Ah, the “Marlboro Marine!”

I remember the Post that morning. I took one look at the cover and thought, We’re gonna win this thing. We just kicked butt in Fallujah.

Remember the good ol’ days? When all it took was a photograph of a handsome, war-weary American kid to remind us why we were over there. . . what we fought for. . . what we believed. . . the valor, the glory, the hardscrabble “get it done” spirit that makes us who we are. . .

At a time of doubt, this image saw us through. . . convinced us to double down on destiny. . . roll up our sleeves one last time. . . take another swing, hopin’ for the home run called FREEDOM.

The “Marlboro Marine” is named Blake Miller.

Among many veterans, the image remains a matter of debate. “There’s almost too much in that picture to talk about,” says Paul Rieckhoff, an Iraq vet and the executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. “He’s the gritty patriot who is willing to sacrifice everything, the poster child for the tough Iraq War hero. It’s one of those pictures that is vague enough so you can manipulate it into whatever you want it to be.”

The best way to understand the photo, Rieckhoff suggests, is to put it next to a picture of Miller now. “That’s a fair way of understanding that war is not what just happens over there — that when we come home, there is a whole other fight we have to deal with. That’s the part of the fight when nobody takes pictures, and it’s hard to get people’s attention, and it’s hard to get resources.”

Read more about Blake Miller.


Campaign manager. . . pollster. . . lobbyist. . . life-support system for the most rakish haircut this campaign season. . .

Everything Mark Penn does. . . makes me excited!

In what could become Hillary Clinton’s own version of the NAFTA-Gate controversy that caused Barack Obama so much trouble a month ago, top Clinton strategist Mark Penn reportedly met on Monday with the Colombian ambassador to discuss a bilateral free-trade deal — something his candidate has publicly opposed.

Hmm. On the one hand, it’s fun to link to something everyone else is linking to. . . it makes me feel connected to the great big wide world of blogs.

On the other hand, it’s a little lazy.

Maybe I should only link to things nobody else is linking to. Then I can build a reputation as a blogospheric bushwhacker and I can swing a metaphorical machete.

But that would mean reading something on the internet other than talkingpointsmemo, and I’m not sure I’m ready for that.


Alive and well! LOL!

From a letter a bunch of rich people sent to Nancy Pelosi:

We have been strong supporters of the DCCC. We therefore urge you to clarify your position on super-delegates and reflect in your comments a more open view to the optional independent actions of each of the delegates at the National Convention in August (i.e., where they all totally vote for Hillary Clinton. —ed.). We appreciate your activities in support of the Democratic Party and your leadership role in the Party and hope you will be responsive to some of your major enthusiastic supporters.

(My emphasis.)

LOL, how “Major” and “Enthusiastic” can these people be? There’s not a single exclamation point in the whole letter!!!

What, you can’t afford exclamation points? No, that can’t be true; after all, you’re totally rich. . . isn’t that the whole point of the letter, to remind Pelosi of that fact? LOL.

Was the letter printed on special gold stationery made out of real gold, LOL? Are you so rich that you only use diamond-encrusted LOL’s?

(I’m still not sure I’ve got the hang of “LOL.”)



In between basketball games, I watched some of that big two-part FRONTLINE special called “Bush’s Thing He Did.”

I had forgotten all about “Clear, Hold, and Build,” our strategy to pacify Iraq:

First, we CLEAR an area of living people. Then, we HOLD our heads high and say, “We are Americans!” Then, we BUILD a bridge to a brighter future!


Totally better than the “Inkspot Strategy,” or whatever that strategy was that I read about in Foreign Affairs a few years ago, where we were going to soak up the insurgency like oil slicks, moving from town to town(?) Remember that one?

Or was that just “Clear, Hold, and Build” by a different name?

Anyway, great documentary. . . really made me feel calm and happy. . . LOL. . . Guess what, tonight I think I’ll go see Taxi to the Dark Side, then I can enter a “Who’s in the Best Mood?” contest, I’ll probably win, LOL. . .


If the lemon life hands you is “not receiving your aid,” can you still make lemonade with it?

Would it be a lemonade that is defined by its own absence?

Humanitarian agencies say peace in Afghanistan, a key battleground in combating Islamic militancy, is being undermined by a $10 billion shortfall in aid deliveries, with the United States among those failing to heed their pledges. Ninety percent of public spending in Afghanistan comes from international aid, and the shortfall could exacerbate critical security issues. . .

LOL, remember when Bush asked all the American schoolchildren to collect pennies(?) and shoes(?) for the Afghan children, back in the good ol’ days of OPERATION: ENDURING FREEDOM?

That was nice, because that’s when we learned this was to be a different kind of war.

(Not sure if that’s the correct use of “LOL.”)


