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February 03, 2006
Honey, I'm Home!

Wow, that was exhausting. Sure am glad I've found a Real Job.*

So, what's new? Well, the SoTU speech of course, but I think that Tuesday's speech has been thoroughly canvassed by the world o'blog already. I didn't watch. At his absolute best, Bush is a pathetic public speaker and I hear that he was more than usually drone-like on Tuesday, so no big loss.

For those of you not yet saturated, I found an interesting preliminary run-through of the numbers for the "American Competitiveness Issue."

I'm not linking to the "decreased dependence on foreign oil" thing because I assume you all know the White House said, "just kidding!" first thing Wednesday morning. I assume they'll be using the rhetoric to try and pass their Alaska plans again this year since Middle East oil is Bush Family Friend territory.

And, speaking of George Bush's friends in the energy business, the big Enron trial is finally underway amid much finger-pointing and claims of bad memories and "bad intelligence". (Hey, it worked for Bush on Iraq.)

And, speaking of George Bush and Iraq, are we going to announce "mission complete" again? (He wants another $120 billion first, though. At least, that's what he's estimating now. They're admitting he'll need more than that.)

(Speaking of billions of dollars, how about that new Medicare program? And the relevant portion of Tuesday's speech.)

Also, speaking of George Bush and criminal trials, I see "Scooter" Libby will be going to trial, two months after the mid-term elections. Wouldn't want any more scandals to upset the increasingly cranky electorate, would we?

The military wants a ten-percent cut in nukes. We could cut our nuclear weapons stockpile by fifty percent and still have enough left to kill everything on the planet twice over. (Anyhow, I'm assuming they're making a PR parade out of something like getting rid of their oldest stuff and that it will eventually be replaced with "pocket" nukes or some gargantuan "bunker-buster.")

And, speaking of nukes, France says we're a bunch of cheese-eating, surrender monkeys.

Making war on a tactic. (Well, it all depends on your definitions, doesn't it?)


* I'm employed! I start on the 13th, back at my old company, but in a new position.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:04 PM


Congratulations! This is another thing we can like and admire in America. Here in old Europe once you are out it will be very difficult to get another job - there is a sort of stigma in losing your job that I don't think you feel in the US. And people in the US seem to be willing to accept changes - changes of profession, changes of place of residence etc. Good for them! Here people feel that they have the right to always do the same job in the same place.

PS This being said, I still don't like the Bush regime.

Kind regards and good luck.

Posted by: Bengt O. at February 3, 2006 01:28 PM

CONGRATULATIONS! (yes, I'm shouting. Now I'll go read the rest of the post)

One logical point. Yes, I understand the "war on a tactic" trope, but when you pair it with WMD issues, which we take seriously, the contradiction becomes a bit much. The fact is that the "War on Terror" is a war against a fairly well-defined group of terroristic enemies (and our own civil liberties, but that's another matter) and those of us who support nuclear disarmament, for example, need to remember that our reasons for that are pretty similar to the reasons for opposing groups which stoop to terrorism.

Posted by: Jonathan Dresner at February 3, 2006 01:29 PM

Bengt - Thank you! I'm pleased myself.

No, changing jobs isn't a stigma in the USofA. In fact, it's quite accepted. People wonder, if you've never changed jobs, if it's because you're just not able to do anything else. I generally work 3-5 years for each company that hires me. That makes me a "reliable" and "stable" employee.

If I were 30 instead of 40, I'd have a bright future ahead of me. :) One thing that does hurt you is getting older. As you gain experience, you naturally make more money and you arrive at a point where companies think they'd rather hire someone young and cheap and go to the trouble of training them.

Thanks for the kind wishes, though. You can't possible dislike the Bush Administration more than I do!

Posted by: Anne at February 3, 2006 03:00 PM

Jonathan - Thanks for the good wishes. :) I'm very happy, not only to have a job but to be returning to a group of people I already know I'll enjoy working with.

Much of what I object to in the "war on terror" thing is the increasing use of double-speak and semantic fancy-dancing.

Although I'm not a fan of the recent craze about "framing" I do believe that the words you use matter.

