John McCaslin

"The 111th Congress is less than a week old, and already the first tax increase has been put on the table," complains Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), referring to a proposed 156 percent increase (61 cents) per-pack federal excise tax on cigarettes to fund a $35 billion expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program.

"Remember the quote? 'If you make less than a quarter of a million dollars a year, you will not see a single dime of your taxes go up' (President-elect Barack Obama in the October 7 presidential debate)."

As many as 55 percent of American smokers are "working poor," according to ATR, with 1 in 4 living below the poverty line.

GEORGETOWN OUTRAGE

The president of Victims of Pan Am Flight 103 tells Inside the Beltway that the family organization is "outraged" that Georgetown University's Center for Contemporary Arab Studies has invited Libyan leader Moammar Gaddhafi to speak to the campus via satellite in a Jan. 21 videoconference.

"Three Georgetown graduates were murdered on that plane by Gadhafi's operatives, and the 'generous funding' [for the conference] by Exxon Mobil just adds fuel to the fire," says Frank Duggan, the victims group president.

Meanwhile, this column obtained several letters sent to Georgetown President John DeGioia, including one from a 1991 university graduate, (his twin sisters also graduated Georgetown, in 1996), whose brother was among the 270 passengers killed in the 1988 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland.

"President DeGioia, in addition to my brother, there were also Georgetown alumni on the Pan Am 103 flight. How are we honoring these people when we allow the person behind their murder [to] talk about conflict resolution?" writes Mr. Flynn. "I ask you: Would you allow Osama bin Laden to speak?"

In another letter, Hafed Al Ghwell, a Libyan-American and longtime associate of the university's Arab center, says if nothing else Georgetown should distribute copies of Col. Gadhafi's "dismal human rights record ... so your audience can have a sense of the history ... of the speaker before them and grieve the tragic loss of direction of a once-credible Center for Arab Studies."

IN CLOSING

Restoring morale was at the top of his agenda when Michael V. Hayden was appointed to lead the CIA in 2006.


John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on Townhall.com and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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