Inside the Beltway: Can a doctor be president?

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“I find it amusing when people ask why a doctor is speaking out on public policy. Why don’t they ask why a lawyer is speaking out on public policy, or why is a businessman speaking out on public policy? Why does anyone speak up on it?” asks Ben Carson, in “Can a Doctor Be President” — a video released Monday.

“Usually, it’s because they know something about it,” the former neurosurgeon continues. “One’s profession doesn’t dictate what one knows. It dictates only what one has to know in order to perform the duties associated with that profession. You don’t have to restrict yourself. There were five doctors who signed the Declaration of Independence. Doctors signed the Bill of Rights, doctors signed our Constitution.” The two-minute message predictably has prompted both Dr. Carson’s friends and foes once again to wonder if the 2016 presidential race is on his radar.


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“Doctors are actually the most educated people in our society. Nobody has that level of formal training. More importantly, they’re trained to make decisions based on evidence and not on ideology. I would encourage more doctors and engineers and scientists to speak out on public policy. There’s absolutely no reason why rational thought processes can’t be used in public policy. If they were, policy would be better,” Dr. Carson says, adding, “One of the reasons our Founders wanted a representative government was because they wanted lots of different points of view, and people who come at a thing from different angles.”

Can a doctor be president? Eager fans and donors appear to think so. The National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee, an independent PAC, has raised $2.4 million for the effort in first quarter of the year, according to recent Federal Election Committee numbers. By contrast, Ready for Hillary, an independent PAC supporting Hillary Clinton in 2016, has raised $1.7 million so far this year. The Stop Hillary PAC, meanwhile, has raised $500,000 in its quest to prevent her from organizing a 2016 campaign.

Published May 20, Dr. Carson’s book “One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America’s Future” is currently No. 8 on Amazon’s national ranking of best-sellers in every genre.

FOR THE LEXICON

“BYOP”

— That stands for “bring your own pot.” The new acronym has shown up on public radar through coverage of the Colorado Symphony, which has organized three marijuana-friendly symphonies, including one dubbed “Classically Cannabis.” The organization is now receiving extra donations from providers of recreational pot and the accessories and/or food products that go with it.


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“High society successfully met high times, and in Colorado, marijuana now means more Mozart,” reports CBS News correspondent Barry Petersen, who covered the first fundraiser in Denver.

There are other ways to fund creative outlets in the West: The California state legislature unanimously passed a bill four days ago that will create a new Snoopy license plate to fund the state’s museums. Yes, as in the beloved cartoon beagle of Charles Schulz. Needless to say, 3,800 Californians have rushed to preorder what the legislators deem a “special-interest license plate.”

HERE COMES THE BIGGEST BREACH

“No Place to Hide,” the book about NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, is percolating through best-seller lists and drew a Hollywood movie deal for author Glenn Greenwald just 24 hours after it was published. But wait — the former journalist who initially became privy to Mr. Snowden’s two million leaked documents says the biggest “finale” is yet to come. Names will be named, Mr. Greenwald says — as in the names of those Americans Mr. Snowden says were targeted by their own government.

“His plan to publish names will further unnerve an American intelligence establishment already reeling from 11 months of revelations about U.S. government surveillance activities,” predicts Toby Harnden, Washington bureau chief of the The London Sunday Times.

“One of the big questions when it comes to domestic spying is, ‘Who have been the NSA’s specific targets?’ Are they political critics and dissidents and activists? Are they genuinely people we’d regard as terrorists?” Mr. Greenwald noted during an appearance at a recent public affairs event in Boston. “What are the metrics and calculations that go into choosing those targets and what is done with the surveillance that is conducted? Those are the kinds of questions that I want to still answer.”

And from Mr. Harnden comes this news: The big finale — the names — will be published in The Intercept, a website funded by Pierre Omidyar, the billionaire founder and chairman of eBay.

IT AIN’T ALL BAD

“Are you worried about the future? It’s hard not to be. If you watch the news, you mostly see violence, disasters, danger. Some in my business call it ‘fear porn’ or ‘pessimism porn.’ People like the stuff; it makes them feel alive and informed. Of course, it’s our job to tell you about problems. If a plane crashes — or disappears — that’s news. The fact that millions of planes arrive safely is a miracle, but it’s not news,” says Fox News host John Stossel in a recent op-ed for the network.

He confessed that he stopped winning Emmy Awards when he started reporting real news rather than overhyped risks.

“The media win by selling pessimism porn,” Mr. Stossel writes, despite contrary trends in the population. “Over the past 40 years, murder dropped by 40 percent, rape by 80 percent, and, outside of war zones, Islamic terrorism claims fewer than 400 lives a year. The last decade saw the fewest lives claimed in war since record keeping began. One unnecessary death is tragic, but the big picture is good news.”

The veteran newsman noted, “Our brains just aren’t very good at keeping track of the good news. Evolution programmed us to pay attention to problems. Good news often happens slowly. The media miss it.”

THE ‘NEW’ CONSERVATIVE WOMAN EMERGES

On the way from Worthy Publishing: “Roar: The New Conservative Woman Speaks Out” by Scottie Nell Hughes, news director of the Tea Party News Network and a contributor to Breitbart.com and other conservative news organizations.

The book is intended to fight back, the author says, against a modern culture that treats “pro-women” and “conservative” as incompatible. Ms. Hughes notes that she herself has often been marginalized and ignored by the mainstream media, but nonetheless plans to identify the strengths of conservative women in faith, family and politics. She also refuses to participate in a “manufactured war against men,” she says.

The book will be published in September.

POLL DU JOUR

71 percent of the world’s population report regularly feeling “lots of positive emotions” like enjoyment, self-respect or happiness.

87 percent of residents in Paraguay, 86 percent of those in Panama, 83 percent of those in Guatemala, 83 percent of those in Nicaragua and 83 percent of those in Ecuador agree; they are the top five countries on the list of 138 nations polled.

54 percent of those in both Serbia and Bosnia/Herzegovina, 53 percent of those in Lithuania, 52 percent of those in Chad and 36 percent of those in Syria agree; they are the bottom five nations on the list.

78 percent of Americans report regular, consistent positive emotions; the U.S. is 24th on the list.

76 percent of both Chinese and French, 74 percent of Germans, 73 percent of British residents, and 71 percent of Japanese agree.

64 percent of Afghans, 63 percent of South Koreans and Iranians, 61 percent of Russians and 60 percent of Ukrainians also report positive emotions.

Source: A Gallup Positive Emotions Index Survey of 1,000 adults in each of 138 countries conducted throughout 2013 and released May 21.

Good news, indifferent remarks to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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