battles are lost in the same spirit in which they are won

I’m not sure how the Right can manage to spin this, but as we’re all aware never underestimate their determination to put on blinders and place their fingers in their ears up to their knuckles to avoid confrontations with reality, Escalation’s Goals Have ‘Totally And Utterly Failed

Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, recently visited Iraq with Sen. John Warner (R-VA) and reported that the escalation is “totally and utterly” failing to produce the political reconciliation needed.

The media is reporting Levin’s comments as validation of Bush’s strategy. Fox News spins Levin’s comments as “praise” for the “surge results.” ABC claims the comments are proof of “success of the surge.”

In fact, in a conference call with reporters this afternoon, Levin conceded that the troop increase has “resulted in some reduced violence in some places in Iraq,” but specifically said the troop increase has not accomplished its stated objective.

The violence has gone up and down and moved around. Once that gets by the war blogger’s reality filters it translates into Iraq, the Country Club that The Decider Guy Contractors built. From Senator Levin’s press release,

We are also encouraged by continuing positive results — in al Anbar Province, from the recent decisions of some of the Sunni tribes to turn against al Qaeda and cooperate with coalition force efforts to kill or capture its adherents. We remain concerned, however, that in the absence of overall “national” political reconciliation, we may be inadvertently helping to create another militia which will have to be dealt with in the future.

Anbar is something that we could celebrate to some degree. It is a minority Sunni enclave that was getting beat up by both radical foreign fighters and Shia militia, but Anbar doesn’t equal great unqualified success anymore then 1 plus 3 equals six.

While we believe that the “surge” is having measurable results, and has provided a degree of “breathing space” for Iraqi politicians to make the political compromises which are essential for a political solution in Iraq, we are not optimistic about the prospects for those compromises.

Levin and Warner are both masters of toe tipping politi-speak. In plain English we’re no more closer to making Iraq into suburban Sacramento then last year or the year before.

In all of our meetings we witnessed a great deal of apprehension regarding the capabilities of the current Iraqi government to shed its sectarian biases and act in a unifying manner.

If we withdraw from Iraq will you be forced to buy a prayer mat, stop listening to Madonna or wear funny head gear, not likely Will the Enemy Follow Us Home?

It may be the most common—and, for many, the most convincing—argument against a quick exit from Iraq: Pulling American forces out would only move the war’s front line from the streets of Baghdad to the streets of Anytown, U.S.A. Or, as President George W. Bush often says, “The enemy would follow us home.”

Or would it? It’s a scenario that the index’s experts say is unlikely. Only 12 percent believe that terrorist attacks would occur in the United States as a direct result of a U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq. Eighty-eight percent of the experts said that either such a scenario was unlikely or that they see no connection between a troop withdrawal from Iraq and terrorist attacks inside the United States. This line of thinking was consistent across party lines, with 58 percent of conservatives saying they did not believe terrorist attacks would occur at home as a result of a military drawdown in Iraq.

That could explain why a bipartisan majority, 68 percent, of the experts favor redeploying U.S. forces from Iraq during the next 18 months. Although most oppose an immediate pullout, the situation in Iraq has deteriorated to the point that 1 in 5 experts, including 25 percent of conservatives, now favor an immediate withdrawal.

Saying that a withdrawal from Iraq will cause America to be over run by radical jihadists has got to be in the top five bizarre childish claims made by the Right. Its the same thing as jumping up and down swearing that the tooth fairy did leave a dollar under your pillow. That so much of the current national discourse hangs on this utter absurdity doesn’t bode well for coming to rational solutions anytime soon.

Have you heard that it was good to gain the day? I also say it is good to fall, battles are lost in the same spirit in which they are won. – Walt Whitman

To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.- Sun Tzu, the Art of War

No man is justified in doing evil on the grounds of expedience

Seven US Soldiers Speak Out – The Iraq War As We See It

Viewed from Iraq at the tail end of a 15-month deployment, the political debate in Washington is surreal.

Counterinsurgency is, by definition, a competition between insurgents and counterinsurgents for the control and support of a population. To believe that Americans, with an occupying force that long ago outlived its reluctant welcome, can win over a recalcitrant local population and win this counterinsurgency is far-fetched.

As responsible infantrymen and noncommissioned officers with the 82nd Airborne Division soon heading back home, we are skeptical of recent press coverage portraying the conflict as increasingly manageable and feel it has neglected the mounting civil, political and social unrest we see every day. (Obviously, these are our personal views and should not be seen as official within our chain of command.)

The claim that we are increasingly in control of the battlefields in Iraq is an assessment arrived at through a flawed, American-centered framework. Yes, we are militarily superior, but our successes are offset by failures elsewhere. What soldiers call the “battle space” remains the same, with changes only at the margins.

