Saturday, September 30, 2006

Bob's Eureka Moment

You have to hand it to Bob Woodward; he really knows how to promote a book.  Even Tom Friedman must be jealous.  Days before publication the press near and far is hyping his message and for the second time in two weeks Mike Wallace is interrupting his “retirement” to conduct a 60 Minutes interview.  Of course most of us, including myself, have not read Woodward’s latest sure fire best seller, but the word is out that the fabled “investigative” reporter has discovered an astounding fact.  The war in Iraq is not going well, and the folks who gave it to us are either in denial or have not been leveling with the American people.  Now that’s real news.  The only problem is that lesser lights (including this very dim bulb) with lesser or absolutely no access “discovered” and have been talking or writing about this astounding information for a very long time.  Frank Rich’s new book and weekly columns are just one of many examples.  So what is new about Bob Woodward’s revelations?

It’s not the intimate details among them that Laura tried to do a Nancy on Donald Rumsfeld, though obviously with much less success.  Nancy’s intervention caused a cabinet shakeup.  The behind the scenes tidbits only corroborate what we have all known.  The real news is Woodward himself.  As suggested in my last posting, the Washington Post star reporter, akin to a moth, is attracted to the light of power.  He likes access and will flatter to keep the lines open.  So the message of his first two “insightful” from the inside studies of the Bush Administration was that they had it and he wanted to remain on the guest list.  In State of Denial, the opposite is the case.  Translation: Bush is over.  He and his crowd are finished, kaput, yesterday’s news.  I’m not suggesting that they can’t (and won’t) do considerable damage during their next two years exiting the scene which would be naïve, but being abandoned by power’s ultimate friend Bob Woodward is a real story, real news.

Meanwhile back on the ground things get worse by the day and the press sadly, like Woodward, is either still not doing its job or now being prevented by conditions from doing so.  As to the first, on September 21 Manfred Nowak, the U.N. special investigator reported that, ”torture in Iraq may be worse now than it was under Saddam Hussein, with militias, terrorist groups and government forces disregarding rules on the humane treatment of prisoners.”  In short, if you add in the lack of security things are not merely worse for Iraqis, they are far worse than under the evil one.  Aside from an AP wire report, a brief BBC story and a mention (not expanded upon) in the day’s headlines on The News Hour, that horrific bit of news seems to have fallen into a black hole.  I could find no mention of it in the next morning’s Times and indeed a Google search will show you that it got virtually no play anywhere else.  Torture isn’t news any more?  Wow!  As to not being able to cover the story, many months back one of the vocal non-combatant Administration war proponents complained that negative news was coming out of Iraq because reporters were pontificating from hotel rooms instead of reporting from the ground.  It was precisely at that time when an unprecedented number of them were actually being killed while reporting to us from the battlefield.  Now that flack’s contention has actually come to pass as many reporters in Iraq including CBS’s new, youthful and impressive chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan reported last night.  A courageous journalist who willingly dons flack jacket and helmet, she reports that it’s simply not possible to go out any more.  Oh, we’re making great progress and I’m so relieved that Bob Woodward has caught on.

A personal note. 

It has been eighteen years to the day since my father Joachim Prinz died.  He lived through Nazi Germany in 1930s Berlin, the challenges of McCarthy, the Civil Rights struggle, Viet Nam and so much more in the succeeding years here in the United States.  He was consistently early in speaking out against evils and in pointing out governmental missteps both moral and political, never one to latch on to conventional wisdom or yesterday’s obvious truths.  I miss him (and those like him in that generation) particularly in times like these when we so desperately need his voice to break through the silence.  Even more, after all this time, I miss him on a personal level.  At the same time, there is something in me that is grateful he doesn’t have to bear witness to the world in which we find ourselves, to our great slide backwards into what so often seems at root medieval masked, and not very well, by the accoutrements of technological advance.  That feeling, that acknowledgement of what has become of us, truly makes me sad.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Rich: Unmasking the Live Picture Show

