- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Organizers behind the bodacious “Road to Majority” conference are determined to wrangle conservatives onto the same page as the 2014 midterm elections loom. The event, virtually ignored so far by the mainstream press, begins Thursday at a hotel just three blocks from the White House.

“This conference is a chance to unify all conservatives. And I mean social conservatives, tea party folks, fiscal conservatives, middle of the road Republicans — everyone,” Gary Marx, executive director of the Faith & Freedom Coalition, tells Inside the Beltway.

“This is a chance to focus, to get on the real road to a majority together. And there’s no big push towards the 2016 presidential election. That comes later,” Mr. Marx says. “Right now, this is all about 2014.”

The Georgia-based nonprofit is behind the three-day event, with initial welcomes from Republican Sens. Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Ron Johnson and Mike Lee, among other lawmakers. Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, Grover Norquist, Jonah Goldberg and Dick Morris later host an “after hours event.”

A parade of luminaries follows over the next 48 hours: Sens. John Cornyn and Jeff Sessions, Jeb Bush, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, plus Reps. Paul Ryan, Michele Bachmann and Marsha Blackburn. To name a few, a very few.

The cast also includes Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Donald Trump, John R. Bolton, Herman Cain and The Washington Times’ very own Emily Miller. To name a few, a very few. The grand finale Saturday afternoon? That would be Sarah Palin.

WEST AND LIMBAUGH WONDER WHY

The ever-unfolding saga that is the National Security Agency vs. Edward Snowden matter has sparked stark questions.

“Now that we’ve learned the National Security Agency is monitoring our phone and Internet records, I want to know why they weren’t listening to Anwar al-Awlaki and his conversations with Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan. I also want to know why they didn’t pay more attention to the Tsarnaev brothers’ travels and connections to Chechen Islamic terrorism after Russia warned them about their activities,” Allen B. West asks, referring to the 2009 Fort Hood shootings and the Boston Marathon terrorist attacks in April.

“This isn’t national security. It’s a national circus. And it’s unacceptable,” the former congressman from Florida adds.

A refresher: Anwar al-Awlaki, an extremist Islamic cleric, was killed in 2011 by a drone strike in Yemen, Maj. Hasan is still incarcerated. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in the intense manhunt following the Boston bombing; his younger brother Dzhokhar remains hospitalized.

And from talk radio kingpin Rush Limbaugh, who ponders the federal agency’s role in tracing the whereabouts of undocumented workers: “If the NSA can track anyone anywhere, why can’t we find 10 to 11 million illegals living in the shadows?” he asked his audience Wednesday.

SOME SOUL-SEARCHING

Blockbuster news prompts deep thought. The aforementioned Edward Snowden extravaganza has prompted lawmakers to wonder if whistleblowers and the journalists who publish secret information should be praised or prosecuted. Rep. Peter T. King, New York Republican and former chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, has told both CNN and Fox News that there’s a “moral and legal obligation” to punish journalists who “severely compromise” national security.

“I think whistleblowers are absolutely essential in a democracy. But it’s a very gray area. What’s a whistleblower and what’s someone who is leaked information that could be harmful to some of our American assets who are trying to protect American citizens?” counters Rep. Xavier Becerra, California Democrat, and perhaps a “Star Trek” fan.

“I don’t know the answer to that. And that’s why I’m sort of going with Capt. Kirk, to a place where no man has gone before,” Mr. Becerra observes.

AND THE NUMBERS

A Gallup poll released Wednesday gauges American sentiment toward the Edward Snowden dilemma: 44 percent say it was “right” for Mr. Snowden to reveal what he knew about the NSA; 42 percent say he was wrong. About 59 percent say it was right for The Guardian and The Washington Post to publish the information; 33 percent say it was wrong.

A MILLION-DOLLAR MOMENT

A quartet of those who “advance the cause of freedom” have received generous recognition indeed from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. The 2013 Bradley Prizes were awarded Wednesday evening at the John F. Kennedy Center to Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes, former U.S. Solicitor General Paul D. Clement, former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, and National Affairs editor Yuval Levin. Each gent received $250,000; the prize selection committee included former Heritage Foundation President Ed Feulner, George Will and Charles Krauthammer.

“We recognize individuals whose accomplishments strengthen American institutions, in hopes that others will strive for excellence in their respective fields,” says Michael Grebe, spokesman for the Milwaukee-based philanthropic organization.

POLL DU JOUR

75 percent of Americans approve of federal government agencies collecting phone records of Americans suspected of being terrorists; 72 percent of Republicans and 81 percent of Democrats agree.

58 percent overall disapprove of the agencies collecting phone records of ordinary Americans; 66 percent of Republicans and 48 percent of Democrats agree.

53 percent overall say government collecting of the records is a “necessary tool” to help find terrorists; 49 percent of Republicans and 60 percent of Democrats agree.

49 percent overall are “concerned” about losing their privacy; 62 percent of Republicans and 54 percent of Democrats agree.

38 percent overall are concerned the government might be collecting their phone records; 39 percent of Republicans and 33 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A CBS News poll of 1,015 U.S. adults conducted June 9-10.

Blithering and dithering to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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