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Happy New Year

Is it too late to wish listeners a happy new year? For those concerned, of course. I just hard a great Jewish joke: Why did he have to pick us as the chosen people?

A joke like that is often called black humor — which ought to remind us that other people have been chosen for victims over the millennia. Or, rather, allowed themselves to be victimized.

An old friend e-mails a scandal from San Diego. It seems the California State University hired Michael Moore to give a talk, but called it off because it couldn’t find a speaker of equal stature to take the other side. It asked Moore to refund the deposit. He said no, you pay, in full. So the San Diego Union calls Moore a greedy rich man — as if being rich and greedy were not what the Bush crowd is all about.

Just so, the media is stomping all over Dan Rather for a crime committed by Dubya Bush. Somebody seems to have slipped .Rather a doctored copy of a memo that seems actually to have existed. The secretary of the Texas National Guard says its commander actually did write memos like that to cover his backside. They said Bush jumped the line to get into the Guard and avoid serving in Vietnam, and then took off for Alabama where he never showed up for drill or the required medical exam. So he was playing hookey from playing hookey, and never did earn an honorable discharge. But it’s poor Dan Rather who’ll be taking the heat from the media this weekend — while news from Dubya’s war front continues to be catastrophic.

My word to Dan Rather: Take courage. At least, you cared…

JOHN L. HESS is a former writer for the New York Times, a career he chronicles in his excellent new book My Times: a Memoir of Dissent. Hess is now a political commentator for WBAI. Hess’s blog can be read at: johnlhess.blogspot.com