- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Political lobby

“As funding from its member denominations continues to decline, the National Council of Churches (NCC) is increasingly relying on support from liberal foundations and polemical direct mail campaigns,” Mark Tooley writes at the Web site of the American Spectator (www.spectator.org).

“A recent fundraising letter from NCC General Secretary Bob Edgar blasts ‘Jerry Falwell and his friends,’ ‘hard-right fundamentalists,’ libertarians, President Bush, Rush Limbaugh, the Heritage Foundation, and the organization for which I work (the Institute on Religion and Democracy),” Mr. Tooley said.

“Preoccupied with its political purposes, Edgar’s letter never once mentions what is officially still the NCC’s purpose: to foster ecumenical unity within America’s churches. Talking too much about Christianity might sound too ‘fundamentalist.’

“So, seemingly writing for a largely secular audience, who are expected to react viscerally to the mere mention of names like Falwell and Limbaugh and Bush, Edgar hacks away at hard-core political themes. In so doing, he seems to want to confirm the worst allegations of the NCC’s critics: that the NCC has ceased to be a church organization and has instead become a political lobby of the Left. Indeed, to remove all doubt, Edgar mentions that the NCC works closely with the far-left MoveOn.org, which, though unmentioned by Edgar in his letter, also has provided funding to the NCC.”

Pataki won’t go 4th

Gov. George E. Pataki of New York is expected to announce today that he will not seek re-election to a fourth term next year, a close associate to the Republican governor told the Associated Press last night.

The associate, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity because the governor had not authorized release of the information, said Mr. Pataki would announce his decision today at a news conference in Albany.

The governor told a number of close associates about his plans at a dinner last night at the Executive Mansion in Albany and planned to meet with top financial supporters in New York tonight to tell them of his plans, the associate said.

The associate told AP that Mr. Pataki was not yet ready to make any announcement about a possible run for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.

Attacking Santorum

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is using Sen. Rick Santorum‘s book to attack the Pennsylvania Republican and raise money.

“Rick Santorum has crossed the line. His new book It Takes a Family manages to offend women on nearly every page,” DSCC Executive Director J.B. Poersch wrote yesterday in an e-mail to Democratic donors and the press.

“It just proves that Santorum has a worldview wildly out of step with mainstream America and underscores how important it is to defeat him in 2006. This week Santorum is all over the airwaves pitching his book and his right-wing views.”

Mr. Poersch added: “As the executive director of this organization, I ordered the DSCC’s Media Response Project to produce a hard-hitting new video that will counter the right-wing spin and show America that Rick Santorum’s values are way outside the mainstream. … Please make a contribution today and give the DSCC the resources to produce more videos like this and, ultimately, to defeat Rick Santorum and other Republican incumbents in 2006.”

Suspicious behavior

“The reasons to worry about Supreme Court nominee John Roberts continue to accumulate,” the Wall Street Journal says in an editorial.

“First we learned he attended Harvard, which is always suspicious. Then the New York Times informed us that his wife, who is also a Catholic lawyer, not only worked pro bono for Feminists for Life but has in the past ‘attended Mass several times a week.’ Holy Mackerel.

“Then [Monday] brought The Washington Post’s scoop that Judge Roberts may once have been a card-carrying member of the Federalist Society. Mr. Roberts has said that he doesn’t recall belonging to the lawyers’ outfit. But in the best tradition of Woodward and Bernstein, Post reporters dug through the society’s ‘secret’ enrollment lists and — there it was, in black and white, the name of John Roberts, member 1997-98. This news actually made page one.

“The Post’s expose continues: ‘The Federalist Society was founded in 1982 by conservatives who disagreed with what they saw as a leftist tilt in the nation’s law schools. The group sponsors legal symposia and similar activities and serves as a network for rising conservative lawyers.’ That’s a subversive group if there ever was one,” the Journal said.

Homeland moves up

The Senate yesterday approved a bill to raise the homeland security secretary from last to eighth place in the presidential line of succession, just after the attorney general, the Associated Press reports.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Mike DeWine, Ohio Republican, passed without objection just before the chamber adjourned. The companion House bill, sponsored by Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, Virginia Republican, is pending before the Judiciary and Government Reform committees.

If the bill becomes law, the order of those in line to assume the nation’s top office in the event that President Bush or any other president is unable to serve would be: the vice president (Dick Cheney); the House speaker (Rep. J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican); the Senate president pro tem (Sen. Ted Stevens, Alaska Republican); the secretary of state (Condoleezza Rice); the Treasury secretary (John W. Snow); the defense secretary (Donald H. Rumsfeld); the attorney general (Alberto R. Gonzales) and the homeland security secretary (Michael Chertoff).

The other Cabinet members follow in the order of their department’s creation under the law that now puts Mr. Chertoff last in the succession line.

Hughes OK’d

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday unanimously approved the nomination of Karen Hughes to the new post of undersecretary of state for public diplomacy.

At her confirmation hearing last week, the longtime aide to President Bush said she would strive to convince the world of America’s “goodness and decency.”

Hot flashes

“Whenever a heat wave hits, inevitably a news outlet will rush to contend it demonstrates dire global warming, and CNN’s Lou Dobbs came through on Monday night,” the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker writes at www.mediaresearch.org.

“He ominously asked: ‘Record heat and drought in the United States and Europe. New fears tonight that it’s all the result of global warming. Is the Earth witnessing a massive environmental change?’”

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

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