- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 28, 2008

Matter of faith

The 534 members of Congress “are often accused of being out of touch with average citizens,” but by religious affiliation, they look just like the rest of the country, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

Curious?

Among our lawmakers in the Senate and House, 161 are Catholic, 66 are Baptist, 57 Methodist, 45 Jewish, 43 Presbyterian, 39 “unspecified’ Protestant, 38 Anglican or Episcopal, 24 Lutherans, 14 Mormons, seven Orthodox, six Congregationalist, five nondenominational Protestant, five unspecified, four Church of Christ, three “other faiths,” three “other” Christian, two Muslim, two Pentecostal, two Reformed, two Buddhist, two Holiness, one Quaker, one Pietist.

None said they are unaffiliated, according to the Pew tally, taken Dec. 18.

Among Democrats, 44 percent are Protestant, 36.6 percent Catholic, 13 percent Jewish. Among Republicans, 71 percent are Protestant, 21 percent Catholic and 1 percent Jewish.

In broad strokes, in the House, 55 percent overall are Protestant, 31 percent are Catholic and 13 percent are Jewish. In the Senate, 54 percent are Protestant, 26 percent Catholic and 13 percent Jewish.

Transition, Pt. 2

It’s not going to be All-Obama-all-the-time after Inauguration Day. The Pentagon has quietly announced that some 250 political appointees from the Bush administration will stay on the job for a while, or at least until their replacements are found.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates — who has agreed to stay at his post for the Obama administration — has asked them to stay on. Lest we forget, we live in dire times.

And duty still calls.

“A smooth transition at the Defense Department while we are engaged in two wars is very important,” Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman pointed out.

Days of yore

The news media has been self-promoting from the get-go. Today marks the anniversary of the very first newspaper advertisement — published in 1732. “The Pennsylvania Gazette,” owned by Benjamin Franklin, ran an ad for the first issue of Franklin’s “Poor Richard’s Almanack.”

Thomas Woodrow Wilson, who became the 28th president of the United States, was born on this day in Staunton, Va., in 1856.

All hail Old Glory, meanwhile. Today marks the 63rd anniversary of the recognition by Congress of the Pledge of Allegiance and its recommendation that the oath be recited in American classrooms.

And could this incident have started guitarist Ted Nugent on his love of firearms and ultimately a law-and-order path? On this day in 1975, a young audience member pointed a .44 magnum at Mr. Nugent during a concert and was then brought down to the ground by both the audience and security guards. The man was charged with “intimidating with a weapon.”

Quotes of note

Oprah’s likely to hang inside the Beltway — but we’re guessing it’ll be in the Lincoln Bedroom.” — TMZ.com.

“2008: Rod, Eliot, Yuck.” George Will, Newsweek.

“Bush’s legacy may end up better than you think.” — Kevin Hassett, Bloomberg News.

“We want them to be able to hit the ground running.” — White House spokesman Tony Fratto, on the incoming Obama administration.

Fat chance

Well, why not? Why not put potato chips in a political column? Snacking is, after all, a bipartisan activity. For those plagued by the rigors of a low-fat diet, here’s a brand new variety of baked potato chips that have 65 percent less fat than regular fare. And they taste like something. Really.

Kettle Brand sea salt & vinegar chips will be in stores in January, just in time to be part of the Super Bowl or Inauguration larders. The company also makes low-fat white cheddar, hickory honey barbecue and lightly salted flavors. The truly obsessed can buy the new collection online now at www.buykettlechips.com.

By the numbers

Sixty-eight percent are optimistic about their own finances in 2009.

Sixty-eight percent are optimistic about President-elect Barack Obama’s policies.

Sixty-seven percent are optimistic the U.S. can defend itself against terrorism.

Sixty-three percent of Americans are hopeful for the year 2009.

Fifty-four percent are hopeful about the world in general.

Fifty-one percent are optimistic about the direction of the country.

Forty-nine percent are optimistic about the situation in Afghanistan.

Forty-eight percent are optimistic about the national economy.

Source: ABC News/Washington Post survey of 1,003 adults conducted Dec. 11-14.

Contact Jennifer Harper at jharper@washingtontimes.com or 202/636-3085. And Happy New Year, folks.

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