Saturday, June 17, 2006

The Good News from Iraq

An AP report tells us how well the "security crackdown" in Baghdad is going.
BAGHDAD, Iraq - A series of explosions struck commercial areas in Baghdad within hours Saturday, killing at least 17 people and dealing a blow to a huge government operation to secure the capital.

The blasts — seven within five hours — brought the death toll around Iraq to at least 23 people. The bombings also wounded at least 72. A day earlier, a suspected shoe bomber blew himself up inside one of Baghdad's most prominent Shiite mosques, killing 13 people.

Two of our soldiers are missing from a checkpoint south of Baghdad.

Car bomb and mortar attacks occurred in the Sunni city of Mahmoudiya.

Other violence.

Here's the item that really caught my eye:
Gunmen attacked the house of Iraqi army Col. Makki Mindil, killing him after engaging his guards in a gunfight.

If that's "standing up," coffee is a cure for insomnia.

Ah, but there is good news.
There has been a slight decrease in the number of Iraqis reported killed since al-Zarqawi died June 7. In the nine days before the airstrike, 307 Iraqis were killed, compared with 262 in the nine subsequent days, according to an Associated Press tally.

So we've got that going for us. But we have to temper our enthusiasm with the fact that on the same day al-Zarqawi was killed, Iraq's director general of the State Company for Oil Projects was kidnapped.

Another Mission Accomplished, Another Corner Turned.

In his weekly radio speech today, young Mister Bush announced his new plan to succeed in Iraq, which consists of "continued sacrifice" and "more patience."

I wonder how much better that will work than the "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq" he announced in November 2005 at the U.S. Naval Academy.

Or from the plan he announced in May of 2004 in a speech he gave at the Army War College.

Or the plan he announced in February 2003.

Or the plan he made with help of the Project for the New American Century prior to even taking office in January 2001.

And then we have the magnificent, non-binding, stay-the-course GOP "legislation" just passed in the House of Representatives which was nothing more than a piece of pro-Bush cheerleading.

Criticize the left. Pander to the right. Stand up. Stand down. Fight! Fight! Fight!

Yeah. That will do the trick.

One of my hardcore conservative acquaintances who is a Vietnam veteran insists to this day that "We only needed eighteen more months, and we could have won."

"Could have won what?" I ask him

"Victory," he says.

"And how would you have defined victory in Vietnam?" I say.

"Winning," he says.

"So you can't define 'winning' or 'victory,'" I say, "but we'll let that pass for now. Let me ask you this. After ten years, you only needed eighteen more months to defeat a third world country?"

"Hell, we could have done it in six months, if they'd let us."

"If you could have done it in six months, how come you couldn't do it in ten years?" I say. "You know, that whole line of reasoning sounds like a little kid at bedtime, wanting to watch the end of a baseball game on television, saying, 'five more minutes, mom. The game's almost over.'"

The game's already over in Iraq, but if we're not careful, we'll be giving the war hawks another five minutes until another ten or twenty years have gone by.


Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his weekday commentaries at ePluribus Media and Pen and Sword.


  1. I've similarly asked conservatives to define what "winning" in Iraq means. They start sputtering and finally stall out at, "a free and democratic Iraq."

    So I tell them, "Okay, Iraq elected a free and democratic government. We've won. Time to declare victory and go home."

    Thus far, I have not received any adequate answer for why we shouldn't, given that the conditions on the ground meet the stated criteria for victory. But then, wingnut logic is a contradiction in terms...

    - BT

  2. "Free and democratic Iraq."

    Yeah. That's why we invaded, all right.

  3. We will finally be able to stand down in Iraq, and vacate the premises when all the oil has been drained away. Certainly not before then, unless lightning and sanity strike, and we get an honest Democratic-led majority in BOTH houses of Congress, as well as a Democratic President who is a leader.

    That leader will have to be strong, though, because the bought-and-paid-for Corporate whores who pretend to be our press will tear at him/her on a daily basis. Every atrocity of the civil war in Iraq, each bombing, beheading, kidnapping, will be his/her personal fault.

