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

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Dan Drezner drops the fan-dance, gets shrill, joins Reality-based community.

Welcome to the club, Dan.

I posted earlier in the week (Dan as Gypsy-Rose) about Dan Drezner's silly "should I or shouldn't I?" strip-tease over voting for Kerry. Well, I guess the tips weren't as lucrative as he thought. He's run out of excuses. He's given up: He's voting Kerry.

I've made up my mind

So I'm voting for Kerry.

In my two threads on the subject (here and here), I've been amused to read suggestions by fellow Republicans that I'm overanalyzing things and should just trust my gut. If I had done that, I would have known I was voting for Kerry sometime this summer because of Iraq. To put it crudely, my anger at Bush for the number of Mongolian cluster-f**ks this administration was discovered to have made in the planning process in the run-up to Iraq was compounded by the even greater number of cluster-f**ks the administration made in the six months after the invasion, topped off by George W. Bush's decision not to fire the clusterf**ks in the civilian DoD leadershop that insisted over the past two years that not a lot of troops were needed in the Iraqi theater of operations. No, if I was voting based on gut instincts, I would have planned on voting for Kerry and punching a wall afterwards.

Reading the New York Times recap of the postwar planning by Michael Gordon just brought all of this back to the surface. The failure by Rumsfeld and his subordinates to comprehend that occupation and statebuilding requires different resources, strategies and tactics than warfighting boggles my mind: [more]
Kubler-Ross',The Five stages of Grief:

1. Denial and Isolation
2. Anger
3. Bargaining
4. Depression
5. Acceptance

Only from 5 does possibility spring, like a daisy in the concrete. If you let it. A tough journey from one tribe to the other. Welcome, Dan. Sorry for the snark.





Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Paranoia will destroi-ya

And the vortex created renders the rest of us collateral damage. Yippee!

Arianna Huffington discovers the R-Complex, and realizes she's been thinking on the wrong plane all this time. I'm too nice a guy to say: "Duh!" Oops, I just said it, didn't I? Wasn't me, it was my R-Cx talking. Not my fault. It's hard, difficult work being rational and championing Good and stuff--Let me finish!
Appealing To Our Lizard Brains: Why Bush Is Still Standing

Since the president's meltdown in the first debate — followed in quick succession by Paul Bremer's confession, the CIA's no-al-Qaida/Saddam link report, the Duelfer no-WMD-since-'91 report, and the woeful September job numbers — I have been racking my brain trying to figure out why George W. Bush is still standing.

The answer arrived via my friend Ed Solomon, the brilliant writer and filmmaker, who explained that the conundrum could be solved by looking at the very organ I'd been racking.

Ed introduced me to the work of Dr. Daniel Siegel, a Harvard-trained psychiatrist and author of the forthcoming book "Mindsight," which explores the physiological workings of the brain.

Turns out, when it comes to Campaign 2004, it's the neuroscience, stupid!

Or, as Dr. Siegel told me: "Voters are shrouded in a 'fog of fear' that is impacting the way our brains respond to the two candidates."
Thanks to the Bush campaign's unremitting fear-mongering, millions of voters are reacting not with their linear and logical left brain but with their lizard brain and their more emotional right brain.

What's more, people in a fog of fear are more likely to respond to someone whose primary means of communication is in the nonverbal realm, neither logical nor language-based. (Sound like any presidential candidate you know?)

And that's why Bush is still standing. It's not about left wing vs. right wing; it's about left brain vs. right brain.

Deep in the brain lies the amygdala, an almond-sized region that generates fear. When this fear state is activated, the amygdala springs into action. Before you are even consciously aware that you are afraid, your lizard brain responds by clicking into survival mode. No time to assess the situation, no time to look at the facts, just: fight, flight or freeze.

And, boy, have the Bushies been giving our collective amygdala a workout. Especially Dick Cheney, who has proven himself an unmatched master of the dark art of fear-mongering. For an object lesson in how to get those lizard brains leaping, look no further than the vice-presidential debate.

"The biggest threat we face today," said Cheney in his very first answer "is the possibility of terrorists smuggling a nuclear weapon or a biological agent into one of our own cities and threatening the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans."

