Sunday, September 30, 2007

Shootin' Thru The 'Tubes

Another lazy Sunday and here's what's Shootin' Thru The 'Tubes:

Looks as though The Big G is out for the '08 race. No not Gore, Gingrich. Satirists, cartoonists and Democrats are saddened by the loss.

Those still left in, however, are ripe for snarkification. I mean seriously, it's almost as if they want to make it easy for us. John McCain says that the US Constitution established a Christian nation and questions whether a Muslim is fit to be president. But I don't think Crazy Train should be positing about whether or not a person of a certain religiosity is worthy of office given his seeming inability to pick one himself.

Then there's Rescue Rudy, who now fancies himself a modern day Jesus because of how his personal life is scrutinized. The ironies in his allusion are so rich as to cause diabetic coma. And again with the 9/11, this time explaining his reason for taking a call from his wife at a function where he was already well over his 9/11 quotient for the day. Seems Rudy didn't get the memo that we're all outta 9/11 F.U.'s.

Update: Is Rudy's pandering not playing with the pious populace?

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)


Saturday, September 29, 2007

Redeploying the Phony Brigade

A surprising thing happened on day two of "Rush to Condemn Rush". The Democrats, whose response to such incidents can usually measured at a glacial pace, moved rather quickly to scold Rush for his jab at soldiers favoring withdrawal. Word has it there will even be a House resolution introduced Monday to formally condemn his statements ala the amendment. But as deserving as the Dittohead-in-chief is of condemnation, I wonder how much of this fracas is merely to get back at the GOP for forcing a response to the MoveOn Maelstrom. If that is the case, I don't think a resolution is warranted (for the record, I didn't think MoveOn should have been censured either). Issue a press release or hold a press conference, sure. But for the most part Congress should avoid these tit-for-tat resolutions.

And really the Dems should know better than to play this game, because the rules are always pliable when it comes to the GOP. As much as it might feel good, this is exactly the sort of thing the GOPers want. Because I'd bet good money that should a resolution come to the floor condemning Limbaugh, the GOPers will scold the Democrats for wasting the Congress' precious time on frivolous trivialities. I know it doesn't make much sense given the apoplexy over the importance to condemn MoveOn but when has anything the GOP done made sense?

Allowing any resolution that seeks to condemn free speech, even that which many find contemptible, only further illustrates the misplaced priorities of the Congress. And it shows how petty and sophomoric our political discourse has become. We already get enough of that from Rush, we don't need it from Congress as well.

Update: Upon further reflection, I find myself of two minds about whether 'tis wise for the Democrats to put forth a Rush resolution. On the one hand, as I note above, the GOP will surely bemoan the meaninglessness of the whole affair. But I am also sympathetic to the argument that bringing such a resolution to vote is designed to highlight that hypocrisy. Still further, the argument could be made that not seizing on this gifted opportunity could be a sign of weakness. The GOPers may harp on the fact that despite their widespread condemnations, the Dems won't follow through on their convictions. They have already locked themselves onto that course and were they to back off now, like a shark catching his first wisp of blood, the GOP will go into frenzy mode. Such are the tribulations of these vicious cycles of escalation and counter-escalation. All the more reason they should be avoided.

Sadly given the current partisan rancor that exists on both sides, that is unlikely to happen any time soon.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

Friday, September 28, 2007

Top GOPers Skip Black Debate

The top tier GOP candidates bailed on the debate last night at a predominately black college because of what were said to be "scheduling conflicts". Here now are some other excuses that may have been considered:

1. Worried they might slip up and mention how "surprised" they were that a black moderated debate was just like every other debate and no one was shouting "M-Fer, I have a question."

2. Were concerned about how they would act around all those "stocky black guys".

3. Would rather attend the symposium by Michael Medved discussing how slavery wasn't such a bad thing.

Feel free to add your own in the comments.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

Charge of the Phony Brigade

I don't know why everyone is so worked up over Rush Limbaugh's claim that those soldiers who support withdrawing from Iraq are "phony". These sorts of "foot-in-mouth" episodes are par for the course when it comes to Rush. That he always seems to slink by with nary a follicle out of place (sans the ones lost to a rapidly receding hairline) is a testament to how powerful the right wing media machine has become.

But I want to examine Rush's claim that soldiers who don't support the war in Iraq are "phony". If they are "phony" shouldn't we be doing something about it? I mean, if it's demoralizing to have gays openly serving in the armed forces, it must be equally demoralizing to have soldiers serving who don't support the war efforts 110%. Why not institute a "Do Ask, Do Tell" policy and any soldier found to be in favor of withdrawal be jettisoned before they are able to infect the rest of their units with similar sentiment. You know, like the gays do.

I am of course being facetious. Rush on the other hand is not and should be denounced for his comments. That his Oxy-Contin addled brain doesn't get that those soldiers who he derides as "phony" have fought and died so that he could speak his mind just shows who the real "phony" is in this debate.

More from Tim Grieve.

Update: Greg Sargent has another great catch. According to Rush, it's "not possible intellectually to follow" those people who favor withdrawal because their basic argument thus far has been "It's gonna bring our troops home. Save the troops. Keep the troops safe. Or whatever."

Greg boils it down:
The point here is that for Limbaugh, Boehner and other war supporters, the lives of the troops simply aren't part of the equation in any meaningful sense, and once in a while, this dirty secret slips out.

Defenders of the Bush administration often say that in order to really support the troops you must support the war. They are unable to differentiate the Cause (the war) from those fighting it (the soldiers). To them they are one in the same and Rush's commentary points to that inability to separate the two. People like Limbaugh just can not fathom the idea that each soldier is an individual with his or her own opinion. So when soldiers who choose to voice that opinion speak up, they are labeled "phony" to help preserve the integrity of this believed indistinguishableness.

To guys like Rush, the soldiers are just pawns to be moved about the chessboard of war. And should they fall, the collective reaction from righties is always the same.


(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Shootin' Thru The 'Tubes

I'm still trying to find my muse this morning so here's what's Shootin' Thru The 'Tubes:

Despite warnings that it could be read as tacit approval for military confrontation with Iran, the Senate, following in the suicidal footsteps of their counterparts in the House, overwhelmingly passed an amendment by Joe "When can we bomb Iran?" Lieberman. And even though the amendment was parred down, removing some of the more provocative language, there is still debate about how the remaining provisions could still be used to draw the US into another war.

