Friday, October 6, 2006

Cameo Chris

That’s comedian Robin Williams, along with film producer Barry Levinson, visiting the campus of Georgetown University today to talk with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews about their new political comedy, “Man of the Year.”

As you might have seen in the previews, Mr. Matthews has a cameo role in the film, which has Mr. Williams’ goofy character actually getting elected president of the United States. (Wonder where they came up with that idea?)

Today’s interview, which will air Wednesday and include questions from Georgetown students, kicks off the “Hardball College Tour” leading up to next month’s pivotal midterm elections. Next stop: Iowa State University, where Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, will be stumping for support.

Show me loaves

“Look, if George W. Bush and his Republican cronies walked on water, I’d be the guy out there yelling that they couldn’t swim.”

—Democratic strategist James Carville, opining this week on the foreign policy failures of the Bush administration

Penny saved?

“Doing nothing is not an option,” former Rep. Tim Penny, Minnesota Democrat, tells Inside the Beltway in a telephone interview.

“Ours is a proposal and promise to do something: to protect future generations,” he explains.

So this week, congressional candidates across the country received “A Promise to Our Children and Grandchildren,” sent by For Our Grandchildren, a Social Security education project that Mr. Penny helps lead. It asks elected officials and congressional candidates to sign a pledge to work toward securing Social Security for today’s constituents and future generations in an “honest, bipartisan” fashion.

“Social Security faces serious financial challenges in the years ahead, and absent structural reforms, our children will inherit a tremendous tax burden and a government unable to respond to other priorities,” said former Rep. Charlie Stenholm, Texas Democrat and national spokesman for For Our Grandchildren.

The Government Accountability Office warns that annual payroll tax revenues will not fully cover Social Security benefits beyond 2017. And how are the nation’s elected officials reacting?

Several have signed the pledge, but Democratic Reps. Charles B. Rangel of New York and Sander M. Levin of Michigan have written to colleagues urging them to ignore the pledge because it requires “all options be on the table.”

What’s wrong with that? The pair of Democrats say partial privatization of the federal retirement program, as supported by President Bush, “worsens, rather than improves, the solvency” of Social Security.

Mr. Penny doesn’t mind labeling that argument “nonsense.” Then again, it was the Democrat who co-authored the book “The 15 Biggest Lies in Politics,” revealing that Republicans no more believe in small government than Democrats care about being compassionate.

Calling on Dubya

It’s time for our annual UFO update to see how close we are to identifying the earthly presence of aliens — and we don’t mean the millions who’ve crossed the Rio Grande on foot.

We call your attention to the fourth annual UFO Crash Retrieval Conference Nov. 10 to 12 in Las Vegas, the world’s only public event dedicated exclusively to compelling evidence, analysis and implications of UFO crash retrievals.

Among the dozens of UFO researchers to lecture will be Michael Lindemann, who will paint a picture of societal reaction were nonhuman intelligence to land on Earth. Then Stanton Friedman will lecture on the why aliens would never land on the White House lawn.

‘Uh oh’ sequel

Sharon Gottlieb, CFO of DesignTech International in Fairfax Station, was intrigued by our story surrounding the passport woes of John C. Duff.

To refresh your memory, in applying to the State Department for a new passport, Mr. Duff provided a birth certificate and several forms of identification, yet was shocked when it arrived six weeks later to discover he was a “female.”

“In early September,” Mrs. Gottlieb writes, “we applied to have our two children’s passports renewed. We also expedited the process since we are leaving soon for Israel.

“The passports came back two weeks later. My son’s first name was misspelled, and my daughter’s last name was misspelled. This, despite having to enclose birth certificates, application forms and former passports with the correct names on them.

“Like [Mr. Duff], I had to go downtown, armed with multiple documents and correct the mistakes. This took almost the entire day. Who is processing these? And are they paying attention?”

• John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or

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