- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 26, 2002

Shooting a patriot

Late '70s sitcom princess Cindy Williams hasn't received so much mail since her popular "Laverne and Shirley" days. Except now it's not fan mail.

"It's beyond embarrassing, it's mortifying," Miss Williams says in a telephone interview from Los Angeles. "Where do you shout, 'I'm not the one'?"

Our story begins on Jan. 12, 2000, when The Washington Post published a commentary article on the military pay-raise issue written by Cindy Williams, a senior research fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who was assistant director for national security in the Congressional Budget Office from 1994 to 1997.

"This month every member of the U.S. military is getting a 4.8 percent pay raise, the biggest inflation boost the military has seen in 18 years," observed the MIT researcher, who went on to identify problems of morale and dissatisfaction across the military.

"But those problems are not all about pay," she opined. "Higher pay will not fix these problems." (Tell that to the GIs whose families rely on food stamps for survival, but we're jumping the gun here.)

After the commentary appeared in The Post, as so often happens, it was pasted on the Internet albeit with some not-so-minor alterations. First, the Internet version, or at least a version of the version, says the article was first published in The Washington Times. Second, it identified the author, Cindy Williams, as being the Hollywood actress not the MIT researcher.

"I've done everything to try to squelch it, but nothing seems to work," says Miss Williams of "Laverne and Shirley" fame. "I have people writing and calling me, even my friends, asking: 'Are you against a pay raise for the military?' And I reply, 'You know me, I'd fight [in the military] if I could, because I am such a patriot.'"

Ironically enough, much of the angry correspondence (even "hate mail") the actress has received has come from the military ranks.

"It's been really worrisome," says the actress. "It's terrible to malign people like that. I don't know where to go to say I didn't do this."

Enemy within?

A fire this past week of unknown origin consumed nearly the entire contents of a makeshift memorial at the Pentagon to victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The blaze even scorched the trunk of a 12-foot sapling on a knoll overlooking the damaged side of the Pentagon that serves as the focal point of tributes left by grieving Americans. According to a member of the vigil group Free Republic, most tributes to the Pentagon's victims were destroyed, including several American flags, a 3-foot-long Uncle Sam straw doll, a kangaroo doll left by Australians and sympathetic notes.


What does a black-and-white picture of President Bush, Vice President Richard B. Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card and CIA Director George J. Tenet appearing on the current Vanity Fair cover and snapped by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz fetch these days?

The high bidder at Landon School's annual fund-raising auction in Bethesda Saturday night forked over $30,000 for the historic print. Miss Leibovitz has a nephew who attends the school.

New Holland

"This retired energy executive has been waiting for someone to draw an easily understood comparison between having crude oil or windmills and you have finally done so congratulations!" writes Inside the Beltway reader Thomas Trenary, who read our contention yesterday that almost all 3.1 million acres of Connecticut (home to Democratic Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman) and nearly all 5-plus million acres of Massachusetts (home to Democratic Sen. John Kerry) would have to be blanketed by windmills to equal the energy contained beneath a tiny strip of Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

"Next, I will wait for someone to draw an investment analysis between the required investment per kilowatt-hour for each," says Mr. Trenary. "That will be startling (sorry, I am too busy starting another company)."

As for Americans worried about President Bush's encroachment on an undisturbed landscape in his search for oil and gas deposits, Rich Murray of Pomerene, Ariz., adds: "Take a ride along Interstate 10 in California from the Palm Springs area westward to Los Angeles.

"While you're driving, observe the once-beautiful mountainsides with all those windmills on them. Then tell me, Messrs. Lieberman and Kerry, if you honestly can, that windmills are saving the environment. [Sierra Club founder] John Muir fought to preserve the beauty of nature for future generations. I fail to see the beauty, or environmental benefits, of whirly gigs as far as the eye can see."

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