Monday, December 31, 2007

maverick - noun

A politician who campaigns on a platform of speaking honestly to the public.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

bundling - noun

A populist measure for extending political representation to the upper-middle class.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

obstruction - noun

A counterterrorism tactic in lawfare, whereby the enemy is deprived of evidential arms.

never – adverb

1. Hopefully not

2. Not often enough to know or recall

Thursday, October 18, 2007

inspection - noun

A search for incriminating evidence, the absence of which confirms the worst.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Announcement

Sorry for the recent dearth of posts, but my new job has been overwhelming.

I'm leaving for the three-day weekend, and I'll be back on Tuesday with renewed vigor.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Friday, September 28, 2007

new – adjective

1. Forgotten.

2. Recycled.

3. Reissued.

4. Reverted.

5. Covered in plastic.

equality – noun

The state or quality of owning equal assets, and therefore equal moral worth.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

yacht - noun

A Congressman's second home and primary office.

Friday, September 21, 2007

bubble – noun

A gaseous spherule enclosed by a delicate liquid layer that upholds our whole economy.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

misunderestimate – verb

To underestimate the effectiveness of the stupid.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

commission – noun

A gathering of elites to resolve the scandals of elites to the satisfaction of elites.

history - noun

1. The inertia from past events that renders the future's course inalterable.

2. Archaic A once popular branch of fiction about past events.

3. (By extension) Something not worth reading or discussing.

USAGE: That’s going back in history. I don’t remember the details of it.

Monday, September 17, 2007

success – noun

Any action viewed under the right aspect.

electable – adjective

1. Possessed of no definite qualities save a vague geniality. Nebulously attractive.

2. An ability to project optimism about the catastrophic and utter absurdities without blinking.

fascism – noun

Government under the opposition party or by a foreign leader hostile to U.S. interests.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

failure – noun

Success that is misinterpreted or yet to be recognized.

Friday, September 14, 2007

vision – noun

An idea or goal that blinds one from the complications of its realization.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

fact-finding tour – noun

A toe-touching junket to transform opinions about the place visited into facts.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

revisionist – adjective

Insufficiently laudatory or elevating.

bailout – noun

A government-issued, golden parachute for corporations.

complex – adjective

Beyond the understanding of mortals, save through the intercession of government officials, pundits or scholars.

USAGE: "The situation in Iraq remains complex, difficult, and sometimes downright frustrating," General Petraeus said. (NYT 9/11/07)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Announcement

Posting was light last week, because I started a new job at Harper's Magazine as an editorial intern. I'm working on the Index and Readings sections.

If you come across any eye-popping statistics or pieces that make for good reading (we especially love absurd court cases), please send them.

cherry-pick – verb

To select the best factual produce for consumption.

COMMENT: Cherry-picking is an American tradition that goes back to George Washington, who after chopping down the cherry tree, selected the best fruits and baked a cherry pie for his parents, claiming that the dessert justified the whole endeavor.

Friday, September 7, 2007

insurance - noun

A popular game in the rackets, despite its unreliable payoffs

Thursday, September 6, 2007

legacy - noun

1. Scar tissue from a cancerous tumor.

2. An incentive for scoring in garbage time.

Monday, September 3, 2007

labor - noun

The provision of service to paying customers.

COMMENT: Happy Labor Day.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

cease-fire – noun

A time-out to reload.

intent – noun

A thought formed about a past action that causes it. Retroactive motivation.

COMMENT: Who says backwards causation doesn't happen?

mislead – verb

To try to guide towards the truth, but fail.

shrine – noun

A small space for piety cordoned off from the rest of reality.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

reform – noun

A legislative reversion to policies in place when one's political party was in power.

potentially – adverb

Never (but interesting to contemplate).

scholar - noun (reprise)

A stenographer with an advanced degree.

scandal – noun

A distracting glimmer on the visible surface of malfeasance.

allegedly – adverb

Certainly, absent a confession.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

emergency – noun

A crisis requring immediate action or assistance – if it occurs in a swing state.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

timetable – noun

A schedule of troop withdrawals faxed to the enemy.

Monday, August 27, 2007

integrity – noun

A strict adherence to one's principals.



"Al Gonzales is a man of integrity..."

Announcement

To make the site more user-friendly, I have added along the right column (1) an index for the whole dictionary and (2) a Feedburner tab to subscribe for email updates.

EFP – noun

Abbr. "explosively formed penetrator." An Iranian WMD.

analogy – noun

A form of inference about what one doesn't understand via comparison with what one understands poorly.

COMMENT: Rest assured that our Iraq venture is as noble as our previous roles in Vietnam or the Philippines.

Friday, August 24, 2007

philanthropy - noun

(Origin: Greek "love of mankind.") A method for loving one's fellow man while keeping him at a safe distance.

counterterrorism - noun

1. Retaliatory terrorism.

2. The nationalization of terrorism.

3. A strategy for preventing domestic terrorism by deploying troops abroad as human shields.

4. The innoculation of a civilian population from terrorism by exposing it to small doses.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

scholar - noun

A type of foam used by political interests to insulate ideas from criticism.

policy - noun

Politics by other means.

Monday, August 20, 2007

skeptic - noun

One who follows the group jumping off the cliff but questions whether the project has been properly managed.

critic - noun

A supporter who wishes to hedge his bets.

Announcement

On the road yet again. Posting will be light until August 27th.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Analysis: Erin Burnett and Hilary Clinton

I don't understand the outrage over Erin Burnett's China comments on Hardball:



Ya know, if China were to revalue it’s currency or China is to start making say, toys that don’t have lead in them or food that isn’t poisonous, their costs of production are going to go up and that means prices at Wal-Mart here in the United States are going to go up too. So, I would say China is our greatest friend right now, they’re keeping prices low and they’re keeping the prices for mortgages low, too.


Burnett was simply making the sensible point that Clinton made to Obama about confronting terrorists in Pakistan: all options should be left on the table.

It's really naive to rule out a priori poisoning our children or pets as not worthy of deliberation under any circumstances. In fact, it would entail restricting consumer choice and intervening in the free market. If that isn't un-American, what is?

evidence - noun

(Origin: Latin "clear, obvious.") That which confirms what is already obvious from hearsay, gut feeling, or common sense.

profile – noun

A one-sided biographical sketch.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

mistake – noun

(Origin: Old Norse "to take in error.") Something in one's possession that really belongs to someone else.

estimate - noun

The precise number found to attract a majority vote, settle a negotiation, or win a contract.

consent – verb

To fail to object.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

due process - noun

Law A legal requirement according to which every citizen has the right to a systematic, orderly interrogation without disruption by courts or counsel.

