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Inside the Beltway: Ignoring the obvious about Obamacare

This bombshell news never really got to explode: NBC News' senior investigative correspondent Lisa Myers found buried in the 2010 Obamacare regulations language predicting "a reasonable range for the percentage of individual policies that would terminate is 40 percent to 67 percent."

Wait, the White House already knew folks would lose their insurance? Surely that's worth much coverage. But no. A Media Research Center analysis reveals that "this massive, deliberate breach of trust" was given only 21 seconds of airtime on "NBC Nightly News," tucked at the close of a lesser story, with no follow-up. ABC and CBS completely ignored the revelations.

"NBC News buried their own reporter to protect President Obama," fumes Brent Bozell, founder of the conservative media watchdog. "This sends a clear message to the American people. As far as the liberal broadcast networks are concerned, when Barack Obama lies, it's not news. What would Richard Nixon have given for a press corps this corrupt?"

THE LEAFINATOR

He is still a movie star, bodybuilder and now-and-then a policy wonk. Now Arnold Schwarzenegger is to become a forest ranger. On Wednesday, U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell will swear in the former California governor as the agency's third honorary ranger during a ceremony at the Department of Agriculture in the nation's capital.

It's amazing that Mr. Schwarzenegger beat Al Gore to the post. But he did. The agency loves Ah-nawld for signing the landmark California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 that included a low carbon fuel standard "to make forests and other ecosystems more resilient — more able to recover from the impacts of climate change." That is what the forest folk say. And the other two honorary rangers? Oddly enough, they are actress Betty White and Rolling Stones keyboard player Chuck Leavell.

Mr. Schwarzenegger, meanwhile, has another agenda while in town. He will also venture to the Capitol for a splashy conference with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid near the now infamous old "Ohio Clock" that was left unwound and eventually stopped during the partial government shutdown. The pair will talk up federal funding for after-school programs. He'll then meet with Education Secretary Arne Duncan to "discuss this important policy area," organizers say.

THE LEADING LADY GETS HER SOLO

At long last, the star of this week's biggest drama steps into the spotlight. When Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius attempts to explain the assorted ailments of the Affordable Care Act before Congress on Wednesday morning, she faces intense scrutiny from lawmakers, along with some very close observers.

"Secretary Sebelius has a critical opportunity to come forward before the congressional committee and tell the truth, take responsibility for this debacle and tell Americans why this program is failing," says Jay Sekulow. chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice. "The American people are tired of doubletalk, fingerpointing, and excuses. The American people deserve the truth and accountability, and it's our hope that is what comes out of the hearing."

And lest we forget, the Capitol Hill stage has already been set. Two Florida Republicans — Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Trey Radel — have introduced the "Delay Until Fully Functional Act," a bill delaying the individual mandate under Obamacare until six months after the Government Accountability Office certifies that the exchange website is fully functional.

QUESTION OF THE DAY

"Tell us what you're hearing about Obamacare."

— A demand from Organizing for America, the aggressive grass-roots advocacy group that grew out of President Obama's 2012 presidential campaign, to its 13 million-name database.

They are out to help soothe health care ills, indeed. The group launched its own poll Tuesday with five pivotal questions, advising that in the next five months it "will be helping connect millions of Americans with information about Obamacare and how it benefits them."

AL-JAZEERA AMERICA AMPS UP

The Qatar-owned American news channel, Al-Jazeera America, that launched in late August is "significantly accelerating both its news and business growth plans" according to interim CEO Ehab Al Shihabi and President Kate O'Brian. On the to-do list: more local news bureaus, more hires, more new programming, more marketing and some new headquarters in midtown Manhattan.

The network, which promotes "unbiased, objective and in-depth coverage" according to Mr. Al Shihabi, got a significant boost last week when Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks announced a new carriage agreement that will significantly increase viewership.

"It's impossible not to be excited about what the immediate future holds for our viewers," says Ms. O'Brian.

OUTFOXED FOR A DOZEN YEARS

"Fox News is No. 1 for 142 consecutive months," advises TV Newser, a news site that follows and makes sense of myriad Nielsen ratings numbers.

"As usual, Fox News was the top-rated cable news channel in October, closing in on 12 straight years at No. 1 in total day and primetime," the site notes.

ONE FOR THE PUPS

Three cheers for noble canines. Just dedicated: the U.S. Military Working Dog Teams National Monument, meant to honor the intrepid companions of the armed services who sniff out explosives and brave the battlefield. The four-footed soldiers have saved lives, died in the line of duty, served as sentries and scouts and set their own examples. Consider, for example, Army Sgt. Maj. Fasco — a German shepherd — who made a record-breaking airborne jump six years ago from 12,500 feet above Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., with his handler and a jumpmaster. The three-way jump from that altitude was a first. Yes, the dog had an oxygen mask and a nifty jumpsuit.

The monument is now open to admirers at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, where the military has trained all of its working dog teams for the past 45 years. It's also the world's largest center for such work. Legislation to authorize design and construction was sponsored eight years ago by Rep. Walter B. Jones, North Carolina Republican, and signed into law by former President George W. Bush in 2008. The monument was funded by private and corporate donations.

It is a site to be reckoned with. There's a ton of dogs alone here. The main granite pedestal features the bronze likenesses of military working dog breeds: Doberman pinscher, German shepherd, Labrador retriever and Belgian Malinois. Each stands 5-feet tall and weighs 500 pounds. And the bronze handler? He stands 9 feet tall and weighs in at 1,500.

POLL DU JOUR

96 percent of libertarians oppose the Affordable Health Care Act.

94 percent of libertarians are "non-Hispanic whites."

68 percent of libertarians are men, 32 percent are women.

57 percent identify themselves as conservatives, 45 percent are Republican.

57 percent of libertarians have a positive view of the Republican Party; 6 percent favor the Democratic Party.

39 percent identify with the tea party, 35 percent are political independents.

15 percent identify with a third political party, 5 percent are Democrats, 3 percent are liberals.

27 percent are "white mainline Protestants," 27 percent are religiously unaffiliated, 23 percent are "white evangelicals" and 11 percent are Catholics.

Source: The Public Religion Research Institute's American Values Survey of 2,317 U.S. adults conducted Sept. 21 to Oct. 3 and released Tuesday.

Woofs and doggerel to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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