And since we're on the subject, a Spanish newspaper released what were claimed to be transcripts of a pre-Iraq war conversation between President Bush and Spanish Jose Anzar in which Bush claims he'd already made up his mind to invade Iraq no matter what. This Telemundo version of Downing Street might be food for thought for all those Congress Critters to think about the next time Bush says he wants to resolve the standoff with Iran diplomatically. Then again, it may already be too late.

But while the legislature may be willing to sign away their duties and responsibilities, thankfully there are those in the judiciary who aren't as eager. A second judge as ruled portions of the Patriot Act are unconstitutional, specifically those regarding the issuance of search warrants without probable cause.

And finally, a group of bloggers has set up a memorial fund in honor of Sgt. Omar Mora and Sgt. Yance T. Gray, the two soldiers who dead in a vehicle accident weeks after writing a New Times Op-ed critical of the surge strategy. I urge you to visit. For while the media may have chosen to move on, we would be doing a huge disservice to their sacrifice should we merely let them and the countless others be consigned to the forgotten.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Still Adding Insult to Injury

Earlier this year, a firestorm erupted over the treatment of wounded soldiers convalescing in the squalled conditions at Walter Reed Medical Center. The Bush administration responded to the scandal much the same way they responded to Hurricane Katrina: they spent more time searching for a fall guy than they did actually addressing the problem. And even though heads did roll over the affair, critics were not assuaged. They demanded these soldiers be afforded the treatment they have rightfully earned and the Congress has put forth numerous bills since then that sought to increasing spending for veterans health. But even to this day, Bush still threatens to veto spending that doesn't suit his liking.

As a result, conditions at Walter Reed are about what one would expect.
Months after pledging to improve veterans care, the Bush administration has yet to find clear answers to some of the worst problems afflicting wounded warriors, such as delays in disability payments and providing personalized care, investigators said.

A report by the Government Accountability Office, released Wednesday, offers the first preliminary assessment of improvement efforts initiated by the Pentagon and Veterans Affairs Department after revelations in February of shoddy outpatient treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

The AP reports that staff shortages mean that nearly half of returning wounded veterans who are eligible for treatment don't receive any. Delays of 177 days or more for disability payments still persist. And the continued lack of a viable system for transferring medical records from facility to facility means further delays in treatment.

Back in March, President Bush said "We're going to fix the problem ... We're not going to be satisfied until everybody gets the kind of care that their folks and families expect." Six months later, they're still waiting.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

How Do You Spell That?

President Bush's speech before the UN General Assembly yesterday is receiving quite a bit of attention, mainly because of the huge disparity of his remarks vs. record on human rights.
President Bush implored the United Nations on Tuesday to recommit itself to restoring human decency by liberating oppressed people and ending famine and disease.

Speaking before the United Nations General Assembly, the president called for renewed efforts to enforce the U.N.'s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a striking point of emphasis for a leader who's widely accused of violating human rights in waging war against terrorism.

Bush didn't mention the U.S. prisons in Afghanistan or at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, the U.S. practice of holding detainees for years without legal charges or access to lawyers, or the CIA's "rendition" kidnappings of suspects abroad, all issues of concern to human rights activists around the world.

The article goes on to quote several members of various human rights groups who were astounded at the audacity of Bush to herald the UN Declaration when so many practices of the US in recent years have been so antithetical to that very charter.

Now the point of this post not to highlight Bush's hypocrisy. That this President has a tendency to talk out of both sides of his mouth, often times flubbing his lines to such a degree that his handlers probably wish to duct it shut is well know by now. But what we didn't know is just how much help he needed to get the lines out.

Via ABC's Political Radar:
ABC News' Ann Compton and Jennifer Duck report: Never before has the White House released a draft version of the President's speech to the annual United Nations General Assembly.

But this year, a glimpse of how the President sees his speeches was accidentally placed on the UN website along with the speechwriters' cell phone numbers.

Pronunciations for President Bush's friend French President Sarkozy "[sar-KOzee]" appeared in draft #20 on the UN website. Other pronunciations included the Mugabe "[moo-GAHbee] regime" and pronunciations for countries "Kyrgyzstan [KEYRgeez-stan]" and "Mauritania [moor-EH-tain-ee-a]."

One can only imagine how they would try to phonetically spell out a name like Ahmadinejad. Perhaps they employ the Katie Couric method?

Update: Fellow ASZer Steven wonders why no help with the one word Bush always mispronounces?

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

Ca$hing in on 9.11

I like to rag on Rudy Giuliani for his shameless exploitations of the events of 9/11. He does it with such frequency that one has to wonder if he does in fact suffer from some sort of 9/11 Tourette's. But there was always one area where the exploitation thankfully never really delved into and that was fund raising. Sure he would use his 9/11 celebrity to garner all sorts of lucrative speaking engagements but he never overtly linked 9/11 to his pandering for money.

So much for that.
A supporter of Rudy Giuliani's is throwing a party that aims to raise $9.11 per person for the Republican's presidential campaign.

Abraham Sofaer is having a fundraiser at his Palo Alto, Calif., home on Wednesday, when Giuliani backers across the country are participating in the campaign's national house party night.

But Sofaer said he had nothing to do with the "$9.11 for Rudy" theme.

The Rudy campaign has since tried to distance itself from this saying it was an independent initiative not associated with America's Mayor. And though they've disavowed the stunt, it doesn't mean they won't still reap the rewards since they've yet to indicate whether that will accept the proceeds.

What I don't get is: why such a low figure? Most of these types of events pull in upwards of $1,000 a head. Why not go for the obvious $911? Even at that price it would have been decent discount.

Maybe they were testing the waters to see the reaction to such a blatant case of exploitation. If it received a tepid response, which it looks to have aside from expected condemnation from the blogosphere and Chris Dodd, we might be in for a significant markup in the "$'s for Rudy" campaign.

