And now, the winners in the In the Loop Campaign Slogan Contest. This was to pick slogans that will clinch victory in November for President Bush or Sen. John F. Kerry.
Some entries were flatly pro-Bush or pro-Kerry, but others could go either way depending on the audience. The most fun slogans tended to be anti the other guy. So, in no particular order, here are the judges' picks.
For the Kerry campaign:
* "Bring back complete sentences" -- Catherine Smith, an operations manager of a trade show supply company in Atlanta.
* "Elect a man who can pronounce 'nuclear' " -- Martha Menard, a retired teacher in Murfreesboro, Ill.
* "A leader, not a mis-leader" -- Rich Carroll, a New York elementary school teacher.
* "Teach the Iraqi people a lesson in democracy. Elect Kerry!" -- Retired historical theology university professor Michael D. Ryan of Mitchell, S.D.
* "It's Skull and Bones, not Numbskull and Bones" -- Retired bureaucrat Ray Samuel of New York.
* "Let's make ketchup a vegetable again" -- Joshua Smith of Sun Prairie, Wis., a policy analyst at the state legislature.
* "GWB is the WMD" -- Dick Bauman, an insurance claims manager from Blacksburg, Va.
* "Swift boat #44 to president #44" -- Chris Reier, who works for the Jacksonville, Fla., Jaguars football team.
* "John Kerry -- On Your Side. (You Decide -- Either side is fine with me.)" -- Charles Carswell, a building inspector from Millen, Ga.
For the Bush campaign:
* "It's still my turn" -- Jim Blue, a retired civil servant from Darnestown.
* "Standing behind a Bush -- Not using the John" -- Chris de Wolfe, an IRS employee in Dallas.
* "50 million Frenchmen can be wrong" -- George Vary, a management consultant from Bethesda.
* "Finishing Dad's Job" -- Tim Essebaggers, a Loop fan.
* "Vote Bush: To Forgive is Divine" -- Mitch Carter, a Washington paralegal.
* "Kerry: I'll Get Our Friends Back; The UN Approves of This Ad" -- John F. Gabriel of Crofton, a retired Defense Department worker.
* "Blue Blood Background; Redneck Values" -- Lemuel Thomas of Silver Spring, a lawyer.
* "Kerry: Uncertain leadership for uncertain times" -- Bob Anderson, an environmental protection specialist with the Army in Fort Monroe, Va., playing off the Bush campaign emphasis on steady leadership.
In the straightforward slogan tradition:
* "Double the Dubya" -- Mary Ellen Schutt, an aeronautical engineer for the Federal Aviation Administration in Des Plaines, Ill.
* "W. stands for you and you" -- Michael MacCracken, an atmospheric scientist in Bethesda.
And then these:
* "Four More Wars!" -- Ben Graham, a "bush regenerator" (which means environmental worker) in Sydney.
* "Real Men Don't Need Facts! Bush/Cheney '04" -- Stan Dorn, a senior policy analyst at the Economic and Social Research Institute here.
Congratulations to the winners. Thanks to all for entering. Special thanks to the judges, our colleagues Dana Milbank and Annie Groer, who sifted through hundreds of entries.
MRE as Punishment for Detainees
In the controversy over Pentagon interrogation techniques, little notice has been given to one approved in Category II, the harsher techniques for use in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Some of the methods approved by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in December 2002 -- using dogs, making prisoners stand for four hours, "hooding during transportation & interrogation" and "removal of clothing" -- apparently were not used initially.
But others, such as "forced grooming" (shaving) and light deprivation, were approved and used, as was perhaps the harshest punishment of all: "switching detainee from hot meal to MRE" -- the Meals Ready to Eat rations that all the troops have out in the field.
This was a form of punishment for uncooperative detainees? Certainly a violation of the Geneva Conventions.
Back in Good Graces
Meghan O'Sullivan, an aide to the late senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.) and more recently part of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad, is in line to be senior director for Iraq at the National Security Council.
She had fallen out of favor with neo-cons awhile back because of her enthusiasm for sanctions as opposed to war against Iraq and because she had worked for insufficiently hard-line State Department policy chief Richard Haass. She's back in good graces now and, we hear, is a rising star.
Award for Enterprising Diplomacy
The Loop Award for Enterprising Diplomacy for last week goes to Fathulla Jameel, foreign minister of the Maldives, a collection of 1,000 tiny coral islands. He heard Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was refueling there en route from Khartoum, Sudan, to Jakarta, Indonesia, so he requested a bilateral meeting at 4:30 a.m.
Powell had to oblige, and Jameel (who had to take a boat to the airport, which is on its own island), got an hour with Powell.
What can the Maldives do to help the war on terrorism? a local reporter asked during a photo session. Powell said even small countries are a help, and he credited Jameel for being in the "forefront of leading the effort" against terrorism. Yup, right there up front.