Sunday, May 29, 2005

Fanning the Flames of Hatred

On Fox News Sunday, General Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, defended US treatment of detainees in Guantanamo Bay. In addition to citing demonstrably faulty statistics (for example, claiming that "100 cases of prisoner mistreatment" have been found, when over 100 prisoners have actually died in US custody), Myers claimed, per the Associated Press, that

the U.S. was doing its best to detain fighters who, if released, "would turn right around and try to slit our throats, slit our children's throats."

For General Myers to describe the detainees this way is absolutely irresponsible for many reasons. Two big ones:

(1) Remember that virtually all of the Guantanamo Bay prisoners have been charged with no crimes, are mostly NOT terrorists, and in many cases are apparently innocent of any offense.

(2) It's true that some of those who have been captured are enemies of the US invaders of Afghanistan and Iraq and therefore would try to kill Americans--just as we have been killing Afghans and Iraqis. That is the definition of war.

To describe this on network TV in terms of the slitting of throats of American children serves no purpose other than to stir up fear, anger, and blind hatred among American citizens--emotions which contribute nothing to sound and thoughtful policy decisions.

The Iraqi "insurgents" could just as accurately say of any Americans they capture, "These are people who want to explode bombs among our wives and children, spattering their brains and internal organs all over the walls of our homes." Would that justify torture or mistreatment of American captives?

The founders warned repeatedly about the danger to freedom and self-government posed by the demagogic inflaming of passions for political purposes. It's terribly sad and disturbing to see the flames being fanned by military leaders whose sense of honor and tradition ought to restrain them.
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Friday, May 27, 2005

Blogger's Block and Calorie Counting

Suffering pangs of guilt over not having posted in a week and a half, I decided to avail myself of the old writer's trick by writing about why I hadn't been writing. Pondering the theme, I came up with the phrase "blogger's block," which I hadn't seen anyone else use, and felt rather proud of having invented it. Maybe, I thought, this could be the cornerstone of my "shtick," which according to David Greenberg is the secret key to success in the blogosphere. And who would know better how to succeed in blogging than a history professor ruminating on his blogging failure in the Times (Week in Review section, May 15, 2005)?

Just to be on the safe side I decided to Google the phrase "writer's block" to see whether it had been used before. To my chagrin there were 41,000 hits. So much for my originality, let alone my hope of developing a Greenbergesque shtick. Half of the Google citations appeared to be bloggers blogging about why they hadn't been blogging, the other half bloggers offering tips and tricks for overcoming blogger's block.

If these are like the tips and tricks for overcoming writer's block that have been described so many times before, they are probably fun to read about and basically useless for anyone other than their creator--suggestions like "Set the temperature in your office five degrees too cold" and "Start each day by writing letters to your creditors--this gets your writing muscles limbered up and reminds you why you need to finish that project."

Convincing oneself to write is like sticking to a diet: It requires cunning and self-deception, since fundamentally it is so much easier and more enjoyable in the short term to eat chocolate chip cookies and not to write. Over lunch the other day a client explained to me the psychological regimen he uses to enforce his diet. Andy weighs himself constantly (at least twice a day, often more) using a digital scale that shows tenths of a pound; he eats soup whenever he wants bread and drinks coffee with half and half whenever he wants a sweet fix. After going out for a big dinner and gaining two pounds, he concentrates extra hard on cutting back and usually loses the weight within three or four days.

This is working for him (he's about halfway to his target weight), but when I described Andy's system to Mary-Jo (knowing her interest in nutrition), she quickly poked holes in it. "It's a terrible idea to weigh yourself all the time. And when you gain or lose a pound or two because of a big dinner out, you're really just talking about fluids." In other words, Andy's plan makes no sense--at least for Mary-Jo. Her recommendation would be to keep track in writing of everything you eat and the number of calories it contains. "After all," she observes, "you can't beat the laws of thermodynamics. The only way to lose weight is to make sure you consume fewer calories than you burn in your daily activities."

Needless to say, this is Mary-Jo's technique, and it definitely works for her. (She looks great.) But would it work for everyone? I doubt it, not because of any scientific or biological fallacy in the program but because it takes a particular kind of personality to write down in a little notebook everything you ingest and its calorie count and then to feel motivated by the resulting sums. People's minds are just too variable and weird. Hence the hundreds of diet books that are published every year, a phenomenon that may seem like a waste of resources but which I find it hard to deplore since it supports many hard-working writers much like myself.

