- The Washington Times - Monday, April 21, 2014

Certain things remain constant in America, despite the best efforts of, say, Hollywood, the mainstream news media, liberal culture and progressive politics. Old Glory and Old Faithful come to mind, along with the National Rifle Association — which will show just how constant it is in about 48 hours, when the organization’s annual membership meeting begins in Indianapolis. The theme this year is “Stand and Fight.” Though the group has mastered contemporary public outreach and commands the most forward-thinking communication platforms, the NRA is still the NRA, without apology or compromise. The massive three-day event is on message. It has not lost its heartland flavor, or overlooked the core interests of the 80,000 attendees who begin arriving Thursday.

“Spend the day exploring the products from every major firearm company in the country, book the hunt of a lifetime in our exclusive outfitter section, and view priceless collections of firearms in our gun collector area,” the NRA notes in a public advisory. “You’ll also see knives, wildlife art, shooting accessories, hunting gear, ATVs, and much more. Bring the whole family, because with over 400,000 square feet of exhibit space, there’s something for everyone.”

There will be gun gurus, a prayer breakfast with Rev. Franklin Graham, multiple auctions, plus 50 seminars and workshops covering everything from wild-game cookery to firearms law. There are women’s and youth events, awards ceremonies, a Charlton Heston Dinner, clay shooting, an air-gun range and a major rally with music by Alabama and Sara Evans, to be emceed by Sarah Palin and Oliver North. Donald Rumsfeld and Ted Nugent are among the many authors ready to autograph their books.


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And among the politically-minded speakers: Govs. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Mike Pence of Indiana, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sens. Daniel Coats of Indiana and Marco Rubio of Florida, Rick Santorum, talk radio host Mark Levin and Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri.

NOT NECESSARILY FRUGAL

The numbers look promising enough to prompt the nation’s thrifty grannies to applaud: Gallup finds that 62 percent of Americans report they “enjoy” saving these days, as opposed to 34 percent who like to spend their money. The partisan breakdown: 64 percent of Republicans and 55 percent of Democrats like to save, 34 of Republicans and 41 percent of Democrats like to spend.

But, alas, that doesn’t mean anyone is putting the sentiment into practice.

“Although Americans, since 2009, have been significantly more likely to enjoy saving, or perhaps more likely to feel guilty about spending, their views have not been evident in their real-world behavior. This disconnection between desired state and actual behavior could have significant implications,” says Gallup analyst Brendan Moore.

“Data from the U.S. Department of Commerce show that the 2013 average personal savings rate was 4.5 percent, the lowest since 2007 and low historically. The U.S. average personal savings rate in the 1970s was 11.8 percent, 9.3 percent in the 1980s, and 6.7 percent in the 1990s.” Mr. Moore points out.

A REAL SHADE OF GREEN

“There is a lot to celebrate this Earth Day. The environment continues to get cleaner. Air and water quality are much better. Human achievement and development are helping to create a more prosperous nation that can better address environmental challenges. This important success story often gets lost in the misinformation campaigns that try to paint a picture of a country with dire environmental conditions.”

So says the Heritage Foundation, which will examine the cheerful trends that have evolved despite hand-wringing and green-minded mythology at high noon Tuesday, which is the nation’s 44th Earth Day, for better or worse. The discussion can be seen online at Heritage.org, under “Events”.

Among those on hand: Derrick Morgan, Heritage vice president for domestic and economic policy; Myron Ebell, director of the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Center for Energy and the Environment; and Steve Milloy, director of external policy and strategy for the Murray Energy Corporation.

THE TEXAS GAUGE

Texas is a bastion of conservatism, with a few flex points. Consider that voters appear to have moved beyond pro-choice Democrat Wendy Davis, who is running for governor against state Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican. A new poll finds the Republican has 54 percent of the vote, compared to Ms. Davis’ 25 percent. Sen. Ted Cruz has a 51 percent approval rating, Gov. Rick Perry a whopping 62 percent; 73 percent disapprove of President Obama. So says a new Texas Tech University of voters in the Lone Star State.

“Texas remains a conservative state, and the overwhelming majority of citizens consider themselves Republicans,” says associate professor of political science Mark McKenzie. “For Democrats to stand a chance of carrying Texas, they either must convince Texans to switch their party loyalties or capture all independent and Democratic voters. There is absolutely no room for error on the part of the Democrats.”

More numbers: 97 percent of voting Texans say they have no problem with mandatory photo ID at the polls, and 77 percent say the practice will prevent fraud. Another 56 percent are willing to allow illegal immigrants a chance to work toward U.S. citizenship. Mr. McKenzie says that though Texas remains a conservative state, attitudes about gay marriage are evolving.

“In the past, support for gay marriage in this state was below 40 percent. Now, we’re closely divided on the issue: 48 percent of Texans think gay marriage should be recognized, whereas 47 percent are against,” he observes.

PERRYFIED

And where is the aforementioned Rick Perry at the moment? Studious glasses and presidential postures at the ready, the gov begins a two-day visit to Manhattan on Tuesday, toting a “Texas’ message of low taxes, smart regulations and job-creation to businesses in New York City.” Yes, there’s a big fat reception and with barbecue likely.

“No state tax dollars will be used to pay for the governor’s travel and accommodations on this trip,” Mr. Perry’s office says.

And just over the bridge, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, still piecing his own presidential campaign back together, has some positive news. Mr. Christie was named “Father of the Year” by the Father’s Day Council on Monday. He is indeed a devoted dad to four; among the varied, previous winners: President Bill Clinton, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NBC’s”Meet the Press” host David Gregory.

POLL DU JOUR

78 percent of citizens in 40 representative nations say “extramarital affairs” are unacceptable; 7 percent say they are acceptable, 10 percent say they are not a moral issue.

62 percent say “gambling” is unacceptable; 11 percent say it is acceptable, 19 percent say it is not a moral issue.

59 percent say “homosexuality” is unacceptable; 20 percent say it is acceptable, 13 percent say it is not a moral issue.

56 percent say “abortion” is unacceptable; 15 percent say it is acceptable, 12 percent say it is not a moral issue.

46 percent say “premarital sex” is unacceptable; 24 percent say it is acceptable, 24 percent say it is not a moral issue.

24 percent say “divorce” is unacceptable; 36 percent say it is acceptable, 22 percent it is not a moral issue.

Source: A Pew Global Attitudes survey of 40,117 respondents in the U.S. and Canada, plus 48 nations located in Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Europe and sub-Saharan Africa. Surveys were conducted from March 2, 2013 — January 12 and released Friday.

Cheerful commentary, bleak predictions to jharper@washingtontimes.com.