Monday, November 20, 2006

"Organic" Pepsi

If there is anyone out there who still naively believes the Whole Foods corporation is looking out for your health and welfare by providing you with exclusively organic, small-farm, and local food choices, you've been left in the dust:

To compete with the homespun, lifestyle-oriented companies that appeal to the Whole Foods consumer, Pepsi is creating wholly new startup brands for the chain that bear no telltale trace of their corporate lineage and are supported with very little marketing,” wrote Ad Age reporter Stephanie Thompson. (Thompson quoted an executive close to PepsiCo who noted that the company believes Whole Foods consumers like the discovery of things not tarnished by mass marketing.)

"Organic", and everything it implies about food's provenance and the sustainability of its production, has been appropriated by the giant food corporations it was designed to circumvent. It doesn't matter what tricks you employ to avoid it, such as eschewing food products that are "tarnished by mass marketing". Pepsico's Marketing Department is already at least one step ahead of you.

Friday, November 10, 2006

What to do with all that power?

I was discussing with a hawkish colleague today the consequences for Iraq of the Democratic electoral victory. He was all gloom and doom, positing all the catastrophic changes the "Democrat Party" will make to our [non-existent] Iraq Strategy. I really wonder what there is to worry about: the President prosecutes this war, and the Congress really can't affect how he does that. Theoretically the checks and balances in our system would keep the Administration in line, and legislators are responsible for oversight, appropriations, etc. But in reality, Bush just sort of does what he [Rumsfeld] wants, and sends the bill to Congress. Who in turn passes it on to the next generation.

So the Dems are catching a lot of flak for their [as-yet unvoiced] intentions to probe and investigate the way we got into the war. A large part of me questions the wisdom of this; while digging up the bodies may palliate the liberal bloodlust, it really doesn't give any cohesive structure to what we do about Iraq NOW. It just seems like petty revenge to me.

Then I read this, and I realize that this Congress really has its work cut out for it:

Democrats: Eager to bring accountability back into government? Here's a suggestion. Find out what happened to the nearly $9 billion dollars of Iraqi oil funds and reconstruction cash missing in action since the beginning of the war.

In the aftermath of the invasion, planes filled with shrink-wrapped bundles of $100 bills were flown into Baghdad. Wondering how much money fits into a plane? "It was $2 billion a flight, and I know of at least six flights," Stuart Bowen, special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, told the BBC. Waiting at the airport for the planeloads of greenbacks was David Oliver. Head of the CPA's finance department, he handed much of this money over to the Iraqi provisional government. After that the paper trail grows colder. According to Mr. Bowen, some it found its way into the pockets of Iraqi politicians.

When asked by a reporter where the money went, Oliver replied he didn't know and didn't care. "Billions of dollars of their money disappeared, yes I understand, I'm saying what difference does it make?" In his defense, Oliver insists there were unexpected and pressing emergencies in the war's aftermath, with little time for accounting procedures. But early warnings had been issued by groups like Iraq Revenue Watch about the potential for mismangement and corruption. These were ignored.

If we fail to hold our government to account for our past failures, we are doomed to repeat them. Only by digging up the bodies can we prevent others from being buried. To the Democrat Party, I say: Get 'em.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Absolut Delusion

MrConservative, one of the regular commenters over at "Blog of the Year" PowerLine, wrote the following sua culpa following the treacherous behavior of the American people on Tuesday. I've inserted my observations:

The greatest consequence, however, is our national security. Even though the squishy middle will not want to be more vulnerable to terrorist attack, the consequences of their vote will be that it is more likely.

This is probably true (not that America will be more vulnerable, but that more attacks may come). If you read the "One Percent Doctrine" or some of the other exposés that look closely into the intelligence communities' efforts to combat terrorism, it's pretty clear they (the intelligence communities) think that al-Qaeda 1) prefers Republicans because their foreign policy galvanizes the pissed-off Muslim masses, and 2) believes that Americans can pretty reliably be scared into voting for Republicans, or reverse psychologized into it (again, see bin-Laden's crude-but-effective video stunt prior to the 2004 elections). If these two observations about al-Qaeda are correct, it seems likely that they will attempt more terrorist strikes, particularly if they stand to lose the incredibly effective scapegoat of America in Iraq.

The leftists will see that terrorist surveillance programs are history.

No, only the extra-constitutional warrantlessness of the Bush approach will be history. I challenge anyone to demonstrate how getting retroactive warrants from the FISA court will damage our surveillance programs.

Aggressive interrogation of terrorists will cease.

I'm not convinced that the Democrats have the balls to stand up against torture, but if they do, more power to them.

Iraq’s future looks bleak.

Indeed, following the Democratic takeover of the House and Senate, the candy and flowers may now give way to IEDs and interfactional butchery.

