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Inside Politics: Root canals, colonoscopies more popular than Congress

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A new poll shows that Congress is less popular than root canals and colonoscopies, but more popular than the Ebola virus, meth labs and gonorrhea.

Those findings are in a Public Policy Polling survey released Tuesday that showed that 9 percent of respondents held a favorable opinion of Congress, while 85 percent held an unfavorable view.

"We all know Congress is unpopular," said Dean Debnam, PPP president. "But the fact that voters like it even less than cockroaches, lice and Genghis Khan really shows how far its esteem has fallen with the American public over the last few weeks."

On the bright side, Congress came out of the survey in higher standing than North Korea, the Kardashian family and actress Lindsay Lohan, as well as Cuba's Fidel Castro and former Sen. John Edwards.

On the not-so-bright side, it lost out in the popularity contest to the rock band Nickelback, real estate magnate Donald Trump, NFL replacement refs and France.

IRS

Changing laws create short delay for taxpayers

The Internal Revenue Service says late changes to federal tax laws should mean only a short delay for most taxpayers to file their 2012 returns.

The agency said Tuesday that more than 120 million taxpayers — about 80 percent of all filers — should be able to start filing their federal returns on Jan. 30. Others will have to wait until late February or March to file because the agency needs time to update and test its systems.

Those who will have to wait include people claiming residential energy credits, depreciation of property or general business credits. The filing season had been slated to start Jan. 22, but was delayed because of the big tax package passed by Congress on Jan. 1.

RHODE ISLAND

Ex-Rep. Kennedy lobbies against legal marijuana

PROVIDENCE — Former Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, Rhode Island Democrat, said he has established a group to lobby against legalized marijuana.

The ex-congressman said that efforts around the United States to legalize marijuana are well-intentioned, but misguided.

The Providence Journal reports that Mr. Kennedy's group, Project SAM — for Smart Approaches to Marijuana — will instead lobby for increased treatment for marijuana and drug abuse.

He says making marijuana legal would introduce a new substance comparable to alcohol and tobacco that would cause more public health problems than it would solve.

Mr. Kennedy also says he is skeptical about medical marijuana. He says it misdirects compassion for those who suffer from cancer and other diseases to support for an extreme drug policy.

Rhode Island allows the regulated use and cultivation of marijuana to treat some medical conditions.

WHITE HOUSE

Evers' widow to give inaugural invocation

The widow of slain civil rights activist Medgar Evers will deliver the invocation at President Obama's second inauguration on Jan. 21.

The Presidential Inaugural Committee announced Tuesday that Myrlie Evers-Williams would deliver the prayer. It comes 50 years after her husband was fatally shot in the driveway of his Mississippi home. The inauguration falls on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Mrs. Evers-Williams is a distinguished scholar at Alcorn State University in Lorman, Miss. She was chairwoman of the NAACP from 1995 to 1998.

Inaugural organizers said the Rev. Louie Giglio of Atlanta's Passion City Church will deliver the benediction for Mr. Obama's swearing-in.

In a statement, Mr. Obama says Mrs. Evers-Williams and Mr. Giglio represent the ideals of justice, equality and opportunity that he pursues.

In 2009, the Rev. Rick Warren delivered the invocation.

ILLINOIS

AG asks circuit court to review weapons ban

CHICAGO — Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is trying to salvage the state's ban on concealed carry.

Ms. Madigan said Tuesday that she's filed a petition asking that all 10 judges on the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals review a lawsuit challenging the ban.

Last month, a three-judge panel struck down the ban on carrying concealed weapons in Illinois — the only remaining state where doing so is entirely illegal. They gave lawmakers 180 days to write a law legalizing it.

The judges said the ban was unconstitutional and suggested that legalizing concealed carry is long overdue. Gun advocates had vowed to challenge the ban on every front.

Ms. Madigan says the court's decision "goes beyond what the U.S. Supreme Court has held" and conflicts with decisions by two other federal appellate courts.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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