Then again, it may just be a sign of the times. Rudy has so flooded the landscape with references to 9/11 that he's forced to hawk it for less than the price of a previously-viewed movie at Blockbuster. And just like most of those ill-advised, direct-to-video sequels, I have feeling will be in for more of this sort of thing as the campaign season progresses.

Update: More from Hunter.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Opening The Files: 09/25/07

Manic Mahmoud Monday

It was Mahmoudapalooza yesterday in Right Blogtopia. Apparently giddy from their triumph in squashing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's trip to Ground Zero, they set their outrage phasers to "pearl clutch" and directed their ire to Columbia University, where the New Hitler spoke and held a Q&A cession. But they mightn't have bothered, since after a blistering introduction by CU President Lee Bollinger, Mahmoud proceeded to make a complete ass of himself. His claims about women's rights and the lack of gays in Iran were met with the only howls they truly deserved: laughter.

But for the righties, the mere thought of giving this man a platform from which to make himself look the fool is just too much and once again our lawmakers seem intent on making everyone wonder who the real fools are. Love those priorities. For a party that projects itself as the "Tough Daddies", the GOPers sure need to change their undergarments often. Are we really that fearful?

Anyone else getting the feeling that was really has people like William Kristol, Michelle Malkin, and Glenn Reynolds worried is that we might go over our blow hard quota?

The Garlic has the scoop on the real reason for Ahmadinejad's visit.

Will Bunch isn't holding his breath that anyone will point out how much ol' Mahmoud's rhetoric sounds eerily similar to that of certain members of the right. Martin Lewis, meanwhile, says Iran is starting to sound like a paradise.

Dilbert creator Scott Adams feels like he's been had.

Steve Soto wants proof beyond just the regurgitated talking points from the media.

And Joe Gandelman wonders who the target audience was for this made-for-TV drama.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)


Sunday, September 23, 2007

Dial Tone Deaf

Looks as though Rescue Rudy might be in need of some rescuing himself. During a speech to the National Rifle Association, America's Mayor took time to answer the call: from his wife that is. But given the reception his curiously timed interruption received, perhaps now would be a good time for Rudy to switch to a provider that doesn't have such great reception. Can you hear me now?

As for rest of Rudy's oration, he probably should have stuck with the I love yous. For his claim that 9/11 changed his view of how important is it to defend our rights under the Second Amendment seem rather specious when you consider that view likely doesn't extend to the rest of the rights ascribed on that piece of parchment.

And one last note, since Rudy has no problem with these glimpses into his personal life, maybe the media should learn to get over their aversion to pointing out the open secret.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Fulfilling the Prophecy

"As democracy is perfected, the office of President represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."---H.L. Mencken, The Baltimore Evening Sun, July 26, 1920.

Mr. Mencken was of course being facetious when he wrote that statement nigh on a century ago but he could have easily been describing our current political landscape. We often like to make fun of President Bush for his, at best, estranged relationship with the English language. And he has yet to disappoint us, as he did the other day when he inartfully suggested that Saddam Hussein killed South African President Nelson Mandela (who is very much alive, by the way). I think what has most everyone tittering over this is the idea that Bush even knows who Mandela is, much less what he accomplished. Indeed, it wouldn't surprise me in the least to learn he had to be informed that Mandela wasn't a type of fruit.

One of the men vying to be his successor is apparently intent on continuing the Mencken prophecy. Like Bush, Rudy Giuliani must have also gotten mediocre grades in Econ 101 because he seems to think that we would be able to balance tax cuts with even more tax cuts. I don't know about you but the only place I know of where a negative times a negative equals a positive is in algebra, which I will admit it takes an advance degree in to sort out the current tax code.

And on the subject of why he now favors gun rights after seemingly years spent advocating stricter gun control laws? Three guesses what his answer was (Hint 1: it's his answer to everything) (Hint 2: No, not tax cuts).

When it comes to the President, it is really too much to ask that we elect someone based on more criteria than the presence of a pulse?

(h/t to Joe Galloway for Mencken quote)

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

Friday, September 21, 2007

Shootin' Thru The 'Tubes

TGIF and it's the "Fauxtage Edition" of Shootin' Thru The 'Tubes:

The righties still can't move on from MoveOn. In the clearest sign yet that the Congress has their priorities seriously screwed up, they overwhelming voted to condemn a newspaper ad that disparaged Gen. Petraeus. President Bush even got in on the fun, calling the ad "disgusting" and chiding the Democrats for being to scared to challenge leftwing groups like MoveOn. Keith Olbermann took the Prez to task over his remarks in a must see Special Comment. His genuine outrage, as opposed to the trumped up kind being generated over MoveOn, is palpable.

But the MoveOn Maelstrom succeeded in the only respects that mattered to the righties: distracting from Petraeus' actual testimony. Indeed, since this came to dominate the headlines, when was the last time anyone outside of the blogosphere addressed the substance of his claims? My point exactly.

Something else that has the righties knickers in a twist was a request by Iranian President Ahmadinejad to visit Ground Zero. Now I can appreciate the concerns of some over having him visit what many see as hallowed ground. And I certainly have no love loss for the guy. But like Josh Marshall, I have to wonder if the righties (and a few lefties) upset by this aren't suffering from some prepubescent mentality where they continue to view everything through the prism of a good vs. evil paradigm. One would think our ever shifting alliances in Iraq, which they also herald as signs of success, would have disabused them of that world view. But then, these are the righties were talking about.

Update: More from Kevin Drum.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Indefinite Sentences

Yesterday, thanks to the most obstructionistiest GOP body to date, those detained in the war on terror as well as those fighting it have now been told their fates track along much the same course. For while the suspects in places like Gitmo have once again been told they do not deserve a right to question their detention, the soldiers serving in Iraq have again been told that they do not deserve adequate time at home. That it would in fact "demean their service".

In a sense, both groups are trapped in sentences to which neither know the duration.

For the troops, it is having the predictable effect and no amount of cutesy, yet utterly meaningless proposals will change that. And yet somehow the GOP is still considered the party that "supports the troops". Some support.