Just in case we didn't get the point, he repeated the ominous assertion, practically word for word, two more times — throwing in the fact that he was "absolutely convinced" that the threat "is very real." It was "be afraid, be very afraid" to the third power.

And when we are afraid, we are biologically programmed to pay less attention to left-brain signals — indeed, our logical mind actually shuts itself down. Fear paralyzes our reasoning and literally makes it impossible to think straight. Instead, we search for emotional, nonverbal cues from others that will make us feel safe and secure.

When our right brain is at Threat Level Red, we don't want to hear about a four-point plan to win the peace, or a list of damning statistics, or even a compelling, well-reasoned argument that the policies of Bush and Cheney are actually making us less safe. We want to get the feeling that everything is going to be all right.

In this state, our brains care more about tone of voice than what the voice is saying. This is why Bush can verbally stumble and sputter and make little or no sense and still leave voters feeling that he is the candidate best able to protect them. Our brains are primed to receive the kinds of communication he has to offer and discard the kinds John Kerry has to offer, even if Kerry makes more "logical sense." Which, of course, he does.

The strutting, winking, pointing and near-shouting that marked Bush's town hall debate performance all sent the same subconscious message to our fear-fogged brains: "I'm your daddy . . . I've got your back. So just go to sleep and stop thinking. About anything."

"At the deepest level," Dr. Siegel told me, "we react to fear as adults in much the same way we did as infants. It's primal. Human babies have the most dependent infancy of any species. Our survival depends on the caregiver. We instinctively look to authority figures to comfort us and keep us safe."

As needy infants, this natural drive to be soothed and reassured is what we looked for in our parents; as anxious adults in these exceptionally unsettling times, it's what we are looking for in our leaders.

Over the remaining three weeks of the campaign, as the anxiety level reaches a fevered pitch — and you can be certain the Bush campaign will do everything in its power to make sure that happens — the test facing voters is no longer, "Which candidate would you rather have a beer with?" It's "Which candidate would you rather give you your blankie and a bottle and keep the boogeyman away?"

I know it sounds ludicrous that the most important election of our lifetime is coming down to who can best pacify the electorate's inner baby, but I can think of no better explanation as to why Bush is not currently hovering at around 5 percent in the polls — a voting block made up of those hardcore fanatics who are as utterly blind to reality as he is.

As long as we're operating from our lizard brains — and reason takes a back seat to more primal needs — George Bush will continue to survive the logic-based attacks on his ever-escalating failures.

The only question that remains is: Can Bush, Cheney and Rove keep us shrouded in the fog of fear long enough to brain John Kerry and win in November?
They'll try. But it's hard. Dificult work, that Fog stuff. Evil never sleeps. Just ask the Evil Doers.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Axis of Evil endorses... Bush?

Sez: "Boo, hiss! Kerry won't let us have nukes. Those nasty Democrats are always mean to us, keep us hemmed in, especially under Clinton. Boo, Kerry! Boo-hiss!"
Bush Receives Endorsement From Iran

AP TEHRAN, Iran - The head of Iran's security council said on Tuesday the re-election of President Bush (news - web sites) was in Tehran's best interests, despite the administration's axis of evil label, accusations that Iran harbors al-Qaida terrorists and threats of sanctions over the country's nuclear ambitions. Historically, Democrats have harmed Iran more than Republicans, said Hasan Rowhani, head of the Supreme National Security Council, Iran's top security decision-making body. "We haven't seen anything good from Democrats," Rowhani told state-run television in remarks that, for the first time in recent decades, saw Iran openly supporting one U.S. presidential candidate over another. "We should not forget that most sanctions and economic pressures were imposed on Iran during the time of Clinton," Rowhani said of the former Democratic president. "And we should not forget that during Bush's era — despite his hard-line and baseless rhetoric against Iran — he didn't take, in practical terms, any dangerous action against Iran." Though Iran generally does not publicly wade into U.S. presidential politics, it has a history of preferring Republicans over Democrats, who tend to press human rights.
This just in: Kim Jong il considering Bush for Secret Santa.

