- The Washington Times - Monday, November 15, 2004

Load of Luke

It was a beautiful morning this past Sunday as President and Mrs. Bush departed the White House to attend services at St. John’s Episcopal Church. If only the Gospel reading — Luke 21:5-19 — hadn’t been so grim.

“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven. But before all this occurs they will arrest you and persecute you. … You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death.”

Talk about squirming in your pew.

According to the official White House pool report: “Even the rector, Rev. Dr. Luis Leon, thought this a little much. ‘I wouldn’t pick this for a nice bright sunny day,’ he explained, saying that the choice of readings comes down the church’s bureaucratic chain, and he promised that things would be more optimistic when the Pentecostal season gives way to Advent.”

Albeit, the preacher concluded: “There is no such thing as perfect security.”

Big shoes to fill

Few if any employees at the State Department were surprised with Secretary of State Colin L. Powell’s decision to resign, one insider tells Inside the Beltway.

“But the rest of the world and the 77 percent of the American public who approve of him will backlash for losing the one person they like and trust,” says the source.

Case for Iraq?

Somehow while winning re-election, fighting a war in Iraq, huddling with foreign heads of state and accepting resignations of his Cabinet, President Bush finds time to read books — most recently, “The Case for Democracy.”

Obviously, Mr. Bush wanted to learn more, inviting co-authors Natan Sharansky, a former Soviet political prisoner, and Ron Dermer into the Oval Office late last week for a rare, one-hour meeting.

“We are grateful to have had the opportunity,” says Mr. Sharansky, an Israeli government official. The authors, who expose the inner workings of a “fear society,” argue that democracy is not beyond any nation’s reach.

Double homicide

Pro-life forces are closely following the California conviction of Scott Peterson for the murder of his wife, Laci, and her unborn child — the first high-profile case to be decided since the passage of the Unborn Victims of Violence Act.

“The Petersons’ preborn child, Conner, was described by some as a non-person,” says Judie Brown, president of American Life League. “The verdict makes it crystal clear that he, and all those who reside in the womb, are indeed human persons, not possessions.”

Tough to swallow

A new poll has some sobering results for liquor industry lobbyists circulating the message that “a drink is a drink.”

The basic theme of the “equivalency” theory, promoted by the distilled spirits industry as a so-called public service, is that there is no difference between wine, beer or hard liquor if they are served in “standard sizes.”

But the poll, released by the Council for Government Reform, finds half of Americans — and more than half of all drinkers — believe a drink is not a drink because liquor is more potent and can be consumed more quickly.

While most agree the liquor industry is trying to stop drunken driving, three-quarters believe the “equivalency” theory is being promoted to make liquor seem less harmful. Nearly 70 percent believe it is being done to increase liquor’s appeal with young drinkers.

“This is a classic example of how commercial interests use the mantle of public health and safety to advance their agenda,” says Michelle Plasari, vice president of the Council for Government Reform.

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or [email protected]

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