Now some would say I am being treasonous for having the temerity to compare accused terrorists with members of our armed services. But as some have astutely observed in the past, this war is more about us than it is about them. That we would give up cherished liberties and condemn our fellow citizens to the turmoil of a war that many now realize was a mistake, all for the hubris of a small cabal of elites, says more about we as a nation than anything the terrorists could ever do.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Opening The Files: 09/19/07

The Week Everything Changed...or Not

Last week, with its Petraeus parade and MoveOn ad apoplexy, was billed by the Beltway punditocracy as the week that was suppose to change everything. But if trends are any indication, P.T. Bush still has his work cut out for him convincing the American people that all those droppings left behind by his parade of prodigious pachyderms are anything but steaming piles of partially digested agitprop. Because despite even the copious amounts of Febreze from "fair and balanced" Fox, the public is still holding their collective noses.

A slew of post Petraeus polls show that Americans just aren't buying the PR surge. And they also go along way toward explaining the sudden spinal regeneration on the part of the Democrats. As much as I don't wish to devalue the significance of this development but it needs to be said that we have seen this song and dance play out before. Only time will tell if it's the same old two-step (usually backwards).

But what has been clear even before last week's "same strategy, new slogan" rollout is that Americans have soured on this war and nothing short of a deux ex machina moment will change that. That Dems would wait until they could gauge the publics reaction to the Petraeus parade also points to how little faith they have in our ability to understand the situation. Then again, a PR surge worked to get us into this war. But once bitten, twice shy as they say.

In any event, the Bushies are no doubt squirming and are already looking for a fall guy for when the eventual "return on success" shows little in the way of return and even less in the success department.

Will Durst helps us sort out Petraeus' testimony.

The ramparts at the Times may be no more but, as Digby points out, the Beltway Villagers still refuse to venture outside their comfort zone.

And like me, David Sirota is cautiously optimistic that the Dems have finally gotten over their phobia.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Iraq to Blackwater: Out with the Tide

Finding respondents to that Help Wanted ad the military put out looks like it just got a wee bit harder with the news that the Iraqi government has told a private security company that they've worn out their welcome.
Blackwater USA, an American contractor that provides security to some of the top American officials in Iraq, has been banned from working in the country by the Iraqi government after a shooting that left eight Iraqis dead and involved an American diplomatic convoy.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, Brig. Gen. Abdul Karim Khalaf, said Monday that authorities had canceled the company’s license and that the government would prosecute the participants. But under the rules that govern private security contractors here, the Iraqis do not have the legal authority to do so.

The news was the topic of much discussion yesterday and rightly so, for it has the potential to have huge ramifications for both the Iraqi government and US forces in country. The decision places Prime Minister Al-Maliki in a tight spot. On the one hand, his already weakened administration needs to curry favor with the Iraqi people, who by an large are not fond of these guns for hire. On the other, the PM is still pretty beholden to the US, without whose patronage he would have little chance of lasting more than a fortnight.

For the US, the situation is even more precarious. We have come to rely pretty heavily on these private contractors to provide services that would otherwise have to be staffed by soldiers. But in doing so, we've placed ourselves in the predicament of having to choose which is more important: respecting the sovereignty and authority of the Iraq government or the security situation there. If we strike down the decision, the potential for Maliki's downfall will only increase because he will just be seen as a puppet. It will also give lie to all the so-called "progress" supposedly being made as the result of the surge.

At the same time, if these private companies start getting expelled whenever incidents like this occur, we place more and more burden on our already overstretched forces.

However you want to slice it, things just got that much tougher for all involved.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Fox Kicks the Habit Off the Flying Nun

Alternate Title: Gidget Gagged! (h/t 5th Estate)

Sorry for the silly puns but just couldn't resist. Seems Fox Broadcasting has become so concerned about shielding their audience from any sort of statements that don't fit into their larger narrative about the war in Iraq that they are now censoring anti-war acceptance speeches. Sally Field, best known for another memorable acceptance speech, spoke out against war in general at last night's Emmy's. Fox, however, is apparently not among those who "really like" Sally.
At tonight’s Emmy Awards show, the audience cheered Sally Field’s acceptance speech, which recognized the mothers of U.S. troops. “Surely this [award] belongs to all the mothers of the world,” she stated. “May they be seen, may their work be valued and raised. Especially to the mothers who stand with an open heart and wait. Wait for their children to come home from danger, from harm’s way, and from war. I am proud to be one of those women.”

Field then continued, “If mothers ruled the world, there would be no –” But the Fox Emmycast cut off her sound and pointed the camera away from the stage, silencing the rest of her sentence: “god-damned wars in the first place.”

Now even though it is debatable whether Field's colorful language warranted censorship, I probably would have been more understanding had she merely been bleeped. But pointing the camera away from the stage? Isn't that a bit much? Was Fox worried about lip readers? Yeesh.

In the end though, Fox may have shot themselves in the foot over this one as Joe Gandelman points out.
What remains puzzling is why a political statement so mild in this era of screeching talk radio and equally screeching weblogs is censored at all.

If the idea is to prevent it from going out on the airwaves, the next day the incident will be
all over the news, in newspapers and flash across the increasingly influential and demographically youthful Internet like a lightning bolt.

If she had been allowed to finish her comment, it would have merely been quoted and perhaps inspired some blog posts from conservative bloggers who had some extra time on their hands and had already done their other more important posts.

But by censoring her, her full statement will now get a LOT more publicity, the clip will be played and whoever censored her (Fox or some producer who apparently feared The Weekly Standard would not watch future telecasts) will come out of it looking silly, politically dumb and in the end ineffectual.

This is one "habit" that Fox could probably do without. Okay, I'll go put some coinage in the overused joke jar now.

More reactions via Meme.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

Slamming the Back Door

One of the things that many can agree on about the war in Iraq is that it has put a severe strain on our armed forces. We have been warned for months, if not years, that the repeated deployments and extended tours were harming not only the readiness of our armed services but also retention levels as well.

To help address some of those concerns, earlier this summer the Congress voted on an amendment by Sen. Jim Webb that would mandate that soldiers serving in Iraq be given the same amount of time at home as they were deployed. The amendment ultimately failed but buoyed by last week's recommendation by Gen. Petraeus and acceptance by President Bush of a limited troop drawdown, the prospect of passage has gained some momentum.