It is crowded with actors who do not fit neatly into boxes: Sunni extremists, Al Qaeda terrorists, Shiite militiamen, criminals and armed tribes. This situation is made more complex by the questionable loyalties and Janus-faced role of the Iraqi police and Iraqi Army, which have been trained and armed at U.S. taxpayers’ expense.

Probably the most interesting conclusion of these seven soldiers is that only a political solution arrived at by letting the Iraqis work agreements among themselves. It might messy, but it is better then inserting American force in the center of tensions. That the Bush administrations has simply traded the hell of the Baathists with opportunistic criminals and religious factions that are exploiting our presence and the void of any consistent order. I don’t what these guys personal politics are and don’t care – Buddhika Jayamaha is a U.S. Army specialist. Wesley D. Smith is a sergeant. Jeremy Roebuck is a sergeant. Omar Mora is a sergeant. Edward Sandmeier is a sergeant. Yance T. Gray is a staff sergeant. Jeremy A. Murphy is a staff sergeant. But hell hath no more bitter petty vindictiveness then the Republican bloggers and pundits whose views these brave men have dared to challenge. They’re not only still risking their lives- ” Staff Sergeant Murphy, a U.S. Army Ranger and reconnaissance team leader, was shot in the head” (they write he is expected to survive), but they also risk the wreath of conservative flagship The Weekly Standard and assorted basement warriors – see Scott Beauchamp. Will right-wing bloggers be e-mailing these soldier’s command and then swearing they have a written repudiation of the article they wrote.

Pangloss has changed the poison ribbon in his old Royal typewriter, dons blindfold and writes the kind of childish gibberish and lie ridden trash that war dead enders have come to know and love, National Review’s Victor Davis Hanson is dismayed by the criticism of the war in Iraq from congressional Democrats

[I]t is hard to recall of any war in our history — the Vietnam hysteria aside — that a sitting Senate majority leader declared it lost in the middle of hostilities. We have not previously witnessed senior opposition senators alleging that their own American servicemen were analogous to Nazis, Stalinists, Cambodian mass murders, Saddam’s Baathist killers, or engaging in habitual terrorizing and killing of innocent civilians.

The great Hanson can’t be bothered to sight a single documented case of any sitting Democrat in either House from making those comparisons. That is probably because there are no such examples. There are plenty of instances where the Right has tried to twist what Democrats have said to suit their nutty echo of the day. Pangloss wouldn’t want to be intellectually honest at this point it would ruin his record and get his Kool-Kidz membership revoked. As to being critical of the Mess in Mesopotamia, most American’s know that we’re in Iraq on the premise of unending lies, distortions and manipulations. Iraq is acting as a kind of terror growth hormone rather then stopping terrorism. The only cause that has been served by putting boots on the ground is Bush’s re-election in 2004, an excuse to chip away chunks of our Constitution, create socio-political divisions between Americans, ratchet up the level of fear and reach levels of national debt that are a threat to every American’s future and generally weaken us as a nation. Yep Vic old boy we shouldn’t be criticizing the inept frat boy from one of America’s richest most powerful families, thats just like throwing eggs at Thomas Jefferson while he’s writing the Constitution.

“No man is justified in doing evil on the grounds of expedience.”
Theodore Roosevelt

Fire Fighters wallpaper

Fire Fighters wallpaper

Fire House wallpaper 

Fire Fighters II wallpaper 

Lack of Water Hindered NYC Firefighters

Fighting a fire in a high-rise office building next the World Trade Center site was complicated by a lack of water and little easy access in the tower that has stood abandoned since the Sept. 11 terror attack.

Two firefighters died battling the blaze that started Saturday in the former Deutsche Bank building, which was damaged by falling wreckage from the collapsing trade center towers and contaminated by toxic dust and human remains.

The Man Behind the Utah Mine Collapse

Murray has used his platform as spokesman in the tragedy to continue his defense of the industry. On Tuesday, he delivered what the Washington Post called “a general paean to coal,” threatening that, “Without coal to manufacture our electricity, our products will not compete in the global marketplace…and people on fixed incomes will not be able to pay for their electric bills.”

[ ]…Murray has given heavily to Republicans, including, according to the Post, $100,000 last year alone from his political action committee to GOP congressional candidates.He has used his ties with important Republicans—particularly Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), whose wife, Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, oversees mine safety—to avoid facing the music for safety violations. The Utah mine’s safety record was fairly average, despite fines for safety violations in the hundreds of thousands, but nationally, Murray’s mines have a shoddy safety record. When confronted in 2002 with safety violations, Murray threatened to have the inspectors fired, referring to his close friendship with McConnell. “The last time I checked,” he said, “he [McConnell] was sleeping with your boss.”