In 2000, the same year George Bush was elevated to the Presidency, Random House published Ghost Light, Frank Rich’s memoir of his early years.  It was during his childhood, nurtured and facilitated by his mother and step-father Joel, that Rich developed a life-long interest in and passion for the theater.  Ultimately it led him to what, thanks to notable predecessors like Brooks Atkinson, had become the principal aisle seat of power on Broadway, chief drama critic for The New York Times.  So synonymous had Rich become with the theater after 13 years of writing, that many of his readers were no doubt surprised when he changed seats and turned his attention to broader matters, first in a regular Sunday column in the arts section and ultimately reaching an even broader audience on the paper’s op ed page.  In fact, the transition was seamless because his attention far from being averted from his first love had merely been turned to another piece of theater played out on what has been called (no more aptly than in the last six years) the “world stage”.  Ghost Light refers to a light left on when the theater goes dark, supposedly to ward off ghosts that might inhabit the unlit place.  I like to think of it more like the Eternal Light that burns in a darkened synagogue to symbolize an ever present God.  The theater endures.  Perhaps there is one significant difference between the Broadway and world stages, because where Frank Rich now occupies an aisle seat, no ghost light is needed.  The stage lights never really get turned off; the play is unending even when it presents itself as some cheap rerun of the past.

Frank Rich has his own and unmistakable style, something I think of as Rich-speak or probably more accurately Rich-write.  It is deceivingly easy going and conversational which serves him well in delivering a profound, often searing message.  Rather than dipping into what so often comes of as pretentious references to classic literature (look at how much I have read), his columns are full of allusions to theater and pop culture which makes them all the more accessible, not to mention appropriate to his subject matter.  Even the title of his present book (the subject of this writing), The Greatest Story Ever Sold is a not so subtle, and appropriate, homage to George Stevens’ cinematic epic.  That its star Charlton Heston morphed from Hollywood leading man into right wing Republican activist and NRA flack, as Rich would call him, only reinforces the link.  Rich-write is dotted with words like flack, bloviator, blogisphere and, my very favorite, mediathon (which I think he coined).  He uses them not to be sensational but to unmask the real role or motives of those described.  Mediathon, for example, characterizes the single focused (usually on the unimportant or beside-the-point) theater that 24/7 and to a lesser extent network broadcast “news” has become and to which other media, even his own newspaper, are not immune.

There is something else that characterizes Rich’s writing both on Sundays and in this book.  To use an appropriate reference point in describing it, Frank Rich much like Sgt. Joe Friday, is obsessed with the facts.  His contentions, even when rightly read as opinion, are always backed up by chapter and verse.  This book is heavily end noted and includes 76 pages of time lines following the narrative.  That attention to facts, more than anything else is what makes his weekly writing so compelling and this book so illuminating and disturbing at the same time.  The Greatest Story Ever Sold is full of solid information, but if you’re looking for some headline grabbing revelation, you’ll be sorely disappointed.  In fact, any news junkie is unlikely to come across a single piece information she had not known before and Rich is careful to give full credit to those who uncovered it or who, by their testimony, brought into the public domain.  What this book does is put it all together into a cohesive narrative and it is the whole rather than any single fact or event that makes it so stunning.

From the start, the Bush people have systematically and more overtly than any of their predecessors, used the “live picture show” as a, and perhaps the. primary tool of governance.  They have taken the cliché “a picture is worth a thousand words” to new and heretofore unimagined heights.  Their carefully concocted images often use the very military that they so brazenly have put in harms way as unwitting backdrop scenery for dissembling speech making.  Supported by the picture, they don’t merely mislead they consistently ignore settled fact in promoting self serving policy to this day.  Rich takes our hand and leads us through the maze of make believe from the air craft carrier to the fast changing slogans and taglines and the unending appearances before friendly or captive audiences.  Script and control are the order of the day and we are given front row seats not merely to watch the show but, with him as a guide, to see beyond its unmistakable fiction.  We know that their reality lies in a largely fabricated docudrama, albeit all too real including its very lethal consequences.

There is no doubt that Frank Rich is no friend of the Bush Administration, but he is no less critical of its fellow travelers who have willingly facilitated making the sale.  Those include the hapless loyal opposition with an emphasis on “loyal”, the suppliant and thus enabling press both broadcast and print (including again his own Times) and perhaps most of all us – you and me, the willing and gullible public.  They put on the show and together we all sang in the chorus.  But for worse and in this case for better, the American public tires easily and, as Rich contends in his second section it has slowly but surely suffered buyer’s remorse.  The painted scenery and oft repeated melodies aren’t playing that well any more and an administration that has placed such an emphasis on faith, if the polls are correct, can count only on a diminishing number of believers.  The slide began as the body count, now working its way toward 3,000, grew and as the suicide bombs were proliferating.  Its coda came with Katrina which even more than the now transparent lack of planning for the day after in Iraq, lay to rest any pretence of Federal preparedness.  Gerry Ford was probably unfairly characterized by Lyndon Johnson, but these guys really can’t chew gum and walk at the same time.