Just for the record, this isn't a recent fetish of mine and it didn't start with the Bush Administration.

t's not a "War on Drugs." It is, at most, a "War on Illegal Drugs" or a "Struggle To Prevent Importing, Growing, Producing, or Consuming Illegal Substances." Calling it a "war on drugs" doesn't encourage anyone to stop and consider which substances are included in this "war" and whether they're all things we want our government to be spending millions of dollars and tens of thousands of man-hours on tracking down.

The problem with inventing quick and easy catchphrases is that they very soon discourage people from thinking about or remembering what actually lies behind them.

You can't sensibly make war on an emotion or a tactic so it offends the English major in me to read the phrase, "war on terror."

Further, it would also be dishonest to call this a "war on terrorism" or a "war on terrorists" since the only home-grown "terrorists" it's been applied to are "eco-terrorists."

Those who are making it their mission to destroy as many abortion clinics, kill as many abortion doctors, and terrorize as many potential abortion-services users as possible are "terrorists." They're a hate group singling out a specific population of people for death and destruction, but you don't see them being prosecuted as such.

The only thing they're not is Islamic extremists.

I object to the Bush Administration's language because the use of the simple word "terror" implies "terrorists" which allows the complacent and unthinking population to smugly assume these are all pre-convicted criminals and never forces them to consider the whole picture.

We're not making war on terrorists sor terrorism at all. We're making war on Islamic extremists with an occasional kick in the head to people who damage corporate interests under the guise of defending the ecology.

Further, we're mostly making war on Islamic extremists in countries that have oil that's important to our multinational corporate interests and who we hope will make good little consumers for USofA corporations in the near future.

The whole WMD thing is another issue. I don't support it from the same motives that I support making war on terrorists because I don't support the war we're making on terrorists. We are, as humans so often have in our history, making war on the effect and not the cause, and that's just futile.

Contented, prosperous people who see a bright future ahead of them do not become religious extremists. If we want to eliminate the kind of terrorist acts the world is seeing more and more of, we have to cure the causes of discontent.

But I may be more rational on the subject on another day. I'm sort of cranky today. (Also, I'm not proofreading, so I hope I'm not saying anything demonstrably ignorant.)

Posted by: Anne at February 3, 2006 03:22 PM


I agree with most of that (I still think there's an analogy between terrorism and WMD in the hands of "responsible" states which our concern over proliferation to "irresponsible" states reveals), but the shorthand, aside from the linguistic torture it reveals, doesn't really say all of that. That's my problem. We need (as you've so beautifully done recently) to articulate in detail and with energy, not in shorthand bullets.

Posted by: Jonathan Dresner at February 3, 2006 09:07 PM

Jonathan -

I'd be very interested in reading an expansion of your thoughts on the WMD issue. I get the feeling we're probaby in agreement (as we frequently are) but that I'm not getting your whole meaning.

I don't have a rooted objection to the use of shorthand phrases or abbreviated acronyms. I just have an objection to using them when I'm not certain that we all mean the same thing...which we can't know if we don't discuss the issue(s) in full before we invent and codify the catchphrases.

Obviously, in spite of my previous rudeness, we all knew well when we started it what the "War on Drugs" was all about, but we never discussed tactics. I think, that long ago, many of us naively assumed that police and border crackdowns would work magic.

We've learned much better...but we never reevaluated the "War" so decades later we're still spending tens of millions of dollars trying to plug the leak instead of fixing the roof. (Need more coffee....)

It's not a comparison chosen at random. Like the "War on Drugs," the "War on Terror" is completely unwinnable using our current methods.

The problem with easy catchphrases is that we get used to them. They become a part of our life. And, after a certain amount of time, they become set in stone.

Today it's inconveivable that we'd declare an end to the "War on Drugs" in spite of our manifest failure to make any progress at all.

It seems so obvious (to me) that the "War on Terror" is exactly the same kind of battle. How many decades and how many tens or hundreds of millions of dollars are we going to spend before we reevaluate?


Posted by: Anne at February 4, 2006 09:37 AM