA graciously responded by offering the treadmill, and even designed an official commemorative patch for the phenomenon.

It will be the second treadmill in space, presenting an aspect that offers some unintended irony, perhaps.

“COLBERT is louder than the first treadmill,” NASA noted in a recent, serious evaluation.

The Discovery is set to launch at 1:36 a.m. Tuesday.

POLL DU JOUR

• 59 percent of Americans are more likely to buy an item marked “Made in America.”

• 37 percent feel neutral about the designation.

• 79 percent have made cuts in their personal spending owing to the economy.

• 21 percent did not make any cuts.

• 4 percent have increased their spending “to what it was.”

Source: An Adweek/Harris Poll of 2,066 adults conducted July 15-17.

Big announcements, tattles, intergalactic messages to jharper@washingtontimes.com or 202/636-3085.

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