- The Washington Times - Monday, February 17, 2014

Eighteen and counting: that’s how many fundraising appearances President Obama has committed to attend as the 2014 midterm election season grinds into gear. But he has some help this week, and it’s only the beginning. Vice President Joe Biden will race to a Democratic National Committee fundraiser Wednesday at The Bachelor Farmer in Minneapolis, a Nordic-themed eatery which boasts pheasant meatballs and roasted rutabaga on its menu. The restaurant is owned by Eric and Andrew Dayton, sons of Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton. The tickets go as high as $32,500.

It’s also a busy week for first lady Michelle Obama, who journeys to New York City on Thursday for many reasons. She’ll appear at the New Museum to view “Taking Back the Streets,” an exhibit described by the White House as “a celebration of street art in honor of Drink Up, the Partnership for Healthier America’s initiative that encourages all Americans to drink more water.” Then it’s on to NBC to tape an appearance for the newly reinvented, East-Coast version of the “Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon,” to air later in the evening. Then it’s over to a Democratic fundraiser, this at an unnamed private residence.

Another day, another dollar? It could be many of them. Mrs. Obama’s recent funding foray in Los Angeles raised an estimated $650,000, and she was cordial, but blunt before the glittering folk of the Golden State.

“Write a big fat check. Write the biggest check you can possibly write,” she told her audience.

And for those who keep track, some 2013 fundraising totals: Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ($75 million), Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee ($53 million), Democratic National Committee ($65 million).

THE CURRENT CPAC COUNT

There will literally be a cast of thousands when the Conservative Political Action Conference descends upon a spectacular resort on the banks of the Potomac River in 16 days, just eight miles south of the White House. Perhaps Obama administration heavyweights should pause and listen. They might just hear a jubilant roar from all those conservatives, relieved and pleased to be among those who are upbeat about America and pining for smaller government, stronger defense and traditional values.

The American Conservative Union, meanwhile, has assembled a roster of 200 speakers — thought leaders, analysts, personalities — to rally the troops. And from chairman Al Cardenas comes the master list of confirmed stars at the three-day event: Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Mike Lee of Utah, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas; Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, plus Govs. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Chris Christie of New Jersey; Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, Dr. Ben Carson and Rick Santorum.

And yes, more to come.

‘WE ARE NOT EQUALS’

On shelves Tuesday: “Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes” by Michael Rubin, who questions the wisdom and efficacy of negotiations with terrorists.

“There’s nothing wrong with diplomacy, but if it’s not done right, American national security can be hurt. Rather than resolve conflict, poor diplomacy can hasten it,” Mr. Rubin tells Inside the Beltway. “The problem with rogue regimes is that by definition — not mine, but Bill Clinton’s National Security Council — they don’t adhere to the norms of diplomacy. They don’t approach negotiations with sincerity and so we can’t treat them like other partners.”

The author is an American Enterprise Institute scholar and former editor of the Middle East Quarterly.

“We might seek conflict resolution, but too often rogues simply want to run down the clock or seek to transform bluster into reward. We need to analyze our opponents’ strategy in order to undercut and defeat it,” Mr. Rubin continues.

“To make diplomacy succeed, we’ve got to set the right circumstances. Rather than alleviate pressure, all elements of American power should be brought to bear. We need to stop treating our opponents as equals at the table. We are not equals with Iran, North Korea, or the Taliban.”

HERE COMES THE HEMP BRAND

While political and cultural machinations continue over the legalization of marijuana for recreational use, the advent of the industrial hemp and medical marijuana industries continues to meander into the mainstream. The recent farm bill has relaxed regulations on growing industrial hemp in the U.S., which has charmed those who manufacture hemp products and wearables, and would prefer to grow their own, rather than rely on Chinese plants. Now comes the branding for what some sources predict could be a $500 million industry.

Dewmar International — a Las Vegas-based marketing group — has signed an agreement with the Industrial Hemp and Medical Marijuana Consulting Company, Inc., this a subsidiary of Hemp, Inc., an industry resource in the emerging field.

“The marijuana — albeit medical or recreational — and industrial hemp industries have been expanding for several years now, culminating in complete legalization by Washington and Colorado,” Dewmar CEO Marco Moran tells Inside the Beltway.

“I think as the economy wakes up to this market with a significant long-term pent up demand, many innovative technologies, medicines and nutraceutical products will rise to astronomical proportions in gross sales volumes due to simply being one of the first. This will result in an explosion of success for companies who stand ready to capitalize on recently changing legislation,” he adds.

FROM THE YEE-HAW DESK

Drones, immigration, drug cartels, brusque business, pro-life values, second amendments rights. These topics dominate the opening salvo from “Breitbart Texas,” a news portal launched Sunday by, yes, Breitbart News — the forward-thinking media group founded by the late, great Andrew Breitbart. There is a welcome letter from Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.

“I must extend a warning to any of your staffers who might be relocating here from New York City, Washington, D.C., or any other bastions of progressive thought. In a word, Texas is different,” Mr. Dewhurst wrote. “Here in Texas, they’ll find themselves surrounded by hard-working people who share their love of freedom, liberty, and self-reliance. Your staffers who exercise their 2nd Amendment rights will no longer be called ‘gun nuts.’”

The new portal also boasts a message from Sen. Ted Cruz.

“Political operatives are swarming the Lone Star State to turn Texas into a liberal swamp. At the same time, the Obama administration is trying to make Texas buckle under a torrent of federal rules and regulations,” the lawmaker wrote.

“Our state, and our nation, has enormous political challenges ahead. Still, we should be optimistic,” Mr. Cruz later added. “As Lt. Col. William Barrett Travis said at the Alamo, we ‘shall never surrender or retreat’ in the name of liberty.”

POLL DU JOUR

79 percent of Americans say developing a plan to deal with illegal immigrants already in the U.S. is “extremely” or “very” important.

77 percent say securing the U.S. borders is extremely or very important.

51 percent say the main focus of the U.S. government in dealing with illegal immigration should be on dealing with illegals already in the U.S.

50 percent of Republicans, 43 percent of independents and 41 percent of Democrats agree.

46 percent say the focus should be on securing U.S. borders.

56 percent of Republicans, 44 percent of independents and 31 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Gallup Poll of 1,023 U.S. adults conducted Feb. 6-9.

Fancy footwork, plodding reason to [email protected]; follow @harperbulletin

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