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"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"

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Thursday, 2 June 2005

Topic: God and US

Imposing One’s Values on Others: Does Teaching Science in Public Schools Violate the First Amendment?

My conservative friend mentions now and then that the one conservative columnist he really likes is Charles Krauthammer. I think I’m supposed to be impressed that Krauthammer is an MD of the psychiatrist kind.

A bit from Krauthammer’s biography -
Charles Krauthammer was born in 1950 in New York City. He grew up in Montreal and was educated at McGill University (B A. with First Class Honors in Political Science and Economics, 1970), Oxford University (Commonwealth Scholar in Politics at Balliol College, 1970-71), and Harvard University (MD, Harvard Medical School, 1975).

From 1975-78 he practiced medicine as a Resident and then Chief Resident in Psychiatry at the Massachusetts General Hospital. His scientific papers, including his co-discovery of a form of manic-depressive illness, are still frequently cited in the psychiatric literature.

In 1978, he quit psychiatry and came to Washington to serve as a science adviser in the Carter Administration and, later, speechwriter to Vice President Walter Mondale. In 1981, he joined the staff of The New Republic where he was an essayist and editor from 1981 -88. In the mid-eighties he began writing a weekly syndicated column for The Washington Post, which now appears in more than 100 newspapers, and a monthly essay for Time magazine. …
But the problem is that every time I read on of his columns in the Post or Time I do wonder a bit about his mental health. No, not that. I question his judgment.

His days with Carter and Mondale are in the distant past. He’s now a contributing editor to the neoconservative publication of record, The Weekly Standard. He’s firmly in the reality-doesn’t-matter-because-we-make-our-own camp – those idealists out to remake the world the way it should be. That would be unregulated free-market American – where the invisible hand of competition weeds out the weak and foolish and each and every person is alone with his or her keenly active sense of personal responsibility and no one gets any help that in any way might undermine that sense of personal responsibility (unless they happen to be an embryo). People change over time.

But I read him nonetheless. And Krauthammer’s latest essay, a web only item in Time is really startling - In Defense of Certainty. This has the subtitle "It's trendy to be suspicious of people with 'deeply held views.' And it's wrong."

No, it isn’t. The suspicion is warranted, even if perhaps trendy.

Krauthammer is working on that "fair and balanced" thing of course ? that there are really two forms of "imposition of values" on society. One is by secularists and one by Christians. They are, in his mind, equivalent -
It seems perfectly O.K. for secularists to impose their secular views on America, such as, say, legalized abortion or gay marriage. But when someone takes the contrary view, all of a sudden he is trying to impose his view on you. And if that contrary view happens to be rooted in Scripture or some kind of religious belief system, the very public advocacy of that view becomes a violation of the U.S. constitutional order.
And that really ticks him off. Evangelical Christians who have a view that the words in the Bible are the only truth in the world deserve protection.

I caught a bit of that on CNN today ? a woman lamenting that in Sunday School her children were taught that homosexuality is a choice some people made, and thus a sin these people choose to commit, for which they deserved the punishment of God and the condemnation of society. Then in science class on Monday her kids heard a review of the scientific literature that homosexuality is most probably a biological condition and there may be no choice involved. Why, she asked, was the government out to destroy her religion, and her family? She was in tears. She wanted freedom of religion ? not a state that actively attempts to destroy hers.

One wonders, if her children were taught on a Sunday that in the nineteenth century one Bishop Usher proved, by a close reading of the Bible, that the earth could be no more than 6,300 years old at this moment ? then would geology and biology class on Monday morning be another government assault on her freedom of religion?

Would Krauthammer leap to her defense? It would seem so. This is all an imposition of values. And if her religion claimed, as a matter of faith, that the earth was flat?

The columnist Andrew Sullivan comments on Krauthammer?s no-one-should-impose-any-values essay here - and forgive him as he is gay, and a conservative Republican, and born in Britain, and going bald, and whatever (and those are my emphases below) -
It seems to me that this is the wrong formulation, and already concedes something that should not be conceded.

Christianism - politicized Christianity - argues for the imposition of one religion's values over the entire society. So, in this context, it would forbid gay couples from getting civil marriages or unions and prevent pregnant women from seeking an abortion.

Secularism is not the polar opposite. Secularism allows Christians, and any other religious faith, to affirm religious values, live exactly as they see fit, and avoid such moral outrages as abortion and gay civil unions in their own lives, if they so wish.

All secularism does is say that as a political matter, there will be as much government neutrality as possible because the government should represent all citizens; that the Church and the state shall coexist, but independently of each other.

Secularism is not only compatible with aggressive and proud Christian faith; in practice, secularism has fostered that faith.

The polar opposite of Christianism, in contrast, would be a government that actively suppresses religious faith, discriminates against Christianity and forbids Christians from practicing their way of life. No one is proposing that.

I'm really concerned that secularism is slowly becoming tainted with the same brush as "liberalism." But secularism is the great modern achievement of Christianity and of Western freedom. It is an honorable tradition, integral to the entire concept of Western liberty. The difference between secularism and Christianism, to put it bluntly, is that one side is happy to let people make their own moral choices; and one side isn't.

So who exactly is imposing on whom?
The answer is obvious. But the evangelical literalists whine ? and Krauthammer stands by them.

Shall we stop teaching science so they feel better?

That?s what they say is their right. Deal with it.


But, as a humorous sally into what people believe, Amanda Marcotte over at Pandagon points to this ?

Women's Suffrage Opponent Seeks Office
John Hanna, Associated Press - Wednesday Jun 1, 2005 - 8:13 PM ET
A state senator who once said that giving women the vote was a symptom of weakness in the American family now wants to be Kansas' top elections official.

Sen. Kay O'Connor announced Wednesday that she is seeking the GOP nomination for secretary of state next year. O'Connor, 63, has served in the Legislature since 1993.

In 2001, O'Connor received national attention for her remarks about the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1920, which gave women the right to vote.

"I think the 19th Amendment, while it's not an evil in and of itself, is a symptom of something I don't approve of," she said at the time. "The 19th Amendment is around because men weren't doing their jobs, and I think that's sad. I believe the man should be the head of the family. The woman should be the heart of the family."

On Wednesday, she dismissed the controversy ? which included an unsuccessful drive to recall her from office ? as "silliness." She said she does not believe voters will consider it a significant issue.

"I am who I am. You don't have to agree with everything I say," O'Connor said.

