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Inside the Beltway

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 9, 2011

OCCUPADO

The Occupy Wall Street crowd appears to have made a lasting cultural mark: The Global Language Monitor has announced that "Occupy" is the "top word of 2011," based on the number of times it was cited in about 75,000 print and electronic news sources in the past year. In second place is deficit, followed by fracking, drone and a whole bunch of words with overseas roots.

In fifth place: Non-veg (India, referring to a meaty meal); kummerspeck (Germany, meaning excess weight gained from emotional overeating); haboob (an Arabic term for massive sandstorms); 3Q (a "near universal term for 'thank you' "); Trustafarians (British, referring to well-to-do youth living and rioting in "faux-Bohemian lifestyle"); and "the other 99," referring to the Wall Streeter term with more modest pocketbooks.

"Our selections this year to a large extent reflect the ongoing political and economic uncertainty that seems to be affecting much of the developed world," says Paul JJ Payack, president of the Texas-based research group, who adds that English is now spoken by 1.58 billion people.

NUKEPHOBIA

Alarming speculation, a new International Atomic Energy Agency report and anecdotal evidence suggest that Iran has just put the finishing touches on viable nuclear weapons, prompting headlines that include phrases like "imminent threat" and "nightmare scenarios." Are we on the verge of returning to the Cold War days of duck-and-cover exercises and Dr. Strangelove? Well, uh, maybe.

"The perils of a nuclear Iran are very different from those of the Soviet Union during the Cold War, but they are still real. Iran without nuclear weapons sustains terrorist organizations, kills Americans in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, and maliciously undermines the prospects of peace in the Middle East," Richard Perle, former assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration, tells Inside the Beltway.

"Iran with nuclear weapons would likely do even more of the same and might even pass such weapons or materials to terrorists. And no one can confidently rule out the direct use of a nuclear weapon by the current Iranian regime, especially against Israel," Mr. Perle adds.

LEGALICIOUS

Yes, lawyers can party like it's, oh, 1776. The Federalist Society's 2011 National Lawyers Convention begins Thursday with a sold-out, black-tie dinner at a swanky hotel in downtown Washington - then goes on until Saturday.

Ah, but what an august occasion, centered on the theme "The Constitution of Small Government?" The lawyers will honor U.S. Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, and will revel in addresses by Republican Sens. Mike Lee of Utah, Marco Rubio of Florida and Jeff Sessions of Alabama - along with 70 other legal luminaries.

MAKING THE INVESTMENT

The nation's defense strategy should drive defense spending, not the other way around. So says Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican.

"President Obama seems more aloof than engaged in U.S. foreign policy. Sure, the president shows up now and again to spike the football when a major tyrant or terrorist is killed. But there's a sense that each of his decisions are 'one-offs' - not tied to any specific strategy and despite his remarkable rhetorical gifts, he doesn't seem interested in articulating America's role in the world, either to the American people or to our allies, friends and partners," Mr. Cornyn says.

"I believe we need to listen to the Pentagon's leaders, both civilian and military. And that means giving them the tools and resources they need to defend our nation. That means before looking at the spreadsheet, we really need to look at the map," the lawmaker continues. "Here's the point: Other nations face economic and fiscal challenges just like we do. Yet they are making the investments in military capabilities they think they need."

THE KAGAN QUESTION

Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan is "the justice who knew too much," says Carrie Severino, chief counsel for the Judicial Network. Judge Kagan was directly involved in the defense of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), Ms. Severino says, and should therefore recuse herself from any consideration of the legislation before the Supreme Court.

"As President Obama's top advocate, Kagan headed the office responsible for formulating the administration's defense of PPACA - and oversaw the arguments both on appeal and in the lower courts because of PPACA's national importance. The president is now asking her to adopt the very same positions her office helped craft for him on this matter, but this time, as a Supreme Court justice," Ms. Severino observes.

"Her jump from advocate to judge on the same issue raises profound questions about the propriety of her continued participation in the case. Moreover, the legitimacy of any decision where she is in the majority or plurality would be instantly suspect if she chooses not to recuse herself. To use a sports analogy, would anyone trust the outcome of a close game where the referee had been a coach for one of the teams earlier in the game?"

POLL DU JOUR

• 51 percent of Americans disapprove of the job President Obama is doing.

• 45 percent say they "will probably vote" for Mr. Obama in 2012; 42 percent will vote for the Republican candidate.

• 6 percent say their vote depends on the identity of the GOP candidate, 5 percent are not sure and 2 percent would vote for "another party."

• 28 percent of those favoring Mr. Obama would vote for him "with enthusiasm," 22 percent with "some reservations," 5 percent because he is the nominee.

• 11 percent would vote for former Massachusetts Gov.Mitt Romney with enthusiasm if he were the Republican nominee.

• 30 percent would vote for him with reservation, 11 percent because he is the nominee.

Source: An NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted Nov. 2-5.

• Terse observations, snappy press releases to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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