BEGALA AWARD WINNER 2002 (for excessive liberal rhetoric)

Bush’s ‘mandate’ “includes using the taxing power to transfer wealth from working people to the rich. It includes giving corporations a free hand to eviscerate the environment and control the regulatory agencies meant to hold them accountable. And it includes secrecy on a scale you cannot imagine. Above all, it means judges with a political agenda appointed for life. If you liked the Supreme Court that put George W. Bush in the White House, you will swoon over what’s coming. And if you like God in government, get ready for the Rapture. These folks don’t even mind you referring to the GOP as the party of God. Why else would the new House Majority Leader say that the Almighty is using him to promote ‘a Biblical worldview’ in American politics? So it is a heady time in Washington x97 a heady time for piety, profits, and military power, all joined at the hip by ideology and money.” – Bill Moyers, paid for in part by your tax dollars, on PBS.

BEGALA AWARD RUNNER-UP: “Give the Republicans credit. They know what they stand for. Tax cuts. Guns. Bombs. Oil. Big business. Old boy networks. Privatization. Plundering the earth. Pillorying and padlocking the poor. Party-line votes.” – Derrick Z. Jackson, the Boston Globe.

BEGALA AWARD HONORABLE MENTION: “But W., who was always the Roman candle and hatchet man in the family, has turned his father’s good manners upside down x97 consulting sparingly, leaving poor Tony Blair to make the case against his foes for him, and treating policy disagreements as personal slights.” – Maureen Dowd. Notice “his” foes. Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein are apparently only Bush’s personal enemies.

SONTAG AWARD WINNER 2002 (for egregious anti-Americanism in the war on terror): “It is not enough for Bush to be President of the United States, he must become the Emperor of the World. This unclothed emperor is, as they say in Texas, all hat and no brains. In the years before us, I fear there will be causes worth dying for. There will be tyrants so unstoppable that we will have to fight them to preserve our own freedom. But that is not the case now. Instead of standing up against tyranny, we are bringing it to our own doorstep. We have met the enemy, and it is us.” – Glenda Gilmore, professor of history, Yale University.

SONTAG AWARD RUNNER-UP: “Having swept the Palestinians into the arms of the supreme terrorist Ariel Sharon, the Christian Right fundamentalists running the plutocracy in Washington, now replenish their arsenal in preparation for an attack on the 22 million suffering people of Iraq. Should anyone need reminding, Iraq is a nation held hostage to an American-led embargo every bit as barbaric as the dictatorship over which Iraqis have no control. Contrary to propaganda orchestrated from Washington and London, the coming attack has nothing to do with Saddam Hussein’s ‘weapons of mass destruction’, if these exist at all. The reason is that America wants a more compliant thug to run the world’s second greatest source of oil.” – John Pilger, The Observer.

SONTAG AWARD HONORABLE MENTION 2002: “You are a disgrace to this country and I am furious you would even think I would support you and your aggressive baby-killing tactics of collateral damage. Help you recruit. Who, top guns to reign [sic] death and destruction upon nonwhite peoples throughout the world? Are you serious sir? Resign your commission and serve your country with honour. No war, no air force cowards who bomb countries without AAA, without possibility of retaliation. You are worse than the snipers. You are imperialists who are turning the whole damn world against us. September 11 can be blamed in part for what you and your cohorts have done to Palestinians, the VC, the Serbs, a retreating army at Basra. You are unworthy of my support.” – Peter Kirstein, professor at Saint Xavier University, in response to an email from a cadet asking for help advertizing a political science assembly.
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DERBYSHIRE AWARD WINNER 2002 (for right-wing hysteria and hyperbole): “In fact, Andrew McKelvey’s network [Americans for Gun Safety] kind of operates and sounds a lot like Osama bin Laden and the al Qaeda. A billionaire with an extremist political agenda, subverting honest diplomacy, using personal wealth to train and deploy activists, looking for vulnerabilities to attack, fomenting fear for political gain, funding an ongoing campaign to hijack your freedom and take a box-cutter to the Constitution. That’s political terrorism, and it’s a far greater threat to your freedom than any foreign force.” – Wayne LaPierre, at the NRA Convention, according to Americans for Gun Safety.

