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Jennifer Harper

Jennifer Harper

To read Jennifer Harper's Inside the Beltway columns, click here. Contact her at

Articles by Jennifer Harper

The National Journal has ranked Sen. James E. Risch, Idaho Republican, as the most conservative senator. (Associated press)

Inside the Beltway: Who is James E. Risch?

Why, he's only the most true-blue conservative in the U.S. Senate, according to the National Journal's "Congressional Vote Ratings" released Thursday. The judgment was made by roll-call voting records alone. Sen. James E. Risch, Idaho Republican, has the most conservative voting record for 2012. Published February 20, 2013

Inside the Beltway: The trillion-dollar coin

The White House had better snap up one of these quick: American Mint has just issued the "$1 Trillion Coin," a gleaming, platinum-plated collector's coin that shows what the legendary, imaginary trillion-dollar coin could look like. There's an image of the U.S. Capitol's "Freedom" statue on the front, and "one trillion dollars" and "no legal tender" on back. And to the inevitable delight of both President Obama and the Republican Congress, this version is only $9.95. Published February 19, 2013

Inside the Beltway: Meteor media frenzy

Of interest to those following meteor mania around the planet, and hysteria over fireballs and sonic booms: The 101-year-old American Meteor Society is a straightforward resource amid alarming press accounts about big sizzlers overhead. Published February 18, 2013

Inside the Beltway: Dawdling Democrats

A recent Bloomberg Government study reveals that Democratic congressional districts will be harder hit than Republican districts with the March 1 sequester. It stands to reason that conscientious Democrats might be leaping for compromise. Or maybe not. Published February 17, 2013

Inside the Beltway: Pining for Ben Carson

The warm glow of public appeal for Ben Carson is growing after his recent provocative speech at the National Prayer Breakfast before an audience that included President Obama. The pediatric neurosurgeon cut a fearless, straightforward path through health care, taxes and American woes, prompting The Wall Street Journal to run an immediate op-ed titled "Ben Carson for President," declaring that Dr. Carson "may not be politically correct, but he's closer to correct than we've heard in years." Published February 14, 2013

Former Texas Rep. Ron Paul (Associated Press) **FILE**

Inside the Beltway: An expensive address

It's a pricey policy landscape. According to National Taxpayers Union Foundation's line-by-line analysis of President Obama's most expensive State of the Union address yet: his 40 proposals weighed in at $83.4 billion worth of quantifiable agenda items. But wait. That could balloon to $100.4 billion, depending on how Mr. Obama deals with the looming sequester March 1. Published February 13, 2013

Inside the Beltway: Fire up the old campaign mobile

Some wonder if President Obama prefers to be in campaign mode rather than tending the home fires -- or putting them out, anyway -- in the nation's capital. There could be truth to that notion this week. Published February 12, 2013

Teddy Turner, the conservative son of liberal media mogul Ted Turner, is one of 16 Republicans vying for an open House seat from South Carolina. The party primary is set for March 19. (TEDDY TURNER FOR CONGRESS)

Inside the Beltway: Ted Nugent’s Big Show

The cameras could linger on rock icon, carnivore and gun-rights advocate Ted Nugent when he takes his seat in the House gallery for the State of the Union address on Tuesday, a guest of Rep. Steve Stockman. And the Texas Republican's intent? His communications adviser Donny Ferguson has thoughts on that. Published February 11, 2013

Inside the Beltway: Rand Paul’s moment

Sen. Rand Paul is delivering the grass-roots retort on behalf of the Tea Party Express at the National Press Club, to ensure that the media and the Republican establishment don't write the movement off as "dead," organizers say. Published February 10, 2013

Gary E. Johnson, the 2012 Libertarian candidate for president. (Associated Press)

Inside the Beltway: Seeking a ground game

Fierce tea party loyalists and traditional conservatives continue to squawk about Karl Rove and "establishment Republicans," convinced that the faction will compromise GOP chances in upcoming elections. Outspoken tea partyers say their grass-roots sensibility is the key to supporting and electing viable candidates. Published February 7, 2013

** FILE ** An unmanned U.S. Predator drone flies over Kandahar Air Field in southern Afghanistan on a moonlit night in January 2010. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Newspapers defend sitting on, publishing U.S. drone stories

For more than year, two of the nation's top news organizations withheld major stories revealing secret details about American drone bases in the Middle East, complying with a request from the Obama administration to withhold the reports. This week, however, the race was on between The New York Times and The Washington Post to spill all the details. Published February 7, 2013

L. Brent Bozell III, founder of the Media Research Center, was labeled a "hater" by Jonathan Collegio of Karl Rove's conservative super PAC American Crossroads.

