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Inside the Beltway: Fluke, PSY and the Rover

Question of the Day

Should Congress make English the official language of the U.S.?

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Brace for impact: Time magazine's annual search for the Person of the Year is under way, seeking the person, idea or entity that most influenced the news in 2012. The 40-name roster includes GOP-friendly billionaire donor Sheldon Adelson, Mitt Romney, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and NASA's Mars Rover spacecraft, along with President Obama, Korean "Gangnam Style" rapper Psy and Sandra Fluke.

The magazine, incidentally, describes Ms. Fluke as a "political celebrity," though most conservatives might deem her a political operative instead. Ms. Fluke has acknowledged her inclusion on Time's list, and in feminist fashion.

"Many govt officials listed — therefore few women," Ms. Fluke noted in a cryptic tweet about the matter.

While Time's editors will reveal the big winner Dec. 21, the public can weigh in with its "people's choice" favorite at Time.com. In the lead so far? That would be Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, followed by North Korean President Kim Jong Un, grievously wounded Pakistani teen Malala Yousafzai, Syrian President Bashar Assad, Psy, Mr. Obama and the Mars Rover.

INGRAHAM BECOMES O'REILLY?

Incisive, intrepid talk-radio goddess Laura Ingraham is negotiating the perilous landscape of opinion broadcast, leaving Talk Radio Network for a yet-to-be-named distributor. She's gone silent for now, but the echo chamber of rumor is booming. Ardent fans are floating the idea that Ms. Ingraham, a regular Fox News contributor, is being "groomed" to replace Bill O'Reilly, the network's senior prime-time host. But that is rumor. Meanwhile, a girl's got to do what a girl's got to do, particularly when she draws the largest national talk radio audience for a female host — 5.7 million listeners weekly.

"I decided it was time to move on. After much thought and reflection, I have decided to pursue my first loves — modern dance and the xylophone. In the highly unlikely event that these efforts do not prove fruitful, I intend to return to radio," vows Ms. Ingraham. "Seriously I feel the time is right to expand and retool my radio program and to explore other syndication options, which I am now actively pursuing."

Anxious listeners continue to weigh in. "Run for Congress if you want to have a greater effect on America," advised one on Ms. Ingraham's Facebook page, while others advised her to partner with Fox News host Sean Hannity, independent media entrepreneur Glenn Beck, or SiriusXM radio.

PARSING BENGHAZI

Is it Benghazi-gate, or just plain Benghazi? Americans are not happy with how the White House handled the terrorist attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Libya, but the majority doesn't believe the Obama administration misled the nation about the violent events that left four Americans dead in September.

A CNN/ORC poll released Tuesday finds that 48 percent of Americans say the U.S. could have prevented the attack, while 42 percent disagree. Another 54 percent of the country are dissatisfied with the administration's response to the Benghazi attack; only 4 in 10 are satisfied.

"But that dissatisfaction is not because Americans see a cover-up," says CNN polling director Keating Holland. "Only 40 percent believe that the inaccurate statements that administration officials initially made about the Benghazi attack were an attempt to deliberately mislead the public. Fifty-four percent think those inaccurate statements reflected what the White House believed to be true at the time."

The poll of 1,023 adults was conducted November 16 to 18.

POOR POSTURE

Decisions, decisions. Should Republicans stand their ground or compromise with Democrats? That is the question among those who fret that Republican leadership is getting soft on promises to protect Americans from increased taxation as the "fiscal cliff" approaches.

"If the GOP wakes up and decides that the principles they fought for during the campaign were more than empty political posturing, there is another option," advises Brent Bozell, chairman of ForAmerica, an interest group reflecting traditional values and fiscal conservatism, in a letter to House Speaker John A. Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn.

Mr. Bozell cites a recent Congressional Budget Office report which "makes clear that if the fiscal cliff is ignored," the federal public debt as a percentage of gross domestic product would skyrocket to a catastrophic 90 percent.

"The report provides options for reforming the biggest drivers of our long term debt — entitlements. And to no one's surprise, two of the biggest steps that Congress can take toward getting our fiscal house in order are repealing ObamaCare's gigantic insurance subsidies and repealing the individual mandate," Mr. Bozell says. "According to the CBO, repealing ObamaCare's insurance subsidies would save $150 billion in 2020 alone. Similarly, repealing the individual mandate would save $40 billion in 2020 alone."

HO-HO-HUM

Cookies, punch and Secret Santas? Workers are not so keen on company parties says a new OfficeTeam survey. Though 77 percent of senior managers favor those holiday celebrations, only 55 percent of employees gave them high marks. OfficeTeam surveyed 800 managers and workers, and suggests companies take their employees bowling or to play miniature golf for a "jolly time."

POLL DU JOUR

• 52 percent of Americans will donate to charity in the holiday season.

• 59 percent of that number would donate to a friend asking for sponsorship in a charity walk or bike ride.

• 56 percent would give money in a public place; 52 percent prefer to mail a check.

• 50 percent have donated to a local charity, 46 percent to a national charity.

• 43 percent donate to charities that share their values, culture or background; 23 percent would donate to an overseas charity.

• 2 percent would donate to an email charity solicitation from a celebrity.

• 1 percent would give their credit card number over the phone.

Source: An American Red Cross survey of 1,010 U.S. adults conducted Nov. 8 to 11 and released Tuesday.

Cordial cheers, nervous gibbering to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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