13th June 02:49
Marine officers peddle a dangerous deck of cards.
From The Boston Globe, 8/25/03:
A dangerous deck of cards
By Bryant Jordan, deputy news editor for the Marine Corps Times in
IT BEGAN WITH the Pentagon's novel way of identifying the Iraqi
leadership that it continues to hunt down.
The 55-card "Deck of Death" quickly became a "must-have" item, and it
very quickly became available for commercial sale, proving -- like
Gulf War I's Humvee-turned-Hummer before it -- that war, once you get
past the death and destruction thing, can generate really cool
Shortly after the "Deck of Death" made its debut, journalist
Christopher Ruddy created and marketed through his website a "Deck of
Weasels," targeting war critics in Congress, Hollywood, and the media.
Next came "America's Most Unwanted," another photo gallery of antiwar
politicians and celebrities.
Seeing a card gap, those who opposed the war in Iraq and those
supportive of the administration hit the decks.
"The Deck of Republican Chickenhawks," which highlights the almost
uniform lack of military experience by top administration officials,
and "Operation: Hidden Agenda," which uses the face cards to question
the motives for the war, hit the commercial arena.
Suddenly, Charles Lamb's observation that "cards are war in disguise
of a sport" seemed downright prophetic, with this latest byproduct of
diplomacy by other means bringing new meaning to the old children's
card game, War.
You can view these decks as clever or silly -- and doubtless which
decks you consider clever and which silly will depend on your
Still, notwithstanding the computer-added French berets and
court-jester caps on politicians and celebs in the "Weasels" deck,
none of the cards are nearly as well-designed as Digimon cards.
But, doubtless they sell.
Because they're novel, some people might buy them as collectors'
items, though it's not likely they'll ever be pitched against the
stoop in my old neighborhood.
Most people probably will dismiss them.
But one deck, "America's Most Unwanted," is different -- it's
Like the "Weasels" deck, it uses public domain photos of its antiwar
targets, usually photos depicting politicians, Hollywood stars, or
media types at their worst.
The difference is that the "Unwanted" deck is the creation of two
active-duty Marine officers, and what's dangerous is that the Marine
Corps is winking at their sale and distribution.
According to a Marine spokesman, the Corps' Judge Advocate General
reviewed the matter and determined that "the actions of the
individuals did not require any further action."
Basically, this means that the two officers have the Corps' blessing
to hold up to public ridicule and scorn members of Congress who are
opposed to the war in Iraq.
Now, members of Congress hold themselves up to ridicule and scorn
almost every day.
Regardless, when the Marine Corps turns a blind eye to members of its
officer corps publicly disrespecting congressmen over their views on
the war, it has entered politics.
If the Marine Corps doesn't see it this way, it should wait until some
of its officers market a deck that holds the administration up to the
same kind of ridicule.
Doubtless, some who will say the Uniformed Code of Military Justice
bars service members only from targeting the president, vice
president, service secretaries, and "Congress as a whole" from this
kind of ridicule, and that showing scorn for individual congressmen is
But even if the code is that narrow, allowing it to be so applied
carries grave risks.
If publicizing your politics is going to be permitted among uniformed
service members, is it only going to be permitted by those on one side
of the political spectrum?
If yes, then get ready for charges that the military belongs to a
single political party.
If not, and the "other" side also is allowed to put its partisan cards
on the table, expect political divisions that run contrary to good
order and discipline to be seen and heard in the ranks and on the job.
The Corps spokesman said that the Judge Advocate General officers,
when looking at the "Unwanted" cards question, didn't consider what
they would do if Marines began peddling an antiwar deck.
That is pretty shortsighted.
And it's absurd to think that Judge Advocate General officers would
look the other way at a deck of cards ridiculing President Bush, Vice
President Cheney, or Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and others.
The fact is -- or hopefully would be -- that Judge Advocate General
officers would land on that deck faster and harder than the president
did coming down on the deck of the Abraham Lincoln in May.
And the enterprising Marines who dealt the cards would find themselves
out of the game very quickly.
And that's how the officers should have handled "America's Most
The important question is: Who's dealing the next hand?
16th June 21:19
Marine officers peddle a dangerous deck of cards.
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