But Caroline McKnight, executive director of a group devoted to fighting conservatives in politics, said: "If she thinks it's going to go away because she's on a statewide ballot, she's living on another planet." ?
Amanda Marcotte -
She now wants to be secretary of the state in Kansas, in charge of elections, no less. Granted, it's completely logical that anti-feminists would be against the vote for women. What's illogical is how conservatives immediately adopt all progressive views as their own once the legislation passes. Is there any doubt that if we had the same Congress but the year was 1915 we'd have Tom DeLay and Bill Frist holding forth on why the vote for women is wrong?
Oh, put her in charge of elections. Maybe she would bring back the poll tax and keep those black folks from voting too.

Marcotte also provides links to other comments ? my favorite being this open letter to Kay O'Connor -
I'm very conflicted about your decision to run for the office of Secretary of State. Your proven record of defending Blastocyst-Americans and your opposition to the Nineteenth Amendment make me want to scream hallelujah, but I'm repulsed by your willingness to reject your traditional role as homemaker in order to pursue a position more suited for a man.

I have to wonder just how committed you really are to ending women's suffrage. After all, if you're unfit to vote, how can you possibly be fit to serve in public office? Have you considered serving the people of Kansas in some other way? Perhaps your time would be better spent if you stood at the polls on election days and screamed the word "harlot" at every woman standing in line. Heck, I bet you'd end suffrage for more women that way. It's what the French call thinking globally but acting locally.

Heterosexually yours, Gen. JC Christian, patriot
Yes, that?s sarcasm.

Posted by Alan at 21:16 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Thursday, 2 June 2005 21:21 PDT home

Topic: Couldn't be so...

Military Matters: Are Our Leaders Slyly Anti-War?

We have enough troops in Iraq?

Paul Krugman in the New York Times ticked off a lot of Bush supporters with a column on Monday, May 30 - Too few, yet too many - that opened with this:
One of the more bizarre aspects of the Iraq war has been President George W. Bush's repeated insistence that his generals tell him they have enough troops. Even more bizarrely, it may be true - I mean, that his generals tell him that they have enough troops, not that they actually have enough. An article in Sunday's Baltimore Sun explains why.

The article tells the tale of John Riggs, a former U.S. Army commander, who "publicly contradicted Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld by arguing that the army was overstretched in Iraq and Afghanistan" - then abruptly found himself forced into retirement at a reduced rank, which normally only happens as a result of a major scandal.

The truth, of course, is that there aren't nearly enough troops. "Basically, we've got all the toys, but not enough boys," a Marine major in Anbar Province told The Los Angeles Times.
Oddly enough, having a close family member serving is Mosul (see his photos of Mosul here) one does tend to follow such items in the press.

Krugman cites a CBO (Congressional Budget Office) report from September of 2003 saying we had better start reducing the number of troops in Iraq soon. Why? We need to "maintain training and readiness levels, limit family separation and involuntary mobilization, and retain high-quality personnel." The CBO has this idea that the rule of thumb is this: no more than one third of the full-time forces overseas - except during emergencies.

What we have now?
… the Bush administration, which was ready neither to look for a way out of Iraq nor to admit that staying there would require a much bigger army, simply threw out the rulebook. Regular soldiers are spending a lot more than a third of their time overseas, and many reservists are finding their civilian lives destroyed by repeated, long-term call-ups.
Yes, and there is, as Krugman notes, the foot-dragging on armoring Humvees and the apparent policy of denying long-term disability payments to as many of the wounded as possible. He suggests these guys "seem almost pathologically determined to nickel-and-dime those who put their lives on the line for their country."

Well, calling the president and his subordinates pathological is not the way to effect change, as we all know. Calling people names just gets them to harden their positions.

So is this just one more liberal Times guy sputtering at the administration?

Tom Lasseter of Knight-Ridder Newspapers reports this two days later - U.S. Army officers in northwest Iraq say they don't have enough troops - and offers these details:
U.S. Army officers in northwest Iraq, near the Syrian border, say they don't have enough troops to hold the ground they take from insurgents in this transit point for weapons, money and foreign fighters.

From last October to the end of April, there were about 400 soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division patrolling the northwest region, which covers about 10,000 square miles, an area about the size of Maryland.

"Resources are everything in combat ... there's no way 400 people can cover that much ground," said Maj. John Wilwerding, of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment (ACR), which is responsible for the tract that includes Tal Afar.

"Because there weren't enough troops on the ground to do what you needed to do, the (insurgency) was able to get a toehold." said Wilwerding, 37, of Chaska, Minn.

During the past two months, Army commanders, trying to pacify the area, have had to move in some 4,000 Iraqi soldiers; about 2,000 more are on the way. About 3,500 troops from the 3rd ACR took control of the area this month, but officers said they were still understaffed for the mission.

"There's simply not enough forces here," said a high-ranking U.S. officer with knowledge of the 3rd ACR. "There are not enough to do anything right; everybody's got their finger in a dike."
Of course that officer spoke on the condition of anonymity. He said he was concerned he'd be reprimanded for questioning military policy. Yes, Bush?s generals tell him they have enough troops.

Who is going to say different?

For the record, we learn this ?
? three battalions of Marines are stationed in the western part of the province, down from four a few months ago. Marine officials in western Anbar say each of those battalions is smaller by one company than last year, meaning there are approximately 2,100 Marines there now, compared with about 3,600 last year.

Some U.S. military officers in Anbar province say commanders in Baghdad and the Pentagon have denied their repeated requests for more troops.

"(Commanders) can't use the word, but we're withdrawing," said one U.S. military official in Anbar province, who asked not to be identified because it is the Pentagon that usually speaks publicly about troop levels. "Slowly, that's what we're doing."
So? Don?t use the word.

Krugman in the Times sees a pathology ? insisting we have enough troop and punishing those who disagree. Knight-Ridder and the Los Angeles Times try to report from the ground.

Last weekend in Press Notes (see Acknowledging the Dispute) we noted the growing conservative claims that the press was, on the whole, anti-military, and by extension anti-American, and by extension on the side of the enemy, and then by extension treasonous. Is that is what is going on here? Anti-American reporters in the field hunting down unhappy low-level commanders and getting them to say these things? Or just making it all up?

Maybe. Who are you to believe?

