John McCaslin

Who isn't riding Barack Obama's longer-than-life coattails into the glaring inaugural spotlight in hopes of earning a profit?

"Oprah's losing 15 pounds before Inauguration Day and you can too!" reads South Beach Acai's all-cleansing solution advertisement, which encourages all overweight Americans such as Oprah Winfrey to "flush the pounds away!"

Yuk!

"Dear John," reads the "Dear John" letter from Houston.

"In light of your political coverage area, I am writing to you regarding ... Barack Obama's inauguration and to introduce you to Presidential Park and Gardens ... scheduled to open in September of 2009. The park will feature 43 larger-than-life statues of all the United States presidents ... and the Obama sculpture is currently in development with plans for completion by Presidents Day.

"The presidential sculptures are all at least 18 feet in size and weigh an average of 7,000 pounds apiece."

I don't know about you, but this columnist can't wait to travel to Texas and lay my eyes on an 18-foot-tall, overweight replica of Chester A. Arthur.

Then there's this colorful flier: "Polynesian Adventure Tours presents The President Obama Tour."

We open it to read that the "very special and amazing tour celebrates our nation's 44th president and one of the world's newest and powerful leaders who was born and raised in Hawaii. Visitors will be taken on a deluxe transportation tour to key historical locations and learn of the special events and the Hawaiian culture that has played a key role in shaping President Obama's life ...

"Highlights: Obama's Birth Place, President's First Home, Amelia Earhart lookout on the slopes of Diamond Head, Punahou School, Baskin & Robbins 'first job,' Nu'uanu Pali Lookout, Punahou's Circle Apts. where Obama was raised from 1971-1979, La Pietra School for Girls, Drive by Makapu'u Point, Waiola Shaved Ice, Halona Blowhole, Hanauman Bay (except Tuesdays), Sandy Beach - favorite bodysurfing spot - and Punchbowl Cemetery."

ORWELL AND GORE

Talk about an eye-opening article in Monday's Daily Princetonian about the latest opinions of Princeton physics professor William Happer, a former senior researcher at the Energy Department who was fired by Al Gore, reportedly over his refusal to support the former vice president's views on climate change.

To recap, Mr. Happer was among more than 650 scientists and researchers who several weeks ago requested that they be added to a list of "global warming" dissenters appearing in a U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee report.

In a statement accompanying his request, Mr. Happer said: "I have spent a long research career studying physics that is closely related to the greenhouse effect, for example, absorption and emission of visible and infrared radiation, and fluid flow. Based on my experience, I am convinced that the current alarm over carbon dioxide is mistaken."

In his interview with writer Raymond Brusca, Mr. Happer argued that carbon dioxide is not warming the planet: "Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. Every time you exhale, you exhale air that has 4 percent carbon dioxide. To say that that's a pollutant just boggles my mind. What used to be science has turned into a cult."

66 TO GO

The Internal Revenue Service has corrected or mitigated 49 of the 115 information security weaknesses that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported during its last audit, including encrypting sensitive data going across its computerized network.

"However, most of the previously identified weaknesses remain unresolved," the GAO states in a new report. "For example, IRS continues to, among other things, allow sensitive [taxpayer] information, including IDs and passwords for mission-critical applications, to be readily available to any user on its internal network, and grant excessive access to individuals who do not need it."

The IRS relies extensively on computerized systems to collect taxes - about $2.7 trillion in fiscal 2008 and 2007 - process tax returns and enforce the nation's tax laws.

"Effective information security controls are essential to protect financial and taxpayer information from inadvertent or deliberate misuse, improper disclosure, or destruction," the GAO says.


John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on Townhall.com and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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