Jonah Goldberg and new wife and new baby and new dog drive to Vermont. There's more, but this is his funniest entry thus far:
...I loathe Vermont...the whole place gives off that “I Hope you’re not planning to stay here” vibe. It reminds me of that “Seinfeld” where the Maestro (played by that Niedermeyer actor from Animal House), insists there’s no room anywhere in Tuscany for any more visitors.
For example, we stopped in Putney, Vermont to get a bite to eat and put Lucy (our baby) and Cosmo (our canine companion, duh) through their paces. We stopped at “Bert’s Chuck Wagon” a mobile burger stand with picnic tables out front. Some locals were eating there, including a guy who looked like Ned Flanders in Teddy Roosevelt style glasses and was – as best I could glean from his conversation – an administrator at a liberal arts college. He wore a T-shirt which bore an excerpt from a dictionary. I couldn’t make out the whole word being defined, but the suffix was “biblio.” In short, this guy didn’t see the irony in his need to tell the world he was a Serious Reader. Perhaps he thought his persona was better suited for the biker rally in Sturgis, South Dakota? Meanwhile, his shorthaired wife looked like her warmest memories could be found in the warm afterglow of the many bra-burnings of her youth. They had several kids with them, most of whom looked normal...They drove a white minivan with an “Impeach Bush” bumper sticker...Anyway, while waiting for Bert to serve up the vittles, we asked these fine folks if there was a place in or around town we could take our dog to play for a few minutes. The wife paused and then answered, “No, this is it.” She asked her Serious Reader husband if he could think of anyplace. He struck a pondering pose, as if someone asked him his favorite Walt Whitman poem. “Hmmm, no,” he replied. “There’s no place like that around here.” He might as well have said, “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for...”
I've never been to Vermont, I don't understand Jonah Goldberg's slamming of it, it could be practically anyplace, where someone would wear a T-shirt like that. Anywhere there's... 'leftist-liberals.'
Do you know who Jonah's mom is? Jonah has an amazing wit, but he's there at the National Review because of nepotism, not 'heartland values'.
Speaking of nepotism of another kind, there are rumors that William F Buckley (the former CIA agent) started the National Review with CIA money. That would be about the same time as they were helping overthrow Iran and Guatemala.
Anyway, Vermont's senator, Patrick Leahy. He has an office on land mine victims and has long led efforts help civilian casualties of War. He put a couple milllion (2.5 mil) in the budget appropriations bill for 2003 for help with civilian casualties - rebuilding bombed homes - in Afghanistan, through USAID. A pittance, morally right, and merely pragmatically making sure that we're not turning people violent minded as we seem to have become. Anyway, the Bush Administration has made $0 available. It's not a big story because it doesn't fit into the testosterone-fundementalist-sports-touchdowns are good model of our famous liberal media.
But that'll be another post for another day.
Thanks in advance for letting me be cranky, on the internet, indexed by google.
Published on Friday, October 17, 2003 by CommonDreams.org
Vermont Is Hell
by Marty Jezer
The picture on the cover of the October 13th issue of The National Review is of an idyllic Vermont farm scene. Scrawled across the picture in big bold type is the four-letter word, “Hell.” Republicans are supposedly licking their chops at the prospect of Howard Dean winning the Democratic nomination for President. They see him as the Democratic candidate easiest to beat. But, not willing to take any chances, Jonah Goldberg, an online editor of the National Review, has written a slanderous article on Howard Dean that ends up as an attack on Vermont as well.
Goldberg made “two recent trips” to Vermont. He visited Burlington and Montpelier where, he says, the State House displays portraits of “futsy old Vermonters.” He spoke to a couple of Republicans, a kid in a coffeehouse, and Hal Goldman, a lawyer who made his mark in Vermont arguing against civil unions.
Goldman gave Goldberg the theme of his article. Vermont has been taken over by “flatlanders” in an “invasion” that “represents perhaps the most complete case of internal American colonialism since the destruction of the Indian,” Goldman said. “Hundreds of thousands of highly educated, well-off people invaded a state with a unique culture and history. They seized control of its resources and institutions, demeaned and destroyed the indigenous values of its people, altered the landscape, and drove many of the natives from their homes as a result of their activities. If this happened in Africa,” Goldman continued, “the same people would call it colonialism. In Vermont, it's called liberal chic. The colonists are arrogant, disrespectful, and hypocritical. And Howard Dean is their king." Wow!
