- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 19, 2010

LA GUERRA

“Mexicans place a significant amount of blame for the Mexican drug war on American gun dealers. Eighty-one percent of Mexican adults say American gun dealers are very or somewhat responsible for the problem, compared to 54 percent of Americans who say the same,” says a Harris poll of 1,009 U.S. adults and 549 Mexican adults conducted May 5 to 9.

There’s lots of criticism to go around, though. Ninety percent of Americans and 87 percent of Mexicans blame Mexican “drug cartels” while drug use by U.S. citizens is cited by 88 percent of Americans and 75 percent of Mexicans, who also fault their own leadership. Eighty percent blame President Felipe Calderon for the drug wars compared with 55 percent of Americans. Almost equal numbers on both sides - about eight out of 10 - blame “corruption of Mexican authorities,” while 60 percent of Americans and 85 percent of Mexicans cite corrupt American authorities.

And money? Only a third of Republican respondents say the U.S. should fund Mexican law enforcement efforts to “combat narcos” - compared to 54 percent of Democrats and 42 percent of Mexicans. Incidentally, this is a lengthy poll. See it all here: www.harrisinteractive.com, under “News.”

DANGEROUS DARLINGS



Another phrase for the lexicon: Beware, the “tea party darlings,” warns Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee chairman J.B. Poersch, who explains, “Now that the primaries are behind them, these tea party darlings and right wing conservatives will turn their full attention to rallying support and undermining President Obama.”

Mr. Poersch is particularly concerned with Republican victors Rand Paul, Pat Toomey and John Boozman. The roster goes on, though. There’s also conservative Republican Peter Schiff, who has won the support of the Connecticut Grassroots Alliance and 28 “tea party” groups in his quest for the U.S. Senate seat in that state. Another name for Mr. Poersch’s consideration: Ovide Lamontagne, a self-described “authentic conservative” and Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in New Hampshire

“The elite establishment Republicans in Washington - who tried previously to convince us to support Arlen Specter and Charlie Crist - also tried to anoint their preferred candidate in Kentucky. In doing so, they turned their back on Rand Paul who earned the support of rank and file Republicans, tea party activists, and ‘9/12 activists,’ ” Mr. Lamontagne says.

BILLBOARD PATROL

“Be a gentleman.”

(New national billboard design unveiled Thursday by the Boys & Girls Club of America)

FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE?

Things are, well, convivial between Russia and the U.S. these days, says a prime force behind the glittering, glowing Opera Ball on Friday. Indeed, 22 embassies will stage elaborate diplomatic dinners beforehand, and the gowns, victuals and lilting music will be quite fabulous, thank you. But the event is also being staged for the first time at the Embassy of the Russian Federation, and hosted by Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and his wife, Natalia.

“This year’s Opera Ball serves as a broad reflection of the positive direction of the U.S.-Russia relationship,” says chairman Susan Lehrman. “In envisioning the Ball, I wanted to create an exquisite cultural backdrop for the many Russian and U.S. artists, government officials and business leaders who will come together for this wonderful event.”

Some 600 guests will be greeted by costumed characters from Russian operas while images of Russia’s iconic architecture are projected on the front of the embassy. Interior rooms will be evocative of the countryside, a tea room, Leo Tolstoy‘s own library (with cakes fashioned to look like leather-bound books), an ice palace, a winter scene - including a spot with falling snow and, uh, snow maidens.

And hurrah: 100 percent of the proceeds go to benefit the Washington National Opera. But the guest list? Closely guarded, and not to be released until the event ends.

MARCH ON

Leave “don’t ask, don’t tell” alone, says American Legion national commander Clarence E. Hill, who sends that message to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader John A. Boehner on behalf of 2.5 million wartime veterans.

“We feel strongly that the current policy has served the U.S. military well for 17 years and it would not be wise to make a major cultural change in the middle of two wars. Moreover, the Department of Defense has already directed a study on the policy and it would be premature to act before the commission conducting the study releases its findings,” Mr. Hill writes to the lawmakers.

“The military is a unique environment, in which ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ has worked well, without diminishing our nation’s war-fighting capability. Indeed, the core purpose of our military is to fight and win our nation’s wars,” Mr. Hill continues. “Enacting any law that does not enhance the military’s ability to accomplish that mission would be detrimental to the security of our nation. We believe that the repeal of ‘don’t ask’ would be such an action.”

POLL DU JOUR

  • 72 percent of Americans say the Mexican Embassy’s plans to file friend-of-court briefs in support of lawsuits challenging Arizona immigration law is not appropriate.
  • 67 percent say the Mexican government does not want to stop its citizens from illegally entering the U.S.
  • 58 percent say the Mexican government should compensate U.S. taxpayers to offset the costs of illegal immigration.
  • 27 percent say Mexico is an ally of the U.S., 14 percent say it is an “enemy” and 53 percent say “somewhere in between.”

Source: A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 adults conducted May 17 and 18.

Observations, pronouncements and drivel to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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