Getting back to blogger's block, the cheap and obvious irony would be to observe that the 41,000 Google references suggest that an awful lot of writing is being done by people who claim they are unable to write. Perhaps I should eschew the cheap and obvious, but then I would be that much further away from actually getting something written, wouldn't I? An acute bit of advice from the famous art teacher Charles W. Hawthorne (in his little book Hawthorne on Painting) was, "look around and select a subject that you can see painted, that will paint itself. Do the obvious before you do the superhuman thing." I've found that applies to writing, too. My personal way of overcoming writer's (or blogger's) block is to write something easy, something that practically writes itself. Once the ice is broken and the words are starting to flow, the problem is usually solved.

Which means I hope that I will be posting on a much more regular basis over the coming weeks than I have over the last two.
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Monday, May 16, 2005

Did You Know

. . . that children in Iraq are worse off today than they were under Saddam Hussein? That's the conclusion of a UN agency report issued at the end of March. You can read the AP story about it here, or look at the official UN report here. The AP story opens this way:

The war in Iraq and its aftermath have almost doubled malnutrition rates among Iraqi children, a UN specialist on hunger has told the world's major human rights body.

Acute malnutrition rates among Iraqi children under five rose late last year to 7.7 per cent from four per cent after the ouster of President Saddam Hussein in April 2003, said Jean Ziegler, the UN Human Rights Commission's special expert on the right to food.

We know that the humanitarian justification for the war was a fig leaf devised after the fact to distract Americans from Bush's lies about weapons of mass destruction and Saddam's "ties to al-Qaeda." But it would be nice to believe that the US was doing some good for the people in Iraq, even if it were an accidental by-product of the administration's imperial revenge fantasies. Now it appears we can't even believe that.

Incidentally, my online search of the New York Times archive turned up no reference to this report. On what possible basis can this news be deemed "unfit to print"?
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Barone Family Values

I've loved sitcoms ever since I was a kid and as an adult have come to appreciate them as a classic art form--the 22-minute comic playlet featuring a limited and familiar cast who must interact in ways that precisely reflect their well-defined characters yet offer the pleasure of surprising and funny variation, culminating in a fresh, unexpected, yet satisfying resolution. The best sitcoms, from The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Odd Couple to Fawlty Towers and Seinfeld are worth watching over and over; hence their enduring popularity in syndication. (By contrast, no one really wants to watch old episodes of L.A. Law or Hill Street Blues for the fifth or sixth time, do they?)

Tonight Everybody Loves Raymond breathed its last. Although I wouldn't rank this series in the sitcom empyrean with shows like the ones I listed above, I give it a creditable place in the second tier, alongside Cheers, Frasier, M*A*S*H, Taxi, and the like.

What's most notable about Raymond is how realistically vicious its family atmosphere is, as well captured in this piece on Salon. As author Heather Havrilesky puts it, Raymond's world is

populated by characters who, due to their very natures, absolutely torture each other. When they're not manipulating, wheedling, lying, teasing, undermining or openly criticizing, they're sitting on the couch facing the television, trying like hell to turn down the volume on the absurdly myopic humans around them. In other words, they're just like family.

Having experienced moments of this kind of family life (like plenty of other Americans), I've felt many a shudder of recognition during the more appalling moments on Raymond, and I've been impressed by the willingness of the show's writers and actors to depict everyday cruelty with such unsparing accuracy. As they used to say about Seinfeld, this is a sitcom that foregos group hugs and heart-warming life lessons, thank God.

Obviously not all families are swamps of unresolved hostility, bitterness, resentment, and depression. But plenty are. That's why Mary-Jo will always have work at the friendly neighborhood psychiatric hospital. It's also why Everybody Loves Raymond has been a hit--not just because it's funny (which it is), but because the characters and their interactions are so recognizable.

Which is yet another reason why that horrible phrase "family values" gives me the willies. There's nothing inherently healthy or moral in family life or in the psychological and emotional pressures exerted by spouses on one another, by parents on children, by siblings among themselves, and by everyone on the in-laws. Hopefully someday a nation that faithfully tuned in to Raymond will be grown-up enough to recognize the sentimental hypocrisy in political appeals to "family values" and stop letting itself be manipulated by them.

