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Inside the Beltway: Semper Fi

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The thump of the bass drum, the precision of the brass and a cadence that matches the beat of a patriot's heart: that is the U.S. Marine Corps band, which celebrates its 215th birthday this week with much fanfare.

In special twin concerts on hallowed ground, "The President's Own" will remind the public that a great march or a stirring call to arms can drown out even the noisiest politician. They perform free for the public on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol, then on the banks of the Potomac River, near Nationals Park.

Someone has crafted the band a spectacular gift.

"We are especially excited to open the concerts with a new work written in honor of our anniversary by the incomparable John Williams," said Marine Band Director Col. Michael J. Colburn. "Williams' new piece is a fanfare written specifically for the Marine Band's anniversary year and is aptly titled 'For The President's Own'."

The bodacious band members in their resplendent red and blue uniforms play 200 times a year at the White House in several configurations, plus 500 additional public and official events each year. When a sense of grand occasion is needed, folks have sent in the Marines for more than two centuries.

Established by an act of Congress in 1798, the United States Marine Band is America's oldest continuously active professional musical organization. The few, the proud and the very talented also have a mission: "to provide music for the President of the United States and the Commandant of the Marine Corps."

President John Adams invited the Marine Band to make its White House debut on New Year's Day 1801, even before the official residence was finished. It performed for Thomas Jefferson's inauguration three months later — and have performed for every presidential inaugural since. Jefferson, a fiddle player in his own right, recognized the unique relationship 'twixt band and chief executive and promptly gave the Marine Band the title "The President's Own."

So, three cheers. Hurrah. And, of course, oorah, ladies and gents.


The Lone Star State lawmaker who raffled off a Bushmaster AR-15 personal defense rifle over July Fourth also is taking on school officials who punish exuberant children for playing cops and robbers at recess.

"In response to a recent wave of school authorities punishing children for innocent expression, I have introduced H.R. 2625, the 'Student Protection Act.' Too often so-called zero tolerance policies are being abused by school authorities to punish children for innocent play or, worse, try to indoctrinate them to be terrified of anything even shaped like a gun," says Rep. Steve Stockman.

"Instead of nurturing young minds these policies are traumatizing children who did nothing wrong or instilling in them irrational fears. Why are taxpayer dollars being spent to subsidize this insanity?" the Texas Republican demands.

"Schools should be places where children learn. Punishing children for playing 'cops and robbers' or taking a bite out of a Pop-Tart that makes it somewhat resemble a gun is not healthy for children. Something must be done to restore sanity to the schoolroom. The Student Protection Act would end the practice of using federal taxpayer dollars to subsidize schools that enforce these policies that abuse and harm young children," Mr. Stockman says.


When Sarah Palin bought a sizable house in Arizona, everyone assumed she would run for the U.S. Senate seat in the state, with a nice boost from her old running mate Sen. John McCain. But that was years ago. More recently, it was suggested that she join forces with Jeb Bush for another White House run.

"A Jeb Bush/president — Sarah Palin/vice president ticket covers all the Electoral College, evangelical, pro-life, centrist-conservative, experienced governorships, male/female bases," reasoned American Thinker contributor Michael Sheppard, who framed the pair as "the GOP's only hope" to win in the 2016 presidential race.

Mrs. Palin herself, however, has suggested that a U.S. Senate run in her own home state of Alaska was a real possibility, telling Fox News she had encouragement from the public and there was a "need" to replace Sen. Mark Begich, a Democrat. Yes, well. There are at least a dozen Palin for President-style websites up and running. And lest we forget, there's SarahPac, her political action committee whose motto is, "We have not yet begun to fight."

While there is much predictable mockery in the press and social media in the aftermath of her musing about the Senate seat, some advise Mrs. Palin to go for it.

"Run, Sarah, run, and keep on running, " says Commentary columnist Jonathan S. Tobin.

"A Senate campaign would put her to the test and even her sternest critics should not assume she would fail this time. It may be that Palin has become too polarizing a political personality to win any election, even in deep red Alaska. But she owes it to herself and to her supporters to try," Mr. Tobin observes.

"She almost certainly will never be president, but a Senate seat is not beyond her grasp. While I'm far from sure that her contribution to the national debate would be enlightening, it would be entertaining."


A recent study of the immigration reform legislation by the Congressional Budget Office found the plan only reduced the number of illegal immigrants by half. That does not appeal much to engaged voters, who are beginning to understand the greater implications of the very complex bill: 39 percent now approve of the idea, says a Rasmussen Poll released Wednesday.

"That's down from 60 percent less than three weeks ago despite the U.S. Senate's passage of the measure since then. Thirty percent are opposed, and 19 percent are undecided," says pollster Scott Rasmussen, who conducted the survey of 1,000 likely U.S. voters conducted on July 8 and 9.


NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden at least has some pals at Code Pink, the cheeky organization whose members indeed wear pink, then disrupt U.S. Senate sessions, among many other things. Founder Medea Benjamin reports that her group, plus a coalition of other "civil rights and libertarian" organizations, will stage noisy rallies at the embassies of Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela on Thursday to "thank" the countries that offered asylum to Mr. Snowden.

"We are honoring the three Latin American countries for refusing to be strong-armed by the United States, and also for their commitment to protecting the universal right of whistleblowers like Edward Snowden to seek asylum," Ms. Benjamin says. "We'll be bringing them thank you cards."

Then it's on to the Justice Department. No thank you cards, however.

"U.S. attempts to pressure governments to block Snowden's attempts to seek asylum are deplorable," said Michael Bochenek, director of law and policy at Amnesty International. "It is his unassailable right, enshrined in international law, to claim asylum and this should not be impeded."


• 55 percent of U.S. voters consider Edward Snowden to be a "whistleblower"; 55 percent of Republicans and 49 percent of Democrats agree.

• 34 percent of voters overall consider Mr. Snowden a "traitor;" 38 percent of Republicans and 39 percent of Democrats agree.

• 54 percent overall say the NSA program that monitors phone and Internet communications as a measure against terrorism is "necessary" to keep America safe; 55 percent of Republicans and 64 percent of Democrats agree.

• 51 percent overall support those programs; 49 percent of Republicans and 58 percent of Democrats agree.

• 45 percent overall say government anti-terrorism policies have "gone too far;" 41 percent of Republicans and 43 percent of Democrats agree.

• 40 percent overall say the programs have "not gone far enough;" 46 percent of Republicans and 42 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Quinnipiac University poll of 2,014 registered U.S. voters conducted June 28 to July 8.

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