UPI's Capital Comment for Feb. 12, 2003

WASHINGTON, Feb. 12 (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.

Radio-active tactics...


The looming filibuster of Miguel Estrada's nomination to the federal bench has the Republicans looking for every vote they can get. The 51 GOP senators seem to be holding together in support of the nomination so far, but only three Democrats -- Georgia's Zell Miller, Nebraska's Ben Nelson and Louisiana's John Breaux -- have announced their support for the nominee.

A lot of pressure is being put on Louisiana's other senator, Democrat Mary Landrieu, to support Estrada. As part of trying to move her, the Republicans are circulating the text -- in English and Spanish -- of a radio spot they say ran on radio station KGLA 1540 AM in the 2002 cycle and was paid for by Friends of Mary Landrieu.


"Mary Landrieu has worked close to the Hispanic community," the translation says. In establishing her bona fides as a friend of the Hispanic community, the ad said Landrieu "also supported the candidacy of the Honduran Miguel Estrada for the federal court of appeals." The discovery of this spot gave the Republicans hope that Landrieu might come on board.

Landrieu released a statement late Tuesday that effectively dashes their hopes. "My campaign ran an ad that was intended to convey only that I did not oppose (Estrada's) nomination. Instead it read as if I had already decided to support him.

"Unfortunately, some of my supporters in the Hispanic community who helped us produce this commercial misinterpreted my neutrality as a statement of support," she said.

"I take personal responsibility for the error, and I apologize to anyone who was misled by these ads, which ran for less than two weeks on one radio station in New Orleans. I have supported all but one of President (George W.) Bush's judicial nominees. However, Mr. Estrada has refused to answer even the most basic legal questions put before him by the Judiciary Committee and I cannot at this time vote for him ... At this time, however, I am supporting the filibuster," Landrieu concluded.


Right moves...

Kwadjo Campbell, a member of the Charleston, S.C., City Council and candidate for mayor, has stunned the political establishment by becoming a Republican. Campbell represents the city's East Side neighborhood, which is heavily poor and minority. Two years ago, Campbell, who had been elected as a Democrat, became an independent. In December 2002, he joined the GOP.

"When you talk about advocating public policy that supports self-determination, self-reliance, those are Republican agendas. The Democratic Party, in my opinion, advocates a policy that supports dependency," Campbell said.

A legacy set in stone...

In exchange for a $100 gift, donors to the Clinton presidential library are being given the opportunity to have their name or that of a loved one engraved on a 6-inch by 12-inch granite paving stone. When the building is complete, the stones will form what is being called "Celebration Circle," bearing what the library says on its Web site is "permanent witness to your commitment to preserving the Clinton legacy."

But wait, as they say on late night television, there's more.

"When you renew your support of the Clinton Library and Center with a contribution of $100, you can order a 3-inch by 6-inch replica to display in your home or office -- or present as a special gift -- for only $75 to cover the cost plus shipping." Orders are being taken through the Web site, at


Hooray for Hollywood...

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights, a group with ties to the Church of Scientology -- which opposes the use of pharmaceuticals to treat children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder -- is holding an awards banquet Saturday in Beverly Hills, Calif. Actresses Priscilla Presley and Leah Remini will be presenting awards to citizen activists who have fought the use of drugs to treat ADHD children and have pressured states to enact laws "prohibiting school personnel from recommending psychiatric drugs and reinforcing a parent's right to refuse drug treatment."

According to a commission release, Connecticut, Illinois, Minnesota and Virginia have passed such laws in the past two years and 11 more -- including Hawaii, Texas, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Vermont and West Virginia -- are taking a look at similar legislation.

Whose rules...

The Center for Freedom and Prosperity Foundation, a free-market group, has just released a study it says illustrates how the U.S. Internal Revenue Service is undermining the rule of law. By pursuing a regulation that would require American financial institutions to report bank deposit interest paid to certain non-resident aliens, the center's Andrew Quinlan says, the IRS "is overstepping its authority and abusing the regulatory process by proposing a regulation that is fundamentally inconsistent with the law."


"Who Writes the Law: Congress or the IRS?" was written by economist Dan Mitchell, a fellow of the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank, using information from the Congressional Record, the Joint Committee on Taxation and the House Ways & Means Committee going back as far as 1921 to reach its conclusion.

The study can be found on the Web at

In memoriam...

Robert Woodson Jr., former chief of staff to U.S. Housing Secretary Mel Martinez, was killed after his car hit an ice slick Saturday in a Maryland suburb and spun out of control. Woodson, a highly regarded faith-based policy leader and former aide to U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, was the son of noted empowerment activist Robert Woodson Sr., of the National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise. A memorial service is being held at 1 p.m. EST Thursday at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church -- known as the church where Lincoln worshiped -- in Washington.

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