- The Washington Times - Friday, April 17, 2009

MODEST PROPOSAL

“Although it was good theater, what happened on Tax Day was about something more than criticizing a liberal president,” Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass writes.

“It was about an unorganized group redefining conservative/libertarian principles after so many Republican cheerleaders abandoned themselves to the failed ‘big government conservatism’ of the Bush years,” Mr. Kass said.

“Obviously, such events are open to manipulation by seasoned political operatives.

“As Democrats and their mouthpieces rip on the ‘tea parties,’ Republicans and their mouthpieces will try to hijack the symbolism.



“So, to satisfy those who, like Obama, seek a post-partisan American politics, I’ve got an idea. I offered it up years ago, but in honor of the ‘tea parties’ I humbly offer it again. Here goes:

“All American elections should be held on Tax Day.

“Under my plan, there would be no federal withholding taxes from paychecks. That sleazy political trick is only about numbing us to the extent of the federal tax bite. Under my plan, such tricks would be relics of the partisan past.

“Instead, every American would pay a quarterly tax. We’d write our national and local tax checks to the government on Election Day, April 15.

“And only after writing the checks could we vote.

“Clearly, politicians would hate my idea, since voters would be angry.

“But we wouldn’t be arguing about ‘tea parties,’ would we? We might not even need them any longer.”

PAY TO SUE

“Our editorial last week on the state lawsuit racket has created a stir in Pennsylvania, where Gov. Ed Rendell has finally had to defend his ‘pay-to-play’ relationship with Houston plaintiffs lawyer F. Kenneth Bailey,” the Wall Street Journal said Thursday in an editorial.

“That’s the good news. The rest of this underreported story is that Mr. Bailey has been running a nationwide ‘pay-to-sue’ operation with Democratic state attorneys general,” the newspaper said.

“As we reported, Mr. Bailey made repeated donations to Mr. Rendell’s 2006 re-election campaign in the months before his law firm was given a no-bid, contingency-fee contract to sue Janssen Pharmaceuticals on the state’s behalf. Mr. Rendell told the Philadelphia Inquirer - whose reporters have roused from their slumbers - that ‘there wasn’t the slightest bit of pay-to-play here.’ But the governor was obliged to acknowledge that Mr. Bailey had approached the state about suing Janssen. Normally, the state attorney general would handle such legal matters, but the AG rebuffed Mr. Bailey. Mr. Rendell’s office then decided to hire the law firm that was also his major campaign donor. Smile if you think the two were related.

“The episode speaks volumes about Mr. Rendell’s political ethics, but more important is what it reveals about the plaintiffs bar’s latest ‘business’ model. Mr. Bailey’s Janssen suit is part of a national pay-to-sue operation, as he and his Bailey, Perrin & Bailey law firm have taken their pre-packaged lawsuit to many states. Janssen’s complaint asking the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to dismiss Bailey Perrin from the suit notes that the firm has ‘taken on numerous engagements similar to this action, including representation in the states of Louisiana, South Carolina, Arkansas, Mississippi and New Mexico.’ ”

OBAMA-BASHING?

“The top suits and some of the on-air talent at CNBC were recently ordered to a top-secret meeting with General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt and NBC Universal President Jeff Zucker to discuss whether they’ve turned into the President Obama-bashing network, the New York Post’s Page Six reports.

” ‘It was an intensive, three-hour dinner at 30 Rock which Zucker himself was behind,’ a source familiar with the powwow told us. ‘There was a long discussion about whether CNBC has become too conservative and is beating up on Obama too much. There’s great concern that CNBC is now the anti-Obama network. The whole meeting was really kind of creepy.’

“One topic under the microscope, our insider said, was on-air CNBC editor Rick Santelli‘s rant two months ago about staging a ‘Chicago tea party’ to protest the president’s bailout programs - an idea that spawned tax-protest tea parties in other big cities, infuriating the White House. Oddly, Santelli was not at the meeting, while Jim Cramer was, noted our source, who added that no edict was ultimately handed down by the network chieftains.”

CNBC denied the report.

STATE BY STATE

“This has been a month of forward leaps in the campaign for gay marriage - or so it is said,” Froma Harrop writes in the Providence Journal.

“The Iowa Supreme Court struck down a ban on same-sex marriage, providing a toehold in the heartland. And the Vermont legislature legalized gay marriage, marking the first time that elected lawmakers, rather than state judges, initiated such change. …

“There’s much to be said for letting states settle the question of gay marriage, one step and one jurisdiction at a time. This pragmatic approach does not always sit well with gay-rights activists. They consider marriage a basic human right that should not be honored in one place and abridged in another,” the writer said.

“But the alternative - a U.S. Supreme Court decision affirming the right to gay marriage - would only slow things down. It could turn into another Roe v. Wade, the controversial 1973 ruling that guaranteed a right to abortion and has divided the country ever since. Even pro-choice legal experts find Roe problematic.

“And one can’t assume that the court would rule in favor of gay marriage. It might not. Further, turning the issue into a national controversy could revive the effort to amend the U.S. Constitution to define marriage as only between a man and a woman.

“In any case, domestic law [which includes marriage] is traditionally left to the states, and that’s where it should stay. For supporters of gay marriage, a series of peaceful advances at the state level paves a smoother path than a titanic battle on the national stage.”

REID’S CAUSE

“He’s a Mormon convert and a Nevada lawyer, so nobody has to tell Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that polygamy is illegal. But having multiple spouses continues, especially in splinter Mormon groups, and now he’s planning to make it a federal case,” Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column at www.usnews.com.

“Reid says he will push the attorney general to create a task force to stamp out the practice. The Department of Justice is expected to agree. ‘We have an obligation to help these women and children who are being victimized,’ Reid says.”

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

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