COMMENT: Vice Admiral Lowell E. Jacoby (USN), Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency and expert on the concept of due process:

DIA's approach to interrogation is largely dependent upon creating an atmosphere of dependency and trust between the subject and interrogator. Developing the kind of relationship of trust and dependency necessary for effective interrogations is a process that can take a significant amount of time. There are numerous examples of situations where interrogators have been unable to obtain valuable intelligence from a subject until months, or even years, after the interrogation process began.

Anything that threatens the perceived dependency and trust between the subject and interrogator directly threatens the value of interrogation as an intelligence-gathering tool. Even seemingly minor interruptions can have profound psychological impacts on the delicate subject-interrogator relationship. Any insertion of counsel into the subject-interrogator relationship, for example – even if only for a limited duration or for a specific purpose – can undo months of work and may permanently shut down the interrogation process. Therefore, it is critical to minimize external influences on the interrogation process.

coercive - adjective

Persuasive without the use of words.

opportunity - noun

An appropriate occasion to blunder.

At one point, Rice said that the difficult circumstances in the Middle East could represent opportunity. "I don't read Chinese but I am told that the Chinese character for crisis is wei-ji, which means both danger and opportunity," she said in Riyadh. "And I think that states it very well. We'll try to maximize the opportunity."

pet - noun

An animate fashion accessory that is usually paired with a handbag.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

QOTD: Russell Baker on bloggers

In his recent New York Review of Books piece on newspaper journalism, Russell Baker offers perhaps the most optimistic assessment of blogging ever offered by a journalist:

Blogging is a more interesting development, perhaps because bloggers are so passionate about it. It is a valuable restraint on careless and sloppy journalism, for the vigilance of the bloggers misses not the slightest error or the least omission, and the fury of their rage is terrible to bear. Committed bloggers insist that they are practicing journalism just as surely as a correspondent like John Burns is practicing journalism when reporting on the Iraq war from Baghdad for The New York Times. Anyone wishing to debate the point must be ready to argue all night and well into next week. What is indisputable is that practically every blogger can now be a columnist. With vast armies of columnists blogging away, it seems inevitable that a few may eventually produce something original, arresting, and refreshing and so breathe new life into this worn-out journalistic form.


Yes, I too look forward to the day when a precious few bubble up from the blogosphere to contribute something interesting.

victory – noun

An early stage of an insurgency or guerilla war.

strategy - noun

A Powerpoint presentation of military plans for civilian consumption.

embassy – noun

A heavily fortified, forward operating base.

anecdote - noun

A brief but thorough biography.

Monday, August 13, 2007

beheading – noun

A jihadist's exercise in shock and awe, but with fewer civilian casualties.

balanced - adjective (reprise)

Quoting both sides of any fact.

empathy - noun

The dismissal of another's suffering as precedented by one's own.

COMMENT: Rudy Giuliani on the 9/11 first responders: "I'm one of them."

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Update

Still on the road. Back on Tuesday.

PVS - noun

Abbr. "Persistent Vegetative State." A severe, incurable brain disorder caused by excessive exposure to C-SPAN debates.

COMMENT: Sen. Frist offers his diagnosis on C-SPAN 2:

Friday, August 10, 2007

enhanced interrogation - noun

Mutual resume padding.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

issue - noun

A discussion topic at a Beltway coctail party that makes the news cycle.

avatar - noun

The seat of personal identity.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

agency - noun

A governmental bureau that provides a specific disservice or performs a particular dysfunction (e.g. CIA, FEMA, EPA).

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

data mining - noun

A homeland-security program for extracting personal information from corporate databases to improve customer service.

Monday, August 6, 2007

corruption - noun

The ultimate trajectory of all natural processes, e.g. biological, thermodynamic, political.

accountability - noun

The willingness to admit that mistakes were made, without granting that anyone made a mistake.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

private - adjective

Not yet recorded, mined, or confessed.

national security - noun

The government's capacity to protect its citizens from foreign invasion, terrorism, and civil liberties.

classified - adjective

Not safe for sane viewing.

defense - noun

The ability to project overwhelming force anywhere on the globe.

Friday, August 3, 2007

conservation - noun

The stage between scarcity and cannibalism.

consultant - noun

A species of parasite that attaches itself to the chests of political candidates.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Announcement

I am leaving today for yet another long trip. Posting will be light to non-existent until August 14th.

Review: the Month of July

July saw 39 definitions: 37 new terms and 2 reprises.

Adding the totals to May and June, the Terrorist's Dictionary has 167 entries for 162 terms.

Here are July's definitions ...


A

appropriation – noun

architect – noun


B

balanced – adjective


C

cafe – noun

coalition – noun (reprise)

contempt – noun

cost-plus – adjective

counterinsurgency – noun


D

debate – verb, noun

decider – noun


E

earmark – noun (reprise)

embedded – adjective

ethics – noun

evildoer – noun

executive privilege – noun


F

first responder – noun

flip-flop – noun

foreign aid – noun


G

general – noun


H

heckuva – adjective

hero – noun

homeland – noun


M

massage – noun


N

netroots – noun


P

peace – noun

photo op – noun

politicize – verb

privacy – noun


Q

quid pro quo – noun


R

refugee – noun


S

safety net – noun

sovereignty – noun

study group – noun

subpoena – noun

suspect – noun


W

war president – noun

withdrawal – noun


Y

yellow alert – noun


Z

zealot – noun


[June's definitions]

[May's defintions]

sustainable stability – noun

Political and social cohesion that can be maintained until the next general election.

COMMENT: Sustainable stability is synonymous with "sustainable security."

imminent – adjective

Theoretically possible at some point in the future.

USAGE: Iraq is an imminent threat to the United States.

accomplished – adjective

Theater At the point in a tragic plot where the hero's downfall becomes inevitable.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Vocabulary building: "The Wrong Stuff"

I just finished reading "The Wrong Stuff: The Extraordinary Saga of Randy 'Duke' Cunningham, the Most Corrupt Congressman Ever Caught," by Marcus Stern, Jerry Kammer, Dean Calbreath, and George E. Condon, Jr.



Here are some phrases I picked up from my reading:

1. Bribe menu: A list of bribe amounts and corresponding earmarks that Cunningham wrote on his Congressional stationery for co-conspirator Mitchell Wade's benefit over lunch at Georgetown's Daily Grill. It was the most damning piece of evidence introduced at Cunningham's trial.

