Wednesday, November 12, 2003

‘Antireligious bigotry’

Raymond Flynn, a Democrat who served as U.S. ambassador to the Vatican under President Clinton, has accused Democratic senators of religious intolerance and anti-Catholic bigotry in filibustering federal judicial nominees.

“The process for placing qualified judges on the federal bench has descended into a quagmire that has gone beyond ideological differences,” Mr. Flynn said in a memo yesterday to senators.

“It has become focused on the nominees’ personal values and beliefs, which has created a disturbing tone of antireligious and, in some cases, anti-Catholic bigotry,” he said.

“When senators use words to disqualify nominees (people whose qualifications for the federal bench are excellent) based on so-called ‘strongly held beliefs’ we all know what these code words mean. Antireligious code words are just as painful as racial code words.

“For example, the refusal to permit a full and fair vote on the Senate floor for Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor, as well as other well-suited nominees, goes against everything we stand for as public servants. The only strike against Mr. Pryor seems to be that he is a man of devout religious faith. Intolerance of people of faith by certain members of the Senate is a stain on our nation,” said Mr. Flynn, president of Your Catholic Voice, which he described as the nation’s largest grass-roots Catholic organization.

He added: “I believe I speak for many millions of Americans, and especially millions of good Catholics, when I say that we don’t like the shabby way in which these nominees are being treated. They are all distinguished public servants and shouldn’t be approved or disqualified based on whether they are faithful Catholics, Baptists, Jews or people of any other faith.”

Rush returns Monday

Rush Limbaugh will return to his radio talk show Monday after completing a five-week treatment program for his addiction to painkillers, his brother said yesterday.

David Limbaugh made the announcement to Internet scribe Matt Drudge, who was sitting in yesterday for the conservative commentator, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Limbaugh left the air Oct. 10 after acknowledging he had been abusing prescription painkillers.

Mr. Limbaugh plans to resume his regular schedule, hosting his three-hour show on weekdays for his audience of 20 million listeners a week, his brother said.

The talk-show host said last month he was checking himself into a treatment center to “once and for all break the hold this highly addictive medication has on me.”

His brother said Mr. Limbaugh successfully completed the first phase of his treatment. He did not say what the next step is.

Mr. Limbaugh’s admission to drug addiction came several days after the National Enquirer ran a story that quoted his maid as saying she was his drug connection. She said Mr. Limbaugh had abused OxyContin and other drugs.

A law-enforcement source in Palm Beach County, Fla., where Mr. Limbaugh owns a $24 million oceanfront mansion, said yesterday that an investigation into Mr. Limbaugh’s drug use by the State’s Attorney’s Office continues.

Clark’s idea

Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark said yesterday he would ask Saudi Arabia to deploy commandos alongside U.S. troops in the hunt for Osama bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders.

The retired Army four-star general said although the Bush administration was right to target al Qaeda after the September 11 terrorist attacks, it gave up too quickly and has spent too much time on Iraq. Mr. Clark leveled the criticism as he offered his plan for capturing bin Laden, the Associated Press reports.

“It’s high time we got serious in finishing what we started,” Mr. Clark said in a speech at Dartmouth College. “If I were president of the United States right now, I wouldn’t be proposing it, I’d be doing it.”

Mr. Clark said he would start by pressuring Saudi Arabia to contribute to a joint U.S.-Saudi commando force to scour the Afghan-Pakistani border, where bin Laden is thought to be hiding. He said that because many of the leaders of al Qaeda come from Saudi Arabia and many of the attacks are aimed at targets in Saudi Arabia.

Try, try again

Dave Rogers, a former Navy SEAL, plans to make another run against Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, Rhode Island Democrat.

Mr. Rogers won the Republican nomination for a U.S. House seat in 2002, but lost to Mr. Kennedy, the incumbent.

“I have been laying the groundwork for this campaign for the last 10 months,” Mr. Rogers said yesterday in a prepared statement. “We have the resources, energy and support to finish the job we started in 2001.”

Mr. Rogers said he will make a formal announcement on Monday.

“My campaign is off to a running start. Already I have received the support of over 30,000 contributors and I have raised over $700,000 for this campaign,” Mr. Rogers said.

‘The God Gulf’

“The most striking cleavage [in American life] is the God Gulf, and it should terrify the Democrats,” New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof writes.

“Put simply, liberals are becoming more secular at a time when America is becoming increasingly religious, the consequence of a new Great Awakening. Americans, for example, are significantly more likely now than in 1987 to say they ‘completely agree’ that ‘prayer is an important part of my daily life’ and that ‘we all will be called before God on Judgment Day to answer for our sins.’

“The Pew [Research Center] survey found that white evangelicals are leaving the Democratic Party in droves. Fifteen years ago, white evangelicals were split equally between the two parties; now they’re twice as likely to be Republicans. Likewise, white Catholics who attend Mass regularly used to be strongly Democratic; now they are more likely to be Republican,” Mr. Kristof said.

“Since Americans are three times as likely to believe in the virgin birth of Jesus as in evolution, liberal derision for President Bush’s religious beliefs risks marginalizing the left.”

Quote of the day

Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat and presidential hopeful, “thinks flag-burners should be left to face vigilante justice,” James Taranto writes in his Best of the Web Today column at

“If I saw someone burning the flag, I’d punch them in the mouth because I love that flag,” Mr. Kerry told the Boston Globe through a spokesman. “But the Constitution I fought for preserves the right of free expression.”

• Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or

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