UPI's Capital Comment for Nov. 6, 2001

By United Press International  |  Nov. 6, 2001 at 12:39 PM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 6 (UPI) -- Capital Comment -- News notes, political rumors, and important events that shape politics and public policy in Washington and the world from United Press International.

The friend of my envoy is my... -- The Johns Hopkins University's School for Advanced International Studies in Washington is scheduled to hold a conference later this week on "Post-Crisis Malaysia," a look at the political and economic aftermath of the 1998 Asian financial crisis. Appearing at the event is a representative of the Malaysian opposition party, Parti Islam SeMalaysia, which has declared a jihad over the U.S.-led attacks in Afghanistan and "gave the go-ahead for its members to join the fight," one report said. Also appearing is John Malott, former President Clinton's ambassador to Malaysia, who recently told the new U.S. Ambassador Marie Huhtala to send a message to the Bush administration -- that democratically elected Prime Minister of Malaysia Dr. Mahathir Mohamad "better deal" with his own domestic political problems if he wants "a better relationship with the United States." It's a little late for his input.

Neglected -- In Monday's item about Peggy Noonan's new book, "When Character Was King," we neglected to mention that it is due out next Monday on the Viking imprint.

Running mates -- As Pennsylvania Attorney General Mike Fischer moves closer to clinching his bid for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, the rumor mill is busy cranking out names of potential running mates. As Fischer is from Western Pennsylvania, the smart money is looking to the east. Some sources are confident that the eventual pick will be Frank Rizzo, Jr., a Philadelphia city councilman and son of the legendary former mayor of the City of Brotherly Love. But coming up on the outside is Chester County Commissioner Karen Martynick, a much-honored local official who is probably best remembered as the woman Rep. Joe Pitts defeated in the 1996 Republican primary.

Kumbaya -- Former Republican National Committee chief flak Cliff May has a new cause: bring the political parties together in the fight against terror. "The idea that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter is ludicrous," according to May, who is the new executive director of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a think tank created in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks to study the ideologies that drive terrorism and the policies than can combat it. Board members include former Rep. Jack Kemp, R-N.Y.; former Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., publishing CEO and former presidential candidate Steve Forbes; and former U.N. Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick.

Groundbreaking -- On Monday, President George W. Bush signed into law H.R. 1161, which authorizes the Czech Republic to establish a memorial in honor of Tomas Masaryk, the founder of democracy in the erstwhile Czechoslovakia and its first president, on federal land in the District of Columbia.

Coming soon to a courtroom near you -- On Monday, Federal Judge Rya Zobel, appointed to the bench in 1979 by President Carter, barred the city of Lawrence, Mass., from requiring voters to show identification in Tuesday's mayoral election, ruling that it would take away their right to vote anonymously. Commonwealth Democrats had sued the city, saying that the new procedure would discourage Hispanics, who make up close to 50 percent of the city, from voting. Acting Lawrence Mayor Marcos Devers, an Hispanic Democrat, supported the new rule, saying the new voter identification policy would prevent voter fraud, a problem for Lawrence in the past.

An adventure, not a job -- Democrat Lyndon Johnson's late-night phone calls to reporters who wrote about him unfavorably are legendary. It is odd, therefore, that a Republican White House press secretary would pick him as a role model. Yet, in Monday's New York Daily News, writer Bill Hutchinson recounts a 10:45 a.m. (he works nights) call he received at home from Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer, demanding a correction to an article he said misrepresented the way he described the president's view of a critical issue of national importance -- "a 158-word article I had written in my job as a Daily News rewriteman that suggested Bush was not a fan of the New York Yankees." The pajama-clad Hutchinson reports he concluded from the call that Fleischer, a native New Yorker, "is really just a disgruntled Mets fan."

Making a list, checking it twice -- The Anti-Defamation League has prepared a backgrounder on what it calls the "conspiracy theories" concerning Israel and the Sept. 11 terror attack. According to the ADL, "Israel is at the center of those theories, which primarily emanate from the Arab and Islamic world." The backgrounder and other information about extremist reactions to the attacks can be seen at the group's Web site at www.adl.org.

Personnel note -- Richard Lee Espinosa, a sheet metal journeyman and shop steward at Johnson Controls in New Mexico, has been named by the president to be a member of the Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health.

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