Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Back to the future

Arguably they’ve let slip the present, so “claiming the future” is the advertised theme for when an impressive gaggle of right-thinkers comes together for this weekend’s annual Conservative Summit in Washington, hosted by the National Review Institute.

Participants who have RSVP’d include former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, White House spokesman Tony Snow, likely 2008 presidential contender and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, newly announced presidential candidate and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, former U.N. Ambassador John R. Bolton, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and the list goes on and on.

What to do about the war in Iraq, foreign policy, and the role of the religious right are a trio of the topics to be debated when the conservatives convene Friday through Sunday at the J.W. Marriott.

Poll to ponder

Percentage of Baghdad’s Shi’ites who say that all U.S. forces should leave Iraq within six months: 32

Percentage who say forces should be reduced even more gradually, as the “security situation improves”: 0

Harper’s Index, February 2007

Beats breakfast

Can’t find a ticket to the much-hyped Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band concert in Washington?

Not to worry. Inside the Beltway counts three Republican congressmen who are hosting campaign-fundraising receptions coinciding with the Feb. 1 show — Mr. Seger’s first concert tour in 10 years.

Reps. John R. “Randy” Kuhl Jr. of New York, Vern Buchanan of Florida, and Greg Walden of Oregon all have your ticket: $1,000 apiece, including food. (Hey, it beats juice and bagels on Capitol Hill.)

Good citizen

We told you recently about a unique National Archives exhibition to open just in time for spring break, “School House to White House: The Education of the Presidents.”

Now, Inside the Beltway has obtained one of the more intriguing items included in the exhibit, which opens March 30. As you can see, we’ve gotten hold of President Bush‘s report card from Miss Kearns‘ first-grade class (1952-53) at Sam Houston Elementary School in Midland, Texas.

By golly, young Dubya finished the year with a straight-A average, excelling in reading, writing and arithmetic — and earning himself a “G” in citizenship.

Disrobed dissent

With tonight’s State of the Union Address as a backdrop, animal-rights advocates at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have found a new way to dramatize their message: A young female activist conducting a video striptease on the group’s Web site — with actual members of Congress inserted as her audience.

“At PETA, we’ve always subscribed to the notion that if you have something really important to say that not everyone wants to hear, you just have to persevere until your message is heard. If that doesn’t work — which, honestly, it often just doesn’t — you take all your clothes off,” the group explains.

“And, just in time for this year’s State of the Union Address, that’s exactly what one brave PETA member has done. We’re calling it PETA’s State of the Union Undress, and we’re hoping very, very, very much that President Bush doesn’t do the same thing at the actual State of the Union.”

One Washington journalist, who says a sense of professional obligation required him to watch the PETA video, shares this assessment: “So much for the stereotype of vegetarians as anorexic waifs. A healthy testimony to the benefits of soy protein.”

PETA did not identify the performer.

Worth quoting

“Abandon hype, all ye who enter here! I am a reasonable, non-committed man. On the subject of climate change, that puts me in a decided minority. The world seems to be divided between the rabid believers and the rabid skeptics. Fundamentalists both, they can hardly communicate with each other. What on earth are we agnostics to do?”

Roger Bootle, writing in yesterday’s edition of the Daily Telegraph

• John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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