- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 24, 2009

NOT BIDING TIME

Only one month in office and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has already been handed more responsibility than arguably any vice president in recent memory - tapped by President Obama on Monday to be steward (if not subsequent scapegoat) of the massive, nearly $1 trillion economic-stimulus package.

Who will ever forget when asked to name a contribution by Vice President Richard Nixon to his administration, President Dwight D. Eisenhower responded, “If you give me a week, I might think of one.”

PARTY CRASHING

John McCain, it would seem, is no longer in high demand to appear at special events and parties.

After all, the 5-feet 8-inch “John McCain cardboard standup” can now be had for a mere $31.95, while Windy City Novelties puts a higher price of $36.95 on the head of the “President Obama cardboard standup.”

“Invite President Barack Obama to your special event and to greet your guests. Whether you are having a patriotic event or celebrating a special occasion, having the life-like 6-foot cardboard cutout of the president of the United States is a great decoration and photo prop for your events,” says the novelty maker.

The cutout features Mr. Obama standing at the presidential podium.

THE BIRDS

Birds — and how to avoid them when man intrudes in their God-given airspace — will be one of the top topics of discussion when the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) convenes a two-day public hearing in Washington as part of its ongoing investigation into last month’s ditching of a US Airways jetliner into the Hudson River in New York City.

In fact, we’ve learned, two of the four primary subjects to be probed during the NTSB hearing surround winged creatures: “bird ingestion” standards for turbofan engines like those on the US Airways Airbus A320 that became choked with Canada geese upon takeoff from New York’s LaGuardia Airport, and new and developing technologies “for detection of large groups of birds and procedures to avoid conflicts with birds in the general vicinity of airports.”

The hearing, to be held in late spring or early summer, will be one instance in which the NTSB praises both the performance of the crew of US Airways Flight 1549 and the physical integrity of the aircraft in a water landing.

“Based on what we have learned so far about this accident, we know that many things went right,” says NTSB acting ChairmanMark Rosenker. “But no matter how many things go right, we’ve found that each accident presents safety issues that we can learn from … to make the skies even safer.”

APTS/HOUSING

Appearing at Georgetown University on Wednesday evening at 7 will be none other than Craig Newmark.

Craig who?

The creator of “Craigslist,” no less, who will share his experiences and thoughts regarding, among other topics, the future of user-created marketplaces and the role of technology in business. He will also discuss his motivations behind Craigslist, the extremely popular Internet site that features free classified advertisements, from apartments and housing to “women seeking men” and “rants and raves.”

NIELSEN RATING

Inside the Beltway’s mailbag overfloweth after asking the question: Does President Obama practice what he preaches when it comes to saving taxpayer dollars?

”If the taxpayers are helping you, then you have certain responsibilities to not be living high on the hog,” Mr. Obama said last month, before going on his subsequent spending spree. We’ll allow Bryan Nielsen to speak for other column writers:

“You’re not suggesting that the premier member of our elite ruling class actually adhere to the same rules they inflict on the rest of us, are you?” he asks. “Lead by example? You must be mad! Yeah, then wait for Al Gore riding a bike, a Democrat Cabinet nominee paying their taxes before being nominated … the list is endless.”

WIN STREAK

We had to laugh at the T-shirt worn by a college student jogging along Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest: “George Washington Football - Still Undefeated.”

The leading academic institution, located just four blocks from the White House, which has educated the likes of J. Edgar Hoover, Jackie Bouvier Kennedy, and Colin L. Powell, to name just a few VIA (very important alum) past and present, once did actually suit up a football team, competing in the Southern Conference.

The Colonials fumbled their last football in 1966.

• John McCaslin can be reached at 202/636-3284 or e-mailJohn McCaslin

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