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Inside the Beltway

CHECK THE DATE

The Council on American-Islamic Relations is happy with MSNBC's Keith Olbermann for criticizing the use of the phrase "ground-zero mosque" in the press and elsewhere, deeming the term a "misnomer" and saying that the project is neither a "training ground for terrorists" nor an insult to Sept. 11 families. The organization appears less receptive to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, meanwhile, and hasasked the presidential hopeful not to speak at a Stop the Islamization of America rally in Manhattan on Sept. 11.

"Anyone who aspires to become president of the United States should not be seen lending support to hatemongers and Islamophobes. Muslim-bashing may score Mr. Gingrich some cheap political points in the current climate of anti-Islam hysteria, but if he occupied the White House, such associations would inevitably harm our nation's international image," says spokesman Ibrahim Hooper.

But wait. Uh-oh. Scheduling conflict.

"There appears to be some confusion. Mr. Gingrich will be in D.C. on the 11th. He is not speaking in New York City," a Gingrich spokesman tells Inside the Beltway.

DOWN MEMORY LANE

In what seems another eon, the New Yorker caught critical flak for a July 21, 2008, cover depicting a cartoon President Obama in Islamic-inspired clothing and in a giddy fist-bump with camouflage-wearing, gun-toting Michelle Obama.

"The framed portrait of Osama bin Laden, the burning American flag, Obama dressed as an Arab - Democrat elites found it all hilarious. Now that the President has endorsed a radical imam's plan to build a huge mosque at Ground Zero, it's not so funny now, is it?" points out Michael Zak, author of the 2003 book "Back to Basics for the Republican Party" and the man behind the Grand Old Partisan political blog.

While his observation picked up considerable traction among fellow online scribes in the aftermath, Mr. Zak is still very keen on leading Republicans away from all the flashy partisan argument and back to their roots and perhaps "what works," as the old Reagan administration mantra once put it.

"My message has not yet attracted much attention from the conservative punditry or party leadership because I'm offering the solution to a problem most Republicans don't know they have - that they can be outmaneuvered and thrown on the defensive endlessly, on nearly any issue, because they accept as true Democrat lies about the Republican Party. To correct that misperception and to help the Republican party get back to basics is why I'm a man on a mission," Mr. Zak tells the Beltway.

BEACH READING

And back to those basics. With 128 recommendations on 23 policy fronts, the Heritage Foundation's newly minted "Solutions for America" offers comprehensive suggestions for Congress, right down to trimming big fat federal salaries, reforming the tax code and bolstering national security.

"All the recommendations in 'Solutions' have one thing in common. They would return power to the people. And, collectively, they will put America back on the track to prosperity and greatness," says Edwin J. Feulner, president of the group. "These policy prescriptions are bold, but they're also politically viable. Poll after poll reveals majorities of Americans embrace proposals to nurture free enterprise, limit government, protect individual freedom, preserve traditional American values and provide a strong national defense."

The 54-page booklet is available to read online, print out at home or office as a pdf or as a podcast. Check www.heritage.org/solutions. While Heritage doesn't plan to distribute hard copies of the booklet, special requests for one may be e-mailed to info@heritage.org.

"Responding to problems with lavish spending has always been popular in Washington. Lately, it's become their only answer," Mr. Feulner adds.

HEADLINE DU JOUR

"Blago guilty on one measly count." (Gawker.com)

BUMPER PATROL

"Blagojevich 2016"

Bumper sticker spotted in Elk Grove, Ill. and called in by a Beltway reader.

HEAR THEM ROAR

As a kind of finale for a four-state, 23-city tour, the big "Abortion is Not Healthcare" bus pulled up outside the Capitol Tuesday and basked in the sun for a while until the Capitol Police politely shooed the Susan B. Anthony List's vehicle away. Those aboard had been on a six-day voter-outreach mission though Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania, seeking to dislodge Democratic incumbents - among them Reps. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio and Baron P. Hill of Indiana with the message "votes have consequence."

"Women have found their political voices. Pro-life 'Mama Grizzlies' represent the majority of women across the country," says Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life group, who says the bus tour "confirms that women are rejecting the abortion-centered womens movement model."

She adds, "We are looking for women leaders who affirm the best in women - who seek to include rather than exclude the rest of humanity as we find our fulfillment."

POLL DU JOUR

- 69 percent of Americans say their fellow countrymen are becoming "more rude and less civilized."

- 14 percent say they're becoming "kinder and gentler."

- 17 percent are not sure which way the nation is heading.

- 62 percent say Americans are ruder to salespeople than they were a decade ago.

- 57 percent say salespeople are ruder to customers than they were 10 years ago.

- 51 percent have confronted someone about their rude behavior in public.

Source: A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 adults conducted Aug. 14-15.

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