For better or for worse, the war in Iraq is Bush and Cheney’s baby, and they are counting on its success. Indeed, the prospect of failure seems to evoke desperation and aggression. Woe unto those who disparage or reject the baby, for to do so is to invite a vindictive political response. Toe the line, or have your patriotism or manhood or support for the troops called into question.
For better or for worse, the baby that is the war in Iraq has been dumped in our collective lap, and Bush and Cheney expect us to nurture and support it, even though it is not our child and we long to be rid of it. Why these foul men have placed such a burden upon us and why we continue to put up with it is curious indeed. Perhaps the reasons for such can be inferred from a similar dynamic in nature. Perhaps Bush and Cheney are part cowbird.
From the Chicago Tribune:
Jeffrey P. (“J. Edgar”) Hoover and Scott K. (“Edward G.”) Robinson are ornithologists. Those nicknames aren’t really theirs, but it seemed fitting to invoke the legendary head of the FBI and an actor famed for gangster portrayals.
That’s because the two scientists have discovered that some birds go bad in a most “Sopranos” way.
They explain this in a paper titled, “Retaliatory Mafia Behavior by a Parasitic Cowbird Favors Host Acceptance of Parasitic Eggs,” (available at the National Academy of Sciences online edition, http://www.nationalacademies.org/publications, this week). Their research concluded that cowbirds, members of the cuckoo family (whose isn’t?), can become enforcers in their neighborhoods.
“We did the work in the Cache River watershed in southern Illinois,” Hoover, who works at the Illinois Natural History Survey housed at the University of Illinois, said in a phone interview. “We put up half-gallon milk and fruit juice containers for the prothonotary warblers to nest in.”
“Prothonotary” comes from scribes who wore yellow — somewhat like these warblers — robes and hoods. Think of the warblers as innocent neighborhood family folk. The cowbirds are the goons who collect protection payments.
“The brown-headed cowbird,” Hoover said, “is a brood parasite. It lays its eggs in warbler nests so the warbler will raise its chicks. The question was why would a bird raise chicks so obviously not their own?”
The answer turns out to be old-fashioned intimidation — wreck the place, kill the kids. The warblers who reject the cowbird eggs soon learn to ask themselves, “Do I feel lucky?”
The ornithologists found that 56 percent of the nests of warblers who refused the cowbird eggs were destroyed by the cowbirds. The warblers who meekly accepted the eggs that weren’t their own suffered retaliation only 6 percent of the time. [full text]