NEWS AND OPINION:
It is inevitable political theater: Donald Trump has formed an exploratory committee for a presidential campaign, and like clockwork, the Democratic National Committee couldn’t wait to capitalize on it. Mr. Trump made his announcement with customary flourish and candor, fascinating fans and annoying rivals.
“I have a great love for our country, but it is a country that is in serious trouble. We have lost the respect of the entire world. Americans deserve better than what they get from their politicians — who are all talk and no action! I have built a great company, created thousands of jobs and built a tremendous net worth with some of the finest and most prestigious assets in the world — and very little debt! All Americans deserve the same opportunity,” Mr. Trump declared in his public statement.
Almost as quickly, Democrats responded. DNC spokeswoman Holly Shulman blasted out a three-word reply to the press. “Everything is awesome,” she advised, borrowing her motto from the theme song of “The Lego Movie.”
Several hundred news stories appeared following Mr. Trump’s announcement Wednesday, most gauging his sincerity. “Donald Trump says that he’s forming an exploratory committee for president. And mermaids have been spotted near Atlantis. The perennial game Trump plays with the American electorate, and with the media, where he pretends to run for high office to get his name back in the headlines, has become more than just disingenuous,” writes Newsday columnist William O’Reilly, a Republican strategist.
Whatever his motivation, Mr. Trump instantly engages the distracted public in politics, and that is genuine. And it’s of value, whether he runs or not. For a rich guy, he is quick to articulate matters of grass-roots importance.
“Our real unemployment rate is staggering while our manufacturing base is eroding on a daily basis. We must rebuild our infrastructure, control our borders, support local control of education, greatly strengthen our military, care for our veterans and put Americans back to work! We must stop other countries from totally taking advantage of our representatives who are being out-negotiated at every turn. I am the only one who can make America truly great again!” Mr. Trump said.
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And now it’s time for the grass roots. He’ll meet with local veterans and business leaders Thursday, then join a reception in the living room of state Rep. Steve Stepanek, a Republican from Amherst. But Mr. Trump will have to move right along. Sen. Rand Paul is due to arrive in the Granite State on Friday at 5:30 p.m. sharp for the Carroll County Lincoln Day Dinner.
‘GRILL BABY GRILL’
It’s gaining steam. And maybe sauce and a hint of mesquite. “The Pork Steak Rebellion” is now underway. The protest launched by California state Sen. Eric Schmitt is piquant pushback against the EPA, which is funding a $15,000 study exploring the potential hazards of barbecues. Mr. Schmitt is asking Americans to sign a petition or protest, then go fire up the grill.
“The EPA is using taxpayer funds to study propane grill emissions that suggest pit masters use a special tray to catch grease drippings and a catalytic filtration system to reduce air pollution. We don’t need D.C. bureaucrats regulating our family barbecues,” Mr. Schmitt advises. “Grill, baby grill.”
MR. BOLTON ON THE EMAIL MATTER
“Revelations about former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton‘s private email account have also raised another issue. Her use of an insecure cellphone could also compromise national security by its vulnerability to capture by unfriendly sources,” points out the ever vigilant John Bolton.
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“We know that many hostile intelligence services have the capability to turn cellphones — even if they are turned off — into microphones that can be used to eavesdrop on conversations and meetings. If Secretary Clinton did not use a State Department-provided cellphone for official business she would not have had the benefit of monitoring by State security experts to ensure that her cellphone was not being exploited for this purpose,” the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations continues. “There is an urgent need to understand and evaluate this threat through an independent review and a forensic assessment of Clinton’s cellphone and server either by Congress, the State Department Inspector General, or the National Security Agency.”
REVIVING A PROXMIRE TRADITION
For years, a certain Wisconsin senator issued 168 monthly “Golden Fleece” awards to agencies and organizations that wasted taxpayer dollars. That was the late William Proxmire, whose citations were a fixture from 1975 to 1988. The practice has been revived by Citizens for the Republic, a grass-roots lobby devoted to the principles of Ronald Reagan.
They have awarded the newfangled Golden Fleece Award to the Small Business Administration, a federal agency charged with giving a hand to, well, small businesses. Instead, they have made loans to companies that would qualify for conventional bank loans.
“A new report by American Transparency shows that from 2007-2013, the SBA made $67.23 billion in loans and guarantees. Most of the loans were between $1 million and $5 million. Some of the recipients included companies such as Rolex, Lamborghini dealers, Sears, as well as private equity funds and luxury resorts,” the organization notes.
“It appears the Small Business Administration is bilking the American taxpayers to play favorites and bail out companies that can’t make it in the marketplace,” says director Diana Banister. “The upscale companies benefiting from taxpayer largesse should get loans from their own bank.”
More to come. The group plans to announce a new award every Wednesday.
JUST GO TO THE OBSESSION SECTION
Brace for it. Here comes “obsession journalism.” The media may be annoying, but news organizations are racing to redefine their turf and content to stay afloat in an evolving, unforgiving and highly competitive marketplace.
Like this Los Angeles Times announcement shared with Inside the Beltway: “The news environment and the needs of readers are changing more rapidly than at any time in the history of our industry. The Los Angeles Times should do more than keep pace with that change; we must strive to lead it,” advise publisher Austin Beutner and editor Davan Maharaj. They have hired one S. Mitra Kalita — formerly of Quartz, a global business news site, with previous employment at The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Newsday and The Associated Press. She is now managing editor for “editorial strategy” at the Times.
“Mitra will work to develop and refine new styles of journalism similar to those she helped pioneer at Quartz. Launched in 2012, Quartz is known for its lively mix of news and analysis, its Daily Brief of worldwide business news, its creative use of social media and its focus on ‘obsessions’ of special interest to its readers rather than traditional beats,” the Times officials say.
POLL DU JOUR
• 62 percent of Americans say they support political candidates based on past accomplishments; 73 percent of Republicans, 62 percent of independents and 52 percent of Democrats agree.
• 57 percent overall say taxes must be raised sometimes; 50 percent of Republicans, 56 percent of independents and 64 percent of Democrats agree.
• 37 percent overall say they would be “more likely” to vote for a candidate who pledged not to raise taxes; 56 percent of Republicans, 37 percent of independents and 24 percent of Democrats agree.
• 33 percent said such a pledge would make no difference; 29 percent of Republicans, 37 percent of independents and 33 percent of Democrats agree.
• 22 percent overall support candidates based on what they promise to do in the future; 18 percent of Republicans, 18 percent of independents and 30 percent of Democrats agree.
Source: A YouGov poll of 996 U.S. adults conducted March 4-6 and released Monday.
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