Iran’s ascension looks secure. (This is tragic. The mullahs grip on power is tenuous at best. A leftist American tilt will strengthen them.)

The first two premises were basically guaranteed when the neocons colluded with pro-Iranian double dealers to dupe us into carrying out Tehran's geopolitical objectives in Iraq. The last two are just wishful thinking on MrConservative's part.

Our allies in the war on terror will doubt our resolve. They will be looking to cut a deal with the terrorists as a matter of survival.

Who could he possibly be referring to here (by the way, the Baker Report is likely to suggest the US do just that)? All of our Middle Eastern "allies in the war on terror" have been cutting deals with terrorists all along. The few Europeans and Asians who remain in the "coalition" can probably survive in a Republicanless world, even in the face of an active international terrorist campaign emboldened by stupid and incompetently executed Bush policies.

Israel will be exposed. North Korea will be emboldened just when they have blinked. The list goes on and on.

The list doesn't actually go on and on, which is precisely when idiots like MrConservative usually write that it does. The Republicans haven't been at all successful in covering Israel, or in solving its problems, which are largely of its own making. And North Korea? Is he really suggesting that Republicans have finally maneuvered Kim Jong Il into a corner by doing nothing while he developed nukes? What would the next piece of strategery be? Luring them across the DMZ and trapping them in Seoul?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

So Glad That It's All Over

"All slander all the time eventually collapses of its own foul weight." Would that this were true...

From today's WSJ.

What makes our politics so sensationally awful is not just the amount of money spent denigrating the category and the profession, but the equally stunning amount of energy that is expended by party apparatchiks to amplify the negative in news-media coverage of politics. And the news media are only to happy to comply. The truth is they can't get enough of it.

The net effect of this constant and unrelenting assault on politicians and the political process is voter resignation and ultimately a kind of doomed acceptance. It must be true. They must all be hypocrites, fools, thieves and scoundrels. They're talking about themselves, after all. It's $1 billion of self-portraiture.

A general rule of politics is: It's not the action, it's the reaction. The reaction to the onslaught is aversion; qualified, capable people avoid politics and the political process at all costs, thus diminishing the talent pool. The New York Republican Party was unable to recruit a qualified candidate for state comptroller, even though the race was there for the taking, because they literally couldn't find a qualified candidate to run. Nor could the Republican Party find a qualified candidate for the U.S. Senate in Connecticut. No sensible person would do it. Part of corporate advertising contains a subtextual message; come work for us, we're in an exciting business. We're growing and it will only get better. The subtextual message of political advertising is: You'd be crazy to get involved. It's bad and it's only going to get worse.

One would think that the major parties would grasp the concept that they are destroying the very profession they purport to love, and act accordingly. In the midst of all these negative messages, one would expect to find a broad, thematic campaign that aspired to something bigger than "he voted for toxic waste dumps and against your unborn child." When the Labour Party in Britain finally got tired of losing elections to Maggie Thatcher's Tories, they hired the best advertising minds in that nation to relaunch the Labour Party brand. The results were impressive. Tony Blair rose to power and rules to this day.

But in America, the major parties don't ever think in broad, national terms. They're all tactics and no strategy. They don't advertise themselves at all. Instead, they spend the hundreds of millions of dollars they raise microtargeting supposedly single-issue voters and bombarding them with negative messages about the opposite party's alleged disdain for those concerns. Put more simply, they send you junk mail you don't open, and leave robo-calls on your answering machine that you immediately erase.

Ultimately, the reaction to this ceaseless negative barrage, if it continues unchecked, will be the rejection of both major political parties. As more and more people are repulsed by the political process, their number will at some point reach a critical mass. Americans share two overriding beliefs: Tomorrow will be a better day and the idea of America is fundamentally important. That critical mass will eventually embrace a party of hope and mission. A new political party that speaks to those beliefs will emerge. The alternative, after all, is a new record every two years -- $2 billion of negative advertising, then $4 billion, then $8 billion. All slander all the time eventually collapses of its own foul weight.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Merry men of the cloth I want to go on record as having disliked this fellow long before his little trysts became public. Earlier, he and a bunch of other buffoons went on a campaign to save the environment for "our children and our Lord," as if somehow God needed climate controlled megachurches to save His creation from global warming. Yet and still, there seems to be something about the role of pastor that makes it more likely (by no means probable) that they will commit sexual indiscretion. Of the churches with which I have been involved, four have had some history of the pastor committing adultery with someone. Not the world's best batting average. At the same time, stories about righteous and kind pastors are not nearly as prevalent as they should be: a whole lot of Christians are not only spreading the Gospel but feeding hungry people, and that without indiscretions.