Thursday, October 19, 2006

Iraq, Media Matters, Randi Rhodes

Thursday at last! :D Lots going on. I'll start with this, Elizabeth Sullivan's "Vietnam & Iraq: Another 'Bright Shining Lie':"

The ultimate tragedy of Iraq is that it was dreamed up by a generation that lived through an earlier war constructed atop deception and denial.
The Vietnam generation should have known better.
Yet Iraq is the same "bright shining lie" told by the same sort of smart men -- and this time, smart women -- that Neil Sheehan chronicled in his devastating book about the many-tiered American deceptions that made Vietnam such a quagmire. As with Vietnam, this nation is propping up a corrupt Iraqi government and distorting outcomes by picking its own political winners and losers.
As with Vietnam, U.S. officials faced with military stalemate are grasping at straws via vain attempts to "Iraqify" a national military and police force that lacks legitimacy with most Iraqis. Why else would Iraqis be able to take over only two of the nation's 18 provinces when -- according to ground commander Gen. George Casey -- 80 percent to 90 percent of current violence is concentrated in only five?
It may not be surprising that a White House where few served in Vietnam would fail to see the Vietnam analogies, and instead cast the post-9/11 landscape as the ideological equivalent of the Cold War.

Bully Boy made the comparison yesterday. That's one reason C.I. did a night time entry yesterday ("Iraq"). C.I. said it just like when Bully Boy used "30,000" for the number of Iraqis killed. Until Bully Boy used that number, the mainstream press played vague. It was an undercount but Bully Boy used and they ran with it.

So the second Bully Boy made the comparison, suddenly the press could without being nervous or scared. That's the point C.I. was making today with this: "Whatever the reason, this comparison, or the fact that the Bully Boy made it, won't fade away."

By the way, I'm not picking on Elizabeth Sullivan. I like her column and if it's up today and in print in a newspaper, she probably wrote this before the yesterday evening's comparison was making news. But this is going to be something people talk about. That's the way the media works. Once Bully Boy says it, whatever it is, they can suddenly talk about it after most of them acted like it wasn't happening all along.

I'm going to slide it over to C.I., Sullivan's column, after I finish this and call to make sure C.I. sees it. It's really a strong column and at a time when a lot of women writing for publications want to play silent and stupid on the war, it's good to know one's not doing that. Election gas bagging is a topic some women want to offer. That'll be so important the second week of November.

Now this is from Media Matters' "O'Donnell asked congresswoman to go 'on the record' with 'promise' that Dems won't 'make the president's final two years in office a living hell':"

On the October 18 edition of MSNBC News Live, MSNBC chief Washington correspondent Norah O'Donnell asked Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) to go "on the record" with a "promise" that Democrats "will not issue tens or hundreds of subpoenas to the White House when it comes to Katrina, Iraq, and a number of issues" that would "make the president's final two years in office a living hell." O'Donnell also baselessly suggested that such oversight would "mean that nothing gets done in Washington." Her comments were first noted by the weblog Firedoglake.
Earlier in the segment, which also included a discussion with
Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), O'Donnell suggested that reviewing Democratic voting records on wiretapping and detainee abuse "helps [the White House] make a compelling argument" that "Democrats are weak when it comes [to] defense." O'Donnell made the remark while citing an article in The Washington Times in which White House senior adviser Karl Rove said that "it is useful to remind Democrats of what they said and what they do," and that "[s]omething is fundamentally flawed" in the Democrats' voting records.
This is not the first time O'Donnell has repeated Republican Party talking points unchallenged. As Media Matters for America
noted, on the August 31 edition of Hardball, O'Donnell asked Democratic strategist Bob Shrum if "part of the problem that the Democrats have is they don't have a message to respond to the president" on the Iraq war. The following day, O'Donnell asked MSNBC political analyst Ron Reagan if withdrawing from Iraq would "essentially hand a victory to the terrorists," an exchange that was also noted by Media Matters.

I like Media Matters but I want to especially praise them on this. Norah O'Donnell is a GOP hack. I heard it from C.I., I've since heard it from reporters who are friends of C.I.'s. Media Matters has never been afraid to go after her. That's not always been the case online. I heard about people pointing out things, press, to sites like Media Whores Online and that 'brave' site refused to note them. Including the fact that when NBC switched her to DC, O'Donnell had a party thrown for her by someone who worked for Cheney (had just left due to pregnancy) attended by a lot of the administration. That's the thing she's still criticized for -- how does a supposedly neutral party attend a private residence to go to a party thrown for her by one of Cheney's flunkies? And where was MWO? The supposedly brave site? Looking the other way even when it was pointed out to them. You've had others look the other way and even some on the left praise her (like the online latter day ___). That's why they're a joke. Media Matters covers everything. That's why it's not a joke. Anyone who is sad that MWO is gone should take comfort in the fact that you've got people doing real work at Media Matters.

