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Inside the Beltway

- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 8, 2010

STICKIER WIKIS

WikiLeaks Part II has begun. The hand-wringing part. Fans of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange - convinced he is a hero - now argue against his possible arrest for releasing 90,000 classified military documents on his website. Tom Hayden and Code Pink founder Medea Benjamin are among the myriad peace activists to swiftly steer the Wiki-turmoil toward their own cause, noting in a new petition to stop the war in Afghanistan that "WikiLeaks and those whistleblowers who declassify documents in a time of secret war should be welcomed as defenders of democracy, not demonized as criminals." Their timing could be impeccable, as there's likely more to come.

"I fear another document leak after a period of faux 'due diligence.' They just don't understand why some things are legitimately secret," former CIA Director Michael V. Hayden, a retired Air Force general, tells Inside the Beltway.

He ponders the clandestine landscape, now and in the future.

"I can only imagine what adversary intelligence services worldwide are doing with these documents. If I were the chief of Russia's FSB or China's PLA-2, I would be gathering all of my English-speaking officers and directing them to read all 75,000 documents to learn where the Americans are strong, weak, vulnerable, formidable, to be avoided and to be challenged," Gen. Hayden continues.

"And all of this because of some corrupted view of the inherent evils of the modern state, a pseudo-romantic attachment to the absolute value of transparency, a casual indifference to inevitable consequences and a neurotic attachment to one individual's self-importance. Rarely have we seen such a dangerous combination of arrogance and incompetence," he adds. "Perhaps we should ask heaven to help us, because our intelligence services will surely be less able to do so."

PLEASE STAY HOME

Many Americans can't quite fathom White House leisure habits as the nation, seemingly, edges toward bedlam. President Obama is either playing golf and celebrity basketball or never home while first lady Michelle Obama takes a big, exclusive, expensive, much scrutinized vacation. Pajamas Media founder Roger L. Simon has pondered this disconnect and come up with his own answer.

"Maybe Michelle and Barack just assume the president is not going to be re-elected, so why bother to keep up pretenses?" Mr. Simon asks.

"While it seems clear that President Obama enjoys campaigning and hobnobbing a lot more than he does governing, it is hard to imagine him giving up after one term," counters Powerline's John Hinderaker. "I think the Obamas' tone-deafness, which was on exhibit long before Michelle's Spanish vacation, more likely results from their inexperience and the fact that if you are a significant figure in Democratic Party politics, you spend a great deal of time with rich people. That can skew one's perspective."

OBAMA CORNUCOPIA

Maybe it's because the 24/7 news cycle is hungry. Maybe not. But the White House press corps - particularly those with "pool duty" obligations to supple details of the moment - tends to obsess over the food in and around the presidency.

A brief review, then, of what was on the assorted menus of either President Obama or Michelle Obama, from the past 48 hours alone: Barbecued shrimp from the Gulf Coast, Andalusian-style chilled gazpacho soup, chargrilled turbot, veal escalopes with mustard, Oriental rice with sauteed mushrooms, Majorca-style vegetable ratatouille, fresh fruit with ice cream, and Spanish wine.

ALTERNATIVE PROGRAMMING

"The Real Housewives of Proverbs 31"

- New reality TV title suggestion for the Bravo Network, from Beliefnet columnist Diana Butler Bass.

WORD TO THE WISE

M. Zuhdi Jasser, president of the Arizona-based American Islamic Forum for Democracy, has advice for other Muslim groups weary of their religion being linked to terrorism, or vexed by "the Islamophobic tea party" or public fears of the proposed ground zero mosque in New York City.

"The only way to eliminate the linkage of Islam and 9/11 is for Muslims to fight the battle within the House of Islam and eliminate the ideology of political Islam," Mr. Jasser says.

"Instead of throwing slanderous insults at a growing national movement of millions of tea partiers and acting like an Islamist political party by imploring 'the Democrats' to buy into Muslim victimology, we need to take non-partisan anti-Islamist responsibility for reforming our faith and protecting American Muslims from the slippery slope of Islamist radicalization," he adds.

POLL DU JOUR

- 62 percent of Americans favor tax holidays for back-to-school shopping.

- 60 percent say they would be more likely to buy during the tax-free period.

- 51 percent of parents with school-age children anticipate spending more on school supplies this year.

- 45 percent oppose the idea of mandatory school uniforms to keep down costs.

- 40 percent approve of the idea.

- 40 percent say their state briefly suspends sales tax to encourage school shopping.

Source: A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 adults conducted Aug. 2-3.

*Growling, gnashing, whimpering to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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