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Inside the Beltway: Vegetarians have a squawk

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Vegetarians could very well join President Obama's circle of special interest groups. Predictably, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is not happy about Mr. Obama's plan to ceremoniously pardon the White House turkey on Wednesday. But the animal right organization is eager to push some very precise political buttons.

"People who are vegetarian for religious, health, environmental, or ethical reasons — with all due respect, I'm writing on behalf of them, as well as our millions of members and supporters, particularly young vegetarians who look to you to recognize their very existence," says Ingrid Newkirk, president of the animal rights group, in a letter to Mr. Obama.

"You understand so well that African-Americans, women, and members of the LGBT community have been poorly served throughout history, and now I am asking you to consider other living beings who are ridiculed, belittled, and treated as if their sentience, feelings, and very natures count for nothing," Ms. Newkirk continues, apparently referring to both vegetarians and turkeys — and dismissing Mr. Obama's turkey pardon as "a sorely outdated event" that "portrays the United States president as being in some sort of business partnership with the turkey-killing industry."

Uh-oh.

That industry already had a brush with political peril when vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin gave a broadcast interview at a turkey processing plant during the 2008 presidential election. "Gov. Palin apparently oblivious to turkey carnage over her shoulder," and "Turkey killing fowls Palin news conference" noted MSNBC headlines at the time.

Meanwhile, Ms. Newkirk advises Mr. Obama to "choose a delicious, healthy Tofurky Roast" as proof of his "violence-free Thanksgiving." For the uninitiated, a "Tofurky Roast " is made of tofu, shaped in a roll, "carves and cuts just like turkey but without the bones," and has been trademarked and manufactured by Turtle Island Foods since 1995. Button-pushing politics goes on, though.

"PETA's outrageous demand that the president not participate in the timeless tradition of pardoning a turkey is nothing more than a publicity stunt from a group more concerned with garnering media attention than protecting animals," counters J. Justin Wilson, a research analyst with the Center for Consumer Freedom, a nonprofit. "If PETA really wants to save animals this Thanksgiving, it should pardon the animals in its so-called shelter and close its doors forever."

CRUZ CONTROL

Not all conservatives are in mourning these days. The American Principles Project's first "Red, White & Blue Gala" is coming up next week, complete with all the sumptuous trimmings of such revelry. The Weekly Standard Editor-in-Chief Bill Kristol is master of ceremonies at the event meant "to bring conservatives together, to discuss the lessons learned and the strategies moving forward," organizers say.

Sen.-elect Ted Cruz of Texas is the keynote speaker; the former solicitor general of the Lone Star State has penned more than 80 U.S. Supreme Court briefs and personally argued 40 oral arguments, including nine before the Supreme Court itself. But Mr. Cruz, like Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, has many eyes upon him.

"This conservative rising star is seen as a great hope for the GOP's future after its stinging loss among Latinos," a source says.

'INAUGURATION CHIC'

The public has pondered Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's hairdos for years, from the days when she wore a black velvet hairband as first lady to her current ponytails and updos. Now Mrs. Clinton's hairdresser is prepared to party like it's, well, 2013.

"With inaugural celebrations two months away and before the frenzy of the holidays arrives, it is just the time to get an early start on that perfect inaugural look," declares Isabelle's Okyo Salon, located in Georgetown, some 10 blocks from the White House, and home of Isabelle Goetz, who has indeed styled the $300 coifs of Mrs. Clinton and Sen. John F. Kerry, among others.

Republicans may have conflicted feelings about all this. Nevertheless, the salon and Art Soiree, a fashion-conscious events company, will stage an "Inaugural Chic" extravaganza on Saturday — makeup, hairstyles and frocks from a nearby fancy shop called Hu's Wear — promising "standout looks just in time for the inaugural preparations."

And for those either keeping count or planning to leave town, the inauguration is 61 days away.

AMERICAN ZEAL

European and American intellectuals persist in insisting that the U.S. is "doomed," wrapping their claims in politically correct talk of multiculturalism and inferior American ways. Nonsense, says Michael Ledeen, a scholar with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a Pajamas Media contributor.

"Here's my little message to the deep thinkers: in this life, there is no final victory. Enemies abound. We defeated the two monster totalitarian forces of the 20th century, and we're now under attack from the great jihadi totalitarians of the new century. We can certainly win," he says. "In the course of that fight we will make lots of mistakes, and we will have some very bad leaders. If we're up to it, and if we're lucky, we'll also get some great leaders."

Mr. Ledeen adds, "As for the moaning and keening Republicans, you've got an amazing number of governors, and some of them are doing spectacularly well. The Dems are stuck with New York, Massachusetts, and California, who incarnate true blue doctrines, and are in a mess. Events are likely to demonstrate the failure of blueness in this country, as they have abroad. So stick to your principles and don't try to be 'more like them.' Nobody needs pseudo-blues, if people want to vote left, they'll vote for the real thing, not you-pretending-to-be-them-except-cuter."

Then there's the real American way.

"There's plenty of revolutionary zeal in America, and we are probably well into a period of great unpleasantness, domestically and internationally. Americans love a good challenge. That's our history," Mr. Ledeen observes.

POLL DU JOUR

• 51 percent of Americans say it was "necessary" for David H. Petraeus to resign as CIA director after news of his extramarital affair went public.

• 56 percent of Republicans and 50 percent of Democrats agree.

• 41 percent of Americans overall say he "should have remained;" 39 percent of Republicans and 42 percent of Democrats agree.

• 40 percent overall give Mr. Petraeus a favorable rating; 43 percent of Republicans and 41 percent of Democrats agree.

• 30 percent overall give Mr. Petraeus an unfavorable rating; 34 percent of Republicans and 27 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Gallup Poll of 1,015 U.S. adults conducted Nov. 15 to 18.

Bird calls, cat calls, doggerel to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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