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Birds of A Feather

Three Tales for our Times

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The Brave New Word of the Week is confluence. Or, as President Bush pronounces it, "conflatulence, snorthehehe." Conflatu ... er, confluence is the juncture of two or more streams forming a single new entity. Such a confluence occurred this past week, with the first stream being President Bush's initial batch of re-election commercials touting his first-term leadership accomplishments.

In January 2003, Bush told the Associated Press that he had "no ambition whatsoever to use (9/11) as a political issue." And, as we prepared for Brave New War in Iraq last year, the president established a policy that banned media photos showing flag-draped caskets of soldiers killed in combat to "spare the feelings of military families," -- as opposed to, say, graphically reminding Americans of soldiers being killed daily in an unnecessary war. Yet, in his very first re-election campaign ad, Bush contradicted both those precepts by using an image of firefighters carrying a flag-draped body from the 9/11 carnage at Ground Zero. Leadership by rhetorical photo-op: Pretentious.

The second stream was reported March 6 in the NY Daily News. MBNA Bank launched a "Spirit of America" credit card in January that featured the famous picture of three FDNY firemen raising an American flag over the WTC rubble. On a MasterCard. The card was cancelled the same day the paper ran the story. Crashing four airliners in the name of Allah: a few hundred million dollars. Blowing up two 110-story buildings: several thousand lives. Hawking a credit card featuring a picture of the event: Tasteless.

The final stream occurred in a NY courtroom where Martha Stewart was found guilty of obstructing justice and lying to investigators about a fortuitously timed stock sale that saved the multi-millionaire a whopping $51,000. Bush/Cheney crony Ken Lay evading a similar perp walk for the thousands of now retirement-bankrupted Enron employees: Contemptuous.

The Brave New Confluence of these seemingly unrelated streams forms the groundwater for Bush's "clear vision for America" where principles are free market commodities that best profit one personally regardless of the cost to others. Perhaps Bush's "conflatulence" is a better word for it after all. As the old saying goes, if something smells like shit, that's probably what it is.

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