But we are facing some real shortages. Note that the Financial Times manages here to get the head of Army recruiting to say that "by the end of April the army had attracted only 35,926 soldiers towards its goal of 80,000 for the year ending in October," and then blame it on low unemployment ? and on the war too.

Something is amiss ? and in the June 2 Washington Post you?ll find what comes next - After 30 Years, Draft Fears Rise: Some Youths and Parents Worry Despite Government's Assurances.

Hey, folks aren?t dumb. We have a problem.

But defining the problem is tricky.

And here is one part of it ? we get good people to join and stay ? but not perverts -
Wounded Gay Soldier Discharged From Army
Sergeant Wounded in Iraq Who Wanted to Remain in Army As Openly Gay Soldier Is Discharged
The Associated Press - May 31, 2005

An Army sergeant from Ohio who was wounded in Iraq and wanted to remain in the military as an openly gay soldier was officially discharged Tuesday, according to an advocacy group.

Sgt. Robert Stout, 23, was awarded the Purple Heart after a grenade sent shrapnel into his arm, face and legs while he was using a machine gun on a Humvee in May 2004.

Stout, of Utica in central Ohio, told The Associated Press in April that he wanted to remain in the military and be openly gay, but that would conflict with the Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

? "I know a ton of gay men that would be more than willing to stay in the Army if they could just be open," Stout said in April.

Stout said he was openly gay among most of his 26-member platoon, part of the 9th Engineer Battalion based in Germany.

Army officials at the Pentagon could not immediately confirm the discharge. The Army declined to comment earlier on the case other than to say that soldiers discharged under "don't ask, don't tell" typically receive honorable discharges.
Okay, no comments on pathology. The Army Times covered the story earlier here. And we?ve let go of a lot of translators for the same reason, even if they were fluent in Arabic and other useful languages (see this from November of 2002, the first of many such actions).

We may be in trouble ? but if we go down it will be with straight guys, not queers? Okay, no comments on pathology.

But there may be a bigger problem ? a conceptual one. This has to do with Rumsfeld and his efforts to transform our Armed Services into a force of very few actual people and whole lots of whiz-bang technology.

James Wolcott puts in vividly in One-Man Wrecking Crew -
Donald Rumsfeld, whose Steely Resolve more and more resembles aluminum siding, is a man unafraid of confronting the full spectrum of America's enemies from Al Qaeda to Amnesty International. Some say he is too zealous in defending our freedom. Too candid. Too cocksure. Too unwilling to accept counsel and criticism. Too wedded to his overriding vision of military transformation.

Those some sayers are right.

His retirement as Secretary of Defense will leave a trail of ruination as its legacy that will stretch forward into the indeterminate future.
And Wolcott points to this from William Lind on June 2 -
When Rumsfeld leaves office, what will his successor inherit?

A volunteer military without volunteers. The Army missed its active-duty recruiting goal in April by almost half. Guard and Reserve recruiting are collapsing. Retention will do the same as "stop loss" orders are lifted. The reason, obviously, is the war in Iraq. Parents don't want to be the first one on their block to have their kid come home in a box.

The world's largest pile of wrecked and worn-out military equipment (maybe second-largest if we remember the old Soviet Navy). I'm talking about basic stuff here: trucks, Humvees, personnel carriers, crew-served weapons, etc. This is gear the Rumsfeld Pentagon hates to spend money on, because it does not represent 'transformation' to the hi-tech, video-game warfare it wrongly sees as the future. So far, deploying units have made up their deficiencies by robbing units that are not deploying, often National Guard outfits. But that stock has about run out, and some of the stripped units are now facing deployment themselves, minus their gear.

A military tied down in a strategically meaningless backwater, Iraq, to the point where it can't do much else...

Commitments to hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of future weapons programs that are militarily as useful as Zeppelins but less fun to watch...

A world wary of U.S. intentions and skeptical of any American claims about anything. In business, good will is considered a tangible asset. In true 'wreck it and run' fashion, Rumsfeld & Co. have reduced the value of that asset to near zero. A recent survey of the German public found Russia was considered a better friend than the United States.

Finally, the equivalent of an unfavorable ruling by a bankruptcy judge in the form of a lost war. We will be lucky if we can get out of Iraq with anything less than a total loss.
Could it be that bad?

Maybe. Consider this from ABC News -
The Pentagon on Wednesday postponed by more than a week the release of military recruiting figures for May, as the Army and Marine Corps struggle to attract new troops amid the Iraq war.

The military services had routinely provided most recruiting statistics for a given month on the first business day of the next month.

Air Force Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said the May numbers for the active-duty and reserve components of the all-volunteer military will be released on June 10.

"Military recruiting is instrumental to our readiness and merits the earliest release of data. But at the same time, this information must be reasonably scrutinized and explained to the public, which deserves the fullest insight into military performance in this important area," Krenke said.
There?s some explaining to do? Got to put some lipstick on this particular pig ? and note June 10 is a Friday. Releasing bad news late in the day on Friday is an old Washington tradition ? you keep it out of the main news cycles. [See the footnote below for an example.]

Too you could consider this from Defense Tech -
Air Combat Command (ACC), the primary provider of combat airpower, is cutting 32,000 flying hours to help compensate for its $825 million operations and maintenance shortfall.

The cuts come as Air Force aircrews are heavily worked, flying missions in Iraq, Afghanistan and over some U.S. cities in an attempt to prevent another terrorist attack.

"Starting early this summer, units may have aviators unable to get required training to maintain full combat-ready status," Col. Jim Dunn, deputy director of flight operations for ACC, said in a written statement. "Overall effectiveness will become a growing challenge."

With this cut, the command now has 21,000 flying hours left of the original 53,000-plus hours programmed for the rest of this fiscal year -- a 60 percent reduction.

? Retired Gen. Hal Hornburg, former ACC commander, said the cuts are "a big deal" and show the military's grim financial situation.

"They're not cutting fat, they're cutting to the bone," Hornburg said, noting the Pentagon has taken large sums of money away from the Air Force to pay for the Army in Iraq.
Well, even to some of us on the anti-war left, this all seems like madness. We may not think this war was a good idea, and see that it has damaged the nation severely in too many ways to count. But to destroy the Army and other services in a slow train-wreck of bad decisions, driven by fear of gay men and a lust for high-tech gizmos, and a refusal to listen to the worries of the guys on the ground? No. We used to chant War is Not the Answer ? but we didn?t have this in mind.


Related items of interest ?

