- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 16, 2014

Well somebody’s happy out there: that would be Gary Johnson, the former Libertarian candidate for president who appears poised to do it all over again for 2016. Mr. Johnson will be in Texas all weekend, appearing Friday at an oyster lunch followed by a bustling “Liberty Forum” in Houston that appears to include a cast of thousands, plus his vice presidential running mate Jim Gray and Steve Munisteri, chairman of the Republican Party of Texas.

Twenty-four hours later, Mr. Johnson and company then head to San Antonio for a public dinner at a bodacious grill where the fare includes salmon-stuffed crawfish and chicken fried steak

“From never-ending revelations about the NSA’s activities to the realities of health care reform setting in, I am seeing that people are truly energized to shake things up in Washington,” an enthusiastic Mr. Johnson tells Inside the Beltway. “Just a few days ago, a Gallup poll found that the real political majority in America are independents, something I have been saying for a while now. I believe 2014 will be a good year for the liberty movement, and look forward to promoting both the movement and candidates who truly believe in less government and more freedom.”

‘I AM VERY ALARMED’

Just how bad is that wretched Obamacare sign-up site, really? The answer: bad enough to rattle one of the IT gurus who analyzed security vulnerabilities at HealthCare.gov for a report presented before Congress on Thursday.

“As a security professional and a citizen, I am very alarmed at the findings. This site has flaws that put every member of the U.S. population using it at risk for identity and data theft,” Kevin Johnson tells The Beltway. “It also exposes users of the site directly to attacks that would compromise their personal or organization’s computers.”

Mr. Johnson is CEO of Secure Ideas, a cybersecurity consultancy, and contributed to the analysis delivered to the House Science, Space and Technology Committee.

“These security findings are typical findings we see when an application has been written by developers who have not been introduced to basic security training, nor understand the importance of security within an application,” he wrote in the report, which also questioned the basic functionality of the sign-up site.

“The findings disclose a wide range of issues that could cause serious harm to both HealthCare.gov as well as any individual using the application. These flaws are not even complex problems that would require advanced security knowledge to detect,” Mr. Johnson said.

THE WEINSTEIN BACKLASH

“Hollywood’s gun hypocrisy.”

— Fox News headline pointing out that film kingpin Harvey Weinstein has produced multiple movies such as “Pulp Fiction,” “Rambo” and “Kill Bill” that use sensational gun violence for dramatic effect. Mr. Weinstein has vowed to produce a major feature film vilifying the National Rifle Association, as reported by Washington Times editorial writer Emily Miller and other news organizations.

“I’m gonna make a movie with Meryl Streep and we’re gonna take this issue head-on, and they’re gonna wish they weren’t alive after I’m done with them,” Mr. Weinstein told talk radio host Howard Stern in an interview earlier this week.

“He’s owes a portion of his substantial fortune to guns,” points out Fox News host Greg Gutfeld.

CHRIS, RICK AND DEBBIE

Geez, can’t a Republican governor have a few fundraisers without some Democrat horning in? Apparently not. Eager to leave talk of bridges and traffic behind him, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is bound for the Sunshine State this weekend to attend a quartet of private fundraisers for fellow Gov. Rick Scott that could prove just as sumptuous as a few he hosted in California and New York City last year. But there may not be all that much sunshine.

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is also headed to Florida and is planning press conferences in Naples, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach — the four cities where Mssrs. Christie and Scott will be whooping it up. She is busy speculating, and setting the tone, perhaps.

“Like members of the press, we too lack details on Christie’s trip. The Christie and Scott teams aren’t exactly forthcoming these days. What we do know is there are a series of closed-press fundraisers and no public events, which means either Chris Christie doesn’t want to answer questions about his scandal or Rick Scott just doesn’t want to be seen in public with Christie. We don’t blame either of them,” the Democratic leader observes.

SHAKEN NOT STIRRED

This certainly confirms the National Media Research, Planning and Placement’s recent findings of a “liberal stereotype” in the cocktail realm: the spirits of choice among Democrats are of the clear variety, the researchers say — like Absolut vodka and Bombay Sapphire gin. But oh, look. President Obama and members of the Senate Democratic Caucus enjoyed some cozy, cool martinis at the White House in midweek in what was billed as a pre-State of the Union speech “listening session.” Press coverage was quite cordial about it all.

Not so one Texas Republican.

“So what’s the president’s big idea for helping the economy getting back on track?” asks Sen. John Cornyn. “Rather than talking to Republicans in bipartisan discussion about how we could come together on real solutions to the problems that face our economy and people out of work, the president instead has defaulted in favor of poll-tested ideas and political gimmicks leading into the run-up to the 2014 election.”

The lawmaker adds, “Now, sipping martinis and plotting politics while millions of Americans are out of work shows just how out of touch the president has become. Americans deserve better than that.”

SCIENCE CORNER

Easily depressed? Go ahead and pray. There is a “protective effect of spirituality and religion against depression,” according to an unprecedented investigation. A thickening of the brain cortex occurs with regular meditation or other religious practice, and could guard against depression particularly among people who are predisposed to it, says new research by Lisa Miller, a psychology professor and director of the Spirituality Mind Body Institute at Columbia University.

She characterizes the effect as an “extremely large protective benefit.” The study used brain MRIs on 103 test subjects to prove the point, and also revealed that the religious activities counteracted “cortical thinning” that occurs with major depression. The research was published in JAMA Psychiatry, a publication of the American Medical Association.

POLL DU JOUR

72 percent of Americans are satisfied with the nation’s military strength and preparedness; 65 percent of Republicans and 85 percent of Democrats agree.

55 percent of Americans overall are satisfied with state of race relations; 54 percent of Republicans and 58 percent of Democrats agree.

40 percent are satisfied with the role the U.S. plays in world affairs; 36 percent of Republicans and 56 percent of Democrats agree.

38 percent are satisfied with the availability of affordable health care; 31 percent of Republicans and 56 percent of Democrats agree.

38 percent are satisfied with the amount Americans pay in federal taxes; 36 percent of Republicans and 44 percent of Democrats agree.

28 percent overall are satisfied with the nation’s economy; 21 percent of Republicans and 43 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Gallup poll of 1,018 U.S. adults conducted Jan. 5-8 and released Thursday.

Tipline always open at jharper@washingtontimes.com; follow her at twitter.com/harperbulletin

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