- The Washington Times - Friday, June 30, 2000

When we used to go down to the neighborhood delicatessen and Sophie, the waitress (who just happened to also be Irving the owner's girlfriend) brought the check, there was usually a mistake in the bill. After we pointed out the error, the bill was corrected. Once, when we were able to speak to Irving alone and he didn't have his hands on a pastrami or Sophie, we asked him about the constant errors in our bill. He told us, "the problem is arithmetic." Pressing the issue, we asked him why it was that the mistake is never in our favor, why was it always in his? Waiving a piece of stuffed derma at us he said it was just "a coincidence." This experience forever shattered our faith in "coincidences."
Deborah VanAmerongen, HUD's director of multifamily housing for New York, must have eaten a lot of Irving's pastrami. In May of 1999 Rick Lazio was just another congressman representing a suburb of New York City. Mr. Lazio put in a good word for a local concern with HUD which, as far as we know, is what congressmen are expected to do. Nevertheless, Ms. VanAmerongen subsequently sought an investigation of Mr. Lazio because of his efforts. But it just so happens that Mr. Lazio is now not just another suburban congressman. He is now a candidate for the U.S. Senate running against Hillary Clinton. If this is not enough of a coincidence, it turns out that Ms. VanAmerongen worked 11 years for the Democrats in the state assembly. All of these coincidences are enough to make Sophie think her talents are being wasted in the delicatessen.
If you are a threat to the Clintons you can expect coincidences to come flying at you, coincidences that Sophie could never have begun to imagine and you have to have a pretty good imagination if you share knishes in the moonlight with Irving after the delicatessen closes.
Rudy Giuliani decided to run for the Senate and, coincidentally he was assaulted by the EPA, HUD, the Civil Rights Commission and the Justice Department. The Civil Rights Commission was so eager to slam Mr. Giuliani's police department that one of its own members (a Republican) could only obtain a copy of the report by proceeding under the Freedom of Information Act. The media however, had no such problem since they were subjected to a steady stream of "leaked" information.
The same day that the Independent Counsel issued his report, basically indicating that Hillary committed perjury when questioned about Travelgate, by coincidence, the public was informed, via media leaks, that the SEC has been investigating a 1997 stock deal in which Mr. Lazio made a $13,500 profit on a $2,300 investment. What they should have investigated was the fact that Mr. Lazio was a lousy businessman. Hillary, acting on the advice of one of her husband's major contributors, was able to turn a $1,000 investment into $160,000. Even the mafia can't give you a profit like that.
All of these things made Sophie, as she relaxed, indulging herself over some chopped liver after a tousle in the kitchen with Irving, feel that she was wasting her time over her coincidences on the bills. There is, she mused, much more money in coincidences if you have less scruples than you find in neighborhood delicatessens.

Raoul Felder is an attorney and Jackie Mason is a comedian.

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