UPI's Capital Comment for Oct. 2, 2002

By United Press International   |   Oct. 2, 2002 at 12:55 PM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 2 (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.

The Torricelli twist -- The sudden decision of Sen. Robert Torricelli, D-N.J., to seek to have his name removed from the November ballot has taken another bizarre turn. The man chosen to replace Torricelli is former Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who has had, to put it mildly, a contentious relationship with Torricelli. Indeed one New Jersey insider with strong links to state Democrat leaders said the reason Torricelli did not also resign from the Senate was because Lautenberg had indicated a willingness to take on the job. But whether Lautenberg and the Democrats will succeed is up to the N.J. Supreme Court which heard argument on that Wednesday.

It all adds up -- A recent nationwide poll of adults shows many Americans believe the recent corporate accounting scandals are to blame for the current economic problems in the United States. According to 411 Communications, which conducted the poll, 16 percent of adults offered "the corporate accounting scandals" as the primary reason the economy is weak -- the No. 1 answer in the survey. "Despite the best efforts of the Democrats in Congress to put all of the blame for domestic economic problems on the shoulders of the Republicans, their efforts appear to be failing. Across the board, Americans from coast-to-coast believe both political parties as well as other events and institutions are to blame for our economic woes," 411 President Chris Ingram said.

Ingram said 411 Communications conducted the poll for itself, not for a client. 411 Communications is a Republican political polling and communications firm.

Clark stopping -- Retired U.S. Gen. Wesley Clark, former commander of NATO, is becoming an increasingly ubiquitous presence on television in the run up to war with Iraq -- something of an irony as he, while still on active duty, criticized former high-ranking U.S. military personnel who hired themselves out as analysts and talking heads to television news channels.

Some of his former colleagues in military have been increasingly critical of Clark in recent days -- especially after his speech to a Democrat fundraiser in Washington. According to one in attendance, the former NATO commander aligned himself "100 percent with the liberal Democrats" on the issue of war with Iraq. The speech has led some to speculate that Clark -- once rumored to be considering a bid for governor or U.S. senate from Arkansas -- may be angling for a bid as Al Gore's running mate in 2004.

Pin one on -- Last week Taiwanese first lady Madame Chen Wu Sue-jen received a gold medal honoring her work strengthening democracy for the 23 million people of the island republic. U.S. Rep. Christopher Cox, R-Calif, presented to Chen the National Endowment for Democracy's Democracy Service Medal, given to those who have made outstanding contributions to the cause of democracy. Cox, a member of the House Leadership, the Congressional Taiwan Caucus and the NED Board, was asked to present the award based on his commitment to the promotion of democracy around the world and his long-standing support for strong U.S.-Taiwan relations.

The National Endowment for Democracy is a private, nonprofit organization created in 1983 to strengthen democratic institutions around the world through non-governmental efforts. Other recent award recipients include former AFL-CIO head Lane Kirkland, former Polish President Lech Walesa, former U.S. Reps. John Brademas and Stephen Solarz and U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind.

Homeland insecurity -- In a recent message American Civil Liberties Union National Field Organizer Angela Colaiuta to members of the ACLU Action Network is warning against "an alternative proposal introduced by Senators Phil Gramm, R-Texas, and Zell Miller, D-Ga., as an amendment to H.R. 5005, the Homeland Security Act."

According to the memo, "The Gramm/Miller bill includes no means by which to investigate or remedy departmental wrongdoing. This dangerous legislation abandons civil rights oversight and would create an agency essentially accountable to no one." Colaiuta is urging concerned parties to send a free fax to senators through their Web site at aclu.org/action/homeland107.html.

In memoriam -- Jo-Anne Coe -- for almost 35 years a key member of former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole's inner circle and the first woman to serve as secretary of the Senate-- died last Friday of an aneurysm. A mass in celebration of her life will be held at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington, Va., on Monday. As an act of remembrance, family, friends and colleagues are establishing the Jo-Anne Coe Memorial Foundation to establish a stipend, scholarship or awards program to recognize women staff members on Capitol Hill and in government service who have shown traits exemplified by her -- honesty, integrity, loyalty and humility and who have placed duty above ego or self-promotion.

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