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Inside the Beltway: Scents and sensibility

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The public debate over gender issues may never be the same: It's the first-ever Man Candles Collection in such he-man scents as Riding Mower and 2x4 from the Yankee Candle Co., which normally caters to the rose and gardenia crowd. A quartet of new "down-to-earth fragrances" are meant to suit basement, garage, car or truck, man cave, or an entire bachelor pad, the Massachusetts-based company says. Perhaps they should offer a line for Washington politicians with names such as Hallowed Halls, Power Lunch and Cloakroom.

But no matter. Now on sale at retail shops and online, it's Man Town (the scent of spices, woods and musk), First Down (orange, patchouli, vetiver and leather), Riding Mower (freshly cut grass) and 2x4 (freshly planed wood and sawdust). More information about this aromatic cultural moment here: yankeecandle.com.

THE BIG REVEAL

White House press secretary Jay Carney announced Tuesday that both President Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden have released their 2011 financial disclosure reports, in accordance with the 1978 Ethics in Government Act that requires high-level federal officials to publicly disclose personal financial interests. Disclosures from assorted White House staff will be available in June; everything is posted to the White House blog. See both the aforementioned reports at this lengthy address: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/05/15/president-and-vice-presidents-2011-financial-disclosure-forms.

COMMENCEMENT BIAS

The ever-vigilant Young America's Foundation finds that it's business as usual on campus. According to the organization's annual count, there were 71 liberal speakers and only 10 conservatives holding forth at commencement ceremonies for the nation's top 100 universities, as listed by U.S. News & World Report.

Probing further, the study finds that among the top 35 universities, only one conservative will be at the podium, compared to 29 liberals. Previous research reveals that George W. Bush administration officials spoke at the top 100 schools a mere 14 times through his entire presidency. In President Obama's first three years, administration officials have spoken 29 times.

"This administration wants to sell its failed policies to college students, and clearly, higher education is more than willing to help. As tuition and student loan debt grow at historic rates, what are students getting for the money?" asks Ron Robinson, the group's president. "An education from leftist professors that — combined with the Obama administration's policies — has left 53 percent of recent grads unemployed or underemployed".

NO LEG TINGLE

"On at least four occasions, MSNBC's Chris Matthews mocked Sarah Palin for how he felt she'd do if she were ever on the hit TV game show 'Jeopardy,'" observes Noel Sheppard, a media analyst for NewsBusters, who tracked those incidents to find that the pundit surmised Mrs. Palin would prove an "imbecile" on the show, among other things.

"In a delicious example of instant karma, the self-proclaimed brainiac got his chance to show America how smart he was in a special 'Power Players' version of the show Monday, but came up quite short finishing dead last with the paltry sum of only $2,300," Mr. Sheppard says.

Mr. Matthews lost his Jeopardy bout to CNN correspondent Lizzie O'Leary and former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs. The "Power" series airs until Friday, incidentally.

KRUGMANIA

"I love to read his stuff because it borders on hysteria."

(Former Sen. and National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform Co-chairman Alan Simpson, on New York Times financial analyst Paul Krugman, to Bloomberg Television).

LEISURE READING

Unwieldy legislation, meaningless political rhetoric and shoddy news coverage prevents many a voting consumer from understanding worrisome aspects of the economy. Sometimes the situation is best assessed in small bites, such as "States of Bankruptcy: Eurozone, USA?" The new Republican study on the state debt crisis was released Tuesday by Joint Economic Committee Vice Chairman Kevin Brady of Texas and senior member Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina.

Part of a practical research series, this 17-page installment examines the relationship between economic policies and economic destiny. Those states that model policymaking on European-style social democracies — fat taxes, heavy regulation, large bureaucracies and generous welfare systems — now face fiscal situations resembling those of the struggling eurozone.

Among other things, there is praise for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker for enacting pension reform in their states. California, Illinois and Michigan were deemed the states "most like Greece." Clear numbers indicate that the nine states with no income tax have more productivity, population growth and jobs than the nine states with the highest marginal income tax rates.

Read this report at leisure here: jec.senate.gov/republicans. Look under "States of Bankruptcy" in the "hot issues" section.

POLL DU JOUR

• 83 percent of Americans would "hardy ever or never" click on the online ads found on Facebook.

• 70 percent have not seen the movie "The Social Network," about the founding of Facebook.

• 59 percent do not trust Facebook to keep personal information private.

• 56 percent have a personal Facebook page.

• 54 percent say they do not feel "safe" purchasing goods or services through Facebook.

• 51 percent say Facebook stock would be a "good investment."

• 50 percent predict that Facebook's stock market value will be "overvalued."

• 46 percent say Facebook will fade away as new things come along.

• 43 percent say it will be successful over the long term.

Source: An Associated Press/CNBC survey of 1,004 U.S. adults conducted May 3 to 7 and released Tuesday.

Sense, nonsense, moody extrapolations to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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