- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 14, 2013

The trial of George Zimmerman continues to spark endless interpretation from provocateurs and peacemakers alike. “If we’re going to leave with one lesson from this whole affair it’s to leave police work to the actual police. They’re the ones who are trained in shooting unarmed black kids,” HBO’s cheeky host Bill Maher told his audience.“Protests against the Zimmerman verdict are building across the country. Let’s all go to one today (or hold your own),” tweeted filmmaker Michael Moore.

“We must stop looking at issues from a racial context and stand together as one America — with God as our strength. To use a familiar phrase these days, let’s not stay ‘stuck on stupid’ and move on to heal our land,” counters Emery McClendon, an Indiana tea party organizer and national adviser to Project 21, a grass-roots network for black conservatives.

“For too long, people such as the NAACP’s Ben Jealous and Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have spoken out in hate and ignorance and found placement in the media. It’s time to stop the madness. We must turn the tide. If we put as much time into restoring our Constitution as we did into the Zimmerman trial, America would be a better place for all of us,” Mr. McClendon concludes.

Petitions percolate, meanwhile. “Florida’s ‘stand your ground’ law is dangerous and prone to abuse. Please repeal this law immediately,” reads a petition to the Florida Legislature circulated by the progressive blog Daily Kos, which has drawn some 3,500 signatures.

“The most fundamental of civil rights — the right to life —was violated the night George Zimmerman stalked and then took the life of Trayvon Martin. We ask that the Department of Justice file civil rights charges against Mr. Zimmerman for this egregious violation,” reads a petition written by aforementioned NAACP President Benjamin Jealous, and publicized by MoveOn.org that has been signed by 149,000 people. A similar petition filed through the White House’s online “We the People” project has drawn 7,000 signatures.

COLLATERAL DAMAGE

“The true loser at the Zimmerman trial was Barack Obama,” says Roger L. Simon, founder of Pajamas Media. “By injecting himself in a minor Florida criminal case by implying Trayvon Martin could be his son, the president of the United States — a onetime law lecturer, of all things — disgraced himself and his office, made a mockery of our legal system and exacerbated racial tensions in our country, making them worse than they have been in years.”

He has no kind words for opportunistic news organizations who covered the Zimmerman trial, either.

“The media treated this case like pornography, something to be exploited, giving it all sorts of racial import it didn’t have. The New York Times, acting like true reactionaries of the Obama era — how can we use the word ‘liberal’ with these people? — even went so far as to invent the term ‘white Hispanic’ to fit the case. The National Enquirer couldn’t have done it better. I take it back. The Enquirer behaves more ethically,” Mr. Simon concludes.

“So this year’s ‘Trial of the Century’ has mercifully ended. What will live on forever, however, is the new low some in the media reached in turning what was once just a local tragedy into a sensational frenzy. And in the process, the merger of tabloid journalism and hard news is now complete,” says Mediaite.com columnist Joe Concha.

NUMBERS OF NOTE FOR THE GOP

Republican strategists please note: Organizing for Action, the grass-roots group that grew out of President Obama’s 2012 presidential campaign, announced Sunday that it has raised $13.1 million in small donations and now has 3.1 million members.

It’s all geared toward “building the biggest and smartest, most truly grass-roots movement,” the group says in a triumphant mass email.

Another number for the Grand Old Party to consider, just in case anyone is still quibbling over unproductive details: Jan. 1, 2014 dawns in exactly 169 days. The party should now be in a no-dithering zone.

LUNCH WITH ‘41

A moment of calm amid hubbub: President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will have lunch with former President George H.W. Bush and former first lady Barbara Bush at the White House on Monday; things will be done up quite swell in the Red Room.

They will all adjourn later to honor the Points of Light Foundation, an organization established by Mr. Bush in 1989 to mobilize volunteers. Current and former presidents will honor the winner of the 5,000th Daily Point of Light Award. Also on hand: Chairman Neil Bush and Michelle Nunn, CEO of the organization.

REBRANDING SMOKEY

Once he was “Smokey the Bear,” with a melancholy message about forest fires. Then he became “Smokey Bear,” and subject to much whiz bang animation and hip talk. On Monday, “a more nostalgic-looking Smokey Bear” plods onto public radar via new videos and extensive social media targeting the 18- to 34-year-old set.

New public service announcements feature live actors, including someone in a new, remarkably well-tailored Smokey costume. The iconic symbol of the U.S. Forest Service — who turns 70 next year — emerges wordlessly from the woods to thank those who manage not to light the trees on fire.

“We are confident that these new PSAs will use ‘bear hugs’ to enlighten a whole new generation of Americans on the critical importance of preventing wildfires,” observes Tom Tidwell, chief of the federal agency.

And the bear facts: The classy video spots were created for free by a Los Angeles ad agency, and will be aired for nothing by the Ad Council.

REBRANDING SPITZER

“Protecting Capitalism Case by Case.” And so reads the title of a book written with a flourish by New York City comptroller hopeful Eliot Spitzer, released Monday. “This book is not about the travails of a personal life it is meant to be a statement on how we should really understand our economy,” Mr. Spitzer writes.

But wait. He’s won accolades from Al Gore, who notes in a review, “Eliot Spitzer, a dedicated advocate for the public interest, writes with wisdom born of his experience in fighting for what is right and good for the people of New York State and the U.S.”

POLL DU JOUR

64 percent of U.S. voters blame gridlock in Washington equally on both Democrats and Republicans; 69 percent of Republicans and 48 percent of Democrats agree.

46 percent of voters overall say they trust the “government in Washington” some of the time; 44 percent of Republicans and 53 percent of Democrats agree.

37 percent overall say they “hardly ever” trust the federal government; 46 percent of Republicans and 15 percent of Democrats agree.

14 percent overall say they trust the federal government “most of the time”; 8 percent of Republicans and 26 percent of Democrats agree.

2 percent overall say they trust the federal government “almost all the time”; 2 percent of Republicans and 4 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Quinnipiac University Poll of 2,014 U.S. voters conducted June 28 to July 8 and released Friday.

Handwringing, complaints to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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