Inside the Beltway: Butt out, Santa

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So much for Santa Claus, who could turn up slim and gluten-free at any moment. A new version of the classic “A Visit from St. Nicholas” edits out all references to Mr. Claus‘ pipe smoking in the beloved old poem, rewritten by Pamela McColl, a writer and smoking-cessation advocate in Vancouver, Canada, who deleted two verses penned in 1823 by original author Clement Moore, for “the benefit of children in the 21st century,” she says. Vanished: “The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.”

Santa now explains to young readers, “Here at the North Pole, we decided to leave all of that tired old business of smoking well behind us a long time ago. The reindeer also asked that I confirm that I have only ever worn faux fur.”

Uh-oh.

“No one can backtrack now. Santa has stopped smoking, and 2012 is the year he quit, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it,” Ms. McColl told The New York Post.

“It’s denying access to the original voice of the author, and that’s censorship,” says Deborah Caldwell-Stone, interim director of intellectual freedom for the American Library Association. The Post, meanwhile, suggests that the public may now be subjected to “The Vertically Challenged Drummer Person” and “Melty, the Global Warming Slushman,” as dictated by politically correct culture bullies.

HEADLINE DU JOUR

“Priorities: President Eye Candy to make sixth ‘Daily Show’ appearance.”

(From Twitchy.com, referring to the fact that President Obama indeed will appear for the sixth time with Comedy Central’s fake newsman Jon Stewart on Thursday.

GOP GAP

“Thus far in October, an average of 90 percent of Democrats, and 8 percent of Republicans, approve of the job Barack Obama is doing as president. That 82 percentage-point gap in approval ratings by party is on pace to be the largest Gallup has measured for a recent incumbent president in the final month before Americans vote on his re-election,” says Gallup Poll analyst Jeffrey M. Jones. “George W. Bush had an 80-point party gap in approval, while the October gaps for other presidents were less than 70 points.”

BRIEF MESSAGE

As Americans try to make sense of the Benghazi consulate terrorist attack and its greater political and security implications, Rep. Allen West has simple advice for the White House.

“Anyone suggesting this is a ‘politicized’ issue is just trying to preclude the truth from becoming evident to the American people. A very serious mistake was made, and it cost the lives of four Americans. The intelligence of the American people was insulted, and continues to be insulted with excuses and blame games,” the Florida Republican says.

“I find it unconscionable that President Obama stated that ‘al Qaeda is on its heels.’ Perhaps the president should listen in on more of those intel briefs by actually sitting, being briefed and asking questions, rather than just taking the briefing papers and reading them on his own,” Mr. West adds.

BUSINESS ELSEWHERE

It’s not all in chaos, meanwhile. This effort begins Monday:

“The U.S. Chamber’s U.S.-Iraq Business Initiative will lead a senior-level U.S. business delegation to the Kurdistan region of Iraq, where executives, led by Gen. James Jones (USMC-Ret.), CEO of the U.S.-Kurdistan Business Council, are scheduled to meet with President Massoud Barzani, Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, key ministers, business leaders, and officials from the U.S. Consulate General in Erbil. The focus of the business mission will be to enable participants to explore commercial opportunities and develop relationships in this important region.”

THE LIBERTARIAN COMPLAINT

Gary E. Johnson continues to go about the business of campaigning with limited funds, even as his champions still complain that Tuesday’s debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney should make room for the Libertarian hopeful.

“Both the presidential and vice presidential debates have squandered their time on silly semantic arguments and insignificant details. Obama and Romney’s positions are so similar that they have to play stupid semantic games to create the illusion of a difference. The same goes for Paul Ryan and Joe Biden,” says Wes Benedict, president of Libertarian Action Super PAC. “The Commission on Presidential Debates has only one goal: promoting and perpetuating the Republican and Democratic parties. This has become so evident that major sponsors like the YWCA and Philips Electronics have recently withdrawn their support from the debates,” Mr. Benedict adds.

THE ‘2016’ DVD

A hybrid audience is emerging for “2016: Obama’s America,” the film depicting the future of the nation should President Obama win re-election. It has already grossed $33 million at the popular box office. Though still in theaters, “2016” is being rushed to DVD and to online download.

The producers have also announced the availability of special licenses for churches and grass-roots organizations to screen the film for larger groups.

Consult www.2016themovie.com for more information as it becomes available.

“We’ve heard from many people who want to watch the film and don’t have a theater close by,” says the film’s writer/director Dinesh D’Souza. “Now all Americans can watch the movie and make their minds up for themselves.”

POLL DU JOUR

• 84 percent of “Obama voters” approve raising income taxes on incomes of more than $250,000 to reduce the deficit and national debt.

• 41 percent of “Romney voters” agree.

• 62 percent of Obama voters approve raising the tax rate on investment income to reduce deficit and debt; 32 percent of Romney voters agree.

• 58 percent of Obama voters approve reducing defense spending to lower them; 16 percent of Romney voters agree.

• 29 percent of Obama voters favor reducing federal programs that aid lower-income Americans to lower deficit and debt; 58 percent of Romney voters agree.

Source: A Pew Research Center for the People & the Press survey of 1,511 U.S. adults conduced Oct. 4-7 and released Friday.

•  Cheers, jeers, fears to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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