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Inside the Beltway: The Zimmerman numbers

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The long-range political implications of George Zimmerman's trial are emerging. A Rasmussen Reports survey finds that 48 percent of U.S. adults agree with the Florida jury's verdict that the neighborhood watch volunteer is not guilty of murder in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin; 34 percent disagree with the verdict while 18 percent are not sure.

So why are U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and others "harping so much on what seems like a losing issue?" asks Powerline.com founder John Hinderaker, who is an attorney.

Mind those midterms, he says.

"Two reasons, I think. One, liberals are used to being able to bully the rest of us, notwithstanding that they have always represented a minority, especially in matters that touch on race. I think they are upset that this time, their bullying failed," Mr. Hinderaker observes.

"Two, for the Democrats, everything is about 2014. Their base represents a minority view of the Zimmerman case, but it is a passionate minority. As with gun control and various other issues, the Democrats don't expect any practical results from politicizing the Zimmerman case, other than to drive turnout in next year's election," he concludes.

THE PETITIONS MULTIPLY

"The tragedy of Trayvon Martin and his family is a symptom of the pervasive racial prejudice in our justice system. We urge you to pass the End Racial Profiling Act without delay to help get racial profiling out of law enforcement."

— Text from a new American Civil Liberties Union petition to Congress.

And among the petitions now featured at the White House "We the People" site: "Petition to Leave George Zimmerman alone, fire Eric Holder," "No double jeopardy for George Zimmerman," "Petition a Civil Rights Prosecution of George Zimmerman by U.S. Department of Justice for the death of Trayvon Martin."

OBAMACARE STRATEGERY

Well, that did not take long. After the U.S. House voted to repeal a pair of intricate Obamacare mandates requiring individuals and employers to carry heath insurance on Wednesday, the White House immediately issued strategic diversions to counter the phenomenon.

"President Obama will deliver remarks at the White House to discuss how the Affordable Care Act is holding insurance companies accountable and putting money back into the pockets of over 8.5 million Americans," the White House announced late Wednesday.

They set the stage for what's to come, with lots of handy-dandy numbers.

"Under health care reform, insurance companies must spend at least 80 percent of premium dollars on medical care and health care quality improvement, rather than on administrative costs. If they don't, the insurance companies must provide a rebate to their customers," the statement said.

"As a result of this provision, 8.5 million consumers nationwide will receive half a billion dollars in rebates this summer, with an average rebate of around $100 per family. This new standard and other ACA policies together helped consumers save approximately $3.9 billion on premiums in 2012."

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.

SIT DOWN STRIKE

Yes, there's a poll for everything. Ergotron, a niche furniture manufacturer, recently surveyed 1,000 Americans to discover that 86 percent of U.S. workers sit all day, and that 7 of 10 "detest" it.

The survey also found that Americans sit an average of 13 hours a day and sleep an average of 8 hours, resulting in a "sedentary lifestyle" lasting 21 hours a day. The American Medical Association already has condemned this phenomenon and issued new workplace policy directives last month, urging employers to provide sitting alternatives, such as standing desks and exercise balls.

Wait. This sounds like a perfect new cause for either first lady Michelle Obama or New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. But no matter.

The poll also found that only 31 percent of Americans go to the gym, and 56 percent devote less than $10 per month to staying active. But standing at work? It could happen: 96 percent would be willing to stand more to improve their health or life expectancy, and 30 percent even responded that they would rather go without coffee for a week — to stand, rather than sit.

"There is a significant opportunity for people to change their behavior in the workplace and for corporations to change their cultures," says Jane Payfer, spokeswoman for the Minnesota-based company, which incidentally makes, uh, standing desks.

POLL DU JOUR

• 41 percent of Americans say they would have found George Zimmerman not guilty if they had served on the jury; 46 percent of white respondents and 14 percent of black respondents agree.

• 27 percent of Americans overall were "disappointed" in the verdict; 53 percent of blacks and 23 percent of whites agree.

• 23 percent overall would have found Mr. Zimmerman guilty of manslaughter; 39 percent of whites and 22 percent of blacks agree.

• 22 percent overall were "pleased" by the verdict; 25 percent of whites and 5 percent of blacks agree.

• 21 percent were unsure how they would have reacted; 20 percent of whites and 11 percent of blacks agree.

• 15 percent would have found Mr. Zimmerman guilty of murder; 12 percent of whites and 36 percent of blacks agree.

Source: A HuffPost/YouGov poll of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted July 15-16.

Snarls, one-liners, reluctant comments to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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