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Inside the Beltway

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 12, 2011

ODE TO OBAMACARE

A $200 million federal public relations campaign to trumpet health care reform? Alas. A Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed against the Department of Health and Human Services by Judicial Watch reveals that the agency conducted a "massive taxpayer-funded multimedia campaign designed to promote the Affordable Health Care Act (also known as Obamacare) and other HHS policy initiatives." The documents show the agency requested up to $200 million for its multimedia, multicultural outreach with such high-profile agencies as the Ogilvy Group. See the details here: www.judicialwatch.org.

"These records prove the administration is using taxpayer dollars to manipulate public opinion. It also appears the Obama administration is trying to get a leg up in the re-election campaign by targeting key Obama constituencies with positive and misleading messages about the presidents 'signature' policy initiative," says Tom Fitton, president of the watchdog group.

IN A WORD

Ridiculous, disgusting, frustrating, messy, disappointing, stupid, bull [expletive], poor, terrible, childish, fair, horrible, idiotic, stinks, chaotic, confusing, pathetic, political, slow, sucks.

In order, the top 20 words voluntarily cited by Americans to describe budget negotiations to avert a government shutdown, from a Pew Research Center for the People & the Press/Washington Post survey of 1,004 adults conducted April 7 to 10. Only 3 percent of the respondents gave a positive response to the cliffhanger talks.

LOVIN' ALLEN

It's happy time in George Allen country: Mr. Allen reveals he raised more than $1.5 million in less than 10 weeks for his U.S. Senate campaign in Virginia - receiving support from fans in every single county of the Old Dominion. His war chest now has $1.25 million cash-on-hand, and it's left him "encouraged and humbled," the former governor says.

"Its clear the people of Virginia are tired of being ignored by Washington," he adds. "Our race will be hard fought and very likely determine control of the U.S. Senate and the direction of our country."

HATIN' HUFFINGTON

"In my view, the Huffington Posts bloggers have essentially been turned into modern-day slaves on Arianna Huffingtons plantation. We are going to make Arianna Huffington a pariah in the progressive community. No one will blog for her. Shell never be invited to speak. We will picket her home. Were going to make it clear that, until you do justice here, your life is going to be a living hell."

(Blogger Jonathan Tasini, on announcing he filed a $105 million class action lawsuit against AOL and Ms. Huffington for their failure to pay many of the 9,000 contributors to the site.)

THE ROYAL TREATMENT

The entire planet is bracing for endless, mawkish press coverage of Prince William and Catherine Middleton's wedding; perhaps the couple really prefers a modest little ceremony in some wee kirk, with tea and cakes afterward. Or not. The greater question is whether Americans actually care that President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama were not invited to the behemoth affair on April 30.

Yes, it could be seen as an intentional slight, a melancholy symbol of eroded alliances. Or not. Maybe the bride and groom just don't want the added burden of a presidential entourage. Or not.

"It's pretty obvious the Brits are sending a message," says an International Business Daily editorial, deeming the slight "eyebrow-arching" because U.S. presidents have always been on rarified guest rosters.

"Maybe it's that Britain, America's closest ally, has been subject to an unprecedented string of insults by the Obama administration," the publication insists, brandishing the London Telegraph's laundry list of perceived "Top 10 Insults" committed by the White House - from diplomatically favoring France over Britain to Mr. Obama's gift of an iPod to Queen Elizabeth II.

Yeah, well. We can send a nice gift to the royals. And, uh, it's in our national interest to stand fast with the British. The business daily, meanwhile, brims with schadenfreude:

"Now it's payback time. The Brits seem to have had their fill of the Obamas and are letting it be known. The Obamas' absence will be noticed as TV cameras pan the spectacle as billions around the world watch. The message? Actions have consequences."

POW NO MORE

Not forgotten: The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office has announced that Army Cpl. John W. Lutz will be buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery on Wednesday, almost six decades after he died during the Korean War. The 21-year-old soldier served with 1st Ranger Infantry Company, which was attacked and isolated by North Korean troops near Chaun-ni, along the Hongcheon River Valley. Cpl. Lutz went missing on May 19, 1951 as his unit tried to infiltrate enemy lines. He was taken prisoner, marched north and died of malnutrition on July 31 in a POW camp in Suan County, North Korea.

Defense analysts developed leads on the soldier with information spanning more than 58 years. Using forensic identification, circumstantial and DNA evidence, they identified Cpl. Lutz's remains, which had been returned to the U.S. by North Korea in the 1990s.

POLL DU JOUR

• 77 percent of Republicans "would like to see" Mike Huckabee run for president in 2012; 72 percent of conservatives and 71 percent of tea party supporters agree.

• 67 percent of Republicans cite Mitt Romney for a presidential run; 70 percent of conservatives and 71 percent of tea party supporters agree.

• 58 percent of Republicans cite Sarah Palin; 61 percent of conservatives and 57 percent of tea party supporters agree.

• 53 percent of Republicans cite Newt Gingrich; 55 percent of conservatives and 61 percent of tea party supporters agree.

• 51 percent of Republicans cite Donald Trump; 57 percent of conservatives and 55 percent of tea party supporters agree.

Source: A CNN/Opinion Research survey of 382 Republicans, part of a larger survey of 824 adults conducted April 9 and 10.

Lost invitations, scintillating numbers to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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