P.S. Unfortunately the final episode of Raymond turned out to be warm and mushy in exactly the way the series usually managed to avoid--and therefore not very funny. There's still no competition for Newhart in the category of "Most Brilliant Final Episode of a Sitcom."
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Sunday, May 15, 2005

Money Can't Buy Happiness . . . Just Ask a Billionaire

It's an American pathology to believe that wealth is the road to happiness. This illusory equation leads people to buy lottery tickets, to gamble in Vegas with the mortgage money, and to put their life savings into too-good-to-be-true investment scams. Thus, on the surface it was a good idea for Rita Braver and CBS Sunday Morning to create a news segment showing that happiness and money don't always--or even usually--go together.

So Rita rustled up an interview with Gregg Easterbrook, a right-of-center journalist and pundit who has written a forthcoming book, The Price of Paradox, which shows via surveys etc. that our subjective sense of happiness hasn't increased even as our national income has grown.

And of course to illustrate the theme, Rita profiles three families. But what families!

(1) A couple where the husband is a serial entrepreneur who recently sold his third Silicon Valley company for five billion dollars. With the proceeds, the couple has started a foundation to donate much of the wealth to worthy causes. Thus, they are happy (per Rita Braver) because they are giving away their money. Of course, they retain enough to support an opulent lifestyle--mansion, art collection, electronic gadgetry up the wazoo, etc.

(2) Another couple who quit their professional careers to launch a winery. (Shots of them in their vast glossy new winemaking establishment surrounded by acres of lush vineyards etc.) Rita says they are happy (despite the modest $30,000 profit turned by the winery last year) because they are following their dream. No indication as to the salaries the couple is drawing from their winery, nor any information as to how they could afford to build the company in the first place. We can assume however that they are not living out of the back seat of their car.

(3) A third couple who won millions in the lottery. They seem to have used the money judiciously, buying a new house and some antique cars but otherwise retaining their accustomed middle-class lifestyle--the same friends, family get-togethers, and so on. They are happy, Rita says, because wealth hasn't gone to their head. The wife comments, "Our dream has come true," and adds, with a laugh, that she still buys lottery tickets, because she believes "I will win again."

So let's recap. Money can't buy happiness . . . and the evidence is (1) a happy billionaire, (2) a happy couple who own their own winery, and (3) a happy lottery winner.

Somehow I don't think this story is going to do much to discourage people from equating money and happiness, do you? In fact, for the average working-class or middle-class person, the message conveyed by this story is obvious: Since there's no way I'm going to found a high-tech company in Silicon Valley or build a winery in Washington State, the smart thing for me to do is to buy more lottery tickets. Thanks for the tip, CBS News!

It would be easy to create a story that would actually illustrate and explore the truth that money and happiness don't necessarily go together. You'd profile several people who make $20,000 to $40,000 a year but feel contented, productive, and satisfied . . . people with rewarding work, families, and spiritual lives--for example, a schoolteacher, a nurse, an artist or musician, a craftsperson, a member of the clergy, and a lawyer or doctor devoted to helping the poor.

There are such people, of course, and telling their stories would be newsworthy because counter-intuitive (man bites dog and all that). You might think it would be interesting for CBS News to present a view of life that differs from the purely materialistic one assumed by 98% of the MSM, from American Idol and The Apprentice to Vogue, New York, and Vanity Fair. But I guess not.
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Saturday, May 14, 2005

Kaz Matsui: Is Ritual Suicide the Answer?

Mary-Jo and I went to our first ballgame of the year last night. Watched Tom Glavine and the Mets shut out the Cardinals at a chilly Shea Stadium, 2-0, in a game that (thankfully) lasted just two hours and ten minutes. Game went fast because there were very few baserunners--a total of just eight hits and two walks between both teams, all the runs coming on two mammoth solo homers by Cliff Floyd.

Overall both teams played very crisp ball. The Mets featured a nice double play started by Glavine to end the third inning and some good picks on throws in the dirt by Doug Mientkiewicz at first. The only moment when the Mets appeared to be in danger came in the top of the eighth inning. With Glavine still pitching, Abraham Nunez led off with a single. Then So Taguchi hit a sharp grounder right at Kaz Matsui--looked like a sure double-play ball--but Kaz booted it--grabbed for it with his bare hand--missed it--grabbed again--it scooted away. The boos rained down--it was Matsui's second error of the night.

Mary-Jo: "Two errors in one game! That's inexcusable. He ought to commit hara-kiri." She can be a tough critic.