Poor safety record to which Murray responds by going off on some incoherent tirade about the nation’s need for coal. The nation needs both coal and safe minds. If Mr. Murray is suggesting that America cannot meet its demand for coal in a way that takes the most basic precautions for its workers then maybe he’s in the wrong business or he could move to China and operate mines there since they seem to have a lot in common.

You might just as well say, that “I like what I get” is the same thing as “I get what I like”

Just in case you missed it an excerpt from How to Win a Fight with a Conservative by Dan Kurtzman

False Choice: Offering only two options for consideration when there are clearly other valid choices.

Example: “If we give up the fight in the streets of Baghdad, we will face the terrorists in the streets of our own cities.” —George W. Bush

Strawman: Oversimplifying, exaggerating, caricaturing, of otherwise misrepresenting your position without regard to fact. In doing this, your opponent sets up a figurative strawman that he can easily knock down to prove his point.

Example: “Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers.” —Karl Rove

Shifting The Burden of Proof: Presenting an argument as commonly accepted truth, failing to support it with any evidence, and then forcing you to prove otherwise. This tactic is employed out of laziness or to mask the reality that the facts are not on your opponent’s side.

Example: “I think the burden is on those people who think he didn’t have weapons of mass destruction to tell the world where they are.” —[Former White House press secretary] Ari Fleischer, on Saddam Hussein’s alleged WMDs

Slippery Slope Leaping to wild, sometimes inexplicable conclusions—going, say, from Step One to Step Two and then all the way to Step Ten without establishing any discernible connection. By using this kind of leapfrog logic, a person can come to any conclusion he damn well pleases.

Example: “All of a sudden, we see riots, we see protests, we see people clashing. The next thing we know, there is injured or there is dead people. We don’t want to get to that extent.” —Arnold Schwarzenegger, on the dangers posed by gay marriage.

Probably the most often heard unsupported assertion we here is that Iraq is not only the front in the war on terror, a misleading statement and ultimately part of what fuels the Bush cycle of defeat, but the often shrill assertion that extracting ourselves from that quagmire will result in members of the “greatCaliphate” coming to America. The consequences,

And then we will have to be Muslims and “our women” will be forced into burkas and there will be no more music or gay bars or churches or blogs. This is an actual fear that they have — not a theoretical fear but one that is pressing, urgent, at the forefront of their worldview.

And their key political beliefs — from Iraq to Iran to executive power and surveillance theories at home — are animated by the belief that all of this is going to happen. The Republican presidential primary is, for much of the “base,” a search for who will be the toughest and strongest in protecting us from the Islamic invasion — a term that is not figurative or symbolic, but literal: the formidable effort by Islamic radicals to invade the U.S. and take over our institutions and dismantle our government and force us to submit to Islamic rule or else be killed.

This serves to remind us of some of the many contradictory accusations that the Right regurgitates regularly – liberals are communists or liberals are the rich intellectual elite. We’re neither and damn close to impossible to be both. Much like the constant accusation that liberals are hostile to religion, but they sometimes in the very next breath accuse liberals of loving jihadists. Some of the Right is well aware of the contradiction, but what counts in that they push the maximum amount of demonizing into the debate in as few barely intelligible words as possible i.e “Oversimplifying, exaggerating, caricaturing, of otherwise misrepresenting your position without regard to fact.”

Chris Floyd adds up Bush’s record in Iraq and the latest round of administration hyperbole and actions directed at Iran. Chris draws conclusions. They’re disturbing, but at this point what actions have the Bushies taken that were not maliciousness mixed with arrogance, Project Management: Bushists Through the Looking-Glass on Iran Charges

..that the Bush Administration has been fomenting sectarian and political violence in Iraq by arming – and in some cases, creating – militias, factions, terrorist groups, death squads and overt and covert “security forces.” [See Appendix below.] Based on reports taken from the publicly available sources, most often from Pentagon and White House officials, it is clear that over the course of the war, the groups thus supported and empowered by the Bush Administration have included practically every side in the kaleidoscopic conflict that has torn the conquered nation apart: Baathists, Shiites and Sunnis of various stripes, Kurds, tribes, spies, even a group of exiled Iranian cultists that Saddam Hussein had employed as brutal muscle in repressing his people.

The only thing that Bush has succeed at is the intensification and prolonging of the violence and sectarian divisions in Iraq. All the while of course using the boots on the ground as expendable pawns – something of a well established standard operation procedure of the Mayberry Machiavellis.

