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Inside the Beltway

Question of the Day

Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

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War and peace

Number of U.S. soldiers who have died in combat or noncombat situations while on duty since 2001: 9,185

Number who died on duty during the Clinton years: 7,500

Harper's Index, July 2007

Double trouble

"Screaming like two ex-wives rolled into one."

That was radio host RushLimbaugh's reaction yesterday after hearing several seconds of a fiery speech by Democratic presidential candidate and New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who assured her audience that they can speak out against PresidentBush's policies and still be "patriotic" Americans.

Vote independent

CNN's Lou Dobbs, who revels in the label "advocacy journalist," didn't pull his punches yesterday at the National Press Club.

As the club's luncheon guest speaker, he skewered the amnesty bill being pushed by President Bush and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy as a product of corporate and special interests that will have devastating long-term impact on the U.S. In the secret talks between the White House and a small bipartisan group of senators that produced the immigration bill, Mr. Dobbs said, "Someone was missing. There was no one representing the American middle class."

He characterized as "shameful" the Senate's rush to pass legislation that many senators have not even read and for which not one single public hearing has been held. "You cannot control immigration in this country unless you control our ports and borders first," Mr. Dobbs, sounding at times like an independent candidate for president, said bluntly.

The outspoken television commentator was equally critical of the two major political parties, which he described as "branding organizations," and the national media which, he said, aids and abets the parties' elitist agendas. Urging all those present to register as political independents, he added, "Don't let them take you for granted."

Who's who

We got a peek at this evening's guest list celebrating the 10th anniversary of America's Promise Alliance, previously headed by former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and tasked with improving the lives of American youth.

While the venue is the Four Seasons Restaurant in New York City, we find a mainly Inside the Beltway crowd RSVP'ing. In addition to Mr. Powell and his wife, Alma, they include former President George Bush, former first lady Barbara Bush and former President Bill Clinton; former New York Gov. George E. Pataki; New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr.; publishing mogul Mort Zuckerman; TV personalities such as PBS' Charlie Rose, NBC's Tim Russert, and ABC's Barbara Walters; fashion designer Oscar de la Renta; lawyer Vernon E. Jordan Jr.; philanthropist and education reformer Theodore J. Forstmann, and Morton and Marguerite Kondracke, the latter president and CEO of America's Promise.

Mr. and Mrs. Powell this evening will announce the first-ever recipient of the Colin and Alma Powell Legacy Award, presented to a school, facility or program that embodies the ideals and work of the alliance.

And the winner is: The Vito Marcantonio School (PS 50) in East Harlem, New York. The principal of PS 50, Rebekah Marler-Mitchell,will accept the award and a $100,000 donation to be used to help the school provide more resources to more children and families.

'Giant in history'

He might not be the most popular politician in Britain's history, but Tony Blair, who resigns today as his country's prime minister, is being hailed on this side of the pond.

A resolution passed by Congress praises Mr. Blair for standing "side-by-side with the United States during conflicts in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq."

Furthermore, "Mr. Blair showed British solidarity with the United States after the 9/11 terrorist attacks by being the first foreign leader to visit Ground Zero and attending PresidentBush's speech before a joint session of Congress on September 20, 2001."

Britain is a steadfast ally to the United States in the war on terrorism, and is the second-largest contributor of coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"So, this is a moment where it's seldom that we see giants in history, and it's important, I think, that we not wait 50 or 100 years or several centuries to acknowledge them, but to acknowledge them in their own time as being prophets with honor," commented Rep. Peter T. King, New York Republican.

In 2003, Mr. Blair was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award that can be bestowed by Congress.

c John McCaslin can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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