DERBYSHIRE AWARD RUNNER-UP 2002: “It counts as evidence that Fr. Maciel unqualifiedly and totally denies the charges. It counts as evidence that priests in the Legion whom I know very well and who, over many years, have a detailed knowledge of Fr. Maciel and the Legion say that the charges are diametrically opposed to everything they know for certain. It counts as evidence that Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger and others who have looked into the matter say that the charges are completely without merit. It counts as evidence that Pope John Paul II, who almost certainly is aware of the charges, has strongly, consistently, and publicly praised Fr. Maciel and the Legion. Much of what we know we take on trust. I trust these people.” – Richard John Neuhaus, First Things, still trusting whatever the Catholic hierarchy says about its members.

POSEUR ALERT WINNER 2002 (for stupendously pretentious writing): “If there’s anything that confounds the British more than American optimism, it’s baseball, which brings together on one bright pastoral greensward those twin nineteenth-century American deliriums: industrialization and individualism. Baseball turns into fun the oppressions of industryx97management, productivity, accounting, specialization, even stealingx97and yet the pageant of winners and losers in this proto-corporate world also allows for goodness to be measured, made immutable, and, thanks to the eternal vigilance of statistics, kept alive. Baseball is a gamex97some would say a ritual x97 of hope.” – John Lahr, The New Yorker.

POSEUR ALERT RUNNER-UP 2002: From Vanity Fair’s “Proust Questionnaire” of Gary Hart:
“What is your idea of perfect happiness?
HART: Reading The Odyssey in classical Greek on board a three-masted schooner off the island of Chios.”

VON HOFFMAN AWARD WINNER 2002 (for spectacularly bad predictions): “Why is Bush in free fall?
* Support for an invasion of Iraq has dropped from 72 percent to 62 percent in the past 14 days. Bush and his folks are so distracted by their diplomatic dance with France and Russia that they have fallen down on the job of convincing the American people that an invasion is needed.
* Bush has been hit with a continuous six-month fall in his ratings on “managing the economy” – from 64 percent approval on April 30 to 55 percent on July 2 48 percent on Oct. 22.
* By campaigning for Republican candidates around the nation, Bush seems to be undermining the case for a military emergency requiring immediate action against Iraq.” – Dick Morris, New York Post.

VON HOFFMAN AWARD RUNNER-UP: “Diplomacy with North Korea has scored a resounding triumph. Monday’s draft agreement freezing and then dismantling North Korea’s nuclear program should bring to an end two years of international anxiety and put to rest widespread fears that an unpredictable nation might provoke nuclear disaster. The U.S. negotiator Robert Gallucci and his North Korean interlocutors have drawn up a detailed road map of rec
iprocal steps that both sides accepted despite deep mutual suspicion. In so doing they have defied impatient hawks and other skeptics who accused the Clinton Administration of gullibility and urged swifter, stronger action. The North has agreed first to freeze its nuclear program in return for U.S. diplomatic recognition and oil from Japan and other countries to meet its energy needs. Pyongyang will then begin to roll back that program as an American-led consortium replaces the North’s nuclear reactors with two new ones that are much less able to be used for bomb-making. At that time, the North will also allow special inspections of its nuclear waste sites, which could help determine how much plutonium it had extracted from spent fuel in the past.” – The New York Times, wrong yet again, October 19, 1994.

RAINES AWARD WINNER 2002 (for blatant but unacknowledged media bias): “[T]hat question, known as a generic ballot question, is a measure of national sentiment, and does not necessarily reflect how Americans will vote in the governor’s races around the country and in the handful of close Senate and House races that will ultimately determine the control of Congress.” – The New York Times, spinning their 47 – 40 Republican-Democrat poll of the weekend before the November elections. The Times editors so hate Republicans they even blew their own pre-election scoop.

RAINES AWARD RUNNER-UP: “In March, 2002, General Mofaz sent thousands of troops into the West Bank, repeating the exercise three months later after a spate of deadly suicide attacks by Palestinian militants. As chief-of-staff, General Mofaz directed some of Israel’s most controversial military operations. These included: The March 2002 assault on Jenin, where Palestinians claim a massacre took place – though UN officials later denied this.” – BBC News, in an article on the new Israeli Defense Minister, Shaul Mofaz. Well, did the massacre take place or not?