How good lawyers sprout whiskers and top hats after drinking too much national-security punch

Early in the argument in the first case, Hepting v. AT&T, Judge McKeown asked Deputy Solicitor General Gregory G. Garre whether President Bush still stood behind his statement that the government does no domestic wiretapping without first obtaining a court warrant. Garre said yes. McKeown wondered aloud how it can possibly be “a state secret” that that the government is not intercepting millions of customers’ communications illegally. How can the absence of an illegal program be a secret?

In a rhetorical flourish that would impress even the March Hare, Garre responded that if the appeals court allowed that issue to proceed to trial, the plaintiffs would be “forcing the government to prove a negative … that takes us precisely into the heartland of state secrets.” Follow along, little children: If the government had to prove that something that doesn’t happen, doesn’t happen, it would have to divulge everything that does happen. Um, how’s that?

March Hare: You might just as well say, that “I like what I get” is the same thing as “I get what I like”!
The Dormouse: You might just as well say, that “I breathe when I sleep” is the same thing as “I sleep when I breathe”! – from Alice in Wonderland

Ignorance is the parent of fear

Republican blogger American Thinker, August 16, 2007, It’s Not Just Scott Beauchamp, By Randall Hoven

Scott Beauchamp, The New Republic (2007). Lying. TNR hired this U.S. Army private and husband of one of its own reporters to write first-hand accounts from Iraq. One of his accounts, supposedly demonstrating the dehumanizing effects of the Iraq war on him and fellow soldiers, occurred in Kuwait before Beauchamp even entered Iraq. Other parts of his writing are likely false, and if not, constitute military crimes on his part. In fact, his anonymous writing from a war zone is likely against military rules. This story is currently unfolding.

Is the story unfolding or did Beauchamp/TNR lie. So far there is no proof that Beauchamp lied, only that he got one detail in one story wrong. In just this one entry American Thinker matches Beauchamp’s and TNR’s record. If AT is fed up with the media not getting the details right they might want to start with some housekeeping of their own. The media is flawed as are all of America’s institutions, but as usual that is not AT’s problem, not really. The idea is to take cases of sloppy reporting and just plan old laziness and use them to prove that the MEDIA is not to be trusted until Conservatives, a special hybrid of homo sapiens blessed with special knowledge of the truth gives the story their nod of approval. Funny how he lets Mark Halperin of ABC off with a well he admitted it in regards to pimping for George Bush. Even funnier how there is one conspicuously missing name from the AT list, New York Times war cheerleader Judith Miller.

And I didn’t notice anything about right-wing blogger Ben Domenech and his fact free plagiaristic romps while at the Washington Post.

Yes its an editorial so one has to give them some slack since it is not a straight up news story, but the opinions expressed are based on factual errors, Perfect. Fred Hiatt’s WaPo Edit Page Still Pushing Bogus “Petraeus Report” Line

Yesterday I wondered whether the big news orgs would continue describing the imminent September Iraq progress report as representing solely the word of General Petraeus — as the Gospel According To Petraeus — now that we know that the report is being written by the White House. As Atrios put it, “a major test of our media right now is whether this bait and switch enters the basic narrative or not.”

Well, we now have our first major failure of that test, and fittingly, it’s The Washington Post’s editorial page, which at this point is devoting its powerful opinion-shaping real estate to little more than a rearguard effort to salvage what’s left of the reputations of Beltway war supporters. And not only does WaPo’s editorial page today not acknowledge that “bait and switch,” it actually continues to try and maintain the fiction that the September report will represent the sole word of Petraeus.

Hiatt belongs to the same rhetorical country club as the AT blog. Given the space in one of the country’s leading opinion pages Hiatt doesn’t use that space to inform readers, he in fact uses it to mislead people into thinking the upcoming report from General Petraeus will be the unvarnished truth from the general. The contrary is true, the general will be part of a ventriloquists act with the White writing the script and pulling the strings. The Right, the self portrayed holy guardians of and noble seekers of the truth and nothing but the truth given a platform in the same media that they constantly accuse of being too liberal or generally untrustworthy because same media can’t get the facts straight mangled the facts. They even seem to parrot a faxed set of talking points from the Bush Whitehouse. Reid: Administration Owes Congress, American People An Honest Report On Iraq in September

“The White House’s effort to prevent General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker from testifying openly and candidly beforeCongress about the situation in Iraq is unacceptable. Not only does it contradict the law President Bush himself signed in May, but it appears to be yet another politically driven attempt to avoid giving Congress and the American people an honest and open assessment of a war we can all see is headed in the wrong direction.