Introducing: Dan Drezner as Gypsy Rose Lee

Having spilled my guts all over this blog more than a few times, I'm still not the least bit bashful to say Dan Drezner's slow-motion fan dance of "come-hither and seduce me to vote Kerry" posts makes me wanna find a whiffle bat. Some praise him for thinking out loud. I wanna report him for public indecency, or, at least, very bad vamping....
Some commenters have suggested that Bush secretly recognizes that mistakes have been made, and there will be changes after the election. I'm glad they're confident of that -- this David Sanger story in Sunday's NYT makes it clear that even insiders aren't sure about this:
"Honestly, I can make a more reliable prediction about what Kerry's foreign policy would look like than I can about our own,'' said one senior American diplomat who has spent considerable time with President Bush over the past three years. "I could argue that you'll see Dick Cheney's revenge, or that the President will determine that the hawks got him in deep, deep trouble, and he'd better turn this around.''
So where am I now? I'm unpersuaded by arguments saying that Bush's foreign policy has been a greater success than commonly thought, and I'm not convinced that he would ever be able to recognize the need for policy change.

However, the responses to the previous post have fed my doubts about Kerry's bad foreign policy instincts -- enough to slightly lower my probability of voting for Kerry to 70%. So it's now up to Kerry's supporters to make their case -- how can I trust that John Kerry gets the post-9/11 world? How can I be sure that Kerry's policymaking process will be sufficiently good so as to overwhelm Kerry's instinctual miscues?
That's not serious inquiry, it's familial enabling and wobbliness--the mark of someone unable to face the pure academic truth of their untenable position. The fan Drezner's blowing kisses from behind is made of ostrich feathers.

1. Post-war global power-shift concentrated to the US combined with WMD proliferation and the events of 9/11 were a perfect storm of foreign policy possibility. Bush screwed the pooch--but it's a screwing Kerry can make right. (Details below.)

2. Just to clarify point #1 above: BUSH DOESN'T GET THE POST-9/11 WORLD. At least, he doesn't get it right. (Details below.)

3. Using the above administration official's quote, Drezner asks, answers, then asks again (because he doesn't like the answer), how Kerry's process orientation beats Bush's? Again, using the quote: Kerry demonstrates an actual familiarty with decision-making as a process; one needing something beyond a divining rod. (Varied input, cross-referencing, feedback loops, awareness of stovepipe effects, etc. Details below.)

There's lots more junk Drezner dangles about domestic policy and whatnot: I respect Bob Rubin, and Dick Holbrooke, etc--but what if Kerry doesn't use those guys? Hmmmm. Dan has two choices of life preserver--one in flames, one serviceable--and he's checking the tag on the useful one, worried it might have been made with union labor.

POINT 1: Muscular common sense. What was [and is still] needed is a highly necessary and, conveniently, highly visible rebuild of US forces to meet the demands of assymmetrical threats--guerillas, insurgency, terrorism, middle east foment. Threats that were not news on September 10th. While commencing your highly visible build-up, you leverage post 9-11 (good)will by firmly planting both feet in the Middle East--one in the Mediterranean, one in the Gulf--and saying:
Enough. Your problem is now our Dead. Time to fix or time to fight–fight us. These are our bombs, planes and tanks; and these, these over here are our bonds, bricklayers and business professors. You choose. We're here to help, but we're done with half measures, and you will fix this. Take what you admire, leave what you don't, keep your autonomy. Think about it. Hard. If you say no, you will not like the alternative.
End the press conference, cue the airlift/sealift, alert pre-positioning. And wait for the phones to ring. And ring they would. And not a soul would have blamed us. Now, that is what Bush should have done. Addressed to the whole Middle East--yes, even the bit with names like Haifa and Tel Aviv.

