January 1, 2003
DUHM Awards for 2002
by Donald G. Mashburn

The DUHM (pronounced "dumb") awards recognize comments that are Dumb, Unbelievable, Hypocritical, or Mendacious. Politicians (especially), lawyers, news anchors, and a few "gifted" ordinary people are eligible.

The award is a ribbon with "DUHM" in capital letters, with one or more "bangles," representing the letters D-U-H-M, attached.

Among the recipients for 2002 is Caesar Barbar. In July, Mr. Barbar, 5-foot-10-inches and about 275-lbs, filed a lawsuit with the Supreme Court of New York against Burger King, McDonald's, KFC, and Wendy's for selling food that makes him fat, and raises his risk of illness from being overweight.

Barbar gets a DUHM ribbon, with two bangles. His winning utterance was, "I always thought it [the fast food] was good for you."

Barbar had strong competition from the lawyer for Donna Aslanis, a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed in early December against Burger King. In 1998, Aslanis bought two cups of coffee at a Missouri drive-in, spilled hot coffee into her lap, and thinks Burger King should pay for her pain.

Aslanis' lawyer, Steven Paulus, Cuba, Mo., wins a DUHM ribbon, with two bangles attached, for his explanation of how his client scalded herself. Paulus said, "When the flap lid of the cup opens, it fails to form a continuous seal around the cup's rim." The world is indebted to Paulus' for this profound observation -- which neglected to explain that spilling hot coffee in one's lap hurts.

If a "Duh" award were ever established, Paulus would be a candidate.

Then there's the incomparable Bill Clinton. The former president spoke, for a $125,000 fee, at a July 29 Jewish fundraiser in Toronto. Clinton's winning comment: "The Israelis know that if the Iraqi or the Iranian army came across the Jordan River, I would personally grab a rifle, get in a ditch, and fight and die."

When a man has lied to his draft board to avoid being drafted during the Vietnam War, it's hard to take him seriously when he talks of grabbing a rifle, fighting and dying.

And, considering Clinton's reputation for twisting meanings, note that for him to "grab a rifle," the entire Iraqi or Iranian army -- not mere divisions -- must cross the Jordan. Thus if Israel is invaded through Syria, or through Egypt, Clinton is off the hook. Invasion by air or sea wouldn't count, either.

As for Clinton's willingness to "fight and die," it depends on what the meaning of "fight and die" is. And only Clinton knows what he meant by "get in a ditch."

Some veterans took issue with Clinton's remarks, which were tailored to his Jewish audience. A Vice Commander of a Harlem American Legion post, Earl Murray, perhaps recalling Clinton's admitted "loathing" of the military, was quoted as saying, "He had his chance to serve his country, and he avoided it."

Clinton's comments embody all of the qualities represented by the DUHM awards, and he properly deserves a DUHM ribbon, and all four bangles!

Dan Rather of CBS was a clear winner for his comments on a May 16 airing of BBC's Newsnight, where he compared the post-Sept. 11 anti-terrorist climate with brutal murders by "necklacing" that occurred under Apartheid in South Africa.

Rather said, "[T]here was a time, in South Africa, where people would put flaming tires around [other] peoples' necks if they dissented. The fear is that ... here [in the U.S.], you'll have the flaming tire of lack of patriotism put around your neck. It's that fear that keeps journalists from asking the toughest questions. I'm humbled to say, I do not except myself from this criticism."

In America, Mr. Rather has little to fear from being "necklaced" for his lack of patriotism. But his baseless, unpatriotic remarks deserve a DUHM ribbon with all four bangles.

May God bless America, and not hold against her the vacuous comments of overpaid politicians and news anchors.