  4. We need to leave Iraq like yesterday. I am so sick of warmongers who never saw a uniform much less a war outside a t.v. wanting to kill kill kill. I am not proud to be an American right now.

    I never bought this war, NEVER. This is a war for oil.

  5. Lurch said:

    "That leader will have to be strong, though, because the bought-and-paid-for Corporate whores who pretend to be our press will tear at him/her on a daily basis. Every atrocity of the civil war in Iraq, each bombing, beheading, kidnapping, will be his/her personal fault."

    Sounds like you're describing Bush for a lot of people.

    War for Oil, Moksha? Maybe. That seems to me to be overly simplistic. I have yet to see the big boon to the U.S. in terms of oil as a result of this war. If I ever see that, maybe I'll buy into the war for oil mantra.

  6. Badtux:

    If they had any sense, they'd throw the word 'stable' into the definition. Not that its a good definition in the first place, but it seems like adding that term would on its face give them a rationale for staying. Most conservatives I know feel the Iraqi government would fall if we left. I don't know if it would - it might, but I tend to think they might have a better chance of pulling things together if we were to pull back like Murtha suggests. Maybe we could stay near enough to make sure Iran doesn't take control of the situation, but I don't think we're helping reach stability by what we're doing now.

  7. What makes a "boom" a litus test? How about this, oil has peaked in the late 90s. We have no constant flow of oil. Iraq is simply a source, hence the reason for the war.

  8. Meribeth7:46 AM

    I agree with Moksha. It was for oil and to have a "'boom' as a litmus test" in not a reasonable requirement.

    After all, we went to war without a plan after we toppled Saddam. We were lied to for the reason for the war...oil and to destabilize the ME. Yes, there is the the ground, but they keep blowing up the supporting infrastructure. Yet, PNAC and our "leaders" never considered that we should have a plan and they never considered that they just might be pissed at us for staying and staying.

    There is to much $ to be made. And by God we are going to make it!

  9. Did anybody catch the oil execs on Russert Sunday?

    It's not their fault prices are so high, they're not reallly making that much money.

  10. I don't see your point, Musmanno (courtesy call, rather than the actual first name. I'm in tune with your desire for anonymity.) Bush is not a strong leader, because he is not a strong man. He is weak, morally, intellectually, and ethically.

    The press has certainly not "torn at" him as I suggested in my original comment would happen to any Democratic President. In fact, they have bent over backwards to give him every advantage in the daily interplay between WH and press corpse. (Misspelling deliberate.)

    And if you by any chance dispute my comments I'd recommend you erad news accounts for a week in papers published in other countries, where truth is prized about financial and political kowtowing.

  11. Hi Lurch. I said you were describing Bush for 'some people.' I certainly know people personally, and I've seen in the blogosphere and elsewhere, people for whom every negative incident in Iraq is the personal fault of Bush.

    I think what you're saying is accurate, but I think above and beyond what you've said, it is the nature of some people to ascribe such things to their political opponents, regardless of party affiliation. That seems to be how politics works these days.

    As for news sources, I read international news almost every day. Generally, CBC, BBS, the Times (london), and usually an Asian source (or sometimes Australian). I also read the news on the al-Jazeera web site on a somewhat regular basis (every few days). If you have other good source suggestions, I'd be happy to check them out.

    Meribeth and Moksha:

    You two may well be right. The only problem I have with outright agreeing that you are is that I don't think it is possible to know whether what you are saying is true or not. The chief difficulty, I suppose, is that none of this has yet come to pass despite the fact that we've been in Iraq for quite a while. I'm wondering, at this point, whether it will ever come to pass.

  12. Anonymous11:02 AM

    Shit, I ask conservatives to name anything at all that Bush has done right. They can't even answer that one. I mean hardcore bush worshipping backwash 29%ers. You'd think they'd be able to come up with a better answer than Clinton, blah blah blah.

  13. Hey Musmanno, let's haul back on the reins and think for a second. You say you know people who think every negative incident is Bush's personal fault.

