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Inside the Beltway

- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 2, 2011

MIDDLE CLASS UPRISING

Former "green jobs czar" Van Jones hopes to ally the progressive cause with the middle class, using a page or two from the tea party playbook, perhaps. His "Take Back the American Dream" conference gets under way in Washington on Monday, opening with a morning discussion of the ongoing Wall Street protests and culminating with a rally for "the unemployed, working people and activist leaders" at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.

Mr. Jones founded his Rebuild the Dream group earlier this year, complete with a "Contract for the American Dream" public petition and the support of nearly 80 progressive and liberal groups, from MoveOn.org to Planned Parenthood. Event organizers say "there is a real middle-class uprising sweeping the nation." They also fault a "tea party-dominated conservative movement doing violence to the fundamental pillars of middle-class prosperity." Mr. Jones, meanwhile, has promised to make some noise.

"You are going to see an American fall, an American autumn, just like we saw the Arab Spring," he told MSNBC. "You can see it right now with these young people on Wall Street. Hold onto your hats, we're going to have an October offensive to take back the American dream and to rescue America's middle class. We are going to build a progressive balance of power to the tea party."

In attendance this week will be Democratic Reps. Barney Frank of Massachusetts, Keith Ellison of Minnesota, Barbara Lee of California and Donna F. Edwards of Maryland. Also scheduled to be at the conference are former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, and Service Employees International Union President Mary Kay Henry. On the official speaker's roster: 62 activists, 35 political strategists, 25 assorted authors and bloggers, 18 community organizers, 14 union officials, five economists, and two comedians.

CAIN WATCH

It will be a momentous week for presidential hopeful Herman Cain — just like last week when he surged in polls, popularity and meaningful sound bites. Mr. Cain meets with billionaire Donald Trump in Manhattan on Monday, former New York Mayor Ed Koch on Tuesday and launches an appropriately punctuated memoir "This Is Herman Cain!" on Wednesday.

"All serious leading Republican candidates have reached out to Donald Trump for one-on-one meetings. The topics vary, depending on the individual, of course. What Herman Cain intends to talk about, I do not know," Michael Cohen, a close adviser to Mr. Trump, tells Inside the Beltway.

"But it is going to be politically motivated, and obviously Mr. Cain is seeking Mr. Trump's endorsement. Mr. Trump is popular with millions. He has become a force for angry Americans who are weary of politicians who get it wrong, costing jobs and our causing our economic failures."

THINKING AHEAD

"I promise you as first gentleman my role will be to honor America with dignity, class and grace. I will never apologize for America, a country blessed and led by our almighty God. This is our time, this is our season to turn this incredible country around and to get our fiscal house in order."

- Marcus Bachmann, husband of presidential hopeful Rep. Michelle Bachmann, in a fundraising outreach.

SEAL TEAM "SPEAKS"

St. Martin's Press will publish the "first inside account" of the successful Seal Team Six mission to find Osama bin Laden, based on the stories of those who were there. Naturally, the account conflicts with "news reports," the publisher says.

"Seal Target Geronimo: The Inside Story of the Mission to Kill Osama Bin Laden" by former Navy SEAL Chuck Pfarrer promises an exclusive account of each minute of the mission, complete with new details that differ from accounts in the New Yorker, on the History Channel and from other sources.

"Unparalleled valor, clockwork military precision and deadly accuracy" are the focus, the author says. The book will be published Nov. 8.

THE ROOTS OF PC

"Everyone's a little bit racist, but it may not be your fault," says Georgia Institute of Technology psychologist Paul Verhaeghen, who blames racism, sexism and ageism on popular culture that showcases stereotypes.

"There's one idea that people tend to associate black people with violence, women with weakness, or older people with forgetfulness — because they are prejudiced. But there's another possibility that what is in your head is not you, it's the culture around you," Mr. Verhaeghen says. "What you have is stuff you picked up from reading, television, radio and the Internet. And that's the question we wanted to answer: Are you indeed a racist, or are you just an American?"

His study measured the influence of such media fare and was published in the British Journal of Social Psychology. The findings suggest that while we're guilty about our gut reactions, they're "normal," and prompted by the din of pop culture.

"What is more important is your behavior, rather than your gut reaction," Mr. Verhaeghen says. "The second thing is that there's a reason for political correctness. At least, as studies suggest, it might be a good idea to not put stereotypes out there too clearly, because if you do, people will internalize them."

POLL DU JOUR

• 45 percent of Americans say U.S. society is divided into the "haves" and "have nots."

• 27 percent of Republicans and 59 percent of Democrats agree.

• 47 percent overall say Republicans in Congress are doing more to help the "haves."

• 20 percent of Republicans and 72 percent of Democrats agree.

• 29 percent overall say the Obama administration is doing more to help the "have nots."

• 39 percent of Republicans and 31 percent of Democrats agree,

• 45 percent overall say the Obama administration treats both groups "the same," 32 percent say Republicans treat both groups the same.

Source: A Pew Research Center-Washington Post poll of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted Sept. 22 to 25.

Crabby observations, sleek press releases to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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