- The Washington Times - Friday, September 27, 2002

Streisand's memo

Barbra Streisand, in a memo to House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt, says Democrats should oppose any attack on Iraq by suggesting that the Bush administration just wants to enrich war-related industries that are "big Republican donors."

A copy of the memo, dated Sept. 25, was leaked to this column yesterday. It is addressed to "Congressman Dick Gebhardt" [sic] and came from "Barbra Streisand/Margery Tabankin."

Miss Streisand "asked me to convey to you her feeling that it is time for the Democrats to get off the defensive and go on the offensive," said the "Confidential Memo" under the letterhead "Margery Tabankin & Associates" of Santa Monica, Calif.

"Naturally, Barbra's not surprised to see the Bush administration evoke strong rhetoric about Democrats caring more about their own 'special interests' than protecting the security of the country. Of course, Republicans will say anything they need to in order to accomplish their own political agenda. Barbra feels that the Democratic Leadership must not continue to take this lying down.

"While the Republicans are shouting about the Democrats' special interests, why are the Democrats not saying the same about the Republicans? How can we ignore the obvious influence on the Bush administration of such special interests as the oil industry, the chemical companies, the logging industry, just to name a few? Many of these industries, run by big Republican donors and insiders, clearly have much to gain if we go to war against Iraq. Barbra urges the Democrats to publicly convey this message to the American people.

"While there are serious problems with Iraq and Saddam Hussein, Barbra feels that we can't let this issue become a distraction from the country's domestic problems and the President [sic] inability to fully dismantle the Al Queda network. Afterall [sic], Sadam [sic] did not bomb the World Trade Center.

"Feel free to call Barbra or me at 310-395-3599 if you would like to discuss this further," the memo concluded.


Florida race tightens

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's lead over Democratic challenger and political newcomer Bill McBride has narrowed, according to a new poll.

A survey released yesterday by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research showed Mr. Bush leading Mr. McBride 49 percent to 43 percent, the Associated Press reports. The Mason-Dixon poll of 625 likely voters was conducted Sunday through Tuesday and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Another poll conducted by MSNBC/Zogby on Sept. 17 and Sept. 18 and released Monday had showed Mr. Bush leading Mr. McBride 49 percent to 39 percent among likely voters, with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

Mr. McBride called the results of the latest poll "astounding" and said the governor was "nervous." Mr. Bush, campaigning in Orlando, said the survey result "doesn't surprise me at all" because Mr. McBride had been expected to get a bounce in the polls after his primary victory.


Chief justice a 'nut'?

A left-wing lawyer suing to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the Alabama Judicial Building's lobby mistakenly sent a letter to his adversaries in which he calls the state Supreme Court's chief justice a "religious nut."

In August 2001, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore had the 5,280-pound monument moved into the rotunda of the Judicial Building in Montgomery.

Southern Poverty Law Center director Morris Dees, who is suing to have the monument removed, intended the letter for another attorney on his legal team.

"I was laying our trial theme, i.e., how this was the act of a lone religious nut," Mr. Dees wrote.

Chief Justice Moore's attorney, Stephen Melchior, received the letter and filed it in the court record in response to a motion asking a federal judge to order the removal of the monument without a trial. Mr. Dees is seeking to have the letter stricken from the court record.

"Because of their motion to strike, it would not be appropriate for me to comment, but the letter speaks for itself," Mr. Melchior said.


Off the hook

A now-imprisoned businessman gave credible evidence about illegal contributions to Sen. Robert G. Torricelli, New Jersey Democrat, but officials chose not to prosecute because he is an admitted felon, said a government memo unsealed yesterday by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.

David Chang, who cooperated in the probe, pleaded guilty in 2000 to charges that he made $53,700 in illegal contributions to Mr. Torricelli's campaign.

"Although the government did not ultimately bring a prosecution against the public official, the government also found Chang's statements concerning the conduct of the public official to be credible in most material respects," Reuters news agency quotes the memo as saying.

The memo went on to say, however, that "some critical aspects of Chang's account of events" were not corroborated, and in the end rested on his credibility.

Debra DeShong, Mr. Torricelli's press secretary, said the memo confirmed that prosecutors "could not make a case built on the testimony of a man chronically involved in what the government described as 'fraudulent and deceptive conduct.'"


Hitchens quits Nation

Christopher Hitchens, longtime columnist for the Nation, is leaving the liberal weekly publication.

Mr. Hitchens writes in the Oct. 14 issue that it would be "false to continue the association" with the magazine.

Mr. Hitchens, who has written his "Minority Report" column for 20 years, is a self-styled contrarian who rankled the left in the past year with his support for military action in Afghanistan and Iraq. His support for the impeachment of former President Clinton and the war on terrorism differed sharply from those of the Nation's editorial leadership.

Mr. Hitchens said the magazine "is becoming the voice and the echo chamber of those who truly believe that John Ashcroft is a greater menace than Osama bin Laden."


Admission of ignorance

Jesse Jackson, who has been raising a stink about the film "Barbershop," admitted to a Chicago radio interviewer that he hasn't seen the movie.

Mr. Jackson has demanded that filmmakers "delete the portion of the film that is insensitive and inappropriate to both Dr. [Martin Luther] King and Rosa Parks from future DVDs, videotapes and any other future releases."

Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass said the admission of ignorance "came late Tuesday afternoon on 'The John Williams Show' on WGN-AM radio. I have the tape." Here is the exchange as Mr. Kass relates it:

"Williams: So, did you see the movie at a theater, with a crowd of people at a theater?

"Jackson: No. I read the script. And I've seen enough of the excerpts [on TV].

"Williams: So, you haven't seen it?

"Jackson: No. That really doesn't matter. I don't have to jump in hot water to know it will burn.


Rapper backs Pataki

Rap music star LL Cool J filled out a voter-registration form yesterday and announced he was backing Republican George E. Pataki for a third term as governor of New York against Democratic challenger H. Carl McCall.

The entertainer said Mr. Pataki had done "great things" for Queens, his home community, the Associated Press reports.

"It's not about parties; it's not about race; it's not about what's cool or not cool; it's about action and it's about people stepping up," he said.

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