This video looks bad for Hillary, but I don’t think it’s fatal to her campaign.

After all, how could McCain and the Republicans use this against her? To do so, they’d have to run on McCain’s foreign policy/military experience. I just don’t see that being an element of his campaign.

I just don’t see this footage being shown five thousand times a day in the run-up to the election. I also don’t see McCain making very many jokes about it on the campaign trail, and everyone laughing.

Mandatory (for me) YouTube video description: News account about Hillary Clinton surviving a hail of invisible, inaudible bullets that leave no trace. . . a.k.a. the sniper’s deadliest munition.

“Primary Results and Predictions:

A Lexiconomenclatural Analysis” (2/10/08)

(I thought I’d share with you a draft of an article I’m submitting to a prestigious peer-reviewed journal. The article was written in early February. — ed.)

Most analyses of the Democratic primary results have been based on factors like demographics, caucus dynamics, television advertising buys, weather, etc. Most predictions are based on the same factors.

Most of these analyses and predictions are wrong. Furthermore, they’re needlessly complex. I’m a great believer in “Occam’s Razor,” the principle which says: “If you say something complicated, I’ll slit your throat.”

This paper offers a new analytical framework for analyzing and predicting the Democratic primary results.

I’ll make things simple: What are politicians trying to win in a primary? States. What are states? Nouns. What are nouns? Words. How are words spelled? With letters.

It’s called Lexiconomenclatural Analysis. And it works.

For instance, people have spent a lot of time analyzing why Hillary beat Obama in Massachusetts: Was it a Kennedy/Kerry backlash? Was it blue-collar voters? Do New Englanders hate Black people?

No, no, and no. To understand Hillary’s win in Massachusetts, you need only look at her win in Tennessee. What do those states have in common? They both have multiple sets of paired letters. (The so-called “Super-multi-pair-set-havers.”)

Contrast that with Obama’s victories in states with single instances of paired letters: Connecticut, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri.

PREDICTION: Clinton will win Mississippi. The state carries three sets of pairs; Obama just can’t compete. But Obama will win Hawaii.

I’ve seen lots of theories for Obama’s huge win in Illinois, but they all miss the mark: The “I” in Illinois is immediately followed by two lower-case “l’s” and an “i,” which creates the impression of FOUR lower-case l’s in a row. Obama is strong in states whose names contain optical illusions.

PREDICTION: If there was a state with four identical letters in a row (a “quadruple-bundle”) Obama would win handily. If Missouri was spelled “Missssouri” (which, by the way, would immediately make it the best state name of all time), he would have taken even more delegoids, or caucusates, or whatever they’re called.

Again, that’s not to discount Hillary’s aforementioned strength in the super-multi-pair-set-havers; if Tennessee was spelled “Tennesseennssee,” she would have been simply unnstoppabblle.

One result flummoxed me: Obama came into the race with a reputation of strength in single-vowel states: Alaska, with its disenfranchisement of all vowels other than “A,” was widely predicted to fall in his column. And Alabama, which even looks like “Obama” if you squint and change some of the letters, was no different.

What, then, to make of Hillary’s performance in Arkansas? It’s a single-vowel state— how did she win it? My theory: Hillary has a hidden strength in states with silent letters. (Note to coastal elites: The last “s” in Arkansas is silent.) This allowed her to peel off a state that otherwise would have gone to Obama.

We see the same dynamic in Hillary’s surprising Tennessee win: It’s a single-vowel state, which should play to Obama’s strength. But it’s ALSO a super-multi-pair-set-haver, which favors Hillary. Furthermore, it played to Hillary’s comfort with silent letters. (Note to coastal elites: The first “n” in Tennessee is silent.)

PRONOUNCEMENT: If Arkansas was spelled “Arkansah,” it would have gone to Obama. If it was spelled “Arkensaugh,” it would have gone to Hillary.

Maine was expected to go to Hillary; beltway insiders call her “One-Syllable Hill.” Does Obama’s victory in that monosyllabic backwater warrant a re-evaluation of that nickname? In any event, Guam has eight delegate votes and one syllable; it is now in play.

Obama has proved he can win states with three or more syllables. When his Maine victory is coupled with his wins in Louisiana and South Carolina— the states with the most syllables up for grabs (5 each)— we see the beginnings of what I call “full-spectrum syllable dominance.” (And don’t forget the The Virgin Islands!)

One can’t help but wonder how Obama would perform in states with six or seven syllables. Alas, no such states exist because our founding fathers were simpletons. Certainly he’d be a force to reckon with in England, where every town seems to have eleven syllables, like they started blabbing and just kept going until their quills ran out of ink: “Our village shall be called. . . Old Worcestershire-Upon-Framptonhelmsford!”

Could Barack Obama be the first African-American King of England? That’s for British voters to decide.

