- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 29, 2009

HOLA HOLLYWOOD

Oddly enough, both Sean Penn and Michael Douglas went to Cuba this week. Mr. Penn is seeking an audience with Fidel Castro on behalf of Vanity Fair; Mr. Douglas is perhaps just seeking an audience, staging a convivial stroll through Havana on Tuesday.

Well, OK. But wait. “Without Fidel,” a new book by Ann Louise Bardach, reveals that movie stars who venture to sunny Cuba do not tote their privacy with them.

“One Cuban security official, Delfin Fernandez, who defected in 1999, claims that the surveillance of foreign diplomats, businessmen, and even visiting movie stars with sophisticated listening devices and hidden video cameras, is routine. Fernandez said he had personally spied on Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio, and supermodels Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss during their visits to Havana,” Ms. Bardach notes.

What does it all mean?

“Hollywood’s useful idiots go to Cuba,” advises Big Hollywood .com.

RATING HATE

Some are uneasy about the hate-crimes measure signed into law by President Obama on Wednesday as part of the 2010 defense authorization bill.

“Predictably, cable news networks CNN and MSNBC considered this good news, dressing it up in the language of civil rights. Just as predictably, they failed to consider the chilling effect the legislation could have on traditional religious speech and other consequences to American liberty,” Colleen Raezler of the Culture and Media Institute tells Inside the Beltway.

“Liberals who love to draw lessons from the practices of other nations need only look to Great Britain, Sweden and Canada to what hate crime protections for gays has wrought,” she says.

“In a slap to the face of our servicemen and women, they attached ‘hate crimes’ legislation to the final defense bill, forcing Congress to choose between expanding hate crimes or making our military go without,” says Family Research Council President Tony Perkins. “This hate crimes provision is part of a radical social agenda that could ultimately silence Christians and use the force of government to marginalize anyone whose faith is at odds with homosexuality.”

THEY’RE ALL GONERS

Uh-oh. Zombie voters walk. The nonpartisan research group Aristotle International compared federal, state and local lists of deceased or relocated voters to reveal Wednesday that 16,331,707 (or 8.9 percent ) of all registered voters are “deadwood” - a 3 percent increase compared to last year. In all, nearly 10 percent of voters listed on registration rolls are ineligible to vote.

“Deadwood on voter rolls complicates the electoral process and can cause problems like fraud and vote miscounts. It always creates a perception of low voter turnout,” company CEO John Aristotle Phillips tells Beltway “It gets down to this: by depressing turnout, dead voters make the rest of us look bad.”

They also deplete campaign funds.

“Dead people can’t vote, but they sure use a lot of postage,” Mr. Phillips adds.

READER WISDOM

“In lieu of trying toyoke the entire nation to a disastrous health system under the premise of insuring those that don’t have health insurance, why not just provide the unfortunate with ‘health stamps’ in the same vein as food stamps,” suggests Ron Homan, a Beltway reader in Virginia.

NET WORTH

Press the “send” button with vigor Thursday, the 40th anniversary of the Internet. Computers in separate locations linked on ARPANET - a rudimentary network at the Defense Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency - exchanged a really little message on Oct. 29, 1969.

One computer said “lo” to the other.

Which of course makes the doddering-but-well-meaning Beltway History Desk wonder if the proverbial “inventor of the Internet” Al Gore was there. He wasn’t. But here is the exact remark that set off his critics and launched a thousand parodies in the aftermath - as told to CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer during an interview on March 9, 1999.

“During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet,” Mr. Gore said, as he ticked off reasons why the Democratic Party should consider him as a presidential candidate over Bill Bradley.

BLUNT FORCE

Beware the H1N1 virus. And beware big, slow government as well.

“The onerous regulatory and legal environment in the United States has placed America’s most vulnerable in danger. The federal government has clearly failed to meet a basic responsibility to move quickly to ensure the availability of H1N1 vaccines,” says Rep. Roy Blunt.

The Missouri Republican is calling on fellow lawmakers to ask “serious questions,” and lauds efforts elsewhere.

“Overseas manufacturers, particularly in Europe, are creating H1N1 vaccines at a much faster rate because they don’t contend with the same inflexible regulatory environment that our domestic manufacturers face,” Mr. Blunt observes.

POLL DU JOUR

c 85 percent trust their own judgment in issues of national importance over a reporter’s judgment

- 4 percent trust the average reporter.

- 11 percent are not sure who they trust.

- 23 percent say they share the same ideology as the “average reporter.”

- 53 percent say reporters are more liberal than they are.

- 16 percent say reporters are more conservative.

- 21 percent say reporters offer unbiased political campaign coverage.

Source: A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 likely voters conducted Oct. 12-13.

- Trusting statements, querulous outcry, plain answers to jharper@ washingtontimes.com.


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