    My recollection is that Mr Bush was the front man on the campaign of lies that got us into Iraq. My recollection is that Mr Bush was the one who lied to Congress, getting them to approve the AUMF which he has used for everything from illegally making a war of aggression by attacking a helpless and innocent nation, all the way down to using the AUMF to justify holding American citizens incognito, without resource to legal counsel, down to restricting the First Amerndment rights of American citizens.

    Offhand, I'd say Mr Bush most certainly is to blame for every negative incident in Iraq, as well as in the US.

    There are many more crimes I could add, but there's a finite limit to comment length here.

  14. Lurch:

    I don't think one can reasonably lay personal blame for every single incident at the feet of anyone, the President or otherwise.

    As for Congress, don't be so quick to give them a pass. They are a separate, independent branch of government with a responsibility to check the executive. Members of Congress have access to intelligence information, and what they didn't have they could have asked for. I don't think Congress can be absolved by saying the President 'lied to them.' They ought to have done some due diligence on their own part before authorizing the use of force. But they were all interested in political expediency and the fact that the public, at the time, seemed to be behind the President.

  15. Navywife4:40 PM

    Bush and his cronies seem to like calling him the Commander in Chief of the country. While he is commander in chief of the military, I'm reasonably sure this is not yet a military dictatorship, thus he is the president/chief executive of the country and the commander in chief of the military. However, if he wants to refer to himself as a military-type leader and run around in a flight suit and everything, then let's get a military man's opinion on something. Cmdr, when you were CO of that squadron, were you "personally" responsible for everything that might have gone wrong? No, but did you accept responsibility for everything as the CO? Just asking. I remember hearing that you can delegate authority, but not responsibility.

    "and what they didn't have they could have asked for".
    Maybe. But how would they know what to ask for if they are told that they have been given all they need to have?

    Portions of this CRS report detail exactly what intelligence Congress is NOT allowed to have. It's interesting. They don't give congress some things that would perhaps allow them to independantly determine the voracity of the sources, while the executive branch policy makers have all of that stuff at the ready. Sure, they aren't tailored to that sort of thing in general, but what is the limit of due diligence when you're talking about a war? I'm not trying to stick up for them, but it's clear that they didn't have access to all of the intel, so it would make me happy if we could clear that up right now and stop using it as an excuse.

    As for the oil thing, it's obviously not so much that they wanted to keep all of the oil for themselves. That hasn't worked out so well. I think a more reasonable approximation of their goal is to control the flow of the oil. The CPA immediately canceled all existing oil distribution contracts (which were going to places in Europe and Asia, but not to the US), and then redistributed them based on Bush's myterious formula of who had helped us fight the war. Now we can reward friends and punish everyone else by denying them access to Iraq's still expansive oil fields for the forseeable future. As some fields start to peak and decline, at least compared to rising demand, fields like Iraq's that haven't been used so much over the last few years will be vital to the countries that have access to them as these emerging industrial powers start to struggle over what oil remains.

    Can I prove the intentions of the architects of this war? No, but that sure is what happened as a result of it.

  16. Navywife:

    The CRS Report is pretty self-serving if you ask me (not surprisingly since the CRS is a branch of Congress, and that's who the report is seeking to let off the hook). Sure, the Executive can refuse to hand over information, but if they do then the Legislative can respond by refusing to vote for something like the authorization for force unless and until they see the rest of the intel. But Congress didnt do that because most of them were sure that the most politically favorable action to take was to vote for the resolution. Believe me, for the majority of those in Congress the decision of whether to vote for or against that resolution began and ended with what they thought would be the most politically beneficial thing to do.

    As for the oil and all that, I'll wait and see what happens before I make up my mind. So far what I'm seeing doesn't support that idea, but who knows, things change. Regardless of what the CPA did, the Iraqi government is free to do whatever it likes, and so as a strategy to maintain control over the oil into the foreseeable future it isn't a very good one.