2. Favor factories: Jack Abramoff's name for the Congressional Appropriations Committees.

3. Lifestyle audit: Investigative reporter Marcus Stearn's phrase for examining congressmen for impropriety by checking for upgrades in their lifestyles (e.g. new homes, expensive trips, luxury goods).

yellow alert - noun

An elevated state of alertness on the television show "Star Trek" and in the United States.

first responder - noun

A biodegradable compound used to contain environmental disasters, natural catastrophes, and other large-scale threats to public health.

zealot - noun

1. A crazy liberal.

2. An earnest conservative.

appropriation – noun

(Latin "made one's own.") A return on a campaign contributor's investment.

architect – noun

Someone who designs ambitious projects that satisfy his own idiosyncratic tastes but offend popular sentiment.

COMMENT: The Iraq war architects: Where are they now?

Monday, July 30, 2007

quid pro quo – noun

(Latin "one thing in return for another.") A kindness or gift bestowed on another to initiate a circle of generosity.

ethics – noun

A system of rhetorical rules governing public discourse about personal conduct.

counterinsurgency – noun

A program or strategy for losing a guerilla war more slowly than by using conventional military methods.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Announcements

1. I'm gone for the weekend. Back on Monday.

2. Harper's Magazine has hired me for their fall internship. I will be working on the Index, among other things. Feel free to e-mail eye-popping statistics to me after Labor Day.

war president – noun

1. President. The president under the aspect of his most basic constitutional role. (See U.S. Constitution, Article II, Section 2).

2. A president who seeks to boost his approval ratings, power, and/or historical legacy.

3. A unpopular president.

I'm a war president. I make decisions here in the Oval Office in foreign-policy matters with war on my mind. Again, I wish it wasn't true, but it is true. And the American people need to know they got a president who sees the world the way it is. And I see dangers that exist, and it's important for us to deal with them.

contempt – noun

1. Civil disobedience against activist judges or lawmakers.

2. The regard that the branches of government hold for each other and for the public.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

suspect - noun

Someone whose guilt for a crime awaits certification.

coalition – noun (reprise)

A unilaterally cobbled, multilateral force.

netroots - noun

Abbr. "Internet grassroots." An Internet role-playing game in which participants assume the identities of political activists.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

photo op - noun

Abbr. "Photo opportunity." The implementation of a governmental policy.

politicize - verb

1. To cite facts, data, or testimony.

2. To fulfill the duties of one's office.

cafe - noun

1. A nursery; a daycare center.

2. Cheap office space.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Announcement

I'm still on the road. Things will return to normal on Wednesday.

Friday, July 20, 2007

withdrawal - noun

Military An early pullout to avoid the potential long-term consequences of wargasm.

peace - noun

1. A fixation of the pre-9/11 mindset.

2. A period of low economic output.

3. A trough in the cable-news ratings.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

flip-flop - noun

The political sin of changing one's mind on the basis of reasons or evidence.

When the facts change, I change my mind - what do you do, sir?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

massage - noun

Anal sex.

USAGE: It was only a massage.

Please forgive my accuser. He is revealing the deception and sensuality that was in my life. Those sins, and others, need to be dealt with harshly. So, forgive him and, actually, thank God for him.

heckuva - adjective

Slang Abominable, loathsome, execrable.

subpoena - noun

(Latin "under penalty") Law A writ summoning a witness to testify under penalty of harsh public criticism.

foreign aid - noun

Investment in high-end real estate development in the third world.

study group - noun

An assembly convened for the joint review of complex data to be rehashed in a written examination and then forgotten.

Monday, July 16, 2007

general - noun

1. A lobbyist for the Department of Defense.

2. A military spokesperson.

COMMENT: Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, our newly named war czar, sees his first combat:

As the debate began Tuesday, Mr. Bush’s national security adviser, Stephen J. Hadley, and his new Iraq coordinator, Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, arrived on Capitol Hill to lobby senators, while Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates fielded phone calls from lawmakers in both parties. The officials were, effectively, previewing a progress report to be delivered to Congress by week’s end.

safety net - noun

Protective netting removed to make the trapeze show of middle-class life more interesting to watch.

cost-plus - adjective

Paid by blank check.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Friday, July 13, 2007

Announcement

Posting will be light to non-existent until July 24th, while I'm on the road (again).

Diversion: The Shins play the streets of Paris



homeland – noun

A nation with delusions of moral, political and racial grandeur.

decider – noun

A person who takes credit for making decisions from sets of options stacked by other people.

COMMENT: Choose from the following options on what to do in Iraq:

(1) Fight the enemy there, so we don't face him here.

(2) Cut and run.

(3) Surrender.

(4) Abandon the troops.

(5) Embolden America's enemies.

If you chose (1), you are a decider.

executive privilege - noun

The right of the executive branch to censor itself for obscene content.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Analysis: "fair and balanced"

In today's press conference, President Bush described the Libby commutation as "a fair and balanced decision." (See video).

That prompted me to search how often Bush and other administration officials have used the Fox News slogan.

As it turns out, the phrase is quite popular with the Bush administration for describing their own policy views on legal or judicial matters. It serves as their basic talking point about matters of justice.

For example, a Google search of "fair and balanced" on the White House website gets 49 hits, mostly about tort reform, campaign finance reform, and immigration reform.

Here's President Bush on tort reform:

And the Senate needs to get out for the junk lawsuits that make it hard to do business. It's important that we have a judicial system that's fair and balanced. Class action lawsuits oftentimes are not fair and balanced. After all, the money goes to the lawyers and not to the people who got hurt. We need a system that's fair and balanced, and the Senate needs to act on that.




The DoD's website offers 23 hits. Many concern the military's administration of justice.

For example, Donald Rumsfeld said to Tim Russert about international worries concerning our military tribunals:

We have a reputation for being fair and balanced and measured in what we do.


And the Department of Labor sets overtime-pay standards and reaches workers-compensation settlements that are "fair and balanced."

And so on.

In sum, the Bush Administration applies the standards of Fox News to law and justice: it has made them "fair and balanced."

privacy - noun (reprise)

The right to hide something from authorities.

balanced – adjective

Slanted to correct imagined bias.

Photo: "Child Advocate"



Click to enlarge.

refugee – noun

An evacuee of color.

AMERICANS OPEN DOORS TO KATRINA REFUGEES

"I trust these people," says Lila Ashmore, a magazine editor and grandmother of two.

