Inside the Beltway

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TAKING AIM

The public’s taste for stricter gun-control laws is fading. In 1998, about seven out of 10 Americans - 69 percent - favored more stringent control. The number now stands at 45 percent, according to a new Harris Poll of 2,500 adults, conducted in mid-May and released Wednesday. There’s a partisan divide, of course. Currently, 22 percent of Republicans favor stricter laws, compared with 70 percent of Democrats.

“Large majorities” of the public overall have little problem with gun ownership: 80 percent say Americans should be able to own rifles or shotguns, 74 percent approved of handgun ownership. Half approve “open carry” weapons, 46 percent gave the nod to concealed weapons while “significant minorities” approved ownership of an unlimited number of guns (38 percent) and semi-automatic weapons (30 percent). Ninety-two percent, however, do not approve of gun sales to anyone on the FBI’s terrorist watch list.

HERE COMES THE JUDGE

The host committee includes C. Boyden Gray, there is splendid salmon on the menu and the evening’s theme is “a night at the opera - because Washington is opera, comedy, tragedy, divas - and even castrati,” advises the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), which is staging its 16th annual dinner Thursday.

But the main attraction is not an aria, but a soliloquy from the night’s main speaker - essayist Judge Alex Kozinski, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, who was appointed by PresidentReagan in 1985. His spirited background includes, however, a victory on the old “Dating Game” in which he called the female contestant, “flower of my heart,” plus a nomination for the “Judicial Hottie” contest in a judiciary blog five years ago.

“Judge Kozinski will be speaking about antitrust law, and the tension between government regulation and competition. It’s my understanding, based on secondhand info, that one of the things he likes best about CEI is its chutzpah,” general counsel Sam Kazman advises Inside the Beltway.

AND MAYBE A TAR CZAR

Let’s see. How many White House czars do we have now? Thirty-two, 33? Though it’s hard to keep count, Myron Ebell, director of energy and global warming policy for the aforementioned CEI, has a timely suggestion for a new czar, who will probably be pretty busy in the next few months, and on multiple assignments.

“A Gulf recovery czar? What’s really needed is a blame assignment czar,” Mr. Ebell suggests to the Beltway.

APPARENT-HOOD

A spate of Republican lawmakers and pro-life advocates are not happy with the Government Accountability Office’s first ever report on federal funding for “abortion advocates,” released Wednesday. The analysis had been requested by Rep. Pete Olson of Texas, with support from 31 other Republicans.

The new report revealed that six key organizations, including Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Population Council of the United States, received $967 million between 2002 and 2009. While the groups can’t use federal funds to provide abortions at taxpayer expense, they can cover the procedure through grants or donations.

“A majority of Americans oppose taxpayer funding for groups that promote or perform abortions. With the national debt over $13 trillion, we must apply strict scrutiny to every federal dollar allocated,” Mr. Olson says.

“When taxpayer money goes to abortion groups for any reason, it supports the work of the abortion industry,” says Family Research Council senior fellow Ken Blackwell.

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