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Inside the Beltway: Jindal emerges with messages to GOP

- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 27, 2013

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has secured his place in the Republican rush to redefine the party, pacify conservatives and scoop up Libertarians, Hispanics and disgruntled Democrats as 2016 glimmers in the distance.

Feat No. 1: Mr. Jindal created a commotion when he warned the GOP not to be the "stupid party," later declaring "we are a populist party" in a rapid-fire speech before the Republican National Committee winter meeting Thursday. Feat No. 2: At the National Review Institute summit, the governor also advised members of the GOP that they needed to preserve their principles, but "change everything else." He's got their attention.

"Bobby Jindal's speeches to the summit and the RNC winter meeting reflect a powerhouse message from a '16 contender. Forceful, sharp. Jindal candid, at ease and provocative without being combative. Beltwayers haven't been paying attention to him for a few years, but that'll change," observed National Review political analyst Robert Costa in a pair of tweets during Mr. Jindal's oratory.

ZOOMING RIGHT ALONG

"President Obama arrived at the White House at 1:21 p.m. On the drive back, the motorcade passed Bill and Hillary Clinton walking a dog along Massachusetts Avenue. The sighting was fleeting, and the motorcade continued."

(from the White House pool report filed by Wall Street Journal correspondent Colleen McCain Nelson on Sunday.)

BLAMING FOX NEWS

Fox News gets shunned plenty during White House press conferences, ranking ninth among news organizations that President Obama calls upon when he steps to the podium. Out of his 36 solo briefings in 2012, Mr. Obama called upon Fox News only 14 times, according to a University of Minnesota analysis; ABC News, in contrast, was called upon 29 times. But wait. The president has revealed his own sentiments about conservative news.

"If you talk privately to Democrats and Republicans, particularly those who have been around for a while, they long for the days when they could socialize and introduce bipartisan legislation and feel productive. So I don't think the issue is whether or not there are people of goodwill in either party that want to get something done. I think what we really have to do is change some of the incentive structures so that people feel liberated to pursue some common ground," Mr. Obama tells The New Republic in an interview published in the Feb. 11 issue.

"One of the biggest factors is going to be how the media shapes debates. If a Republican member of Congress is not punished on Fox News or by Rush Limbaugh for working with a Democrat on a bill of common interest, then you'll see more of them doing it," the president said.

WING NUTS

According to chicken lobby predictions, Americans will scarf down 1.23 billion chicken wings during the Super Bowl XLVII, down about 1 percent from last year. Should we worry? Is the world ending?

"Chicken companies produced about 1 percent fewer birds last year, due in large part to record high corn and feed prices," explains Bill Roenigk, chief economist for the National Chicken Council, who blames it all on summer drought and "a federal government requirement that mandates 40 percent of our corn crop be turned into fuel in the form of ethanol. "

At $2.11 per pound, the wholesale price of wings is at the most expensive ever, and is currently the highest priced part of the chicken, the council says. Ranch dressing, incidentally, bests blue cheese dressing 57 percent to 35 percent on the big day, the Washington-based industry group notes in its own poll of some 2,000 Americans. Women (77 percent) are just as likely as men (82 percent) to indulge in wing cuisine.

"The data show that chicken wings are not bound by gender or geographic lines," Mr. Roenigk adds. "We also know that they are nonpartisan and politically independent. That is, there are really no extreme left wings or extreme right wings."

SITTING IN A DRAFT

Rep. Charles B. Rangel is fine with the Defense Department decision to allow female soldiers in direct combat. It also draws attention to his pet cause.

"A more equal military? Bring back the draft," the New York Democrat says in a CNN commentary. "Taking this critical step forward to include women in combat strengthens our military by reducing the burden of the disproportionate number of soldiers who are making sacrifices. I sincerely hope that this will spark a national debate about who is fighting our wars and whether all of America can say that we're sharing the sacrifice.

"Since January 2003, at the height of the debate on the possible unilateral strike against Iraq, I have advocated for a reinstatement of the military draft to ensure a more equitable representation of people making sacrifices in wars in which the United States is engaged," Mr. Rangel notes.

"Since we replaced the compulsory military draft with an all-volunteer force in 1973, our nation has been making decisions about wars without worry over who fights them. I sincerely believe that reinstating the draft would compel the American public to have a stake in the wars we fight as a nation. That is why I wrote the Universal National Service Act, known as the 'draft' bill, which requires all men and women between ages 18 and 25 to give two years of service in any capacity that promotes our national defense."

POLL DU JOUR

• 93 percent of National Rifle Association members oppose a law requiring gun owners to register with the federal government.

• 92 percent oppose gun confiscation via mandatory buy-back laws; 92 percent oppose a federal law banning the sale of firearms between private citizens.

• 91 percent support laws keeping firearms away from the mentally ill.

• 89 percent oppose banning semi-automatic firearms, often "mistakenly called assault rifles."

• 82 percent approve of the idea of "qualified armed security professionals in every school."

• 79 percent agree that President Obama's "balanced approach" to guns means regulations that "will take away our Second Amendment rights."

• 72 percent say that Mr. Obama's "ultimate goal is the confiscation of many firearms that are currently legal."

Source: A National Rifle Association poll of 1,000 of its members conducted Jan. 13 and 14 and released Friday.

Murmurs and asides to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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