Inside the Beltway

Question of the Day

Should Congress make English the official language of the U.S.?

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RETRO ROCKETS

Was this the big liftoff? Well, no. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden elaborated on the agency’s “priority” to reach out to Muslim countries during a July 1 appearance on the Al Jazeera network. Conservatives were vexed, and the White House predictably sprang to his defense. But the offending glare is not new, if a speech Mr. Bolden made June 15 at the American University in Cairo is any gauge.

“Soon after President Barack Obama stood in Cairo, just over one year ago, and spoke of a partnership between the United States and Muslims around the world, he asked NASA to change that ratio by reaching out to ‘nontraditional’ partners and strengthening our cooperation in the Middle East, North Africa, Southeast Asia and, in particular, in Muslim-majority nations,” Mr. Bolden told his audience.

He went on, “NASA has embraced this charge. International cooperation contributes significantly to NASAs mission just as it does to the national goals and objectives of our partners. Existing cooperation with nontraditional partners is reflected in many of our agreements that involve low-cost, high-impact activities in science and education. For example, NASA already has 39 active agreements in 30 dominantly Muslim countries.”

HASTY HASTINGS

Yes, that’s the way it works. And it only took 12 days. Michael Hastings, who created a hubbub with his June 25 Rolling Stone tell-all about now-retired Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, already has a book deal with Little, Brown & Co. The upcoming volume “promises an unprecedented behind-the-scenes account of America’s longest war,” says his literary agent, Scott Moyers.

“This landmark work of journalism will elucidate as never before our deeply troubling war in vivid, unforgettable detail,” according to the advance publicity. Mr. Hastings, a former Newsweek correspondent, proposed a book to a literary agency about the death of his fiancee Andrea Parhamovitch in 2007, just three weeks after the one-time Air America employee was killed in a car bombing in Iraq. Scribner published “I Lost My Love In Baghdad” in 2008, advancing the author $500,000.

“In his brilliant article, Michael Hastings has already given us the clearest of insights into the disaster of Americas war in Afghanistan,” says Little, Brown publisher Michael Pietsch. “His book will take us deeper and further into the war and its major architects, at a time when we need that clarity desperately.”

GETTING LOCAL

Citing new numbers released by the Federation for American Immigration Reform, conservative hopeful Charles Lollar — who aims to unseat House Democratic Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer in the 2010 midterm elections — says his home state of Maryland spends $1.1 billion a year to educate children of illegal immigrants, $167 million on unreimbursed health care for the group, and another $29 million annually to incarcerate the wrongdoers.

“When we are willing to pay illegals to remain illegal, what is the point of legal immigrants trying to do things the right way?” Mr. Lollar asks. “Nobody is disputing that legal immigration has been beneficial to the United States. The issue is that the people being discussed are here illegally.”

GETTING NATIONAL

Maybe Arizona is safer territory then, say, Afghanistan, for a certain prominent Republican.

“It is unfortunate that President Obama and his administration would rather wage a costly legal battle with Arizona than allow the state to take the concrete steps necessary to secure its border,” says the somewhat embattled Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele.

“Not only will a lawsuit not solve the problem, it is just another instance of hollow, political gamesmanship from a White House unwilling to take the bold action necessary to solve one of the countrys most pressing issues.”

WHOOPS

The Transportation Security Administration is reminding military troops that “explosives” are not allowed on commercial flights.

The agency revealed Tuesday that its security teams occasionally encounter soldiers who have packed inert grenades in their luggage, often as a “keepsake” from the battlefield. Uh, thanks, but no thanks.

“We always look forward to partnering with our service members during the security screening process as we strive to achieve our mutual mission of protecting our homeland,” notes a discreet spokeswoman.

PAPA JON

The women have spoken: Comedy Central “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart does not run a sexist “boys’ club” where female staffers are demeaned, as reported recently by Irin Carmon of Jezebel.com.

“Recently, certain media outlets have attempted to tell us what its like to be a woman at “The Daily Show.’ We must admit it is entertaining to be the subjects of such a vivid and dramatic narrative. However, while rampant sexism at a well-respected show makes for a great story, we want to make something very clear: The place you may have read about is not our office,” the 31 women said in a statement released Tuesday.

They conclude, “The Daily Show isn’t a boys’ club or a girls’ club, it’s a family — a highly functioning if sometimes dysfunctional family. And we’re not thinking about how to maximize our gender roles in the workplace on a daily basis. We’re thinking about how to punch up a joke about Glenn Beck’s latest diatribe, where to find a Michael Steele puppet on an hour’s notice and which chocolate looks most like an oil spill.”

POLL DU JOUR

64 percent of Americans say illegal immigration is an “extremely or very serious” threat to the future well-being of the country.

62 percent say illegal immigrants “cost taxpayers too much.”

78 percent of Republicans and 50 percent of Democrats agree.

50 percent overall say “halting flow of illegal immigrants” should be the main focus of government action.

67 percent of Republicans and 43 percent of Democrats agree.

32 percent overall say illegal workers will “become productive taxpayers.”

17 percent of Republicans and 43 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Gallup Poll of 1,014 adults conducted June 11 to 13.

Tips, quips, flippant talk to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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