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Politics and war 

I’m not by nature cynical (I am sceptical, which is an entirely different matter). But it’s hard to dismiss out of hand the charges that the administration’s urgency on Iraq is not tied to the electoral calendar.

Consider president Bush on Friday: “If I were running for office, I’m not sure how I’d explain to the American people — say, vote for me, and, oh, by the way, on a matter of national security, I think I’m going to wait for somebody else to act.” As The Washington Post points out, “Two weeks ago, the headlines were about a lethargic economy, a depressed stock market and corporate misdeeds; the news about Iraq was about policy disagreements among Bush advisers. Now, the debate has shifted almost entirely from Democrats’ preferred domestic issues to preparations for military action, a GOP favorite.”

I actually don’t think the mid-term elections are the primary motivation for the administration. But they are, after all, professional politicians and I wouldn’t be surprised (even if I would be a bit disheartened) if political calculations crossed their minds on this as on all issues. Maureen Dowd, as so often these days, gets the balance about right.

Licence to watch 

I received my latest television licence today. Like most people in the UK, I don’t really think about the TV licence, but for some reason this morning I actually read the licence. It has this wonderful phrase: “Keep your validated licence in a safe place. It is your proof you are licensed to watch television.”

I think the licensing system is a good way to fund the BBC, which deserves the money and more. But it is bizarre to think I need to be licensed to watch television.

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