Which has naturally put the Bushies on the defensive because were it to pass, it would seriously hinder their efforts to keep Iraq at the status quo until it can be passed off to a successor administration. Thus they sent out a proxy in the form of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to argue against giving our soldiers adequate rest time between deployments. Here he was making the Sunday show circuit on Fox News.
I think that it’s a well-intentioned idea. I think it’s really, pretty much, a back door effort to get the President to accelerate the drawdown, so that it’s an automatic kind of thing rather than based on the conditions in Iraq, with all the consequences that I talked about earlier. I think, if as I believe, the President would never approve such a bill. It would mean, if it were enacted, we would have force management problems that would be extremely difficult and in fact create, I think affect combat effectiveness, and perhaps pose greater risk to our troops.

I find Gates' argument particularly aggravating because as everyone is no doubt aware by now, the drawdown to which the President acceded to was necessary regardless of "conditions in Iraq". Those "force management problems" were what compelled the drawdown, claims of success notwithstanding. Yet the media continues to portray it as a "concession", garnering just the sort of headlines the Bushies were hoping for.

Gates is right in calling Webb's proposal a "back door effort" to end the war. Because despite all the happy talk and drawdown dangling, the Bushies have every intention of keeping the "front door" firmly shut until Bush can sneak out a side window. That Gates would argue in favor of vetoing the measure despite his own apparent desires only illustrates he too will do his part to help bar the exits.

More from Digby and Kagro X.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Shootin' Thru The 'Tubes

Another lazy Sunday, so here are some quick blurbs of what's Shootin' Thru The 'Tubes:

Everyone was talking about the newest novel from the "Salvaging My Legacy" collection, this one from Alan Greenspan. The former Federal Reserve Chairman had some tough words for the Bushies. In addition to deriding them for not being fiscally conservative enough, he also says that the war in Iraq was "largely about oil". File these morsels of hindsight under "BO" for Blatantly Obvious.

The MoveOn Maelstrom continues to churn, this time with Crazy Train McCain suggesting the stock GOP answer to everything.

Implicit in Ragin' Rudy's salvo at Hillary Clinton yesterday was the claim that she is anti-military for questioning General Petraeus' credibility. But keeping that meme alive just got a little harder considering who has endorsed her candidacy.

And since we are on this subject of decrying those who attack the military, what I would like to know is when can we see attack ads against this guy? Oh, right. I forgot. IOKIYAAR.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)


Saturday, September 15, 2007

Unable to MoveOn

The faux brouhaha over the "Gen. Betray Us" ad last week has moved beyond the point of absurdity and into farcical territory. At first, righties merely seemed to be unable to move on past the headline of the ad. But then it became a nefarious plot whereby the NY Times gave MoveOn a "liberal discount" which one can assume is unavailable in red states. And even though that also proved to be utter bunk, that didn't stop Ragin' Rudy Giuliani from getting in to the fray.

Giuliani, ever the opportunist, found a way to turn the fracas into campaign fodder. So he took out his own ad. Though he was apparently strapped for cash since he demanded the same sweet deal MoveOn got.

In the ad, Rudy not only denounces MoveOn but sought to tie the criticism to his New York rival Hillary Clinton. According to Rudy, because Hillary had the temerity to question Gen. Petraeus' credibility, that just proves she was receiving commands from MoveOn via that subcutaneous implant that all liberals receive at birth. Apparently the signal was so strong, it was interfering with Fox News' implants in a couple of GOPers on the panel who were equally incredulous.

Giuliani wants to know "Who Should America Listen To?" Given his past commitment to and enlightened thought about some of the biggest issues facing our nation, Rudy certainly isn't one of them.

More from Maha and Tim Grieve.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

Friday, September 14, 2007

A Return on Success Staying the Course

The President gave his address last night that was being billed as a "Return on Success" (which begs the question: when did we ever "leave Success"? Is that anywhere near Basra?). But we all know this is just a return to the status quo. Bush announced that 5,700 troops will be home just in time for Christmas and another 23k will able to celebrate their independence from Iraq next summer. Though even now the Bushies are stressing that is unclear how many troops will actually be brought home.

But in any event, it's back to stay the course, even though they won't call it that. We'll be saddled with this new half-hearted slogan until the next time they need to buy more time to get us through the rest of Bush's time in office. As we've come to know with this administration, the only thing they know is marketing. But if the product reviews are any indication, few will be willing to buy no matter how "small" the price tag may be.

See also Fred Kaplan.

Update: Joe Gandelman has an extensive roundup with linkage to yours truly. Thanks Joe!

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)


Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Non-withdrawal Withdrawal

This past June, when we were being treated to another round of "Dangle the Drawdown", I commented on the prospect of President Bush withdrawing troops from Iraq for political purposes. Here's what I had to say:
Does make you wonder whatever happened to "they'll follow us home" doesn't it? Personally, I have no doubts that Bush would start to bring troops home prior to his departure if it meant salvaging some of this legacy. Perhaps the surge is in fact geared toward that goal. Increase the number of troops by just enough and for long enough that everyone forgets what the old numbers use to look like. It may sound like a cheap trick to pull but what will stand out in the minds of most Americans will be the scenes of soldiers being greeted by their loved ones on tarmacs across the nation. It will be feel good time for the lame duck and any GOPer within spitting distance is bound to get some runoff.

Well now my prediction seems to be panning out, as it is now expected that Bush will announce a reduction in troop levels during a national address tonight. And this time, it seems like the Bushies really mean it. Of course this "reduction" will only bring the levels back down to where they were before Bush initiated the surge. Talk about cynical. It's sorta like taking credit for cutting taxes by not increasing them.

The thing that truly ticks me off about this sly numbers game the Bushies are playing is the fact that we have been told ad infinitum that we mustn't announce our intentions in Iraq because to do so would embolden the enemy, whoever that happened to be that week. Bush himself repeatedly made this assertion to tamp down the pressure to withdraw.

Then again, Bush has also said he would listen to what his commanders have to say. But if reports that the Pentagon wants a far more substantial drawdown than the one Bush is likely to announce are true, I have a feeling that that "listening to the commanders" spiel will also be equally inoperative.

