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Inside the Beltway: An Elvis moment

- The Washington Times - Monday, March 26, 2012

An interesting alliance, perhaps: The Elvis Presley Holy Land Tour has been organized by Elvis Presley Enterprises and Israel Theme Tours, set to take 100 fans to Israel next year "to explore the Gospel side of Elvis Presley." Organizers say the travelers will follow in the footsteps of Jesus, sail the Sea of Galilee, visit Jerusalem, float in the Dead Sea, ride a camel, roam Tel Aviv and be baptized in the Jordan River, with certificate and baptismal gown included. Gospel performers and musicians who once worked with the iconic singer will accompany the $4,000 excursion; tickets go on sale Wednesday.

THE CHEESE WARS

There hasn't been such a hubbub over cheese since the French were called "cheese-eating surrender monkeys" in the popular conservative press as war loomed in Iraq. These days, cheese is weaponry: The European Commission intends to restrict the use of generic terms like cheddar, parmesan, feta, provolone and even "classic" and "fine" by including naming restrictions within free-trade agreements with Western Hemisphere and Asian countries. The cheese makers are fighting back, though.

The Consortium for Common Food Names, launched on Monday and based in Virginia, hopes to stop European efforts to monopolize names now in the public domain. They're OK with specific things like "Parmigiano Reggiano," "Camembert de Normandie" or "Washington State apples." But restricting ricotta?

"No one country or entity should own common food names," says Jaime Castaneda, executive director of the new initiative, and trade policy expert at the U.S. Dairy Export Council - who warns that if restrictions are imposed, consumers won't even recognize their favorites foods while producers must foot a massive relabeling bill.

"At least as much feta and parmesan cheese are made outside Europe as within it. This is not just a question of dollars and cents, but of fairness and choice," says the group's chairman Errico Auricchio, also president of BelGioioso Cheese in Green Bay, Wis.

THE BODY WARS

"What are they? Women, or are they men with breasts?"

And so said Pennsylvania state Rep. Babette Josephs, a Democrat from Philadelphia, in describing Rep. Kathy Rapp and other female Republican lawmakers who co-sponsored a state bill that would require women to undergo an ultrasound 24 hours before an abortion.

GOP women are acting like women only in the sense "that they will do what the men tell them," Mrs. Josephs told a crowd assembled for a Lancaster County Democratic Committee rally at the state capital on Monday.

Organizers supported the lawmaker. "If this gets people thinking, that's the point of a rally like this," committee chairwoman Sally Lyall told the Patriot News, a local newspaper in Mechanicsburg.

BUMPER PATROL

"Bring back pre-existing conditions: VOTE REPUBLICAN."

(Bumper sticker spotted in Warren, Ohio).

THE HEALTH WARS

The plaza outside the Supreme Court gets crowded on Tuesday. The Tea Party Patriots, accompanied by Republican Reps. Michele Bachmann, Marsha Blackburn, Steve King, Tim Murphy, Paul C. Broun, Louie Gohmert and Tom Price, assemble at the steps of the mighty court in hopes of persuading the justices within to strike down President Obama's health care reform law.

A few hours later, concerned citizens from eight states arrive in Upper Senate Park for the "Hands Off My Health Care Rally" organized by Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and 21 interest organizations. Among the speakers: Republican Sens. Jim DeMint, Patrick J. Toomey and Rand Paul of Kentucky , plus the aforementioned Mrs. Bachmann and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

"When we first announced the rally, the response was fast and powerful. Obama's health care law remains deeply unpopular with AFP activists, and we have thousands joining us on Capitol Hill who wouldn't miss a chance to let their voices be heard," AFP president Tim Phillips tells Inside the Beltway. "Our message is that forcing American citizens to purchase any product is a violation of the Constitution, and an offensive overreach of government power."

The event will be live-streamed at 1 p.m. here: http://americansforprosperity.org.

TWO TERMS, GO HOME

Everyone is weary of Congress and would prefer that lawmakers be limited to two terms, and that's it. Over. Go home. Enough already. So says a new Poll Position survey, which revealed that in a dozen demographic groups covering sex, political persuasion, age and race, about two-thirds of those groups support term limits.

And naturally, the highest and lowest readings show a partisan divide. The survey of 1,152 registered voters found that 71 percent of Republicans support the limit, compared with 55 percent of Democrats.

POLL DU JOUR

• 73 percent of Americans would rather the Supreme Court overturn "some" or "all" provisions of the new health care law.

• 90 percent of Republicans, 85 percent of conservatives, 57 percent of Democrats and 56 percent of liberals agree.

• 61 percent of Americans say the U.S. Supreme Court should allow cameras in the courtroom.

• 53 percent of Republicans, 59 percent of conservatives, 68 percent of Democrats and 61 percent of liberals agree.

• 51 percent overall oppose the health care provision that requires all Americans who do not have health insurance to get it.

• 53 percent of Republicans, 59 percent of conservatives, 68 percent of Democrats and 61 percent of liberals agree.

• 50 percent overall say the decisions the Supreme Court justices will make are based mostly on their political views.

• 45 percent of Republicans, 50 percent of conservatives, 48 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of liberals agree.

Source: A CNN/ORC poll of 1,014 U.S. adults conducted March 24 and 25.

Cheesy comments, chilly replies to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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