Wednesday, July 27, 2005


Because you don't have to win struggles

NPR's Morning Edition had a great piece this morning covering the Bush Administration's shifting language for the war on terrorism. After September 11th, Global War on Terrorism was de rigueur. A few months ago President Bush has been shortening the title to Global War on Terror. In the last few weeks, members of the administration and senior members of the military have begun to use the Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism.

I tend to agree with the commentator who near the end of the story suggests that the reason a public official changes his language is to change public perception. Specifically, the rationale for the change from war to struggle is that

One of my favorite moments of candor from President Bush came during an interview on the Today show in September of 2004.

I don't think you can win it. But I think you can create conditions so that those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world. Let's put it that way.
Of course, the President shortly thereafter rescinded those remarks, due to their political untenability, I assume. However, I believe that one can observe the beginning of the shift in language in this quote. Part of the rewording's purpose is to cast the opponents as extremists who are not to be accepted, rather than as legitimate opponents of the lone super power.

Monday, July 25, 2005




We and a few thousand other folks felt an earthquake about half an hour ago. It wasn't particularly strong, but it was enough that we noticed it and watched our light fixtures swing.


I've long known that Montana is significantly sesmically active, but in the roughly 20 years I've lived in the state, I had not felt a quake. Talk about the intellectual intersecting the experiential. Fortuanately for us, the quake was at least 80 miles away. Also fortunate was that the quake was centered pretty close to the middle of nowhere, so it's unlikely to have caused any significant damage.

Sunday, July 17, 2005


Save Sarah

Apparently NY Times op-ed columnist Maureen Dowd has been on book leave for a few weeks. I hadn't noticed because I am unable to read her vitriolic columns despite my desire to better understand her viewpoint; she is simply too angry. It was the local paper that pointed out that Bozeman native Sarah Vowell of The Incredibles and This American Life fame had been filling in for Dowd. Reading this, of course, prompted me to go read a few of Vowell's columns. I found her to be witty, interesting, funny, insightful, self-deprecating, and liberal. Of those qualities, I can only attribute one or two to Dowd.

Save Sarah. Ditch Dowd.

As a disclaimer let me say that I was already a bit of a Vowell fan, largely because of the quality of her contributions to This American Life, but also because she's a Montana native despite her best attempts to stay away later in life.

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