WASHINGTON, March 6 (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.
Any friend of yours...
The American Jewish vote has been a cornerstone of the Democrats' political coalition at least as far back as when President Harry S. Truman led the world in giving official recognition to the state of Israel. Over the past 20 years the voting patterns may not have shifted but the political patterns have.
Republican support for Israel has increased dramatically over the past 30 years -- coinciding with the influx of conservative evangelical voters into the political process on behalf of the GOP. As a result, congressional Republicans have been standing strong for Israel while the left wing of the Democrats in Congress has move away from it.
In any case, the Middle East's only real democracy still has friends in both political parties, several of whom are about to be honored by the Stand for Israel Coalition, a project of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. The group will honor House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, and U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., at its first ever Friend of Israel awards banquet, to be held April 2 in Washington.
The two men are being singled out for their role in the passage of House Resolution 392, an April 2002 expression of solidarity between the United States and Israel in which the U.S. Congress pledged its commitment "to Israel's right to self-defense and supports additional U.S. assistance to help Israel defend itself."
Puttin' on the Fritz...
Ernest "Fritz" Hollings, D-S.C., shows no sign of slowing down now that, nearing 80, he has become the state's senior U.S. senator. He has been one of the leading critics of the potential war against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and, as a member of several influential Senate committees, has not shied away from using his knowledge of the chamber's intricacies to further his cause.
Hollings recently asked the Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley, to hold a hearing to investigate how the U.S. government will "pay for pending military action." He has also introduced legislation -- S. 112, the War Financing Act of 2003 -- to impose a 1 percent European-style value added tax devoted to raise funds to pay for the war.
In a letter to Senate colleagues, Hollings, who has for years advocated the addition of a VAT to the U.S. tax code, wrote: "It is unconscionable to be asking the young men and women of our armed services to risk their lives in war, while those of us at home assume no sacrifice and instead go on a vacation funded by tax cuts ... To those young men and women in our armed services, we are saying, 'Come back alive, because when you come back, we will hand you the bill for the war.'"
Singing for your supper...
The Women's Campaign Fund, one of the nation's oldest political action committees devoted to the cause of electing women to public office through early financial support, is to hold a series of what some might call progressive dinners in New York City March 10. The dinners, 17 in all, will be held at the homes of some of the city's most influential people including Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum and her husband, labor leader Victor Gotbaum, and Foreign Affairs magazine editor Jim Hoge, and will be prepared by some of the city's best-known celebrity chefs.
Attending the dinners, according to the WCF, are a mix of political and media stars including CNBC's Jim Cramer, Court TV's Catherine Crier, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, Meredith Vieira of ABC's The View, former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, former NBC and CNN journalist Garrick Utley, The New York Times' Jane Brody and former U.S. Sen. Bob Kerrey, who now heads the city's New School. The attendance of some journalists at a political fundraising event is rather unusual but, as the Women's Campaign Fund is a nonpartisan organization, it is unlikely that too many people will raise a stink.
Logged on and linked...
Computer giant Hewlett-Packard has come on board the U.S. Department of Commerce's Digital Freedom Initiative. In support of the DFI, HP will be providing planning assistance and business expertise as well as information technology strategy consulting. "The Digital Freedom Initiative makes it clear that financial capital alone is not the greatest wealth multinationals can bring to the developing world; it is human capital. It is experience and knowledge and the ability to use those skills to empower local communities. It is using technology not as an end in itself but as an enabler to address fundamental problems of hunger, disease and economic development," HP Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Carly Fiorina said.
The Digital Freedom Initiative is a public-private partnership aimed at fostering technology-driven economic growth and entrepreneurship in developing nations. It will be kicked off in Senegal over the next three years and, organizers hope, will spread out into more than 20 countries over the next five years.
(Got a Capital Comment? E-mail it to CapComm@UPI.com.)