  17. Musmanno, for some reason you keep failing to see my point. Bush IS responsible for every negative incident in Iraq because this is Mr Bush's war.

    Before he was even "elected" President he forthrightly said he'd go to war with Iraq.

    He wanted it.

    He lied for it.

    He schemed for it.

    It's his war, and the blame for everything bad that has happened and will happen can only be laid his feet.

    Forget about Congress. That's a straw man, and you know it. Congress is a rubber stamping grouip of thieves pocketing cash from contractors and lobbyists - at least the Republicans are. Congress abrogated its reponsibilities to protect the people and the Constitution way back when, on Sept 12th, to be exact.

    Frankly, I'm surprised you try to dispute these points. Very disingenuous of you. From the intellectual vigor of your other comments I expected more honesty from you.

    I'm very disappointed.

  18. Lurch:

    Let's leave the personal slams to those who have no other recourse. We've seen enough of that, right?

    Just because someone disagrees with you doesn't make them disingenuous. If you feel it does, then there's no point in discussing the issue further (what profit is there in hearing how dishonest one is for not agreeing with another's viewpoint. That sentiment is the only disappointing thing I've seen in this discussion so far).

    As for Congress, that certainly isn't a straw man - you said it yourself, they abrogated their responsibility. Looks like we're in agreement on that count, then.

    As for holding Bush personally responsible for every single negative act in Iraq, I still don't agree, and even if you want to apportion some responsibility to him, he certainly isn't chiefly responsible for every negative act, so I'm not sure what the reason for such statements is. If it makes people feel better to lay all of the blame on him personally, then I suppose that's what they'll do, but it doesn't make logical sense to me.

    There's plenty of room to dislike and disagree with the President, it seems to me, without going to these sorts of lengths.

  19. Lurch,
    From what most people say, that would make Cheney responsible, since most believe Dubya to be Cheney's sock-puppet. And since he takes his orders from big-business, that would make it their bad. From there to shareholders, etc.

    What Musmanno means is there is no one individual responsible, and he’s right. Every one who voted for Bush, or realized he was a poor choice, and didn’t vote, or just didn’t care are responsible. The Democratic leadership is responsible for losing to the worst president in history. As Americans, we are all responsible, because we elected him. We may have voted against him personally, but as a people, we all elected him.

    From a "Commander in Chief", "the buck stops here" kind of point of view, Lurch is absolutely right. Bush was the Captain when this ship ended up on the rocks. It doesn’t matter who was steering.

    After the Exxon Valdez wreck, Hazelwood was reported to have said, “Well, that’s as good a way as any to end a career”. He wasn’t actually steering at the time. He wasn’t even on the bridge. If he was, the accident probably wouldn’t have happened. After the wreck, he stabilized the ship, and prevented the spill from being much larger. He let Exxon scapegoat him, and never once defended himself. Why? He was the Captain, and the Captain is responsible for what happens to his ship.

    Responsibility isn’t about blame. Blaming is the easy part. Responsibility is the willingness to accept that blame. My President, whether I agree with him or not, started an unnecessary war, allowed torture, destroyed the rights of individuals, and ran up a huge debt in my name. I accept my part in this, and say that as an American, I am responsible, and it is up to me to be part of the solution now. From this point of view, the President will never be responsible.

  20. Hi, William, you make some points, but once again, like Musmanno, I think you are reading far too much into the “individual responsibility” concept.

    Cheney is of course responsible, for influencing Mr Bush. No disagreement here. Yet, Mr Cheney did not hold a gun to Mr Bush’s head (one presumes) and force him to lie to America and the rest of the world. Responsibility is a strange animal; it doesn’t wok like credit. It is the suppositional chalkboard upon which our sins and good deeds are written. However, “Big Business” is in and of itself less to blame than you would think, because “Big Business” is an amorphous construct. It would be better to say the top officials and managers, the CEOs, CFO, COOs, and Boards of Directors are at fault. No point in blaming the shareholders, though, because most shares in large corporations are held by Money Management firms. Do you own stocks? Do you ever get proxy forms in the mail before the annual meeting? Have you ever read a request for shareholders to approve urging the President to attack and unarmed country that has never harmed us? I do, and have never read such a request.