-- USA TODAY, Sept. 5, 2005.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

earmark - noun (reprise)

Public financing for Congressional election campaigns.

sovereignty - noun

The authority of a state to make its own citizens miserable without outside interference.

debate - verb, noun

1. v. To recite talking points.

2. n. A formal contest in which competitors exchange recitations and are scored for style.

As scholars and thinkers, you are contributing to a nationwide debate about the direction of the war on terror. A vigorous debate is healthy for our country, it really is, and I welcome the debate. It's one of the true hallmarks of a free society, where people can get up and express their beliefs in open forum. Yet five years into this war, there is one principle of which every member of every party should be able to agree on -- in other words, after all the debate, there is one thing we all ought to be able to agree on, and that is: We've got to fight the terrorists overseas, so we don't have to face them here at home again.

-- President Bush to members of the American Enterprise Institute, February 15, 2007 (Source)

evildoer - noun

An archvillain who can only be defeated by a president granted superpowers.

hero - noun

A telegenic person who becomes the protagonist in a media narrative about individual courage.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

signatory - adjective

Bound by signed agreement for the duration of the current administration.

binding - adjective

Seemingly in one's interest.

self-determination - noun

The ability to find a spot in the global marketplace.

peacekeeper - noun

A passive observer of attrocities.

reality-based - adjective

Grounded in the falsification of popular opinion and the frustration of cherished ideals.

human rights - noun

1. The negotiable requests of human dignity.

2. Fundamental freedoms that are forgotten when not needed and ignored when needed.

3. Basic liberties whose public proclamation and private violation are essential to national security.

This debate is occurring because of the Supreme Court's ruling that said that we must conduct ourselves under the Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention. And that Common Article 3 says there will be no outrages upon human dignity. That's, like, very vague. What does that mean? "Outrages upon human dignity." That's a statement that is, uh, wide open to interpretation.— George W. Bush

Sunday, July 8, 2007

reconstruction - noun

A lull between destructions.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

good cause – noun

1. A celebrity's new year's resolution.

2. A publicity stunt.

promise – verb

1. To rebuff, to brush off.

2. To commit to giving something due consideration.

untidy – adjective

1. Anarchic, rampageous, contumacious.

2. Violent, murderous, bloody.

Friday, July 6, 2007

charity - noun

1. An excuse for hosting a black-tie dinner.

2. The purchase of goodwill.

deregulate - verb

To permit companies to do publicly what they would otherwise do in secret.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

federal prosecutor - noun

Director of opposition research for a political party.

commute - verb

To correct the misapplication of sentencing guidelines to the ruling class.

awareness bracelet - noun

1. A wrist accessory that signifies one is above accessorizing.

2. Compassion that is cheap, plastic, disposable, and purchasable at most convenience stores.

COMMENT: The Awareness Depot has Katrina bracelets for $.99. (10% goes to disaster relief.)

oppo research - noun

Abbr. "Opposition research." Training for civil service.

Monday, July 2, 2007

bias – noun

Disagreement with one's own viewpoint.

resign – verb (reprise)

Government. To explore opportunities in the private sector.

Review: the month of June

June saw 87 definitions: 84 new terms and three reprises.

After adding June's definitions to May's, the Terrorist's Dictionary has 128 entries for 125 terms.

There are still no entries under K, X, Y, and Z. Suggestions?

The month of June ...

A

abstinence – noun

abstinence-only – adjective

accounting – noun

anchor – noun

asymmetric – adjective

audit – noun

authentic – noun


B

bipartisan – adjective

black site – noun

blowback – noun


C

campaign contribution – noun

centrist – adjective

coalition – noun

column – noun

conflict of interest – noun

constitutional – adjective


D

democracy – noun

diplomacy – noun

duct tape – noun


E

enduring – adjective

ethanol – noun


F

faith-based – adjective

family man – noun

free trade – noun


G

gambling – noun

ghost detainee – noun

global posture – noun


H

high value target – noun

humane – adjective


I

IED – noun

illegal – adjective

illegal combatant – noun

illegal combatant – noun (reprise)

illegal combatant – noun (reprise)

intelligence – noun

interventionism – noun

investigate – verb


J

journalist – noun


L

legal counsel – noun

liberate – noun


M

mandate – noun

martyr – noun

moral clarity – noun


N

name – verb

no-bid contract – noun

nonfiction – noun


O

occupation – noun

op-ed – noun

ownership society – noun


P

patience – noun

patriotic – adjective

plan B – noun

political capital – noun

populist – adjective, noun

prayer – noun

precision-guided – adjective

preemption – noun

press conference – noun

profiteer – noun

progress – noun

protest – noun

proxy detention – noun

psy-ops – noun

pundit – noun


Q

(al) Qaeda – noun


R

realism – noun

rebrand – verb

redact – verb

regime change – noun

rule of law – noun


S

security mom – noun

signing statement – noun

spokesperson – noun

surge – noun

sustainable development – noun


T

talking point – noun

theocon – noun

think tank – noun

tort reform – noun

torture – noun

torture – noun (reprise)

torture memo – noun

transparency – noun



U

unitary executive – noun


V

vet – verb


W

wartime supplemental – noun

WMD – noun


[May's definitions]

Sunday, July 1, 2007

hedge fund – noun

A charitable trust that pairs super-wealthy families with ambitious brokers seeking to be adopted.

COMMENT: An adopted broker becomes a three-and-thirty heir.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Announcement

Posting will be light for the next seven to 12 days.

political capital – noun

Wealth invested in or gained from winning political office.

profiteer – noun

One who contracts with the federal government.

mandate – noun

The sweeping authority bestowed on a winning candidate by the quarter of the public who bothered to vote and chose him because he wasn't the other guy.

humane – adjective

Not quite human.

USAGE: Guantanamo Bay is a humane place for enemy combatants.

tort reform – noun

A business plan for cutting operational costs without changing operations.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

conflict of interest – noun

A confluence of opportunity. Being in the right place at the right time.

COMMENT: Success comes when preparation in the private sector meets opportunity in government.

black site – noun

An exclusive travel destination that is a well kept secret.

column – noun

A newspaper filler whose content resembles an advertisement but which doesn't bring in revenue.

populist – adjective, noun

1. adj. Expressing pity for the struggles of those making less than six figures.

2. n. A politician who prefers beer to wine.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

transparency – noun

The susceptibility of governmental information to public disclosure and other national-security breaches.

spokesperson – noun

A person who speaks for another but says nothing.

martyr – noun

A jihadist who has taken an early retirement package.

