UPI's Capital Comment for March 28, 2002

By United Press International  |  March 28, 2002 at 9:56 AM
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WASHINGTON, March 28 (UPI) -- 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.

See if we ever invite you to anything again -- Early Wednesday morning, President Bush signed into law the campaign finance regulation legislation that had been pushed by Reps. Chris Shays, R-Conn., and Martin Meehan, D-Mass., in the House and Sens. Russ Feingold, D-Wisc., and John McCain, R-Ariz., in the Senate.

While acknowledging he continued to have reservations about some of the provisions of the bill, he nevertheless signed it without much fanfare while traveling to South Carolina and Georgia on presidential and political business. This did not sit well with at least one prominent member of the House.

Rep. Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., the House minority leader, complained that Bush did not make more of the signing. In a statement, the 13-term Democrats said, "It is unfortunate that the Bush administration decided not to invite these reformers to the White House this morning. These members deserved greater recognition for their work. The White House missed an opportunity to pay proper tribute to these members whose vision and persistence made this day possible."

Perhaps Mr. Gephardt will throw them a party instead.

One big happy -- The Institute for Gay and Lesbian Strategic Studies, a non-profit, independent think tank based in Amherst, Mass., has released a study proclaiming "lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth are benefiting from the existence of Gay-Straight Alliances" in the public schools.

The initial release, "Going Beyond Gay-Straight Alliances to Make Schools Safe for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Students," draws from work undertaken by Drs. Pat Griffin and Mathew Ouellett of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. The complete study is expected in 18 months.

The IGLSS says the researchers, "Expect the study to be used nationally by advocates, school personnel and others who seek to have formal safe schools programs implemented in states outside Massachusetts. "With this study, IGLSS has substantiated the role that Gay-Straight Alliances play in creating safer school environments for LGBT youth," IGLSS Executive Director Stacy Roth said in a release. According to the group there are at least 12 states considering legislation to enact programs similar to Massachusetts's -- including Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, New York, and Washington.

New kid on the block -- Participate America, a group leading a nationwide campaign to bring attention to private action in the public square, has kicked off its effort with a release of the list of the 23 founding sponsors. It is a diverse collection of corporate, non-profit and civic groups, including the AOL Time Warner Foundation, Close Up Foundation, Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the League of Women Voters, the National Restaurant Association, People for the American Way and the Points of Light Foundation.

"For more than two centuries, American democracy has been built upon a foundation of civic participation," Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said. "The every day acts of teaching, volunteering, contributing, debating and voting are the cornerstones of who we are. Since Sept. 11, more Americans than ever have sought to engage in these activities- Participate America will connect citizens to the tools they need to do this with real, lasting impact." Roberts was the original co-sponsor of the Senate legislation giving recognition to National Civic Participation Week, Sept. 11-17, 2002.

A flame of hope flickers -- The American Muslim Council is condemning Wednesday's bombing of the hotel in the Israeli town of Netanya and calling "on all who respect human life to stop the violence now and to eliminate the causes for such violence."

"The first day of the Passover observance commemorates the freedom and exodus of the Israelites from ancient Egypt," the group said. " We call on all in the peace process to dedicate themselves to human rights and respect for life, and to do whatever is necessary to ensure freedom, security and deliverance from all forms of tyranny and violence."

The Brady bunch -- Former President Bill Clinton led a pack of celebrity well-wishers on hand to celebrate the publication of Sarah Brady's new book, "The Good Fight," in New York Tuesday night. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence united with the Million Mom March sponsored the event.

In his remarks honoring Brady, the former president demonstrated yet again why he is considered one of the exceptional politicians of his generation.

"I love Sarah Brady," he said. "She's tough, smart, funny, full of love and without self-pity. Her good fight is worth reading about. Even her NRA adversaries could learn something from her humanity and humor."

It is likely that the celebrants paid little attention to the scandal developing over Brady's potential violation of Delaware state gun control laws.

As she writes in the book, she purchased a rifle for her son in the state. While she submitted to the requisite background checks mandated by state and federal law, she does not indicate if she submitted her son's name for the same checks -- a potential violation of the state's gun control law. At least one group has asked the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to investigate.

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