- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 29, 2001

Nobles: American actors and athletes, for providing aid and entertainment to Americans.

It is easy to find fault with the entertainment industry, all too easy. Typically, these are actors whose mansions of mirrors are not enough to placate their San-Andreas-sized self-absorption, athletes whose off-field antics make even their Rolls Royce-driving image consultants quake.

Yet astonishingly, most of them appear to have put both ego and promotion aside to help the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. They came together to produce the wonderfully understated "America: A Tribute to Heroes" telethon, in which unintroduced entertainers told (admittedly telepromptered) stories of the heroes of Sept 11. While it is true that many of the members of the celebrity phone bank looked like they were desperately trying to get through to their agents and that most of them couldn't remember the words to "America the Beautiful" in the closing sing-a-long, they still raised more than $150 million in pledges.

Others have made more direct contributions. Dr. Dre, a founder of gangsta rap, pledged $1 million to help relief and comedian Jerry Seinfeld, in addition to having cut a check himself, plans to host a Carnegie Hall comedy concert featuring himself and several others to raise $2 million for the families of bereaved firefighters and police officers. The United Service Organization (USO) has received calls from everyone ranging from Coolio to the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, all volunteering to help. Country music star Martina McBride spoke for many when she told the New York Times, "This is the first time in my lifetime I've really understood what it feels like and what it means to be an American."

Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow knew how she felt when he wrote in his poem, "The Builders" that, "Nothing useless is, or low; Each thing in its place is best; And what seems but idle show; Strengthens and supports the rest."

For putting aside their egos and acting like Americans, we can only say, "Hurray for Hollywood."

Knaves: American bureaucrats, for providing aid and funding to the Taliban and other tyrants and terrorists.

This week's revelation by the New Yorker's Hendrik Hertzberg that four months ago, the U.S. government gave the Taliban a $43 million grant to ban opium production this year should have come as no surprise to followers of such bureaucratic funding follies. Those who decided to grant the money may possibly have even been in enough of a poppy-product-induced haze to believe that the Taliban would actually keep their word.

After all, the United States has reportedly delivered $900 million in aid to the specialists of suburban suicide bombing, the Palestinian Liberation Organization, since the signing of the Oslo Accords. Peace has paid for Egypt as well. Since it signed its 1979 accord with Israel, it has received an annual signing bonus of about $2 billion in U.S. aid, despite its harboring of the terrorist group Islamic Jihad.

Even Saddam Hussein has been a beneficiary of U.S. bureaucratic follies. Earlier this year, Kenneth Timmerman of Insight Magazine revealed that State Department holdovers from the Clinton administration were on a jihad of their own to block more than $40 million in direct U.S. aid to the opposition Iraqi National Congress.

For doling out U.S. taxpayer funds to criminals and thugs around the world, U.S. State Department bureaucrats are the knaves of the week.

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