Cable News War

CNN anchor Rick Sanchez launched into a fit of editorializing last week by accusing a former CNN colleague, Glenn Beck, of contributing to the recent rash of mass killings in the United States.

"Who is stirring the pot?” Mr. Sanchez asked viewers. “Who is making people apoplectic?”

He went on to describe “the garden-variety fear- and hate-mongering provided compliments of Fox News, night in and night out. That’s where Glenn Beck is seen, night after night, talking about doomsday, about the country coming apart. While his counterpart, Sean Hannity, calls the president a socialist, and worse, implying day in and day out, that he’s trying to destroy America.”

Mr. Beck hosted a nightly news-commentary show on CNN until late last year, when he jumped ship to Fox News and attracted a much larger audience.

When interviewing Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, Mr. Sanchez accused Mr. Beck of spreading an unfounded fear among Americans that President Obama — “the nation’s first minority, minority president,” the CNN anchor stressed, putting the emphasis on minority — is out to take their guns away.

”The bottom line,” Mr. Gottlieb reasoned, “is the Pew Research Center just did a survey that shows Barack Obama is the most polarizing president that we’ve had in four decades …”

“But hold on,” Mr. Sanchez interrupted, “how could he not be polarizing when people are saying those messages that we have been talking about? If I was to get on the air and start saying horrible things about anyone, day in and day out, and scaring the ‘bejesus’ out of you, and telling you that the world is going to end as a result of this particular politician, whether he’s on the right or the left or the middle, don’t you think he would be polarizing?”

“Well,” answered Mr. Gottlieb, “I think maybe the media did that to George Bush, making for a good argument if what you are saying is true, maybe it wasn’t Fox News. Maybe it was CNN and MSNBC.”

“I suppose that’s fair,” Mr. Sanchez said.

HILLARY ‘VOLUNTEER’

This column would be remiss to overlook a decision in recent days by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) surrounding 2008 presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton and whether she broke U.S. laws by having British pop singer Elton John, a foreign national, raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for her campaign by performing a benefit concert.

The 1966 Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) was put in place to “minimize foreign intervention” in U.S. elections by establishing a series of limitations on foreign nationals. In 1974, the prohibition was incorporated into the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA), giving the FEC jurisdiction over its enforcement and interpretation.

According to the FEC, FECA “prohibits any foreign national from contributing, donating or spending funds in connection with any federal, state, or local election in the United States, either directly or indirectly. It is also unlawful to help foreign nationals violate that ban or to solicit, receive or accept contributions or donations from them. Persons who knowingly and willfully engage in these activities may be subject to fines and/or imprisonment.”

After this columnist drew attention to the FARA regulation as it related to Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, complaints were filed by various parties with the FEC. Besides Mr. John’s fundraising concert, the complaints alleged that the pop star sent out a mass emailing announcing the concert and soliciting support for Mrs. Clinton’s presidential bid.

Now, in a short statement, the FEC says that it has ruled in favor of Mrs. Clinton: “The commission determined that Sir Elton John’s performance at a fundraiser constituted a volunteer service that is exempted from the definition of ‘contribution’ under the Federal Election Campaign Act. The commission found no reason to believe that a violation occurred and closed the file.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

"This action allows the American people to view historical records relating to the presidency and judge for themselves the actions of federal officials."

Or the acting archivist of the United States, Adrienne Thomas, chose to phrase it when announcing that 245,763 pages of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush presidential records will be made public today at their respective presidential libraries.

Mr. Bush’s library in College Station, Texas will release 797 pages of records dealing specifically with Saudi Arabia. Volumes were over the past two decades about the close relationship between the Bush family and Saudi royal family.

Mr. Reagan’s library in Simi Valley, Calif., will open 244,966 pages of records processed in response to hundreds of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, including some 13,000 pages of declassified records on foreign policy.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

"Are we allowed now to use the president’s full name, Barack Hussein Obama? The rules keep changing. One day it’s a hate crime, another day a source of pride for the president.”

- Chicago-born columnist, author and an “unapologetic capitalist” Joy Tiz, responding to what some are calling President Obama‘s “America Stinks” tour of Europe, during which he told an audience in Turkey that America is not a Christian nation

NO JOKE

Former Georgia congressman and Libertarian Party presidential candidate Bob Barr recalls Ronald Reagan reciting, in jest, the nine most frightening words in the English language: “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

Now Mr. Barr is calling attention to the 11 words spoken by President Obama when recently announcing that Uncle Sam would now be running General Motors and Chrysler: “Starting today, the United States government will stand behind your warranty.”

“Such a statement by a president of the United States,” Mr. Barr concludes in an op-ed, “might be considered comical, were it not for the gravely serious ramifications of what Obama is doing.”

HE HAS A POINT

We’ve written at length about egregious examples of pork-barrel spending contained in the federal budget. Now weighing in is Mark Russell, the Washington-based political satirist/pianist, who finds no problem with $650,000 going toward beaver management: “Oh sure, you scoff, but have you ever lived next door to an unmanaged beaver? I didn’t think so.”

OK, then, what about $1.7 million for pig-odor research in Iowa?

“Again, easy to criticize – unless you have been to Iowa on a hot day,” he reasons.

But regarding the $207,000 in taxpayer money being spent on tattoo removals for the residents of Los Angeles, Mr. Russell admits “wondering if long-sleeved dresses wouldn’t be an easier way to deal with the problem?”

OUCH!

Is the Catholic League hurling every imaginable insult at the state of Vermont, or what?

