- The Washington Times - Monday, September 7, 2009

CZAR WATCH

Current number of Obama administration “czars”: 33. Number of czars with the official title “czar of czars”: 0. Number confirmed by the Senate: 7. Annual salary of each: As high as $172,000. Current number of news stories about the departure of “green jobs” czar Van Jones: 1,400 (per Google News).

Number to watch: 3266, as in H.R. 3226, the Czar Accountability and Reform Act of 2009, introduced July 15 by Rep.Jack Kingston, Georgia Republican. Number of co-sponsors: 34. Current status: Referred to the Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on government management, organization and procurement July 31. Number of bills before that subcommittee: 36.

And now, minus fanfare, varnish, spin, mothballs or de-fleaing preparations, here is the intent of the bill, directly from the legislation: “To provide that appropriated funds may not be used to pay for any salaries or expenses of any task force, council or similar office which is established by or at the direction of the President and headed by an individual who has been inappropriately appointed to such position (on other than an interim basis), without the advice and consent of the Senate.”

FLAK JACKET MOMENT

CNN’s Anderson Cooper has gone to Afghanistan to mark the eighth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. For security reasons, he is unable to reveal his exact location or the unit with which he is embedded. Still, it’s business as usual. Beginning Monday, Mr. Cooper will anchor “AC 360” all week, live from an active combat zone.

“My own safety? I’d be foolish not to take it into consideration. But there are tens of thousands of troops here who are facing the real danger. It really seems like such a small thing I’m doing,” Mr. Cooper tells Inside the Beltway. “The press isn’t covering this war like it should. The families of these men and women are not getting the news about their loved ones, about their lives in a combat zone, on a nightly basis. And they should.”

Mr. Anderson is accompanied by CNN’s national security analyst Peter Bergen, who reports some visible progress in the rugged nation - such as the Kabul airport and successful local minesweeping operations.

“Consider that more than 5 million refugees have returned home since the fall of the Taliban. This is one of the most substantial refugee repatriations in history, yet it is little remarked upon because it has largely gone so smoothly,” Mr. Bergen says, before going on to detail other signs of progress.

“One in six Afghans now has a cell phone. Under the Taliban, there was no phone system. Millions of kids are now in school, including many girls. Under the Taliban, girls were not allowed to be educated. And in 2008, Afghanistan’s real [gross domestic product] growth was 7.5 percent. Under the Taliban, the economy was in free fall.”

MOUNTAIN WISDOM

Sean Hannity, Ted Nugent, Hank Williams Jr., John Rich and about 100,000 of their closest friends will be jamming in West Virginia all day Monday for the “Friends of America” rally. The massive event, staged atop an inactive surface coal mine near Logan, has a definite agenda.

“Our government, environmental extremists, American corporations, and politicians on the right and the left are all endangering American labor. They’re making American labor the real endangered species as they tell us that their goal is to save the planet,” Don Blankenship, CEO of Massey Energy, tells Beltway.

“We don’t need a government that wants to shut down our coal mines. We don’t want a government that wants to increase our power bills or loans our tax money to our overseas competitors, and that refuses to loan money to our employers. We don’t want a government that is run by people who believe they can change the earth’s temperature when they can’t balance a budget,” he continues.

“In Washington, they sometimes say that those of us in Appalachia need help because we’re not very smart. Well, we’re smart enough to know that only God can change the Earth’s temperature - not Al Gore.”

NOSE FOR NEWS

Our intrepid Beltway sources are always on the lookout. For better or worse, here’s a conversation overheard at the Starbucks in Germantown among all the beautiful people and venti vanilla lattes.

“I think we ought to send a case of Ban down to the White House.”

“Why’s that?”

“Because there’s so much BO down there.”

Yes, really. That’s what they said.

POLL DU JOUR

• 61 percent of working mothers with children under 16 would rather work part time.

• 19 percent of working fathers with children under 16 would rather work part time.

• 12 percent of Americans overall say that ideally, mothers with young children should work full time.

• 44 percent say such mothers should work part time.

• 38 percent say they should not work outside the home.

Source: A Pew Research Center poll of 1,816 adults conducted from July 20 to Aug. 2

Peeps, huge announcements, learned observations to jharper@washingtontimes.com or 202/636-3085.

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