- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 2, 2014

Who is the latest brave progressive standard-bearer? Why, that would be newly minted New York Mayor Billde Blasio, who has been anointed as the populist favorite by the press for now, what with President Obama keeping a very low profile in Hawaii this week. Current White House pool reports can only reveal what color golf shirt Mr. Obama happens to be wearing, despite the fact that 40 journalists, photographers and technicians have accompanied him on his vacation, which ends Tuesday.

Mr. de Blasio’s swearing-in ceremony on Wednesday, meanwhile, drew intense news coverage. Former President Bill Clinton swore him in, accompanied by Hillary Rodham Clinton who sported a snappy new hairdo — very blonde and very fringey — surely a sign she was ready to run for president in 2016.

Or not.

Such things galvanize the media, for better or worse. Mr. de Blasio’s inauguration was subject to interpretation among journalists and news organizations eager to seize on metaphor, extrapolate on greater implications for the entire Democratic Party and predict how the new mayor will fare under a Manhattan snowstorm. A selection of headlines:

“Red Dawn” (“Instapundit” Glenn Reynolds), “Bill in the China shop” (National Review), “Comrade De Blasio takes over” (Front Page), “Is New York’s de Blasio prompting a repositioning of the Clintons?” (The Washington Post), “NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, Clintons make political marriage official” (ABC News), “Clinton has questionable value as a symbol of the kind of progressive change de Blasio has promised” (The Nation), “Clintons christen Bill de Blasio to Shore Up Hillary’s Left” (Daily Beast), “Hillary’s bangs welcome Mayor Bill DeBlasio to office” (Huffington Post), “Is de Blasio the future of the Democratic party?” (U.S. News and World Report), and “Snowstorm may be early test for New York Mayor” (Reuters).

‘A NEW POLITICS OF ENVY’

“While we had intended to give the city’s new administration a proper honeymoon, the unnecessary meanness of its inauguration requires a response,” says Ed Cox, chairman of the Republican Party of New York.

“The new mayor has unleashed a new politics of envy that encourages metaphors of our great and humane city as a ‘plantation’ at his inauguration,” Mr. Cox observes. “Bill de Blasio was elected with only 17.5 percent of the city’s voters and needs to firmly renounce such talk and call for the unity that he needs to manage our great and diverse city.”

Mr. Cox refers to the invocation during the ceremony, incidentally. “Let the plantation called New York City be the city of God, a city set upon the hill, a light shining in darkness sound forth the trumpets of heaven proclaiming a new Emancipation Proclamation in New York City,” the Rev. Fred Lucas Jr., a Brooklyn minister, told the crowd.

FOR THE LEXICON

“The Cannabist”

The old, weird drug culture takes on a squeaky new identity. “The Cannabist” is a news site created by The Denver Post, dedicated to the art and culture of marijuana, says Linda Shapley, director of newsroom operations at the Colorado paper. We’re talking recipes, product reviews and suggestions for parties, among other things.

“One of the great edible pleasures in life is a moist piece of buttery cinnamon coffee cake with just the right amount of streusel and swirl It didn’t always have a boatload of weed in it, as it does in this recipe, but when I thought of foods that would be perfect when medicated, this came quickly to mind. It’s pretty easy to make. Lots of butter, so a perfect recipe for a medicated make-over. When cooking with marijuana, you need fat,” advises chef Laurie Wolf in her debut column for the site, noting that she is dedicated to “high quality medicated food.”

MINDING THE MORAL VOCABULARY

Behold: someone has noticed that talk of what’s right or wrong in the public square is a rare thing indeed. Religion scholar Robin Lovin arrives at the Library of Congress later this month to argue that contemporary politics is plagued by “a shrinking moral vocabulary,” and offer ways to reverse the phenomenon.

“Religious aspirations, prophetic indictments and even the concept of the common good have been pushed to the margins of public reason,” Mr. Lovin says. “At the same time, the institutions that shape lives and connect persons to the wider society — schools, museums, congregations, community organizations — tend to disappear from political consideration.”

He’ll make his case at the august library on Jan. 23. Mr. Lovin is director of research at the Center of Theological Inquiry and an emeritus professor at Southern Methodist University who has written widely on 20th-century Christian social ethics.

LOUSY DIAGNOSIS

The symptoms of faulty Obamacare persist, even after three months.

Among 1,563 uninsured Americans who visited a health insurance exchange website in December, the experience “was negative rather than positive, by 59 percent to 39 percent,” reports Gallup analyst Jeffrey Jones.

It is only a slight improvement from Gallup’s combined October and November polling, when 63 percent reported a negative experience and 33 percent a positive one, he adds.

EDWARD SNOWDEN, PART 1

“Considering the enormous value of the information he has revealed, and the abuses he has exposed, [Edward] Snowden deserves better than a life of permanent exile, fear and flight. He may have committed a crime to do so, but he has done his country a great service. It is time for the United States to offer Mr. Snowden a plea bargain or some form of clemency that would allow him to return home, face at least substantially reduced punishment in light of his role as a whistle-blower, and have the hope of a life advocating for greater privacy and far stronger oversight of the runaway intelligence community.”

— a New York Times editorial titled “Edward Snowden, Whistle-Blower,” published Thursday.

EDWARD SNOWDEN, PART 2

“They’ve really made themselves a blame-America-first rag, and why we exalt The New York Times is beyond me. They go out of their way to be apologists for terrorists and go after those in law enforcement and military who are trying to win this war They have this narrow, liberal, left-wing ideological point of view. They did it to the NYPD; they’re trying to do it to the NSA. It’s time for Americans to stand up and reject The New York Times and expose them for the rag that they are.”

— Rep. Peter King, New York Republican, reacting to the aforementioned New York Times editorial on Fox News.

POLL DU JOUR

71 percent of U.S. voters say the Washington Redskins should not change their team name; 90 percent of Republicans and 59 percent of Democrats agree.

60 percent overall do not consider the Dallas Cowboys “America’s team”; 61 percent of Republicans and 57 percent of Democrats agree.

22 percent overall say their favorite quarterback is the Denver Broncos Peyton Manning; 24 percent of Republicans and 22 percent of Democrats agree.

16 percent overall are not sure who their favorite quarterback is; 12 percent of Republicans and 16 percent of Democrats agree.

13 percent overall cite the Redskins’ Robert Griffin III as their favorite; 13 percent of Republicans and 12 percent of Republicans agree.

13 percent overall cite the New England Patriots’ Tom Brady; 12 percent of Republicans and 17 percent of Democrats agree.

9 percent overall cite the New Orleans Saints’ Drew Brees; 11 percent of Republicans and 8 percent of Democrats agree.

8 percent overall cite the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers; 8 percent of Republicans and 6 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Public Policy Polling survey of 741 registered U.S. voters conducted Dec. 13-17 and released Thursday.

• Churlish remarks and tepid applause to jharperwashingtontimes.com

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