”Which state has less religious men and women than any other? Vermont.

“Which is the only state to have a socialist senator? Vermont.

“Which state has the second-lowest birthrate in the nation? Vermont.

“Which state has the second-highest proportion of whites? Vermont.

“Which state legislature was the first to legalize gay marriage? Vermont.”

Writes Susan A. Fani, director of communications for the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights: “In other words, Vermont is a lily-white state populated by left-wingers who are anti-traditional marriage and anti-family. Exactly what we would expect of a population where more people believe in nothing than anywhere else in the nation.”

HIM AND HER

The economy crumbles and the Washington media are mesmerized by the arrival of a White House dog.

"It’s like the best kept secret in Washington,” Washington Post columnist Sally Quinn told a national television audience recently when contemplating the ultimate choice for an Obama family pooch.

This columnist does not recall Richard M. Nixon‘s not one, not two, but three dogs being the subject of so much hype. Still, as somebody (Harry S Truman always gets the credit, but there’s no proof he ever uttered the line) once suggested: “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower
took whomever’s advice and befriended a Weimaraner who answered to Heidi. Lyndon B. Johnson actually allowed pictures to be taken of his beloved beagles, Him and Her, licking the egg yolk from his large Texas chin.

Mr. Nixon, as previously noted, chased after a trio of canines: a French poodle named Vicky, the Yorkshire terrier Pasha and an Irish setter christened King Timahoe. Gerald R. Ford tossed a stick for his golden retriever named Liberty. Ronald Reagan was always amused by his King Charles spaniel, Rex, and George H.W. Bush adored his springer spaniel Millie (who introduced puppies, including Spot, who later lived at the White House as President George W. Bush‘s dog).

Nobody, of course, deserved a buddy more than the embattled Bill Clinton. He even named his White House dog Buddy.

HORSE CORRAL

We had to laugh as Sam Kazman, general counsel of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and CEI senior fellow Eli Lehrer contemplated how the Preakness Stakes might escape Maryland — much in the manner the once-beloved Baltimore Colts football team sneaked out of the state under the cover of darkness.

To recap, a bill is being considered by the Maryland legislature that would attempt to seize the Preakness Stakes, the second race in the Triple Crown of thoroughbred racing, under the power of eminent domain, giving the state ownership of the host Pimlico Race Track, as well as the trophy, name and other properties associated with the preakness.

“Like the Baltimore Colts, the preakness ought to bolt,” said Mr. Kazman, who admitted, "[W]hile there may be no problem transporting the horses, physically moving the track might be a bigger problem.”

“I’d suggest that the owners of Pimlico dismantle the track piece-by-piece, load it onto some trucks," offered Mr. Lehrer.

NEEDED MORE AIR

The previous item, while true, reminds this columnist of the time in 2004 when the Chinese newspaper Beijing Evening News reporting that the U.S. Congress was threatening to move out of Washington unless the U.S. Capitol was modernized with a retractable roof.

The embarrassed writer, Huang Ke, copied the entire story from The Onion, not realizing it was a satirical newspaper.

$30 MILLION AWARD

”Wait,” asks our Environmental Protection Agency source, “they’re promiscuously dispensing elementary school-style certificates to grown men?”

The source was referring to a memorandum from EPA senior official Craig E. Hooks to headquarters employees, the subject: “Call for EPA hero nominations.”

“In honor of Earth Day 2009,” the memo reads, “EPA headquarters will recognize exceptional employees … engaging in activities that help … reduce the overall impact on the environment — including carbon footprint. All employees who regularly engage in at least six of the following eight practices at home or in the office are eligible for nomination as an EPA Earth Day Hero.”

Among the eight: using reusable coffee mugs, water containers and bags; turning off lights, powering down computers and shutting off appliances when not in use; recycling paper, plastics and other materials; and composting kitchen products. Nominations must be submitted by Thursday, and not to worry: “Self-nominations for this recognition program are welcome.”

Earth Day heroes will receive a certificate and be recognized during Earth Day activities at Federal Triangle and on the EPA’s Web site.

Otherwise, Inside the Beltway can’t help but notice that nomination forms are being sent to a private contractor, ERG, a consulting firm hired by the EPA. In fact, we’ve discovered that ERG recently won a $30 million, five-year contract with the EPA’s Climate Change Division.

“The contract is ERG’s third similar EPA climate change award in 10 years,” ERG boasts on its Web site. “Under the multiple-award contract, ERG will provide technical and outreach support services to EPA for domestic and global climate change initiatives.”

REAGAN APPROACH

Every few years, the same old complaints are sounded — usually after a fresh batch of congressmen representing Western states have served on Capitol Hill long enough to grow tired of being inconvenienced.

This time, this group of congressmen has introduced the Reagan National Airport Fairness Act of 2009, which if passed would allow more nonstop access to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport for passengers from the West.

Flights into the already congested airport along the banks of the Potomac River, practically a stone’s throw away from the dome of the U.S. Capitol, are restricted by a “perimeter rule” that limits nonstop flights from cities located more than 1,250 miles from the nation’s capital.

Rep. Harry E. Mitchell
— the Arizona Democrat who, with other Western lawmakers, has just introduced the legislation — argues that the rule was originally created to encourage passenger use at Washington Dulles International Airport after it opened in the distant Virginia suburbs.

Congress has relaxed some flight restrictions into Reagan Airport, allowing a few nonstop flights from Western cities, such as Los Angeles.

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