COMMENT: 70 virgins weren't quite convincing enough.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

abstinence – noun

Indulgence in self-denial from a wanton sense of guilt.

abstinence-only – adjective

Using the immaculate conception as an explanatory model to teach human sexuality.

COMMENT: Mary didn't know how she got pregnant, so why should our teens?

Opinion: Sicko

I haven't seen "Sicko," Michael Moore's new film on the American health-care system.

But I am perturbed by the way critics scoff at his work. Putting aside whatever one thinks about his views or his accuracy, Moore brings serious problems to public attention that would otherwise be ignored or passed with indifference. This makes him a force for good in my book.

Take, for example, Michael Moynihan's negative review for Reason, in which he writes the following:

Moore is right that the American system is sick - on this, there is bipartisan and public consensus. The United States has the highest per capita health care spending in the world, with comparatively disappointing results. But his radical prescriptions, which include a call for a British-style, single-payer system, will likely have little resonance with viewers. Indeed, according to a recent ABC News/Kaiser Family Health study, insured Americans are overwhelmingly (89 percent) satisfied with their own care, while broadly concerned about rising costs of prescription drugs and critical of the care others receive.


Let's break down this paragraph:

(1) Moore is right that the American health-care system is broken; the public and both political parties agree.

(2) Few will be moved by Moore's "radical" prescriptions, because the vast majority of insured Americans are happy with their own care.


Note how Moynihan uses (1) to dismiss Moore -- the claim is that he isn't saying anything we don't already know. But if that's so, why is our health-care system still so dysfunctional? And why do politicians continue to get away with saying that America has "the world's best health-care system"? And why is Moore ridiculed if most people fundamentally agree with his basic point?

Note how Moynihan in (2) describes Moore's solutions as "radical," when they merely recommend systems that get better results than ours for less money. You may disagree with following the Western European or Canadian health-care systems, but what justifies calling them "radical"?

The two points above can be reduced to the following explanation of our health-care woes:

The majority agree that our health-care system is broken, but aren't motivated to reform it, because of happiness with their own care.


This explanation also shows why Moore deserves praise. Without figures like Moore reminding the public of just how badly our health-care system treats a large segment of the population, there would be little motivation to reform the system, despite widespread agreement that it's broken.

For this alone, Moore's feet should be kissed, warts and all. He is a voice of conscience that our society sorely needs.

protest – noun

A public demonstration or rally that receives no media coverage.

prayer – noun

The uninsured's call to his primary-care physician.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Reading: Psyops fool Blackwater families

I am in the middle of reading Jeremy Scahill's fascinating, well-researched book "Blackwater: the Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army."

Chapter 10 begins with an interesting annecdote about the families of the four Blackwater employees killed in Fallujah in March 2004. The news that four "civilian contractors" had died did not initially worry the victims' relatives, because they didn't think of their loved ones as falling under that rubric.

Before the invasion of Iraq, wen most people heard the term "civilian contractors," they didn't immediately conjure up images of men with guns and bulletproof vests riding around a hellhole in jeeps. They thought of construction workers. This was also true for the families of many private soldiers deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their loved ones were not "civilian contractors," in their minds but were often thought of and referred to in family discussions as "Special Forces" or being "with the military."

So on March 31, 2004, when news began to reach the United States that four "civilian contractors" had been ambushed in Fallujah, several of the men's families didn't draw any kind of connection. After all, their loved ones were not civilians – they were military. In Ohio, Danica Zovko, Jerry's mother, heard the news on the radio that "American contractors" had been killed. After she saw the images coming out of Fallujah, she actually wrote her son an e-mail, telling him to be careful: "They're killing people in Iraq just like Somalia."

Katy Helvenston-Wettengel, Scott's mother, was working at her home office in Leesburg, Florida, with the television on behind her. ... It didn't cross her mind at the time that the footage she was watching was her own son's gruesome death. "When they said contractors, I was thinking construction workers working on pipelines or something."


You know our psyops are succeeding when they manage to fool the families of the people they discuss.

coalition – noun

An international polyamorous marriage of convenience.

rebrand – verb

To induce collective amnesia.

audit – noun

An official investigation of accounts and records performed by the little people, for the little people.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

talking point – noun

An informal fallacy in which a desired conclusion is inferred after repeating it numerous times.

COMMENT: Its proper Latin name is repetitio principii.

regime change – noun

Minor international surgery that invariably has serious complications.

patience – noun

1. The virtue of believing indefinitely into the future that things will improve in six months.

2. The enabler's enabler.

COMMENT: A history of patience, told through headlines...

May 10, 2007: BUSH URGES PATIENCE WITH IRAQ PLAN

March 19, 2007: BUSH ASKS FOR PATIENCE ON IRAQ

Jan. 26, 2007: BUSH PLEADS FOR PATIENCE OVER IRAQ

Dec. 9, 2006: RUMSFELD THANKS TROOPS FOR SERVICE, CALLS FOR U.S. PATIENCE

June 15, 2006: AFTER IRAQ VISIT, AN UPBEAT BUSH URGES PATIENCE

March 14, 2006: BUSH URGES PATIENCE AMID IRAQ 'CHAOS'

Dec. 15, 2005: BUSH CALLS FOR PATIENCE AS VOTE NEARS

Nov. 30, 2005: BUSH: IRAQ CONFLICT 'WILL TAKE TIME AND PATIENCE'

Aug. 27, 2005: BUSH CALLS FOR PATIENCE ON IRAQ MISSION

June 29, 2005: BUSH URGES PATIENCE, LONG VIEW ON IRAQ WAR

June 13, 2005: VICE PRESIDENT URGES PATIENCE AS IRAQ PROGRESS CONTINUES

Jan. 26, 2005: BUSH SEEKS PATIENCE FROM AMERICANS ON DEADLIEST DAY FOR U.S. IN IRAQ

Aug. 20, 2004: RICE SAYS PATIENCE NEEDED FOR IRAQ

July 21, 2003: WOLFOWITZ CALLS FOR PATIENCE AS VIOLENCE CONTINUES IN IRAQ

June 12, 2003: "TIME AND PATIENCE" NEEDED IN IRAQ, BREMER TELLS HOUSE COMMITTEE

April 9, 2003: INTERVIEW WITH HANS BLIX: THE U.S. LOST PATIENCE WHEN IRAQ BEGAN TO COLLABORATE WITH THE U.N.

