- The Washington Times - Friday, December 11, 2009

SPIRITED RENDITION

Just in time for Christmas - and Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, winter solstice, Festivus, Boxing Day or (insert holiday of choice here) - comes intriguing spiritual news: Politics and policy are not the only things that separate conservatives from liberals, Republicans from Democrats. There’s a partisan divide when it comes to the proverbial Great Beyond as well.

“Conservatives and Republicans report fewer experiences than liberals or Democrats communicating with the dead, seeing ghosts and consulting fortunetellers or psychics,” said the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, which tallied such things across a wide swath of the American public and released the findings Thursday.

Consider that 23 percent of conservatives and 35 percent of liberals claim to have been in touch with the dead. Eighteen percent of conservatives and 33 percent of liberals believe in reincarnation. Another 18 percent of conservatives condone the power of “spiritual energy” compared with 30 percent of liberals.

Interestingly enough, 17 percent of both ideologies believe in the “evil eye,” or the casting of a curse, the study said. One out of 10 conservatives have visited a fortuneteller, compared with a fifth of liberals.

Wait, there’s more.

Twenty-one percent of Republicans and 36 percent of Democrats claim to have been in touch with the dearly departed. Nine percent of the Grand Old Party have consulted a fortuneteller, compared with 22 percent of the Democrats. And15 percent of Republicans say that yoga is a “spiritual” practice, compared with 31 percent of Democrats.

Just 12 percent of the Republicans put any credence in the “evil eye,” while 19 percent of Democrats believe in the phenomenon. The findings were based on a nationwide survey of 4,013 adults conducted in August.

PAGING MR. COYOTE

Got to love Republicans who can frame Medicare in comedic terms.

“Have you heard about the latest ‘cant miss’ idea for health care reform being considered in the Senate? Its known as the Medicare ‘Buy In’ option because seniors would be able to ‘buy in’ 10 years before they officially become eligible for Medicare,” notes the Republican Study Committee.

“Good idea. Lets take an entitlement program already on pace for insolvency in 2017 and make it even bigger. Medicare is largely in dire financial straits because its about to get flooded with baby boomers. As they leave the work force and join the Medicare rolls, the whole thing will collapse,” the group continues.

“It doesnt take an economist to tell you Medicare is teetering on the edge. And, consistent with their history of promoting incredibly flawed ideas, Democrats are ready to give the program a good, strong shove off the cliff by letting Americans in 10 years earlier. Itll be like watching ‘Looney Tunes’ when Wile E. Coyote suddenly realizes he ran out of cliff sooner than expected. Watch out - here comes the anvil. Unlike in the TV version, hilarity will not ensue.”

WHAT’S BREWING

The Tennessee-based Tea Party Nation got the big “get.” Sarah Palin will be the keynote speaker at the First National Tea Party Convention on Feb. 4-6, to be staged in Nashville. Republicans Reps. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, plus former Alabama Supreme Court Judge Roy Moore will also appear, organizer Judson Phillips tells Inside the Beltway.

The can-do spirit of past “tea parties” is ever present, he says. But there’s serious, practical intent at work as well. Witness just a few topics from the convention’s agenda: “How to Defeat Liberalism via the 2010 Elections,” “Using New Media for Conservative Activism,” “Collaboration in the Cloud-Applied Technology in the TEA Party Movement,” and “Emergency Preparedness,” among many.

“Tea Party Nation is a user-driven group of like-minded people who desire our God-given individual freedoms written by our Founding Fathers,” Mr. Phillips says.

WHO’S UP FIRST

We’re just about surge-ready. The U.S. Joint Forces Command - the heavy lifters in the Defense Department’s policymaking structure - is putting the finishing touches on President Obama’s upgrade in Afghanistan troop strength.

“We are getting final details on some of the requirements. We know most of them,” says Air Force Brig. Gen. Robert Yates, director of operations within the command.

More than half of the surge forces have been “identified and informed of their upcoming mission,” officials say. And here they are:

“Some 1,500 Marines from Camp Lejeune, N.C., will deploy later this month, and 6,200 Marines of Regimental Combat Team 2 at Camp Lejeune were alerted for deployment early in the spring,” the command says.

“The 1st Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton, Calif., also will deploy 800 Marines in the spring, along with an influx of 3,400 soldiers from the 1st Brigade Combat Team from the Army’s 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, N.Y.”

POLL DU JOUR

*83 percent of Americans say public schools should celebrate religious holidays; 14 percent disagree.

*76 percent say religious symbols should be allowed on public property; 13 percent disagree.

*68 percent of public or government workers approve of religious symbols on public sites.

*72 percent of Americans prefer signs that say “Merry Christmas,” rather than “Happy Holidays.”

Source: A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 adults conducted Dec. 7-8.

c Soothing reassurances, tattletales, startling revelations to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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