NEWS AND OPINION:
Jumbotrons, spotlights, patriotic colors, soaring music, American flags and a cast of some 200 celebrated speakers who stride across the broad stage every 20 minutes. And so it begins: the 72 hours of conservative togetherness that is CPAC — the Conservative Action Political Conference — awoke with a prayer, a presentation of colors and the Pledge of Allegiance at 8 a.m. sharp Thursday.
There was a ready, eager audience, even at that hour: Ben Carson, Sens. Mike Lee and Ben Sasse, and Rep. Mia Love appeared by 9:20. It is that kind of event. The famous folk are there, not necessarily up close but definitely in person — a mighty cultural moment for an audience who sees them primarily through a media prism.
Thursday is rife with conservative luminaries, in fact. Why, look here goes Sen. Joni Ernst, Gov. Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, Sen. Ted Cruz, Govs. Scott Walker and Bobby Jindal plus Sarah Palin — all having their say by the cocktail hour. In between their carefully calibrated speeches are 28 separate forums and events with titles ranging from “Climate: What Tom Steyer Won’t Tell You” to “When Should America Go to War?” And that’s just Thursday.
Rivals will be waiting, however. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Democratic National Committee chair, has scheduled a press conference before noon to “discuss the Republican presidential hopefuls’ long-held policy positions that only suit the far right wing of their party,” the organization advises.
The press is offering inevitable creative interpretation, meanwhile, A few headlines of note: “CPAC: For Conservatives, It’s Burning Man Meets the Super Bowl” (Newsweek); “Can Jeb Bush make it right with the right?” (McClatchy); “Moments that will be awkward: Right-wing lunatics gun for Jeb at nutty confab” (Salon); “Crunch time for Rand Paul” (Reuters); “Why Ronald Reagan is such a big deal at CPAC” (Time) and “CPAC welcomes gays only if they bash Putin” (Daily Beast). Confused? See for yourself: C-SPAN will be covering a numbers of major speeches and events, including the fancy Reagan Dinner on Thursday evening.
WAVE THE WAND
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If Hillary Rodham Clinton could “wave a wand” and change anything in the country, what would she change? That was the question posed by Re/Code correspondent Kara Swisher when Mrs. Clinton returned to the public stage Tuesday night, delivering a speech before a woman’s leadership conference in California.
Mrs. Clinton said her wish was that Americans “could get back to working together cooperatively again — get out of our mindsets, our partisan bunkers.”
The potential presidential hopeful continued, “We still have lots to do on ending sexism and racism and homophobia, and all kinds of really bad issues. We’ve got work to do, we’re making progress. But nobody wants to associate with anyone who doesn’t agree with them politically. You cant have a conversation, people won’t listen to each other. They listen to different media, and those different media tell different stores about the same thing you’re watching unfold in front of your eyes. You can’t run a great country like that.”
The pesky media was, Mrs. Clinton said, her “pet peeve.” No mention of the old vast, right-wing conspiracy, however. Not this time, anyway.
READ THE BOOK
Those weary of prissy, politically correct book lists and elitist commentary have an new destination. The Conservative Book Club — founded 51 years ago — has a spiffy new online presence devoted to book reviews, news and previews about hundreds of conservative-themed books and authors. Yes, there’s a top-10 list, spots to rate books, build a custom bookshelf and just engage, says editor Christopher Malagisi.
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Conservatives have long rued the unfair treatment of books by the New York Times and other liberal publications, he says. Even Amazon.com doesn’t have a “conservative” category, though conservative-themed books sell by the millions. The new site is meant to be a trusted resource, and an alternative to persistent liberal high jinks in the reading realm.
“It is an oasis for free market-thinking, freedom-loving book enthusiasts looking for an alternative to the biased mainstream media,” notes Newt Gingrich, and author himself, along with wife Callista.
Find the cleanly designed, optimistic oasis at ConservativeBookClub.com
YELLEN WATCHING PART I
Ron Paul is not happy with Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen following her testimony before the Senate Banking Committee earlier this week. Yes, Mr. Paul is still very much engaged in frugal-minded fiscal matters.
“Fed Chair Janet Yellen continues to live in a fantasy land. Using doctored government statistics, she claims that the Federal Reserve’s polices have revived the job market without creating inflation,” Mr. Paul declares. “The record number of Americans who have withdrawn from the job market in frustration, along with the many workers forced to settle for part-time work or anyone who has gone to a grocery store, would disagree that the American people are benefiting from the Federal Reserve’s policies.”
The former lawmaker warns that Ms. Yellen “ignores the dangers” of keeping federal fund rates low, and says the official is downplaying evidence that the Obama administration could be “reinflating” the housing bubble.
“Given her refusal to confront the disastrous consequences of her policies, it is not surprising she continues to oppose letting the American people know the full truth about the Fed’s handling of monetary policy. Hopefully, Congress will not continue to dwell in Janet Yellen’s monetary policy fantasy land but will heed the nearly 75 percent of Americans who want to know the realities of the Federal Reserve’s actions by passing the Audit the Fed bill,” Mr. Paul concludes.
YELLEN WATCHING PART II
Three months ago, American Principles in Action — the APIA — contacted the aforementioned Ms. Yellen to point out that she had met with “a left-leaning group of protesters” to talk over monetary policy and the workforce. Indeed, she had met with Center for Popular Democracy, a coalition of workers, interest group and community organizers. The APIA requested its own meeting; the liberty-minded nonprofit organization supports traditional founding values.
They sent a second letter to the Fed chair a month later, advising her, “The left by no means has a monopoly on concern for unemployment and wage stagnation. An evenhanded insight on achieving our shared goal of job creation and economic mobility would facilitate steps toward realization of this mutual objective.”
The APIA has at last gotten its wish. Ms. Yellen agreed to a meeting Friday with the group, who will be accompanied by “center-right, free-market thinkers and activists” from the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute and the Atlas Institute. The APIA’s pointmen are Steve Lonegan, director of monetary policy; chairman Sean Fieler, and senior economic adviser Ralph Benko; the group will journey to the Fed’s august Board of Directors building which looms over Constitution Avenue in the nation’s capital. They have promised a statement in the aftermath.
POLL DU JOUR
• 61 percent of Americans are “dissatisfied with the position of the U.S. in the world today.”
• 37 percent are satisfied; 20 percent of Republicans, 34 percent of independents and 57 percent of Democrats agree.
• 58 percent overall say world leaders do not have “respect” for President Obama.
• 37 percent say the leaders to have respect for Mr. Obama; 16 percent of Republicans, 32 percent of independents and 61 percent of Democrats agree.
• 52 percent overall say the international community still views the U.S. positively; 38 percent of Republicans, 49 percent of independents and 69 percent of Democrats agree.
• 47 percent overall say the international community view the U.S. negatively.
Source: A Gallup poll of 837 U.S. adults conducted Feb. 8-11 and released Wednesday.
• Churlish remarks and happy talk to firstname.lastname@example.org.