UPI's Capital Comment for Jan. 17, 2002

By United Press International  |  Jan. 17, 2002 at 3:24 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 17 (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.

Strike two -- The increasingly controversial choice of financier Lew Eisenberg to head up fundraising for the Republican National Committee is expected to be a hot topic at its meeting next week in Austin, Texas. Eisenberg, who is the financial angel behind the left-leaning Republican Leadership Council, will reportedly have his name placed in nomination by Georgia GOP Chairman Ralph Reed, a former leader of the Christian conservative political movement. Reed, who is also a veteran GOP operative, may have second thoughts when he learns that in 1984, Eisenberg was a donor to Walter Mondale's unsuccessful campaign against Ronald Reagan for president of the United States.

Keeping it in the family -- The Texas GOP is becoming more and more dynastic with each day. President George W. Bush is the son of a Houstonian who is also a former president of the United States. Several current members of the state congressional delegation are the second in their families to hold seats. Scott Armey, the son of GOP House Majority Leader Dick Armey is the front-runner to replace him this November. And now Brad Barton, seventh- generation Texan and a real estate developer, has announced his candidacy for a new congressional seat in the Dallas area. Barton is the son of current sixth Congressional District GOP Rep. Joe Barton, currently in his ninth term as a member of the House.

Rosie scenario -- The rumored impending bankruptcy of the venerable Kmart department store chain does not have everyone upset, even in these economic bleak times. Pro-Second Amendment activists who have been boycotting the chain because of the vocal anti-gun activity of Kmart spokesman Rosie O'Donnell are claiming at least some credit for the chain's difficulties. O'Donnell has repeatedly used her platform as host of an afternoon talk show aimed at women to attack gun ownership. She also played host to a fundraising event for former Clinton Attorney General Janet Reno, currently a Democrat candidate for governor of Florida. Outraged firearms owners have been encouraging people to shop at WalMart instead.

Staying the course -- Tuesday, the South Dakota House of Representatives passed, by a margin of 60 votes to eight, a resolution asking the U.S. Congress to keep the 2001 tax cuts in one piece. The move, coming just a day before Sen. Teddy Kennedy, D-Mass., told an audience at the National Press Club that the marginal rates reductions should be delayed because of the economic downturn, is seen by many as a slap at Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., who has also suggested that the tax cuts were a bad thing. At the same time the group Americans for Tax Reform, a conservative pro-tax cut lobby, is awaiting a response from Daschle to a letter they sent, asking if the senator intends "to commit to personally rejecting the tax relief passed by Congress that will save you over $1,500 this year and $4,000 when it is fully phased in?" The group says that it would be hypocritical for Daschle to benefit from the same tax relief he voted against for the people of South Dakota.

Kudos to Kennedy -- The Fair Taxes for All Coalition, representing more than 500 organizations around the country, is applauding Sen. Ted Kennedy's call to delay the tax cuts planned for future years. The Coalition, which opposed the tax plan from the beginning, is now emphasizing, "that circumstances have changed dramatically since the President proposed, and Congress passed, a 10-year tax cut program." In a statement, the group praised Kennedy and other members of Congress who "have recognized the risks of going forward with tax cuts when our nation has so many unmet needs."

Be kind to animals week -- United Animal Nations, a radical pro-mammal group, has released its list of the Top 10 Animal Abusers of 2001. On it are individuals, corporations and government entities that the groups says are responsible for "the most horrifying types of animal cruelty and/or the largest amount of animal pain and suffering during the past year." Topping their list is Smithfield Foods, which kills 12 million hogs per year at its farms. Others cited by the group include the Coulston Foundation, a New Mexico animal research facility, and the 777 Ranch in Hondo, Texas.

The bright line between fantasy and reality grows dimmer -- Defenders of Wildlife, a green environmental group, is trumpeting the support of the actor playing President Bartlet on NBC's The West Wing in its effort to stop oil exploration in the Artic National Wildlife Refugee.

A statement from the group says, "At least one American 'president' favors preserving the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Martin Sheen, who plays President Josiah Bartlet ... is calling for Americans to urge their senators to save the refuge from oil drilling. Sheen sent his message today in an e-mail to the environmental organization Defenders of Wildlife's electronic network of nearly 500,000 supporters."

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