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Inside Politics

GIFT GIVING

Sherman Frederick, publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, says Nevada is waiting for its Christmas present from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat.

"I'm very disappointed," Mr. Frederick said Friday in a column.

"It's Christmas morning and I can't find one single gift to Nevada from Sen. Harry Reid under the health care 'reform' tree. Louisiana got a nice package. Florida and Connecticut, too. And Nebraska scored a really big present. Just three days ago Uncle Harry said that if a senator didn't get his state 'something' in the health care 'reform' package, then that senator wasn't doing his or her job.

"And yesterday Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., upped the ante. He said that every state did 'get something' in the measure.

"OK. I'm excited. What's Nevada's gift? Uncle Harry, as everyone knows, is the Big Kahuna of the Senate. He 'brings home the bacon,' his TV commercials claim. So if Nebraska got dispensation from Medicaid increases forever, one can only imagine the magnitude of Nevada's present.

"Flat screen TVs for every man, woman and child? No, no - that's way too small. A new military base ... for every county? A lump of coal and a power plant to fire it? Maybe double our water allotment from the Colorado River? Oh, I know: Lifetime exemptions for Nevada residents and all of their descendents from federal income tax? That would be nice.

"Whatever it is, I can't wait for the UPS truck tomorrow. The suspense is unbearable."

A FAVOR TO IRAN

"John Kerry lost the secretary of state sweepstakes to Hillary Clinton, but that hasn't lowered his diplomatic ambitions. The Journal reported Thursday that the Senate Foreign Relations chairman is mulling a trip to Iran, and with the blessing of the Obama administration," the Wall Street Journal said in an editorial.

"If the mullahs had any sense, they'd send him a government plane. Beset by almost daily demonstrations by a democratic opposition that has been growing despite beatings and arrests since the stolen June election, Mr. Kerry would arrive from Washington to show the Iranian people that at least someone still favors the regime. He would be the most senior American to visit Tehran in 30 years and his trip would convey legitimacy that the dictatorship is especially eager to have at the current moment," the newspaper said.

"The Kerry mission would also look like a panicky effort to persuade the Ayatollah Ali Khamanei to accept the increasingly plaintive U.S. offers of engagement. Mr. Obama has set the end of this month as his latest deadline for progress on nuclear talks before he says he'll seek tougher sanctions against Iran at the U.N.

"But if a year of personal presidential letters and administration entreaties hasn't worked, why would a Senatorial trip? The regime would probably exploit the visit for its own domestic purposes, perhaps adding to its P.R. coup by releasing to Mr. Kerry the three hapless American hikers it has promised to put on trial for having 'suspicious aims' as they wandered across the border with Iraq.

"The Iranians who need support now are the democrats in prison, in the streets, and increasingly in the mosques as the regime loses its legitimacy even among many clerics. Please do them no more harm, senator."

STILL DEVILISH

"If you thought America would quickly regain the world's love, admiration and - most important - its willingness to follow the U.S. lead once Barack Obama came to power, the news is disappointing," Frida Ghitis writes in the Miami Herald.

"A useful guide to what has transpired comes from Venezuela's president and his most peculiar sulfurometer. Hugo Chavez, it seems, can smell the Devil, especially when the Prince of Darkness takes up residence in the body of an American president.

"Watching Chavez's devil-spotting shows that efforts to turn America's foes into friends will, in many cases, prove utterly useless. There is an important lesson there for everyone, including the resident of the White House," the columnist said.

"Chavez's first supernatural sighting came at the United Nations in 2006, when the Venezuelan leader took the podium after President Bush gave a speech and announced in the solemn chamber that he could smell sulfur still hanging in the air from Bush's presence.

"The air cleared up nicely after the 2008 elections. 'It doesn't smell of sulfur. It's gone,' declared Chavez last September, scanning the grand hall of the U.N. General Assembly. 'It smells of something else,' he added approvingly. 'It smells of hope.' The Chavez nasal gauge confirmed expectations that America's standing in the world was changing.

"But hold the celebration. All is not well. On Dec. 18, Chavez revealed the new air-quality measurements during a speech in Copenhagen's U.N. Climate Change Conference. The Venezuelan's turn at the microphone came only moments after Obama, so the airborne particles tickled his sensitive nose. 'It smells likes sulfur here,' he said, blaming the problem, shockingly, on Obama. The 'Nobel War Prize' winner he called him.

"In summary: Devil, Hope and now Devil again. America still personifies what is wrong with the world."

CLASS WARFARE

"There is class warfare going on in this country - but it's not against the established rich. It's against those who are trying to become wealthy," Victor Davis Hanson writes at National Review.com.

"President Obama has declared that those who make over $200,000 will pay higher income taxes. Caps on payroll taxes are supposed to come off as well for the upper class. Envisioned estate taxes will take 45 percent of individual inheritances valued over $3.5 million. Many states have also hiked their income taxes on the upper brackets," Mr. Hanson said.

"Again, most of those targeted are not the already rich - a Warren Buffett or Bill Gates - but millions of the wannabe rich. They may have achieved larger-than-average annual incomes, but they're not the multimillionaire speculators on Wall Street who nearly wrecked the American economy in search of huge bonuses and payoffs. Most are instead professionals and small-business owners who take enormous risks in hopes of being well-off and passing their wealth on to their children.

"Oddly, much of the populist rhetoric about the need to gouge the newly affluent is voiced by the entrenched wealthy, who don't have to care how high taxes go, given their own vast fortunes."

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes .com.

About the Author
Greg Pierce

Greg Pierce

Greg Pierce grew up in Indiana and Illinois, and graduated from Illinois State University, where he was editor of the student newspaper. He worked at newspapers in Indiana, Florida and Connecticut before coming to The Washington Times in 1984. Before compiling “Inside Politics,” he covered federal agencies for the newspaper. Mr. Pierce also compiles “Washington in Five Minutes” and edits ...

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