- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 1, 2009

SCENT OF A CENT

OK, read ‘em and weep: Dollars added to the national debt - $1,650,971,205,167. Debt held by the public - $7.5 trillion, up from $5.8 trillion a year ago. Number of banks taken over by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. - 99. Stimulus dollars spent from the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act - $164 billion. Number of banks receiving assistance from the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program - 684. Deficit as a percent of the gross domestic product for fiscal 2009 - 11.2 percent, up from of 3.2 percent in fiscal 2008.

Ding, ding, ding - time’s up. Take a breath. All these numbers come from the intrepid bean-counters at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

“Fiscal year 2009 will be one for the history books,” said Maya MacGuineas, the group’s president. “A lot of astonishing things occurred this year. While we’ve been warning about persisting deficits and growing debt for years now, we’ve never seen numbers quite so daunting.”

POLICE PRESENCE

Syndicated radio host Armstrong Williams threw open the doors of his Capitol Hill home Wednesday night to host a party for Michael Jackson. No, wait. Not that Michael Jackson.

“We’re talking Prince George’s County Sheriff Michael Jackson. He’s running for county executive, and I truly believe in his cause. We are gun-toting, God-fearing folks, and we believe in law enforcement and support law enforcement. We all need to stay connected here,” Mr. Williams tells Inside the Beltway.

Among the attendees of the soiree to honor the candidate, who is a Democrat and retired Marine: R&B artist Ginuwine, business consultant Marty Bender and sports entrepreneur Rock Newman.

“A good time to had by all? Of course, you bet,” Mr. Williams adds. “Now we’re looking toward the campaign trail.”

THE DIZZYING HEIGHTS

Yes, it gave the public pause to find out that National Public Radio host Scott Simon earns $300,648 a year to host “Weekend Edition Saturday,” according to a recent Washington Post salary survey. Listeners queried NPR ombudsman Alicia Shepard about the figure, who in turn queried Mr. Simon.

“I am grateful for the salary that I earn and feel that it is merited by the popularity of our program, the audience our show generates, the number of interviews, essays and reported pieces that I do, and whatever value I have to NPR that may contribute to our relationship with the public,” Mr. Simon replied.

“There are a few other people in public radio who earn more, both at weekly and daily programs. Most everybody in commercial broadcasting earns a lot more.”

Well, OK. That’s nice. But just in time to amuse everybody who makes, say, under $50K a year, along comes Michael Massing of the Columbia Journalism Review, who shares this:

Katie Couric’s annual salary is more than the entire annual budgets of NPR’s ‘Morning Edition’ and ‘All Things Considered’ combined. Couric’s salary comes to an estimated $15 million a year; NPR spends $6 million a year on its morning show and $5 million on its afternoon one. NPR has 17 foreign bureaus (which cost it another $9.4 million a year); CBS has 12. Few figures, I think, better capture the absurd financial structure of the network news.”

BUMPER-STICKER PATROL

“O is the new W.” - spotted in Fairfax.

CIVILITY PATROL

Manners can be a tricky business. Just ask Emily Post, perhaps, or Frances Rice, chairwoman of the National Black Republican Association and a former Army officer.

“It’s a sure sign that Republicans are winning a debate on issues when Democrats, aided by well-meaning civility police, pundits and activists, demand that Republicans stop showing their passion and ‘be civil.’ I am still waiting for those with such a keen sense of civility to demand that Democrats cease their unrelenting and uncivil, even racist, attacks on black Republicans. I wont hold my breath,” Ms. Rice says.

“High on the Democrats list of those to be denigrated are accomplished black Republicans who do not toe the Democrats liberal agenda line. Shamefully, Democrats do not want poor black children to have as role models any black person who does not engage in victim-mongering and works hard to become prosperous rather than become dependent on government handouts.”

The Florida-based group is tracking the phenomenon. Among those maligned online, in broadcasts and in print: Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele,former Secretaries of State Colin L. Powell and Condoleezza Rice and Supreme Court JusticeClarence Thomas.

“Our political discourse can be elevated to the high standards demanded by the civility police only when Democrats are also required to play by the rules of civility,” Frances Rice argues.

POLL DU JOUR

• 22 percent of American voters “believe” that Congress will understand heath care reform legislation when the vote comes up.

• 55 percent say they will not understand it.

• 53 percent say it’s not likely lawmakers will have the bill before voting.

• 51 percent say they understand the bill better than members of Congress.

• 42 percent say people “randomly selected from the phone book” would do a better job on heath care reform than Congress.

Source: A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 likely voters conducted Sept. 28-29.

Rants, happenstance and cultural moments to jharper@washingtontimes .com or 202/636-3085. Follow her at twitter.com/harper bulletin.

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