UPI's Capital Comment for Nov. 30, 2001

By United Press International  |  Nov. 30, 2001 at 3:55 PM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 29 (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.

Turning to the next item on the docket -- With President Bush reportedly ready to nominate veteran federal prosecutor James B. Comey as the new U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, replacing Mary Jo White, the focus is quickly shifting to Capitol Hill, where the Senate must vote to confirm White's successor. At least two members of that august body currently figure in business before White. The question being posed is: Will they cast a vote or will they recuse themselves from passing judgment on someone they may face in a federal courtroom somewhere down the line.

Out -- GOP Rep. Frank LoBiondo of New Jersey announcing he will pass on a challenge to embattled Democrat Bob Torricelli in next year's U.S. Senate race. Some thought that New Jersey Republican insiders were clearing the field for LoBiondo, a political moderate who, as an Italian and a resident of the southern part of the state, might provide a solid alternative to the first-term senator. Former Essex County, N.J., executive Jim Treffinger is currently the only announced Republican candidate.

In -- New Jersey GOP Assemblyman Scott Garrett, who nearly ousted multi-year moderate Republican Congresswoman Marge Roukema in the 2000 GOP primary, is announcing he will be a candidate for the seat Roukema is now giving up. Earlier in the week, Republican Bergen County executive William Schuber, who was also widely expected to make the race, dropped out, leaving Garrett the clear frontrunner in both the primary and general elections.

Tag team - Freshman GOP Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.V., must feel like a duck on the first day of hunting season. Jim Humphreys, whom she defeated in the 2000 election 48 percent to 46 percent -- with Humphreys spending in excess of $6 million of his own money -- has filed for a rematch. On top of that, former state Supreme Court Justice Margaret Workman has announced her own bid for the seat as a Democrat. Lightning stuck once, making Capito the first Republican since 1980 to go to Congress from West Virginia, and most insiders are skeptical that it will strike twice.

Fomenting -- The Anti-Defamation League says the "ongoing anti-Semitic, anti-Israel and anti-American message of the Arab and Muslim press has intensified since Sept. 11." The claim comes in a new report entitled "September 11 and Arab Media: The Anti-Jewish and Anti-American Blame Game." ADL head Abe Foxman says, "The intensity and ugliness of many of these reports are shocking. The U.S. and its allies need to pay close attention to this unceasing phenomenon, which may impact policy directions that these countries may take in the future."

So there is something he won't do -- Ubiquitous attorney Alan Dershowitz, who some conservatives decry as all too ready to go on television, created quite an off-camera dustup in Boston last week. According to the Boston Herald, Dershowitz arrived at a Boston-area television facility to appear on CNN when he notice the building was marked with signs for Fox News Channel, which shares space in the building. Dershowitz, says the report, pitched a small fit thinking he had been lured to Fox by subterfuge. "I have a policy never under any circumstances to go on any Fox talk show. I regard (Bill) O'Reilly and (Sean) Hannity as blatant racists!", the distinguished Harvard professor was quoted as saying by the Herald.

Fallout -- Some politicians won't learn. First, Louisiana GOP Rep. John Cooksey all but crushed his own U.S. Senate campaign with an intemperate and ill-considered remark about Muslims after the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Now U.S. Rep. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., has driven his race for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat freshman Sen. Max Cleland off the rails with a similar comment. Chambliss, speaking to voters in the city of Valdosta, suggested that "every Muslim who comes across the state line" be arrested. The comment hit the papers and the campaign hit the skids -- momentarily, GOP leaders hope. But it doesn't appear that things will simmer down soon. The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, founded in 1980 by one-term former U.S. Sen. James Abourezk, D-S.D., has written to House Speaker Denny Hastert, R-Ill., asking that Chambliss be removed from his post as chairman of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security.

Walk the tax talk -- On Wednesday, Arkansas GOP Gov. Mike Huckabee challenged anyone demanding he raise taxes during the current economic slowdown to lead the way by contributing to the newly created Tax Me More Fund at the state Department of Finance and Administration. The governor said he created the fund so those who believe they should be paying more taxes can make a voluntary contribution to the state and set an example for others who believe as they do. All money sent to the account will go to the state's general revenue fund to help offset the current revenue shortfall. The address of the account is the Tax Me More Fund, P.O. Box 8054, Little Rock, AR 72203. The names of those who send in money and the amount contributed will be public record. "There's nothing in the law that prohibits those who believe they aren't paying enough in taxes from writing a check to the state of Arkansas," the governor said. "Maybe this will make them feel better."

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