Goldberg’s journalistic technique is worth noting here. He spends a few days in the state, interviews people who are sure to tell him what he wants to hear, and then writes a story upholding his initial bias. That’s like the approach the Bush administration had towards invading Iraq. They consulted Iraqis who they knew would tell them what they wanted to hear and then based their policy on what turned out to be (and was obvious at the time) false information. The Bush administration invaded Iraq without knowing anything about Iraqi culture or society. Goldberg in Vermont at least speaks the language.
Goldberg knows as much about Vermont as former Republican Senatorial candidate Jack McMullen knew about cows. A millionaire flatlander from Massachusetts, McMullen hoped to use his money to defeat Pat Leahy in the 1998 Senatorial election. But he was defeated in the GOP primary by a retired farmer and native Vermonter, Fred Tuttle. McMullen’s denouement came when Tuttle asked him how many teats a dairy cow has. McMullen answered “six” and it was downhill thereafter.
The flatland-woodchuck divide makes for light humor in an editorial cartoon. Using it as a heavy weapon to attack Dean simply advertises Goldberg’s ignorance about Vermont life, politics, and culture. Many flatlanders are liberal or progressive but you can’t tell a Vermonter’s politics from where she or he came from. The state’s first openly gay legislator, the late Ron Squires, was the son of a native Vermont dairy farmer. And Ruth Dwyer, the right-wing Republican whom Howard Dean defeated in his last race for Governor, was homophobic and a flatlander.
The right wing doesn’t like Vermont or Vermonters. Our congressional delegation is “the most obnoxious in Washington,” according to Goldberg. Congressman Bernie Sanders is “a joke,” Senator Pat Leahy is “considered the most arrogant and nasty Democratic senator today,” and Jim Jeffords, castigated for having “scuttled” the Republican agenda, is somehow compared to the murderers of Nicole Brown Simpson in a convoluted sentence that I can’t make head nor tail of.
Perhaps what galls right-wingers is that we’re a generally tolerant, non-judgmental people. Children of flatlanders marrying into woodchuck families are so commonplace that it barely merits notice. In the last election, Brooklyn-born Bernie Sanders was the top vote getter, not only in the state but also in the Northeast Kingdom, a rugged, rural part of Vermont with the fewest flatlanders.
In Iraq, the United States had smart bombs. In Vermont, Goldberg fires duds. Act 250, Vermont’s tough environmental law, is criticized by Goldberg as an attempt by flatlanders to “make the state hospitable to red-diaper babies from New York and gay couples…." Actually, the Act was championed and signed into law by Deane Davis, a conservative Republican governor and Vermont native.
Despite Goldberg’s expressed concern for the indigenous culture of Vermont natives, he has little use for Vermont farmers. The Dairy Compact, which he blames on the Vermont congressional delegation (banging “their spoons on their highchairs”) is described as a “subsidy that makes milk more expensive for poor kids -- solely to preserve Vermont’s Sweden-like economy.” But here Goldberg is tangled in hypocrisy and misinformation. To the degree that flatlanders are responsible for the Dairy Compact, they are fighting to protect Vermont’s traditional agricultural heritage, which Goldberg earlier says they are bent on destroying. Moreover, the Compact is a sectional not an ideological issue; right-wing Republicans support subsidies when it goes to their constituents, like cotton growers in Mississippi. At least Goldberg shows a concern for poor children, probably the first time a National Review writer has ever expressed such a sentiment. But it’s right-wing Republicans who are bent on destroying the WIC program that provides poor children and their families with nutritional dairy products.
Could it be that right-wingers are running scared? Not only do they deem it necessary to slander a candidate, they’re also going after his state. “Vermont is hell” is the kind of ridiculous political argument that the right wing has in store for all the Democratic candidates and the people of their states.
Marty Jezer, a flatlander from the Bronx, has lived in the area of Brattleboro, Vermont area for 35 years. He welcomes comments at firstname.lastname@example.org