Thursday, October 14, 2004

Nobody Asked Me, But . . . (10/14/04)


I like the aphorism attributed to Mark Twain: "A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes."

Following up on an earlier piece, here are more clichéed words and phrases I nominate for retirement:

In the new speak now taking hold, let's get rid of metrosexual--an urban male who pays too much attention to his appearance; bling bling--former street slang for luxury items; low carb--need I say more?

Then there's closure--surely there's more to grieving than merely achieving this state of mind.

A no-brainer describes the one who uses it.

As for give me a break--please do.

I tune out people who tell me, "I hear where you're coming from."

And I would string up by their thumbs all who substitute he goes, she goes for "he said, she said."

In politics, let's shun battleground states, swing states, red and blue states, stump speeches, undecided voters, politically correct and wonk, as in policy wonk.

How about girly men? Doesn't Arnold Schwarzenegger realize that the term was coined by two Saturday Night Live comics to parody him?

I'll vote against any politician who uses the verb opine or categorically denies any charge.

I detest those who claim they ran for office to give something back to the community.

How about the candidate who begins a challenge with the phrase with all due respect and then rips the opponent's character to shreds?

Officials who resign under fire to spend more time with their family or to pursue other interests will get no sympathy from me.

As for the war, can't we find a better phrase than a global war on terror? How do you wage war against an abstraction?

Please don't tell me that we have partnered with those other countries that have supplied tiny token forces; only the British sent a sizable contingent.

I draw a line in the sand for accounts of unsung heroes who were placed in harm's way--whatever that is.

Saddam Hussein was reported to have been captured alive; ever hear of anyone being captured dead?

Spare me from stories ripped from the headlines.

Nor do I like the mental image conjured up by reporters embedded with the troops.

And I'm tired of a win-win situation, used by Pentagon types to describe each of our changed policies in Iraq.

Also on my list are any officials who are cautiously optimistic or who claim there are no easy answers.

Donald Trump isn't known for pearls of wisdom, but he hit the nail on the head recently. Trump, a Republican, asked how come we can't find a bearded Arab who's 6-foot-6 and has to travel from place to place with a dialysis machine.

With home-heating oil and gasoline soaring to record highs, you're really gullible if you believe this war is not about oil. Oil was supposed to pay for the reconstruction of Iraq--but Uncle Sam is footing the bill. Interestingly, the Iraqi oil ministry was the only building actively guarded by American troops in the aftermath of the fall of Baghdad. Yet our
troops looked on as other ministries and government offices were sacked and the infrastructure of the nation was hauled away in hijacked pickup trucks.

You're a chump if you think females in the military are treated with respect by male soldiers. By April of 2004, rapes and sexual assaults were endemic in the Middle East. Even after more than 83 incidents were reported in a six-month period, the Army's 24-hour hotline in Kuwait was being answered by an answering machine advising callers to leave a phone number at which they could be reached. Reports of assaults were generally not investigated because commanders had "other priorities."

The attitude of Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, then the ground commander, set the tone for the entire command: "The women asked to be here, so let them now take what comes with the territory." Only after abused female soldiers started phoning home to parents who complained to the media and Congress did the Secretary of Defense appoint a task force "to undertake a 90-day review of all sexual assault policies and programs." The resulting report confirmed the seriousness of the situation: In the past two years more than 2,100 sexual assaults were made on female members of the U.S. military.

You're being conned if you believe politicians' assurances that a return of the draft is not in the cards when every military expert knows differently. Our all-volunteer Regular Army, Reserves and National Guard forces, stretched thin and plagued with problems of training, equipment and spare parts, are unable to respond to a major crisis elsewhere in the world. Complicating the issue are the Pentagon's makeshift troop retention policies, especially its "Stop Loss" program that has sapped soldiers' morale and held them long past their contractual terms of enlistment.

John McCain and John Kerry have both called these troops "backdoor draftees." Failure to foresee an extended occupation, numbing slowness in restoring basic services and negative publicity like the Abu Ghraib scandal have brought countless recruits to the radical Islamic movement. The coming struggle will not be fought with Cold War heavy armor and field artillery but with quick-reacting Special Forces trained in guerrilla warfare. Civilians in the Pentagon are not happy with the prospect of a return to the draft; a volunteer force is less likely to cause trouble or raise questions. But draftees are quick to complain to the folks back home. The only sticking point seems to be whether women will be included in the new draft or not.

Cynic H.L. Mencken claimed that love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence.

If your answering machine responds to incoming calls by identifying your name or phone number and "We're not here now," you are playing into the hands of annoying telemarketers or potential burglars. For telemarketers, reaching you or your phone number only keeps you on their calling lists. For burglars randomly searching for a target, you are announcing that your home is empty and ripe for the plucking. "Please leave your name and telephone number after the tone" is all the message needed.

The White House tribute to Christopher Reeve's courage rang hollow in the face of its opposition to stem cell research.

This column recently propounded the theory that the market rises or falls just before job growth numbers are released, as if some traders had early access to the information. In June and July, the market went down before disappointing job growth was announced. In August, it went up before rosy numbers appeared. True to form, last week it went down the day before September's disappointing job growth numbers. Experts had predicted more than 150,000 new jobs; the actual number was 96,000, mostly in the government sector. One has to wonder about the usefulness of preliminary numbers that change radically. June's figure of 112,000 new jobs was revised downward to 78,000. July's 32,000 was raised first to 73,000, and a month later to 85,000. August's encouraging figure of 144,000 was revised downward to 128,000.

Billy Rose once offered this advice: "Never invest your money in something that eats or needs painting."


AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Comments: Post a Comment | Postscripts Homepage

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?