Not to worry, though: Forty-year-old Roberto Hernandez came out of the bullpen and retired the next three hitters to preserve the shutout. Looper pitched a one-hit ninth and the Mets came away with the win.

I told Mary-Jo I needed to stop at the men's room on the way out of the park. She said, "Fine, I'll look at the shirts at the souvenir stand."

Ten minutes later she came over to check and found me still on the long line outside the bathroom. "This is amazing," she said. "Two things I've never seen before: The Mets in a quick, well-played game and a long line for the men's room." (During intermissions at the New York City Opera, there's almost always a line at the ladies' room, but never at the men's.) The explanation of course is simple. "If they sold beer at the opera," I told Mary-Jo, "there'd be a line for the men's room there, too."
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Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Celebrity Culture Invades the Blogosphere

I hereby join the chorus of naysayers expressing doubts about whether the world really needs a group blog that offers an opinion vehicle for the likes of Joe Scarborough, Bill Maher, Walter Cronkite, Ellen Degeneres, and Gary Hart. What, these people have been desperately seeking some means of communicating with the public? I'm referring, of course, to the much ballyhooed Huffington Post, which is now online with its rather formless cacophony of generally low-energy postings ("a pudding without a theme" like the one Churchill complained about).

On NPR the other day, Huffington was asked whether the notion of providing a blogging platform for Hollywood celebrities and others whose opinions are already well-circulated didn't contradict the central premise of the blogosphere, which is to give voice to the otherwise voiceless. Not at all, she replied; in fact, just the opposite. The Huffington Post, she explained, validates the power of the new paradigm by showing how the famous and powerful are now willing to participate in the great, democratic conversations facilitated by the blogosphere.

Sounds plausible--until you actually visit the site and realize that there is no way to offer comments on the celebrity posts. So we lowly readers are free to listen to the wisdom offered by those in Arianna's Rolodex, and keep our reactions to ourselves. Since when does "conversation" = "monologue"?
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Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Please, No Party Line in Church

By now, you've probably heard about East Waynesville Baptist church in North Carolina, which reportedly voted to oust nine members who were guilty of supporting John Kerry for president. (Many accounts of the incident have been published; here's one from the Washington Post.)

Naturally, everyone has an opinion about the story. (One of the better ones came from our friend Ian Mason, who queried, "When did church turn into an episode of Survivor? I wonder if they had to eat bugs and whatnot." Personally I'd be hard-pressed to choose between eating bugs and voting for George W. Bush.) Apologists on the right are claiming that the truth about the incident has been covered up or distorted by the liberal media, implying that the exiled Democrats did something to deserve being voted off the island.

But regardless of the actual details of what happened, the controversy illustrates beautifully why the separation of church and state is necessary, not only to protect the non-religious from zealotry, but to protect religion itself.

If the adoption by churches of political positions becomes a routine practice, it's inevitable that joining a church will itself become a political act. And over time, if the trend persists, religious denominations will be increasingly transformed into affiliates of political organizations or parties, becoming pawns in the power struggles among various factions and interest groups. To put it mildly, this is not what churches are supposed to be like.

I don't mean to imply that churches today are politics-free zones. Like all human organizations, churches have always had their own forms of internal politics. And various denominations have often exhibited specific political leanings due to the social and economic characteristics of their members as well as historical and cultural factors. (For example, Quakers tend to be liberal because of their pacifist and anti-authoritarian heritage, while Mormons lean conservative.) But traditionally most churches have recognized an ideal of political neutrality. And though church leaders may have failed to live up to that ideal, its existence has helped keep churches from becoming overtly partisan.

The erosion of this ideal is disturbing for many reasons. For instance, one of the crucial social functions of churches is to bring together people who otherwise wouldn't be likely to meet--people of different ages, classes, social backgrounds, educational levels, ethnicities, and political attitudes. Admittedly, most churches do only a mediocre job of achieving this kind of openness and diversity; Christian churches in most parts of the US, for example, tend to be racially homogeneous. But at the church I attend in an affluent Westchester suburb, those in the pews on any given Sunday are certainly more varied in their income levels, occupations, interests, and political orientations than the people you'd find at a typical cocktail party or kids' birthday celebration in our town. The people we rub elbows with at church are different from the ones we habitually invite into our homes.

