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Inside the Beltway

- The Washington Times - Monday, April 19, 2010

MCVEIGH BREW

Some fret that MSNBC's decision to air Timothy McVeigh's confession for the Oklahoma City bombing 15 years ago is an attempt to link that crime with the "tea party" movement. Hosted by Rachel Maddow, "The McVeigh Tapes: Confessions of an American Terrorist" airs Monday night and includes McVeigh's "chilling confession" in his own words for the first time, with "insight into how a decorated American soldier became a dangerous, anti-government terrorist," the network says.

"Maddow's message is that tea party fervor and an anti-Washington mood are precursors to domestic terrorism akin to Oklahoma City bombing," says Colin Hanna, president of the grass-roots group Let Freedom Ring.

"This special is the culmination of a yearlong campaign attempting to link the tea party movement to fringe violence, starting with a federal government report tagging principled conservatives as violent extremists," Mr. Hanna continues. "These smears have been bubbling up for months in the mainstream media. Every fringe lunatic, every tragic killing is attributed to conservative ideas or boisterous media personalities."

The phenomenon has been building. Just more than a year ago, an intelligence report from the Department of Homeland Security warned law enforcement officials about a rise in "right-wing extremist activity," blaming the trend on economic recession, the election of America's first black president, disgruntled war veterans and people opposed to abortion or immigration.

At the time, American Legion chief David Rehbein called the report "incomplete, and, I fear, politically biased," among other things.

"The evidence is clear that as the tea party message has taken hold, liberals are growing increasingly desperate and the tired slogans aren't sticking," says Mr. Hanna, who already has challenged Ms. Maddow to debate the topic. "Instead of engaging the tea party movement on the issues of economic freedom, government intrusion and individual fiscal responsibility, MSNBC's primetime star is turning one of the nation's great tragedies into a cheap political talking point."

JUST SO YOU KNOW

The big fat federal bank bailout has morphed into a cultural phenomenon: It's become a tool to gauge political trustworthiness. Fifty-seven percent of Americans would trust a lawmaker who voted against the bailouts more than a member of Congress who favored them, says a new Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 likely voters conducted April 14 and 15. Twenty-one percent would trust the bailout-friendly lawmaker.

But wait. A classic Ronald Reagan-ism is still viable. Fifty-six percent also say they agree with Mr. Reagan's statement, "Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem," made Jan. 20, 1981, during his first inauguration speech. The phrase, by the way, is available as a cell-phone ring tone from Myxer, a "mobile entertainment and device personalization" company. Preview it here: www.myxer.com/ringtone:1603833/

BUMPER PATROL

"What Washington needs is adult supervision."

(Bumper sticker spotted in Arlington, Va.)

ROMNEY AND RUBIO

The growing wave of support for Marco Rubio could turn into a tsunami. The conservative challenger to Gov. Charlie Crist for the U.S. Senate seat in Florida has picked up the endorsement of Mitt Romney - who will appear with the young hopeful in Tampa on Monday.

"From his humble beginnings as the son of working-class Cuban exiles, Marco Rubio's meteoric rise - first to Florida Speaker of the House, and now to a candidate for the U.S. Senate — is the embodiment of the American Dream," says Mr. Romney.

"While I respect Governor Crist, Marco Rubio's proven record of conservative, principled, and idea-driven leadership is what Florida needs now. Marco Rubio will be a reliable spokesman against the Washington culture of higher spending, higher taxes and higher debt."

Mr. Romney's Free and Strong America PAC is making a maximum $5,000 primary election contribution to Mr. Rubio's campaign. The pair will hold a press conference in late morning; stay tuned.

LOWER THE BOOM

Like arming airline pilots in the cockpit? Maybe. A top Navy commander suggests commercial vessels arm themselves to ward off pirates while traveling the seas off the Somali coast. Americans simply can't police it all.

"We could put a World War II fleet of ships out there and we still wouldn't be able to cover the whole ocean," says Navy Adm. Mark P. Fitzgerald, commander of U.S. naval forces in Europe and Africa and of NATO's Allied Joint Task Force Command Naples.

Another problem — this one probably centuries old — has surfaced. What to do with a gang of captured pirates?

"Catch and release is not a very good option. How do we deal with this? We've got to come to some kind of solution," Adm. Fitzgerald adds.

POLL DU JOUR

• 69 percent of Americans say they are "absolutely certain" they will vote in 2010 midterm elections.

• 56 percent are "frustrated" with the federal government, 21 percent are "angry" with it.

• 52 percent say the U.S. political system is "fine" but the lawmakers "are the problem."

• 50 percent say the government runs its programs inefficiently.

• 50 percent want smaller government with fewer services, 39 percent favor bigger government with more services.

• 43 percent say the federal government has a negative effect on their daily life, 38 percent say the effect is positive.

Source: A Pew Research Center poll of 2,505 adults conducted March 11 to 21 and released Sunday.

Comments, rants and erudite press releases to jharper@washingtontimes.com