    Yes, people who voted for Mr Bush might in fact have some sort of secondary responsibility for Mr Bush’s crimes, and we could assign them that blame if in fact Mr Bush had publicly stated, while running for his first-term, that he intended to provoke a war against Iraq, and later, against Iran and eventually Syria. Of course, he never said that; he kept those plans secret. People who were lied to, not told the truth, should not be held accountable for their own gullibility. Those who voted for him a second time deserve the full approbation society and history can apply to them.

    Mr Bush and his minions made a great point in re-designating theater chiefs in the military. Shortly after his inauguration, the services were advised that theater chiefs, heretofore designated “Commanders-in-Chief” because they commanded all service units within a particular theater, and not merely those units from their particular branch of the Armed Forces. The rationale was “There can be but one Commander-in-Chief.” This was done before the premeditated and illegal attack upon Iraq, based upon fraudulent intelligence- intelligence that was in part shared with the Congress, as the Republican spinmeisters always are quick to remind us, thus trying to spread the blame around, as you and Musmanno are trying to do with this argument. I’m not accusing either of you of malicious intent. What you’re doing is practicing faulty logic, and I think Musmanno took umbrage at my original comment because either I wasn’t clear enough about this faulty logic, or he failed to perceive my intent.

    The fact that is Mr Bush took great pleasure and pride is his designation as “Commander-in-Chief.” By demanding to be recognized as the leader and head of all the Armed Services he has put himself in the position of accepting total responsibility, since he demands total authority.

    One of the few things I admired about the Soviet system was its use of the “vertical stroke.” If an individual soldier in an army platoon committed a serious offense, his platoon leader, company commander, battalion commander, and in some case regimental commander were punished as he was punished. It’s an admirable way of enforcing discipline and demanding accountability at all levels of command. Because the harsh truth is that command brings far more accountability than power. As a troop commander you are responsible to those under you and to those above you. This concept is actually enshrined in military law, and in the training doctrine of the US Army. (Or at least it was when I served.) If your troops misbehave you are judged to be at fault, for failing to properly indoctrinate and train your troops, failing to lead them properly, and failing to motivate them properly. Mr Bush has insisted he is at the apex of the military pyramid.


  21. Musmanno, once again you’re not reading everything I write. By stating that I am disappointed, I am not slamming you; I am in fact commenting (as I stated) that someone who exercises the intellect you show in your writing, disappoints me by reading only a part of what is said, and commenting on that part, rather than considering the comment, in toto. I know you’re an attorney, and undoubtedly a successful one, and I am certain you apply far more rigor in your professional work than you showed in your comment on my reply.

    You do make a valid point regarding my poor choice of the word ‘disingenuous.’ I was using it improperly, and regret any hard feelings you took away from my malapropism. Since our correspondence has generally been far more than cordial I don’t want you to feel my disappointment at your inability to consider all I wrote rather than one short phrase is meaningful. Let’s pass it all by, please.

    Mentioning Congress as a blame-holder is a strawman precisely because they have abrogated their responsibility. It’s meaningless to hold them accountable for Mr Bush’s crimes. They didn’t commit the crimes; they failed to mitigate them. In criminal law they would have - what’s the phrase? Contributory guilt? Being accomplices? I think I’m expressing the thought though I’m sure the terminology is wrong. Doesn’t the law treat with the primary criminal first before the accomplices?

    For the rest of your comment, I believe I expressed my thoughts in my answer to William, above.

  22. Not looking to stir things up more here, but I'm one who rejects the notion that the voters are responsible for the actions of the elected--especially when the elected keep their agendas hidden while running for office.

    Election to office is not a blank check to abuse power.

  23. Hi Lurch:

    Sorry if I was misunderstanding what you were saying...I do try to understand various viewpoints, whether my own or others. What I think you're saying is that because Bush led us into the war, and particularly because he did so under false pretenses, he bears responsibility for everything that happens there.