This is a good thing: The Kingdom of Heaven is supposed to be inclusive, and an open-door church that invites anyone to join gives us an opportunity to practice what we preach. Getting along with people who are very different from me--but whom my faith identifies as my brothers and sisters--isn't always easy, but that's part of the point.

If churches turn into exclusive political caucuses where only like-minded people are welcome, this aspect of their ministry will be largely destroyed--and with it an important part of their spiritual function. So, yes, I worry about politics being colonized by religion . . . but the reverse may be even worse.
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Saturday, May 07, 2005

Buck Up, Progressive Christians

That in a nutshell is the positive message offered by our favorite minister of the blogosphere, Pastor Dan, here on Daily Kos. Why is Dan optimistic for the long run? He explains:

Because a church that has to cast out members in the political minority is not growing stronger. It's growing weaker. It's a community that just set off a bomb inside itself, and the damage has just begun.

A political organization that has to go to the lengths the Republicans have to try to get their agenda passed--lying, distortion, manipulation, cheap charges of victimization--is not growing stronger. It's growing weaker. It's a party that's significantly overreached again and again, and the damage has just begun.

A religious movement that has to resort to divisive rhetoric to attempt to influence the society around it is not growing stronger. It's growing weaker, and more afraid. It's a faith that has lost the Spirit, and the damage has just begun.

Thanks, Dan--we need to hear that.

Pastor Dan also links us to this new blog about resisting the drive to make America a right-wing theocracy. It's called Talk to Action and the initial posts look very promising--definitely worth a visit.
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Friday, May 06, 2005

Growing Old Is Worth Paying For

On The American Prospect, Matthew Yglesias eviscerates a typically inane Charles Krauthammer column in the Washington Post, in which Krauthammer claims, among other things, that the Social Security benefits levels currently planned are "entirely unsustainable." According to Krauthammer, "They cannot possibly be paid by the taxes of the fewer workers in the future who will be supporting the many retirees."

As Yglesias points out, it's simply false that there will be "fewer workers in the future" (one of the many untruths Republicans keep repeating in the unfortunately valid expectation that many Americans will accept them as true despite the utter lack of supporting evidence). Yglesias continues:

And why is it that the benefits "cannot possibly be paid by the taxes" of future workers? For the sake of argument, one can concede Krauthammer's dislike of trust fund accounting and discuss this on a cash flow basis. Benefits, viewed this way, are projected to rise by two percentage points of GDP over the next 75 years. If that were to happen, overall public sector expenditure in the United States (and therefore the long-run tax burden) would need to go up from 35.6 percent of GDP to around 37.6 percent of GDP.

Is that impossible? Obviously not. I assume Krauthammer would say that a 37.6 percent of GDP tax burden would crush the economy. Krauthammer would be wrong. The United States had public expenditure on about this scale quite regularly until the mid-1990s. The United Kingdom spends 44 percent of GDP and has been growing at roughly the American pace in recent years. Iceland has had much stronger growth with a public sector that takes around 45 percent of GDP.

Obviously, raising taxes enough to cover benefits will be politically difficult; voters (and even more so, conservative columnists) don't like tax hikes. But cutting benefits down to the level where current taxes can pay them will be politically difficult too, and rightly so. On the merits, however, there's simply no reason to believe anything bad will happen if, gradually, over the course of several decades, we raise taxes to maintain current levels of public services in the context of an aging population.

I would add the following point, which I think is too often overlooked. Pundits do a lot of handwringing about the increasing costs of various social programs, especially Social Security and health care. This often takes the form of anguished pointing at graphs that show how the expenditures in question are taking up a growing percentage of national spending as the decades pass. The conclusion, generally presented as if it needs no further proof, is that this is deplorable and sure to lead to economic collapse.

But given America's changing demographics, isn't it natural that spending on the needs of the elderly--including health care--should be increasing as a proportion of national income? Isn't it, in fact, a trend to be applauded? The fact that more people are making it into their seventies and eighties and are able to take advantage of (relatively costly) life-prolonging and life-enhancing medical procedures is a good thing, no?

Speaking for myself, I hope to live long enough to participate in this trend. I bet you do, too. (As the old joke goes, growing old may be a pain in the neck, but it's better than the alternative.) If it's desirable for us as individuals, why is it deplorable for us as a society?