We won't solve the military manpower crisis by retaining our worst soldiers.
By Phillip Carter and Owen West - Thursday, June 2, 2005, at 3:54 PM PT

This is a discussion of a new Army directive that attempts to alleviate the personnel crunch by retaining soldiers who are earmarked for early discharge during their first term of enlistment because of alcohol or drug abuse, unsatisfactory performance, or being overweight, among other reasons. "By retaining these soldiers, the Army lowers the quality of its force and places a heavy burden on commanders who have to take the poor performers into harm's way. This is a quick fix that may create more problems than it solves."

It's the Manpower, Stupid
The president's recent speech about "military transformation" makes no sense.
By Fred Kaplan - Thursday, June 2, 2005, at 2:51 PM PT

"? transformation and high-tech weaponry are no substitutes for manpower. In fact, they require more manpower?especially better-educated, more highly skilled manpower. The new synergy between smart bombs, satellite intelligence, and computerized communications worked as well as it did during the first phase of the Iraq war precisely because the American troops were so highly skilled and educated. About 95 percent of the U.S. military's recruits had graduated from high school. They also scored much higher on aptitude tests than their civilian counterparts. The deterioration of these standards is what the military's real crisis is all about. Even if transformation were really the driving force behind Pentagon planning and spending?even if the weapons envisioned actually existed and worked, even if the concept were wise to begin with?none of it would matter unless the manpower crisis, the military's real crisis, were solved first."



The Pentagon on Wednesday postponed by more than a week the release of military recruiting figures for May and said they would release them Friday, June 10. Releasing bad news late in the day on Friday is an old Washington tradition ? you keep it out of the main news cycles.

Case in point ?

Pentagon Confirms Quran Incident at Gitmo
Robert Burns, Associated Press Military Writer
Friday, June 03, 2005 4:20 pm Pacific Time
The Pentagon on Friday confirmed for the first time that a U.S. soldier deliberately kicked a Guantanamo Bay prisoner's Muslim holy book in violation of the military's rules for handling the Quran.

In other confirmed incidents, prison guards threw water balloons in a cell block, causing an unspecified number of Qurans to get wet; a guard's urine splashed on a detainee and his Quran; an interrogator stepped on a Quran during an interrogation; and a two-word obscenity was written in English on the inside cover of a Quran.

The findings are among the results of an investigation last month by Brig. Gen. Jay Hood, the commander of the detention center in Cuba, that was triggered by a Newsweek magazine report ? later retracted ? that a U.S. soldier had flushed one Guantanamo Bay detainee's Quran down a toilet.

? Last week, Hood disclosed that he had confirmed five cases of mishandling of the Quran, but he refused to provide details. Allegations of Quran desecration at Guantanamo Bay have led to anti-American passions in many Muslim nations, although Pentagon officials have insisted that the problems were relatively minor and that U.S. commanders have gone to great lengths to enable detainees to practice their religion in captivity.

Posted by Alan at 16:14 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Friday, 3 June 2005 16:49 PDT home

Wednesday, 1 June 2005

Topic: The Media

Paying Attention: What’s News and What Isn’t

So now we know who Deep Throat was. Fine. So?

And what is there to say about the massive landslide out here, just down the coast, with up to twenty multimillion dollar houses sliding down toward the Pacific? Such things happen. This is California.

The Michael Jackson trial goes to the jury – but there will be no comment here.

And what is there to say about the American Family Association urging a boycott of Ford cars and trucks – they say Ford has given thousands of dollars to gay rights groups, offers benefits to same-sex couples and actively recruits gay employees - just after their call for a boycott of Kraft macaroni and cheese in a box (the one will the picture of SpongeBob SquarePants on the cover). Oh, it wasn’t just the cartoon character. Kraft authorized its company logo to be placed on the official website of the 2006 Gay Olympic Games in Chicago as a major corporate sponsor. Boycott all Kraft products? Even Tang with its new mango flavor? Oh my!

This is news? What about the war?

Some of us are still thinking about what the vice president, Dick Cheney, said on CNN a day or two ago -
I think we may well have some kind of presence there over a period of time. The level of activity that we see today from a military standpoint, I think, will clearly decline. I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency.
As Andrew Sullivan comments -
You'll either be relieved or terrified by this statement by Mr Cheney. Relieved if you think he has a grip on the situation; terrified if you think it shows he has no idea what is going on in Iraq (or in the military's own detention facilities, for that matter). But at least he has given us a clear marker for the future that we can hold him to.
Yeah, it is a marker, just like the other one Sullivan points to -
They will do everything they can to disrupt the process up to those elections in January because they know that once you've got a democratically elected government in place that has legitimacy in the eyes of the people of Iraq, they're out of business. That will be the end of the insurgency.
That one was from October 28, 2004.

I think Herbert Hoover said prosperity was just around the corner. To repeat?. When someone tries to sell you something by opening with "Trust us ? this is not what it seems," one is naturally a bit skeptical. If that is followed with, "Have we ever lied to your before?" One steps back. If that is followed by, "I know you THINK we lied, but you weren?t listening carefully," then one steps back even more. These guys need some marketing advice.

Our own marketing guru, who this week asked why aren't we acting as if we understood moral authority and, in the same item, discussed how to exterminate swarms (perhaps you should read the item), suggested I ought to look at something other than the fluff stories in the news. He suggested I pop up the New York Times before it goes behind the subscription wall and only those who pay big bucks can read it and comment on it.

His suggestions from the June 1 issue?

Item one: Patriot Act Redux, and in the Dark

He says the editorial is scary ? and that what's emerging AGAIN in DC and why it's NOT just about what THEY do to others outside our borders.
The Patriot Act was passed in haste, in the angst-filled days after the Sept. 11 attacks, with some lawmakers candidly admitting they never read the details. That was one of the reasons key sections included expiration dates, so calmer heads of the future would have an opportunity to fix mistakes. Now that opportunity is here, and far from removing obvious threats to civil liberties in the law, the White House and eager Senate Republicans seem bent on making it worse.
He says - "Why should we believe these guys? They treat their own constituents as if WE were terrorists..."

Yep. Let?s see ? there the proposal to let FBI agents write their own "administrative subpoenas," without the need to consult prosecutors or judges, and demand of all manner of records, from business to medical and tax data. Yep. And there?s that library provision that lets the government seize entire databases at libraries, hospitals and other institutions when just one person is under investigation. And there?s that part of the act that makes it a crime for record holders to let the public know when a government data sweep has occurred.