Fantasy? Not at all. You see, all the Realpolitik once had its place, but it is true, 9-11 changed everything. The main thing it changed was the need for bullshit and parlor language in the realm of Middle East diplomacy. (You certainly can't argue that that suggestion is "risky" and "just not done" on the world stage, at least, you can't given the quixotic things done in America's name over the last 3+ years by the "we create our own reality administration.) Ipso facto, rules were meant to be broken, and usually are where things actually get done. I've posted here before [1, 2, 3, 4] that Bush would be being measured for Mt. Rushmore right about now, had he acted appropriate to the magnitude of the situation--with a clearer understanding of the global and tribal metaphorical GASP that he had at his command. A large measure. A simply understood statement of fact: enough is enough. Olive branches in one claw, arrows in the other. Hell, it's our logo and our brand. There is no false advertising in the claim, no surprise at it's clarity regardless of whence you came. Yet Bush is all mexed missage R-Complex. Fight or Fight [sic] on Iraq; Fight then Flee on Chinese intercepts of US recon planes over international waters, on steel tariffs, on NCLB, on Drug Benefits, on Fiscal policy, on everything. Ergo: Bush fucks up, regularly; he didn't and doesn't get the pattern language manifest in the War on Terror. Kerry gets exactly the limbic nature of the current situation and can actually explain it, full well knowing we, and they, must climb higher up the cortical and gonadal chain for practicable resolution, although Bush has probably squandered the above profound Middle East Colossus opportunity. Let us hope not.

Dan, come on. Cleanup's a bitch. And you can't complain about the mess, nor keep whining that you'd really really like to fix it, using your ideas and your words, and that you'd feel so much better about your worldview and your past declarations if you could fix it, but that, hey, you're just not sure how. We'll rub your shoulders later. Meantime, Kerry's got to make some plane reservations to go smooth things over with some very anxious and very useful old friends.

POINT 2: Forget point 2. There's no need. Keep fanning, Dan. And vote your conscience. See ya November 3.
Gallup thinks America is Shawnee Mission, Kansas.

Steve Soto at The Left Coaster valiantly continues to flay the methodology of "the Pioneering Pollster":
...Gallup and other pollsters who refuse to weight their samples for party identification say that weighting samples to reflect demographic and census data is more reliable that using party ID as a factor. Yet after looking closely at the demographic breakdown of the sample that Gallup used to reach their conclusions, it becomes clear that Gallup has become the in-house pollster for Karl Rove and the GOP's view of how the American voting populace should look. Why?

Because according to Gallup's poll [internals] this week, they expect the electorate to be 85% white, 41% conservative while only 19% liberal, and a third to make over $75,000 per year....
Total Weighted Sample: 557 Likely Voters
(2000 exit poll actual results in parentheses)

By Political Ideology:
Conservative: 41% (29%)
Moderate: 41% (50%)
Liberal: 18% (20%)

Party ID:
GOP: 39% (35%)
Dem: 35% (39%)
Ind: 25% (27%)

Income:
Over $75,000: 32% (28%)
$50-75,000: 16% (25%)
$30-50,000: 26% (24%)
$20-30,000: 11%
Under $20K: 9%

And if this wasn’t bad enough,

Race:
White: 85% (81%)
NonWhite: 15% (19%)
Black: (a subset of NonWhite) 8% (10%)
I think those numbers speak for themselves. Gallup is using a sample that assumes 1) depressed minority participation this year from 2000, 2) assumes a drastically higher participation of conservatives as compared to 2000, and 3) predicts that Bush would win by 8% with that electorate. It should also be noted that Gallup's LV sample contains only 11% in the 18-29 year old age grouping, compared to 17% in the 2000 exit polls. Recent polls show that Kerry/Edwards is doing well with younger voters.
He points out that with these consistently hinky polls, the inevitable "oh yeah, we missed that" corrections and adjustments don't mean much post hoc, since the horse has already left the barn--co-sponsors, CNN and USAToday trumpet them far and wide. But I doubt it matters. Odds are great this will be known as the "first-time" or stealth voter election or some such goofy appelation. These numbers suppress turnout urges for disgusted but reluctant Bush voters, and, for many pro-Kerry or even just anybody-but-Bush types, they only feed the frenzy of donations and volunteers to Get Out The Vote efforts in battlegrounds... I'd love to have a piece of the 11-passenger van rental action in OH, WI, FL, MN and a few others.

Remember that post labor-day, pre-election rise in Jobs?

Gonna be, umm, a challenge. More tax cuts p'raps. Maybe a voodoo doll?