“From the very beginning of this war, the Bush Administration has refused to level with the American people about its flawed policy. It has instead done everything in its power to escape accountability and mislead us about the reality on the ground. The result: an open-ended civil war that has taken nearly 4,000 American soldiers’ lives and an Iraqi government that refuses to take responsibility for its own country.

An embarrassed Fox News hits Wikipedia

Fox News tried to exploit Wikipedia, and got caught, so naturally it’s time to undermine the source of the network’s embarrassment. Typical.

As in the case of Scott Beauchamp, John Murtha, the Haditha story, Sen. John Kerry, the Katrina disaster their first and last impulse is to attack and smear.

Of course the NYT is liberal, well maybe not NY Times reported Rove claims about Clinton’s votes on surveillance without noting they are false

In writing about Karl Rove’s August 15 appearance on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show, New York Times reporter Patrick Healy reported that Rove claimed Sen. Hillary Clinton “opposed the USA Patriot Act, domestic surveillance programs and other antiterrorism measures.” The Times did not note that Clinton, in fact, voted for both the original USA Patriot Act in 2001 and its reauthorization in 2006. Healy also misrepresented what Rove actually said when he falsely accused Clinton of opposing certain changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

There is a tremendous amount of false framing that goes with this liberal media clown party that the Right likes to throw on a regular basis. Some of what they site as liberal bias is simply poor reporting or human error. In some cases they represent a column from the editorial page as a news story and since those, like Hiatt’s express opinions the Right points to that opinion as proof of liberal reporting when its an apples and oranges comparison. The press in many ways has been intimidated by the Right. The broadcast media in particular sticks a microphone in some Republican spokesman’s face, gets a statement, doesn’t questions the particulars of the statement yet considers his job done for the day. Editor and Publisher in writing about a few flaks in a news room cheering when Rove resigned, Seattle Editor Declares, Keep Political Views to Yourself — Then Responds to Reaction

I ask you all to leave your personal politics at the front door for one simple reason: A good newsroom is a sacred and magical place in which we can and should test every assumption, challenge each other’s thinking, ask the fundamental questions those in power hope we will overlook.

If we wore our politics on our sleeves in here, I have no doubt that in this and in most other mainstream newsrooms in America, the majority of those sleeves would be of the same color: blue. Survey after survey over the years have demonstrated that most of the people who go into this business tend to vote Democratic, at least in national elections. That is not particularly surprising, given how people make career decisions and that social service and activism is a primary driver for many journalists.

But if we allowed our news meetings to evolve into a liberal latte klatch, I have no doubt that a pathological case of group-think would soon set in. One of the advances of which I’m most proud over the years is our willingness to question and challenge each other as we work to give our readers the most valuable, meaningful journalism we can.

The result: A newspaper that is known nationally for aggressive watchdog and investigative reporting, without fear or favor. From a Democratic United States senator (Brock Adams) to our region’s biggest employer (Boeing) to a large advertiser (Nordstrom) to our school districts and courts and police, we have confronted them all with tough questions to which they had no good answers. The result has been a better community, laws changed, lives saved.

It’s not about “balance,” which is a false construct. It isn’t even about “objectivity,” which is a laudable but probably unattainable goal. It is about independent thinking and sound, facts-based journalism — the difference between what we do and the myopic screed that is passed off as “advocacy” journalism these days.

The Right will never acknowledge the reality of a regular news room. An individual reporter might belong to one party or the other, but first and foremost they belong to the club of journalism and that is their first loyalty. The national memory is as many have said is about two weeks long, some of the people reading this post were toddlers when for almost his entire presidency the press, especially the NYT and Newsweek went into 24/7 attack mode against President Bill Clinton. When is the last time you heard a right-wing pundit lament Bill’s treatment at the hands of the same press they insist in so liberal. The media’s first loyalty is getting the big juicy story. Where are those reporters now with an administration so scandal ridden that the memories of last year’s scandals, and the year before become a blur. Where are the loops of video of Bush, Cheney, Rice, Gonzales and Rumsfeld lying played over and over again.

Michelle Malkin among others fonds all over the AT post. Which brings up the absurd generality that the MEDIA is liberal. Malkin is the media – blogs, newspaper columns, books, TV show guest and host.

O’Reilly – radio, books, TV and newspapers. He is the media. The same for Hannity and Limbaugh. Ann Coulter – books, internet and newspaper columns. Frequent guest on TV. Hugh Hewitt right-wing radio, internet, etc..

So when the Right says MEDIA, that’s just Republispeak for anyone that tells truths they don’t like.

