Capital Comment -- Daily news notes, political rumors, and important events that shape politics and public policy in Washington and the world from United Press International.
Surveyed symbolism -- A new poll conducted on a bi-partisan basis by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and Public Opinion Strategies shows that public confidence in the country's direction -- at 49 percent in the survey -- has fallen steadily since January. In an analysis of the data pollster Stan Greenberg, a Democrat, says, "Enron, CEOs and pedophile priests are the symbols of the current era."
Greenberg also says that "Almost three-quarters of the country say they are 'very angry' about Enron executives cashing out while employee pensions were devalued" and that "almost 70 percent 'strongly agree' that Enron's irresponsibility is characteristic of this period."
Blaine speaking on education choice -- The Institute for Justice, a libertarian public-interest legal group, is preparing for the next round in the battle over parental choice in education. The institute is focusing attention on the states that have Blaine amendments in their constitutions "forbidding 'aid' or 'support' for religious institutions," "prohibitions against 'compelled support' of religion" or both.
Of particular concern is what the institute calls "the terrible 12" -- Alaska, Colorado, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Oregon, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin -- where the constitution has been "interpreted to require discrimination against religious options."
Their ultimate goal is a national precedent requiring the government to exercise religious neutrality in education across the board, effectively removing state prohibitions preventing parents from expending state money -- in the form of vouchers or scholarships -- at religious schools.
The Blaine amendments, named for Republican James G. Blaine -- the U.S. House Speaker and failed presidential candidate who was its principal advocate -- were anti-Catholic. They were intended to prevent Catholic schools from receiving government support, the Catholics being solid for the Democrats at the end of the 19th century when they were being adopted. Proving that the worm does, in fact, always turn, the Republicans are now the ones leading the fight to remove barriers to public support of religious educational institutions -- barriers their forebears initially put in place.
Sound advice -- Writing about the murder of journalist Danny Pearl in the August issue of Vanity Fair, contributing editor Robert Sam Anson describes "certain cautions" that should be on the mind of any reporter arriving in Karachi, Pakistan.
Among his warnings: "Do not take a taxi from the airport; Do not stay in a room that faces the street; Do not interview sources over the phone; Do not leaves notes or tape recordings in your room; Do not use public transportation or accept rides from strangers; And, above all, do not go alone. Ever."
She was looking for the three coins -- Anyone near the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress Tuesday morning were likely startled to see a naked woman disporting in the Neptune fountain in front of the building. The woman stripped off her clothes on the sidewalk shortly after 8 a.m. about 100 feet from the fountain, then streaked to the fountain's basin before jumping in. She splashed happily about for several minutes before a Library of Congress police officer stopped her frolic. The officer allowed her to get dressed before making the arrest. Library spokeswoman Jill Brett said the woman was arrested for indecent exposure and taken to the Capitol Police booking center. Brett refused to release the woman's name. The woman, who appeared to be in her 30s, told the arresting officer she was 65, Brett said.
South Asia forum -- What is being billed as "a groundbreaking discussion" of events and trends in South Asia is scheduled for July 18 in the Cannon Caucus Room on Capitol Hill. "Today even after a high-profile diplomatic effort to de-escalate the tension between India and Pakistan, over a million troops still remain massed along the line of control, ready to begin a fourth, and potentially a nuclear war. ... In February this year over 2,000 people were killed in the Indian state of Gujarat, in one of the bloodiest religious riots in South Asia. ... UNICEF has labeled the exploitation of children as a form of terrorism. Conservative estimates indicate that 200,000 girls from Nepal, many under the age of 14 years, are working in India as sex-slaves," the American Muslim Council reports as part of the invitation to the event. Other topics to be discussed at the symposium, where each panel is scheduled to be chaired by a different member of Congress, include the AIDS epidemic and the impact of nationalist politics on trade policies & foreign investment.
Trust buster or busted trust -- President George Bush is working hard to put himself on the side of the angels where the current corporate confidence is concerned but some folks are just not buying. The Democratic Leadership Council, in their reaction to the president's speech to Wall Street executives said: "It's hard to imagine an unlikelier figure to play the role of corporate crime-buster. Unless you go all the way back to Warren Harding, it's hard to remember an administration that has more systematically identified with corporate interests -- not just their natural and appropriate desire for the opportunity to compete and produce on a level playing field at home and abroad, but their dangerous temptation to use political pull to cut corners, squeeze competitors, evade public responsibilities, and maximize their personal bottom lines at the expense of their own shareholders, investors and workers. In its appointments, its policies, and its priorities -- from trade and taxes to energy and the environment -- the Bush Administration has in a very short period of time richly earned a reputation for excessive coziness with big business, often at the expense of the public interest."
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