While having his suspicions about how history will judge George Bush’s Presidency, Rich knows that in such matters the jury is still out.  What really motivated Bush and his partners in deception the Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld and neo-con cabal presented on stage by producer-director Karl Rove may always be a mystery.  Perhaps it was some underlying philosophical belief, perhaps pure greed and politics but whatever the case it was sham and whatever price Bush may pay in the history books will pale in comparison to what the country has paid.  It is we who have picked up the tab expressed in dollars and perhaps more so in reputation for what has been a very unsavory meal.

Frank Rich was not the first New York Times columnist to write a childhood memoir.  Back in 1983 Russell Baker gave us Growing Up recounting his and it remains one of my favorites.  Baker was blessed with an ever critical mother and nothing he could do was enough for her. When it became clear that he had established himself, albeit not necessarily to her liking, she grudgingly told her son that perhaps “something will come of you” after all.  In recounting that, Baker was obviously letting us know that something indeed had become of him.  Frank Rich is not given to such claims.  Unlike some of his colleagues like Bob Woodward who seems to vastly prefer publicized access to the high and mighty to the unidentified sources in dark garages that made his reputation(and is taken to task for it in this book), or even some of Rich’s own op ed colleagues, the personal pronoun I doesn’t creep easily into his vocabulary.  Rich’s mom, a central character in Ghost Light, loved the theater and most assuredly relished their shared interest and, I would think, his accomplishments.  Not having known her, that’s only an assumption.  What I am confident about is that any regular reader of his Sunday columns or of this important book knows that something indeed has also come of Frank Rich.  The quality of that something is nowhere better expressed than in his touching tribute to his family and most of all to his wife in the acknowledgements found at the end of the book.

Sunday, September 17, 2006


The Pope can invoke as many “I didn’t mean its” as he wants but no one believes that this most articulate and scholarly man did not understand the import and meaning of what he was saying last week in Germany.  Having delivered more than a few speeches in my day, I know that, while one can easily go astray extemporaneously, quotes are always intentional.  So Benedict’s disclaimer is simply not credible.  Nor is the idea that this was the misstep of a neophyte Pontiff.  After all, this particular Pope was not plucked out of obscurity, a surprise candidate like John Paul had been in an earlier conclave.  He was a Vatican man through and through and among those closest to his predecessor.  There is little question that he advised John Paul on what pronouncements to make and it would not be surprising to learn that he helped him draft some of his later papal speeches.  So he knows well what the Papacy is and what is expected from the leader of 1 Billion Catholics around the world – a constituency far greater than any of the world’s political leaders from whom we expect so much.

“Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”  “These (words)”, professed the Pope today, “were in fact a quotation from a Medieval text which do not in any way express my personal thought.”  Right.  Well why incorporate them in a talk, why most especially in this highly charged environment?  The fact is that the Pope has done a great disservice to the dialogue between the world’s faiths and, while it may be presumptuous for a non-Catholic to say so, to his own.  In a sense, joining our own President who talks of a war of ideologies, he has only underscored and reminded us of the very negative role that religion is playing as a root cause of multiple conflicts across the globe.  In an environment of “my way or no way” Pope Benedict presents himself with these comments, as in the flow rather than a calming force one might hope him to be.  If he had made similar comments about Jewish tradition, I would feel no less incensed than are Muslims all over the world.

Benedict of course professes deep respect for Islam, “some of his best friends…”  But such expressions of tolerance can seem hollow when the leader of a competing religious ideology calls your revered founder a proponent of evil.  The fact is that, rightly or wrongly, religion is earning itself a bad name in our time when the most terrible things are being done “in the name of God”.  Perhaps it is unfair to paint religion as a whole with that brush, but in the eyes of many it is a perception that is becoming increasingly hard to deny.  Religious leaders will be quick to point out, and probably rightly so, that all the trouble is coming from the extreme.  Perhaps it can be attributed to a bad seed, but that doesn’t change the reality that it’s a religious seed even if gone awry.  Is it any wonder that only a tiny fraction of Catholics in the Pope’s homeland attend Mass with any regularity as is the case throughout Europe (including Italy where the Vatican is seated) and in the United States?  And Catholics are not alone in this regard.  Pews stand empty at Sabbath services in both Protestant churches and in synagogues.  What are we to think when in word and deed people who profess faith do such terrible things or, in this case, invoke such intolerant ideas?