But we worry about Michael Jackson and SpongeBob SquarePants. Was your Ford Explorer assembled by some gay guy?

Item two: America's DNA

This is Thomas Friedman's opinion column, explaining why he's worried that in fits and starts we are eroding everything we've inherited as our heritage ? what he calls our DNA. Freidman recalls a conversation with a friend in London ?
In part it was a recent chat with the folks at Intel about the obstacles they met trying to get visas for Muslim youths from Pakistan and South Africa who were finalists for this year's Intel science contest. And in part it was a conversation with M.I.T. scientists about the new restrictions on Pentagon research contracts - in terms of the nationalities of the researchers who could be involved and the secrecy required - that were constricting their ability to do cutting-edge work in some areas and forcing intellectual capital offshore. The advisory committee of the World Wide Web recently shifted its semiannual meeting from Boston to Montreal so as not to put members through the hassle of getting visas to the U.S.
As our business school professor of marketing comments - "This is our new American Product - along with war on foreign soil - that NO AMOUNT OF PR can overcome. People's experience IS the product and it's far greater than any packaging we call PR!"

So how do we want to be seen? How do we want to be known in the world?
In New Delhi, the Indian writer Gurcharan Das remarked to me that with each visit to the U.S. lately, he has been forced by border officials to explain why he is coming to America. They "make you feel so unwanted now," said Mr. Das. America was a country "that was always reinventing itself," he added, because it was a country that always welcomed "all kinds of oddballs" and had "this wonderful spirit of openness." American openness has always been an inspiration for the whole world, he concluded. "If you go dark, the world goes dark."
It seems it is okay of the world goes dark.

Our market friend comments - "These are not SMALL issues!"

No, they are not small issues. There was some comment on this on the leftie blogs today ? but generally a collective national yawn. Oh well.

Item three: The Peacemaker

This is about Rudolf Giuliani ? with the subtitle "Olle Wastberg nominates Rudy G for the Nobel Peace Prize."

Mr. Giuliani took office in 1994, when the city was rife with gang violence, rundown neighborhoods, robbery, graffiti and litter. The police had lost the daily battle against serious crime. The mayor brought with him a policy of rethinking the fight against crime... in human terms, it would appear that over the last 12 years the policies Mr. Giuliani put in place have spared New York perhaps 10,000 murders, 15,000 rapes and 800,000 robberies. This is clearly a humanitarian accomplishment of great magnitude.
Our friend comments - "Now here's a man, that acts in the best interests of his constituents. Despite party and politics, I'd vote for Rudy in the White House, because in moments of crisis he's been shown to be true to human moral instinct. I can respect that in a person, especially in a politician! We really need a new style of American leadership! And if he could unite red and blue states, more power to the guy... (quite literally)"

The problem with this man with the "human moral instinct" is clear. He?s pro-choice. And a Republican. That party is now firmly evangelical Christian and Frist and Dobson will not allow Giuliani any chance for any nomination to any office, unless he embraces what the call the "culture of life" ? and comes out for embryo rights, the death penalty for most felonies, and an expansion of the war of Jesus against the heathen terrorists, to Syria, Iran and Korea. I suspect Giuliani is not so much pro-abortion as he simply feels the decision is not the government?s to make, on Southern Baptist theological grounds. Too bad. The party to which he belongs now believes they have the mandate to make these decision for women.

Giuliani is toast. And he won?t get the Nobel Peace Prize either. Besides, his divorce was messy and offended a lot of the evangelical Christians who are working so hard to protect marriage, particularly from gay men who want the same legal rights as married heterosexual folks in Alabama.

Item Four: Beyond Viagra Politics

As our friend puts it, this is Matt Miller's fantasy appeal for leaders of both parties to take truth serum instead of Viagra for a day - "Miller includes the thought that we ALL must be held accountable for what our leaders do!"
... how different our politics would sound if we moved beyond Viagra politics and got serious about our problems. All it would take is enough of us rebelling against a perverse culture in which "political courage" is oddly defined as "telling the truth." After all, if we don't make the world safe for our leaders to do the right thing, who will?

After point to these our friend says - "These are all four taken way out of context and each deserves a full read. But taken together they reflect the angst and concern I feel for our national malaise - our lapse of moral responsibility - that got me started on this whole writing kick this morning."

And then he went back to work.

Angst and concern?.

I came this on the site Tacitus where in a discussion of bringing back the draft the anonymous writer, a right-wing conservative to the core, suggests we?re all in this together -
If you reject the very idea of a democracy or a republic, in which the people at large are the state, and its acts are hence their acts, then it becomes sensible to speak of a war of that state in which the citizenry have no moral part. This being America, corporate media and Diebold machines and paranoid theorizing notwithstanding, one assumes that reasonable persons do not reject that idea. We are a republic, and our state and its actions are therefore reflections and extensions of ourselves. Every citizen is the co-equal of every other under law, governance, and the responsibilities and consequences thereof. This is basic civics, but it clearly needs restating: America's wars are Americans' wars. The failure to grasp this is, to be sure, a bipartisan moral idiocy?.
The war is our war. What happens at Guantanamo Bay is what we did. Shutting down our borders to the best and the brightest is what we are doing. Giving up our rights to be safe is what we are doing. Allowing the evangelical right to define, by their rules, what is moral and allowable is what we allow. Assuming no one does the right thing as a matter of course ? just the way life is - is what we assume.

So what are "we" going to do?

We're going to wonder if Michael Jackson will be convicted.

Posted by Alan at 19:16 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Wednesday, 1 June 2005 22:23 PDT home

Topic: World View

Updates – France

In the last two days, since the original posting of Geopolitics: Fallout from the French Kiss of Death, much has been added to that item, from the BBC comment on orthography to clarifications from Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis on what the term liberal means in France, to an analysis from Ric of the newly rearranged government there.

Click on the link and the item will pop up in a new window. Scroll down and you’ll see new reporting from Our Man in Paris.

Where else will you get immediate updates on the situation, with commentary?

The latest analysis from Paris is dated Wednesday, June 01, 2005 at 3:45 in the afternoon, Pacific Time. That’s almost one in the morning on June 2nd in Paris. Let’s assume Ric got some sleep after he explained the situation to us here on the other side of the world.

