UPI's Capital Comment for May 6, 2003

WASHINGTON, May 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.

General news...


Retired Gen. Wesley Clark continues to raise his profile while officially not a candidate for president of the United States. On May 7, Clark will give the prestigious Morgenthau Memorial Lecture at a meeting of the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs in New York City. The topic of his remarks is Waging Modern War: Bosnia, Kosovo, and the Future of Conflict, which Clark "recently updated to include his thoughts on the war on terrorism," according to the council.

Comparing Clark to Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, Carnegie Council President Joel Rosenthal says, "It is timely to hear from someone with hands-on experience in waging modern warfare ... No one knows better than General Clark about the lessons the United States ought to have learned from Kosovo. This makes him one of our most credible sources for discussing the ethics of fighting al-Qaida as well as waging war with Iraq."


After the lecture, the council will host a dinner with Clark, providing "an informal venue for continuing the conversation." The conversation, at $350 per plate, will be moderated by former Clinton administration national security adviser Anthony Lake.

Public enemy No. 1...

The Cato Institute, America's leading libertarian think tank, is hosting a book forum May 7 featuring Jack Hollander, author of a new book on the global environmental predicament. "The Real Environmental Crisis: Why Poverty, Not Affluence, Is the Environment's Number One Enemy" has, as its main thesis, the idea that global poverty is in fact the world's most critical environmental problem.

Hollander, professor emeritus of energy and resources at the University of California, Berkeley, examined a wide range of energy, natural resource, and environmental issues before concluding that economic development and technological advances can relieve many pressing global problems including food shortages, deforestation, air pollution, and land degradation. At the same time, he writes, these advances can provide clean water, adequate energy supplies, and improved public health.

He's back...

Having recently reappeared on the political scene while calling for reform of the U.S. Department of State, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is now announcing the release of a new book that evolves out of his work at the American Enterprise Institute think tank.


The book, "Saving Lives & Saving Money: Transforming Health and Healthcare," is a citizens' guide that identifies what Gingrich and his two co-authors say are the transforming principles necessary to create a 21st century system of American health and healthcare that will save lives and money. "There is an enormous gap between the quality of healthcare you and your family should have and what you are most likely receiving from the current system," Gingrich said. "We have demonstrated that Americans could have a dramatically better system, which would save thousands of lives and billions of dollars every year."

Saving Lives reviews the successes realized by existing healthcare companies, organizations, and projects to offer proof that a better system is possible and to provide the opportunity for others to study and, hopefully, implement the strategies and tactics of those who are working to reform the system.

On your mark, get set....

Voters in the 19th Congressional District of Texas delivered something of a surprise to the Washington crowd. In the mass primary to choose a replacement for retiring U.S. Rep. Larry Combest, it was developer and ex-Lubbock, Texas, City Councilor Randy Neugebauer and former Bush business associate Mike Conaway at the top of the field.


Neugebauer led the pack of 17 candidates, winning 22 percent of the vote while Conway finished in second place with 21 percent. State Rep. Carl Isett, who had strong backing from Washington conservative groups, finished third place with 19 percent of the vote.

Because no candidate received more than 50 percent of the vote, Neugebauer and Conway will face off in a runoff election scheduled for early June.

Corn-fed future...

More than 80 percent of Iowa voters agree the Social Security system is at risk, according to a new poll released Monday by the National Center for Policy Analysis, a conservative think tank. Nearly three-fourths of the respondents indicated a preference when quizzed about three frequently proposed reforms.

Allowing workers to invest a portion of their Social Security payroll taxes into personal retirement accounts was by far the most popular option, selected by 35.3 percent of those indicating a preference. Another 19.8 percent said they favored raising the retirement age while 18.8 percent favored increasing the payroll tax rate. The NCPA's Matt Moore said the findings indicate, "More and more people are coming to recognize that Social Security is in trouble."

In questions asked to help gauge the perspective of respondents, the poll found that President Bush's job approval rating in Iowa is at 66 percent while among likely Democratic caucus voters, former U.S. House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., was the most popular of the Democrats currently seeking their party's presidential nomination.


The poll was conducted April 21-23 and includes completed interviews with 400 likely Iowa voters. The margin of error is plus/minus 4.9 percent.

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