Inside the Beltway: Glenn Beck goes to Washington

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It portends to be a fierce demonstration, as in days of yore: The Tea Party Patriots will assemble at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday for an “Audit the IRS” rally in support of conservative groups that were subject to some uncomfortable scrutiny by the federal agency in recent years. The tea partyers will have some high profile company. Independent media maven Glenn Beck plans to be there, despite his own misgivings about visiting the veritable heart of big government.

“There are many things I don’t believe in anymore, and Washington is one of them. And I despise that city now. Because it has just become a symbol of corruption to me, a symbol of grotesque growth, where the rest of us are suffering in the rest of the country,” Mr. Beck told his radio audience, upon announcing that he was going anyway, and would speak at high noon.

“I will go and stand,” Mr. Beck declared.

The aforementioned Patriots — which represent some 3,400 local groups — say participants will be primed upon arrival. The many buses en route to the event in the next 24 hours will screen “Hating Breitbart” as they roll; the documentary recounts the spirited life of the late provocateur Andrew Breitbart.

“Andrew would have been outraged, as we all are, in light of recent scandals at the IRS, Justice Department and other government agencies — but he wouldn’t have been surprised,” observes Andrew Marcus, the film’s director.

BUMPER PATROL

“Hillary 2016: it’s George Bush’s fault!”

— Bumper sticker spotted in Arlington by Inside the Beltway reader Jonathan Deutsch.

“It should have read ‘Hillary 2016: what difference does it make?’ ” Mr. Deutsch observes.

BLOOMBERG’S COMPOST HEAP

Wilted lettuce, egg shells, potato parings: New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg hopes local city folk will compost their kitchen scraps in the name of green-minded citizenship, or, uh, incur a fine.

“This is a rotten idea for the Big Apple,” says Jeff Stier, the New York City-based director of risk analysis for the National Center for Public Policy Research. He’s quick to point out that his group supports voluntary composting. “In fact, we already have voluntary composting where residents can send kitchen scraps to gardens around the five boroughs,” Mr. Stier notes.

“But we live in a big city, not on a farm, and while composting is a great idea in certain circumstances, it doesn’t make sense to mandate that all New York residents save their rotting food,” he says. “Consider the increased risks from disease-carrying vermin, a problem the city still hasn’t conquered, from all of the pre-compost material sitting around our dense living spaces.”

And what about greenhouse gas emissions from extra “compost trucks”? “Perhaps they’ll be carrot-peel powered,” Mr. Stier says.

BUTT OUT OF SYRIA

Stay out of it, please. That is the public reaction to the White House vow to arm opposition rebels in Syria.

“Broad majorities continue to oppose the U.S. and its allies sending arms and military supplies to anti-government groups in Syria,” says a Pew Research Center poll released Monday, which revealed that 70 percent of Americans oppose aiding the rebels in the war-torn nation. There’s a modest partisan divide: 71 percent of Republicans and 66 percent of Democrats agree.

More than two-thirds overall say our troops are “already stretched thin” while 60 percent feel the rebels “may be no better than the current government.” More than half agree, however, that it is important for the U.S. to support people who oppose authoritarian regimes. The public is divided on whether the U.S. has a moral obligation to stop violence in Syria: 49 percent agree, 46 percent disagree.

And from a Gallup poll, also released Monday: 54 percent of Americans disapprove of the Obama administration’s decision to send direct military aid to Syrian rebels; 63 percent of Republicans also disapprove. But Democrats appear loyal to President Obama; 42 percent disapprove, while a majority — 51 percent — approve of the idea.

COMPETITION FOR SEAN, PIERS, RACHEL

There are more programming details from Al-Jazeera America, the English-language news channel that will launch later this year. “America Tonight,” a one-hour prime-time centerpiece, will air at 9 p.m., set to rival the established work of Fox News’ Sean Hannity, CNN’s Piers Morgan and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, all broadcast in the same hour.

The current-affairs program will originate from a slick new studio in the Newseum, just blocks from the U.S. Capitol. Former CNN executive producer Kim Bondy is senior executive producer; content will come from Al-Jazeera’s 12 news bureaus in the U.S., plus 70 overseas. The network itself is based in Qatar.

“America Tonight will be typical of what viewers will see on Al-Jazeera America,” says Ehab Al Shihabi, executive director of international operations, adding that programming “will explain what the news really means to the daily lives of our viewers.”

POLL DU JOUR

66 percent of Americans say it is “right” for the Obama administration to monitor Internet data to locate suspected terrorists; 67 percent of Republicans and 76 percent of Democrats agree.

62 percent of Americans think the federal government has become big enough to threaten rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens; 79 percent of Republicans and 37 percent of Democrats agree.

54 percent of Americans say the federal government should prosecute NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden; 56 percent of Republicans and 71 percent of Democrats agree.

52 percent overall disapprove of Mr. Snowden’s actions; 54 percent of Republicans and 66 percent of Democrats agree.

62 percent overall say the U.S. government has “collected” data about their personal phone and Internet usage; 62 percent of Republicans and 57 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A CNN/ORC poll of 1,014 U.S. adults conducted June 11 to 13.

Catcalls, doggerel to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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