The world is in deep trouble and with it so is religion.  Colin Powell suggested the other day that the United States was in danger of losing its moral edge when it comes to combating terrorism.  Religion is not helped when its leaders by inference suggest superiority and a “my way is the only valid way”.  Perhaps he didn’t mean it, but Genie is out of the box.  What may be even worse is the charade of hiding behind a quote, attributing its sentiments to someone long dead and disingenuously pretending to disown it.  Sadly, in this atmosphere none of us, whatever our religion or lack of it, will be the better for it.

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Wrong Question

Are we safer?  That’s the question you’ll be hearing a lot as we move into the height of this election cycle and indeed the one many of us are asking ourselves on this day.  But it’s the wrong question.  It isn’t that safety is not important to us individually or collectively.  Of course it is.  It is the context in which we ask it, at least if we’re honest with ourselves.  In a very profound way, are we safer as posed is a metaphor for what may continue to be our most challenging problem.  Despite going through two world wars, Korea, Viet Nam and now Iraq, despite being founders of the United Nations and NATO among others, and despite being leaders of international commerce, we remain an isolationist nation.  It isn’t that we don’t venture out, don’t interact but that in the end we are intensely self-focused.  Individually, despite our acts of kindness, philanthropy and community, most of us are “islands unto ourselves”.  All the more so are we a nation unto our self.

Are WE safer, is the question most of us ask.  It’s also the one people in power like best because, at least at this point, no one can say for sure whether we are safer or not.  With all the talk of how things have changed in the past five years, functionally it is a veneer of change as deep as today’s broadcast news, especially the 24/7 type.  It is the change of a docudrama, not the one being so widely publicized on ABC, but the one that plays out each and every day on CNN, Fox and the Networks.  News with a theatrical set and a theme song.  The fact is that business goes on as usual in our bubble of a world whether in New York or around the country.  There may be a hole in the ground downtown, but edifices are rising everywhere else in this bustling city.  Cantor Fitzgerald has gotten off the mat and is once again coining money much as it did in the old days.  People are pushing their way through on Times Square, in the subways and everywhere else in town.  School buses reappeared at their appointed hour as classes resumed for the fall.  Things will never be the same.  Fat chance.

The question we should ask is not whether we are safer but if the world is safer?  That isn’t hard to answer.  It’s definitely not.  Nearly three thousand ordinary citizens died in America five years ago but probably 100 times that number of innocents lost their lives since around the world in the intervening period, often victims of the bombs and bullets we’ve unleashed in the name of our own security protection.  We’re fighting there so we don’t have to fight here, a super-me statement if there ever was one.  Along with the now highly promoted slogans of “9/11” and “ground zero” is that of THE families.  Again, just as we are legitimately concerned about safety should our hearts always go out to the families of those who lost loved ones.  As someone who has officiated at many funerals quite early in my own life, I know how devastating the death of a single human being can be to a family, a wound that often never heals.  But, aside from occasional clips of wailing women in black garments, we pay little or no attention to those other families, certainly not what we pay to THE families.  When they are not our own, they recede into statistical nothingness.  These days, that’s not a very safe place.

The truth is that I was trying to avoid remembrance on this day not because I feel either safe or satisfied, but because I am appalled by how this sad anniversary is exploited for both commercial and political ends.  Few, if any, media are innocent in that regard and the shameless abuse is non-partisan.  In fact, leveraging September 11 for their own purpose and aggrandizement seems to be one of the few things upon which all politicians right, left and center can agree.  The weather in New York of this 2006 day is virtually a carbon copy of 2001 and by happenstance (I run every other day) I was in precisely the same place circling the Jacqueline Onasis Kennedy Reservoir in that same hour.  That’s were I heard the news five years ago and that’s were I was thinking today about our safety.

