FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Streisand the Cali Recall

by BERNARDO ISSEL

Barbara Streisand is typically attacked from the right for her support of liberal concerns. However lately she’s been criticized for her lawsuit against an environmental project, California Coastal Records Project which creates a photographic internet database of California’s coast. Streisand’s Complaint: Not Of My Back Yard–that is no photo of her cliffside mansion. Her stance and lawsuit have placed her at odds with a project that was begun as an effort to help the Sierra Club protect California’s coast. The project has been has received environmental acclaim — eco-guru Paul Hawken raved about it.

Adelman’s oceanfront web project signals a breakthrough that will, within a decade or more, begin to remake government planning and land ownership regulations–even international law and multilateral environmental treaties.

Regarding the lawsuit, Mark Massara, the director of the Sierra Club’s Coastal program, makes a strong case against Streisand’s lawsuit.

It is starkly ironic that someone who proclaims herself an environmentalist would threaten to dismantle one of the greatest high tech projects to protect the California coast in all time just because they chose to place their backyard on a coastal bluff. At some point, someone needs to sit her down and tell her the public interest is at stake here.”

In Streisand’s lawsuit prevails, developer and other anti-environmental interests benefit from Streisand’s role as a Trojan horse. Moreover, Streisand’s role as a funder of environmental and other public interest nonprofits protects her from criticism from these organizations in regards to her lawsuit–would they bite the hand that feeds them by “sit[ting] her down and tell[ing] her the public interest is at stake here” as urged by the Sierra Club’s Mark Massara.

Streisand and the California Recall

In the California campaign to recall Governor Gray Davis, there has been extensive accusations regarding fundraising from corporate and other special interests whose financial support is extended with expectation of exerting influence at the expense of the public good. In this regard, Huffington has been a vocal critic of Bustamante and Schwarzenegger.

Will recall candidates sit Streisand down for a chat about the public interest? Not likely. Barbara Streisand has given $1000 each to Huffington, Bustamante and Davis. Also, Marge Tabankin, who heads Streisand’s foundation, has been described as involved in the Huffington campaign. While these donations are small relative to the total amounts that these candidates have received, Streisand’s support can be viewed as having greater weight than the amount would suggest. Were candidates to speak out against Streisand in regards to her lawsuit agains the California Coastal Records Project, there could well be a Hollywood backlash as friends and professional contacts of Streisand would refrain from supporting a candidate critical of Streisand.

Davis and Bustamante are hardly environmentalists and could be expected to take money from any source. However Arianna Huffington is another case.

Huffington and Streisand

Arianna Huffington is running for governor of California on a progressive standard. In the last decade Huffington has shifted from a rightwing supporter of Gingrich to a leading critic of the corrupting effect of special interests upon politics and the common good, as epitomized by her recent book Pigs at the Trough: How Corporate Greed and Political Corruption Are Undermining America

Her platform and concerns evokes the memory of Upton Sinclair’s run for governor in 1934. In fact, earlier this year she was awarded the Upton Sinclair Award by the Liberty Hill Foundation.

When Sinclair ran for governor, he faced a cavalcade of attacks from establishment interests, including and especially Hollywood which produced newsreels against his candidacy and raised money from its employees to fund the candidacy of his opponent.

In contrast to Sinclair, Arianna is being generously supported by Hollywood glitterati. As pointed out by the New York Times,

“. . . Arianna Huffington owns Hollywood. Ms. Huffington, the liberal-come-lately newspaper columnist who has frequently opened her Brentwood home to stars, talent agents, producers and studio executives, has clearly struck a chord among the Hollywood set with her candidacy for governor of California. . . . Ms. Huffington has already won the heavy, if not overwhelming, support of the entertainment industry here.”

Huffington’s Hollywood base is by no means piddling or middlebrow, including James Wiatt, president of the William Morris agency; Ron Meyer, president and chief operating officer of Vivendi Universal Entertainment; Tom Freston, chairman of MTV Networks, Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of Miramax, Ari Emanuel, partner in Endeavor (a top Hollywood talent agency), and Larry David, formerly producer of Seinfeld. It may seem unfair to take Arianna to task about this matter, however please note that she has made progressive concerns including environmental ones major components of her writings in recent years and that she has set a high standard, as exemplified by her taking New York State’s attorney general Elliot Spitzer to task for not going far enough in his settlements with Wall Street firms.

Huffington has made progressive concerns including environmental ones major components of her campaign as well as writings in recent years. Furthermore, Huffington has set a high standard for herself, as exemplified by her taking New York State’s attorney general Elliot Spitzer to task for not going far enough in his investigations of Wall Street firms in regards to corporate malfeasance.

