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Inside the Beltway: Remembering August 6

- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 5, 2012

"A most sobering anniversary: August 6. It marks the most serious and heaviest loss of life for our SEAL community in their illustrious service to our country," says Rep. Scott E. Rigell, who reminds the nation of the helicopter crash one year ago in the Wardak province of Afghanistan that killed 25 members of Navy SEAL Team 6, along with five U.S. Army National Guard and Army Reserve crewmen, one civilian interpreter, seven Afghan commandos and a military working dog. The twin-rotor CH-47 helicopter was brought down by a rocket-propelled grenade; the Taliban were quick to take credit for the attack, which Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta deemed "a reminder that we remain a nation still at war."

Mr. Rigell also took to the House floor recently to read a poem written by Albert Carey Caswell, a veteran guide in the U.S. Capitol who has written verses of remembrance to honor both the living and the dead since 1984. His work has been entered into the Congressional Record on multiple occasions by admiring lawmakers. "We Stood," which Mr. Caswell wrote for the Aug. 6, 2011, crash, was entered into the publication Thursday by Rep. Steve King, Iowa Republican. An excerpt:

"Troops mount up, as Heaven calls Move on! Move out!

"As there are 30 more new angels, in the army of Our Lord to fight that battle, who shall not pause, and so watch over us all."

LONDON DITHERS

"UK policymakers scared so many folks before the Olympics that London is a deserted city: non-olympic tourists are away; londoners are gone!" mourned New York University economist Nouriel Roubini, in one of five tweets he sent Sunday that examined the phenomenon. Mr. Roubini calls the 2012 Summer Games an economic failure due to "excess warnings," ultimately deeming poor old London a "zombie city."

CRUZ CONTROL

"When Texas voters heard that Ted Cruz did not play well with others, the first thing they said was 'send him to Washington,'" observed George Will during an appearance on ABC News "This Week," regarding Mr. Cruz's bodacious victory in the recent Texas Republican primary.

But Mr. Cruz appears willing play with others, as long as they are fiscal conservatives.

"I am perfectly happy to compromise and work with anybody, Republicans, Democrats, libertarians, I'll work with Martians, if -- and the 'if' is critical --they are willing to cut spending and reduce the debt," the U.S. Senate hopeful told "Fox News Sunday."

BROADWAY BIDEN

Yes, there are coveted Hollywood connections for presidents, and those who pine to be president. There also are Broadway connections. And for the Democrats, Vice President Joseph R. Biden appears deft at finessing such things. He'll be in a cameo role with song and dance guy Nathan Lane at a fundraiser for President Obama on Aug. 24 that should really include footlights and a velvet curtain. There will be performance by James Taylor; guest hostesses include actresses Julianne Moore, Edie Falco and Jane Holzer for the glittering event at the $32 million weekend country estate of Ellen Chesler and Matthew Mallow, way-y-y-y-y out on Long Island. Tickets for "East End for Obama" go up to $10,000 per person, which include a photo with Mr. Biden. The president himself will not attend.

The Veep, meanwhile, is comfy cozy with it all. Mr. Biden has vacationed several times in nearby Southampton, visiting with technology entrepreneur David Bohnett, frequenting Cryder Beach and the Southampton Golf Club, and strolling the local shops with wife Jill Biden.

A STAR IS BORN

Clint Eastwood's cordial endorsement of Mitt Romney at a fundraiser Friday evening did more than make Mr. Romney's day. It generated much international press among journalists intrigued for better or worse by the emergence of the octogenarian actor in the Republican corner. Among the headlines 48 hours afterwards: "Romney gets out a big gun" (Sydney Morning Herald), "Go ahead, elect my Mitt" (Capitol Hill Blue), "The good, the bad and the bromance" (Village Voice), "Mitt gets his big Hollywood endorsement" (the Atlantic), "After 'Halftime in America' flap, Eastwood backs Romney" (Fox News).

HOW CLOSE IS IT?

"Overall, 17 states, including the District of Columbia, are either solidly Democratic or lean Democratic and 18 are solidly or leaning Republican. Gallup defines 'solid' states for each party as those where the party has at least a 10-percentage-point advantage over the other, and 'leaning' states as those where the party has more than a five- but less than a 10-point advantage," says Gallup analyst Lydia Saad.

That leaves 16 'competitive' states where the two parties are within 5 points of each other. While the party differences among all of these make them statistically tied, the parties may be most closely matched in Kentucky and North Carolina, where Gallup finds no differences in party preferences in the first half of 2012. Additionally, the parties are within 1 or 2 points of each other in Arkansas, Florida, Iowa and New Hampshire, she says.

See the most current hairsplitting state statistics at gallup.com, titled "Heavily Democratic states are concentrated in the East."

POLL DU JOUR

• $303 billion: the total amount U.S. families with children in grades K-12 will spend on back-to-school spending this year.

• $689: the average amount each family will spend; men shoppers will spend $740, women shoppers $640.

• $246: average amount spent on new clothes; $218 is spent on electronics, $129 on shoes, $95 on backpacks and supplies.

• 60 percent will "invest" in electronic devices; 51 percent plan their total shopping around sales.

• 48 percent shop up to one month before the first day of school; 11 percent plan to cut back on their children's extracurricular activities.

Source: A National Retail Federation survey of 8,509 U.S. adults conducted July 2 to 9 and released July 30.

Murmurs and asides to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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