Inside the Beltway: The Zimmerman numbers

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BUMPER PATROL

“Republicans: Back by popular demand.”

— Bumper sticker spotted in Plano, Texas

ROCKING ROLLING STONE

“Your Aug. 3 cover rewards a terrorist with celebrity treatment. It is ill-conceived, at best, and reaffirms a terrible message that destruction gains fame for killers and their ‘causes.’ To respond to you in anger is to feed your obvious marketing strategy.”

— Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, in a letter to Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner, regarding the magazine’s upcoming cover image of “Boston bomber” Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

“The cover story we are publishing this week falls within the traditions of journalism and Rolling Stone’s long-standing commitment to serious and thoughtful coverage of the most important political and cultural issues of our day.”

— The “editors” of Rolling Stone, in rebuttal to multiple criticisms of the cover and story, which they frame as “a riveting and heartbreaking account of how a charming kid with a bright future became a monster.”

A SHOT OFF THE BOW

Boycott the Olympics? Yes, says Sen. Lindsey Graham, who cited NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s ongoing saga in Moscow — and brought clucks of incredulity from House Speaker John A. Boehner in the aftermath. The South Carolina Republican thinks much more is at stake than a whistleblower, however.

“It’s not just about Snowden. Russia has aligned themselves with Iran to keep President Assad in power. And, uh, here’s my question to the Congress and the president: What does Russia have to do before we push back?” Mr. Graham told CNN’s Jake Tapper.

“Would I go to [Russia] if they were continuing to support Assad and 200,000 Syrians had been killed, the king of Jordan had been toppled because of the civil war in Syria?” the lawmaker demanded.

He continued with much vigor, explaining the complexities, pointing to the challenges in Iraq and fretting that Russian weapons could end up in the hands of Hezbollah. And what if Russia were to “help the Iranians march toward a nuclear weapon?” Mr. Graham theorized.

“Would I accept an invitation sent by Vladimir Putin? No. I don’t want to boycott the Olympics. But I want a policy that will get the Russians’ attention,” Mr. Graham concluded.

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