The acronym business in DC has gotten entirely out of hand. I don't know when it started, but the whole "let's come up with a cute name for our pet project" idea has gone way too far. From Wednesday's Washington Post:
The Department of Homeland Security is testing a data-mining program that would attempt to spot terrorists by combing vast amounts of information about average Americans, such as flight and hotel reservations. Similar to a Pentagon program killed by Congress in 2003 over concerns about civil liberties, the new program could take effect as soon as next year.
But researchers testing the system are likely to already have violated privacy laws by reviewing real information, instead of fake data, according to a source familiar with a congressional investigation into the $42.5 million program.
Bearing the unwieldy name Analysis, Dissemination, Visualization, Insight and Semantic Enhancement (ADVISE), the program is on the cutting edge of analytical technology that applies mathematical algorithms to uncover hidden relationships in data. The idea is to troll a vast sea of information, including audio and visual, and extract suspicious people, places and other elements based on their links and behavioral patterns.
ADVISE . . . it sounds like such a nice benign little name. It brings to mind Dear Abby, your friend who will answer honestly when you say "tell me what you really think," or the high minded consideration the US Senate gives to treaties and nominations. Who could be against a wise sage ADVISE-ing us?
This obviously harks back to its predecessor, the USA PATRIOT act: Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism. Yep, it's patriotic to want to tear down the constitutional limits to searches and seizures.
ADVISE . . . USA PATRIOT . . . Oh, please.
Orwell might like the "turn the meaning on its head" aspect of these acronyms, but he wouldn't be even remotely impressed with the poor language and diction. Where's the poetry? Where's the beauty of the words tripping off the tongue?
Now that the Democrats control the House and Senate, we need some great acronyms to go with legislation to roll back and rein in the runaway Bush administration. It's not enough to have a great program – you've got to have the sappy acronymn too.
We've been holding in the snark all week, though it has been slipping out more often as the week has worn on, and I say, Enough! It's Friday, it's beer-thirty somewhere, and we'll be tapping our feet waiting for the jury all weekend. It's time to pour yourself a festive beverage, raise your glass, and cut loose on the snark.
Maybe you've got a program, in search of an acronym. Maybe you've got a great word, but it needs a program to go with it. Or maybe, just maybe, you've got both. Anyone for some legislation called JUSTICE WINS? It's the title I'd love to see on a bill to shut down the war in Iraq: "Just Us, Standing Tall In Celebration of Ending W's Incompetent NeoCons' Silliness?"
And if you need some more inspiration, just ask yourself this — WWDSD? That is, What Would Dr. Seuss Do? It's his birthday, you know!