“Ignorance is the parent of fear . . .” – from Moby Dick by Herman Melville

update: FBI Director’s Notes Contradict Gonzales’s Version Of Ashcroft Visit

Mueller’s description of Ashcroft’s physical condition that night contrasts with testimony last month from Gonzales, who told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Ashcroft was “lucid” and “did most of the talking” during the brief visit. It also confirms an account of the episode by former deputy attorney general James B. Comey, who said Ashcroft told the two men he was not well enough to make decisions in the hospital.

Why is it that so much of the time the truth seems to have a liberal bias.

Poor Bill Richardson, he was really running for vice-president or Secretary of State anyway, Richardson Aide Quits After Brothel Link Discovery

One of Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson’s top organizers in rural Nevada resigned Thursday after the campaign learned he had worked for a brothel and was wanted on a felony arrest warrant in California.

There was a touch of insanity in the proceeding, a sense of lugubrious drollery

First a little background, NATO’s International Security Assistance Force is the name of the combination development and security force created by NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization – the U.S. is a member). It is not just some guys standing around with neat uniforms, they have been involved in combat missions involving the Taliban, al-Queda and tribal factions in Afghanistan. Yesterday there was this announcement from the Bushies, Iranian Unit to Be Labeled ‘Terrorist’. The reason given by the administration for the sudden urgency for this new declaration was Iran’s suspected support of radical factions in Afghanistan and Iraq. Here’s where the ISAF comes in, Ahmadinejad doubts Iran supplying weapons to Taliban

Officials from NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan have said they have no proof that top Iranian leaders have engineered or approved of weapons being supplied to the Taliban.

Ahmadinejad is something of a Middle-Eastern Karl Rove so we can ignore him, but difficult to ignore the ISAF. Even if the administration is not outright lying they seem to be spinning in the same way they did in to the lead up to invading Iraq – Iraq on the Record is a searchable collection of 237 specific misleading statements made by Bush Administration officials. Andrew Sullivan has this posted from another conservative in regards to the tangled relationship between Iraq and Iran, A Not-So-Strange Quiet

I went inside the Tactical Operations Center and spoke to the Public Affairs Officer. “What can I help you with, Mike?” he said.

“I want an on-the-record interview with Military Intelligence,” I said. “Why?” he said. I told him what I had heard. “I can print rumor or fact,” I said. He got me the interview.

Master Sergeant Jeffrey K. Tyler met with me privately. “It’s true,” he said. “Many of the Iraqi Army soldiers here are supporters of JAM.” JAM is military shorthand for Jaysh al Mahdi, or Moqtada al Sadr’s radical Shia Mahdi Army militia.

“They aren’t in JAM cells necessarily, but they are sympathizers. They may let JAM guys through checkpoints, for example. They aren’t out kidnapping Sunnis or anything like that. They are sympathizers, not direct actors. Almost all the Iraqi Army soldiers here are Shias.”

“Is their presence here the reason we aren’t getting mortared?” I said. “Because the Mahdi Army doesn’t want to blow up their own people?”

“We think that’s probably so,” he said and nodded with confidence.

I didn’t hear that in the briefing when I first got there. (all emphasis mine)

Iraq already has diplomatic and economic ties to Tehran. The story from the Pakistan newspaper is mostly an account of a meeting betweeen the Bush approved Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Iranian leader Ahmadinejad. Lots of fuuny foriegn sounding names, acronyms, places, meetings all of which will be lost in the average day’s flood of information. The only thing that will stick is Bush or a pundit proxy saying the words threat, security, America and possibly some mention of god. The power of the presidential soapbox. A position that Bush has used to great effect. What goes unnoticed is how he does not use that soapbox. He never uses it to clarify, to inform the American public of subtle details that would god forbid give the American public a truer picture of what is happening.

Maybe its the toxic level of hairspray and make-up that prevents  Sean Allergic To The Truth Hannity from sticking to the facts. Telling the truth or at least being in the close proximity of same is part of the responsibility of even dime a dozen right-wing pundits. Of course Sean’s parents should have taught him that rather then waiting forty years and learning it from Media MattersHannity repeatedly mischaracterized Obama remarks, accused him of “political missteps”

* While interviewing Romney, Hannity played a video clip of Obama’s August 13 campaign appearance in Nashua, New Hampshire, during which Obama said, “We’ve got to get the job done there [in Afghanistan] and that requires us to have enough troops so that we’re not just air-raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous pressure over there.” During the interview with Mendell, Hannity referred to Obama’s purported “political missteps” and characterized Obama as “accusing” U.S. forces of “air-raiding villages and killing civilians.” However, U.S. airstrikes in Afghanistan — and accounts of resulting civilian casualties — have been widely reported in the media and have reportedly provoked criticism from Afghan President Hamid Karzai and a British commander stationed there. The Associated Press reported in a “Fact Check” responding to conservative attacks on Obama that “Western forces have been killing civilians at a faster rate than the insurgents.”
* Hannity claimed that Obama has stated his “willingness to invade an ally against their will,” referring to Pakistan. However, as Media Matters for America repeatedly noted, Obama never said he would “invade Pakistan.” Rather, Obama stated in an August 1 speech: “If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets [in Pakistan] and President [Pervez] Musharraf won’t act, we will.”