CNN/Reuters
 Report: Tech job cuts soar
Challenger says cuts up 60% in 3Q, tech companies have no hiring plans.


The U.S. technology sector suffered another round of widespread layoffs during the third quarter, with computer firms slashing jobs most aggressively, a report said Monday.

"High-tech job cuts are on the way up as the end of the year approaches," said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. "Behind this trend is the fact that technology companies have virtually no pricing power,"

Job cuts in technology jumped 60 percent between July and September to 54,701, compared with 34,213 layoffs in the second quarter. Computer companies alone saw job cuts jump 127 percent, to 30,624.

Manufacturers in the sector are having trouble making money since they have been forced to lower prices in order to attract consumers, Challenger said. So they end up firing workers in order to maintain healthy profit margins.

Worse yet, the growing number of layoffs is not being countered by any move to hire, Challenger added.
Lovely. I'm off to a meeting. To referee the wailing of some business leaders enjoying this "booming recovery." Maybe I'll stumble over some good news there. Yeah, that's the ticket.
 

Hey, that's not funny (SNORT)

wonkette:
Bush's Domestic Policy Takes a New Turn



Bush unveils a controversial new approach to lowering Social Security costs in the near future: Just a quick twist to the right, and the neck snaps right in two. . .


Drop the remote! And move away from the television–slowly!

AP via WPVI-Phila
TV Calls Air Force for Help
CORVALLIS, OR-October 18, 2004

An Air Force search and rescue alert was trigged by Chris van Rossman's flatscreen Toshiba TV. It has a built-in VCR, DVD and CD player. And an undocumented feature that has authorities scratching their heads.

Some sort of electric glitch was causing van Rossman's TV to transmit on the international distress frequency. The signal was picked up by a satellite and relayed to the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center in Virginia.

van Rossman had no idea until airmen, deputies and Corvallis, Oregon, police were knocking on the door of his apartment. The errant signal was traced to his TV set.

van Rossman was warned to keep the TV off or face a $10,000 fine for sending a false distress signal.

A spokeswoman for Toshiba says they've never heard of this sort of problem before. But the company is promising to give van Rossman a new TV.
[ed: Noting van Rossman's extensive videotape collection of Ann Coulter interviews, Toshiba technicians have placed the television on a round-the-clock suicide watch. van Rossman plans frivilous lawsuit.]

Monday, October 18, 2004

The reality-based community – You in or out?
Sunday's New York Times:

In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend - but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality - judiciously, as you will - we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
"Senior Adviser"? With a penchant for the Grand Guignol? Who talks like that in this administration? Easy. Karl talks like that in this administration. "The CEO Administration." The "grown-ups are in charge" administration. A so-called "Republican" administration. Sorry, but that's not conservatism, it's psychosis. Wanna know why "Old Europe" is freaked by these guys and their moves? They know this old movie, even down to the dialogue. Vote your conscience, because a lot of "important" people seem to have lost theirs. And then some.

Was it good for you too, Mrs. Lincoln?

Let's see, Kinsey blew the lid off America's sex life in the 50s with in-depth interviews and new-fangled anonymous polling. Next came studies of our feelings about breakfast cerals and collar stains. Then politicians got savvy to Madison Avenue technique. And now, well...
Primetime Live Poll: More Republicans Satisfied With Sex Lives Than Democrats

....The poll analysis includes a breakdown by many subgroups, including region, age and even political party affiliation, which is the topic of results released today:

Of those involved in a committed relationship, who is very satisfied with their relationship?
• Republicans – 87 percent
• Democrats – 76 percent

Who is very satisfied with their sex life?
• Republicans – 56 percent
• Democrats – 47 percent

The poll analysis also reveals who has worn something sexy to enhance their sex life:
• Republicans – 72 percent
• Democrats – 62 percent

When asked whether they had ever faked an orgasm, more Democrats (33 percent ) than Republicans (26 percent) said they had.
Guess we'll have to watch Thursday night to see if Jack Ryan, Roger Stone, Dick Morris and the other "family values" All-Stars may have skewed the results more than Jim McGreevey and a blue dress.

Still trying to figure this one out though: "...and the poll results show that women are more likely to fake orgasms."

