17 July 2007

Two Bits Of Unintentional Comedy

Here are two bits of unintentional comedy from two rather different sources.

The first is from Senator John Ensign(R-Nevada), responding to an on-line anti-cluster bomb petition I signed last week.

If you've never received an on-line nor snail-mail form reply letter from your Represenative or Senator, this should give you some idea of the kind of carefully-crafted(usually by some aide or another in said Rep's or Senator's office), oh-so-careful-not-to-alienate-any-potential-voters, weasel language that comes in these messages.
Its text follows immediately below.

This is an official communication from the Office of Senator John Ensign. Any tampering or alteration of this communication is prohibited and may result in criminal investigation or prosecution.

July 17, 2007

Mr. Donald Rilea

457 N. Lamb Unit F

Las Vegas, Nevada 89110-3376

Dear Mr. Rilea:

Thank you for contacting me regarding S. 594, the Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act of 2007. I appreciate your taking the time to share your thoughts with me, and I value the opportunity to address them.

The United States is currently pursuing a cluster bomb policy that adheres to the Convention on Conventional Weapons framework and strives towards balancing the humanitarian risks associated with the weapons while retaining the protections they afford our troops. Our policy includes deploying cluster munitions that self destruct after firing and allocating resources to detecting and removing non-detonated ordnances whenever possible.

I believe that cluster bombs provide an important capability to our armed forces and allies. They allow our military to engage various types of targets simultaneously while reducing the exposure of friendly forces to enemy fire. It is important to note that cluster munitions cause less collateral damage than other commonly used munitions. The most obvious examples of instances where cluster munitions were successfully deployed were against the Taliban after September 11, and by Israel during its conflict in Lebanon through the fall of 2006. These weapons helped eliminate terrorists while ensuring the security and safety of our troops and allies. The cluster bomb legislation you support would so severely restrict the use of any cluster munitions as to remove this necessary weapon from our arsenal, thereby increasing the probability of U.S. and allied casualties. Current U.S. policy is sound, and I support it.

Through my work as a member of the Senate Armed Service Committee and as Ranking Member of its Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support, I will continue to do all I can to ensure that our troops and the American people are provided the best possible protection. I will be sure to keep your concerns, and the concerns of all Nevadans, in mind. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with me. If you should have further questions or comments or would like to share your thoughts on another matter, please feel free to write or e-mail me via my website at http://ensign.senate.gov.



United States Senator


Your thoughts and opinions are important. Unfortunately, any replies to this e-mail will not be received and processed. If you want to contact Senator Ensign electronically again please visit:


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The second comes from a MySpace bulletin posted at 7:04 PM this evening by a MySpace friend of mine who saw an interview with an "anti-terrorism" expert on MSNBC this afternoon.

The comedy, such as it is, comes not from the description this friend provides of this expert, and what the fella was saying, but from the very assertions that the expert himself made.
Text is right below this.

From: Stanley Gallon

Date: Jul 17, 2007 7:04 PM
Subject: Myspacers and facebookers are potential terrorist threats?
Body: Today I was watching msnbc when a so called, "terrorism analyst" came on to discuss the new growing threat of non muslim terrorism in the United States. Among those he refered to as terrorists were environmentalists, liberal special interest groups and worst of all those who are dissatisfied with the current state of our government.

What was really interesting was when he said that the way to identify who the "potential terrorists" among us are is that the are most likely people "networking on myspace." He said these agitators and activists are gathering together to engage in terrorist acts.

He then went on to say that families should be looking to see what their children, brothers, sisters, husbands and/or wives are doing on myspace and facebook, and report any suspicious behavior to police or the Department of Homeland Security.

As unbeleiveable as this may sound it is true. If anyone has the ability to pull and post the video of the interview of this MSNBC terror analyst it aired on MSNBC sometime between 3:30 pm and 5:30pm on Tuesday July 17, 2007.

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The expert's analysis of who potential American terrorists might be is rather a slanted one, as it leaves out anti-abortion radicals, remnants of the various groups comprising the old militia movement of the '90's, Neo-Nazis and other radical racist groups, radical Christian, Jewish and Muslim fundamentalists, and so on and so forth.

From the interview's description, sounds like the expert had a rather obvious political agenda to push, and he did, all the way.

When so-called "experts" pull tricks like that, it's time to wonder just what their qualifications are, where and how they got 'em, and why ANYONE in their right mind would take them even remotely seriously.

Some people's children.... should never be allowed out of the house, ever.

Be seeing you.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting that letter from Ensign, Don! Yes, it has all the markings and the tone of one of those sterilized, homogenized, generic "robo" letters that are cranked out by the hundreds every week in the two houses of Congress. I'm very familiar with that game.

The political practice of trying to avoid alienating voters and voter groups reminds me of something I saw a few days ago on The Huffington Post (www.huffingtonpost.com), about Gov. Mark Huckabee of Arkansas (who is a Republican presidential candidate).

Huckabee decided to issue a gratuitous "rebuttal" to Michael Moore's new movie "Sicko". Huckabee, who is known for having lost a lot of weight dieting to improve his health (coming of course from a state with a high rate of obesity), issued a statement attacking Moore. Basically he implied that, because Michael Moore is overweight, that he has no moral standing to attack the American health care system -- that Moore's criticisms of the system are disingenuous because he himself lives a lifestyle which brings on serious health problems.

In fact, the headline on The Huffington Post said, "Gov. Huckabee Calls Michael Moore a Fatso".

However, when I checked the article, none of the statements, quotes, press releases, etc. made or issued by Huckabee and/or his staff called Moore a fatso and didn't even use the words "fat", "obese", or even "overweight".

That's right. I noticed that because I was looking for just those words. I was looking for those words because I knew they wouldn't be there, because I worked for several politicians and knew that no statement of that type, that would alienate or anger a huge swath of voters, would ever be crafted by staff, or vetted by a press secretary. The only way it would conceivably come out is if the politician were talking off the cuff, off the record, under the influence, at a party, among friends, or in a sudden, impromptu fit of anger or stupidity.

But I knew these comments would have been crafted and pre-vetted, because they were obviously meant to capitalize on the opening weeks of Moore's movie, and the attendant publicity. The comments were meant to get in a dig at Moore, a high-profile bogeyman for conservatives, and thus score brownie points with Huckabee's conservative supporters.

Therefore I knew that what the Huffpo headline was reporting was sensational. I knew Huckabee's statement would be the typical sterilized, homogenized political blather, carefully crafted so as not to offend a major voter group.

And what did Huckabee say?

He said something to the effect of, "Michael Moore would be a lot better spokesperson on health care if he took care of himself", and "When I was like Michael Moore, and didn't take care of myself, I was not healthy and costing the health care system a lot of money".

In other words, the euphemistic phrase, "take care of himself" or "take care of myself" was used, repeatedly, as a stand-in for "fat", "obese", and "overweight"?

Why? Because modern politicians in the media age are very shrewd. Their consultants warn them again and again to be careful of their words. Each word must often be closely vetted as if it were being walked through a focus group of likely voters.

And Arkansas is known as one of the states with the WORST obesity problems of any state in the country, no doubt because of the foods and cooking styles that are preferred there.

So, Huckabee danced around the issue very nicely, walking a tightrope between attacking Moore -- which he needed to do to pump up his campaign among his conservative base -- and avoid alienating his constituency, many of whom are overweight or obese, and might find even a passing use of those words, in describing Moore, offensive -- and possibly tip voters' opinions against him.

Such is politics in the media age...

--Joe Tangredi