Jan. 22, 2003: BUSH TIRED OF SADDAM'S 'BAD MOVIE': PRESIDENT BUSH IS RUNNING SHORT ON PATIENCE WITH IRAQ

Nov. 26, 2002: U.N. INSPECTORS ARRIVE IN IRAQ, URGE PATIENCE

Saturday, June 23, 2007

(al) Qaeda – noun

Anyone killed, captured, or targeted by U.S. forces.

moral clarity – noun

The superhuman ability to perceive good and evil – properties visible only on the infrared spectrum.

I don't do nuance.

Friday, June 22, 2007

theocon – noun

A person with the mind of a theologian and the heart of a convict.

constitutional – adjective

Conducive to collective suicide.

COMMENT: Click here for some context.

News: Congress passes resolution against Ahmadinejad

Congress passed a resolution on Wednesday (by a vote of 411-2) calling on the U.N. to charge Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with genocide for allegedly demanding that Israel be "wiped off the map."

It's a shame our government has no translators of Farsi (perhaps they're all gay), because the claim was based on a mistranslation (Click here, here, and here).

Congress also appealed to an important section of the U.N. Charter:

Whereas Article 2, Section 4, of the United Nations Charter, to which Iran has agreed as a Member State of the United Nations, requires all Member States of the United Nations to `refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state';


Harrumph.

[h/t Justin Raimundo]

News: Cheney creates fourth branch of government

Vice President Cheney declared the unitary executive separate from the executive branch.

[h/t The Concerned Troll]

Thursday, June 21, 2007

faith-based – adjective

Not based on works.

gambling – noun

A method for funding education through donations from the uneducated.

investigate – verb

1. To sabotage one's own career.

2. To impugn another's character.

3. To terrorize.

psyops – noun

The mainstream news media.

unitary executive – noun

1. The consolidation of governmental powers by the vice president to free the executive branch from the Constitutional checks and balances that constrain the presidency.

2. The full-spectrum dominance of the executive branch over all aspects of the battlefield of government.

rule of law – noun

1. An asymmetric strategy for undermining the powers of the unitary executive.

2. What one hires a lawyer to nullify.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

sustainable development – noun

1. Human expansion that the biosphere would have supported, at that time in the past when the biosphere was still supportable.

2. Growth that won't contribute to environmental degradation according to measurements taken five years ago.

3. Development that is green.

To expect sustainable development to be a viable policy is like expecting a lung cancer victim to be cured by stopping smoking.

News: McClatchy gives Bush some West Coast love.



More videos here.

free trade – noun

1. Commerce strictly regulated by international agreements for the benefit of countries who value freedom.

2. Legalized corporate smuggling.

COMMENT: Did you know that "free trade" is, in fact, a Scottish phrase for smuggling? So much for Adam Smith's high-mindedness.

torture – noun (reprise)

The intentional infliction of intense physical or psychological pain on a caucasian.

COMMENT: When inflicted on a non-caucasian, it is called an "enhanced interrogation technique."

security mom – noun

A soccer mom who wishes to add armor plating to her SUV.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

authentic – adjective

Sufficiently skilled at pretending to be from outside the Beltway to be deemed clubbable by those within it.

COMMENT: Click here for some context.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

anchor – noun

The ringmaster of a news program.

There's a sucker born every minute.

journalist – noun

1. An aspiring novelist whose day job consists of finding news and burying it under narrative devices.

2. An author of the first draft of history – the one that gets scrapped for its copious errors, uneven writing, and ultimate incoherence.

3. An arbitrator who takes quotes from both sides and then washes his hands of the matter.

COMMENT: In response to this request.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Announcement

Posting will be light to nonexistent until Tuesday.

News: The Arab is "reluctant to accept responsibility."

I had no idea Reggie White wrote a manual for the Army before he died.

progress – noun

Advancement, development, or improvement that disappears when measured.

no-bid contract – noun

A contract awarded on the basis of fair and open competitive cronyism.

interventionism – noun

A doctrine that favors interfering in the affairs of other countries to teach them self-government.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

ownership society – noun

A political platform for taking the social out of society.

He who is unable to live in society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself, must be either a beast or a god: he is no part of a state.

wartime supplemental – noun

An episode of Congressional recidivism.

COMMENT: Thanks to Chad Grine.

illegal combatant – noun (reprise)

A hybrid of civilian and soldier, with the rights of neither.

COMMENT: I suppose that makes the private security contractor a hybrid of civilian and soldier, with the rights of both (and the responsibilities of neither).

global posture – noun

The worldwide readiness of our armed forces to render foreigners prostrate or put them in stress positions.

COMMENT: "Global footprint" is a commonly used synonym. I suppose "global bootprint" would be more precise, but less innocuous.

If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face –forever.

enduring – adjective

Lasting for several news cycles.

duct tape – noun

The ownership society's bulwark against chemical and biological weapons.

democracy – noun

1. Rule by the vagaries of voting-machine technology.

2. Rule by those who understand we're in Iraq because they attacked us on 9/11.

3. Rule by the marketplace of talking points.

4. Rule by what pundits and their coctail-party guests say is popular.

5. Rule by oversampling.

6. Rule by pre-screened town hall meeetings.

COMMENT: Behold: the wisdom of crowds. (Via Smythe's World)

News: New York facing valet crisis

The New York Post reports that New York City is facing a severe shortage of butlers.

It seems butlership is the new nursing.

News: USA Today runs Tony Snow op-ed

Just in case USA Today readers hadn't heard the White House's perspective on Gonzales in its June 11th edition ("White House: No-confidence vote on Gonzales meaningless"), the paper published an op-ed by White House Press Secretary Tony Snow to underscore the point.

Gonzales doesn't deserve this. He is a man of great dedication and integrity. He has earned the president's trust, and the nation's, as the leader of the largest law-enforcement agency on earth at a time of chilling and constantly changing global peril.


Why trust a middle man when you can write the story yourself?

POSTSCRIPT: Snow also held a press briefing. He fielded two interesting questiosn near the end:

Q: But can I just follow on that? How do you declare an end to the war on terror?

MR. SNOW: I don't know.


Q: Does the President disagree with the idea of a preemptive military strike on Iran, which continues its attempt to produce nuclear bombs, or does he agree with President Truman's preemptive A-bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?


Clearly no tertium quid there.

News: Chuck Norris unveils presidential campaign platform

Chuck Norris recently revealed his campaign promises if elected president.

Some of them are good.

Require Bill Gates and Warren Buffet to personally pay for national, comprehensive medical coverage for every American (or meet me in the Rose Garden).


