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Inside the Beltway: Harleys in China

A noisy cultural moment, and a lucrative one: China has embraced Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Witness the fact that 1,000 Chinese Harley lovers recently roared into Qian Dao Lake, Zhejiang Province, decked out in black leather, skull masks and Viking warrior helmets. Or no helmets. The Beijing-style bikers were there to celebrate the 110th birthday of the iconic, all-American brand.

And they are devoted. Six official H.O.G. chapters — that's "Harley Owner Groups" — are scattered across China.

None of this has been lost on Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker; Harley-Davidson headquarters are in Milwaukee. Under Mr. Walker's watch, Wisconsin managed to export $1.5 billion worth of local products to China last year, from the beloved Harleys to Wisconsin-grown ginseng, Oshkosh trucks and fancy, locally made bath fittings. As part of a trade mission, Mr. Walker himself journeyed to Shanghai for a flashy Harley party, and the opening of a yet another new Harley dealership in Tianjian. Yes, Mr. Walker wore black leather everything, aviator sunglasses and was astride a chopper of formidable proportions.

He also managed to snag an hourlong meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. And of note: China has risen to a $250 billion market for U.S. companies, according to the U.S.-China Business Council.

"I have seen tremendous achievements in urban development, a vibrant economy and fabulous people in pursuit of personal freedom," Mr. Walker said in a recent recap of his experiences, noting that the Chinese have become very attracted "to the leisure motorcycling lifestyle."

THE BACON SOLUTION

Yankee Candle introduced a bacon-scented candle for men this week, to much applause and wonder from those convinced that the genre was limited to girly florals and vanilla. But wait. There could be some constructive use for such a candle in the male-dominated bastions of the nation's capital. Would the parties stop their fussing if the comforting, savory scent of bacon was in the air? Maybe.

"Certainly, I'd love if our new 'MMM, Bacon!' candle can help ease the tension between Congress and the White House," Yankee Candle CEO Harlan Kent tells Inside the Beltway. "Everyone loves bacon. It's a unifying scent that brings people together, regardless of their political affiliations. How can you not be happy when bacon's involved?"

TEA PARTY BREW

It's old school, tea party style, back in action. The call has gone out to grass-roots folks nationwide to protest their local IRS office at high noon, calling attention to "the complete abuse of power" by the federal agency, say organizers with the Tea Party Patriots .

"The IRS' thuggish, discriminatory, abusive schemes and tactics perfectly illustrate why we must have a government that is constitutionally limited," declares Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of the Georgia-based organization that represents some 3,400 local groups.

THE WHITE HOUSE BREW

The Obama administration, meanwhile, has never been fond of the tea party, made evident by the National Tax Payers Union, which has traced the ill will back to 2009, the year the grassroots movement emerged on public radar.

"A look back to the early days of the Obama administration reveals a consistent disdain for the tea party movement from the start," says John Kartch, spokesman for the nonpartisan coalition.

In April 19, he recalls, then-White House senior adviser David Axelrod predicted that a disaffected tea party would "mutate into something that's unhealthy."

Ten days later, President Obama himself told a town meeting, "Those of you who are watching certain news channels on which I'm not very popular, and you see folks waving tea bags around, let me just remind them that I am happy to have a serious conversation about how we are going to cut our health care costs down over the long term, how we are going to stabilize Social Security."

By August, then White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters: "I hope people will take a jaundiced eye to what is clearly the Astro Turf nature of so-called grass-roots lobbying. This is manufactured anger."

And in mid September, Mr. Axelrod had advice for the tea party on CBS: "My message to them is they're wrong."

POLITICAL PODIUM

Conservatives are a very rare breed indeed on the roster of college commencement speakers. For the 20th year in a row, Young America's Foundation has compiled an ideological breakdown of speakers, only to reveal that the podiums are dominated by left leaners. As usual. At the nation's top 100 colleges and universities, 67 liberals will speak at graduations, compared to 17 conservatives. The other slots are occupied by student speakers, incidentally.

"As tuition and student-loan debt grow at historic rates, what are students getting for their money? An education from leftist professors that — combined with the Obama administration's policies — has left 53 percent of recent grads unemployed or underemployed. These commencement speakers are just the icing on higher education's indoctrination cake," observes Ron Robinson, president of the conservative student interest group.

See the complete list here: YAF.com

BUMPER PATROL

"Annoy a liberal: Work hard. Succeed. Be happy."

Bumper sticker spotted in Plano, Texas

POLL DU JOUR

47 percent of Americans believe that gays and lesbians are "born with" same-sex preference.

33 percent of conservatives, 48 percent of moderates and 67 percent of liberals agree; 35 percent of Republicans, 48 percent of independents and 56 percent of Democrats also agree.

33 percent of Americans overall say the same-sex preference among gays and lesbians is due to their upbringing and environment.

48 percent of conservatives, 30 percent of moderates and 15 percent of liberals agree; 49 percent of Republicans, 29 percent of independents and 23 percent of Democrats also agree.

Source: A Gallup poll of 1,535 U.S. adults conducted May 2 to 7 and released Thursday.

Tipline always open at jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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