- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Folk renewal

It was nearly 40 years ago, during the height of the Vietnam War, that a young folk singer by the name of Joan Baez got arrested during a “sit-in” at a military induction center in Oakland, Calif.

One year later, in 1968, she would marry outspoken anti-Vietnam War protester David Harris, who eventually got locked up himself for dodging the draft. The marriage didn’t last.

During Christmas week in 1972, Ms. Baez traveled to North Vietnam, only to hunker down with the enemy during Uncle Sam’s 11-day “Christmas bombing” of Hanoi.

This Saturday, with the backdrop of a new war being fought by a commander in chief, the folk singer is picking up her guitar where she left off — performing within view of the White House at what is being promoted as a “massive” anti-war concert, “Operation Ceasefire,” on the National Mall.

Also appearing on stage: punk-rock bands Le Tigre, Bouncing Souls and the Machtres; hip-hop groups the Coup and Head-Roc; Wayne Kramer of the MC5 with the Bellrays; country music artist Steve Earle; independent artists Ted Leo and the Pharmacists; the Evens and Sweet Honey in the Rock; and last, but not least, prominent peace mom Cindy Sheehan.

The lineup is sponsored by United for Peace & Justice and was pulled together by Thievery Corporation’s Rob Garza and Eric Hilton, with the latter remarking: “As a private citizen, I want to do something because I am very much against all of the post-9/11 wars and occupation.”

Before the music begins, a march will get under way at the Ellipse at 11:30 a.m., proceed through downtown Washington, and end at the Washington Monument.

Go figure

Trying to deflect the uncomfortable exposure that their 30 years of pressure campaigns and lawsuits blocked work on Louisiana’s levees, environmental activists convened outside the U.S. Capitol yesterday for what has become a bit of an annual rite: protesting the very idea that America would extract petroleum from its own reserves.

Surely the organizers could use the same fiscal shot in the arm as the rest of the country, what with gas prices still taking a bite out of the budgets of working Americans. And, argued one observer of yesterday’s protest, couldn’t these groups have chosen a better topic, or at least a better time to chant that America should not reduce dependence on foreign sources of oil by using its domestic sources?

As he put it: “Given current circumstances, one has to question the chances of success for an argument that, distilled, insists that starving people should consider going on a diet.”

Tale of two lives

These past few months have been the best of times and worst of times for our favorite political pollster Frank Luntz, or so we learned when finally tracking him down yesterday.

He’s just sold his polling and communication company to Omnicom, owners of such venerable PR firms as Fleischman Hillard and Ketchum. And that, he explains, has kept him on the road for 26 days in August and 17 days so far in September.

Otherwise, he was seen deep in conversation with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger at Boston’s Fenway Park for the opening of the Rolling Stones global tour, but his poll recommending alternative language for the upcoming reform (Mr. Luntz says call them “accountability”) measures on the California ballot were panned by the governor’s political adviser.

He had front-row balcony seats for the Emmys on Sunday, but spent the rest of the day at the Santa Monica, Calif., Police Department failing to recover his stolen Corvette. He appeared as himself on “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart, but his consulting work for “Real Time with Bill Maher” wasn’t enough: The show ended up with two coveted nominations, but no statue.

We’ve also learned that the pollster has received a large advance from Hyperion for a book entitled “Killer Words: The New American Lexicon,” but rumor has it he’s barely beyond 10,000 words and it’s due in less than a hundred days. That advance paid for an 8-foot-tall Bob from Bob’s Big Boy, but his latest collector’s item arrived the day after his annual baseball All-Star party.

Speaking of which, Mr. Luntz is the only pollster ever invited to throw out the first pitch at a Colorado Rockies game. (He was high and outside.) And none of the three baseball teams for which he has season-ticket plans — the Washington Nationals, Baltimore Orioles and Los Angeles Dodgers — will make the playoffs.

Life’s tough at the top.

Here she comes

Whether Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is ready or not, her bumper sticker is.

Let us be the first to announce that CafePress, a leading purveyor of political campaign products, has begun selling for $3.99 a red-white-and-blue bumper sticker that reads “Hillary Clinton for President.”

• John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or [email protected]washingtontimes.com.

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