- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 18, 2002

Porn amendment

A group of conservative House lawmakers introduced a proposed constitutional amendment yesterday that would overrule a recent Supreme Court decision that legalized computer-generated child pornography.

"Those who exploit our children through use of virtual pornography should no longer be protected," said Rep. Henry E. Brown Jr., the South Carolina Republican leading the effort.

The proposed amendment comes in response to the high court's April decision to overturn parts of a 1996 law that banned pornography that appeared to but did not depict real children. It was aimed at pornography that uses computer-generated images or images of adults who look like children. The court said the law violated the First Amendment.

The House passed a bill in late June crafted by Texas Republican Rep. Lamar Smith that would rewrite the overturned law. But Mr. Brown and others said a constitutional amendment is the only way to ensure that Mr. Smith's bill and future laws are not struck down by liberal judges.

"It will take a constitutional amendment for us to have a wall of protection for our children," said Rep. Charles W. "Chip" Pickering Jr., Mississippi Republican.

"Liberal judges are out of control," said Christian Coalition President Roberta Combs. She said that if Mr. Smith's bill is signed into law, she expects a liberal judge would immediately issue an injunction preventing it from going into effect.

The proposed amendment would stipulate that neither the federal nor any state's constitution could protect child pornography, defined as visual depictions by any technological means of minor persons, whether actual or virtual, engaged in explicit sexual activity.

The effort has a long road ahead, however. Constitutional amendments must win two-thirds majorities in both houses of Congress and then be ratified by three-fourths of state legislatures in order to become law.

Premature celebration

"Sen. Dick Durbin [Illinois Democrat], and Illinois GOP Gov. George Ryan may have been a bit too confident of Rep. Bill Lipinski's ability to pilot the O'Hare International Airport expansion bill through the House," United Press International reports in its Capital Comment column.

"Lipinski [Illinois Democrat] has been working for months to shore up support for the measure, which would reconfigure airport runways, add at least one additional runway, force hundreds of people from their homes, shutter scores of nearby businesses and require the relocation of parts of two cemeteries. So confident were they that Durbin and Ryan both issued statements prior to the Monday vote on the issue, praising the House for its foresightedness in approving the issue," the wire service said.

"There's just one problem. Although the measure did garner a majority vote in favor of approval, 247-143, it failed to secure the two-thirds necessary for passage. Durbin's red-faced spokesman, Joe Shoemaker, took the blame for the premature declaration of victory. As of Tuesday morning, however, Ryan was standing by his laudatory remarks. Chicago Mayor Richard Daley put a positive spin on the whole fiasco: 'This evening's vote emphasizes that after decades of trying, we are on the verge of getting the deal on O'Hare expansion done.' Sure."

Gaming Grandma

"When we teed off on the House Republicans' prescription-drug bill last month, the Democratic Leadership Council could barely contain its 'joy with at long last finding common ground with the Journal editorial page,'" the Wall Street Journal observed in an editorial yesterday.

"Well, we hope the DLC will also be with us now in opposing Tom Daschle's plan to spend two weeks pushing a phony drug plan in the Senate," the newspaper said.

"If the majority leader actually wanted to pass something, he'd move a bipartisan bill out of committee. But Mr. Daschle yanked a 'tripartisan' (sponsored by Independent Jim Jeffords, Democrat John Breaux and several Republicans) similar to the House plan away from Democratic Chairman Max Baucus at Finance precisely because it had a good chance of success.

"Instead, he's decided to start two weeks of political theater by dispatching Ted Kennedy to the floor with a bill to limit pharmaceutical patents. Once senators get good and lathered up about drug prices, someone will offer the Senate Democrats' ridiculously expensive prescription drug plan as an amendment.

"We hope seniors understand the game here. Without the support of one Republican senator or even Jim Jeffords, the Democratic plan has zero chance of success. But all Mr. Daschle wants to do is start proclaiming how 'disappointed' he is that the GOP won't let Grandma have her drugs, so he'll have the issue alive come November."

Send cash

The nation's governors wrapped up a summer meeting dominated by economic issues with a plea to Washington for help in coping with cash-strapped budgets.

They concluded the conference in Boise, Idaho, Tuesday by appealing to Congress to provide more money for costly health care programs and support a uniform plan to collect sales taxes on products sold on the Internet.

The governors adopted one proposal urging Congress to pass legislation that would provide an extra $8.9 billion in Medicaid money to states in the next 18 months.

Wooing Hispanics

Armed with favorable poll numbers for President Bush, Southern California's House Republicans Tuesday launched a renewed drive to attract Hispanics to the GOP, the Los Angeles Daily News reports.

"We offer the best hope for Hispanics," said Rep. David Dreier, who led the daylong meeting. "We are building on President George W. Bush's message of inclusion. Our message of liberty, freedom and economic opportunity is tailor-made for the Hispanic community."

Mr. Dreier and other California Republican House members, including Reps. Mary Bono, Gary G. Miller and Jerry Lewis, cited a recent nationwide poll conducted by Virginia-based Latino Opinions. It found that 82 percent of the 1,000 Hispanic adults surveyed had a favorable impression of Mr. Bush, compared with 47 percent in a 2001 poll.

But the poll also showed that 53 percent of Hispanic voters were backing Democratic House candidates and only 23 percent supporting Republican hopefuls.

Rahm's repair job

"Rahm Emanuel, an adviser to Bill Clinton who's now seeking a congressional seat in Illinois, is under fire for using nonunion workers to remodel his house two years ago," James Taranto writes in his Best of the Web Today column at www.opinionjournal.com.

"Emanuel says he simply failed to inquire whether the contractor was a union shop, and he's very sorry: 'In hindsight, I should have asked. I didn't. So, it's a mistake.' He adds: 'I'm committed to the issues I laid out in the primary and general election. And I think that's why I received the support of the AFL-CIO, of the electrical workers, the carpenters, the plumbers, the teachers they all know they will have a person who will fight for working families.'"

Conviction upheld

A federal judge yesterday upheld the federal corruption conviction of Vincent "Buddy" Cianci Jr., the mayor of Providence, R.I.

The ruling came more than three weeks after a jury found Cianci guilty of a single count of racketeering conspiracy, but acquitted him on 11 other charges, including bribery, extortion and mail fraud.

U.S. District Judge Ernest Torres also upheld the racketeering convictions of Cianci's former right-hand man, Frank Corrente, and a politically connected tow-truck operator, Richard Autiello.

Cianci faces up to 20 years in prison and $250,000 in fines at sentencing, scheduled for Sept. 6, the Associated Press reports.

The mayor has announced that he will not seek re-election in September for a fourth consecutive term and seventh overall.

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