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Inside the Beltway: The first volley

- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 7, 2013

"America: Taking it back starts now" heralds the newly reinvented National Republican Congressional Committee website, which jolted to life Saturday and is an aggressive poke at a bullying Democratic presence that now commands much voter attention online.

"This site was created with you, the user, in mind. It emphasizes big, bright visual content — so that means more photos, more videos and more stories for you to enjoy and then share with your friends and family," said digital director and webmaster Gerrit Lansing, who describes himself as a former "flack" for both Reps. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Peter J. Roskam of Illinois.

The site is cheerful, has teeth and is essentially dedicated to preventing House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, from returning to her previous perch as House speaker. Find the new outreach here: nrcc.org

"Republicans everywhere are going up against a big, powerful machine in Barack Obama. He's got the media behind him and hundreds of millions of dollars to spend. To defeat them we need — to a great degree — to go around them," Mr. Lansing observes.

THE "KIM" HEADLINES

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is subject to interpretation in the global press. A sampling of the headlines in the past 48 hours:

"The North Korea that roared" (Detroit News); "North Korea: The chess match with a dim wit continues" (Daily Telegraph); "The younger Kim knows exactly what he's doing" (Financial Times); "Powerful aunt and uncle at head of Kim dynasty (Sydney Morning Herald); "Kerry seeks diplomatic off ramp for North Korea (CNN); Kim Jong-un plots his day in the sun (The Australian); "Kim's temper tantrum needs the Talleyrand touch" (The Scotsman) ; and "China wades into Korean peninsula tensions" (Al Jazeera).

A REMINDER TO THE GOP

News Republicans can use? Uh-h-h, yes.

"Look out below, the Obamacare chaos is coming," points out Heartland Institute economics analyst and Forbes contributor Peter Ferrara. "The biggest political problem faced by so-called liberals and so-called progressives in President Obama's second term is how to prevent voters from holding them politically responsible as the public comes to realize how badly they were lied to during the first Obama term to win passage of Obamacare.

A GOP REMINDER

"The ideas on how to fix the federal government are now percolating in the states, 30 of which are led by Republican governors. You see, you don't change America by changing Washington. You change America by changing the states. And that's exactly what Republican governors are doing across the country, taking a different approach to grow their states' economies and fix their governments with ideas that work," said Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, in the Republican Party's weekly address.

And the ideas?

"They involve a more-focused government that costs less. A taxing structure that encourages growth. An education system that produces measurable results. And a renewed focus on the incredible dignity of each and every person, no matter who they are," Mr. Brownback said, later adding, "We just need to become America again."

AND THAT'S A WRAP

"I'm interested in all things Chinese and I live a very Chinese life in America."

So said actor Robert Downey, Jr. upon introducing "Iron Man 3" to a very appreciative Chinese press corps in Beijing on Saturday.

"It's no surprise the film's producers are pulling out all the stops to have Downey play to the Chinese gallery. While it's just the second stop of the 'Iron Man 3' international promotional tour, Beijing is probably the most significant appointment on the itinerary, with China having been explicitly targeted as one of the biggest markets for the film," observes Clarence Tsui, a correspondent for The Hollywood Reporter.

BUMPER PATROL

"I carry a gun. A cop is too heavy."

— Bumper sticker spotted in Kensington by Inside the Beltway reader Frank O'Brimski.

AGGRAVATED GRASS ROOTS

More evidence that the reinvention of the Republican Party is still a work in progress, though time grows short, and 2014 looms. Discord is still percolating between grass-roots and "establishment" Republicans.

"Last Tuesday, the Republican National Committee's newly hired chief of staff Mike Shields expressed frustration and disdain for service centers to grass-roots activists, describing them as the 'professional right' who 'just send out lies and ask for money,'" says Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks, an umbrella organization for liberty-minded fiscal conservatives.

And of course, the group has launched a "Demand an Apology from Mike Shields" campaign.

"Mr. Shields owes every citizen activist working to advance the ideas of individual freedom and constitutionally-limited government an apology," Mr. Kibbe says, noting that the recent Republican "autopsy" report suggested the party investigate a diversity of ideas.

"Attacking the activist-driven organizations that credibly counter the left's political machine is not a good start for an RNC that pays lip service to the same grass-roots freedom movement. They can't have it both ways," he says.

POLL DU JOUR

• 91 percent of U.S. drivers own a cellphone.

• 80 percent say they do not text while driving.

• 74 percent support laws banning use of handheld cellphones while driving.

• 48 percent answer their cellphones while behind the wheel; 50 percent of this number say cellphone use has no impact on their driving.

• 18 percent say they drive slower when talking, 17 percent admit being "distracted," 2 percent admit they drift out of their lane.

• 10 percent overall send texts while driving; 33 percent of that number say texting while driving does not impact their driving.

• 24 percent admit they being "distracted," 21 percent drive slower, 11 percent admit drifting out of their lane.

Source: A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration survey of 6, 016 U.S. adult drivers conducted from Feb. 27 to June 11, 2012 and released Friday.

• Distractions, accolades, tirades to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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