Posted by Alan at 16:10 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink

Tuesday, 31 May 2005

Topic: Selling the War

Marketing 101: Containing Costs with a Finely Tuned Marketing Campaign

In the Memorial Day comment in these pages, among other things about how the left deals with the military, readers were pointed to Bob Herbert over at the New York Times who doesn’t like the current plan to make things all better.
President Bush's close confidante, Karen Hughes, has been chosen to lead a high-profile State Department effort to repair America's image. The Bush crowd apparently thinks this is a perception problem, as opposed to a potentially catastrophic crisis that will not be eased without substantive policy changes.

… In much of the world, the image of the U.S. under Mr. Bush has morphed from an idealized champion of liberty to a heavily armed thug in camouflage fatigues. America is increasingly being seen as a dangerously arrogant military power that is due for a comeuppance. It will take a lot more than Karen Hughes to turn that around.
One of our readers, who actually teaches marketing to would-be MBA’s at a top business school, thinks the marketing problem is bigger than the issue of how the left deals with the military -
Frankly guys I'm much more concerned about the Karen Hughes PR initiative than this "left versus right debate."

It's a trite cliche that "he who lives by the sword dies by it."

But despite the trust and respect that everyday Iraqi's bestow on American GI's (and evidently this is true, if I am to believe an acquaintance with close ties to key military folks in the field) – and despite the welcome from regular folks who find themselves in a war zone of broken infrastructure - any U.S. adversary can only be bolstered into returning violence double-fold upon the American infidels. Every step we take there only increases the high likelihood of further retaliation upon our soil, and still further harm to American civilians. By sitting around and condoning through our inaction... we have it coming.

At the same time, and here's where I think the White House crowd has truly misread the playbook, how can we expect Israel or Syria or Iran or Pakistan or India (or China?) - you name the protagonist - to carry out any form of diplomacy other than with weapons - when the ONLY model they see "working" is the Bush/Blair shock and awe policy. We train the world to shoot first and hire the Hugheses to rationalize with the public later...

I fear we will pay dearly for the indiscretions of this administration.
Well, my nephew in Mosul reports the same warm relations with a number of the locals, and it doesn’t hurt that’s he’s fluent in Turkish and working on a few things to say in Kurdish.

But there are the indiscretions.

A statement from U.S. central command says that Coalition forces "regret any inconvenience" caused by the catch-and-release of moderate Sunni leader Mohsen Abdul-Hamid, adding that the former president of the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council was "detained by mistake."

Reuters quotes Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari as saying that although "this is the fourth time that a Sunni leader has been arrested," he "did not think the troops who arrested Abdul-Hamid knew his background."
Oops. This sort of thing doesn?t help, nor does roughing up and humiliating his family. Hey, read the items.

Sorry about that. But we do such things. As Molly Ivins says -
What I don't get is the disconnect in Bush's mind. One must assume he figures in Iraq, "You gotta break eggs to make an omelette," or something akin.
Well, something like that.

Besides, Vice President Cheney just told the world, and Larry King on CNN, that the Iraq insurgency to be "in the last throes." Really. See this and this. The same day the chief of police in Basra is quoted as saying that his city is 'out of control' and dominated by militia gangs. But what does he know? He?s not in Washington at the White House.

Over the weekend in the weekly, Just Above Sunset, we commented on the Amnesty International report criticizing conditions at Guantanamo Bay. (See Moral Nagging for that.) Cheney says he was really, really offended by that report - "For Amnesty International to suggest that somehow the United States is a violator of human rights, I frankly just don't take them seriously." (Ah, but they used to take them seriously when the shoe was on the other foot.) And by the way, where did all those Guantanamo photographs come from, some liberal journalist with Adobe Photoshop and too much time on his hands?

All this is not helping matters.

And General Richard Myers on the Sunday talk shows? He?s saying we have done a good job of humanely treating detainees. (See this discussion of the problems with that ? something about documented facts and reality and all that sort of thing.) On Fox News he says these evil folks at Guantanamo "are the people that took four airplanes and drove them into three buildings on September 11th." Hey, what do THEY deserve? But over at CNN his questioner reminds him that "those people are dead ... And the masterminds behind it are not the people we're keeping down at Guantanamo." (Transcript here.)

Oh, close enough!

But close enough isn?t cutting it in the Middle East, or much of the rest of the world.

The last PR gambit is summarized by Eugene Robinson in the Washington Post on Tuesday, May 31, 2005 on Page A17 -
It was a natural idea: Send first lady Laura Bush to the Middle East to put a kinder, gentler face on her husband's smash-the-china policies. After all, the tactic had been test-marketed to perfection a few weeks ago at the White House correspondents' dinner, the annual black-tie event where everyone pastes on a smile and pretends that Washington isn't riven into bitter factions, each convinced that all the other factions will someday burn in hell.

? As an extended photo op to show America as liberator rather than oppressor, the trip didn't deliver. In Jerusalem the photos were of tense scuffles as the first lady was heckled by angry Israelis, followed by angry Palestinians. She remained poised throughout, understandably slipping back into Stepford mode -- a pleasant smile, a few anodyne words. In Egypt she gave unqualified endorsement to President (or is it Pharaoh?) Hosni Mubarak's blueprint for upcoming elections, calling it "very bold and wise." She was slammed by opposition groups, which charge that Mubarak is just rigging the system so his son can eventually succeed him; one critic sniffed to Reuters that Laura Bush "seems not to know enough about Egypt."
Ah, but her heart was in the right place and it doesn?t look like Karen Hughes will start her PR job until late fall. What?s the hurry?

Fareed Zakaria suggests we should hurry.

Who? Fareed Zakaria, the international editor for Newsweek ? BA Yale, PhD in Political Science from Harvard, former managing editor at Foreign Affairs - taught international relations and political philosophy at Harvard ? many books. You just have to get over his name. He doesn?t try to light his sneakers on international flights; in fact, on the discussion shows he seems like a nice fellow, even if he is one of THEM.

In the June 6 issue of Newsweek you will find this ?

Uncle Sam: Jekyll or Hyde?
War is a hellish business, but when you release prisoners today, they don't just return quietly to their villages. They hire lawyers.

