- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 19, 2009


The seamless facade of support for the White House from predictable groups continues to wrinkle.

President Obama may not be disappointed that he will fail to close [the detention facility for terrorism suspects at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba] by his original target date, but millions of people around the world who care about human rights and the rule of law will be extremely disheartened,” says Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International USA.

“Closing Guantanamo is not a feel-good photo opportunity; it is a national security priority and a global obligation. President Obama needs to show leadership and political will and not use Congress as his latest excuse to avoid fulfilling his own campaign promise to close the facility within one year,” Mr. Cox adds.


Republicans may opt to get their swine flu vaccine when pigs fly, perhaps.

Of all the social demographic groups, the Republicans are the most skittish about it, according to a Zogby poll released Wednesday. It found that 74 percent of Republicans will skip the vaccine - compared with 61 percent of the rest of the public.

Democrats are way more trusting, with 45 percent saying they will opt out of the vaccine. Independents, Southerners and born-again Christians also are reluctant to roll up their sleeves - with two-thirds of each group forgoing the vaccine.

Almost half of those considered “high risk” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention do not plan to get the shot, either.

What’s the problem? The survey found that overall, 38 percent of us have a concern over the safety of the vaccine, while 32 percent have a “general sense that they simply do not need the vaccine.” Forty-seven percent are also concerned over nationwide vaccine delays and shortages.

The survey of 2,330 adults was conducted by Zogby International Nov. 4-6.


Excruciating media moment of the day: In a scholarly deconstruction of the Associated Press effort to “fact-check” Sarah Palin’s autobiography, the Columbia Journalism Review managed to mangle its own facts.

“Sarah Palin’s Facts: The Associated Press put 11 reporters on the former vice-president’s new book. The results, says CJR’sGreg Marx, were not all that impressive - for the AP,” the publication said at 12:23 p.m. Wednesday.

At 12:43, executive editor Mike Hoyt already had fired off a “fact fix.”

“Dear reader. In the promo for the piece about, uh, fact-checking: Sarah Palin was not a vice president, as you know. She ran for the office. Apologies,” he wrote.

Mike. You’re forgiven. It’s OK.


Yes, yes. Made you look. But actually there are some facts to back up our shameless headline. Kal Penn, associate director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, was named one of sexiest men in America on Wednesday by People magazine, in their annual issue that explores such things. Mr. Penn, 32, appears in the “Sexy at Any Age” category, alongside R&B; superstar Usher and actor Brad Pitt.

And he is a performer himself. Mr. Penn, an Indian-American actor who put his thespian calling on hold to help out the Obama administration in April, has credits that include “Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay,” “House” and “24,” among many TV shows and films. He uses the name “Kalpen Modi” on the job, though.

“From the time I was a kid, I really enjoyed the balance between the arts and public service. I’d like to run for office someday,” Mr. Penn says.


They vow to “stand up for the cherished traditions of America,” encourage political ethics, protect the rights of children in legislation and the courts and guard over the military.

The Kitchen Cabinet is now up and running and the intention is to “reject the liberal umbrella of the National Organization for Women,” says founder Sonja Eddings Brown, a former Los Angeles TV producer and mother of three.

“It’s simply time for conservative women to have a bigger voice in government, and the wisdom, the civility and the compassion of women has never been more needed on debates of health care, education and marriage. Nancy Pelosi, NOW and the left simply do not represent our hopes for our families,” Mrs. Brown says.

The group launched its first major outreach Wednesday. It includes a federal and multistate political action committee. Check out what the “ordinary conservative” ladies have to say at www.thekitchencabinetpac .com.


In the ongoing spectacle that is within the Beltway, please note that World Toilet Day will be celebrated Thursday on the West Front of the Capitol from 12:30 to 1 p.m. with speeches and everything. OK, puns and cheap thrills; our mothers would be embarrassed if we resorted to talk of plungers and flushes.

This serious event - duplicated in 22 countries and eight U.S. states - intends to draw attention to the fact that 2.5 billion people do not have toilets, a serious health hazard. Locally, the event is being organized by the nonprofit Water Advocates, which titled it “Sanitation is Dignity.” Be glad, be very glad. In Australia, the event is called “the Big Squat.”


- 65 percent of Republicans and 44 percent of Democrats are “very concerned” about the rise of Islamic extremism in the U.S.

- 52 percent of Americans overall are “very concerned.”

- 27 percent are “somewhat concerned.”

- 11 percent are “not too concerned.”

- 7 percent are “not at all” concerned.

Source: A Pew Research center poll of 1,003 adults conducted Nov. 12-15.

Complaints, chatter, fingerpointing to jharper@ washingtontimes.com or 202/636-3085.

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