Blog Thanks: Salon's Blog Report for linking to the ASZ of this post.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Seeing the Mission Through

Last month, seven active duty soldiers serving in Iraq penned an op-ed in the NY Times that was the subject of much derision. Rather than be commended for giving their honest assessment of the surge knowing the threat of reprimand hung over the heads like the sword of Damocles, they were mocked as not fully understanding the situation. That anyone would question their credibility seemed to me to be the worst insult to their service.

And despite their concerns, they remained "committed soldiers" who would "see this mission through."

Two of the authors have now seen it through and made the ultimate sacrifice.
The Op-Ed by seven active duty U.S. soldiers in Iraq questioning the war drew international attention just three weeks ago. Now two of the seven are dead.

Sgt. Omar Mora and Sgt. Yance Gray died Monday in a vehicle accident in western Baghdad, two of seven U.S. troops killed in the incident which was reported just as Gen. David Petraeus was about to report to Congress on progress in the "surge."

In a case of grim serendipity, the assertions made in that op-ed were mentioned repeatedly during yesterday's Senate hearing. And perhaps their deaths will not have been in vain if it means that their courage in speaking up helped change the debate on the war.

Meme has more reactions.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Safer? Damifino

Having learned a lesson from the abysmal display put on by their House counterparts, the Senate's turn at grilling Gen. Petraeus and Amb. Crocker today was a far more in depth affair. Senator after Senator posited questions to the duo, each one more thought provoking than the last. But the one garnering the most attention was the question by Republican Senator John Warner who asked if our efforts in Iraq are making us safer.

The General's response? "I don't know."

And even though he tried to backpeddle later on, it was a damning admission nonetheless. Because for the last four years, whenever the issue of whether the war in Iraq has made the US safer has come up, the Bushies have always answered with an emphatic "yes". Anytime someone would question that assertion, they were derisively criticized.

But that really is the 64K question isn't it? In the wake of the September 11th attacks, the overriding question that has driven our foreign policy has always been "Does this make us safer?" When applied to the war Iraq, the answer is almost assuredly no. Because not only has it distracted from the fight to root out those that actually attacked us and allowed them to regroup, but it has also lead to the radicalization of an entire generation of Muslim youths who will no longer view the US as a benevolent force in the world

Bush likes to say that we are "safer but not yet safe". Thanks to the war in Iraq, we are likely to be in the "not yet" category for some time.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

Opening The Files: 09/11/07

I've already said my peace. So here is a simple roundup of what others are saying on this solemn day of remembrance.

Marie Cocco: Ignoring the Other Victims of 9/11

Gary Kamiya: The Real Lessons of 9/11

Steven D: Remembering the Dead

Penelope Trunk: When I Think About 9/11

Christy: How Fragile We Are...

Nancy Gibbs: How to Remember 9/11

Barbara O'Brien: Ground Zero of Dreams

Check back for more.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)


Shootin' Thru The 'Tubes

We'll call this the "Pimpin' Petraeus Edition" of Shootin' Thru The 'Tubes:

With the literal ton of bloggage being generated by Gen. Petraeus' testimony today before a joint session of two House committees, it is hard to know where to start. So as with most things, we'll start from the top and work out way down.

As expected, Memeorandum was full of commentary today about Petraeus, and the top story for most of it was righties decrying for running a full page ad claiming that Petraeus will "Betray Us". I hate to admit it but I'm in agreement with righties on this one that it was a poor choice of words for little more than some cheeky wordplay. If you want an idea of a far better "prebuttal", check out this vid from National Security Network.

Of course the big hang up for the righties was the hyperbolic headline. Few, if any, were actually addressing the claims made in the ad itself. Republicans who attended today's event also directed some ire at MoveOn, though it might not have been a good idea in retrospect. Some suggested that MoveOn should have waited until after the General gave his testimony before issuing their claims.

And while they may have been a bit harsh in their criticism, some of their claims were not without merit. For even though he spent most of August preparing for his oral exam and despite the soft ball reception, to say that his presentation was underwhelming would be a gross understatement.

Quick read on just some of the things we learned:

- Like most members of the Bush administration, General Petraeus seems to have forgotten the nifty little invention called "video tape". He says that no one could have foreseen the progress in Anbar even though back in January a similarly ribbon and medal bedecked general was doing just that. He also says that it's "premature" to think about withdrawal now and that we shouldn't be "projecting too far into the future". This from the guy who thinks it will take up to a decade to get Iraq on it's feet.

- Petraeus seems to love colorful, yet ambiguous charts giving only the slightest hint of what actual plans are for Iraq. And in addition to missing a few, the methodology for them are also equally absent.

- Is it a bad omen when your mic breaks just before giving perhaps the most anticipated war progress report in almost thirty years? Was the ghost of generals past in attendance?

- Petraeus credits the surge with allowing troop levels to be lowered come next year. The fact check is far more ominous and depressing.

I'll have more as I continue to gorge myself on all things Petraeus, so be sure to check back for updates.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)


Monday, September 10, 2007

What If...

On this, the eve of the six anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, I had hoped to convey some profound words about loss and resolve. But all I seem to be able to think of is what if?

What if we didn't have a President so enthralled with his legacy that he is willing to irreparably damage this country? What if we didn't have a military so willing to shill for said President, all in the hopes that they might some day be proven to be the forward thinking leaders they aspire to be but fail so miserably at?

When an event moves from the immediate into the longer history, there comes a point when the question of how long is an appropriate time to memorialize those lost begin to surface. Some begin asking when is the right time to move on from an event like 9/11? The problem stems from the fact that we have never been allowed to move on. Because of this President, we as a country, were denied closure or as near to it as one could attain given the enormity of the event. Because Bush chose to take advantage of us in that most vulnerable of times, when we were still in shock, we have been denied a chance to come to terms with the past. For Bush, everyday has been that day when he stood atop the rubble and made promises we now know he never intended to keep. Bin Laden and those responsible have largely remained unpunished, still free to taunt us.

And when Gen. Petraeus goes before Congress tomorrow to give a report everyone already knows the particulars of, he will continue to aid this President in denying us a chance to move on, still denying us the closure we so desperately need. When viewed in that light, it is an insult to those who died that day that their unavenged deaths would continue to be used to justify yet more death and destruction.