MAN OF THE YEAR

I don’t understand why Time couldn’t manage to say it, but the Financial Times gets it right. This was George W. Bush’s year. Slowly building toward ridding the world of Saddam’s threat, shrewdly identifying North Korea, Iran and Iraq as an axis of evil, demanding democracy from the Palestinians, presiding over modest economic growth despite a terrible global outlook, winning an almost unprecedented vote of approval in the November elections, capping it all with a Philadelphia speech that was a watershed in the GOP’s struggle with its own internal demons – by any measure, this was a spectacular performance. The high-point? The U.N. speech. Here’s the FT:

It was a defining moment of the year, when the leader of the last remaining great power bowed to international opinion not out of obligation but out of choice. At the UN, Mr Bush displayed the combination of power and restraint that has elevated his presidency in 2002. Under his leadership, the US has acted more multilaterally, more cautiously and more wisely than many had feared after the provocation of September 11 2001.

Forget the bloviations of the Hate-America-First crowd. History will one day credit Bush with patience, multilateralism and conviction. But right now, history is still being made. And there is a war to be continued and to be won.

TOP TEN WINNERS OF 2002:

10.Steve Jobs, for the iPod alone.
9. Roger Ailes, for kicking media ass.
8. Al Gore, for finally leaving the stage.
7. Ozzie Osbourne, for showing that love makes a family.
6. The Blogosphere, for coming of age.
5. Karl Rove. You can’t take away last November.
4. Steven Pinker, for the best book of the year.
3. Eminem, for making it out of hell.
2. Condi Rice, for making it.
1. Pat Tillman, for giving up a promising and lucrative NFL career in order to serve his country.

TOP TEN LOSERS OF 2002:

10.Janet Reno. Not even the primary.
9. Madonna. You’ve got to have off-years.
8. Jennifer Lopez, for talent-free ubiquity.
7. Michael Jackson, for child abuse.
6. Bernard Cardinal Law, for child abuse.
5. Howell Raines, for wrecking a brand almost beyond repair.
4. Trent Lott, for still not getting it.
3. Tom Daschle, for running on prescription drugs in wartime.
2. Gerhard Schroder, for self-defeating opportunism.
1. Saddam. You wait.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: “The cigarette is ‘somebody to whom I go asking for solidarity and comprehension and company and friendship when I am very tired or very angry or very sad or even when I’m very happy.'” – Oriana Fallaci, in the Financial Times. Don’t miss the rest of her Paglia-esque riffs on the threat of Islamism to the West.

MAMET ON ANTI-SEMITISM: The playwright David Mamet has an excellent little piece in the current Forward, about his recent trip to Israel. He’s tough on himself, for his absence when Israel is under such pressure. But he’s also got a typically good eye:

Before my trip, I was strolling through Newton. There, before me, was a broken-down Volvo of old, the vehicle of my brethren, the congenitally liberal. It was festooned, as are its kind, with every sort of correct exhortation: “Save James Bay,” “Honor Diversity” and so on. A most interesting bumper sticker read: “Israel Out of the Settlements.” Now this is a legitimate expression of free speech. Israel has been involved, as we know, in a rather protracted real estate dispute with several hundred million of its neighbors. This legitimate political expression, however, had all its “S”s transformed into dollar signs. Here we have, one would have supposed, a civilized person (one would assume that one could reason with the owner of a Volvo) sporting a slogan which could best be translated as “Hook-nosed Jews Die.”

Ah, yes. But the Volvo owner has accurately imbibed one of the potions now keeping the dying far left alive.

MORE EVIL: Alongside North Korea, one of the remaining truly evil regimes in the world today is the military cabal still holding the beautiful country and gentle people of Burma hostage. Here’s a story that should have garnered more attention: mass rape as an instrument of terror against the ethnic minorities in that country’s border areas. These thugs are genocidal.

SONTAG AWARD NOMINEE: “Villain of 2002: George Bush. This illiterate buffoon cheated his way into the White House with the help of his well-connected family and friends. Having dismally failed to anticipate or prevent the atrocity of September 11, he spent the rest of the day zigzagging around the country like a jet-propelled chicken. His personal cowardice was mirrored in the country at large, and he fanned it to his advantage in the mid-term elections, and now, to foment an unprovoked war that has nothing to do with terrorism and everything to do with oil. His record on the environment is as appalling as you would expect. Bush is rightly despised throughout the world, and it is humiliating that Britain is seen as his only ally.” – Scientist Richard Dawkins, spewing what has now become the conventional wisdom among Europe’s decadent and ignorant liberal elites.

