© Arthur Ruger 2005
Our next door neighbor has a little but loud dog, Tito, - a
ferocious loud yapper who takes it upon himself to defend his territory
against all invaders. A few weeks ago that pesky neighborhood-disturbing
yapper caught my attention and I looked outside. Someone had thrown what
looked like popcorn out on the road in front of the neighbor's house and
10-15 crows were after the free grub.
Tito thought not. I watched then as the crows first positioned themselves
on telephone lines and trees in a kind of tactical circle so that Tito
would be busy trying to keep them all away. When a few of the crows landed
at one end of the food, Tito went after them. On the opposite side, other
crows swooped down and began feasting. Tito of course turned and roared
after the offenders leaving his previous quarry free to move in
themselves. It took less than 10 minutes for the popcorn to disappear.
I thought about how the defensive tactic of airborne bombers and
submarines illustrates the value of diversion as a means of avoiding
destruction. When the pilot or sub-commander orders the release of chaff
after an enemy air-to-air missile or torpedo is discovered, the result is
supposed to be that the "electronic" attention span of the missile or
torpedo is disrupted, distracted and the attacker veers off in pursuit of
a pseudo target. The good guys remain free to pursue their objective.
Well, now the bad guys are using chaff on us.
It seems that like torpedoes, air-to-air missiles and Tito the homeland
protector, we who strive to challenge and resist the foreign and domestic
policy agenda that Bushco relentless pursues face an almost daily dose of
distracting chaff and crows who draw our attention away. We chase the
chaff and go bark at the distracting crow while the real vultures stay
their course and swoop down on the unsuspecting to bite of more and
greater chunks from all that has historically sustained America's rise to
economic and military power.
In this regard, I suppose many would say that Bushco manipulators a la
Rove and company do their job well. I'm not ready to ascribe to the
Rovians some idea of superior genius that most of us lack, but do
acknowledge their willingness - the outlandish gall, if you will - to
simply go ahead and try whatever works; whatever can be gotten away with.
Well, last week I was cleaning out our freezer and found two loaves of
special bread we had purchased a couple of years ago on a trip. It was
obvious by the few spots of mold, that two-year old frozen bread would not
do for our menu. After letting the loaves thaw, I was about to toss them
on our back yard when I remembered Tito. Oh, more entertainment... and I
tossed both loaves out on to the road between our house and the neighbors
Tito did not appear, but my own dog, Jake, (who is part Australian
Shepherd and Collie and looks like Lassie with a blunt nose) wandered out
into the road and sniffed at one of the loaves. Wasn't his cup of tea and
he started to ignore it. At that point another neighbor from up the street
walked by with his own dog who sniffed at the other loaf, took it in his
mouth and carried it about 30 yards up the road before dropping it and
By this time the crows had gathered and Jake, like Tito two weeks earlier,
found himself invested in keeping the crows from stealing the bread. He
stared at the other loaf some 30 yards off as several crows landed and
started biting out chunks. Jake rushed toward the action and the crows
took flight. Standing over the far loaf he looked back to see the crows
landing around the other loaf still on the road on front of our house.
Now Jake is not Tito, not excitable and has a herding and guarding
instinct that astounds me at times. He looked at those crows for a moment,
took the distant loaf in his mouth, trotted over close to the first loaf -
causing the crows to fly off. He then proceeded to bury the loaf he'd
carried back to our house, digging a hole less than 15 feet from the first
loaf. The crows helplessly watched Jake bury that loaf knowing he was not
to be distracted.
When he was through, he trotted over and "stayed the course" with the
remaining loaf - keeping the crows from their thievery. I don't know how
long Jake sustained his vigil but I realized that his own tactic of
setting aside one distraction for another more appropriate time while
continuing with his original task of preventing the crows from achieving
their objective was a valuable life's lesson.
Think about that the next time you want to write another piece about
GannonGate, kiss-and-tell taped phone conversations, USANext and their
unrealistic attempt to persuade the elderly that AARP is evil or Spongebob
Squarepants. Evoking sufficient national interest, they are topics worthy
of attention. But aren't there more important things upon which our
missiles and torpedoes ought to remain focused?
Rovian manipulators are not geniuses. Their strongest attribute is cunning
and a willingness to try anything that might work and cut their losses if
it doesn't while thinking up something else.
Working to think one or two steps ahead of them is hard but not
impossible. The benefits are enormous - the ability to ignore the nonsense
while closing in on the underbelly itself.