It is easy to throw stones at others for not challenging their donors, but does Huffington have the gumption to do so herself?

This matter is reminiscent of the controversy over the Ballona Wetlands over which several years ago Dreamworks was challenged about its development plans. In this matter, few Hollywood actors were courageous enough to speak out, no doubt out of concern for risking the ire of the company’s moguls Spielberg, Geffen and Katzenberg. About this controversy, NonprofitWatch.org prepared a report critical of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), noting that the group’s accommodation of the development plans undermined grassroots opposition and coincided with a variety of conflicts of interests, including NRDC’s strong support from Hollywood actors who would look askance at their environmental charity challenging the Hollywood moguls that gave the actors jobs. Also, NRDC received generous financial support from David Geffen, whose by the way has been criticized for getting a an environmentally questionable sea wall approved by the California Coastal Commission (another case of a liberal serving as a Trojan horse).

Ironically but perhaps appropriate to her warm relation with Hollywood, Huffington’s commendable campaign against low-mileage SUV’s is now a project of NRDC. We doubt that NRDC would be comfortable with Huffington taking a critical view of Streisand, especially as the diva donates lavishly to NRDC.

Bernardo Issel is director of Nonprofit Watch. He can be reached at: hellobernardo@yahoo.com

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
December 02, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
The Coming War on China
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The CIA’s Plots to Kill Castro
Paul Street
The Iron Heel at Home: Force Matters
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Timberg’s Tale: Washington Post Reporter Spreads Blacklist of Independent Journalist Sites
Andrew Levine
Must We Now Rethink the Hillary Question? Absolutely, Not
Joshua Frank
CounterPunch as Russian Propagandists: the Washington Post’s Shallow Smear
David Rosen
The Return of HUAC?
Rob Urie
Race and Class in Trump’s America
Patrick Cockburn
Why Everything You’ve Read About Syria and Iraq Could be Wrong
Caroline Hurley
Anatomy of a Nationalist
Michael Hudson – Steve Keen
Rebel Economists on the Historical Path to a Global Recovery
Ayesha Khan
A Muslim Woman’s Reflections on Trump’s Misogyny
Russell Mokhiber
Sanders Single Payer and Death by Democrat
Roger Harris
The Triumph of Trump and the Specter of Fascism
Steve Horn
Donald Trump’s Swamp: Meet Ten Potential Energy and Climate Cabinet Picks and the Pickers
Louis Proyect
Deepening Contradictions: Identity Politics and Steelworkers
Ralph Nader
Trump and His Betraying Makeover
Stephen Kimber
The Media’s Abysmal Coverage of Castro’s Death
Dan Bacher
WSPA: The West’s Most Powerful Corporate Lobbying Group
Nile Bowie
Will Trump backpedal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership?
Ron Ridenour
Fidel’s Death Brings Forth Great and Sad Memories
Missy Comley Beattie
By Invitation Only
Fred Gardner
Sword of Damocles: Pot Partisans Fear Trump’s DOJ
Renee Parsons
Obama and Propornot
Dean Baker
Cash and Carrier: Trump and Pence Put on a Show
Jack Rasmus
Taming Trump: From Faux Left to Faux Right Populism
Ron Jacobs
Selling Racism—A Lesson From Pretoria
Julian Vigo
The Hijos of Buenos Aires:  When Identity is Political
Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano
By Way of Prologue: On How We Arrived at the Watchtower and What We Saw from There
Dave Lindorff
Is Trump’s Idea To Fix the ‘Rigged System’ by Appointing Crooks Who’ve Played It?
Aidan O'Brien
Fidel and Spain: A Tale of Right and Wrong
Carol Dansereau
Stop Groveling! How to Thwart Trump and Save the World
Kim Nicolini
Moonlight, The Movie
Evan Jones
Behind GE’s Takeover of Alstom Energy
James A Haught
White Evangelicals are Fading, Powerful, Baffling
Barbara Moroncini
Protests and Their Others
Joseph Natoli
The Winds at Their Backs
Cesar Chelala
Poverty is Not Only an Ignored Word
David Swanson
75 Years of Pearl Harbor Lies
Alex Jensen
The Great Deceleration
Nyla Ali Khan
When Faith is the Legacy of One’s Upbringing
Gilbert Mercier
Trump Win: Paradigm Shift or Status Quo?
Stephen Martin
From ‘Too Big to Fail’ to ‘Too Big to Lie’: the End Game of Corporatist Globalization.
Charles R. Larson
Review: Emma Jane Kirby’s “The Optician of Lampedusa”
David Yearsley
Haydn Seek With Hsu
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail