Somebody said we were allowed to think out loud. Pardon the mess.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

Yeah, but what is the meaning of "is"?

Some, true to their "detail" oriented, problematic Democratic hole-digging, have emailed to ask: "Where are you going with this?", "What are you trying to say?"


Spin = facts / agenda

Authenticity = facts * ambition

There, now can I bill you $100,000?

more to come

Thanks for the emails. Yes, I'm working on parts 2 and 3 of "More Human Nature", what's next for Democrats? post, so please be patient--Sorry, I do have a day job doing this stuff.


Yes, I have opinions about about how OODA has been problematic to this administration, and how it's biting them in the ass, and what that means for the "war on terrror". And yes, I do corporate strategies and business development amongst other things, but no, I'm only an interested career-Air Force retiree's dependent who failed his flight medical.

Regardless, something stinks in Denmark:" More on OODA, and the implications of falling in love with your "omnipotence" shortly.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

All I want for Christmas is, ah, um, uh..... yeah, okay

Amuse your conservative friends and annoy your liberal neighbors with the brand new Ann Coulter Talking Action Figure. This incredibly lifelike action figure looks just like the beautiful Ann Coulter, and best of all . . . it sounds like Ann, too! Ann recorded these classic Coulter sayings especially for this action figure.

Push the button on the figure, and you'll hear such "Coulterisms" as:

* "Liberals can't just come out and say they want to take more of our money, kill babies, and discriminate on the basis of race."
* "At least when right-wingers rant, there's a point."
* "Swing voters are more appropriately known as the 'idiot voters' because they have no set of philosophical principles. By the age of fourteen, you're either a Conservative or a Liberal if you have an IQ above a toaster."
* "Why not go to war just for oil? We need oil. What do Hollywood celebrities imagine fuels their private jets? How do they think their cocaine is delivered to them?"
* "Liberals hate America, they hate flag-wavers, they hate abortion opponents, they hate all religions except Islam, post 9/11. Even Islamic terrorists don't hate America like Liberals do. They don't have the energy. If they had that much energy, they'd have indoor plumbing by now."

This highly collectible doll comes in a display box with information highlighting Ann's unique contributions to America's political discourse. If you can't get enough Ann Coulter, you'll want to order the Ann Coulter Talking Action Figure today!

Don't forget to order replacement batteries!

Unique contributions. How quaint.
More Human Nature

There's a lot to like in this Digby post but I'm not so thrilled to see him endorsing the idea that part of what defines liberals is that we take a rosier attitude toward "human nature" than do conservatives. I hear this so often, including from liberals, that I guess it must be true that most -- or at least many -- liberals really do think people are naturally good or something, but certainly I don't think that. People manifest a great deal of selfishness tempered by a hefty dose of irrationality and a pretty shocking degree of ignorance and superstition.

I was going to post in the comments to this thread on Matt Y's site, but then I realized "Hey, idiot, you've got a blog now, use it."

Digby's post linked above discusses a George Lakoff interview, here. Lakoff is a professor of lingusitics and cognitive science at UC Berkeley, and he feels that Democrats don't get it when it comes to framing political debate and shaping public opinion.

He's right.

He uses some poorly chosen terminology very definitely at odds with his premise and I'll get to that. He also fairly eloquently explains the broad problem, but leaves out any subtext that would lead you to any answers. I'll make a "meagre" attempt at that, too. But still, he's right.

Matt has pondered before similar what-if's to the one above . My response has been, perhaps impolitic as a guest, "Matt, don't fall prey to your expensive [Harvard] education". True to form, the comments to his post above followed the same pattern and evolved into a very nuanced discussion of world political systems, various attributes of theocratic Valhallas, philosophical dyads and polarity continua of "is liberalism soul mate of communism?" and "are conservatives cousins of fascism?"

Phew. Of course, Digby's orginal thoughts referenced Lakoff's contention that Liberals are "nurturing parent" apposite of Conservatives as "strict father" and, most directly, how can Democrats get elected outside of an Ivy League graduate seminar on the Social Implications of World Hunger? Double Phew.

Much as I loved the resulting comment dialectic, Matt and Digby's question, well answered and executed upon, allows the breathing room and luxury to debate the other esoterica. Otherwise it's all just, umm, academic, isn't it?

There, in my mind is the problem, strategically, for Democrats. Plenty of facts, little human nature. Sterile, cold, almost, dare I say it: Detached. And Lakoff and Digby, and I'm sure many others agree. But what to do? I don't see it as terminal. But for a thing to be easy, first it must be hard. So, what are we dealing with?

First, Lakoff.

I think liberals are rationalists with soul. They see the virtue in giving 2nd chances and in the downstream potential of minimizing some of the more brutal swings of the pendulum of life on this here earth. Yet they also want to be taken seriously, to the point of neurosis sometimes. In this, except for the severely self-serious, they are not much different from a large majority of the electorate. In archetypal doctrine they are blend of Caregiver and Artist, careful of another's feelings (with obvious qualifications, politically speaking), yet questioning and expectant when it comes to possibilities.

They are liberal in the sense that the glass is viewed as half full for the most part, plenty to go around. But fairness and the idealism of inclusion and yet unknown futures can sometimes obstruct a very useful skill: The willingness to make a choice and pull the trigger. As individuals, it seems they're so busy fighting the cognitive dissonance within themselves there's little energy left for the external questions and fights it takes to form a coherent, relevant and resonant public character.

Example: Lakoff gets caught in his old paradigm knickers from the get-go: Strict Father and Nurturing Parent.


What's up with that? Why not Mother? Simple. Because, as Lakoff knows, Mother connotes softness and pliancy, the exact opposite of "purpose" and "resoluteness" that is the DNA of success in today's political marketplace. In claiming Democrats have let go of the reins of debate--handed them over actually, by appearing too squishy and incoherent--he slips in a clanger that immediately says to anyone not fully tone deaf: Nope, not there yet.

Poor choice of words, certainly. And, unless I'm being far too literal, I don't buy his republican-parent view that

The conservative worldview, the strict father model, assumes that the world is dangerous and difficult and that children are born bad and must be made good. The strict father is the moral authority who supports and defends the family, tells his wife what to do, and teaches his kids right from wrong. The only way to do that is through painful discipline ? physical punishment that by adulthood will become internal discipline. The good people are the disciplined people.

Too simplistic. That approach may have worked in Provo in 1880, but it would get you whacked by your wife's bridge club in say, Bloomington, 2003. It's a cartoon view of reality that ignores the fact that bad turns of luck are apolitical. Witness the Bush twins, Republican affairs and divorces, financial malfeasance, quiet and not so quiet rehab stories and plain dumb choices. But there is a quiet, yearning archetypal myth at play, even if reality puts the lie to it. And, he does get some important words and phrases into the mix: right from wrong, internal discipline, moral authority, dangerous world. Support. Defend.

Leave those words, freighted as they may be, hanging for a second and reference "purpose", "resoluteness", "coherent", "relevant" and "resonant" above. Keep them in mind.

Lakoff again:

Right now the Democrat Party is into marketing. They pick a number of issues like prescription drugs and Social Security and ask which ones sell best across the spectrum, and they run on those issues. They have no moral perspective, no general values, no identity. People vote their identity, they don't just vote on the issues, and Democrats don't understand that. Look at Schwarzenegger, who says nothing about the issues. The Democrats ask, How could anyone vote for this guy? They did because he put forth an identity. Voters knew who he is.

Here, he has it right, if I can be so presumptuous. Too late now I guess.

I've written elsewhere that, "say what you want about Republicans, but they're marketing in 2003. They use spreadsheets for facts, and "poetry" (if you can call it that) for nuance. They believe, and charge ahead like Joan of Arc. That's powerful stuff to 90% of the electorate. Democrats, on the other hand, appear to spreadsheet their passion, and leave themselves open to the impression they nuance facts like taxing and spending."

Not fair is it? Like I said, hard before easy. Lakoff touches on a live wire: "no moral perspective." Good for him.

The question voters want answered is "Who are you, and why should I care?" But if you have only words to answer this question, you are doomed. The voters internal, subliminal dialogue goes: Spare me the shopping list. Don't tell me, show me. Don't bury me in position papers, touch me. Mirror me, even if I don't recognize myself. That last one is key. Politicians are purveyors of hope and answers to questions voters are often unequipped to ask. Visionary politics is about a future people didn't know they had.

A citizen may dream of an idealized version of his national self but he sure as hell couldn't begin to ennunciate it or map out a plan. So, they're left to buy off the rack. And they increasingly disregard Democrats because the "material" feels, well, artificial. Like polyester. What is "real" in voter terms? Definition and firmness. What is Definition? Character. How do you measure character? Shared moral metrics. How do you measure up? Moral Ambition. What do people hear? Shared purpose. Two words for shared purpose: Loyalty. Votes.

Lakoff mentions "a moral perspective". In order to achieve perspective, one needs a fixed focal point. You need to draw a line and say, this is where I begin. But where to begin? What's a moral metric? I'd say it's consensual agreement on the only benchmarks that don't have people debating what the meaning of "is" is: The Seven Cardinal Virtues and the Seven Deadly's. These highly connective and common human understandings have been checked out by a certain group and never returned. And they've been doing naughty things with them. No, this is not holy roller country I'm suggesting, not there's anything wrong with that. Neither is it about browbeating others with your moral "superiority". Beatitude is a fine state but no voter plans it for themselves or expects it from political figures. They do, however, want a goalpost that doesn't move. They want affirmation that their search for "more" doesn't stop at an ATM or Walmart, and that decisions get made for better reasons than "because we feel like it and because we can.

The only way Democrats will ever get out of the whirlpool of retailing issues, of being discount players rather than branded, value added equities is to swallow hard and embrace the concept of "meaning". And to decide. Not whether they are nurturers or strict disciplinarians, or whether they are Artists or Caretakers, Rebels or Heroes, but "who am I?" In people, and character language. In my work I advise that "brands" are the public interpretation of deeply personal beliefs. Triple that for a politician and a party. In people terms, party defined as an individual in the minds of voters: a coherent, relevant and resonant public character.

Republicans will nominate the occasional bonehead and, much like a busted clock is right twice a day, they will bungle an election to Democrats. But winning by forfeit is hardly a plan, is it? Democrats, in order to win in a replicable mandate-inducing way, will have to embrace the truth that people take their measure of individuals and institutions by the feel of their experience, not by the brochure copy. They judge by symbolism, by virtue, by a moral sliderule. Some may not think these "private" and deeply personal benchmarks have a place in public discourse. Sorry, they're wrong. Politics is sublimely personal. Identity and self-image is key. Being "in" is primal. Being "out" for so many years drove Republicans crazy, and to rock bottom. At that point, with nothing left to lose, they followed Sun Tzu's dictum. Retreat, reevaluate, realign, reassert. They discovered that, for those who vote, you are your vote. It says things about you to yourself. And if nothing else, you want to like yourself. These all factor into an equation that shoots out the other end an archetype whose dimension fits the burning desire of voters. Or not.

Of course, some, with a more Nico-Manichean bent, went so far as to craft positive and negative words to frame the debate. They were wise, if not righteous, to many eyes. They took a longer term, deeper, psychographic profiler's craft to the task of tuning their message. They found their "type".

Still reeling over the fact that women voted in droves for an "alleged" groper? Don't. He played to type. They weren't looking for Alan Alda. They already had his "smarmy cousin" in Sacramento. California voters wanted a romanticized Saviour, a warrior, not a dissembler. They'd had it with facts, "facts can lie" and be spun. What's left? They wanted, and got, Joan of Arc. With muscles. And a package.

To answer a question that may hang in the air: Well, wasn't Clinton a nurturer? What about "feeling our pain"? One word: rightness. In much the same way as Arnold Schwarzenneger's Teflon absolutely dumbfounded die-hard liberals when it came to the groping question, Clinton was bulletproof to charges of "Sissy!" that would attract to another candidate voicing some of the same policy positions. Clinton was a stud. Metaphorical cousin to Arnold, both were and are affable compassionate rogues to the end. As advertised, so to speak. Too early to tell about the Governor from Old Europe, but for Clinton, people were buying, all the way through and past Lewinsky.

Why? Digby mentions Clinton's JFK moment in the "Man from Hope" video. I would venture the hair stood up on 96.7% of the necks viewing in person and at home. But do you know what that was? It was "rightness." Granted, with a heavy dose of stagecraft, of transference and figurative baton passing, but the latter is what added to it's authenticity, its rightness. Americans had, before their very eyes, discovered a Captain of the football team older brother with an inner Florence Nightingale. A potent political archetypal mix. Voila: Teflon with a sax and a grin. "Sure he's not perfect, sure he skates on his charm, but how can you stay mad at someone like that? He cares. He produces. In terms that matter to me."

More important for Democrats now, is how do you replicate that rightness?

First you define it.

And that's the next installment.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

"What Do All Those Filthy-Rich Physicists Actually Do?"

“Physicists are among the most, shall we say, ‘agile' of degree recipients,” says Roman Czujko, director of the Statistical Research Center at the American Institute of Physics.

Very interesting numbers in a survey on salary averages for the 20 highest-paying jobs out there. Justice: "pundit" is nowhere to be found. Also notable, no mention of financial services specialties anywhere, but marketing managers rank up there. Guess that says something, but I'm not gonna touch it. Hourly rates are broken out nicely, so you can compare whether that guy banging around under your sink really is more expensive than a brain surgeon. Sorry, poets didn't make the list this year.
Will the man who won the first Gulf War, be the man who "lost" the second?

Machines don't fight wars. Terrain doesn't fight wars. Humans fight wars. You must get into the mind of humans. That's where the battles are won.

-Col John Boyd

The onset of Ramadan, noted by all the big bangs in Baghdad, all the "We're winning!", "Are we winning?", "What is winning?" and all the shouts of anguish out in blogville from both sides of the political spectrum got me thinking.

My feelings about the current situation don't stem from who I voted for but from how I regard the quality of the insight, finesse and effort behind the operation, political and military. I posted earlier on the man listed above, but on reflection, it was insufficient. Col. John Boyd, USAF (Ret) 1927-1997, the progenitor of today's military strategic base model, Observe, Orient, Decide, Act (OODA), was a passionate man, a maverick. He's one element of the story we're watching unfold, but true to his doctrine of 4th Generation Warfare, there are many cross-disciplinary aspects to what most perceive as a very precarious situation. It has all the classic elements of a good story: National alarm, the promise of better things to come, Hubris, colorful personalities, explosions and international intrigue. Very Hollywood. And that in itself is part of the dilemma. This is a sequel. And like many sequels, it unnecessarily complicates motives, plot, and character assumptions in order to justify its reason for being. The saying goes you can "never dip your toe in the same river twice."

I would add a corrolary: Sometimes you use the tool, sometimes the tool uses you.

OODA, (Go here for a brief flash simulation) and Col. John Boyd, deserve much of the credit for how successfully we fight recent wars: how, in historical terms, casualties have become less wholesale and savagely indisciminate, and how quickly enemies fold, thus "ending" the war sooner. OODA made a believer out of Dick Cheney, then Secretary of Defense, during the first Gulf War. Likewise, Donald Rumsfeld, has been a student.

I'm a believer too, within limits. And with some very real caveats. OODA and it's broader view can be like strategic black magic. For some, it feels like a veil has been lifted. Because of its sweep, it elevates previously ignored nuances to burning bush revelations of possible advantage. Also notable is it can legitimize "gut" instinct. A sixth sense you perhaps couldn't ennunciate, can take on the aura of operational, tool-derived rational respectability. It's a powerful tool, but, to follow the metaphor, magic doesn't make you omnipotent or infallible. OODA can give you that sense if your motives are shall we say, less than forthright. Militarily, sowing confusion in the enemy is a by-product of OODA. "Shock and Awe" is one of it's derivations.

On the subject of belief, as a strategist, I also believe in simple explanations, derived from a fuller understanding of human motives, stripped of all the dutiful crosstalk. Simple as in fundamental, not simplistic. In many cases, complexity comes from allowing your input to exceed your expectation. That is, complexity is often labeled such, not because there is too much of some thing, but because there is more of something than you expected or are willing to entertain. Complexity is that which you are not equipped to consider more often than it is an overflow of information. This I think, is the root of what we face in our current approach to terror and Iraq. More to come

"In war, it is of supreme importance to attack your
opponent's Strategy. The next best thing is to attack your opponent's
Alliances. Next after that is to attack your opponent's Armies. The
worst thing is to attack your opponent's Cities."

Sun Tzu

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

The man who won the first Gulf War

Machines don't fight wars. Terrain doesn't fight wars. Humans fight wars. You must get into the mind of humans. That's where the battles are won.

-Col John Boyd

[Removed the rest of this post because I thought it deserved a better treatment. Sorry for the inconvenience, hope to have it back up later today (10-28) - fouro]

Monday, October 27, 2003

Here come the inevitable Viet Nam comparisons. You'd think these characters had actually been to the pla-- Nevermind.

This is the first time that I have seen a parallel to Vietnam, McCain declared, in terms of information that the administration is putting out versus the actual situation on the ground. I'm not saying the situation in Iraq now is as bad as Vietnam. But we have a problem in the Sunni Triangle and we should face up to it and tell the American people about it. Also reminiscent of Vietnam, McCain said, was the....

Story link via: Hesiod

Posted this earler today at hesiod's place, but kept thinking about it:
The painful march to the obvious for elected and otherwise grown-up folks who should know better is the part that always jangles my fillings in these situations. My take: Flip Kubler-Ross on her head and you can diagram what happens when parties [yes, of course both] abuse their faithful:

Acceptance: Maybe nukes, and definitely rose petals? Okay, I trust 'em. Not sure, but they're MY guys. I 'll go for that.

Depression: Ahh geez, maybe this wasn't such a good idea. But, ohh, maybe I'm wrong not to trust. Better wait. And see. Ahh geez. .

Bargaining: Hey look, it's not great but it's the best anyone can do. Roses take time to grow, okay? You try and do better, brainiac.

Denial: We never promised you a rose garden. Roses we're your idea. This has nothing to do with plants, you ingrate.

Anger: Those assholes, how could they do this to me? I feel like an idiot. You know, I never really trusted those guys, all that flower talk and what not.


Intelligence of voters has little to do with it too, I think. It's purely a group identity thing. If you're not very careful, you mirror the irrationality you paint your opponents with. And if you're holding the stopwatch, it's hard to call yourself on a blown play because, well, because you're "better".

I figure we're 1/4 to 1/3 through denial, but what a cost to get here. Tragic.

It sucks to be you (me, anybody) when you're wrong. It's no party even when you're mildly uncertain. But that's nothing compared to the dripping, white knuckled fear that comes from wondering if others can see you sweating. And from that further, self-imposed fear that you'll be revealed a simpleton or a blind zealot. I really believe this, because I see it 9 to 5 almost daily, usually in cases that are nano-scale trivial compared with the stakes McCain's talking about. I grew up under a parental neutron bomb that used to stop us kids dead in our tracks when we'd evade, dissemble or just plain lie to avoid a preponderance of some fact: Once an accident, twice a coincidence, three times a pattern. I'm old enough that seeing otherwise sensible individuals suspend their healthy skepticism once they've tipped toward an individual or group or idea doesn't surprise me anymore. It's simple self- and self-image preservation. But the risk and the odds that they're willing to stay pat on, now that never ceases to amaze.
George Will undoes his damn tie.

And tries on metrosexual. Now, if he'd just stick to the "Style" page, we're golden.

Breezy review-let of Virginia Postrel's new book, "The Substance of Style: How the Rise of Aesthetic Value is Remaking Commerce, Culture, and Consciousness." (Click on her Amazon link.) Haven't gotten to it yet, but not for lack of interest in the topic. Okay, i'm scared to. Busy on my own screed.

Will gets jiggy with it here.
Egg > Pre-chicken > Ovoid Reproductive Vessel.

