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Inside the Beltway: In the streets

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 28, 2012

"Don't shoot me, I'm a congresswoman" and "Don't shoot me, I'm a pastor" are among the protest mottos to be seen at high noon Thursday when reactions to the shooting of Trayvon Martin get more vigorous, and more political. A coalition of advocacy organizations, activists and national leaders protest the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and what they deem the council's "paid promotion of deadly 'Kill at Will' legislation written by the National Rifle Association."

The rally will be held at ALEC headquarters a few blocks from the White House. Sponsors include the National Urban League, NAACP, ColorOfChange, MoveOn.org, AFL-CIO, SEIU, ProgressNow, Common Cause, Center for Media and Democracy, People for the American Way, Faith in Public Life, National Council of Churches and more.

While scores of activist groups have targeted ALEC with letter-writing campaigns and much blogging, New York Times op-ed columnist Paul Krugman also has taken up the cause, recently noting in a Tuesday column, "If there is any silver lining to Trayvon Martin's killing, it is that it might finally place a spotlight on what ALEC is doing to our society - and our democracy. What is ALEC? Despite claims that it's nonpartisan, it's very much a movement-conservative organization, funded by the usual suspects: the Kochs, Exxon Mobil and so on."

NYET

President Medvedev (D-Russia).

(The Republican National Committee's new designation for Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. The committee's question: "What does Medvedev know that has him campaigning for President Obama in 2012, and the Democratic National Committee doing his press work?)

POLITICAL EDGERANK

In 24 hours, millions of Facebook users - and lots of politicians - will see major changes on their pages as a new "Timeline" layout automatically takes over. Chatty status posts and updates no longer will appear in chronological order but instead will be arranged by EdgeRank - a computer algorithm that predicts how interesting a post is, based on timeliness, number of comments or snappy photos and links.

"EdgeRank is the Facebook algorithm that decides which stories appear in each user's newsfeed. The algorithm hides boring stories, so if your story doesn't score well, no one will see it," Facebook advises. Which is uh-oh time for online politicos, strategists, operatives and candidates. Advice in all the confusion? Keep it buzzy, baby.

"The shift to Timeline fundamentally increases the focus on interacting and engaging with Facebook fans versus just accumulating them," says Seth Lieberman, an online marketing specialist and CEO of Pangea Media/SnapApp to Inside the Beltway.

"The opportunity for political organizations to capitalize on this change is really no different than that of any other brand. It is an opportunity to foster stronger relationships and develop new ones based on providing content and experiences that users relate to, and that they share with their networks," counsels Mr. Lieberman, who developed software used by President Obama's 2008 election campaign.

"A steady stream of effective content like opinion polls and surveys will dramatically increase" exposure. A smart campaign will focus on quality interactive content over quantity," he adds.

BUMPER PATROL

"Be Patient. Photo Enforcement Cameras Watching. I Don't Speed."

(Homemade bumper sticker spotted in Washington, D.C.)

YOU BETCHA

Never shy about weighing in, Ireland-based Paddy Power has declared "Obamacare in critical condition." Europe's largest online betting company had offered odds of 1-2 on the likelihood that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act gets referred to a full hearing before the Supreme Court. The justices heard the case this week.

"According to the latest betting trends, it would seem that its supporters have a heck of a fight on their hands," Paddy prognosticators said.

FOR THE NIGHT TABLE

Now on bookshelves: "Obama's War on Jobs and Growth and What We Can Do Now to Regain our Future" by Americans for Tax Reform founder Grover Norquist and economist John R. Lott Jr.. The authors have declared war on the stimulus package, spending increases, behemoth deficits, unemployment and other economic nightmares. Happily, they also offer a 12-step rescue plan. Just a sample:

"Step 1: Never Raise Taxes (Ever)," Mr. Norquist and Mr. Lott write. "Let the Republican Party be branded as the party that will never raise your taxes. Period. No, it's not a completely sufficient condition to achieving limited government and greater economic freedom, but it is a necessary first step. Let every candidate for office take The Taxpayer Protection Pledge and make a simple written commitment that he or she will oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes. Coca-Cola knows the value of a strong and protected brand. Republican candidates for office should follow suit."

POLL DU JOUR

• 71 percent of Americans worry "a great deal" about the economy; 79 percent of Republicans and 63 percent of Democrats agree.

• 65 percent overall worry a great deal about gas prices; 63 percent of Republicans and 69 percent of Democrats agree.

• 60 percent overall worry a great deal about the budget deficit; 84 percent of Republicans and 42 percent of Democrats agree.

• 60 percent overall worry a great deal about the affordability of health care; 46 percent of Republicans and 69 percent of Democrats agree.

• 55 percent overall worry a great deal about unemployment; 61 percent of Republicans and 55 percent of Democrats agree.

• 46 percent of Americans overall worry a great deal about the size and power of the federal government; 71 percent of Republicans and 31 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Gallup poll of 1,024 U.S. adults conducted March 8 to 11.

Polite applause, indignant comments to jharper@washingtontimes .com

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