- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 3, 2011

THE PRESIDENTIAL HOROSCOPE

Just in case you’re wondering, this is President Obama’s horoscope on his 50th birthday: “Others are inspired and enthralled by you, magnetized by your aura of glamour. This month, you will benefit from a political change. New people come into power, and you find a comfortable niche. September shows financial growth. You’ll be celebrating your love in October. December is a personal high point. Cancer and Pisces people adore you. Your lucky numbers are 5, 26, 33, 25 and 20.”

No, really. This cosmic forecast is from Creators Syndicate for those born Aug. 4. Just sayin’.

THE CORRECTIONS DANCE

“A HuffPost story on an exchange between Norah O’Donnell and Jay Carney incorrectly raised the possibility that Andrew Breitbart had ‘doctored’ a video clip from a White House briefing to make O’Donnell look like she was ‘distraught over the debt compromise.’ A viewing of the clip in question clearly shows that he did not. We regret the error, have removed the story, and apologize to Mr. Breitbart.” (Editor’s note from Arianna Huffington, posted at the Huffington Post.)

“Mr. Breitbart ACCEPTS @HuffPost apology/retraction for falsely claiming I ‘doctored’ video.” (BigHollywood.breitbart.com founder Mr. Breitbart’s most civil reply to Ms. Huffington, after originally challenging the publisher in a Tweet, “Want a war, darling?”)

GEARING UP FOR AMES

The big moment to look forward to during the summer doldrums: Aug. 13, the date of the Iowa Straw Poll, emanating from the Iowa State University campus in Ames as if it were powered by kryptonite. It is a big deal, a showcase for monumental campaigning. Rep. Michele Bachmann, for example, will host a barbecue from her own “Team Bachmann” tent, accompanied by combat veterans and serenaded by country crooners Randy Travis, Richie McDonald and Tim Rushlow.

Then there’s the Values Voter Bus Tour, organized by the Family Research Council, the National Organization for Marriage and the Susan B. Anthony List - which departs from Des Moines on Monday, to roll across 1,305 miles of Iowa farmland, with presidential hopefuls hopping on and hopping off again. Herman Cain’s Common Sense Solutions bus tour also begins a tour of Iowa on Monday.

None of this has been lost on the White House. Amazingly enough, President Obama will embark on a minitour of the Midwest, post straw poll, of course. He’ll motor about the prairieland from Aug. 15 to 17, with more details to be revealed later.

It portends to be more listening tour than official campaign effort, the White House insists. And no wonder. It is the White House that will be tending to the logistics, rather than Mr. Obama’s 2012 re-election organization.

“He looks forward to talking to the folks about growing the economy, creating jobs,” explains White House press secretary Jay Carney.

BUMPER PATROL

“Chinese neodymium and rare earth elements: The Achilles’ heel of our green energy and advanced weapons systems. USA is mostly off limits to exploration and mining.”

(Bumper sticker motto written by retired geologist John Lucas of Wolf Trap for his own vehicle.)

THEY DREW THE NEWS

Who’s buzzy? What was it that drew journalists to “political newsmakers”? Arduous drama, scandal, inner mettle perhaps.

The Project for Excellence in Journalism did the counting from a cross section of print and broadcast stories to find that, naturally, President Obama was the dominant figure in the most number of stories so far this year, with 2,046. In second place: Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Arizona Democrat, with 328, followed by former Rep. Anthony D. Weiner (234) and House Speaker John A. Boehner (221).

Sarah Palin trumped her rivals in the presidential-hopeful category with 155 stories, followed by Donald Trump (140), Newt Gingrich (136), Rep. Michele Bachmann, Minnesota Republican, (121) and Mitt Romney (120). Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was in last place with 110.

FRUGAL NEIGHBORS

Far from Capitol Hill, the academics tend their theories about the debt-ceiling aftermath.

“The issue is more about the path of government spending than the debt itself. Those who want merely to raise the debt ceiling believe more spending will help promote recovery. Those who oppose the increase believe the growth of government is why the recovery is so sluggish. Thus, there is not much room for compromise,” says Florida State University economics professor James Gwartney.

“Americans should learn from Japan and Canada. Japan responded to a recession in 1990 with increases in government spending financed by debt, and the result was a lost decade,” he continues. “Canada responded to a similar debt crisis in the late 1990s by reducing government spending and shifting the federal budget toward a surplus for more than a decade. The result was the fastest growth among the G-7 nations.”

POLL DU JOUR

• 50 percent of Americans say the agreement reached between President Obama and Congress to raise the federal debt ceiling is neither a step forward nor a step backward for the U.S. economy.

• 50 percent of Democrats, 52 percent of liberals, 52 percent of Republicans and 49 percent of conservatives agree.

• 46 percent of Americans disapprove of the agreement between Mr. Obama and Congress.

• 28 percent of Democrats, 35 percent of liberals, 64 percent of Republicans and 64 percent of conservatives agree.

• 17 percent overall say the agreement will “make the economy better.”

• 29 percent of Democrats, 22 percent of liberals, 8 percent of Republicans and 10 percent of conservatives agree.

Source: A Gallup Poll of 1,012 U.S. adults conducted Aug. 2

Horoscopes, bus fare, complaints to jharper@washingtontimes.com.