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Inside the Beltway: Drooling over ruling

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Journalists and pundits can't figure out if the Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare is New Year's Eve, Halloween or Armageddon. Will the moment of truth be celebration, masquerade or destruction? Everyone is poised to strike, armed with talking points, implications, prognostications and wonkish complexities of every demeanor. When the decision materializes Thursday morning, saber rattling and political opportunism are sure to follow, judging from the headlines in the last 24 hours:

"Details of decision could be lost on public" (New York Times), "Uncertainty surrounds health care ruling" (MSNBC), "Americans are divided on health care law" (Wall Street Journal), "For health industry, every man for himself" (Politico), "Dems seek funds ahead of health care ruling to quell tea party 'rampage' " (The Hill), "Provider, insurers brace for whatever" (BusinessWeek), "Healthcare ruling may reduce uncertainty, add new uncertainty" (Los Angeles Times), "Health care ruling elicits bipartisan anxiety" (CNN).

Those seeking practical information on the ruling can consult www.scotusblog.com — yes, it's the self-assured "Supreme Court of the United States Blog," where editors promise unbiased coverage and offer this invitation: "We will begin liveblogging at 8:45 a.m. ET; please join us. The Court will issue opinions starting at 10 a.m. ET, with the health care ruling probably starting around 10:15."

"ENEMY"

"Following a year of tensions between their country and the United States, Pakistanis continue to hold highly unfavorable views of the U.S. and offer bleak assessments of the relationship between the two nations," reports Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center, which has released polling numbers on the trend.

"As many as 74 percent of Pakistanis consider the U.S. an enemy, up from 69 percent last year and 64 percent three years ago. And President Obama is held in exceedingly low regard. Indeed, among the 15 nations surveyed in both 2008 and 2012 by the Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Project, Pakistan is the only country where ratings for Mr. Obama are no better than the ratings President George W. Bush received during his final year in office."

See the complete report at www.pewglobal.org

PRIVILEGED INFORMATION

"Fast and Furious"? What "Fast and Furious"? White House press secretary Jay Carney offered no insider previews to persistent reporters before the House vote on Thursday to determine whether Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. should be held in contempt of Congress over the failed 2009 gunrunning operation, which cost the life of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.

"I'm not going to speculate about the outcome of a vote that we still hope doesn't happen, because it should not. It's politics," Mr. Carney said.

The Republican National Committee, meanwhile, has already produced "From 'Hope' to Hypocrisy", a new one-minute Web video cataloging "President Obama's ripe hypocrisy when it comes to executive privilege," says RNC chairman Reince Priebus, who recalls that Mr. Obama claimed such privilege where "Fast and Furious" was concerned, though he has promised transparency in office from Day One. See the new video at www.gop.com.

The committee is perhaps keeping a close eye on Democrats who plan to vote in favor of placing Mr. Holder in contempt for failure to turn over materials related to the operation. Rep. John Barrow of Georgia is one of them.

"For me, this investigation has been about justice for Brian Terry and his family," Mr. Barrow says. "While Republicans and Democrats argue over the scope of the people's right to know what happened, the attorney general has decided to withhold relevant documents. The only way to get to the bottom of what happened is for the Department of Justice to turn over the remaining documents, so that we can work together to ensure this tragedy never happens again."

Mr. Barrow has company: Democratic Reps. Collin Peterson of Minnesota, Nick Rahall of West Virginia and Jim Matheson of Utah also plan to vote in favor of the contempt charge.

A LOT OF DOUGH

The cookie wars continue via Family Circle magazine's "Presidential Cookie Bake-Off", a contest that has gone on since 1992 when Barbara Bush and Hillary Rodham Clinton faced off, oven mitts drawn. This time, it's first lady Michelle Obama's white and dark chocolate cookies — the recipe featured in Inside the Beltway on Wednesday — against Ann Romney's M&M cookies.

Here is Mrs. Romney's recipe, a favorite, she says, among her 18 grandchildren.

Ingredients: 1 cup granulated sugar, 1 cup packed light-brown sugar, 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened; 1 1/2 cups crunchy peanut butter. 1 tablespoon light corn syrup (such as Karo), 3 eggs, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 4 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats, 2 teaspoons baking soda, 6 ounces chocolate chips, 2/3 cup M&M's candies.

In a large bowl, cream sugars, butter, peanut butter and corn syrup on high speed until well combined. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, mix together oats and baking soda. Stir into peanut butter mixture until combined. Mix in chocolate chips and M&M's.

Using a standard-size ice cream scoop, drop dough onto baking sheets (about 9 per sheet). Bake at 325 degrees F for 18 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool 2 minutes, then transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes 3 dozen.

POLL DU JOUR

• 75 percent of Americans give a favorable review of the health care they currently receive.

• 83 percent of Republicans, 78 percent of conservatives, 73 percent of Democrats and 72 percent of liberals agree.

• 39 percent overall give a favorable review to the nation's current health care system.

• 47 percent of Republicans, 48 percent of conservatives, 37 percent of Democrats and 28 percent of liberals agree

• 36 percent overall give a favorable review to the new federal law making changes to the system.

• 20 percent of Republicans, 20 percent of conservatives, 59 percent of Democrats and 58 percent of liberals agree..

Source: An ABC News/Washington Post poll of 1,022 U.S. adults conducted June 20 to 24.

Talking points, prognostications to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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