- The Washington Times - Monday, October 19, 2009

GIVE HIM A MEDDLE

Yes, it was a hoax. Yes, the tale of “balloon boy” is about to float away. But wait: Here’s one last take on this rapidly deflating story from HBO’s Bill Maher.

“Every news channel had pictures of this silver UFO flying through the air. I thought aliens had arrived on Earth. No doubt to give a medal to President Obama,” Mr. Maher explains.

OH NO ONO

Former President George W. Bush has traded Texas for Canada this week. In a series of speaking engagements, Mr. Bush will be in Edmonton, Alberta, on Tuesday and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, on Wednesday. But old-line peaceniks are in quite a righteous whirl over his appearance at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal on Thursday - the same spot where John Lennon and Yoko Ono staged a bed-in and recorded the rock dirge “Give Peace a Chance” four decades ago.



Mr. Bush will be addressing the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal. But Collectif Echec a la Guerre, a local antiwar group, is calling the moment “ironic” and will be out in force to protest the Iraq War and the treatment of inmates at the detention facility for terrorism suspects at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, even though Mr. Bush has been out of office for 10 months, as of Tuesday.

“This is to protest, more or less, everything that George Bush stood for and still stands for,” spokesman Raymond Legault says.

And thus the draw. The wily Canadians are packaging the “W” brand plus the Lennon/Ono irony to, well, sell tickets.

“There’s no point in saying there’s no controversy - there is controversy,” says organizer Michel Leblanc, who expects to sell out the 1,000-seat event site.

SHOULDA COULDA

It’s a tale of two Web sites - one devised to advise President Obama, the other to defeat him.

Consider this phrase: “Well, I think President Obama should ….” And of course, in the Age of Instant, this phrase is now a new “open source” Web site: www.ObamaShould.org. It is a forum for anyone with “constructive advice” for the leader of the Free World, with all the bells and whistles - direct Twitter links, polls, little videos and all that other stuff.

“My motivation here is not related to an affiliation to any particular party, and the intent is for the platform we use to be available as an open-source project for any future leadership,” founder Edo Segal tells Inside the Beltway.

“My intent was to explore how to evolve the platform of how we communicate with our leaders. If it’s Palinshould.org or Clintonshould.org makes no difference. We are the builders, we build, we create. We evolve the platforms and are happy to do so for all to use. The changes in our process will live on, regardless of political affiliation,” he says.

“Obamashould.org was built by a group of volunteers, and the servers are paid for by me. It is a public service and an open-source project that anyone can use regardless of their political affiliation. Its purpose is not to advance a particular agenda, but to make our democracy better.”

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has a distinct intent with its online activities as well.

Findings from its new 19-question “Stop Obama Survey” will be given to Republican heavyweights, as well as hopefuls running for the Senate in 2010.

“We need the active support and input of every concerned Republican across the nation,” says executive director Rob Jesmer.

HEAVY LIFTER

It’s like weight training. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is methodically building up her political prowess and the gravity of her opinions - framing herself as serious contender rather than mere provocateur.

“Americans want health care reform because we want affordable health care. We don’t need subsidies or a public option. We don’t need a nationalized health care industry. We need to reduce health care costs,” Mrs. Palin wrote at her Facebook page in a lengthy take on health care reform.

“But the Senate Finance [Committee] plan will dramatically increase those costs, all the while ignoring common-sense cost-saving measures like tort reform. Though a Congressional Budget Office report confirmed that reforming medical malpractice and liability laws could save as much as $54 billion over the next 10 years, tort reform is nowhere to be found in the Senate Finance bill.”

“Here’s a novel idea. Instead of working contrary to the free market, let’s embrace the free market. Instead of going to war with certain private-sector companies, let’s embrace real private-sector competition and allow consumers to purchase plans across state lines. Instead of taxing the so-called ‘Cadillac’ plans that people get through their employers, let’s give individuals who purchase their own health care the same tax benefits we currently give employer-provided health care recipients. Instead of crippling Medicare, let’s reform it by providing recipients with vouchers so that they can purchase their own coverage,” Mrs. Palin advised.

POLL DU JOUR

• 56 percent of Americans say federal policies encourage people to enter the U.S. illegally.

• 27 percent disagree; 17 percent are not sure.

• 64 percent say law enforcement officers should conduct surprise raids on places where immigrants gather to find work.

• 71 percent say those who hire illegal immigrants should be arrested.

• 46 percent do not want the federal government to restrict local law enforcement officers.

• 61 percent fear the efforts to deport illegal immigrants could violate civil rights of some U.S. citizens.

Source: A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 likely voters conducted Oct. 10-11.

• Hot air, light chit-chat, political noise to jharper@ washingtontimes.com

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