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Inside the Beltway: Here comes the ‘tsunami’

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Should Congress make English the official language of the U.S.?

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"If you fund it, you own it," says the message to high-powered Republicans from their grass-roots critics. Conservatives and tea partyers wonder how lawmakers can oppose the Affordable Care Act, then duck for cover when the chance comes to defund the monster health care law. To make their point, a pair of feisty organizations have embarked on a weeklong journey through five states, declaring that House Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky are "the biggest chickens in Washington." Why? The GOP kingpins appear unwilling to join Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Marco Rubio of Florida and Mike Lee of Utah, who insist Obamacare be defunded.

When budget battles begin in late September, Mr. Cruz envisions a surgical strike. It's not a government shutdown. Instead, he recommends the House pass a continuing resolution that funds the federal government in its entirety for one year — except Obamacare. The lawmaker predicts a "grass-roots tsunami" of like-minded folk will rise up to support him.

And here comes the tsunami: ForAmerica — a conservative group promoting American values and limited government — and the Tea Party Patriots, the largest national umbrella group, have launched their efforts in Lexington, Ky., home state of the aforementioned Mr. O'Connell. Next up: Austin, Texas; Jackson, Miss.; Columbia, S.C.; and Richmond, Va. The groups have bought time for broadcast ads and launched a phone, email and social media campaign. They're armed with alarming evidence that Obamacare has potential collateral damage. And of course there's a new "Washington Chickens" video.

"Congressional Republicans are on the record opposing Obamacare, but now, when presented with the opportunity to take meaningful action against it, they chicken out," points out organizer Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin.

"The only way to stop the train wreck is for Mitch McConnell and other Republicans in Congress to stand up and say: Enough. We are not going to force the American people to pay for this train wreck. Defund this monstrosity, Sen. McConnell," Brent Bozell, founder of ForAmerica, told a crowd gathered in Lexington on Tuesday. "The wheels are already off the Obamacare train."

AND ABOUT THAT SYRIA STRIKE

"As President Obama considers next steps in Syria, I call on him to consult Congress as prescribed by the War Powers Resolution. Congress is not a potted plant in this process."

Rep. E. Scott Rigell, Virginia Republican, on recommending that Mr. Obama should call an emergency legislative session before authorizing military force in Syria. A total of 33 lawmakers have signed a letter to the president, noting that they "stand ready to share the burden of decisions made regarding U.S. involvement."

ABOUT THAT STRIKE, PART 2

"A military campaign needs an objective. We can't just launch a feel-good bombing campaign to try and save face after President Obama retreated when he was tested by an insane dictator. If we wanted to use military force, we should have done it immediately and decisively," points out Allen B. West.

The former Florida congressman was an Army officer for 22 years, and served in both Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"We simply can't keep going on like this. Our adversaries — China, Iran, North Korea, Russia — are watching us and measuring our weakness while our allies are confused and bewildered," Mr. West says.

CONSERVATIVE RECALLS SPEECH

He remembers the press of the crowd as he edged closer to the Lincoln Memorial 50 years ago as Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech. It was electrifying, says Jimmie L. Hollis, who serves on the national advisory council of Project 21, a conservative black leadership network.

"What I took away from his speech was the intensity of his message, which, to me, was the 'can-do' attitude, the empowering, the uplifting — not the victimhood or the downer or 'you owe me.' It was we can do. We can become anything we want to," Mr. Hollis says. But he did not forget the pastor's message.

"What he was asking the establishment to do was, simply, get rid of the barriers. You get rid of the barriers and we will get it for ourselves," Mr. Hollis observes. "It was a dire contrast to what it is today, where everyone seems to be wanting to be a victim and can't achieve anything, because there's someone else pulling them down. And it seems to be so easy for someone to claim to be a victim, rather than get out there and try hard."

Mr. Hollis credits the inspiring speech for helping him sustain a 25-year career in the U.S. Air Force.

"It was just an amazing crowd," he recalls about that day in 1963. "But the attitude was different. I saw a lot of people with hope in their eyes of being empowered, and a lot of tears from people that were getting the message of hope, getting the message that 'we can do this.' And I'm not seeing that today."

AL-JAZEERA AMERICA'S DEBUT

Recent ratings are bodacious indeed for A&E's "Duck Dynasty," which drew 11 million prime-time viewers last week, making it the most viewed program on cable TV, according to Nielsen.

Fox News, meanwhile, pulled in an average 1.5 million primetime viewers in the month of August, and has remained the most watched cable news networks for the past 140 months. Yes, that is months.

But ah, Al-Jazeera America. The Qatar-owned network opened with much promise and style, but without much following.

The highest-rated show of the new network's debut week was "Real Money with Ali Velshi," which drew 54,000 total viewers, reports Alex Weprin of TV Newser, who got an early look at some incomplete Nielsen numbers.

"News Live" averaged 48,000 viewers, while "Inside Story" Thursday at 12:30 p.m. averaged 41,000 viewers. "The Stream" averaged 38,000 viewers and "America Tonight" averaged 34,000 viewers.

"Not surprisingly, given the low-rated channel it replaced (Current TV), and the fact that it lost a few million homes from AT&T before launch," observed Mr. Weprin, noting that Al-Jazeera America will be rated on a standard 24-hour basis starting this week.

POLL DU JOUR

55 percent of U.S. voters would want more time on vacation, rather than more money to spend; 57 percent of Republicans and 52 percent of Democrats agree.

46 percent of voters overall do not check in with the office "at all" when they go on vacation; 46 percent of Republicans and 52 percent of Democrats agree.

24 percent overall check in once a day, or several times a day; 26 percent of Republicans and 17 percent of Democrats agree.

46 percent overall "dig out" from under email when they return to work; 44 percent of Republicans and 52 percent of Republicans agree.

42 percent overall keep up with email every day on vacation; 41 percent of Republicans and 40 percent of Democrats agree.

9 percent overall don't take a vacation; 7 percent of Republicans and 9 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Fox News survey of 1,007 U.S. voters conducted Aug. 3 to 5 and released Tuesday.

Squawks and crows to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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