This past week, national pundit-at-large G.W. Bush asserted that the “catastrophic success” of a swift military victory in Iraq helped produce the still-potent insurgency. (reference) Ignoring the lunacy of the implication that if only the military had been more slow and methodical about the invasion that the insurgents would have been more welcoming, I love the phrase “catastrophic success”.

Literally, the phrase means that we got what we wanted and it was a disaster. That’s a surprisingly accurate description of what occurred. More surprising when you consider that this catastrophe is the cornerstone of the rationale the GOP is using for why G.W. should be re-elected. He got us into this quagmire, we are right where he expected us to be, and dammit, he’ll get us out if we leave him in office. After all, he’s already “turned the corner.”

This is not the American way. I don’t care if you are an NFL coach, a military general, or a top corporate executive. If you lead a group to disaster we promptly give you lots of money to go quietly into retirement and insert some other guy for us to follow out. Maybe that’s not a bad idea. How much could it possibly cost us? It has to be cheaper than the alternative.

Ahhhh… nothing starts the day like a randomly priced cup of coffee. You see, every morning I’m in the office I pop down to the snack bar two floors below and fill my monster mug with hot coffee. So far, pretty typical, eh? Then I go to the cashier (it’s always one of the same two girls) and I pay. But what I pay seems to range freely from 70 to 90 cents. I paid 86 cents this morning. I’ve paid 70, 75, 81, 86, 90, and maybe a few others I’ve since forgotten.

So being scientifically minded, I’m trying to determine whether this is truly random or whether there are other factors. The mug is the same, the product is the same, the cashiers are the same. I’ve ruled out time of day and day of week which I think covers all the obvious stuff. I’m down to looking at whether I pay more when I’m wearing green shirts, or get a discount if I say “hi”.

Maybe they should run a lottery. If I can correctly guess what they would have charged me, then it’s free. I’m also wondering what would happen if I asked the first cashier to wait and went to the second to see if I could get a better price. Or maybe I should just go back to bringing my Thermos.