WASHINGTON, Dec. 20 (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.
Hardball -- As the stimulus bill grinds to a halt and the charges of obstructionism fly back and forth between Capitol Hill and the White House, Massachusetts' Democrat Sen. John Kerry is still trying valiantly to get the bi-partisan Bond-Kerry small business relief act taken up by the Senate.
According to a source, Kerry and other congressional leaders were supposed to meet with the head of the Small Business Administration in an effort to iron out whatever problems exist in the bill -- which are hard to identify since the hold keeping it from moving is, like the objections, anonymous.
Sen. Kerry told Capitol Comment, "Sixty-three senators, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and thousands of small business owners and their employees have pleaded with the Senate to pass the Kerry-Bond small business emergency relief bill. Let's stop the bickering and give these businesses what they need: a helping hand so they can keep their doors open after the holidays. I'm more than happy to stay here to the end pushing for common sense answers for America's small businesses -- and I'm going to stay focused on that bottom line."
Year of the ranch -- Several years ago the Young America's Foundation, a conservative group that sponsors seminars for high school and college age students, purchased the famed Reagan Ranch in Santa Barbara, Calif. Having acquired the property without a penny of government money, the foundation has produced The Reagan Ranch 2002 Calendar, featuring pictures of the former president and his wife Nancy at work and at rest at what was reportedly their favorite place to be. The calendar may be ordered online from www.reaganranch.org.
Who's playing Scalia? -- The first of two Supreme Court-themed television programs debuts in January on CBS. "First Monday" stars Joe Mantegna, who can occasionally be heard giving voice to "Fat Tony." head of the Springfield mob on Fox's The Simpsons, as a new, independent-mind associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. He is the court's tie-breaking vote, as the fictional court is evenly split four-to-four between liberals and conservatives. Veteran actor James Garner, an archliberal in real life, plays the crusty conservative Chief Justice on the series.
J. Edgar wants you! -- The American Muslim Council reports that John Bell, head of the FBI in Michigan, made a plea for Muslims and Arabs to join the bureau at a recent party honoring the Eid holiday. "Speaking to about 400 people at the party, Bell encouraged Muslim/Arab Americans to join the ranks of FBI. He said there are hundreds of job opportunities at the Bureau, where people with a bilingual background could have preference. He said people with college degrees could make over $50,000 a year in those jobs," the AMN announced in a release.
Man of the Year -- President George W. Bush has been named Man of the Year by the conservative weekly Human Events. Probably predictable. A genuine surprise is that Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain has written an essay endorsing the choice. McCain writes, in part, "The President has shown the determination needed to prevail against this international network of terrorists who hate the values we hold dear, and he has shown compassion for the victims of this abominable hate. He has extended America's hand of friendship to Muslims who reject the hateful purpose of terrorists."
The Man of the Year issue features a tribute by every one of Bush's Republican rivals for the nomination -- including two who dropped out of the Republican Party -- with only one exception. Steve Forbes wrote the cover story while former opponents Gary Bauer, Pat Buchanan, Lamar Alexander, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, former US. Rep. John Kasich, R-Ohio, and Sen. Bob Smith, R-N.H., provided their own tributes. Posted online earlier in the week was a tribute from Elizabeth Dole.
Term limit for term limits -- For an idea that few politicians said would make a difference, term limits attract an awful lot of attention. In the latest development, two Montana state legislators and two of their constituents asked the state Supreme Court to reject as unconstitutional the term limits on state elected officials that voters adopted in a 1992 constitutional initiative.
Filing the bipartisan lawsuit were GOP Sen. Mack Cole and Democrat Sen. Chris Christiaens, both of whom are ineligible to run for re-election next year under term limits. The lawsuit was filed about a month before the secretary of state's office can begin accepting candidate filings for the 2002 election.
The lawsuit states that CI-64 was enacted unlawfully in 1992 on several grounds, including the standard "abuse of single subject" complaint that is frequently used to strike down voter initiatives. The plaintiffs also argue that the measure creating term limits for 10 separate political offices violates a constitutional provision requiring a separate vote for each constitutional amendment. The solution to that problem, should the court uphold the complaint, would be 10 separate term limits amendments, one for each office covered by the current law.
Personnel note -- Rick Ahearn, veteran GOP operative who has worked for both Jack Kemp and Steve Forbes, has signed on with the Bill Simon for Governor campaign in California.
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