COMING SOON: The Dish will announce the 2002 winners of the annual Sontag, Von Hoffman, Begala, and Derbyshire Awards.

MERRY CHRISTMAS

Back next Monday.

Dusty

NEO-CON, PALEO-CON

I’ve just read Charles Krauthammer’s typically insightful column and Jonah Goldberg’s response on the conservative splits over Lott. Oddly enough, I think both have a point. In the older generations, there’s definitely a split between the older paloe-conservatives and the former liberals aka neo-cons. But I think among the under 40 crowd, it doesn’t quite fall out that way. Part of the genuine moral outrage for the younger crowd is that it really is simply unthinkable to us that anyone, even jokingly, perhaps especially jokingly, could have a good word to say for the presidential campaign of Strom Thurmond. We came of age in the 1970s and 1980s, where the major issue wasn’t segregation but affirmative action. We started with the assumption that such views were repugnant, and have never mixed in circles where they weren’t. Perhaps we therefore come by such views less authentically than our elders; but they are genuine nonetheless. I think most “eagles” are completely at ease in a multi-racial, multi-cultural society, enjoy it, value it and are grateful for it. But many of us were never modern liberals as such, so we don’t fit the neocon label. At the same time, I know I have learned a huge amount from the neo-conservatives: their intellectual rigor, moral passion, and lively polemics. I was lucky to have been trained as a journalist at the New Republic in the 1980s and early 1990s, and will forever be grateful for having my somewhat insipid English conservatism buttressed and informed – though not overwhelmed – by neocon scholarship and debate. So rather than fight over our small differences, can we not celebrate the fact that neo-conservatism has so informed the conservative mind that a younger generation simply takes for granted the arguments that were once so fiercely fought for?

IDIOCY OF THE WEEK I: The Lott brouhaha has been revealing in many ways. It reveals how many liberals simply believe all Republicans are racists under the skin. It reveals how many conservatives actually aren’t racists under the skin. And it’s a good indicator that some in the Republican Party, who chose to run to Lott’s defense, do have serious “minority issues.” But two fatuous comments stand out. The first is by Bob Novak. I’ve long wondered whether Novak’s ubiquity on cable talk shows is some kind of Democratic plot. Just on a purely visceral level, he exudes contempt for his opponents, sneers every opinion, and almost always assumes bad motives on the part of his rivals. He’s about as unlovable a media entity you could possibly find, and he revels in the fact. But he’s also an old guy, a man of his generation, the kind of guy you’d expect to be befuddled as to why anyone could ever take offense at the notion that segregation was once a good thing.In the New York Times Wednesday, he opined, as good ol’ boys might, that Lott has “been treated badly by the White House, I think he’s been treated badly by his colleagues, for what was certainly, in my opinion, not a hanging offense… The Democrats wouldn’t have kept it alive if conservatives had said let’s not keep it alive. The conservatives all piled on, and when the president in his speech last Thursday said what he did, that opened the door wider.” The last part is indisputable. The pressure on Lott was largely created by conservatives and Republicans. But Novak’s assumption is that Lott’s voiced nostalgia for segregation was no big deal, that it was a one-off gaffe. Is Novak aware that Lott had said just such a thing in public before? Is he aware of Lott’s almost bizarrely troglodytic voting record? Has he thought for a second what the implications of that remark were? After all, it wasn’t a gaffe, a joke. It was an argument. And a completely repulsive one. There was more from Novak: “He’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. The same [Republicans] were saying, `We can’t have a racist,’ then he comes out and says, `I’m for affirmative action,’ and they say, `Oh, we can’t have that.'” This statement assumes what some left-liberals assume: that your only two choices are to favor affirmative action or be a racist. But the whole point of the new conservative position on race is that there is another way — to empower minorities through greater choice in education, welfare reform, incentives for family cohesion, lower taxes and so on – that does not rely on quotas or crude racial categorization. If Novak hasn’t assimilated this, he’s as distant from the current conservative movement as Lott is.