Robin D. Gill writes a really dumb letter to a Florida newspaper. Wally saw it and wanted me to include it. Why is it dumb? Gill whines that Gainseville needs an Air America "or other" station. Gill goes on to schill for Air America and comes off like an idiot as she name checks every male on staff basically as well as the margarine queen and Stephanie Miller who isn't funny as she wishes she was (which is probably why she screens her calls) and isn't a part of AAR. As Wally pointed out (unlike Gill, Wally wasn't visiting Florida, he lives there), Randi Rhodes is known throughout Florida even by people who can't pick her up over the airwaves. As most people know who don't buy the hype, she's an actual ratings hit unlike all the dopes Gill pants over. If you're going to make an argument in Florida for bringing AAR ("other" is apparently important to Gill), you name the best weekday host and you name the host who owns a home in Florida. In this case, both people are Randi Rhodes.

It's really past time that Randi Rhodes gets the credit she's earned. Baby Cries a Lot is the "face" AAR tried to sell listeners, Randi Rhodes is the face listeners chose. She's the only weekday host that's had their act together and given facts and humor. I'm to the left of her but I can listen to her and not cringe. Rachel Maddow makes too many errors and Baby Cries a Lot only knows how to whine. The non AAR people, other than Stephanie Giggles, I don't know. But of the AAR weekday staff, there's only one star and it's Randi Rhodes. Baby Cries a Lot couldn't even sell his last book. His act was tired before he moved it over to radio and now it's just embarrassing. If AAR ever wants to get out of their eternal slump, they'll stop trying to make Baby Cries a Lot a star and start getting behind the host listeners made a star from day one. Gill wrote a stupid letter. It would be like me going to Dallas and writing a letter to their paper about football mentioning the Houston Texans and the New York Giants and the Arizona Cardinals and never once mentioning the Dallas Cowboys. People reading my letter would think, "Screw you, idiot." That's how Wally felt about Gill's letter that couldn't