Others ... not so much.

Tattoo an American flag with the words, "In God we trust," on the forehead of every atheist.



Create new immigration legislation: to deport all liberals (then force them to listen to Bill O' Reilly every day for five years, at which point they may return).


In all honesty, though, I don't see much that distinguishes him from the other GOP candidates.

POSTSCRIPT: Check out the Chuck Norris fark-off.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

name – verb

To appoint nominally; to select someone for a job without conferring its responsibilities or functions.

USAGE: President Bush named Alberto Gonzales Attorney General yesterday.

bipartisan – adjective

1. Inoffensive; watered down.

2. Combining the extremism of both sides.

3. Differing in name only.

legal counsel – noun

An expert advisor on how to satisfy the letter of the law while violating its spirit.

diplomacy – noun

1. A ruse for buying time to settle on a rationalization for a planned military strike.

2. A means of informing foreign countries what we have decided.

accounting – noun

A scheme for boosting corporate profits without having to increase revenues or lower expenses.

Monday, June 11, 2007

centrist – adjective

Too odious for either side of the political spectrum.

op-ed – noun

1. A book promotion.

2. A newspaper section that faces the editorial page, mirrors its inane content, but compels its authors to take responsibility.

signing statement – noun

An ex post facto explanation for why the president crossed his fingers behind his back while signing a bill into law.

News: Paris Hilton and O.J. Simpson become media critics

Paris demands better Iraq coverage, and O.J. seizes the mantle of Edward R. Murrow.

Hey, I've got an idea for bumping up the ratings of CNN's "Reliable Sources" ...

[via Atrios]

Analysis: Authenticity

Paul Krugman and Bob Somerby dissect authenticity as a political value.

Authentic

News: Scooter committed "perjury"

I have a different feeling about Libby. His "perjury"--not telling the truth about which reporters he talked to--would never be considered significant enough to reach trial, much less sentencing, much less time in stir if he weren't Dick Cheney's hatchet man. ...

But jail time? Do we really want to spend our tax dollars keeping Scooter Libby behind bars? I don't think so. This "perjury" case only exists because of his celebrity.


-- Joe Klein, "journalist."

occupation – noun

The long-term domination of a country by military forces for the sake of liberating its native population.

COMMENT: God's gift to humanity doesn't have a timetable.

liberate – verb

1. To replace tyranny with anarchy.

2. To pacify.

3. To bestow freedom.

blowback – noun

The karmic laurel of American foreign policy.

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

campaign contribution – noun

1. A low-risk, high-yield investment.

2. A fee attached to an application for employment or contracting with the federal government.

press conference – noun

A traditional ceremony in which the media give obeisance to an executive-branch official as protector of the Constitution's first amendment.

COMMENT: This hallowed American ritual began during the administration of John Adams to celebrate the Sedition Act's passage on July 14, 1798.

high value target – noun

A wanted suspect in the War on Terror whose playing card is a strong kicker in Texas Hold 'Em.

redact – verb

To abridge for the short attention spans of Internet readers.

News: Padilla juror to martyr self

At the federal trial of Jose Padilla, an F.B.I. agent explained the codewords of Padilla and his fellow terror suspects to the jury. The New York Times story offers some translations in a sidebar:

“go to the picnic” = travel to an area of jihad

“the dogs” = the United States government

“the trade” and “commerce” = jihad

“playing football” and “to eat cheese” = engaging in jihad

"reservation on the female donkey" = ???

“married” = killed or martyred


The Times also reported a surprising development in the trial: A juror is getting "married" this weekend.

pundit – noun

A type of confidence man who uses mass media to swindle people out of their capacity for autonomous judgment.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

News: Paris Hilton implicated in JFK terror plot



"Terror from within" indeed.

[Via Defamer]

proxy detention – noun

The outsourcing of terrorist incarceration to foreigners, who are willing to do jobs Americans won't.

ghost detainee – noun

An entity rumored to haunt human rights reports but whose existence is denied by authorities.

Friday, June 8, 2007

illegal combatant – noun (reprise)

A militant deemed too swarthy to merit Geneva protections.

COMMENT: This is our second attempt to define "illegal combatant." Which one do you favor? Or do you have a third?

Notable quotable: "the American homeland"

From the 9/11 Commission Report:

9/11 has taught us that terrorism against American interests "over there" should be regarded just as we regard terrorism against America "over here." In this same sense, the American homeland is the planet.

WMD – noun

Abbr. "weapon of mass destruction." A random, innocuous object (e.g. household chemical, aluminum tube, or metal cannister) whose possession by a hostile country is cited as justification for a preemptive attack bringing mass destruction.

IED – noun

Abbr. "improvised explosive device." A kind of asymmetric wartime propaganda using televised roadside explosions to sap the will of the opposition.

COMMENT: This definition closely follows the Pentagon's multi-billion-dollar project to defeat IEDs, the Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO). See comments below.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

asymmetric – adjective

1. Immoral; unjust; unfair; illegal.

2. Cowardly.

USAGE: The detainee's suicide was an act of asymmetric warfare, the Gitmo commander said. (Source)

COMMENT: The word is typically applied to unjust acts, tactics and strategies in war. Examples include international treaties, judicial processes, and terrorism (see highlighted portion of U.S. National Security Strategy).

On the established principle that "might makes right," the weaker actor in war, faced by overwhelming force, cannot but act immorally – that is, unless that actor is principled and accepts his slaughter (or torture). Critics claim morality couldn't possibly sanction such an advantage to one side. Such critics fall into confusion by assuming morality is symmetrical.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

surge – noun

A temporary escalation in the number of troops sent to a war, for the purpose of temporarily de-escalating its hopelessness.

It's been a roller coaster that seems always to go up. -- Dan Bartlett


ethanol – noun

A corn-based alcoholic panacea that will end global warming, establish America's energy independence, stabilize the agricultural economy, solidify the political devotion of farm states, and win the Global War on Terror.

COMMENT: Herbalife has begun marketing ethanol gel caps. Nutritionists have found it to be a powerful detoxicant.

Perk up pouting household surfaces with new miracle Ubik, the easy-to-apply, extra-shiny, non-stick plastic coating. Entirely harmless if used as directed. Saves endless scrubbing, glides you right out of the kitchen!

News: Staffing crisis at State Department

The Los Angeles Times reports that the State Department is woefully short on foreign-service officers, thanks mostly to the demands of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Looks like there's a ripe opportunity for some enterprising, young entrepeneur to create a foreign-service private-contracting business.

plan B – noun

An alternative scheme of action that is never adopted, because tweaking the original scheme, no matter how ineffectual, is easier.