Inside the Beltway: The war on Rove escalates

A bristling group of 25 traditional conservatives are out to protect one of their own in a new push against the "establishment Republicans" of Karl Rove's American Crossroads. Published February 6, 2013

Inside the Beltway: Reinventing the ‘Buckley Rule’

War? What war? It's just business as usual at the Conservative Victory Fund, an emerging super PAC that has vexed fierce conservatives and tea partyers convinced that the organization is undermining Republican chances of a win in the 2014 midterm elections by abandoning conservative principles and backing moderate candidates. Published February 5, 2013

**FILE** Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican (Associated Press)

Inside the Beltway: Cocktails with Marco

On Tuesday night, the always enterprising Sen. Marco Rubio journeys to the 201 Bar for a chat with Ben Smith, editor-in-chief of the cheeky and clever BuzzFeed. Published February 4, 2013

The Senate Conservatives Fund, founded by then-Sen. Jim DeMint (left) in 2008, is already criticizing the Conservative Victory Project, a new super PAC organized by American Crossroads, the sleek 2012 fundraising machine that boasted Karl Rove as point man. (Associated Press)

Inside the Beltway: NRA ‘stamina’

Behold: A major news organization has declared that the National Rifle Association is “winning the influence battle over gun control.” Published February 3, 2013

CBS News anchor Scott Pelley will interview President Obama live from the White House as part of the official pregame show to Super Bowl XLVII on Sunday. (CBS via Associated Press)

Inside the Beltway: Alarmed by the Feds

Some Americans feel like they live in a police state, others are discouraged by a sense of waning opportunity or flagging optimism. Do we have national malaise? Yes. It's called "federal government," suggests some new research. Published January 31, 2013

**FILE** A girl sits on a Newtown bus leaving the new Sandy Hook Elementary School after the first day of classes in Monroe, Conn., on Jan. 3, 2013. The Sandy Hook students started that day in their new school, formerly called Chalk Hill School in Monroe. It was renamed Sandy Hook Elementary and overhauled especially for the students from the Sandy Hook School shooting. (Associated Press)

Inside the Beltway: Exploiting Newtown

A Reason-Rupe survey reveals that 52 percent of respondents agreed that "elected officials are exploiting the [Newtown] tragedy for political reasons." Naturally, there's a partisan divide. Published January 30, 2013

Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, a Colorado grass-roots gun-rights organization, drew more than 300 participants for a free firearms training course for local teachers Monday. (Rocky Mountain Gun Owners)

Inside the Beltway: Teachers and targets

They were only expecting 200. They got more. Many more. Organizers with Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, a Colorado grass-roots gun-rights organization, had planned a free, four-hour firearms training course for local teachers Monday evening. More than 300 teachers showed up for the event in Broomfield. Published January 29, 2013

**FILE** President Obama (Associated Press)

Inside the Beltway: Obamacizing the media

"Say what you will about George W. Bush. He never complained about the media coverage he received. But here is President Obama, riding high off victories in the general election … inexplicably talking about Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and lamenting how the poor state of discourse in political media today is affecting compromise in Washington," says Joe Concha, an analyst for Mediaite. Published January 28, 2013

The National Chicken Council reveals that there are "no extreme left wings or extreme right wings" when it comes to chicken wings. (Image from the National Chicken Council)

Inside the Beltway: Jindal emerges with messages to GOP

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has secured his place in the Republican rush to redefine the party, pacify conservatives and scoop up Libertarians, Hispanics and disgruntled Democrats as 2016 glimmers in the distance. Published January 27, 2013