The Magazine

Dumb celebrities, Miller time, and more.

Feb 10, 2003, Vol. 8, No. 21
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With War Protests Like These . . .

All this talk of war is so . . . so . . . oppressively grown-up and serious. Therefore, we say: Thank God for America's valiant army of really dumb celebrity-intellectuals, without whom there'd be almost nothing to smile about. Take actress Janeane Garofalo, for instance. She's fronting the latest anti-anti-Saddam TV "info"-mercial sponsored by a group called Win Without War (its first was that redux "daisy ad" aired during the Super Bowl, in which viewers were clued in on the little secret that President Bush's Iraq policy will lead inevitably to a global thermonuclear conflagration).

In the latest installment, Ms. Garofalo asks viewers to consider whether the United States has a right to pick on poor old Iraq, "a country that's done nothing to us." And then Bishop Melvin G. Talbert, chief ecumenical officer of the United Methodist Church, appears with the answer: No, he says, attacking such a country "violates God's law and the teachings of Jesus Christ." (It may come as a shock to the bien-pensant European fellow travelers of the Garofalo-Talbert axis to learn that it is their side of the debate that is claiming to channel Jesus Christ, and not the cowboy president they despise.)

Here in Washington, connoisseurs of such inanity are particularly abuzz about Ms. Garofalo's January 27 interview with the Washington Post, in which she complains that her own prominence in the antiwar movement represents some kind of weird plot by The Man.

"They have actors on so they can marginalize the movement," Garofalo explains. "It's much easier to toss it off as some bizarre, unintelligent special-interest group." Ms. Garofalo is neither unintelligent nor uninformed, she wants us to know: "Now that I'm sober, I watch a lot of news."

Miller Time

Happily, not all of Hollywood has lost its marbles. If you were lucky, you caught comedian Dennis Miller on the "Tonight Show" with Jay Leno last week, when he went off on liberals, Saddam Hussein, and even the ACLU (and not for the first time, as this page has noted before).

Miller admitted he is a Bush fan and that he loved the president's State of the Union speech. With regard to the inspectors in Iraq, Miller asked, "How long do we have to wait for these morons?" He compared Hans Blix to Inspector Clouseau--and pictured the U.N. teams "driving around in the Scooby-Doo van" looking for weapons. "The only 'smoking gun' I need to see is the one they use to kill Saddam Hussein."

Miller then went further, joking that the only way to get pacifist Sean Penn on board is by convincing him that Saddam Hussein is a member of the paparazzi. As for the French, he said it's no surprise that one of their enduring phrases is "au contraire." "The only way the French are going in is if we tell them we found truffles in Iraq. . . . The French are always reticent to surrender to the wishes of their friends and always more than willing to surrender to the wishes of their enemies."

The jokes didn't stop here. Miller said he's pro-school vouchers (which received a large round of applause) and pro-dodgeball. As for the American Civil Liberties Union, well, we'll let him explain it in his own words:

"The ACLU spent this entire holiday season protesting public displays of the nativity scene. Yeah, that's the problem with America right now: Public displays of Christ's birth, that's the problem. It's unbelievable to me. The ACLU will no longer fight for your right to put up a nativity scene, but they'll fight for the right of the local freak who wants to stumble onto the scene and have sex with one of the sheep." (Thanks, as always, to our friends at the Media Research Center for providing some of the transcripts.)

U.N.Believable

Here's something to look forward to: From May 12 until July 19, Iraq will assume the presidency of the U.N.'s Conference on Disarmament. The rotation of the presidency is alphabetical and in the spring session will actually be split between Iran and Iraq.

This is just the latest in a series of such embarrassments. Syrian foreign minister Farouk Shara arrived in New York last summer just in time to head up the U.N. Security Council. While in the chair, he defended Palestinian terrorist attacks and submitted a report from his country to the Security Council saying that the 1998 Arab Convention for the Suppression of Terrorism "distinguishes between terrorism and legitimate struggle against foreign occupation." Syria was one of the 10 countries elected to a two-year council seat, and held the presidency for a month.

But not all of the U.N.'s problems can be blamed on the alphabet or random rotations. As Charles Krauthammer noted in his Washington Post column last week, "Libya was elected [to the chairmanship of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights], by deliberate vote, by overwhelming vote--33 to 3. The seven commission members from the European Union, ever reliable in their cynicism, abstained. They will now welcome a one-party police state--which specializes in abduction, assassination, torture and detention without trial--to the chair of the United Nations' highest body charged with defending human rights."

Trying to put the best face possible on the Iran-Iraq disarmament ascendancy, U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said, in essence, it's no big deal because the group has no agenda. He said that since the conference is "not exactly a body that has been meeting to deal with issues substantively for several years, the main worry is not about a procedural issue such as who is the chair; it's about what it can do."

Here's a better talking point: By the time May 12 rolls around, perhaps the presidency of the U.N. Conference on Disarmament will be entrusted to the capable hands of a diplomat representing a democratic, disarmed Iraq. Wouldn't that be fitting?

Berlusconi's Moment

The most moving political speech last week was arguably not the State of the Union but the answer given by Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi to a reporter's question at the White House on Thursday: "We will never forget that we owe our freedom--our freedom--our wealth to the United States of America. And our democracy. And we also will never forget there have been many American young lives that were lost and sacrifice themselves for us.

"So for us, the United States is not only our friend, but they are the guarantee of our democracy and our freedom. And I already has the opportunity to say this to President Bush. Every time I see the U.S. flag, I don't see the flag only representative of a country, but I see it as a symbol of democracy and of freedom."

Play Ball

Among the unsung benefits of finally having a Republican governor in Maryland: It increases the odds of Major League baseball's returning to the nation's capital. The leading foe of the idea is Peter "Asbestos" Angelos, the trial lawyer and Democratic campaign mega-donor who fears the competition would damage the profitability of his own (badly mismanaged) franchise, the Baltimore Orioles. But Maryland officialdom no longer lines up behind him.

At a Washington Post luncheon last month, the new governor, Bob Ehrlich, endorsed a D.C. franchise, saying, "There are five million people between Washington and Baltimore; the area can support two teams. This [Washington, the Maryland suburbs, and Northern Virginia] region deserves a team."

A partisan blow, yes. But one all baseball fans not named Angelos should applaud.