See Fixer also.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Osama Bin Bloggin'

As predictable as the sun rising in the East, the righties have sought to draw a comparison with Osama Bin Laden's latest attempt to get in on the YouTube craze and the opinions of those on the left. Fox News' Sean Hannity got the meme ball rolling this go around, repeatedly saying that Bin Laden seems to have the far left talking points down pat. Conservative pundit David Brooks says ol' OBL sounds like a "lefty blogger...posting rants at the bottom of the page." Even CNN got in on the fun and although they didn't single out the left, it's clear from the context who they mean since the only "angry bloggers" on the right I know are the ones upset that Bush hasn't nuked Iran yet.

But back to this claim that Bin Laden sounds like some kook who raving kook. I've always had trouble with the disparity of the rhetoric coming from the right with regards to the terrorist leader. On the one hand we are told that he is the most dangerous person imaginable, a hodge podge of the worst dictators and despots in history (take your pick, he's been compared to just about all of them). Yet if he is so dangerous, why are his words laughed off as the bat-shit rantings of someone "posting at the bottom of the page"? If he is so dangerous, why such a laissez faire attitude when it comes to actually capturing him?

Perhaps because the symbiosis that has existed between the destructive dynamic duo of Bush and Bin Laden has worked so well, there is very little inclination for the host to part with the parasite. I'll leave it to the reader to determine which is which.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Mental Patient with Dyed Beard Releases Tape

Well the newest tape from Bin Laden is out and boy is it chalked full of all sorts of goodies that are sure to have the righties crying "See! I told you the Defeatocrats were in league with Al-Qaeda!" That's because in addition to scolding Americans for failing to hold their leaders to account and in fact re-electing Bush to another term, he also chides the Democrats for not bringing about an end to the war. He even mentions Noam Chomsky, global warming and high interest rates which just proves that liberals are taking their marching orders from the terrorists.

It all seriousness though, why are we still taking this man's word as gospel? For that matter, why he still free to release these inane ramblings far more befitting a mental patient at Bellevue?

Now I don't wish to downplay the significance of his words. We should take him seriously when he threatens us. But at the same time, do we really want to let this religious whackjob determine US foreign policy? I mean, we've already got our hands full with the one in charge of it now.

See Meme for the reaction roundup.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

Friday, September 07, 2007

The Real Rudy

As he has done almost since the towers collapsed, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani has capitalized on the events even more so than the Bush administration. Last month he made the claim that he was at Ground Zero "as often, if not more" than the workers who spent months sifting through the rubble. The claim was easily debunked but still the myth of Rudy has savior of 9/11 still persists.

Now, the man who's taken on both Fox News and Wal-mart, is setting out to bust that myth.

A filmmaker who was behind documentaries that bashed Rupert Murdoch and Wal-Mart is now focusing on Rudy Giuliani, creating an “online viral video campaign” about the presidential candidate timed to coincide with the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attack.

Robert Greenwald on Thursday launched the first of four short videos about Sept. 11 and the Republican former mayor. The others are planned to launch throughout the month.

The videos attack Giuliani by saying he failed to prepare New York City for a major disaster, he ignored sick ground zero workers after the terrorist attack and he profited financially from his association with the tragedy after leaving office in 2001.

“We want to use this forum to reach people and show and tell and say, ‘Look here are some truths that we want you to know,’” Greenwald told The Associated Press. The video blitz has an accompanying web site,

Here's the link to the YouTube of the first installment entitled "The Real Rudy: Command Center" and I urge you to watch it. It's a stunning indictment to say the least. Naturally the Rudy campaign decided that rather than confront the merits of the accusations, it would attack the messenger as a "conspiracy theorist...disconnected from reality." Never mind that, as Carpetbagger points out, these aren't the opinions of the filmmaker but people who worked with Rudy when he made these colossal errors in judgment.

What set me off and what prompted this post really was one particular point in the video. During the Chris Wallace interview, when the discussion turned to the placement of the command center, Rudy begins grinning like an idiot, as if Wallace had just told the most hilarious of jokes. Were it not for the audio you would not even know they were discussing something as serious as perhaps the biggest mistake he ever made as mayor, a mistake that could have meant more lives saved that day. One would think he would wish to be a little more somber but then he is planning to succeed this guy.

Blog Thanks: Crooks & Liars for linking to the ASZ of this post in their blog roundup.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

Shootin' Thru The 'Tubes

TGIF and here's what Shootin' Thru The 'Tubes:

Top story on the blogs is the righties who are currently wetting themselves over the pending 9/11 anniversary video featuring Osama Bin Laden who has apparently discovered the wonders of Just For Men hair coloring. I also hear he's learned what a loofah was and that exfoliate doesn't mean what he thinks it means.

With the slew of reports coming out showing progress in Iraq is all but non-existent, the Bushies are doing what they do best: fudging the numbers and smearing those who suggest they are. Karl may be gone, but his tactics sure still live on. And everyone wonders why so few have faith in He Who Should Never Be Questioned.

Two big developments on the civil liberties front. First up is word that a controversial data-mining that was still in the test phase has been scrapped because it used real data without the required privacy safeguards. Not really surprising this happened given this administration's penchant for conducting all sorts of questionable activities without any sort of oversight.

And it was this lack of oversight that lead a federal judge to strike down a part of the revised Patriot Act. Specifically it involved the National Security Letters, which we had learned have been subject to quite a bit of abuse in the past. The judge says that the newly revised Patriot Act "offends the fundamental constitutional principles of checks and balances and separation of powers."

As come to know all too well with this administration, "checks and balances and separation of powers" means very little. But surely the Bushies wouldn't attempt their expansion of executive power at the expense of protecting Americans would they? You tell me.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)


Thursday, September 06, 2007

Headed to War No Matter What

While it may seem like rehashing old news, given the recent ratcheting up of rhetoric against Iran and the possible staging for a confrontation that could be already underway, it seems appropriate that we recall how we came to be bogged down the neighboring country.

Few probably remember it but in April 2006, Tyler Drumheller, former head of the CIA's European operations directorate, gave an interview in which he alleged that the Bush administration had ignored evidence that Saddam Hussein did not possess weapons of mass destruction. "The policy was set. The war in Iraq was coming, and they were looking for intelligence to fit into the policy, to justify the policy," Drumheller said during the interview.