IDIOCY OF THE WEEK II: The second fatuity came from Ann Coulter. She told the Times, “I don’t remember liberals being this indignant about the 9/11 terrorist attacks.” This is just gob-smackingly weird. First off, what does it matter what “liberals” think about this? The question is: What does Coulter think about this? Was Lott right or wrong? Second, plenty of liberals were indignant about the 9/11 attacks – although a few leftists weren’t. To tar all liberals with the Sontagian brush is unfair. Some were indeed pusillanimous with regard to the Afghanistan campaign; many of the same people are being equally craven when facing down the threat from Saddam. But many other liberals saw what was attacked on 9/11 and are now part of the battle to protect the West. And it does no one any good to ignore this. Instead, we should welcome them aboard. Some of them, after all, were here from the beginning.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

“You know, if every “Woman’s Studies” department was closed, and the student loans were used to create businesses that hired women instead of studied them like tragic butterflies impaled on the patriarchal pin, we might be better off. Granted, wex92d be without PhDs theses like “Rape Symbolism and Beatrix Potter: A Rakex92s Progress,” but the culture would survive; the only noticeable effect at all would be a 17% decrease in Frieda Kahlo poster sales, and a 50% decrease in 33-year old college students.” – James Lileks today. I fear he’s right – which isn’t to say that real study of women’s history isn’t a great and important topic. The rest of the column – on some pain-in-the-ass Canadian who’s against Christmas – is a beaut.

BEAGLE NEWS: Always, always micro-chip ’em. Except mine won’t even allow me to clip her paws.

SO IT’S WAR

How else to interpret the U.S.’s judgment that the Iraq arms dossier is incomplete? The only reason not to say so explicitly today is because we need more time before we attack. I can see no other rationale for delay. It’s a good sign Colin Powell is the front man for this assessment. It carries more weight coming from one of the more conciliatory members of the administration. But the truth is, Saddam has given no possible lee-way for conciliation. The blizzard of obfuscatory documents hasn’t worked. The administration was right to take its time. The more patient we are, the tighter the noose around Saddam gets. And then it starts in earnest. I’d put the odds of war early next year as close to 80 percent now.

HOOKED ON THE ’80S: The boyfriend and I can’t stop watching. This week, VH1 has been running a two-hour special each night on two years from the 1980s. Last night was 1984 and 85. Maybe it’s because it’s my generation’s first stab at nostalgia, but I’ve found it wonderfully mindless recreational pleasure. From PacMan to “Fast Times At Ridgemont High” (recommended if Sean Penn’s recent visit to Baghdad got on your nerves) to the Go Go Girls and Flashdance, it’s been a warm bath in pop-cultural reminiscence. I’d forgotten that there was once a sitcom, “Small Wonder,” where the star was a young girl who was actually a robot. I forgot that pale blue jacket I wore in 1985, how racy “Porky’s” was, how cool Chevy Chase used to be, and how some of my first erotic fantasies were built around the “Dukes of Hazzard” (don’t ask). Oh and leg-warmers. Yes, leg-warmers.

JUST A FLESH WOUND! Finally I realized who Trent Lott reminds me of. Remember the knight in Monty Python’s “Holy Grail” who gets both arms and then both legs cut off by a fellow combatant, but still refuses to give in. “It’s only a flesh-wound!” he keeps bragging as blood gushes out from his arm and leg stumps. Only this time, we can’t cut to the next scene.

THE RESULTS: Like some election night drama, the counting of checks and PayPal receipts kept the suspense going. But in the interests of full disclosure, we can now let you know that our one-week pledge drive garnered payments from 3,339 people for a grand total of $79,020 – enough to pay for our burgeoning band-width, an intern/assistant, and a salary for yours truly. It’s not exactly venture-capitalism but it’s a great start. We’ve proved, I think, that the web has the potential to deliver truly independent, reader-supported journalism. Well, in fact, you proved it. Thanks so much again.

DERBYSHIRE AWARD NOMINEE

Check out this repulsive cartoon in the New York Post. It follows George Pataki’s successful steering of a gay rights bill through the New York State legislature. The cartoonist doesn’t even getn his facts right. Every character in the cartoon is a cross-dresser. Yet the bill that passed didn’t include cross-dressers or transgendered people. And notice the small picture of a gerbil on the wall. How terribly funny. Just a reminder that the kind of bigoted attitudes now rightly bemoaned in the early years of Trent Lott are still perfectly acceptable where homosexuals are concerned.