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Inside the Beltway

Question of the Day

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

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LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

"I am opposed to the building of the 'mosque' two blocks from ground zero. I want it built on ground zero," says filmmaker Michael Moore.

Uh-oh.

"Why? Because I believe in an America that protects those who are the victims of hate and prejudice. I believe in an America that says you have the right to worship whatever God you have, wherever you want to worship. And I believe in an America that says to the world that we are a loving and generous people, and if a bunch of murderers steal your religion from you and use it as their excuse to kill 3,000 souls, then I want to help you get your religion back. And I want to put it at the spot where it was stolen from you."

AND IN SUMMATION …

"I believe we've gotten the Republican Party's attention."

FreedomWorks founder and former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, during the tea party's "Remember in November" rally on the National Mall on Sunday.

AND SO IT GOES

Makes one wonder if Tony Snow, Ari Fleischer, Mike McCurry, Marlin Fitzwater, Jody Powell, Ron Zeigler, Bill Moyers and Pierre Salinger — former White House press secretaries all — would have done the same thing.

"Story on Boehner covers some of his greatest hits, handing out checks from lobbyists on the House floor," said current spokesman Robert Gibbs — aka "PressSec" — in a series of Tweets openly publicizing a lengthy New York Times piece purportedly linking House Minority Leader John A. Boehner with special interest groups. On top of that, journalists quickly scurried to proclaim that "Boehner blinked" after his acknowledgment on CBS News Sunday that he might have to give up some expiring tax cuts if Mr. Obama refuses to compromise.

"So the Times blasted Boehner in the Sunday paper with a line of attack taken up by President Obama last week and touted by the White House the morning of its publication, and teed up a week of Boehner-bashing by offering the laughable veil of objectivity to de facto Democratic talking points," says Lachlan Markay, a Newsbusters.com analyst. "Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the mainstream media."

THOSE LOYAL REPUBLICANS

"The Pew Research Center's biennial news consumption survey offers some good news for the media for a change. Americans are spending more time with the news than over much of the past decade," says Andrew Kohut, director of the organization.

The survey finds that 34 percent of Americans go online for news daily, 44 percent receive it through one or more Internet or mobile digital sources. Thirty six percent get news from both digital and traditional sources, while 39 percent go to "traditional sources," with 9 percent relying on Internet and mobile technology alone. See the monster survey here: http://people-press.org.

"The survey finds that cable news continues to play a significant role in people's news habits — 39 percent say they regularly get news from a cable channel. But Fox News is the only cable news outlet to maintain its audience share in recent years, thanks to its growing Republican audience," Mr. Kohut observed.

LOOSE CHANGE

The White House can overuse that hackneyed phrase "grow the economy," demonize former President George W. Bush's tax cuts or reheat talk of recovery. But the real solution may be tucked away in the psyche, not the pocketbooks, of ordinary Americans.

"The government simply doesn't have enough Viagra to stimulate the economy," says economic forecaster Harry Dent. "Interest rates are near zero and hundreds of billions of dollars in stimulus money weren't enough. People are afraid to spend money and two-thirds of our economy is consumer spending. There's a ton of cash on the sidelines and in savings accounts, and it will stay there unless the government convinces the public that it's safe to go back in the water. Until consumers buy that, they won't be buying anything. Period."

HOLA, SENORA

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's favorability numbers are consistently positive; there is talk she's on a steely, long-term strategy to emerge as the first truly "presidential" female candidate — with former President Bill Clinton as her, uh, First Gentleman.

One major Western ally is not charmed by her new political bearings, though. Mexican President Felipe Calderon struck back at Mrs. Clinton after she compared his nation's violent illegal drug trade with Columbia's and suggested an insurgency was afoot south of the border.

"In Mexico, there are no parts of the territory in the hands of criminals," Mr. Calderon told Univision's "El Punto" Spanish-language talk show on Sunday.

"It is very painful for Mexico that such careless statements are made … because they damage Mexico's image terribly," Mr. Calderon continued. "The main thing in common with Colombia is that we are both countries that suffer the results of drug use in the United States. Both countries are victims of the enormous American consumption of drugs and in addition, of an exacerbated sale of arms from American industry."

President Obama did not exactly second the observations of his chief diplomatic officer.

"You can't compare what is happening in Mexico with what happened in Colombia," he told the Los Angeles-based La Opinion newspaper, praising Mexico as "an ample and progressive democracy."

POLL DU JOUR

72 percent of Americans say Osama bin Laden is still alive.

17 percent are not sure, 11 percent say he is dead.

56 percent say the U.S. will not be safer if is he is killed or captured.

23 percent say the nation will be safer, 21 percent are not sure.

36 percent say al Qaeda is stronger than it was before the 9/11 attacks.

33 percent say al Qaeda's power "is about the same," and 25 percent say it is weaker.

Source: A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 adults conducted Sept. 7 and 8.

Rants, raves, press releases to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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