- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 8, 2015

Rev up Air Force One — multiple West Coast fundraisers and a two-day weekend are calling the White House.

President Obama has jettisoned the hubbub and hysteria of the nation’s capitol and is bound for a weekend trip to Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego — and he won’t be back until Monday. Included in a 48-hour fundraiser blitz that begins Friday: a luncheon for Sen. Patty Murray and the Washington State Democratic Party, followed by a separate Democratic National Committee event. Then it’s on to Frisco for a fundraising concert for the Democratic Party with Kanye West at the city’s Warfield Theater.

On Saturday, Mr. Obama breezes into L.A. for a six-hour visit and three private fundraisers that include a roundtable discussion at the home of “Star Trek” director J.J. Abrams, tickets costing up to $33,400 each, to benefit the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. A concert with an famed but unnamed performer follows, this for the Democratic Hope Fund, rounded out by dinner at the home of interior designer Michael Smith and his partner James Costos, the U.S. ambassador to Spain.

Yes, Air Force One still costs $206,377 per hour to operate, fueled by taxpayer dollars. But moving right along, the president then journeys to San Diego for a “private event,” where he’ll remain for the night, to return to the White House by Monday afternoon.

Is the golf course calling? The locals theorize the president might visit Rancho Santa Fe, land of the luxury links. In all fairness, however, one event in the whirlwind weekend is not a fundraiser, though it has been met by skepticism and some criticism. Mr. Obama also stopped in Roseburg, Oregon, to visit privately with families of the nine victims shot at Umpqua Community College last week.


Joyful journalists at last got into some serious Republican bashing following House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy‘s simple announcement that he would not seek the role of speaker.

The press appetite was already whetted by near nonstop mockery of presidential front-runner Donald Trump, though the canny billionaire constantly thwarts their efforts and tops the voter polls. But with Mr. McCarthy and the Grand Old Party now on the menu — well, hallelujah. News coverage swung into gleeful and dramatic mode, suggesting the lawmakers were in a state of near-riot below the mighty dome of the U.S. Capitol itself — or something like that. A few headlines of note from the past 24 hours, with “chaos” the operative term:

“McCarthy drops out, House in chaos” (Politico); “Chaos is the GOP’s new normal (Washington Post); “McCarthy drops out of speaker race, throwing GOP leadership into chaos (NPR); “House Republicans in chaos as favorite McCarthy quits speaker race” (Reuters); “Chaos in the House: McCarthy withdraws candidacy for speaker, GOP vote postponed” (Minneapolis Star Tribune); “U.S. Congress in chaos after McCarthy abruptly quits speaker race” (Financial Times); and “U.S. House Republicans in chaos as favorite McCarthy quits” (Reuters).

Oh, and there was some non-chaos, too: “Shock! McCarthy drops from Speaker’s race” (The Hill); and “Exit McCarthy, Enter Anarchy” (Bloomberg).


As if things weren’t complicated enough, Politicon opens at the Los Angeles Convention Center this weekend — billed as “the unconventional, non-partisan fan fest for political junkies,” rife with panels, debates, film screenings, comedy sets, podcasts, live broadcasts, art exhibits and more. The very motley, 80-member cast includes Newt Gingrich, Ann Coulter, David Axelrod, James Carville, Trevor Noah, Dennis Kucinich, Michele Bachmann, Michael Steele, Hugh Hewitt, Reggie Love, Doris Kearns Goodwin and Clay Aiken to name just a few.

“We’ve hit about 7,000 tickets at this point, and are counting on walks ups as well, of course. The mood is very exciting and bustling. We’re ready to rumble,” spokeswoman Sarah Chavey tells Inside the Beltway. Find their big doings at Politicon.com


Ah yes, a cultural moment: A new survey reveals that 37 percent of British vegetarians confess that they eat meat when they have been consuming alcohol. Grilled kebabs and beef burgers “were voted the most common meat for vegetarians to give into when drunk,” followed by bacon, fried chicken and pork sausage. So reports a survey by VoucherCodesPro, an online provider of money-saving coupons which polled 1,789 people.

They also found that six-out-of-10 turn into clandestine carnivores every time they drink, or “fairly often,” while another seven-out-of-10 did not tell anyone of their secret habit, the survey found.


It’s slightly less frantic this weekend for our presidential hopefuls. Let’s start in Iowa; where Gov. Bobby Jindal will hold court for the next six days for the Republicans; sole Democrat Martin O’Malley has a pair of events for his one-day visit to the Hawkeye State.

In New Hampshire, GOP candidates Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul Kentucky, plus Jim Gilmore journey to Nashua for the Republican Liberty Caucus Convention. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina is midway through a 10-day meander in the Granite State, campaigning here and there with Sen. John McCain of Arizona. Mr. Graham’s stops include seven town-hall meetings, one private house party, and stops at a bingo center, a gun manufacturing plant and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard

Elsewhere, Republican front-runner Donald Trump will stage a jumbo rally in Norcross, Georgia on Saturday. Jeb Bush will attend a tailgate party prior to the Georgia Bulldogs at Tennessee Volunteers football game in Knoxville, also on Saturday. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida will spend the weekend in the Las Vegas, Nevada area, attending, among other things, public rallies at an Elks Lodge and a Catholic school.

As for the Democrats, Sen. Bernard Sanders is also in jumbo rally mode, hosting an event Boulder, Colorado — there to discuss “wealth inequality and the disappearing middle class, campaign finance reform, his legislation targeting high prescription drug costs, criminal justice reform, and his college affordability plan,” his campaign advises.


For sale: Trollhaugen, the mountain retreat built in 1981 on 40 acres in Cameron, Montana, by 1952 Olympic gold medal skier Stein Erickson. Unique Norwegian-style log home; five bedrooms, five baths, soaring windows, custom woodworking and floors, 4,298 square feet. Multiple decks, outdoor gazebo, tennis court, log guest cabin, magnificent mountain views, adjacent to Beaverhead National Forest, trout fishing on Madison River. Priced at $2.4 million through HallHall.com; check under “Properties heading,” enter Trollhaugen in search function.


68 percent of likely U.S. voters think the Islamic State will take advantage of a no-fly zone to consolidate and expand its gains in Syria.

67 percent are concerned that U.S.-imposed no fly zone will bring the U.S. into “direct military conflict with Russia.”

45 percent favor a U.S.-imposed no-fly zone “to stop the Syrian government from bombing civilian areas.”

26 percent oppose the creation of a no-fly zone.

31 percent say a no-fly zone will decrease the level of violence in Syria; 31 percent say it will have no impact; 16 percent say it will increase the violence.

Source: A Rasmussen reports survey of 1,000 likely U.S. voters was conducted Oct. 6-7.

Everybody relax; indignant squawks to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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