- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 31, 2013

Let the speeches begin. As promised by the White House, President Obama will fire up Air Force One on Wednesday and journey to Colorado to “continue asking the American people to join him in calling on Congress to pass common-sense measures to reduce gun violence,” according to a few stray bits of official advance information. Specifically, Mr. Obama will meet with local law enforcement officials and community leaders in Denver, and he will be poised to laud legislation recently signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Colorado now requires background checks on all private gun sales and bans the sale of ammunition magazines that hold more than 15 bullets. Mr. Obama would be most pleased if Congress followed suit and passed something similar. Mr. Hickenlooper, meanwhile, has another challenge to face. Magpul Industries, a Boulder-based firearms accessories manufacturer and dealer, already has announced that they have “no choice” but to leave the state.

“We will start our transition out of the state almost immediately, and we will prioritize moving magazine manufacturing operations first,” the company said in a statement, noting its first high capacity magazines are expected “to be made outside Colorado within 30 days of the signing.” Other states are already lining up to be considered for the role, including West Virginia and Alaska — which is ahead of the game. The state Legislature already has passed a Republican-backed resolution in its House to be friendly to “threatened firearms and firearms accessories manufacturers” also getting nervous about changes in gun laws.

BUBBAPALOOZA

“Spend a Day With President Clinton Sweepstakes.” And so heralds an announcement for a new fundraiser sponsored by the Arkansas-based William J. Clinton Foundation, under way until April 12. The big prize does includes round-trip coach airfare, hotel accommodations and “the opportunity to spend the day with President Clinton” in New York City for two people. Will the winners tour popular Big Apple sites and say, lunch with former Mr. Clinton at the Plaza Hotel? Details are not yet available.

“Timing for the trip and the time with President Clinton will be determined at the sole discretion of the Foundation. The estimated cost of this opportunity is $3,000,” the guidelines suggest. The minimum donation for a chance is $35.

THE WAY THEY ROLL

The 35,000 guests attending the White House Easter Egg Roll on Monday may not get much traditional presidential pomp and circumstance. But spectacle? There will be scores of athletes, chefs, singers, performers, fitness instructors, craftsmen and storytellers populating the South Lawn for the big event, which required the many stars to be at the White House on Easter Sunday for a rehearsal. And it is the biggest event staged at the White House all year, incidentally, and now has a designating Twitter hashtag: #eastereggroll

The cast also includes 75 costumed characters of the, uh, branded variety. There are a few old familiar faces like Charlie Brown and Daffy Duck — plus a spate of entities with distinct commercial tie-ins. Among them, complete with Hollywood-esque explainers, as listed by the White House:

“Martha from Martha Speaks, Vexy from The Naughties Smurfs 2 movie, Milli from Team UmiZoomi, Jake from Jake and the Never Land Pirates, Twig from the Wompkees, Minion Tim from Despicable Me 2, Lt. Kwazii Kitten from The Octonauts, Belt from The Croods.”

A DUEL WITH TSA

Not everyone is happy with the Transportation Safety Administration’s reversal of restrictions on airline passengers carrying small pocket knives. Representatives of the Association of Flight Attendants will pass out leaflets in eight major airports Monday “to directly enlist passengers in the fight to keep knives out of the aircraft cabin,” they say.

wThe organization hopes passengers will contact lawmakers and sign a White House petition to overturn the policy change. The petition has already garnered more than 41,000 signatures; the new regulations take effect April 25.

“Risk-based security screening makes sense. Introducing risks into the system does not. Aviation security doesn’t stop at the cockpit door; flight Attendants and passengers in the cabin cannot be written off as acceptable casualties,” the group says.

ROAD TO RICHES

Should we celebrate traffic gridlock? Apparently so. More congestion on the roadways is a sure indicator of a better economy. So says a new national index produced by Inrix, a traffic data research company.

“Traffic is a great indicator of confidence on the ground. People hit the road as they return to work, and businesses ship more freight as their orders increase. The pulse of the economy is starting to beat faster,” says Bryan Mistele, CEO of the Washington state-based group.

Well, OK.

Gridlock in the U.S. has staged “a dramatic comeback after two years of post-recession lows,” he says, noting that traffic jumped by almost 10 percent during February alone — the largest year-over-year increase recorded by the index in two years. It is “a healthy sign of rising economic activity” across 100 metro areas, according to the index.

Well, OK.

To reach their conclusions, researchers used three years of traffic trends from federal, private and public sources, including speed, peak driving hours and “congestion intensity.”

POLL DU JOUR

• 67 percent of Americans give President Obama a negative review for his “overall job” handling the U.S. economy.93 percent of Republicans, 90 percent of conservatives, 36 percent of Democrats and 37 percent of liberals agree.

• 33 percent overall give Mr. Obama a positive review on handling the economy.7 percent of Republicans, 10 percent of conservatives, 64 percent of Democrats and 63 percent of liberals agree.

• 49 percent overall expect their household financial condition to stay the same, 30 percent say it will get worse, 21 percent say it will get better.

• 37 percent overall expect the economy to stay the same in the coming year, 32 percent say it will get worse, 30 percent say it will improve.

Source: A Harris Poll of 2,276 U.S. adults conducted March 13 to 18 and released Thursday.

• Churlish remarks and noble observations to jharper@washington times.com.