[update: Daniel, in comments points out my goof: Kinsey, not McKinsey. Freudian maybe? . Thanks Daniel.]


No fat. No sodium. No Logo?

Naomi Klein must be feeling pretty good about herself right about now. Paul Hawken, too. Now, if we could just get rid of those syndicated Robert Vaughan ads --- "They're represented by the law firm of Sludge, Smarm & Sham? Let's settle this one!" -- well, we'd all be tooting through silk.

Okay, maybe not. Take it away, Guardian:
McDonald's has dropped the famous "golden arches" logo from its British advertising for the first time in what appears to be an extraordinary bid to rebrand as a healthy eating destination.

The chain, criticised by health campaigners but loved by pestering kids for decades, has not yet gone on record about its marketing strategy to shake off its image as the bad guy of modern convenience food.

But a new advertising campaign showing a question mark in its signature canary yellow in place of the ubiquitous arches is the latest in a series of significant changes, including tie-ups with the Vegetarian Society and the introduction of salads to its menus.

The posters show a fresh garden salad with green and red lettuce leaves with a large yellow question mark replacing the golden arches and the slogan "McDonald's. But not as you know it" - a play on Spock's assertion to Captain Kirk in the TV series Star Trek, "It's Life, Jim, but not as we know it".
-SNORT-
The new campaign follows a profit slump at the fast food chain, which has come under increasing pressure in the fight against Britain's child obesity crisis.

Other posters show a pile of empty egg shells stamped "free range", fruit pieces, cups of cappuccino and a bagel smothered in cream cheese, all chosen because they would be less likely to be associated with McDonald's in customers' minds.
The Head-fake School of Branding. Didn't we go through this stateside a few years' back with Fallon's night-clubbing Ronald McDonald to hawk "adult" fare?
To emphasise its healthy menu, the fast food chain is mailing a booklet to 17 million homes containing news about the changes to its menu and special offers to encourage people to eat at McDonald's.

Earlier this month MediaGuardian.co.uk revealed that the Vegetarian Society had agreed to let McDonald's use its seedling logo on certain foods such as garden salads, Quorn Premiere Burger, yoghurt and fruit toast, bagels.

The Vegetarian Society said having its logo in every McDonald's restaurant would help vegetarianism enter the mainstream.

McDonald's pre-tax profits tumbled by nearly three-quarters in the UK last year, falling to £23.6m from £83.8m, the lowest for a decade.
Aha, the ever-popular balance sheet induced mindshift. It's doomed.
The company hopes the new campaign will boost sales and reverse a stream of bad publicity from health campaigners, who claim McDonald's burgers contribute to the growing problem of obesity in Britain, particularly among children.
They think this will rescue a bad business model. That seals it: their ad agency is doomed.
"For the seventh biggest brand in the world to advertise without a hint of their logo shows a determination by McDonald's to encourage consumers to think twice about them and their offering," McDonald's advertising agency, Leo Burnett, said in a statement.
[DOUBLE-SNORT] Bravo, Burnett! No, really.
"Advertising in this way is a first for McDonald's and should serve to inform or remind the public that just as they themselves are changing - the way they eat and look after themselves, McDonald's is also changing."
[TRIPLE-SNORT--NOW COUGHING UP A LUNG]

Sunday, October 17, 2004



Merit, Bush-style.

LA Times via existenz
The Pentagon plans to promote Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, former head of military operations in Iraq, risking a confrontation with members of Congress because of the prisoner abuses that occurred during his tenure.

Senior Pentagon officials, including Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have privately told colleagues they are determined to pin a fourth star on Sanchez, two senior defense officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said this week.
 
Rumsfeld and others recognize that Sanchez remains politically "radioactive," in the words of a third senior defense official, and would wait until after the Nov. 2 presidential election and investigations of the Abu Ghraib scandal have faded before putting his name forward....

"It'll just be one more thumb in the eye of the Iraqis and the Arab world," said Charles V. Pena, director of defense policy studies at the Cato Institute, a conservative Washington think tank. "If Sanchez gets another star, it's just more evidence that we're not trying to deal with the hearts and mind issues inside Iraq or the larger Islamic world."

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