The opening -
I have resisted the temptation to write something on the Qur'an-abuse story. But since the controversy continues, here goes. I think that the Bush administration has a Jekyll-and-Hyde problem?a contradictory attitude toward the war on terror. On the one hand it has wholeheartedly embraced the view that America must change its image in the Muslim world. It wants to stop being seen as the supporter of Muslim tyrants and instead become the champion of Muslim freedoms. President Bush and his secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, are transforming American policy in this realm, and while some of the implementation has been spotty, the general thrust is clear and laudable. For this they deserve more credit than they have generally been given, perhaps because of the polarization of politics these days, perhaps because the topic inevitably gets mixed up with the botched occupation of Iraq.

But while Dr. Jekyll makes speeches by day on Arab liberty, some nights he turns into Mr. Hyde. There is within the Bush administration another impulse, a warrior ethos that believes in beating up bad guys without much regard for such niceties as international law. Excessive concern for such matters would be a sign of weakness, the kind of thing liberals do. Men like Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld see themselves above all else as tough guys.

The historian Walter Russell Mead has argued that the Bush administration fits into the "Jacksonian tradition" in American politics. One of this tradition's core beliefs is that normal rules of warfare are suspended when dealing with "dishonorable enemies." Mead gives the example of the Indian wars in which American soldiers, enraged by Indian fighting tactics, waged battle ruthlessly and with no holds barred.

It is surely this sense of toughness that made Alberto Gonzales (then White House counsel) and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld assert in 2002 that the Geneva Conventions did not really apply, in Rumsfeld's phrase, to today's "set of facts." It is this sense of toughness that led Rumsfeld to authorize various forms of coercive interrogation that were designed to humiliate prisoners by offending their faith. These included shaving prisoners' beards, stripping and setting dogs on them?all religious and cultural taboos. The action memo on interrogation in Guantanamo authorized the removal of "comfort items (including religious items)." That procedure, as well as several others, was rescinded in a memo in January 2003. But in reading even subsequent memos on the treatment of prisoners, now declassified, it's often slightly unclear?at least to me?whether the Geneva Conventions were to be followed precisely.

I have some sympathy for the Jacksonian view. War is hell and Al Qaeda is as dishonorable an enemy as there has ever been. The trouble is, in today's world, militarily effective methods can generate huge political costs.
No kidding.

But can those costs be contained with a finely tuned public relations campaign? Invoking Andrew Jackson and how we treated the Native Americans seems a bit wrong-headed. But if American vacationers this summer lose enough money at Indian casinos perhaps there might be some limited use in the comparison. As a people we?re much better at getting angry with this group or that than ever before. It could work.

The rest of the item discusses how technology (digital cameras) has changed things ?
There was a moment in Rumsfeld's appearance at the Senate Armed Services Committee after Abu Ghraib that was utterly revealing. Rumsfeld explained that while he knew about the investigation, he was blindsided by the photographs and their impact. He simply couldn't get over the fact that the guards had been taking snapshots with their miniature digital cameras. With a mixture of amazement and frustration, he wondered how to fight a war in "the information age where people are running around with digital cameras and taking these unbelievable photographs and then passing them off, against the law, to the media, to our surprise, when they had not even arrived in the Pentagon."
Yeah, it?s just not fair. People find out what happened, and although how they find out may be against the law, they find out.

Yep. Exasperating. It screws up public perceptions. You have to mount a counter public relations campaign. That can be exasperating, madding and just plain irksome. You and you folks have to go on the Sunday talk shows and spin and spin ? when there are other and better ways to use your time.

But here?s an idea ? don?t give them anything to find out. Or let them find out you?ve treated people honorably, as emotionally difficult as that can be.

No. Not your style.

Zakaria says too, the problem is more than technology -
Today, when you release prisoners from Guantanamo, they don't return quietly to their villages in Waziristan. They hire lawyers, talk to human-rights organizations and organize public protests. And in a war for hearts and minds, the benefits of the intelligence gained might well be outweighed by the cost to America's image. Dr. Jekyll needs to explain this to Mr. Cheney, I mean Mr. Hyde. American soldiers operate with high moral standards, something often forgotten by the rest of the world because of the intense scrutiny they are subjected to by both domestic and foreign media. (How many front-page stories have there been on the Russian Army's behavior in Chechnya or the French Army's assistance to the Hutus in Rwanda?) Remember that it was the uniformed services and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs Colin Powell who argued against Gonzales's cavalier attitude toward the Geneva Conventions. But when there are lapses, the Pentagon needs to get much better at admitting them, investigating them and taking responsibility for them.
It doesn?t seem like that?s going to happen. This Memorial Day the administration ran out the big guns to tell everyone that we DO treat everyone really well, and we?re winning big time, which is why the bad guys are fighting so hard, our casualties are way up, civilian casualties are way up. That shows our success.

Just who is buying that? In marketing that is known as a hard sell. When someone tries to sell you something by opening with "Trust us ? this is not what it seems," one is naturally a bit skeptical. If that is followed with, "Have we ever lied to your before?" One steps back. If that is followed by, "I know you THINK we lied, but you weren?t listening carefully," then one steps back even more. These guys need some marketing advice.

Here?s some from Andy Borowitz (Tuesday, May 31, 2005) ?
Military Urges Use of Non-religious Insults

Addressing concerns about the treatment of detainees at the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff today announced today that the U.S. was issuing a list of approved taunts for use on all detainees in U.S. custody.

Speaking at a press conference at the Pentagon, Air Force Gen. Richard Myers said that the U.S. military would have ?zero tolerance? for religion-based taunting on detainees, adding, ?There are so many other things that you can taunt prisoners about.?

Gen. Myers said that any guard at Guantanamo who is using religion as the basis of taunts ?just isn?t using his or her imagination.?

The list of approved taunts, compiled by the U.S. military after searching the joke files of insult comics across the country as well as a database of inner-city ?snaps? or put-downs, will be issued to all military guards at Guantanamo, effective immediately, Gen. Myers said. ?
Note this is satire. We?re still doing the denial thing.

I wonder if my reader at that business school has any marketing advice he can forward to Karen Hughes. There?s plenty of time ? probably six months before she starts, if she ever does.

Everyone has their priorities.


From the halls of academia (graduate business school does count as academia), our marketing professor comments -
Thanks for a comprehensive run-down of recent commentary supporting my "PR's NOT the answer" alarm. All I can fall back on for deeper advice is implied already in your assembled thoughts, and I repeat myself from a comment on these pages a few weeks or months ago. [Editor?s Note: see March 20, 2005 - Just What Are We Selling? for that alarm.] Marketing includes more than just PR and advertising. Marketing IS the entire experience and it begins with THE PRODUCT. When the message isn't working, it's NOT the message stupid - it's THE PRODUCT!