News: Sen. Whitehouse (D – RI) wonders what "improper" and "wrongdoing" mean at DOJ.

TPM Muckraker has the details.

It seems from the video that AG Gonzales needs our help. We've defined "illegal." Let's tackle "improper" and "wrongdoing" soon.

vet – verb

To rubber-stamp.

intelligence – noun

Secret information about an enemy or potential enemy that is leaked when supportive of the President's predetermined policies, and ignored or suppressed when not.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

News: Scooter Libby sentenced.

I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, was sentenced today to 30 months in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Judging from the letters of support sent to Libby's judge, reprinted on The Smoking Gun website, he got exactly what he deserved. Donald Rumsfeld wrote that Libby was "a strong family man." Mary Matilin and James Carville worried that a harsh sentence would devastate Libby's family and "the many other children who love Scooter." Is there any doubt that he is a sexual predator? No wonder Dick Cheney didn't write for him.

Where is his flag pin?


Several Libby supporters wrote how patriotic Libby was. But I never saw him wear a flag pin on his lapel or appear on Fox News. Clearly they were just lying to protect a friend.

At any rate, here are some choice quotes from the Libby love letters...

I have always felt that he is the type of person others can hold up to their children and grandchildren as a truly honorable public servant. – Donald Rumsfeld


Having served in the White House and under pressure, I have seen how difficult it sometimes is to recall precisely a particular sequence of events. – Henry Kissinger


I know of many examples of Mr. Libby's service to individuals ... One involves his effort to persuade a newspaper not to publish information that would have endangered the life of a covert CIA agent working overseas. Late into the evening, long after most others had left the matter to be dealt with the next day, Mr. Libby worked to collect the information that was needed to persuade the editor not to run the story. His assistant Jenny Mayfield told me that was when she realized she was working for a very special person – as indeed she was. – Paul Wolfowitz


If there is anyone who fully understands our "system" for protecting classified information, I have yet to meet him. – John Bolton

" ... unswerving, unselfish, unwavering loyalty ... "


My lifelong view, which has only been validated in adulthood, is that kids are the most honest and true evaluators of people. Watching my children with Scooter, and all children with him, you'd think he hung the moon. – Mary Matalin and James Carville


I am in no sense a neoconservative, as many of my neoconservative adversaries will attest. I am, to the contrary, the kind of liberal whom many neoconservatives like to despise. (This is fine with me.)

I trouble you with these internecine details of the intellectual wards because I do not want my expression of admiration for Scooter Libby to be mistaken for ideological solidarity, or to be dismissed as the testimonial of a political comrade.
– Leon Wieseltier


During my years of friendship with Scooter, I found a singular attribute which will always remain undiminished in my mind. That is the attribute of Loyalty – unswerving, unselfish, unwavering loyalty. ... I have seen him "at the side" of my old friend Dick Cheney – attentive, thoughtful, gracious, patient and always – always – exceedingly efficient and I observed on many occasions how Dick relied on this man. The situation that has been presently played out is a bitter pill for all of us. – Alan Simpson

patriotic – adjective

1. Tending to display the American flag on one's clothing or property.

2. Feeling or expressing hatred towards left-wing critics of American foreign or domestic policy.

Patriotic

realism – noun

A political doctrine that holds all other states act amorally in pursuit of their own interests, therefore so should ours.

Monday, June 4, 2007

History: the original atheists

Once upon a time ... well before there was a Richard Dawkins or a Christopher Hitchens ... who were the original atheists?

Crooked Timber's Kieran Healy finds the answer in classical scholarship.

nonfiction – noun

A branch of fiction comprising history, biography, journalism, political commentary, and the essay.

family man – noun

1. Sexual deviant.

2. Crook.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

think tank – noun

1. A laundering operation for corporate propaganda.

2. A union of like-minded writers who aspire to the intellectual authority of the professoriat, but who dislike reading, research, teaching, and peer-review.

“To a Wall Streeter, intellectuals are pretty cheap,” said Walter Russell Mead, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of “God and Gold: Britain, America and the Making of the Modern World.” “There are wedding rings that cost more than I do.”

Saturday, June 2, 2007

News: IEDs = "weapons of strategic influence"

Question: Why are IEDs continuing to kill and maim U.S. soldiers in Iraq, when we're spending billions to prevent it?

The Pentagon's Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) – "a massive organization employing thousands of private contractors ... based in a northern Virginia office complex" – has received at least $6.7 billion in funding since 2003, according to the Boston Globe. Last February, the President requested an additional $6.4 billion for the project.

Where is that money going?


Weapon of strategic influence


According to its website, the JIEDDO's mission is "to eliminate IEDs as weapons of strategic influence."

So the problem with IEDs isn't that they kill or injure our troops. It's that they influence public opinion. They are weapons of propaganda.

"It can be mitigated, minimized, made into a nuisance," said Gen. Montgomery C. Meigs (ret.), the JIEDDO director, taking a page from John Kerry's anti-terrorism playbook.

How do we defeat "weapons of strategic influence"? Not by outfitting our troops with armor. Not by improving our intelligence and infiltration of insurgency groups. No.

We defeat them by funding sources of counter-propaganda: pro-war think tanks, pundits, and bloggers.


Defuser


Those who claim that the "101st Fighting Keyboarders" aren't really fighting this war are dead wrong. They are putting themselves on the line every day to defuse IEDs – our enemy's weapon of choice.

It's certainly not page-one newsworthy that U.S. casualties from IEDs have sharply increased. Troop casualties are irrelevant. The real story is how the American public is affected by IED attacks.

Yes, the war over public opinion is going badly. But did you hear how Joe Lieberman bought a pair of sunglasses in a bustling Baghdad market? Now that's page-one news.

illegal combatant – noun

A militant deemed undeserving of Geneva protections, because he isn't an easy target.

illegal – adjective

(Archaic) Incapable of being denied by press spokesmen or legal counsel.

torture – noun

The intentional infliction of intense physical or psychological pain to secure a confession that justifies said infliction.

`Let the jury consider their verdict,' the King said, for about the twentieth time that day.

`No, no!' said the Queen. `Sentence first--verdict afterwards.'

`Stuff and nonsense!' said Alice loudly. `The idea of having the sentence first!'

`Hold your tongue!' said the Queen, turning purple.

`I won't!' said Alice.

`Off with her head!' the Queen shouted at the top of her voice.