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Inside the Beltway

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 22, 2011

THE TWAIN REFRAIN

There's some tea party support brewing for Texas Gov. Rick Perry's recent suggestion that Congress be retooled into a part-time gig for lawmakers who don't appear to earn their keep - a notion keenly amplified after the supercommittee's failure.

"Mark Twain is credited with the witticism that goes, 'No man's life, liberty or property is safe while Congress is in session.' There is no telling what Mark Twain would say if he could see today's Congress. Humor aside, the remark is right on target," says Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips.

"Congress spends far too much time in Washington and there is little they do that we can really consider worthwhile. If Congress were a part-time legislature, they would have much less time to cause mischief and much less time to spend passing really bad laws," Mr. Judson continues. "A part-time Congress could make Congress a better institution. It certainly could not make it any worse."

THE SUPER WHAT?

"Few Americans" paid close attention to news about the congressional supercommittee, says Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, which tracked coverage to find that a mere 17 percent of Americans said they were following the story, despite media and pundit hubbub. And alas, only 4 percent said the supercommittee was their primary interest in news, the analysis found.

THEY STAND READY

"Iran's leaders feel emboldened by what they perceive as American weakness, and fear no negative consequences for their increasingly provocative actions," say Republican Reps. Peter T. King of New York, chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, plus Michael T. McCaul of Texas, and Patrick Meehan of Pennsylvania in a letter to President Obama, reminding him of Iran's quest for nuclear arms, among many other things.

"We respectfully urge you to: enforce sanctions against Iran's Central Bank; expel Iranian spies, terrorists, and Hezbollah operatives from the U.S.; designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization; use significant covert action against the Iranian regime, including against facilities and personnel responsible for killing our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq; conduct cyber operations against the Iranian regime; and support democratic resistance movements in Iran."

The lawmakers conclude, "We stand ready to support you in Congress. We look forward to your firm response to a planned act of war against the U.S. homeland."

CLIMATEGATE II

"Observations do not show rising temperatures throughout the tropical troposphere unless you accept one single study and approach and discount a wealth of others," says one of 5,000 e-mails sent between climate scientists, leaked to the Internet on Tuesday by an unknown hacker.

And the response from the University of East Anglia, source of the original Climategate two years ago: "This appears to be a carefully-timed attempt to re-ignite controversy over the science behind climate change."

GOP SCALPEL

Progressive strategists are mulling President Obama's re-election chances, declaring that the key battleground states of 2012 lie in the Midwest/Rust Belt (Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin), the Southwest (Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico) and the New South (Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia).

So say Ruy Teixeira and John Halpin of the Center for American Progress. They have authored a big study titled "The Path to 270" which includes advice for rivals:

"Republicans likely cannot win with their base alone and instead need to find a way to cut into the president's support among Latinos, professionals, Millennial generation voters and moderates," the pair observe. "Republicans can maximize their chances of appealing to disaffected Obama voters and more moderate Americans by focusing almost exclusively on the economy and downplaying their more divisive positions on religion, social issues, immigration and the more extreme tea party positions."

ASSIDUOUS DEFENDER

Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich still has deep connections in the halls of power, evidenced by his new national security advisory team.

Among the luminaries: former Undersecretary of State Bill Schneider, former Reagan administration National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane, former Undersecretary of the Navy Adm. James Woolsey (ret.) and Tina Ramirez , who founded the Congressional International Religious Freedom Caucus and now works for the Becket Fund, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting "free expression of all faiths."

Mr. Gingrich declares the group will "assert our vision of an exceptional America that, contrary to what Barack Obama may believe, will continue to be both the world's leading power and most assiduous defender of freedom for generations to come."

POLL DU JOUR

• 45 percent of Americans would vote for President Obama in an Obama/Mitt Romney match if the 2012 election were "held today."

• 4 percent of Republicans, 83 percent of Democrats and 43 percent of independents agree.

• 30 percent of Protestants, 35 percent of Catholics, 22 percent of evangelicals and 39 percent of military voters would vote for Mr. Obama.

• 44 percent of voters overall would choose Mr. Romney in an Obama/Romney vote.

• 91 percent of Republicans, 8 percent of Democrats and 42 percent of independents agree.

• 60 percent of Protestants, 52 percent of Catholics, 68 percent of evangelicals and 49 percent of military voters would vote for Mr. Romney.

• 26 percent of Republican voters currently support Newt Gingrich in the GOP primary, 22 percent support Mr. Romney, 19 percent "don't know," 14 percent would vote for Herman Cain.

Source: A Quinnipiac University survey of 2,552 registered voters conducted Nov. 14 to 20; the sample included 637 Republicans.

Pithy sayings, shameless press releases to jharper@washingtontimes .com.

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