Obama wants to attack terrorists targets, Sean gets upset. Doesn’t that make Sean a terrorists loving appeaser. Just saying.

Army suicide rate highest in 26 years

“…Nothing happened. Nothing could happen. There was a touch of insanity in the proceeding, a sense of lugubrious drollery in the sight; and it was not dissipated by somebody on board assuring me earnestly there was a camp of native–he called them enemies!–hidden out of sight somewhere.” from Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Strategy and timing are the Himalayas of marketing. Everything else is the Catskills

Perrspectives on the Rove legacy, The Base Politics of Karl Rove

But those accounts fail to capture the enduring dark cloud that Karl Rove has cast over the American political landscape. His grim legacy is certainly not about public policy (about which he cared little) or even about winning and losing (about which he cared a great deal). No, the indelible mark of Karl Rove is the permanent transformation and debasement of American politics itself.

Lots of good background. If you have a friend who asks what was so bad about Unka Karl you’ll be able to find plenty of examples. Politics has been pretty rough from even the days of George Washington and Tom Jefferson and the guys back in the day. Maybe Karl took it as a challenge to make it more vicious then ever.

This is odd, Iranian Unit to Be Labeled ‘Terrorist’

The United States has decided to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, the country’s 125,000-strong elite military branch, as a “specially designated global terrorist,” according to U.S. officials, a move that allows Washington to target the group’s business operations and finances.

Maybe this is actually a partical move. Though this seems odd too since the administration can monitor and otherwise undermine Iranian monies without this headline grabbing annoucement. It also smacks of a certain slight of hand. We just recently learned or rather it was further confirmed most foriegn fighters in Iraq come from Saudi Arabia, Most Outside Insurgents in Iraq Come from Saudi Arabia

Now it turns out that Saudi Arabia is also home to the largest number of so-called “foreign fighters” in Iraq, despite administration efforts — aided by many in the media — to paint Iran and Syria as the main outside culprits there.

The Los Angeles Times reports today that according to a senior U.S. military officer and Iraqi lawmakers, about 45% of all foreign militants “targeting U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians and security forces are from Saudi Arabia.” Only 15% are from Syria and Lebanon; and 10% are from North Africa. This is based on official U.S. military figures made available to newspaper by the senior officer.

This presents another problem or lesson in Republican framing. Democrats can’t get away with much subtlety in weighing in about stepping up tensions between the U.S. and Iran. Somebody in the Democrats quick response foreign policy team might want to get to work on the very careful wording to respond. One thing for certain is there is no urgent or compelling reason for Bush to do this now. He’s been failing in Iraq for over five years and the Taliban runs more of Afghanistan then U.S. forces one thing Bush cannot handle is another front (Truck Bombs Kill 175 in Iraq’s North) in the war on terror that has spread so wide he already feels compelled to place every American under suspicion. Bush rolling out a new product in August

Another reason for a certain level of cynicism is that Bush made his “Axis of Evil” speech in late 2000 if memory serves, with the implication that Iran was somehow connected to same school of terrorism as al-Queda. Now here we are six years later and The Decider decides to make it official.

“Strategy and timing are the Himalayas of marketing. Everything else is the Catskills.” – Al Ries

Bourbon Street New Orleans wallpaper

Bourbon Street New Orleans wallpaper 1600×1200

The truth and what Barack Obama actually said versus the Republican National Committee’s spin of what he said,  Obama statement yesterday regarding Afghanistan

As we predicted this morning, this Obama statement yesterday regarding Afghanistan — “We’ve got to get the job done there and that requires us to have enough troops so that we’re not just air-raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous pressure over there” — drew a response from the Republicans. “It is hard to imagine that anyone who aspires to be commander-in-chief would say such a thing about our brave men and women in uniform,” RNC chairman Mike Duncan said today in a statement. “Obama owes our armed forces an apology — today.”

Yet the AP has this fact-check: “A check of the facts shows that Western forces have been killing civilians at a faster rate than the insurgents [in Afghanistan]… As of Aug. 1, the AP count shows that while militants killed 231 civilians in attacks in 2007, Western forces killed 286. Another 20 were killed in crossfire that can’t be attributed to one party.”