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, October 19, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the Giddiest Gabor of the Green Zone tries to spin, Bully Boy seems unaware (no surprise there) of how his comments comparing Iraq to Vietnam are being received, and Melanie McPherson faces a court-martial.
Starting with the Bully Boy. As
Demetri Sevastopulo (Financial Times) noted, Bully Boy "drew a comparison between Iraq and the Vietnam war for the first time on Wednesday when he said Thomas Friedman, a New York Times columinst, 'could be right' in writing that the violent situation in Iraq was the 'jihadist equivalent of the Tet offensive." Summarizing the interview, Ed O'Keefe (ABC) notes, "Bush said he could not imagine any circumstances under which all U.S. troops would be withdrawn from Iraq before the end of his presidency." Bully Boy doesn't seem to register of what his comparison would result in. Mark Tran (Guardian of London) walks readers through: "Mr Bush has strongly resisted comparisons between Vietnam and Iraq. Vietnam remains a touchy subject for America; the war deeply divided the country, ended in an ignominious retreat for the US after the loss of more than 57,000 American lives, and has become synonymous with political and military debacle. The 1968 Tet offensive was a military failure for the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese, but it turned American public opinion against the war and fatally damaged President Lyndon Johnson, who abandoned his re-election campaign two months later."
As the comparison continues to be noted, the question is why Bully Boy, whose party has not just avoided the comparison but decried those making it, would offer the comparison? Possibly he was feeling nostalgic? He probably remembers those days in the trenches, in Alabama, when he self-checked out, with fondness and with US Secretary of Defense
Donald Rumsfeld speaking in Alabama, at Maxwell Air Force Base, that might have made him look back on his own 'misty, water colored memories'? Whatever the reason, this comparison, or the fact that the Bully Boy made it, won't fade away. No matter how Dana Perino and other flacks try to spin it.
It comes at a time when the US public has turned against the illegal war and when chaos and violence continue in Iraq.
BBC reports a truck bomb targeting a police stations claimed the lives of 12 people in Mosul while, in Kirkuk, a car bomb outside a bank "as soldiers gathered at the bank to collect their salaries" claimed eight lives and left 70 wounded Al Jazeera reports on the Kirkuk bombing: "A large part of the bank building, two army vehicles and several nearby shops were set on fire by the explosion." On Mosul, AFP reports that there were "a whole series of apparently coordinated attacks going off every 20 minutes Thursday, including several suicide car bombs, mortar fire and small arms attacks against coalition forces and Iraqi police," counting ten in all, that the city is now under curfew and that, in addition to those dying in the truck bombing, four more people died during the waves of attacks. Ziad al-Taei (Reuters) reports that there were six bombers and updates the death toll to "at least 20 people" (eleven killed by the truck bombing and, in addition, "[n]ine charred bodies lay on the debris-strewn streets"). Ellen Knickmeyer (Washington Post) reports "a huge fireball" and the truck was "an oil tanker [driven] into the Abu Tammam police station".
In Baghdad, home of the fabled 'crackdown,' China's
People's Daily Online reports five dead and ten wounded in southern Baghdad as a result of three roadside bombs which are being seen as a "coordinated attack". The dead included two police officers and KUNA reports four more police officers died from "improvised explosive devices" in Kirkuk. Reuters reports that "near Mahmudiya" two people died from mortar rounds and four were left wounded while, in Mahmudiya proper, mortar rounds resulted in one family losing two members and three members being wounded.
Christopher Bodeen (AP) reports four police officers were shot dead in Dora during an attack on a police station, while, in Baghdad, Bassem Kadhim ("Police Brig.") was shot dead in front of his home. Reuters notes the Baghdad shooting ("Basim Qasim" is their spelling) and slo notes that a man was shot dead in Diwaniya, "an employee in the Ministry of Higher Education" in Baghdad was shot dead. On the topic of shootings, CNN has footage to "snipers in Iraq, targeting and killing American troops, taking them down with a single bullet from a high-powered rifle." (The footage is news. I'm sure it's also violent, that's your warning.)
Christopher Bodeen (AP) reports that the corpses of three men and one woman were discovered in Bahgdad. Reuters notes that five corpses were found in Mahmudiya.
As all of the above goes on, the Giddiest Gabor in the Green Zone grabs a feather boa and gets a wee bit giddier: William Caldwell IV, military spokespiece, attempts to spin.
Christopher Bodeen (AP) reports that Willie spoke to the press declaring: "In Baghdad, Operation Together Forward has made a difference in the focus areas but has not met our overall expectations in sustaining a reduction in the level of violence."
As Aileen Alfandary noted today (
KPFA's The Morning Show), some will term that an "understatement." CBS and AP report that Little Willie declared, "The violence is indeed disheartening." Apparently before tossing the feather boa around his neck.
Many reports have the, the US joining the crackdown (the thing that hasn't "met . . . overall expectations")
on August 7th. However, the 'crackdown' began in June. That's the reality. It's been juiced up, beefed up and through various versions but it's gone on since June. Little Willie will next entertain the press corps on Karaoke night by singing "What A Fool Believes."
That, all this time later, they're only now
"reviewing strategy in Baghdad" (as Ibon Villelabeitia reports for Reuters), demonstrate that they've bought their own Operation Happy Talk. Simon Hooper (CNN) notes the comments of British historian Dominic Sandbrook: "What I would imagine America will probably do is what they did before [Vietnam] which is to slowly start withdrawing its troops. George Bush already talks a lot about training up people in Iraq just like Nixon did in Vietnam. What Vietnam teaches us is that sometimes there is no easy answer, there is no strategy for success -- You can get into something and there is no way out."
Joshua Levs (CNN) notes that despite attempts at Happy Talk by the puppet of the occupation, "CNN journalists in Baghdad found these steps by al-Maliki -- like many other announced over they years -- have shown no impact." CNN also notes, of the release of Sheikh Mazen al-Saedi, that "[r]eporters wanted to know why the release occurred. One asked whether such a raid is making soldiers' jobs more difficult and whether the U.S.-led coalition can succeed if the prime minister doesn't allow arrests to be made." As noted in yesterday's snapshot, al-Saedi was taken into custody by US forces, Nouri al-Malliki decided he needed to be released and Iraq's minister of the interior drove al-Saedi back to the Sadrist office. Kirk Semple and John F. Burns (New York Times) report that this "rapid release" has "provoked a new wave of exasperation among American officials and military commanders, who have made little secret of their growing doubts about Mr. Maliki's political will or ability to stop the killings."
Turning to legal news
Kristin Roberts (Reuters) reports: "U.S. service members will face military trials in three separate cases for the murders of Iraqi civilians, including the gang rape and murder of a teenage girl and the killing of her family in their home in Mahmudiya, the military said on Wednesday." Roberts notes these trials include the case of "shot dead 14-year-old Abeer Qasim Hamza al-Janabi's father, mother and six-year-old sister in Mahmudiya, near Baghdad, in March" which involves allegations of rape against Jesse Spielman and Paul Cortez while James Barker is now cooperating with the prosecutions (military as well as the federal prosecution that Steven D. Green faces because he had been discharged from the military before the charges surfaced).
In other legal news, a US soldier elected not to go to Iraq and her story is a new one for this community.
Randy Furst (Minnesota Star Tribune) reported last week on Melanie McPherson. McPherson self-checked out of the US military in July of this year and turned herself in September -- the reasons for her self-check out was that the reservists was not given training for the assignment she was facing in Iraq (MP). McPherson left a note that read: "Please fly without me. I love my country. I was hoping to use my God-given talent, not just be a bullet catcher." McPherson has posted her own statement and notes that she joined the Army Reserves (May 1999) "as a journalist." McPherson also posted a timeline which we'll note here:

August 16, 1999

Joined Army Reserves. 8-year contract; 6 years as a Reservist, 2 years as an Inactive Ready Reserve

January 2000

Reported for Basic Training at Fort Jackson, SC

April 2000

Attended Advanced Individual Training (AIT) for Journalism at Fort Meade, MD

August 2000

Graduated AIT
Joined the 88th Regional Support Command at Fort Snelling, MN with the Mobile Public Relations Department

August/September 2000

Attended two-week ULCHI Focus Lens Annual Training in South Korea

October 1, 2001

Moved to Vermont to work with Eckerd Youth Alternatives as a counselor for youth whom commited sexual offences

Summer 2002

Attended two-week Public Affairs exercise in Germany

May 15, 2002

Changed soldier status from Army Reservist to Inactive Ready Reservist

May 15, 2002 April 1, 2006

No military involvement

April 1, 2006

Received orders dated March 28, 2006, to report to Fort Jackson, SC on May 28, 2006, for an 18-month tour with Operation Iraqi Freedom (O.I.F.)
Orders for mobilization with 131st MPAD had been cancelled a month prior on March 4, 2006
Military contract extended from original exit date of May 27, 2007, to November 23, 2007, for fulfillment of O.I.F. orders
Assigned to the 131st Mobile Public Affairs Detachment (MPAD) out of Mobile, AL

May 28, 2006

Reported to Fort Jackson, SC
Received orders while at Fort Jackson to report to a MOPERS non-unit at Fort Meade, MD on July 8, 2006

July 8, 2006

Reported to Fort Meade, MD

July 14, 2006

Received new orders to integrate into the National Guard 34th Brigade (BDE) 1st Infantry Headquarters (IN HHC) stationed in Iraq since March 2006
Ordered to report to the CRC 875th RC at Fort Bliss, TX on July 23, 2006, for movement to Kuwait en route to joining the 34th BDE 1st IN HHC in Iraq

July 23, 2006

Reported to Fort Bliss, TX

At this point, McPherson learns from someone she trained with (who is serving in Iraq) that he was shoved into a position he wasn't trained for, so she "went to the Commander and 1st Sgt. of the CRC who are in charge of processing soldiers" commanding officer who made a phone call with Melanie McPherson present during which the Commander made statements into the phone such as "How could they put her into the position of a military police officer? It just doesn't make any sense!"

Ignored by the Commander and with "less than 24 hours away from our departure to Kuwait en route to Iraq," McPherson decided to self-check out. That's a summary. Click
here for the full statements (and scroll down). We'll close with the last paragraphs of her statement:

The command has also gone so far as to accuse me of encouraging other soldiers not to deploy. This is a very false accusation.
I respect the selfless service soldiers are willing to commit to in regards to their feelings of betterment for humanity and national safety. However, I also support soldiers who feel like they are not able to perform their assigned duties in the Army because of medical conditions, family issues, personal beliefs and legalities related to war, like Lt.
Ehren Watada's case, or circumstances such as the case of sexual harassment and assault SPC. Suzanne Swift is facing. They both have valid stances. I can also greatly relate to the prominence of sexual harassment females endure while in the service. It can run rampant. I hope she can heal and overcome such events. I, myself, have a long and documented history of severe depression since my teen years. Despite that documentation and myriad medications over time, I found that a medical discharge would be highly unlikely.
The military is not for everyone. It is difficult to predict what will take place once a person signs the dotted line. There are many unknowns until we are actually faced with them. When a situation does surface, it is very difficult to resolve without being ostracized or severely punished.
Due to my decision to take matters in my own hands by going AWOL, the CRC command recommended I face a summery court marshal. Their plans were to drop my rank from an E-4 to an E-1, take a month's pay, confine me to prison for 30 days, and then recycle me and send me over to Iraq to face the same situation I originally fled.
I decided to deny the summery court martial. I will be assigned either a general or special court martial in the coming few weeks or months for the charges of missing movement and desertion. I face several years in prison.
The decisions I have made are not only for my benefit, but also for the fair and better treatment of soldiers coming up who will face similarly difficult situations. We are regarded as the best military in the world. I believe we should make it better and safer for those that serve our nation. They absolutely deserve it.