Democrat > Liberal > Commie
Republican > Conservative > Fascist
Arab > Muslim > Terrorist

Given recent events abroad, things are bound to heat up here at home during the next few days' news cycles. Showdown time at the ad hominem Corral, if you will. What better time to ponder the tactical and strategic abuse of the Queen's English? exhumes The Institute for Propaganda Analysis, ca. 1937-42. Definitions, tips, tricks, maneuvers and rhetorical pirouettes, neatly dissected for the layman or hobbyist. Here's a contemporized sample from "Euphemism", a relative 3rd-stringer in the game.
The comedian George Carlin notes that, in the wake of the first world war, traumatized veterans were said to be suffering from "shell shock." The short, vivid phrase conveys the horrors of battle -- one can practically hear the shells exploding overhead. After the second world war, people began to use the term "combat fatigue" to characterize the same condition. The phrase is a bit more pleasant, but it still acknowledges combat as the source of discomfort. In the wake of the Vietnam War, people referred to "post-traumatic stress disorder": a phrase that is completely disconnected from the reality of war altogether.

[edited 9:31 for clarity > sloppiness > unadulterated hack-ness]
A man, a dream, a tennis racquet, and satchel full of Clozapine.

Geez, after the last few news posts i was in need of a little calming, centering insight, and maybe an exercise or two. Google gives me this guy instead.
I'm making the claim of being a renaissance genius.
To be a renaissance genius, it requires me to prove
that I'm at least a double genius. Not a half of a genius
or a genius and a half, but a genius of two or more
I'm claiming to be the genius of art and tennis.
Me? I am the Walrus. With a much improved backhand, by the way.

"Capturing the true spirit of Ramadan."(Arab News)

During Ramadan, mosques are full of worshipers, and acts of charity increase, ties of brotherhood are strengthened, tempers are controlled and an atmosphere of peace prevails. According to psychologists, these are several of the beneficial aspects of conscientious fasting.


It is saddening to see that many people view Ramadan as a time for sleep, laziness and, therefore, of decreased productivity. If you go to an office and ask for someone, you are often told to come back later or the next day. If someone loses his temper, you are told he is edgy because he is fasting.

Many of us forget that fasting itself is an exercise in discipline. It is a total act of worship. You cannot fast and at the same time cause trouble to others. This is what we must realize.


Our heart goes out to all those who suffer on account of their faith, occupation or simply because they find themselves on the wrong side of a border or are pawns in a game played by big powers for geopolitical objectives.

Let the families of those who lost their near and dear ones in terrorist attacks in the US, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Bali and elsewhere have the fortitude to bear their suffering with dignity. But it is not enough to pray for the victims of terrorist fury. We should make a determined effort to eradicate the menace of terrorism from the face of the Earth. Nothing we do or say should even remotely encourage the purveyors of hatred. We should teach our children the virtues of tolerance and sympathy to fellow human beings. Those of us living in affluent countries and affluent societies should never forget that there are vast numbers of people living in poverty and without basic amenities of life.

Got all that? Super. How heartening to see that Arab editorial writers have as much effect as US ones. Gonna be a long month.

Strong Explosion Rocks Central Baghdad

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - A strong explosion rocked an area of Baghdad near the Red Cross building and thick black smoke was billowing from the area, witnesses said. At least two cars were on fire and U.S. troops were cordoning off the area.

Fire trucks and ambulances were racing to the scene.

The huge blast, which occurred shortly after 8:30 a.m., came one day after a rocket attack on the Al Rasheed Hotel, where U.S. military and coalition officials lived. An American colonel was killed and 18 people were injured. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was in the building but escaped injury.
Don't they say bad news comes in threes?
At least one other explosion could be heard soon after the first one Monday. It appeared the second explosion was in the area of the al-Shaab neighborhood.

Never mind.


Day 1.
Tinker, to Chance, to Edward!

The anatomy of a swing. Neato Torpedo.

via: Ask E.T.

Edward Tufte is too cool. Not in a David Carson, information-design-as-test-of-wills kind of way but in a quieter, I-want-you-to-understand-what-you're-seeing-and-be-better-for-seeing-it-and-now-you-can't-wait-to-put-the-information-to-work kind of way. Sort of the exact opposite of how I write. In a way.

If you're not familiar, he teaches Information Design at Yale and writes definitively on the subject. Basically, he's the Oracle of Delphi for truth, simpliciy and clarity in conceptual representation--print to architecture, pixels to blimpspace. Tufte has a very cool feature on his site called Ask E.T. (Scroll down for the most recent, it's where the Swing graphic came from.) The guy will actually answer your practical questions, in addition to critiquing pieces pointed out to him. The comments on his comments are uniformly quite informative, too.

