- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 1, 2012

OBAMA DRAMA

The days of “no-drama Obama” are waning, and hopeful Republicans who entertain the notion that Hollywood has lost its love for President Obama, take heed. There’s a new script afoot. First lady Michelle Obama raised nearly a cool $1 million for her spouse’s re-election campaign with a single speech before 135 artists and entertainment moguls during a fundraiser in a Beverly Hills, Calif., home Tuesday night. The private home was aglow with candles and lilac-tinted lighting, the rarified audience included producers Quincy Jones, Harvey Weinstein, Berry Gordy and Steve Bing.

Mrs. Obama proved herself a deft and indefatigable denizen of the campaign trail. She methodically went through Mr. Obama’s issues of choice, bolstered his policies and underscored populist appeal. But this was Hollywood. Some strategic Obama drama surfaced as wife spoke of husband:

“He might not remember your name, but if he’s had a few minutes and a decent conversation with you, he will never forget your story. It’s like it becomes imprinted on his heart. And that’s the things he carries with him every single day. It’s our collection of struggles and hopes and dreams,” Mrs. Obama told the rapt group.

“It really moved people. People were really fired up afterward,” an attendee later told the Hollywood Reporter. Note to the GOP: Plan accordingly. This particular White House script is only just getting started.

MOUNTAINTOP VICTORY

The concrete and steel “Big Mountain Jesus” stays, and those who sought to protect the statue’s fate say its survival is significant. The U.S. Forest Service has renewed a land permit for the 57-year-old Knights of Columbus monument in Montana’s Flathead National Forest; it will remain on its 25-by-25-foot plot of federal land. The “constitutionality” of the monument - dedicated to World War II vets - was challenged in a lawsuit filed last year by the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Public outcry followed, sparked by, among other things, a letter of protest filed by the American Center for Law and Justice, signed by 70,000 people and sent to the federal agency.

“This decision represents a significant victory in defense of the history and heritage of the region,” says Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the group. “We’re delighted that federal officials understood what we have argued all along - that this statue of Jesus does not convey any government endorsement of religion. Instead, this historically important memorial is designed to commemorate the sacrifice made by those killed in World War II.”

Rep. Denny Rehberg, Montana Republican, adds, “This is a huge win, not only for the people in northwest Montana, but for the veterans of the 10th Mountain Division, to whom the statue pays tribute.”

YOU BETCHA

More Democrats will bet money on the Super Bowl than Republicans this year. Yes, there are numbers on his micro-phenomenon. A Poll Position survey of 1,145 registered voters conducted Monday finds that 11 percent of Americans - roughly 25 million - plan to bet some cash on the big game between the New York Giants and New England Patriots.

Among Republicans, the number was 12 percent, among Democrats, 16 percent. Oh, and among cautious independents, it’s 5 percent. See the numbers at this interesting site: http://pollposition.com.

RUBIO RUMBLES

Twenty senators have joined Sen. Marco Rubio to support the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 2012, a bill the Florida Republican introduced late Tuesday to repeal a new “Obamacare” mandate that he says “violates the religious liberties and conscience rights of faith-based institutions” by forcing them to offer employees insurance coverage for contraceptives.

Among those on the support roster: Republican Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul of Kentucky, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, John Cornyn of Texas, Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, Jon Kyl and John McCain of Arizona, Jeff Sessions of Alabama and John Thune of South Dakota. Among groups applauding the legislation: the Susan B. Anthony Fund, Liberty Counsel Action, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

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