    I suppose I can agree with that to an extent, and I do agree with William's point about "the buck stops here." I was looking at it more from the standpoint of a purely moral responsibility, and I suppose in that case I would say a person is responsible for the 'foreseeable' consequences of their actions.

    To use an extreme example, if I fire a gun out my window and someone gets hit, I'm responsible even if I didn't know they were there. It is foreseeable to my careless discharge of a weapon could cause someone to be struck. On the other hand, suppose I'm shooting at a target and the sound of my shot spooks an animal somewhere in the distance, the animal runs into the road causing a car to swerve, wreck and injure the people inside. I realize it is a silly example, but it is meant to make a point. In the second case I don't think I'm morally responsible. Also, I tend to view a conscious intervening act as cutting off responsibility. If I discharge my weapon and unbeknownst to me someone is watching, and just as I am discharging the weapon pushes another person into my line of fire, then the conscious act of that person places responsibility on them.

    Anyway, I hope that's not too convoluted. I think Bush is responsible for the Iraq situation generally, and I agree wholeheartedly that the buck stops with him. I have trouble saying he's somehow personally responsible for something like the beheading of Nick Berg, where you have an intervening, conscious act of brutality by the people that did that act.

    Does that make sense at all?

    As for Congress, I still think they're responsible as well. It isn't a matter of spreading the blame because I think Bush's responsibility is neither increased nor decreased by the fact that Congress also bears responsibility. Is Congress' responsibility in this less than Bush's? Yes, I think it is. But I still think they bear some.

    Lastly, sorry about the misinterpretation on 'disingenuous.' When I see that word the connotation it has in my mind is that one is being deliberately dishonest. For practical purposes, lying. I realize now you didn't mean it in that fashion, so I apologize for taking offense.

    We're probably not as far apart on this issue at it initially seems. I find that is commonly the case in onlie discussions by internet post. Nature of the medium I guess.

    Take care.

  24. Thanks for seeing a road to agreement, Musmanno. I'm tempted to take partial exception to several things you discussed, in re: causality and responsibility, but I really think the equine corpse is beginning to smell....

  25. And yes, Jeff. What you said about dishonesty in elections and blank checks.

    It's late - I'm off to work, and I've got some tough writing ahead, but just an idle thought:

    When is there not dishonesty in electoral politics? LOL

  26. Got me there, Lurch ;-)

  27. Thanks for the kind words, Lurch. I do always try to look at the various sides of the argument before coming to a conclusion. I'm glad you appreciate that, because I think you do the same. There are far too many who assume that someone who doesn't agree with them is stupid, being dishonest, hasn't reviewed all of the arguments, etc. That's nonsense, of course, but there you are.

    I'll tell you what I think we tend to do as humans when it comes to discussion, and we do it all the more vehemently the more important the subject matter to us (I realize this is off topic, but we're a few posts down from the top so hopefully it's ok). This comment is in no way directed at you, but at people generally and I'm interested in what you think of it.

    We all have many needs as human individuals, and among these needs are included things like respect, affirmative, the need to feel good about oneself etc. I think the needs are valid and exist in every person. A disagreement in a debate can be seen as a potential threat to having those needs met, and I think all too often we view it that way. The more important the issue underlying the debate, the greater the threat. One of the first things the human brain does, then, is to caricaturize or dehumanize the other person or group of people (the enemies, as it were), and the brain does this for two reasons: 1) a caricature isn't a real person and lacks the depth thereof, and by setting up a caricature one can more easily 'defeat' the opposing argument; and 2) dehumanizing lessens the threat by belittling its source and lessens the likelihood of empathy as well.

    I think we set up the caricature by relying on perception and interpretation thereof, and not by relying on fact (because a caricature is not a fact but rather something else, a substanceless interpretation of facts). To illustrate this, pick any political enemy (for example) or a person who disagrees with you on an issue, and make a list of the things you dislike about them. Then go back and underline the facts on your list and circle the perceptions. One finds, if one approaches this exercise honestly, that almost everything on the list is perception or interpretation. And it doesn't take much interaction with other humans to know that our perceptions/interpretations are not very often reflective of reality.