Why the Fan-Club-Newsletter prose? Cuz he's wandering the countryside teaching 1 day courses, Nov. 3 thru March 4. I'm there.

Sunday, October 26, 2003


Perhaps the most intriguing figures in federal disclosure forms filed last week were the salaries of presidential campaign managers. Leading the pack was Craig Smith, the campaign manager for Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, at $15,000 a month before taxes.

Turns out Joe Trippi, Howard Dean's campaign manager, makes 7 grand a month plus 5 - 10% commisions on TV media buys. (Commericals.) Funny, in some jobs this would be viewed as a conflict of interest. Mine for instance.

Now, if I could just learn the unladen weight of an African Swallow.
Attack viewed as Assassination Attempt.
Claims of US Progress in Iraq Hobbled.
APB for Actress Kathy Bates Issued.

The Rashid Hotel? Again? it has more patched holes than an Irish bucket by now. Not to mention that it has to have been sighted to memory by every RPG-toting Iraqi angry young man.

So where does Dep. Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz stay on his visit? The Rashid Hotel. Granted, other visiting gov't weenies on safari chopper back to Kuwait for their mint on a pillow, so you've got to commend Wolfowitz's willingness to go into the belly of the beast. But it does make me wonder two things:

1. Why would the administration place one of it's most symbolic and intellectual champions of the "rectitude" of this war in such obvious harms way? As a chess piece in the game for hearts and minds, he's a Bishop at least. (Probably higher, since Cheney and Bush aren't really in play for the purposes of this match.)

2. Does he really view it as "the beast"? In other words, maybe he and the masterminds behind this operation really do view "Iraq" as being on the tipping point in regards to rolling over and "seeing things our way", rose-petals and stable-muslim-democracy-wise? Seymour hersh seems to think so. My mind tends to ask: How big a house has to fall on you before you 'recalibrate' your position? Silly me. Any ideas?

REUTERS. Oct. 26: U.S. Soldier Killed in Attack on Baghdad Hotel

Plus 15 wounded. R.I.P. And condolences. And best wishes to families of all.
"the unbearable tentativeness of being." Sunday NYT story on the troubling fungibility and acceptibility of "being late" thanks to the proliferation of cell phones. Which reminds me, did I ever post about my talk on "leadership by cellphone" and it's effects on.... Ooops, I have an IM. Get back to you later.

"The window spreads open longer if you know you can call," said Mr. Taylor, who works at Equinox Fitness Clubs in New York. "If they didn't have a phone, they'd be more apt to just get there. It's nice that you're letting me know so I don't have to wait, but I'm still waiting anyway."


"It's become `Since I have a cellphone, I can dawdle more,' " Ms. Page said.

Dr. Katz said the subjects of his observations never considered themselves late if they called to alert the people they were meeting. "They say they are being more considerate of the other person by asking permission to be late," he said.

But ultimately, researchers say, being late is a way of exercising power.

"You think you're doing a good thing," Dr. Blinkoff said. "But in reality you're saying, `I'm more important than you — my time is more important than yours is.' There's this sense that if you're late, you must be really busy, and if you're really busy, you must be a really important person."

That can damage relationships. In a survey of 1,425 people nationwide by Dr. Katz in 2000, 14 percent said bad cellphone manners, including tardiness, had hurt a close relationship.

"It gnaws away at someone's self-esteem if they're being told they're the next-most-important thing to that bargain sweater," he said.

Smack! Can you hear me now?
Yet more great moments in venue marketing: It's open! Disney's new LA performing arts center debuted last night, and everyone was, uh, marvelous. It may look pleasingly proto-Euro thanks to Frank Gehry, but the philanthropy was all-American, baby.

A fund-raising campaign led by Ms. Van de Kamp — a blond dynamo with persuasive charm — drew 283 donors who gave at least $100,000 to have their names honored. "I would call and say, `I have a live one. What can we name after him?' " Ms. Van de Kamp recalled. "And I was running out of options. A urinal, perhaps?" she said, jokingly.

Benjamin, I've got one three words for you...plastics lavatory deodorant cakes.

Call me clairvoyant.

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