Inside the Beltway

Question of the Day

Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

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THE DOCTOR IS OUT

“Yes Virginia, there are limits on government power. Today is a good day for liberty, and a bad day for those who say that Congress is the arbiter of Congress’s powers,” says Cato Institute scholar Ilya Shapiro, regarding the ruling issued by Judge Henry E. Hudson of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia that on Monday declared the “individual mandate” in President Obama’s 2,801-page health care bill to exceed constitutional boundaries of congressional power.

“This win is also a victory for the entire ‘tea party’ movement and constitutional conservatives everywhere,” proclaims Richard A. Viguerie, chairman of ConservativeHQ.com. “Tea partiers and constitutional conservatives must rally behind and support Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli as he takes his case — and the Gadsden ‘Don’t tread on me’ flag that decorates his office — through the appeals process.”

“The decision makes it clear that President Obama and Democrats overreached and violated the Constitution in their rush to pass a federal takeover of our health care system,” said Sen. Jim DeMint, South Carolina Republican, who also praises Mr. Cuccinelli’s “compelling” case.

Probable 2012 presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich added, “We must now let Congress finish the job by revealing the flawed legislation and replacing it with reform that allows for affordable coverage for all Americans. Ken Cuccinelli showed great courage.”

HO, HO, HO

A Rasmussen Reports survey finds that 74 percent of Americans say religious symbols such as Christmas nativity scenes and Hanukkah menorahs should be allowed on public land; 17 percent disagree. Eighty percent favor celebrating religious holidays in public schools; 14 percent are opposed. The survey of 1,000 adults was conducted Dec. 10-11.

FAUX TEA

“This is a historic moment. All of us have gathered here to create a new movement for ‘We the People’ because our country is at a critical crossroads and our political system is broken. Two hundred and twenty-one years ago, the American Republic was founded. At its inception, our nation was based on a few fundamental and timeless principles and values. These included ones like limited government, individual liberty, opportunity, personal responsibility, thrift, limited debt, savings and stewardship.”

Surely this is the opening volley of a “tea party” rally? Well, no. This is David Walker, former U.S. comptroller general and a founder of No Labels, a politically centrist nonprofit with mottos such as “not left, not right but forward” and “we’re all partied out.” It has co-opted tea party outreach and language, and promises town-hall meetings in every state throughout 2011.

No Labels has earned such press descriptions as “MoveOn.org for the middle,” and the “anti-party,” among other things. The group launched Monday in New York with the help of New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg — wearing his favorite bipartisan purple tie — Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Evan Bayh of Indiana and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, along with outgoing Rep. Mike Castle, Delaware Republican.

STEELE TRAP

“Steele is said to be amused by false reports of his retirement and intentionally kept his plans secret for the last month in order to flush out competitors for the post,” Fox Newsman Doug McKelway reports about Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele and his plans to retain his post.

DOWN MEMORY LANE

It was Time magazine’s Joe Klein who called Newt Gingrich “a demented, anger-infused doofus” earlier this year. Then there’s MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, who deemed Sen. Scott Brown, Massachusetts Republican, “an irresponsible, homophobic, racist, reactionary, ex-nude model, teabagging supporter of violence against women and against politicians with whom he disagrees.”

Pronounced and persistent liberal bias still flourishes in the press, and now citizen critics can weigh in on the phenomenon. The Media Research Center is asking concerned readers and viewers of such fare to vote on the “Worst Media Bias of 2010,” in 15 unsavory categories. The public online ballot is open until 3 p.m. EST on Thursday; find it at www.mrc.org. The choices will be announced Monday.

SIGN OF THE TIMES

The U.S. Postal Service has compiled “Let It Snow,” its own CD collection of Christmas tunes that includes Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Torme and eight other crooning holiday heavies. Yes, it is for sale for $9.74, along with stamps and a special-edition priority mail box emblazoned with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Hermey the Elf. The DVD of the same 1964 animated TV classic is also for sale.

“People don’t usually think about going to the post office to buy stocking-stuffers or last-minute gifts,” said Tim Healy, vice president of retail products, who deems the prices “great.”

POLL DU JOUR

• 52 percent of Americans do not support the health care reform law.

• 43 percent support it.

• 86 percent of Republicans, 47 percent of independents and 27 percent of Democrats oppose the law.

• 38 percent of the overall group that opposes health care reform say “wait and see” is the best approach to deal with the law for now.

• 30 percent would appeal “parts of the law.”

• 29 percent would appeal “all” of it.

Source: An ABC News/Washington Post poll of 1,001 adults conducted Dec. 9-12.

Proclamations, accusations, spare stamps to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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