Chicken-hawk Republican not only hides behind the troops, but then goes on to exploit them for his own petty political propaganda.

Conservatives behaving like a deranged version of Don Quixote

Since Karl Rove was something of a beacon of Republican corruption, financially, political and morally (Rove Exits with His Usual M.O.: Delusional, Fanatical, and Deceptive) his departure isn’t necessarily something to cheer about. On the other hand it makes claims of executive privilege an even more tenuous proposition as Senator leahy (D-VT) says that the investigation into Rove’s activities especially in the politicalization of U.S. Attorneys will continue. Joan Walsh at Salon writes in The man who sold the war,

He insists he’s heading home to spend more time with his family (although it’s hard not to imagine that the many investigations swirling around the White House somehow factored into his plans). I find myself thinking this morning, perhaps uncharitably: If only Rove had left the White House six years ago to be with his family, the nearly 3,700 Americans who’ve died in the needless war he peddled might still be with theirs.

A distinguishing characteristic of the wingnuttery’s leaders is their self righteousness in getting American’s killed for their cause all the while keeping their own hands clean. As I reread the stories I linked to yesterday regarding one Republican’s wish for another 9-11 and an Army Chaplain who sees the war in Iraq as part of some apocalyptic crusade it drives home the realization that many of the more enlightened writers on the liberal side of the spectrum have observed over the last couple years; the far Right continues to support Bush and the Iraq quagmire because 9-11 and Bin Laden do not matter all that much anymore. They support Bush because he’s killing “them”, as long as Bush is killing Muslims of any stripe of any tribe or sect he’s advancing the Right’s embrace of a modern Crusades. Liberals can be as rational as they like, they can point out how battered the troops are, Bush’s continued screw-ups (Pentagon lost almost 200,000 weapons in Iraq), or that Bush is creating more terrorists because of his mindless zealotry that doesn’t differentiate between Muslim insurgents in Iraq and those that are actual jihadists. Remember back in what now seems like the good old days when we had the War on Crime. Imagine if that war had been carried out like this one and for every actual criminal we killed we also killed a few innocent women and children. Would we as a nation stand up and cheer the great Crusade against crime as the War on Crime cheerleaders made excuses and grave grumbling sounds about collateral damage while at the same time accusing those who for expressed concern about the indiscriminate scatter shot nature of this crime war of being pro criminal. Glenn Greenwald responds to mindless cheerleaders Glenn Reynolds and Roger Simon, both of whom are all for the concept of killing “them”, The Islamists are coming

Every now and then, it is worth noting that substantial portions of the right-wing political movement in the United States — the Pajamas Media/right-wing-blogosphere/Fox News/Michelle Malkin/Rush-Limbaugh-listener strain — actually believe that Islamists are going to take over the U.S. and impose sharia law on all of us. And then we will have to be Muslims and “our women” will be forced into burkas and there will be no more music or gay bars or churches or blogs. This is an actual fear that they have — not a theoretical fear but one that is pressing, urgent, at the forefront of their worldview.

And their key political beliefs — from Iraq to Iran to executive power and surveillance theories at home — are animated by the belief that all of this is going to happen. The Republican presidential primary is, for much of the “base,” a search for who will be the toughest and strongest in protecting us from the Islamic invasion — a term that is not figurative or symbolic, but literal: the formidable effort by Islamic radicals to invade the U.S. and take over our institutions and dismantle our government and force us to submit to Islamic rule or else be killed.

They actually think this is going to happen (“read Zawahiri’s speeches about the Plan for Caliphate!!”) and believe that we must do everything in our power — without limits — to stop it.

Liberals are at a distinct disadvantage here, we only have reason on our side. The Right has these grand emotional arguments that appeal to both nationalism and xenophobia. One could say there is an element of truth there in the sense that yes there are perhaps twenty thousand or so die hard jihadists who have the goals that Simon describes (see link). We ‘re a nation of 300 million people, many of whom are armed. We have a battered contingent of troops at this point, but we still have plenty of bombs and hardware, yet the Right keeps equating the threat of what amounts to a large international gang to Hitler’s war machine, the Japanese nationalists of the 1940s and the massive military might of the old Soviet Union. Simon has his wishes and many liberals have their’s; that the Right somehow find the moral courage and mental facilities to see the threat of Islamic fundamentalism in proportion to its actual threat. The Right needs to learn who the enemy is, to be specific since we can never win a fight against the ever changing nebulous cloud of a “them”. How can the American public trust the conservative movement with our national security if they keep insisting on acting like a deranged version of Don Quixote.