Recently in Military Category

I've always felt that the job of government is to keep an eye on business and the job of the independent press is to keep an eye on government. So when I see the traditional media being lazy and self-loathing (handing the cudgel to right-wingers so they can be clubbed mercilessly) it bothers me.

Now, in just the latest episode of a news industry that cares more for ratings (and profits) than they do for truth, we're reading about the Pentagon-orchestrated campaign to use "miltary analysts" with the appearance of objectivity to generate favorable news coverage of the administration’s wartime performance:

The effort, which began with the buildup to the Iraq war and continues to this day, has sought to exploit ideological and military allegiances, and also a powerful financial dynamic: Most of the analysts have ties to military contractors vested in the very war policies they are asked to assess on air.

By co-opting the role of an independent press in this way, we've taken one more large and consequential step toward fascism -- a system where government and business are indistinguishable and the interests of the people are subverted or ignored entirely.

Glenn Greenwald:

One of the most significant political stories of this decade, if not this generation -- the media's full-scale complicity with the Government in the run-up to the Iraq war -- has never been meaningfully discussed or examined on any establishment television network, including cable shows. While piecemeal quibbles of media coverage can be heard (of the type [Washington Post's Howard] Kurtz typically spouts, or the Limbaugh-driven complaint about the "liberal media"), no fundamental critique of the role the media plays, the influence of its corporate ownership, its incestuous relationship with and dependence on government power -- among the most influential factors driving our political life -- are ever heard.

Hopefully, the role, influence, and ratings of the traditional media have lessened as the role of interactive media has grown. Blogs, wikis, social networks, video-sharing -- all of these non-traditional media (and more) have made it possible for an alternative narrative to emerge that highlights how our own government -- and the independent press -- has failed us.

However, and in the meantime, we're awash in bogus "scandals," chief among them whether or not Barack Obama secretly wants to "kill whitey." I presume that these stories are playing out 24/7 because they are (wait for it) good for ratings. High ratings, of course, lead to higher advertising revenues. On the other hand, reporting the truth might lead to real change --- which, at best, may have no impact on the news media's bottom line and may actually hurt it.

So the next time you hear about a politican who might be untrustworthy because he doesn't wear a flag pin, remember how the Pentagon supplied the generals (all of whom wore brass stars on their shoulders) and how they lied about how we're doing in the war -- and how the traditional media put them on the air in the first place.

U.S. Marine General Peter Pace, the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff:

“One of the mistakes I made in my assumptions going in was that the Iraqi people and the Iraqi army would welcome liberation, that the Iraqi army, given the opportunity, would stand together for the Iraqi people and be available to them to help serve the new nation,” Pace said.
I'll give him credit, though, for admitting his mistake.

General Lies

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by shep

General Petraeus, just like his civilian rulers in the Bush Administration (I'm shocked), continues to tout progress from The Surge:

"The tribes and the sheiks decided to say no more to Al Qaeda. They were tired of the indiscriminate violence, tired of the Taliban-like ideology and the other practices," he said. "They are Sunni Arabs rising up against a largely Sunni Arab Al Qaeda in Iraq."

I'm not sure what our extra 30,000 troops spread across Iraq has to do with that but, meanwhile, there are good reasons why we should keep 130,000 American soldiers, indefinitely, in a hated occupation in Iraq where 70% of the population says that The Surge has made life more violent and dangerous:

"A rapid withdrawal would result in disintegration of the Iraqi security forces, rapid deterioration of local security initiatives. . . . Al Qaeda in Iraq regaining lost ground. . ."

Obviously, no one has any idea what will happen in Iraq, with or without an American troop withdrawal. So why would anyone state as fact that Al Qaeda, who’s “indiscriminate violence” and “Taliban-like ideology and the other practices," has already been rejected and attacked by much more secular Iraqi Sunnis and which didn’t even exist in Iraq until we invaded and occupied the country, will regain lost ground if we were to withdraw occupying troops?

Your answer can be found here:

"The reason to emphasize al-Qaeda, aides said, is simple. 'People know what that means,' said one senior official who spoke about internal strategy on the condition of anonymity. 'The average person doesn't understand why the Sunnis and Shia don't like each other. They don't know where the Kurds live. . . . And al-Qaeda is something they know. They're the enemy of the United States.'"

Just as Bush and Cheney lied when they said that ”there’s no doubt” that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, anyone telling the American public that they know what will happen if we begin to withdraw troops from Iraq is lying, plain and simple. To lay claim to knowledge of future events which don’t even make sense relative to your own characterizations of what’s happening at the moment can be taken for what it is: pure agenda-driven propaganda.

It’s a damned shame that Bush and the Republicans have so corrupted the relative non-partisanship and credibility of the US military but not really surprising. They’ve done the same with every single element of the US government from the Supreme Court to the Department of Justice when they thought it served their interests. There isn’t an honest bone among them and “fixing the facts around the policy” is all they know.

(cross posted on Daily Kos)

patton.jpgMiss Julie and I were surfing our TiVo listings the other night when we discovered that the service had recorded Patton for us. Although it's the last movie she would watch in its entirety, I convinced her to watch the first five minutes.

You've probably seen it yourself: Patton (George C. Scott), in full-dress regalia, delivers a speech to his unseen battalion while standing in front of an enormous American flag. [How big is that flag? Patton is 4-1/2 stripes high.] He begins the speech with the famous line: "No sonofabitch ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country."