Of course, we should be taking steps to eliminate waste, inefficiency, and redundancy from the health care system (starting with minimizing the role played by private health insurers, whose main function, as Paul Krugman has been pointing out, is to avoid providing health care to consumers). I'm all for getting the biggest bang for our health care and Social Security bucks. But if we as a nation have to spend more on these functions because the need is increasing, so be it. I'm sure it would be possible to identify some Defense Department programs that could be trimmed if necessary . . .
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Thursday, May 05, 2005

A Site I Like

On I found a site that some (okay, one--you know who you are) of you will like: Language Log.
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Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Walk, Jose, Walk

Decades ago, my dad used to say, "Every time you go to a ball game, you see something you never saw before." I've found that to be an exaggeration. But it's certainly true that one frequently spots something entirely new while watching one's 300th or 3,000th ball game.

Case in point: In last night's 5-1 Mets win, after going 4-for-4, Jose Reyes came to bat in the eighth inning with a chance to get on base for the fifth straight time. Now, Reyes has become notorious this year for refusing to take pitches. In fact, through 26 games and well over a hundred at bats, Reyes has yet to draw a single walk.

This is quite a problem for a leadoff hitter, and the airwaves and newspaper columns have been filled with debates about how Mets management ought to handle it. Bench Reyes? Drop him down in the lineup? Order him to take the first two pitches in each at-bat? Create sanctions or incentives to encourage Reyes to be more patient? Or (my preferred approach) just give him a good shaking? (So far, rookie manager Willie Randolph is taking a wait-and-see attitude, saying he doesn't want to impair Jose's "aggressiveness." Classic example of how the wrong vocabulary impedes clarity of thought: "Aggressiveness" is one thing, "ignorance of the strike zone" something else altogether.)

Anyway, with the game well in hand and the fans in a good mood, Jose got ahead in the count 2-0, then took a strike, then a third ball. The crowd got excited and started chanting, "Walk! Walk!" Watching on TV, it was obvious that Jose heard the chants; he was grinning a little sheepishly as he waited for the next pitch.

Well, Reyes ended up grounding out on a 3-2 pitch, so he's still looking for his first walk of the season. But this was a first for me--a crowd chanting, "Walk! Walk!" at a particular player who they felt needed some coaching in the art of taking pitches.

What a game.

P.S. As I write, tonight's game is on in the background, and in the first inning Jose Reyes just worked out a full count . . . then took a called third strike. Okay, Jose, now we work on when to take a pitch.
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Torturing Prisoners: Not Just a Crime, But a Blunder

Fascinating and important article by Stephen Budiansky in the May Atlantic (subscription only, unfortunately) about a classic 1943 study by Sherwood F. Moran, a major in the Marine Corps and an interrogation expert. He found that by far the most effective way of getting useful information out of hostile prisoners is to be nice to them. As summarized in the article by James Corum, a professor at the US Army Command and General Staff College, Moran's advice to interrogators was, "Know their language, know their culture, and treat the captured enemy as a human being."

According to Budiansky, the Marines implented most of Moran's recommendations in the Pacific theatre during World War II. As a result, "Marine interrogators deployed to the Marianas in June of 1944 were apply to supply their commanders with the complete Japanese order of battle within forty-eight hours of landing on Saipan and Tinian." By contrast, most insiders say that interrogators at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo have gathered little or no useful information during the past two years.

When I mentioned this story to Mary-Jo, she said, "Well, of course--in my work, it's obvious that you don't learn anything from people by making them defensive or angry." Mary-Jo works with psychologically disturbed teenagers and their families, which at first blush might not seem to have a lot in common with being an interrogator in Iraq. But as Mary-Jo explained, the challenges are actually very analogous. These kids--hostile, depressed, sometimes psychotic--are often harboring terrible secrets related to abuse, violence, or other crimes, and one of Mary-Jo's jobs is to create an atmosphere where they are willing to open up to someone they may well perceive as an oppressive authority figure. (And if you think that teenagers don't come from a foreign culture and speak a language of their own, you obviously haven't been paying attention.)

Screaming and threats do not help to create such an atmosphere, which is why Mary-Jo sometimes has to start the therapy process by asking the kid's angry, out-of-control parents to leave the room. And somehow I don't imagine that Mary-Jo would find it beneficial to put her patients on dog leashes or force them to form nude pyramids, either . . .
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"Infused with entrepreneurial spirit and the excitement of a worthy challenge."--Publishers Weekly

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What do GE, Pepsi, and Toyota know that Exxon, Wal-Mart, and Hershey don't?  It's sustainability . . . the business secret of the twenty-first century.

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