- The Washington Times - Monday, March 10, 2014

Chatter about climate change over a nice cup of coffee? Indeed, Senate Democrats have organized a cozy all-night talkathon that will last Monday night into Tuesday at the U.S. Capitol, meant to “wake up Congress to the danger of climate change” — this, according to Sens. Barbara Boxer of California and Brian Schatz of Hawaii, the leaders behind the effort.

Well, OK. That’s nice. Have fun. Something to remember, though.

“One irony. The Democrats’ warmathon will be powered up courtesy of the Capitol building’s coal-fired power plant,” says Marc Morano, executive editor of the Climate Depot and a climate-change policy expert at the nonprofit Heartland Institute.

“Working past sundown was a privilege first afforded to the average man by the invention of pressurized lamps that burned kerosene — a carbon-based fuel,” points out Taylor Smith, also a Heartland policy analyst.

“Electricity from other carbon-based fuels allows any American to work and produce, no matter the time of day — it’s not the same way in other countries. Senate Democrats would be better served if they called attention to this fact rather than CO2 emissions, especially if they’re going to rely on cheap illumination to do it,” Mr. Smith says.

SHARYL TAKES AN EXIT

“I have resigned from CBS.”

And so said Sharyl Attkisson in a tweet Monday afternoon. She had spent 20 years as an investigative reporter at the network, relentlessly pursuing information on multiple disquieting matters, including the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack and “Fast and Furious,” a gun-running operation gone awry.

The multiple-award-winning Ms. Attkisson leaves CBS citing liberal bias “an outsized influence of the network’s corporate partners,” according to a report from Politico. Yes, she’s writing a book about her experiences called “Stonewalled: One Reporter’s Fight for Truth in Obama’s Washington.” It is scheduled to go on sale Nov. 4 — Election Day.

Meanwhile, at her Twitter bio, the third-degree taekwondo black belt and married mother of one describes herself as “Investigative journalist, dreaming of a day when public officials answer questions as if they know they work for the public.” And her motto? “Untouchable subjects. Fearless reporting.” Her parting with CBS was, she says, amicable.

APPLAUSE FOR MR. GERTZ

Hurrah: some well-deserved kudos for Bill Gertz, national security columnist for The Washington Times and an investigative journalist for the Washington Free Beacon. The meticulous watchdogs at Accuracy in Media have given Mr. Gertz their much-coveted Reed Irvine Award for Investigative Journalism.

“Bill Gertz, the author of six books, has developed an exceptional level of expertise in the areas of intelligence and counterintelligence that has inspired comments from several directors of Central Intelligence and other CIA officials about his extraordinary access to inside information,” the group says in their statement of recognition.

“Gertz has broken many significant stories through the years on Soviet and Chinese espionage and subversion. In the past week alone, Gertz has reported on the development of a new Chinese intermediate-range nuclear missile, on the failure of the Obama administration to hold Russia accountable for its development and testing of nuclear missiles in violation of a treaty, and on the U.S. military’s lack of preparedness for modern cyberwarfare,” it continued.

Mr. Gertz also happens to like what he does.

“I’ve been very fortunate over the past several decades in reporting on national security affairs, and I still relish breaking big stories,” he tells Inside the Beltway.

SO-SO: UKRAINE GRADES ARE IN

So how is he doing? As Ukraine continues to occupy press, pundits and public, President Obama has received mixed reviews of the way he’s handling the matter. Overall, 48 percent of Americans say they approve of Mr. Obama’s job on Ukraine; 21 percent of Republicans, 74 percent of Democrats, 30 percent of conservatives and 64 percent of liberals agree with this, according to a CNN/ORC poll released Monday.

Forty-three percent disapprove of the way Mr. Obama is dealing with Ukraine; 71 percent of Republicans, 20 percent of Democrats, 64 percent of conservatives and 29 percent of liberals agree.

One thing that everyone heartily agrees upon, and on both sides of the aisle. Hefty majorities of the respondents want no U.S. troops, weapons or money going to Ukraine at this juncture. But sanctions on Russia? Those have considerable appeal. See more numbers in the Poll du Jour at column’s end.

STATE DEPARTMENT’S WALLET

If you spend it, make it count: Secretary of State John F. Kerry will testify before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday, detailing the fine and tactical art of spending money in uncertain times.

Rep. Edward R. Royce, California Republican and committee chairman, says the hearing will provide Mr. Kerry “an opportunity” to justify President Obama’s foreign-affairs budget request.

“The challenges facing the United States and our allies around the world are growing. In responding, we must be certain that resources are used effectively and efficiently. This requires not only strategic thinking, but a clearer articulation by the Obama administration of its goals,” Mr. Royce says.

Now there’s an idea.

“This hearing will provide an opportunity for committee members to press Secretary Kerry for an explanation of the Obama administration’s foreign-policy spending priorities for next year,” Mr. Royce observes.

But it’s budget season. Among Obama administration heavyweights who must justify their costs this week: Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, before the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and Dept. of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, before the House Appropriations Committee.

ONE YEAR AT THE CIA

There’s some rustling and pawing among those journalists who cover clandestine issues. More of that legendary transparency afoot? Could be. The CIA has announced that its director, John O. Brennan, will make an appearance Tuesday at the Council on Foreign Relations in the nation’s capital. It’s media-friendly; NBC News foreign-affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell will moderate what the agency terms an “event.”

And the big doings?

“In his speech, Mr. Brennan will reflect on his first year as CIA director and discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the intelligence community,” the agency says.

POLL DU JOUR

88 percent of Americans oppose sending U.S. ground troops to Ukraine; 84 percent of Republicans and 89 percent of Democrats agree.

82 percent overall oppose a U.S. military action against Russian troops in Ukraine involving airstrikes but no troops.

76 percent oppose sending weapons and military supplies to the Ukrainian government; 74 percent of Republicans, 75 percent of Democrats and 77 percent of independents agree.

59 percent favor imposing economic sanctions against Russia; 67 percent of Republicans, 65 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of independents agree.

58 percent oppose canceling a meeting between Russian leaders and the U.S./Western European nations; 51 percent of Republicans and 59 percent of Democrats agree.

52 percent oppose providing economic assistance to the Ukrainian government; 56 percent of Republicans and 42 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A CNN/ORC poll of 801 U.S. adults conducted March 7-9.

Big ideas, small talk to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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