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Inside the Beltway: Red meat politics

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Those lawmakers had a beef: Republican Sens. John Cornyn of Texas and Charles Grassley of Iowa have celebrated their first "Meat Monday," intent on providing a savory comeuppance to the U.S. Department of Agriculture after it encouraged its employees to boycott meat on Mondays, just to be all nice and eco-conscious. The notion did not sit well with carnivores, livestock producers and politicians alike. The federal agency sheepishly retracted its suggestion.

And the senators? Their staffers ate very well Monday, indeed. Between the two offices, there were 52 orders of barbecue beef sandwiches, brisket, sausage and ribs, a spokesman tells Inside the Beltway, served with traditional Texas-style sweet and smoky sauce plus cornbread and macaroni and cheese — all from Hill Country Barbecue, a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol.

"Texas cattle ranchers and farmers deserve an administration who works with them, not one who undermines them with boneheaded decisions from bureaucrats in Washington," Mr. Cornyn observes.

Adds Mr. Grassley: "This is a reminder to USDA that it's supposed to advocate for American agriculture, not against it."

CRUZ CONTROL

"Sens. Mike Lee, Jim Demint and Tom Coburn; Reps. Ron Paul and Mike Burgess; Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Brent Bozell, Ed Meese, Boyden Gray, James Dobson." They are among the 59 members of the "Cruz Crew" that endorsed constitutional lawyer Ted Cruz in his bid for U.S. Senate in Texas. But the real magic are those proverbial boots on the ground the Lone Star State.

"This campaign is a testament to the power of the grass-roots. That's who fueled this campaign from day one, and that is who helped us make the runoff," campaign spokesman James Bernsen tells the Beltway. "Across the state of Texas, conservatives are uniting behind this campaign because they recognize that politicians from both parties have got us into this mess, and we need strong fighters who will stand up for conservative principles."

The motto is simple: "Tuesday is Cruz day" as Texas voters select party nominees in 37 primary runoff elections. If Mr. Cruz defeats Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, "The message then will be clear: Gov. Rick Perry no longer controls Republican politics in Texas; the tea party does," says Chris Tomlinson, Austin correspondent for the Associated Press.

POST AURORA

"There has been no significant change in public views on the issue of gun control and gun rights following the shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. Currently, 47 percent say it is more important to control gun ownership, while 46 percent say it is more important to protect the rights of Americans to own guns. That is virtually unchanged from April, when 45 percent prioritized gun control, 49 percent gun rights. Other recent major episodes of gun violence, such as the 2011 Tucson, Ariz., shooting and the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, also had little effect on public opinion about gun laws," reports Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center.

New findings released Monday reveal "relatively few Americans view the shooting in Aurora as a sign of broader social problems. Two-thirds (67 percent) say that shootings like this one are just the isolated acts of troubled individuals. Only about a quarter (24 percent) say shootings like this reflect broader problems in American society."

YOUNG AMERICA'S HEROES

Luminaries are gathering to ensure that the youngest fans of the conservative mindset remain spired. On hand this week to welcome 300 students from 37 states to the nation's capital: Republican Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Rand Paul of Kentucky, Reps. Allen B. West of Florida, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Mike Pence of Pennsylvania and Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum headline the Young America's Foundation's National Conservative Student Conference, which begins Tuesday on the campus of George Washington University.

"The students attending this conference will hear more conservative speakers in one week than any student in the country will hear in four years at their school. If higher education won't provide balance, we will," proclaims Ron Robinson, president of the organization.

Foundation spokesman Ron Meyer tells Inside the Beltway: "Finding heroes in government is like finding filet mignon near a meat grinder. The U.S. government is now spending more than $32,000 per taxpayer every year, and to stop a near-certain fiscal calamity, America needs some genuine heroes. Gov. [Scott] Walker pulled off a similar feat in Wisconsin, and we hope to inspire and hear from the next generation of leaders at this week's conference."

FOR THE LEXICON

"In the spirit of public service," the Global Language Monitor has selected some historic Olympic terms that might come in handy during polite conversation, above the din of overblown news coverage. Paul JJ Payack, president of the Texas-based research group, praises the games for providing humanity with a "rich tapestry of linguistic innovation." See it here: languagemonitor.com. And a few to ponder:

1. Citius, Altius, Fortius: The Olympic motto is actually Latin, not Greek, for "faster, higher, stronger."

2. Dead Rubber (tennis): A match in a series in which the outcome has already been decided by previous matches.

3. Fletching (archery): Feathers from the left wing of a turkey, goose or raptor used to stabilize an arrow; now replaced with synthetics.

4. High-Drag Projectile (badminton): The birdie or shuttlecock.

5. Victor Ludorum: "The champion of the games," in Latin of course, Mr. Payack says.

POLL DU JOUR

• 71 percent of Fox News viewers and 68 percent of NASCAR fans say more government regulation will hurt business and the economy.

• 41 percent of CNN viewers and 41 percent of MSNBC viewers agree.

• 59 percent of Fox News viewers and 53 percent of NASCAR fans say "it will make a big difference" if Mitt Romney is elected president.

• 59 percent of CNN viewers and 67 percent of MSNBC viewers agree.

• 23 percent of Fox News viewers and 39 percent of NASCAR fans approve of the job President Obama is doing; 65 percent of CNN viewers and 76 percent of MSNBC viewers agree.

Source: A McClatchy/Marist poll of 1,214 U.S. adults conducted June 18 to 26 and released Monday.

Hoots and hollers to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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