Things are pretty much the same all around America as they are vastly different in so many areas around the world.  The only visible hint of dislocation that be found here is not around that “hole in the ground” in lower Manhattan as Mayor Ray Nagin put it, but in his city of New Orleans.  That town, as I noted in an earlier post, remains physically and psychologically scarred.  But there is another piece of unpleasantness that is finally getting some attention.  The residual effects of environmental pollution in and around the site of the fallen towers.  People are getting really sick, some have died prematurely already and others are sure follow.  There is a kind of symmetry between Katrina and this resident or responder malady.  Both may have been the result of forces beyond control, but both unmasked an catastrophic lack of preparedness.  We knew Katrina was coming (years before it actually came) and failed to adequately protect the safety of those in its way, and we knew the dangers of environmental pollution.  Most of us have seen people in protective suits ridding buildings of exposed asbestos, and have become painfully aware of industrial smog.  For a city whose Mayors have devoted themselves to removing cigarette smoke from public places in the name of safety not to have insisted on protecting the lungs of those caught in or brought to lower Manhattan for cleanup in the aftermath of the attack is unconscionable.  EPA Director Whitman is being held to the fire, but certainly some of the bloom should be coming off Rudy whom many of us have long recognized for what and who he is, combover or not.  These people all must be held accountable.

The sad truth is, we are not safer wherever we make our home.  It’s a dangerous street out here and there.  With all our bombs and all our rhetoric, the “evil ones” have cast aside even the pretence of speaking to us from caves.  Their smart sets now evoke the comfort of the study five full years after we were taken into battle with bravado and promises.  Are we safer?  I don’t think so.  Perhaps the right question is, are they safer?  I leave it to you to answer that one.

Monday, September 4, 2006

Change the Subject: Forget It!

George Bush rushed uncomfortably through two days of Katrina remembrance last week.  Who could blame his discomfort as he went from one photo op to another with rolled up shirt sleeves as if to say “I’m working on it”.  Stiff upper lip notwithstanding, he knows that, because of his administration’s ineptness, the Gulf Coast remains in disrepair and a wounded New Orleans has been transformed into The Big Uneasy.  Katrina didn’t merely destroy that remarkable city, it was Bush’s Waterloo and he can’t make it go away. 

In contrast to August 29, the President is undoubtedly looking forward to September 9 which, cloaked in hyperbolic rhetoric ever since (what Dick Cheney darkly calls the “Post 9/11 world”), is seen even by many critics as his best moment.  It was the tragedy of that day that transformed a seemingly rudderless and rapidly declining presidency into one of unimaginable possibilities, or so we naively thought.  Americans were united in a way that was probably most akin to where they were in the days following Roosevelt’s historic “Day of Infamy” speech more than 60 years earlier.  Citizens, politicians of all stripe and foreign states stood as one ready to respond.  As we were soon to learn he blew all that the day he dissed all but the “Coalition of the Willing” and marched into Iraq.  In retrospect, it’s clear that the Administration’s seeming drift on September 10, 2001 was more a perception than a reality.  It had big plans, and in fact the terrorist attack was more of a distraction than something to be seriously confronted.  Afghanistan was to be handled with dispatch as the trinity of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld set out on their pre-determined activist agenda, one that even some of their supporters have come to believe was wrong headed.

In a perverse way, September 9th and terrorism has now come to be Bush’s closest ally and friend, certainly his seemingly reliable crutch.  Iraq and Katrina, regardless of the spin, are dual failures linked in a profound way by the same two problems.  The first is short sighted or limited planning, the kind that assumes a neat straight line from point A to B with no provision for the unexpected.  If any gaming was done in preparation for either, it appears to have had few if any “what ifs” built in.  The second is the Administration’s inability to execute.  Despite being led by the first president with an MBA and filled with high profile (overpaid) business executives, it seems incapable of managing a real world task of any complexity.  In contrast, where results are harder to measure, Bush even now claims some support (certainly relative to everything else) for his so-called “war on terrorism”, and he doesn’t intend to let go of that perception.  Terrorism has been his saving grace and refuge, and he savors every moment of it.  He and his handlers have tried to keep the public similarly focused.