PREDICTION: When it comes to West Virginia, Clinton will win those districts that pronounce it “West Vir-jin-ya” (4 syllables), while Obama will win those that pronounce it “West Vir-jin-ee-a” (5 syllables).

Mike Huckabee has already won those who pronounce it “Wess Vir-jee-Nee-yer-eh-Urh.”

Another shocker: Hillary didn’t win a single three-syllable state that begins and ends with vowels. Alaska, Idaho, Iowa all went for Obama. That threw me. . . until I noticed something. Three syllables? Begins and ends with vowels? Remind you of anything? OBAMA. This structural mirroring of the candidate’s name and the state’s name creates a positive feedback loop. (This explains Hillary’s win in New York, which has two syllables and begins and ends with consonants— like “Clinton.”)

Going forward, I think we’ll see candidates adjusting the spelling of their names on a state-by-state basis, adding or dropping syllables and vowels according to the specific lexical demographics of each contest.

Obama’s claim to being the “new” candidate of change is belied by his loss in every state with the word “New” in the name. New Hampshire, New Jersey, and New York all went to Hillary, as will (I predict) New Mexico. I’ve heard rumors that Clinton’s campaign is lobbying the Democratic Party to have Pennsylvania’s name changed to “New Pennsylvanialand.”

Meanwhile, Obama’s campaign is trying to convince Ohio to change its name to “Ohiobamavictoryland.”

* * * * *

SOME THOUGHTS about Tuesday’s contests (This refers to the Potomac Primary of 2/12/08 — ed.):

Maryland. It’s a three-syllable battleground that begins and ends with consonants. The only decided state with similar features is Washington, which Obama won. But I don’t think Obama will win Maryland; there’s something sitting in the middle of the state he can’t overcome: The letter “Y. I’m skeptical such an inexperienced politician can handle the mysterious, neither-vowel-nor-consonant duality of our penultimate letter. So far, the only other “Y” in play has been New Jersey
’s, and that state went to Hillary. Remember, she’s been dealing with a “Y” at the end of her name for decades. (Who has the “Y Chromosome” now, Obama? LOL.)

PREDICTION: Wyoming, which is not only spelled with a “Y,” but also calls out the letter in its first syllable, will go to Hillary by a WIDE margin. As in, “Obama, you’ve just been “Y’d!”

UPDATE: Some people have emailed me to say Obama has a nine-point plan about dealing with the letter “Y” on his web site. HAR! The guy’s so inexperienced, I doubt he even has a web site.

Virginia. Obama’s supporters brag that he has won nine states ending in “A,” while Hillary has won four. But that ignores a deeper issue: Hillary won Nevada, which abbreviates to NV, which ends in “V,“ which kicks off “Virginia.“ Or don’t you know about the abbreviation-consonant-transference algorithm? I’m sorry, I thought this was the internet— where grown-ups discuss things. Where’d you go to school— preschool?

(Note to self: Cut that sassy moment before submitting this to the Journal of Alphabet Letters and How Amazing They Are.)

Washington, D.C., with its comma and periods, is a lexiconomenclaturalist’s nightmare. Of all the states, Washington, D.C. alone insists on including its degree in its name. “I worked hard for my Doctorate of Colonography, and I expect to be recognized!“ Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Anyway, just a little bee on my bonnet about “D.C.” because it complicates my analysis: We don’t know which candidate does better with punctuation marks. Obama’s supporters point to the two lower-case “i”s in Illinois, saying their dots look like periods and this puts him in a good position to grab D.C. But my guts tells me Hillary wins this one: She took Oklahoma, which abbreviates to OK, which is a word in its own right when it’s spelled O.K.— and there we have two actual, proper periods! Not some fake-ass dots floating above some vowels.

* * * * *

To Obama supporters who think momentum favors him, I would say: Don’t automatically assume he’s going to win this thing. Obama may have better numbers at this point, but you can’t spell “Victory” with numbers. The only things you can spell with numbers are other, larger numbers. To spell “Victory,” you need letters.

Indeed, as of Monday afternoon, only Hillary can spell “Victory” using letters from the states she’s won. Nevada gives her the “V;” New York gives her the “Y.” Obama lacks both.

Another point: Hillary’s victories in New Jersey and Arizona give her access to “J” and “Z,” two other letters Obama doesn’t have. And what letters! If this was a Scrabble game, Hillary Clinton would be preparing a death-blow.

I just totally ran out of energy.



I’m supposed to be writing a book proposal. I can’t do any more REFLECTIONS. . . I’m going to post everything I have left. See you on Monday.

PS: I guess I should say something about the five-year anniversary of the Iraq war — add my own “reflections” to the mix, as it were.

Honestly? I think it was kind of a mistake.