WASHINGTON, July 1 (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.
"I see a tall man in your future..." -- Veteran political prognosticator Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, has identified what he believes are the five key factors that will determine the outcome of the 2002 elections.
Speaking Thursday at a forum sponsored by Frontiers of Freedom, a conservative citizens' organization, Sabato said presidential popularity, the war on terror, the state of the economy, redistricting and what he called "the scandal factor" are the things to watch over the summer and into the fall.
Sabato predicted "if everything went the Republican's way, they could win as many as four Senate seats" though, he cautioned, the same is true for the Democrats. He suggested the more likely outcome would be a swing of one or two seats to either party.
"In the U.S. House," Sabato said, "there are only 36 competitive races, 18 of which are already Democrat seats. I do not see Democrats winning enough to retake control barring a very strong wind suddenly blowing their way."
Target marketing -- Every presidential campaign has a defining cultural issue. In the Bush vs. Gore 2000 race it was Hollywood or, more specifically, whether the entertainment industry was specifically marketing inappropriate movies and music to children. Both candidates bashed the industry while some social commentators used the occasion to inaugurate a discussion of the tensions that exist between social mores and free speech in a free society.
One outcome of the debate was that the Federal Trade Commission began a regular review of the motion picture, music recording and electronic game industry marketing practices. On Friday, the FTC released a 21-month follow-up to its original effort -- including some very harsh words for Hollywood from Commissioner Orson Swindle.
"The First Amendment appropriately limits what the government can do. Despite our scrutiny, the music industry continues to target young people explicitly in its advertising and, for the most part, refuses to provide content-based information that could help consumers. ... To varying degrees, all of the industries fall short in effectively communicating the rating or label as well as the reasons for it," he said. "What becomes clear as we continue with our series of reports is that if the public wants a change in these marketing practices, the public must demand that change and express its wishes in the currency of the marketplace."
Those who would dismiss the comments of this one commissioner do so at their own risk. Swindle, it serves to remind, is a close confidant of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who is the lead Republican on the Senate committee that has jurisdiction over many issues important to the entertainment industry.
Lite reading -- GOPUSA, a Web-based conservative news organization for grassroots activists, reports that almost 6,000 people signed their online petition in defense of the Pledge of Allegiance in the first 24 hours after it was posted online. "The response has been tremendous," GOPUSA's Bobby Eberle said. "People are completely stunned and are wondering what can be done about these 'over-the-top' liberal judges." The petition will remain online at GOPUSA.com until the evening of July 3 at which time it will be sent to the White House, the Department of Justice and all 100 members of the U.S. Senate -- just in time for them to contemplate its meaning over the July 4 holiday.
Values Czech-- Tennis superstar Martina Navratilova, who came to the United States at age 18 to escape repression in her native Czechoslovakia, is back in the news after she attacked the United States in the German media.
Writing in Die Zeit, a weekly publication, Navratilova said she believes free speech is as imperiled in the United States as it was in her communist homeland. "The most absurd part of my escape from the unjust system is that I have exchanged one system that suppresses free opinion for another," she wrote.
Navratilova, who was once the world's No. 1 one ranked women's tennis player, did not stop there. "It's depressing. Decisions in America are based solely on the question of 'how much money will come out of it' and not on the questions of how much health, morals or the environment suffer as a result."
Just say "No" -- The American Civil Liberties Union has come out with a list of reasons the Senate should reject the International Cyber-crime Treaty that, its sponsors say, will increase cooperation among law enforcement officials of different nations. The ACLU is characteristically blunt, labeling it "a bad treaty" and calling for the United States to reject it out of hand and giving eight reasons why:
- 1. The treaty lacks privacy and civil liberties protections.
- 2. The treaty is far too broad.
- 3. The treaty lacks a "dual criminality" requirement for U.S. cooperation with foreign police.
- 4. The protection for political activities is too weak.
- 5. The treaty threatens to further unbalance U.S. intellectual property law.
- 6. The treaty would give police invasive new surveillance powers.
- 7. The treaty contains an overly broad criminalization of hacking tools.
- 8. The treaty was drafted in a closed and secretive manner.
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