    One of the guys I can stand the least in the entire world is Sean Hannity, so what happens if I try this with him. Here's what I think of Hannity:

    Get his talking points from the GOP

    Those are characteristics I associate with Hannity. But if I force myself to look at them honestly, the only one that is a hard fact on the list is "Republican." The rest of them are perceptions or interpretations. That means they may well be wrong. What I have listed there isn't Sean Hannity, but it is a caricature of Hannity that I can conveniently deal with because I don't like the guy's politics, etc.

    At any rate, I'm sure I've bored you to tears. This is something that, for some reason, I spend a good deal of time reflecting on. I think the bulk of our electorate deals in caricatures, be they caricatures of George W. Bush, Howard Dean, Bill or Hilary Clinton, or (insert name here).

    I try to stay away from doing this if I can, but I think it is basic human instinct to label and compartmentalize, so it is hard to avoid. I am convinced, however, that dealing in caricatures leads quite often to being wrong. So I don't go in for trying to frame Bush or Clinton as a person based on a caricature, and that's a lot of what happens in political discourse. For some reason, many perceive a person who refuses to adopt a caricature as 'defending' the person involved (i.e. if I don't agree with calling Bush or Clinton a string of names or in assigning all of the most base values to them, I must support them). This, again, is a faulty perception rather than a fact.

    So that's where I come from in political discourse. I try to do the above as an academic matter with political figures. With person I actually deal with on a personal basis, I attempt even more so to avoid caricaturizing. But it seems to me that's what I get a lot of in response (not from you, Lurch).

    So you think this view has merit? I'm curious - I haven't really voiced it to anyone in this way in the past.

  28. Musmanno, I agree with a lot of what you have stated (and postulated) but not with all of it. Memory is human, and therefore fallible. Somewhere in the past I read a treatise based upon an interpretive study done by some academic. (Can you tell by my description that I cannot cite the damned thing?)

    The study primarily addressed memory but did discuss the topics of mental associative referrants that you brought up. My recollection is that the study concluded humans do "create" slots and bins for memory storage, and also creates "totemic" representations for humans associated with, or encountered in life. That would compare favorably with your description, but the concept of caricturization wasn't involved so much as a mental image ("totem") of the individual or event, based upon emotional (first) and intellectual (second) impressions.

    As I remember the author(s?) used the word "totem" because that is a symbolic representation. Isn't a caricature really an exaggerated representation?

    BTW: I think you kissed on Sean Hannity. He, like GW Bush, is smarter than most people believe. If I were still teaching I'd say from my point of view you do get a mathematical score of 84 (5 out of 6) and I'd certainly award 5 bonus points for novelty and originality. [WINK]

    Let's not quibble. It's a gentleman's A because you've always paid attention and participated in class.

  29. Lurch:

    Thanks, I appreciate your insights. Sounds like an interesting study. I didn't know you were a teacher - what did you teach?

    You're probably right about Hannity, its just that the way he reacts to reasoned counter arguments both on TV and radio make me take a dim view of his intellect. I much prefer Alan Colmes as far as the TV show goes, and Colmes is a smart guy. You're right about Bush, though. You don't get where he is being an idiot, though that's a common slam on him. I just hope the Dems take Congress back so we can have a check in government again.

  30. NP, Musmanno. Hannity is clever, just not broadly-educated. I almost typed "well-educated" but I suspect he has had some training in debate and public speaking, and (probably) something like motivational training. This would have to have been private; he's a HS graduate, with no record of college or university training.

    Mr Bush is also clever, or perhaps better "sly". A schemer both by nature and life experience, maybe something he got with his mother's milk. Ewwwww. He's learned some simple basics about one-to-one salesmanship and uses these talents well, as a foil for his basic sociopathy. Both he and his mother could keep an entire team of psycologists/psychiatrists busy for several years, and I'll bet the case study would be L A R G E.