- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 19, 2009

NEW PONTIFF?

“Passionate debates over doctrine, identity and the boundaries of ‘communion’ have been a staple of the American religious landscape for centuries: Trinitarians vs. Unitarians in 19th-century New England; Modernists vs. Fundamentalists in early-20th-century Presbyterianism; Missouri Synod Lutherans vs. Wisconsin Synod Lutherans vs. Other Sorts of Lutherans down to today,” writes George Weigel at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“Yet never in our history has a president of the United States, in the exercise of his public office, intervened in such disputes in order to secure a political advantage.

“Until [Sunday], at the University of Notre Dame. …

“What was surprising, and ought to be disturbing to anyone who cares about religious freedom in these United States, was the president’s decision to insert himself into the ongoing Catholic debate over the boundaries of Catholic identity and the applicability of settled Catholic conviction in the public square. Obama did this by suggesting, not altogether subtly, who the real Catholics in America are the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin,” said Mr. Weigel, distinguished senior fellow of Washington’s Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he holds the William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies.

“The real Catholics, you see, are those like the late , who are ‘congenial and gentle’ in persuasion, men and women who are ‘always trying to bring people together,’ Catholics who are ‘always trying to find the common ground.’

“The fact that Cardinal Bernardin’s undoubted geniality and gentility in bringing people together to find the common ground invariably ended with a ‘consensus’ that matched the liberal or progressive position of the moment went unremarked - because, for a good postmodern liberal like President Obama, that progressive ‘consensus’ is so self-evidently true that one can afford to be generous in acknowledging that others, less enlightened but arguably sincere, have different views.”

SOAK THE RICH

“With states facing nearly $100 billion in combined budget deficits this year, we’re seeing more governors than ever proposing the Barack Obama solution to balancing the budget: Soak the rich,” Arthur Laffer and Stephen Moore write in the Wall Street Journal.

“Lawmakers in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York and Oregon want to raise income-tax rates on the top 1 percent or 2 percent or 5 percent of their citizens. New Illinois Gov. Patrick Quinn wants a 50 percent increase in the income-tax rate on the wealthy because this is the ‘fair’ way to close his state’s gaping deficit. …

“Here’s the problem for states that want to pry more money out of the wallets of rich people. It never works because people, investment capital and businesses are mobile. They can leave tax-unfriendly states and move to tax-friendly states,” said Mr. Laffer, an economist, and Mr. Moore, economics writer for the Journal’s editorial page.

“And the evidence that we discovered in our new study for the American Legislative Exchange Council, ‘Rich States, Poor States,’ published in March, shows that Americans are more sensitive to high taxes than ever before. The tax differential between low-tax and high-tax states is widening, meaning that a relocation from high-tax California or Ohio to no-income-tax Texas or Tennessee, is all the more financially profitable both in terms of lower tax bills and more job opportunities.”

SILENT SPRING

“After ignoring for three weeks ‘s House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s denial [that] she was briefed by the CIA about how waterboarding was being used, only to decide it was news on Thursday when Pelosi at a press conference accused the CIA of ‘lying’ and of ‘misleading’ the Congress, on Friday the CBS and NBC evening newscasts fell silent again despite the backlash from CIA Director Leon Panetta, a former Democratic congressman,” the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker writes at www.mrc.org.

Mr. Panetta “issued an emphatic statement about how ‘it is not our policy or practice to mislead Congress,’ declaring: ‘CIA officers briefed truthfully on the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, describing the enhanced techniques that had been employed.’

“That was enough of a news hook for ABC’s “World News” to make it the Friday night lead, as fill-in anchor George Stephanopoulos teased his top story: ‘Tonight, firing back: The CIA director toe-to-toe with the speaker. He says Congress was told the truth about interrogations.’ Reporter Jonathan Karl recounted how Panetta is ‘pushing back hard against the speaker of the House’ and that Republicans are raising her hypocrisy in advocating punishment for those who authorized a technique of which she was aware.

“He concluded by undermining her latest spin of claiming she was misled by Bush administration political operatives. ‘Speaker Pelosi is now doing some damage control,’ Karl reported, reading her assertion: ‘My criticism of the manner of which the Bush administration did not appropriately inform Congress is separate from my respect for those in the intelligence community who work to keep our country safe.’ But, Karl noted: ‘It is important to point out that those who briefed Speaker Pelosi at that September [2002] briefing were career intelligence officers; these were not political operatives from the Bush administration.’

“Yet not even that mendacious blame-shifting prompted a syllable from CBS or NBC. It’s a pretty sad state of affairs when the newscast anchored by a former Democratic political operative is the one willing to highlight news deleterious to a top liberal Democrat,” Mr. Baker said.

OUR INHERITANCE

“If the Democrats had simply kept spending on the same long-run course they inherited, the budget would show a surplus of $70 billion for 2019, assuming that revenue would be the same as currently forecast,” Kevin Hassettwrites at www.bloomberg.com.

“In Washington, it is unacceptable socially to assert that anyone is telling a lie - unless, of course, he is named Bush. So let’s say it is a pure, flat-out, bald-faced and shameless misstatement to claim that the budget outlook is an inherited problem. The mess is largely attributable to the Democrats’ own policies,” said Mr. Hassett, director of economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute.

“That’s why they keep saying ‘inherited’ over and over.”

• Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected]


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