- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 27, 2014

There has been much clever talk among journalists about President Obama and his no-drama “Cool War” with Russia.

Mr. Obama himself, meanwhile, insists there is no “Cold War” in the making, reasoning that contemporary Russia is no Soviet Union with hulking and aggressive ideology.

But wait.

The citizenry think otherwise. Half of Americans now say the U.S. is headed back to a genuine Cold War, this according to Gallup. And those who “lived through” the original Cold War are more likely to say it is returning. And of course there is a partisan divide. Gallup found that 67 percent of Republicans say the Cold War is on a comeback, compared to 44 percent of Democrats.

Among those folks of a certain age — 50 and up — who may recall the old “duck and cover” exercises, baleful air raid sirens, dank fallout shelters and B-52s on high alert, the numbers range from 54 percent to 64 percent.

“The Cold War, from roughly 1945 to 1991, was a watershed moment in American history. This period redefined America’s defense system and led to decisions to enter into military conflicts in Korea and Vietnam,” explains Gallup analyst Rebecca Rifkin. “While the U.S. and the Soviet Union never directly engaged in battle, this competition led to an unprecedented arms race between the two nations. The icy tensions between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union affected countries worldwide for decades.”

Everyone, it seems, has something to say about icy tensions. Some foreign policy analysts stress the fact that China will keep Russia in order, thank you very much. Others warn against the influence of “Cold War dinosaurs” who relish the idea of its return. Their institutional knowledge intact, those very same dinosaurs gaze back steadily and whisper “peace through strength.”

But Cold War fixation is a phenomenon, and here is its chilly press narrative for now: “This isn’t the return of the Cold War, it’s worse” (National Review), “Dusting off the language of the Cold War” (New York Times), “Old Cold War blocs won’t work (The Daily Beast), “How to win Cold War 2.0” (Politico), “All this virile Cold War talk won’t force Putin to slink back ” (The Guardian), “The big chill” (Foreign Policy), “The Cold War is NOT back” (Huffington Post), “Tell me comrade, when did Russia go bad?” (Reason).

BLOCKING THE SPORTS MERCENARIES

“Well, it has happened. Liberal progressive socialists have struck at my favorite sport: college football. The decision has just been made by a regional labor relations panel to approve the suit filed by Northwestern University football players to unionize. Northwestern is in the Chicago area, any surprise? I do believe schools should provide a small stipend to athletes during their season. However, ‘unionized’, no, they are there for an education, not employees of the university, or ‘sports mercenaries’. This may fly at Northwestern but not in the Southeastern Conference.”

Allen West, in a personal Facebook post.

ANOTHER SUNDAY MUST-SEE

On the radar: Fox News debuts “Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo” on Sunday at 10 a.m. ET, showcasing the svelte and very smart business journalist herself, plus industry leaders and newsmakers intent on connecting the dots between commerce, news and politics. Of interest: Ms. Bartiromo intends to provide viewers with an inside look at how to prepare financially for the future. Hurray. And thanks. The network, meanwhile, has confidence in her prowess.

“Maria’s renowned expertise covering financial markets, job forecasts and the economy has helped define her as one of the finest business journalists in the industry,” says executive vice president of news Michael Clemente.

THE LIGHT FANTASTIC

Go ahead. Turn on the lights, throw a margarita in the blender or dance around while an industrial-sized sound system plays ‘80s music. So say the sages at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which is once again celebrating the “Human Achievement Hour,” an annual celebration of human progress and advancements in technology, medicine, energy and much, much more.

The organization developed the designated hour to counter the World Wide Fund for Nature’s “Earth Hour.” Yes, everyone is instructed to turn off their lights and renounce the environmental impacts of modern technology, for 60 minutes, anyway.

“Observing Human Achievement Hour is about paying tribute to the human innovations that have allowed people around the globe to live better, fuller lives, while also defending the basic human right to use energy to improve the quality of life of all people,” says William Yeatman, a senior fellow with the group.

The big moment is Saturday, from 8:30-9:30 p.m., in whatever time zone one happens to be in. Shower, shop, have a cold beer, or simply keep the lights blazing — and of course tweet away about it at @ceidotorg, using the hashtag #HAH2014.

HANDY WITH THE BRANDY

Imagine this: Using 18th-century techniques, seven master distillers have produced George Washington Peach Brandy, and at the original George Washington Distillery on the very banks of the Potomac River. Yes, there were copper pots, wood fires and oak barrels involved, and the distillers, hailed from such spots as Huber’s Starlight Distillery in Indiana and WhistlePig Whiskey in Vermont.

Now this fine stuff is ready for sale. It is limited: only 400 handsome bottles. It is, uh, expensive: $150 for each. But it has a pedigree. According to George Washington’s personal records, peach brandy was distilled in at Mount Vernon back in the day, and it was often the hit of the party. Indeed, a 1799 ledger entry shows 60 gallons of peach brandy was sent to the “Mount Vernon house” for entertaining.

“There’s no better place to learn about George Washington’s entrepreneurial genius than at his whiskey distillery,” observes Curt Viebranz, president of what is officially known as George Washington’s Mount Vernon, some 15 miles south of the nation’s capital.

The brandy itself recently made a rollicking debut among aficionados at a tony New York City hotel, in an event organized by the Distilled Spirits Council and primed with a colonial-era punch and some huzzahs for George himself.

“The reconstruction of George Washington’s Distillery has shone a bright light on America’s fascinating distilling heritage,” declares Peter Cressy, president of the aforementioned council. “It has captivated the public and helped energize the American whiskey renaissance. Further, Washington continues to be a role model for the entire industry with his lifelong personal commitment to moderation and responsibility.”

Mount Vernon, meanwhile, advises that the peach brandy is available for buyers “in person” at the on-site Gristmill Shop, beginning at 10 a.m. Tuesday. Details here: Mountvernon.org.

POLL DU JOUR

63 percent of Americans disapprove of the way President Obama is dealing with the federal budget.

61 percent of Americans disapprove of the way Mr. Obama is handling immigration.

59 percent disapprove of the overall job Mr. Obama is doing as president.

59 percent disapprove of the way Mr. Obama is handling the U.S. economy.

58 percent of Americans disapprove of the way President Obama is handling the nation’s “relationships with other countries.”

57 percent disapprove of the way Mr. Obama is handling the situation in Ukraine.

54 percent disapprove of the way he has handled the U.S., relationship with Russia.

Source: An AP/GFK poll of 1.012 U.S. adults conducted March 20-24.

Fond memories and reasonable prognostications to jharperwashingtontimes.com.