NEWS AND OPINION:
Just a brief bulletin, then we’ll move right along. Time to fire up Air Force, because President Obama is off to the Treasure Coast of Florida this weekend, specifically Palm City. The local press is attentive, reporting that Mr. Obama will play a few rounds at the Floridian National Golf Club. Yeah, well. Rather than prattle on about the cost of operating Air Force One ($206,000 an hour), here’s the description of the course, just for the heck of it.
“This stunning, yet formidable Par 71 will certainly impress. At 7,114 yards, the 18-hole course offers perfectly manicured rolling fairways and greens, demanding hazards, breathtaking views of the St. Lucie River, and is surrounded by natural preserve and native wildlife.”
Yeah, well. Mr. Obama was at the course two years ago, golfing with Tiger Woods. For those keeping count, this is approximately the 220th round of golf the president has played since taking office, this based on calculations from the ObamaGolfCounter.com and other sources, which track such things. And to be fair, let’s also point out that other presidents played more. Much more. Woodrow Wilson got in 1,200 rounds of golf during his time in office, Dwight Eisenhower 800 - this according to “First Off the Tee,” the 2003 book by Dan Van Natta, Jr.
ODDS ON 66 WOULD-BE PRESIDENTS
As comedic relief from endless political analysis: There are big lists of who’s going to run for president in 2016, and bigger lists which have money attached. Paddy Power, one of Europe’s largest online betting concerns, has offered the odds on 66 potential hopefuls from both sides of the aisle. This is a most expansive list that includes all the usual entries, plus people like Alec Baldwin, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chelsea Clinton and David Petraeus, among others. Well sure. Why not?
In the top-10, here are the numbers for the curious. Hillary Clinton 6/5, Jeb Bush 4/1, Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. Scott Walker, both 10/1; Gov. Chris Christie 12/1, Mitt Romney and Sen. Rand Paul both 16/1; Sen. Elizabeth Warren 18/1. Rep. Paul Ryan 33/1 and Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Ted Cruz, both 33/1. In case you were wondering, the aforementioned Baldwin is 750/1.
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Dublin-based Paddy Power, meanwhile, has been offering bets on American votes and voters for years. “Paddy Power is the home of U.S. politics betting,” the group advises. “Whether you want to bet on the Presidential election or elections in the US Senate or House of Representatives, we have all the markets covered.”
“If Reagan were still president, ISIS would be WASWAS”
— New bumper stickr from SarahPac, a political action committee supporting conservative candidates and American exceptionalism.
ON A WING AND A PRAYER
Consider that Rep. Sam Johnson was once a fighter pilot who flew 87 combat missions in Korea and Vietnam, flew an F-100 Sabre for the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and was a prisoner of war for seven years. The Texas Republican was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, two Purple Hearts and a dozen other significant medals and awards — and has deep-seated feelings about military service. Mr. Johnson recently introduced the Preserve and Protect God in Military Oaths Act in response to U.S. Air Force Academy’s decision to make “so help me God” an option in the Cadet Honor Oath.
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“Our Constitution’s very First Amendment protects every individual’s freedom of religion. But our servicemen and women who protect our county with their lives are seeing that freedom under fire,” Mr. Brown told his peers before introducing the bill. “In 2013, the U.S. Air Force Academy made the phrase ‘so help me God’ optional in the oath each cadet takes. And why did they do this? Because of one radical atheist group’s demands.”
He continued, “Let me be clear: Americans have the freedom of religion — but not freedom from religion. That’s why I am introducing legislation that requires Congressional approval before any change would be made to military oaths. The moral foundation of our country is in serious danger if we allow radical groups to dictate whether or not we can freely express our religious beliefs! It’s time to take a stand.”
Republican Reps. Doug Lamborn, Pete Olson and Pete Sessions co-sponsored the legislation. Not happy with the bill: Mikey Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and an Air Force Academy graduate; he tweets that Mr. Johnson “is trying to force the phrase” on the service academy.
THE ALARMISM COOLS
Less than a third of Americans are now concerned about global warming and climate change: 32 percent fret about those environmental factors says the annual Gallup Environmental survey, released Wednesday. Naturally, there’s a partisan divide: 13 percent of Republicans are concerned about global warming, compared to 52 percent of Democrats.
The majority of Americans worry about one environmental issues. Fifty five percent are concerned about the pollution of drinking water. Next in line: 47 percent fret over lake and river pollution, air pollution (36 percent) and the loss of tropical rain forests (33 percent).
In general, Americans are more positive about the environment these days note Gallup analyst Jeffrey Jones, now at the “low end” of what the polling group has measure in the last 25 years..
“The nature of the environmental agenda may indirectly be influencing Americans’ concern. The primary focus of the environmental movement has shifted toward long-term threats like global warming -issues about which Americans tend to worry less than about more immediate threats like pollution,” writes Mr. Jones. “Importantly, even as global warming has received greater attention as an environmental problem from politicians and the media in recent years, Americans’ worry about it is no higher now than when Gallup first asked about it in 1989.”
More numbers in Poll du Jour at column’s end.
MR. NORQUIST MEETS MR. STEIN
The complexities of immigration and amnesty get examined with exuberance Thursday morning at the Capitol Hill Club by a pair of thoughtful titans. Grover Norquist, founder of Americans for tax Reforms, believes immigration is a boon to the economy. Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, is stridently opposed to it. The bout will be moderated by Stephen Dinan, ace immigration reporter for The Washington Times. The face off has drawn a documentary film crew, who like the event organizers, think meaningful stuff will come out of it all.
“We view immigration as one of the very top issues in the 2016 election. It’s a lightening rod issue for all candidates, and we’re looking to see if there is any common ground on the issue that most people can agree with,” Russ Hodge, executive producer for 3 Roads Communications, tells Inside the Beltway, “Hopefully, the nation can hit the reset button on the issue in time for the elections. The Norquist/Stein debate should be a good indication on whether common ground can be found.”
POLL DU JOUR
• 55 percent of Americans worry about pollution of drinking water; 43 percent of Republicans and 64 percent of Democrats agree.
• 53 percent worry about the pollution of rivers and lakes; 36 percent of Republicans and 55 percent of Democrats agree.
• 46 percent worry about air pollution; 22 percent of Republicans and 53 percent of Democrats agree.
• 41 percent worry about extinction of animal species; 24 percent of Republicans 46 percent of Democrats agree.
• 41 percent worry about loss of tropical rain forests; 24 percent of Republicans and 39 percent of Democrats agree.
• 34 percent worry about climate change; 13 percent of Republicans and 52 percent of Democrats agree.
Source: A Gallup poll of 1,025 U.S. adults conducted March 5-8 and released Wednesday.
• Crowing and caterwaul to firstname.lastname@example.org.