The only fly in that ointment is that at the moment the country’s attention has shifted away from terrorism and instead is increasingly focused on the Administration’s demonstrable failures.  The President’s approval ratings have been in free fall, and whatever marginal bumps have come his way since Katrina have been few and short lived.  Katrina has become a metaphor for everything that is going wrong at home while Iraq stands for a failed policy abroad.  Katrina, because of its principal victims, reminds us that we have a growing underclass left more behind with every passing day.  Iraq, whose casualties grow by the hour looks more like a Viet Nam redux reminding us of the limits not the extent of our power, a view reinforced by the now close to 2650 American fatalities, more than 10,000 wounded and still counting.  The New York Times reported the other day that civilian deaths there are up 50% since the new Iraqi government took office, an astounding 120 each day, in most cases Sunnis and Shiites killing each other, reflecting an age old enmity.  So the President and his surrogates have spent the last weeks ignoring that historic reality by refocusing our country on the Administration’s most reliable ally, terrorism and Iraq’s centrality in the war against it.

After holding that single topic (staying the course) press conference the week before, Bush granted an on-the-ground interview to NBC’s super anchor Brian Williams during his commemorative visit to the Gulf Coast.  Sure he talked briefly about the event at hand, but his major focus was again on getting across his take on Iraq, its connection to terrorism and what, as a result, was really at stake there.  He surely couldn’t blame Katrina on Osama and company, so he quickly changed the subject.  And his argument was perhaps more vigorous and blatant than ever before.  It took misinformation by innuendo to new heights.  Gone are the WMDs and more than pro-forma talk of regime change and even democracy, Iraq is the central battle ground in the war on terrorism.  No of course Saddam didn’t order 9/11 but...the ever present impression left hanging of a connection, dots to be filled in by a gullible public.  Stand in New Orleans and change the subject.  Expect him to stand in New York next week and connect 9/11 to Iraq.  Hammer home your perceived strong suit including attributing all the significant disruption on the ground there to terrorists – long gone are the Baathists or dead-enders.  Where is Sgt. Joe Friday when we need him to demand the President give us “just the facts” not spin? 

With this urgency to change the subject, a new argument has emerged, supported by an astounding analogy.  The struggle against terrorism is a struggle against an ideology.  First characterized obliquely as fascism, it has now morphed overtly into today’s Nazism.  Those who oppose the war or the policy are modern day Chamberlain appeasers.  Forget the fact that that those who tried to prevent American intervention in the 1930s were isolationists while today’s critics of Iraq are largely internationalists who, among everything else were appalled when this Administration adopted a go-it-ourselves attitude that continues to this day to undermine the UN and ignore historic allies except when they might be useful in the moment.  The problem with the new rhetoric is that once again it manifests the kind of shoot from the hip talk that has characterized George Bush and company from the start – “Bring them on” and this is a “Crusade”. 

We’re told this is a battle between ideologies?  Well, it is fair to ask what ideologies are those.  Terrorism isn’t an ideology; it is a battle tactic of people who have an ideology.  Therefore, we have to look at the ideology of those using terror: in this case extreme Islamists.  Equating followers of Islam, however far out they may be, with the Nazis is not only historically inaccurate it is highly, and potentially dangerously, inflammatory.  However opposed many Moslems, perhaps even most, may be to terrorism or those who carry it out, the broad brush strokes are getting uncomfortably close and that suggests closing ranks.  Nothing brings Jews together more than loose anti-Semitic talk and the same holds true for followers of Islam.  Coming from the most overtly religious (Christian) president in modern times, it is not a great leap for Moslems around the world and even here at home to see this as a war between his religion and theirs, not against a specific battle tactic.

This Administration prides itself on spin and the ability to manipulate perceptions with language and slogans, with staying on the day’s message.  But language can be as dangerous as it is powerful.  This latest coordinated verbal offensive constitutes mindless propaganda that, if not quickly corrected, can have unintended consequences.  I understand why they want to change the subject, why they see themselves suddenly fighting for their own political survival, but equating Islam with National Socialism goes beyond the pale.  It is crude, historically inaccurate and, while doing great damage to the discourse, it also won’t work.  August, we remember Katrina.  September, we’ll pay lip service to 9/11 but most of us will be thinking about Iraq.  We’ll be thinking about those nine additional servicemen whose pictures were shown on the News Hour tonight and with the exception of one 46 year old timer ranged in age from 18 o 23.  A sectarian civil war is brewing there, once again acknowledged by the Pentagon, and talk of terrorism won’t change that reality or our recognition where we really are and who brought us here.  You can’t really change that subject.