Trouble at the Pottery Barn

The twenty-first century has already had its share of "fuzzy math," and the following are five examples of ideas that do not hold up to logical analysis.

1. You Break It = You Bought It

Colin Powell is said to have famously introduced this fatally flawed analogy. This, along with a couple other accomplishments, appears to be one of the few contributions of his service to his country. There is one key mistake Powell makes when asserting this "Pottery Barn Rule": Iraq, unlike a dinnerware set at the Pottery Barn, was not for sale. While there are notable exceptions, the majority of the Iraqi people are not offering their homeland (and oil) up for grabs despite the actions of their so-called representatives. Besides, if Iraq was broken, it was by the British, and any attempt to rectify that situation was dealt with.

2. 16 Words > 13 Words

Much ado has been made about the "16 words" of the 2003 State of the Union address. However, the "Saddam Must Leave Within 48 Hours" speech contains a far more important 13 words. In this threatening oration, the Commander in Chief warned the Iraqi military with this phrase: "And it will be no defense to say, ‘I was just following orders.’" This pronouncement by the Leader of the United States Armed Forces virtually convicted an untold number of American soldiers and contractors of a vast array of war crimes, despite their "innocence" in following orders that thinking soldiers knew to be illegal from the start.

3. Bush is the President + Bush is a Moron = Repeating Iraq in Iran

While it is accepted that George W. Bush is our 43rd President and was elected to two terms, many observers have pointed out the, shall we say, deficiency of his intellect. However, he does read. Nonetheless, many have called into question whether he could make the same mistake twice. About one third of all drunk drivers arrested in the U.S. are repeat offenders. Yet GWB did not have a second slip. One would hope that the same sense of self-preservation, whether it be for his liberty or his legacy, would hold firm. Cheney, on the other hand… The problem, sadly, is the addition of some other variables: Worthless President + Worthless Congress + AIPAC + Oil Conglomerates + Military Industrial Complex = Bombing of Tehran and Nuclear Sites.

4. Anything + “Settlers” = Peace Process

"Settlers," often synonymous with "pioneers," "colonists," or "squatters," are not conducive to peace, especially when the "others" have not been completely wiped off the map. Any time a group of religious zealots claim "this is my land because God gave it to me," the rest of us need to be there with a firm hand to ensure that kind of ignorance does not spread. Besides, giving credence to centuries-old claims could leave the richest among us in some trouble, given the history of this nation. Although Bush the Elder flexed a little financial muscle on the sprawling settlements by holding up loan guarantees to Israel in 1991, it was ultimately a futile exercise which may have cost him a second term. This does not bode well for the peace process, for as long as the land-grabbing persists, so too will the Intifadas.

5. Unhappy Faces + Smell of Sulfur = Bush, the Devil, Was Here

With all due respect to Noam Chomsky’s biggest fan, if you smell sulfur at the U.N. podium it might have simply been a bad batch of White House chili. After all, President Chávez is a Catholic, and Catholics believe there is one devil. So if Bush is the devil, what does that make "Big Time" Dick Cheney, Superdevil?

Author: Jay Barr

Jay Barr is an attorney practicing in central Illinois. When he is not preparing bankruptcy or divorce petitions he is a daily visitor to