A thought on the "product" in this case - modern warfare. The week following 9-11, I was struck with the insight that warfare was now changed forever. The Pentagon and our military (and civilian) strategists have no history or experience that applies to war scenarios with no rules of propriety. The people responsible for planning and executing are NOT in a mindset or position to succeed in a new paradigm!

Think of the American Revolution when WE broke all the rules of modern warfare and confounded European forces. We hid behind rocks in fields, for God's sake, and ambushed civilized regiments who were parading down the center of America's country roads in little Massachusetts towns. Talk about uncivilized. We even refused to line up in open fields around Bunker Hill and parade into bullet barrages - the only civilized way to kill one another. What was a Redcoat army to do if they couldn't conduct the full regiment equivalent of a civilized duel? In the end we Americans even committed midnight commando raids across the Delaware River on Christmas Eve. Sacrilege!

So are there ways to defeat terrorism? Ways to undermine an army that refuses to assemble behind fortified barricades, that believes individual jihad and suicide is acceptable as long as the kill ratio exceeds 1 to 1? (On the flip side of the coin, is it feasible to ask the Pentagon to think outside the box?)

Anyone out there ever studied "swarm intelligence?" There's a growing body of research that uses insect behavior as a new model for systems thinking, economic alternatives and general problem solving. Oxford Press and Santa Fe Institute published a compendium of research studies under that title in 1999. Great addition to a modern library aimed at new paradigms (e.g. WWW or wireless technology-based economy, or fighting terrorism). A swarm (of ants or bees, e.g.) achieves highly intelligent ends without any individual within the swarm possessing those high order characteristics. They live in small mobile cells and operate with a fixed set of precise behavioral rules. Acting in consistent lock-step they achieve together - as a swarm - what no individual insect could achieve alone. (Sound like al Qaeda?)

So how do we effectively destroy insect infestations? Well, you DON'T begin with the knee-jerk reaction you'd expect from the military - which would be to poison the entire environment. Is that the route we took in Iraq, I fear? When I hear today of forays of 1,000 soldiers into outlying towns that net six dead terrorists I feel like we're using nuclear bug spray on the entire population of Iraq.

One solution that has proven to work is to get individual soldiers to transport poisons back tot he central hive... AHA! Out of the box plan. I AM heartened to hear that Skunk Baxter - a personal hero of mine from his rock star guitar days with Steely Dan and the Doobies (I'm not so sure about his earlier Ultimate Spinach chops, I should revisit that work sometime) - that Skunk Baxter is now a highly paid advisor to the Pentagon and key military contractors. Perhaps someone is looking beyond their own Red-Coats.

I'm not sure WHERE the effective answer lies, but here are a couple more "business" text titles that I believe set the cornerstones in which we will ultimately find an anti-terrorism solution:

Kevin Kelly (founding editor of Wired magazine) wrote an earlier book of anecdotal concepts that bridged biological models for the new machine age - machines/social systems/economics entitled "Out of Control" (Addison Wesley, 1994). It includes, coincidentally, work from Santa Fe Institute among others. Excellent read. Many mind-bending, assumption wrenching excursions out of mainstream thinking.

Then there are marketing texts like "The Attention Economy" (Harvard Press/Accenture, 2001) which addresses the glut of messaging and unique ways to penetrate with ideas when people stop listening without incentive - or "Guerrilla Publicity" (Adams Media, 2002) which gets at "viral marketing" (we USED to call it Word-of-Mouth), among other low-cost means of messaging. I DO know that Seth Godin's politically correct "Permission Marketing" (Simon and Schuster, 1999) is NOT the way to go... (was overly "pop-ish" writing anyway.)

I have a feeling that somewhere in the intersection of behavioral Swarm and Attention and Viral, lies an antidote to terrorism... and I'm assuming and hoping that Baxter and other less notorious new-age military advisors are crafting paths to that new intersected thinking. I KNOW Karen Hughes with her (assumed) background as electronic ear-piece ventriloquist during the "dub-ya" presidential debates is less likely to be hiring a Skunk Baxter to play lead chops for her global campaign to come. But then again, who knows? Maybe someone gutsy enough to pull off reverse e-snooping (putting words INTO the wooden mouth) will be far enough outside to actually consider the real issues at hand, and willingly build an "integrated marketing campaign" that begins first with fixing the product.

In my lifetime?


If my ramble above has little impact on national policy, at best it may have put a new title or two in your hands that helps expand your library of thinking.
Yep, time to do some reading.

Bob Patterson, who appears in Just Above Sunset as both The World?s Laziest Journalist and The Book Wranger, just back from a cross-country trip, Los Angeles to New York City and back, by bus, adds this -
There is an old axiom in Hollywood that warns against believing your own PR.

Bush not only believes his own PR, but he lives his life by it. After two weeks of seeing that the "rust belt" seems to extend from Newark to Santa Monica, and that Americans love America and its president, I may clap my hands and click my heel together and start believing in Never-never land, myself.

Say it with me:

Bush was a Vietnam war hero.
Bush was a successful business executive.
Bush is a spellbinding public speaker.
Bush is helping liberate Iraq and Che would endorse Bush's efforts. (Che Bush?)
Bush believes in humane treatment of prisoners.
Bush will say "Mission Accomplished!" ten weeks after the start of the war with Iran.
Bush deserves a third term!

There that was easy, wasn't it?

Viva Che! Viva Bush. Viva all men of the common man!

Bush says "Support the Troops" but the song he sings is "The Ballad of Ira Hayes." (Google it.)

And the reaction from our business school guru?
Che Bush? I like it!

That should either be a new line for Victoria's Secret or the long awaited porn follow-on to Deep Throat.

Is America ready for another Deep Throat after all these years? Could the rust belt begin to swallow Che Bush? (This goes dangerous places!)

And yes, Bob, I'm afraid history does stay the same... all across America? over and over again.

I mean Nixon's self-righteousness was different from W's, how?

Political machinery wasn't neurally in control of all media back then, but the blind faith was the same at the source, now wasn't it?!?
Ah, we live in an age of ever more intense faith, don?t we?

Dick in Rochester adds only this - "Thanks, Bob, we all needed that little disconnect from reality!"

Posted by Alan at 20:48 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Wednesday, 1 June 2005 12:53 PDT home

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