Jewish World Review March 28, 2003 / 24 Adar II, 5763

Peter Roff

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Capital Comment | (UPI) Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson and wife Jeri have announced the duo will soon become a trio. The newlyweds are expecting the arrival of their first child. Thompson, who retired from the Senate in 2000 to restart his acting career, has been spending a day a week in New York City as the newest addition to the cast of NBC's long-running hit drama series "Law and Order." Wife Jeri, who has labored for the past several years in the fields of the Washington lobbying community, can now look forward to a different type of labor this fall when the baby is due.

Now that I can recall...

California Secretary of State Kevin Shelly approved Tuesday the legal format of the petition seeking the recall of Democrat Gov. Gray Davis.

The petition cites "poor schools, traffic jams, outrageous utility bills" and other grievances resulting from "gross management" of the state government by Davis. It also includes a rebuttal from the governor, who dismisses the proposed recall as a plot by right-wing politicians to overturn the results of an election he won "fair and square" in November.

The effort started shortly after Davis won re-election as his approval numbers plummeted over an unfolding budget crisis that might force yet another tax increase. It has created divisions in the Republican ranks.

Supporters of the effort are, understandably, optimistic they will succeed in qualifying the measure, using a blend of traditional grassroots political tactics with the Internet and talk radio to generate support. Ted Costa, the head of the pro-taxpayer grassroots lobby People's Advocate, told the Sacramento Bee, "I know it's a big task ahead, but it's the duty of good citizenship. It's like with a basketball team that loses all the time. You get a new coach. We're going to get new governor."

But party leaders are by no means unified on the effort. Some would prefer that all efforts be focused on winning the state for George W. Bush in 2004, something most people think currently out of range, and defeating two-term Democratic U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer in her bid for re-election, which may not be out of range because of Davis.

The sense among some Republican leaders is that the governor's unpopularity will spill over onto other Democrats, much like dissatisfaction with Bill Clinton helped propel the U.S. Congress into GOP hands for the first time in decades.

"Gray Davis is a stinking albatross around Boxer's neck," one prominent GOP insider said, adding the GOP would do all it could to make sure he was stuck there. They fear the recall effort could provide voters with a chance to blow off steam that would be better vented in November 2004.

Backers have until Sept. 2 to gather the 900,000 valid signatures necessary to qualify the effort for the ballot.

Pray without ceasing...

A Capitol Hill ministry group is calling on the nation to pray for the U.S. military, the Congress and for President George W. Bush. The group, the Capitol Hill Independent Baptist Ministry, is bringing a group of pastors to Capitol Hill Thursday in a call for strong support of the nation's leader as the war against Iraq unfolds.

Ministry founder Frank Raddish says he believes it is time for the everyone to "stand up for what is right, for the president, for the military and for the country."

"Not to take away from the peace demonstrators, who have just as much right as anyone else to voice their dissent," Raddish said, adding: "I fear their protests are giving ammunition to the terrorists, showing weakness in our resolve to defeat terrorism around the world."

If the anti-war demonstrators would "just spend 90 days in Iraq, they would see things much differently than the do now. They would not be so quick to take to the streets," Raddish says. The evangelical group, which ministers to members of Congress and their staffs, is asking all Americans to pray for the military, for the federal government and "for the president, that he should the wisdom he needs to run the nation and that his personal safety would be protected."

The Power Of Words...

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, is reacting angrily to reports that U.S. prisoners of war being held by Iraqi forces are being mistreated. DeLay is leading congressional action on a resolution offering support and encouragement to them.

"Nothing is more fitting at this time than honoring those who are sacrificing their liberty in defense of our freedom," DeLay, said.

DeLay, whom colleagues nicknamed "The Hammer" for the effective discipline he brought to party ranks while GOP whip, said that he is "outraged at the inhumane treatment of American POWs by Saddam Hussein's brutal regime," adding: "I am fighting to hold down a deep anger at these purveyors and practitioners of torture and terror who've been wickedly exhibiting their captives over the last few days. One thing is certain -- this is an immoral regime."

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