- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 8, 2012


“The gift of being underestimated is a great gift.”

(Republican hopeful Rick Santorum, to 600 fans at a campaign appearance in McKinney, Texas, on Wednesday.)


“I think the vast majority of Americans, whether on the left or the right, will tell you that the government of the United States should not have the power to be able to go in and tell a church-based organization that they must pay for something that that faith teaches their members not to do,” says Sen. Marco Rubio, referring to President Obama’s fixation on a contraception mandate.

But the Florida Republican — who last week introduced the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to repeal that mandate — also has advice for Mr. Obama.

“The solution is for the president to come back and say ‘you know what, maybe we overreached. Maybe we went too far. We’ve heard from a lot of people, we are going to reconsider this decision.’ There is nothing wrong with that. We have plenty of other issues to argue with this president about.”


There’s more faith-related discord percolating out there. Rep. J. Randy Forbes,

Virginia Republican and co-chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, has fired off a letter to Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz after the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO) altered its logo to remove a Latin reference to “God” following complaints to the office by the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers.

“The action taken by the RCO suggests that all references to God, regardless of their context, must be removed from the military. As we are confident that your legal advisors would not suggest that censorship is required for compliance with the First Amendment, we ask that you reverse this perplexing decision,” Mr. Forbes writes in the letter, which was co-signed by 25 members of Congress.

Meanwhile, inquiring minds want to know: If such sanitizing trends persist in the Air Force, is “High Flight” at risk?

The famous sonnet written by Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee Jr., an American serving with the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Battle of Britain in 1941, ends with the lines “with silent lifting mind I have trod the high untrespassed sanctity of space, put out my hand, and touched the face of God.”

Even the Air Force itself says the work “has become an aviator’s anthem, and an epitaph,” according to historical records.


“Big Mountain Jesus,” get off the mountain. So says the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which has filed another lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the old Montana war memorial, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus in 1954. The watchdog group is vexed by the U.S. Forest Service’s decision to renew the site’s permit, following an intense campaign to preserve it led by war veterans, public interest groups and Rep. Denny Rehberg, Montana Republican.

The “continued presence of a six-foot-tall statue of Jesus Christ in the Flathead National Forest, on a 25-by-25-foot plot owned and administered by the United States Forest Service, violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States,” the suit notes.

Uh, not so fast, counters the American Center for Law and Justice.

“It’s clear this legal challenge represents the latest move in a troubling pattern designed to remove any religious reference from our history — a tactic that we believe ultimately will fail in the federal court system,” says chief counsel Jay Sekulow.

“We are planning to file an amicus brief in this case, standing up for the constitutionality of this important memorial. We will be representing thousands of Americans who understand that this statue represents the history and heritage of the region, not a government endorsement of religion,” he adds.


Bowling ball and size 14 bowling shoes used by then candidate Barack Obama at a 2008 campaign stop and photo op in Altoona, Pa.

A guitar labeled “The Prez”, played by George H.W. Bush at a 1988 inaugural ball.

A Dallas Cowboys football jersey emblazoned with “Reagan 84”, presented to Ronald Reagan at the 1984 Republican National Convention in Dallas.

Those are just a few items from “Every Four Years: Presidential Campaigns and the Press,” an upcoming exhibit at the Newseum in Washington, opening next week. Of the aforementioned bowling items, the museum adds, “The photo op didn’t go as planned: Obama bowled a 37 in seven frames.”


The Irish betting company Paddy Power has slashed the odds on Rick Santorum winning the Republican nomination. He was moved from an unlikely 20-1 on Monday to 9-2 after three state primary victories on Tuesday. Mitt Romney is now at 1-6, Newt Gingrich at 22-1 while Rep. Ron Paul remains at 25-1.

Rick Santorum looks to have been the real winner of the Gingrich and Romney mud slinging,” says a spokesman for the company.


• 83 percent of Americans approve the use of unmanned drones against terrorist suspects.

• 91 percent of Republicans, 79 percent of Democrats and 81 percent of independents agree.

• 78 percent overall approve the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

• 64 percent of Republicans, 93 percent of Democrats agree and 74 percent of independents agree.

• 70 percent overall say that the Guantanamo prison for terrorist suspects should remain open.

• 78 percent of Republicans, 62 percent of Democrats agree and 73 percent of independents agree.

Source: An ABC News/Washington Post poll of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted Feb. 1-4.

Hue and cry, humorous asides, press releases to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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