Men, all this stuff you've heard about America not wanting to fight - wanting to stay out of the war, is a lot of horse dung. Americans traditionally love to fight. All real Americans love the sting of battle. When you were kids, you all admired the champion marble shooter, the fastest runner, big league ball players, the toughest boxers. Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. Americans play to win all the time. I wouldn't give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed. That's why Americans have never lost and never will lose a war, because the very thought of losing is hateful to Americans.

Anyway, the film came out in 1970, at the height of the Vietnam war. It came from an era during which movies were made about characters who might have been heroes to an earlier generation, but were now revealed to be deeply flawed. I'm not talking Rocky Balboa here. I'm talking Harry Callahan and Popeye Doyle, lawmen, men of the state, men who had long-since abandoned notions of right and wrong, in return for which they won and their enemies lost.

Watching that sequence also made me think of how far we've come in the years since Patton was a hero. It made me think of how far we've come since the height of the Vietnam war ("...Americans have never lost and never will lose a war..."). It made me think of how far we've come since 9/11 and the beginning of the Iraq war. It made me think of men who loved nothing more than to win and who would never tolerate a loser -- men like dick Cheney, George W. Bush and Karl Rove and even of recent newsmakers, men like Michael Vick and Tim Donaghy.

It also made me think of how far we still have to go before this nation can see an end to the Iraq occupation and before we can be sure that we won't enter into another disastrous adventure like Iraq.

(cross posted at Daily Kos)

Recently, while browsing another blog's comment thread I was brought up short when I came upon this statement:

It’s still unclear where the main source of our problem in Iraq lies.
Gosh, where do we start?

But let's cut the snark and try to answer the man's question. Because until we can do that, not only will we have lost the Iraq war, we will have embarked on a path that will lead to one disastrous war after another, being bled dry by "leaders" who want one thing only: ultimate power.

Dear Mark Shields...

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by shep

Regarding your recent appearance on the News Hour, opposite Rich Lowry, I have a few suggestions:

When Mr. Lowry claims that Senator Reid’s Iraq appropriations legislation is being driven by the “left-wing,” the correct response is as follows:

“It is the president’s position that is the extreme one; only around 30% of Americans favor Bush’s approach in Iraq.”

(or the reverse):

“Nearly 60% of Americans favor a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, so it’s hardly the left-wing position.”

When Mr. Lowry complains that Bush didn’t expand the military after 9/11, it would be useful to point out that we didn’t need a bigger army to go after al Qaeda. The only reason the Army and National Guard are nearly broken is because the president chose to invade and occupy Iraq instead.

One more thing, Speaker Pelosi’s trip to the Middle East will only be widely seen as a political mistake if pundits ostensibly representing the more liberal viewpoint say it is.

I know that practically no mainstream news source puts an actual Democratic partisan opposite the rabid Republican ones but please do try to at least point out the obvious and not give undue cover to White House talking points.

Perhaps it was because you have a cold. Get well soon.


Do Tell

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Shorter Charles Krauthammer:

We have to keep fighting the war in Iraq, against the fanatics in Afghanistan, because that’s where the oil is.

Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift is the Navy lawyer who successfully defended Salim Ahmed Hamdan all the way to the Supreme Court. Two weeks after that decision in the case that was reached, he received word that he had been passed over for promotion and that, under the "up or out" rules, he will be forced to retire in March or April. Coincidence? Who knows. All I know is that Swift looks to be a straight arrow, the kind of guy you'd want for a brother or a son. And when he talks, we should listen.

Keith Olbermann interviewed him recently:

SWIFT: Thomas Paine said famously, "He who would seek liberty must first defend his enemies from oppression lest he set a precedent that would reach himself." And when we say that you can have a full and fair trial without the accused present, [or] you can use techniques such as waterboarding to extort a confession, and use that and that's fair, then inevitably that's going to haunt us and it's going to haunt our children. We have a chance, still, to stop this and I am dedicated to preventing that from happening.

The video is short -- just 5 minutes. Watch the whole thing, then share it with your friends. Just click the SHARE button (lower right corner of video screen) and insert the appropriate email addresses.

Don't wait -- the election is less than 40 days off. If Bush and the Republicans hold onto their majority, God only knows what's in store for this country over the next two years.

This is what people will be discussing for the next 7 days, at least...

Watch it now and then share it with your friends. Time is tight -- the election is almost on top of us. Get the word out: Vote Democratic and stop Bush before it is too late.

NBC News:

Bob Woodward's new book, State of Denial, accuses US officials of deliberately trying to mislead the public about the worsening state of the war in Iraq.

Bob Woodward: There is public and then there is private. But what did they do with the private? They stamped it secret. No one is supposed to know. Why is that secret?

The book, to be released Monday, also claims senior US officials in Iraq urgently called for more troops as early as September, 2003 to contain the growing insurgency. But they were ignored -- the assessments considered too pessimistic.

Woodward: The insurgents know what they're doing, the level of violence and how effective they are.

Who doesn't know? The American public.

Bill Frogameni writes about the Pulitzer-winning reporters who exposed the U.S. Tiger Force's atrocities in Vietnam. They discuss why the case was whitewashed -- and its scary parallels to Iraq, including Rumsfeld's possible involvement in ending the investigation in 1975.


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