Jewish World Review May 29, 2003 / 27 Iyar, 5763

Lloyd Grove

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Consumer Reports

Newt's new novel | WASHINGTON In his previous novelistic outing when he was still speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich boldly rewrote the ending of World War II. In "1945," the Allies beat Japan and Nazi Germany conquered Europe. But the most talked-about scene involved a "pouting sex kitten" whose bedtime skills rivaled "Diana the huntress."

"She was certainly no sex kitten by modern standards," Gingrich told us as he touted his latest work of military fiction, "Gettysburg," another rewriting of history wherein Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee wins the Civil War's pivotal battle. No sex kittens need apply.

Gingrich added that publisher St. Martin's Press is hoping to sell "Gettysburg" as the perfect Father's Day gift. This time around, Gingrich and his co-author, historian William R. Forstchen (who collaborated on "1945"), got a big assist from Civil War expert Albert S. "Steve" Hanser.

"We are all PhDs, all three of us have taught history, and we all have learned that when you reduce history to passive memorization, you lose people," Gingrich said. "So we embrace the concept of an active history: In a particular situation, what would I have done?"

Their research included spending two days meticulously walking the Pennsylvania battlefield with the guidance of Retired Army General Robert Scales. "We argued about it for two years and then we spent two days working out the narrative on my porch in McLean, (Va.)" Gingrich said, adding that they used the color-coded "tracking" feature of Microsoft Word to synthesize their narratives. "I think I was usually blue or green."


Before we get to Kirstie Alley's issue -- prohibiting schools from pushing parents to medicate "problem" children -- let's get to Kirstie Alley's love life.

"When I come to Washington in June" -- to lobby for Senate passage of the Child Medication Safety Act, which passed the House overwhelmingly last week -- "I might just look for a husband," the 52-year-old mother of two told us from Los Angeles. "I love marriage. I love monogamy," added the two-time divorcee, who is now seen everywhere umpteen times a day in a series of amusing Pier 1 Imports commercials. "I can't have a conservative, and he can't be on psychotropic drugs. I want him to be from 40 to 50 years old. He has to be very funny, very smart, and a children's rights activist. But I don't want him to be a psychiatrist."

Time for Alley's issue -- which she's advertising under the auspices of the Church of Scientology-supported Citizens Commission on Human Rights. Longtime Scientologist Alley has been speaking out against mental health professionals who think psychiatric drugs can sometimes help people.

"I'm very adamant against drugs," she said. "When teachers and school administrators talk about problems with attention span and left brain, right brain, I say '(Bleep) the left brain, (bleep) the right brain!' We're talking about a whole human being."

Alley's convictions are so strong, she said, that in the last presidential election she voted for George W. Bush instead of her preferred candidate, Al Gore. "I love Al Gore and I like many of his ideas, I just had a problem with his wife," Tipper, a mental health advocate who has candidly discussed her own bouts of depression and how she was aided by therapy and drugs.


-- Friends of former New York Democratic Congressman Tom Downey and his wife of nearly 25 years, Chris Milanos Downey, are lining up to take sides in the couple's wrenching divorce. On Chris's side, we hear, are House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Reps. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., and Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. Downey, who moved out of their mansion to a D.C. bachelor pad, privately insists there is no "other woman." We hear that Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., recently "chewed Tom out." A spokesman for Miller said his boss "would consider this a private matter and have no comment."

-- Our thanks to blogger Mickey Kaus for distilling Salon editor David Talbot's Q&A with "Clinton Wars" author Sidney Blumenthal to its delicious essence. Talbot: "How's the book tour going? Are you getting attacked by the right-wing conspiracy?" Blumenthal: "David, excuse me, it's the president on the other line. Can I call you back?" Twenty minutes later, after Bill Clinton apparently rings off, the interview resumes. Talbot: "So how's the president doing?" Blumenthal: "I'm sorry, I couldn't get him off the phone." Kaus's comment: "Pssst, Sid! He's not 'the president' anymore."

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05/27/03: Hitchens & Blumenthal, together again; He still believes in a man called Hope
05/09/03: Close, but no cigar; Romeo & Juliet with a happy ending?; Geraldo to help Heebs?
05/05/03: So Bill Gates and Tom Brokaw walk into a coffee bar . . .; hotel hell; more

© 2003, Creators Syndicate