Drumheller's account has now been confirmed by two other former CIA officials. Also confirmed was that not only was the intelligence provided by a member of Saddam's inner circle ignored but it was also never shared with Congress nor with key administration officials such as then-Secretary of State Colin Powell. It was Powell's February 2003 presentation to the United Nations that helped clinch the deal for war in the minds of many.

Of course all of this really isn't any surprise. It has been obvious for a while now that Bush was hellbent on war no matter what. And so consumed was he of the belief that Saddam had WMD that some three years after the invasion, he still privately believed that to be the case.

Bush once famously mangled a quote about the number of times a person can be fooled. It is perhaps the only advice from this administration I would suggest we take to heart.

More via Meme.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


Last week, a draft of a congressional report was leaked to the media out of fear that the Bush administration would 'water down' the assessment. And while the final draft isn't as dour as the leaked version, it's still pretty bad. Among the things it found were that violence has remained relatively unchanged and that the Iraqi government has only been able to fully meet three of the 18 benchmarks set.

Of course as we've come to expect with the Bush administration, whenever it comes to accountability, goalposts are never embedded in concrete. They are now attempting to downplay the significance of the GAO report by suggesting it has relied not only on outmoded data but also has been judging the wrong criteria.

First up, the claim that the GAO report didn't have all the available data. Via Kevin Drum we learn of the new talking point.
House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (Mo.) said Pentagon officials had told Republican leaders that the GAO had relied on outdated information....He added that lawmakers were far more interested in the assessment coming next week from Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker.

....The GAO concluded that all forms of violence remain high in Iraq — causing senior military officials to complain that the report did not consider statistics for August, when, they said, trends in sectarian violence and the performance of the Iraqi security forces improved.

"They use the end of July as the data and evidentiary cutoff and therefore are not taking into account any gains in any of the benchmarks that may have become more clear throughout August," one official said.

Now if one were inclined to give the Pentagon the benefit of the doubt, this claim that the GAO didn't take into account the data from August is rather specious when you consider that the Pentagon has been the one withholding said data. It's a bit like turning in only the first two pages of a three page test and expecting the teacher to give you a full grade on it. And of those first two pages, not all the answers have even been filled out completely.

But this numbers game isn't the only way in which the Bushies are attempting to shift the debate over the success of the surge. They are also pushing the meme that the GAO has been judging the benchmarks for the Iraqi government but over looking the 'mini-benchmarks' at the provincial and local levels. The term "bottom-up" has been used to describe this strategy whereby we rely on a sort of 'trickle-up reconciliation'.

Leaving aside for the moment that the President and his allies in Congress once heralded these benchmarks as so important in judging whether the surge was a success, relying on this strategy is an exercise in futility simple because there is no "up" to be had. The Bushies probably do not see the irony is pinning their hopes on a strategy that has very little chance of succeeding because their previous strategy has failed.

Then again they don't see much beyond progress and success these days.

See also Jon Soltz and Cenk Uygur.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

Olbermann on Playing

Another powerful and emotive Special Comment last night, this time taking President Bush to task for his dangling of drawdown prospects (not to mention participles) during his Anbar Adventure while at the same time we learned his real motive.

Update: Dan Froomkin has more on the Codpiece's Kabuki.

(Filed at State of the Day)


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Opening The Files: 09/04/07

The Commander Guy Stops By

While most Americans were off for Labor Day (sans yours truly), President Bush was making like a laborious used car salesman, making another surprise visit to Iraq to try to sell his surge strategy. Seems he's holding out hope that his successor will pick up the payments of blood and treasure on his lemon of a war.

Apparently Bush wanted to "see for himself" what was happening in Iraq, to get the skinny straight from the puppets mouth as it were. The not a photo-op photo-op took place outside of Baghdad because the security situation is still too dangerous to send a symbolic message of impatience with Iraq's leaders. So The Decider decided to "assess" the situation from the confines of a remote airbase in Anbar province surrounded by a 13 mile buffer zone and 10,000 US troops.

Now while Bush chose to forgo bringing any plastic poultry on this trip, he was still willing to serve up something equally chalky and tasteless. Namely that the success in Anbar was a result of the surge even though by all accounts, it started well before the surge was even conceived. For Bush to take credit for it is akin to a firefighter who was late to a blaze taking credit for being the one to stamp out the last remaining ember. And even then, there is still the potential for this conflagration to reignite at any time.

And despite his aforementioned admission, Bush also offered up another helping of the "we might withdraw soon if progress keeps up" casserole. Anyone care to guess what he as planned for dessert?

Georgia10 says that the only "surprise" is that anyone is actually buying the "New Way Forward" as anything but more of the same.

Fredrick Kagan, one of the authors of the surge strategy, says that this trip by Bush could be seen as "the Gettysburg of the war". Judging from the reviews, however, I doubt anyone outside of the most ardent sycophants would agree that this trip is on par with an oration from Honest Abe.

Andy Borowitz reports on a stop the President made on his way to Mesopotamia. Unfortunately, he didn't stay for very long.

Jill posted a snapshot from Dubya's trip. My only question is: who needs the warning more?

Suin reminds us of another place that is also heralded for its "peace and quiet".

And remember what I said about those "cordoned off markets filled with smiling Iraqi patrons straight out of central casting"? Sudarsan Raghavan has more on these Potemkin Villages.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)


Monday, September 03, 2007

Surging the Media

In a blurb yesterday I noted the PR surge being conducted by Gen. Petraeus in advance of the report on the progress of the surge strategy. As with anything sort of campaign designed to sway public opinion, a key component is the media and how it will portray it. It's one thing to convince a wayward member of Congress. Seems nowadays all it takes is a well orchestrated junket, complete with uplifting PowerPoint presentations and trips to cordoned off markets filled with smiling Iraqi patrons straight out of central casting.

But when it comes to the media, the standard talking points and choreographed field trips should be more of a tough sell. Yes, it should be but with some notable exceptions, the media has bought into the campaign hook, line, and sinker.

One of them is CBS News' Katie Couric who says that there are "signs of life that seem to be normal". And even though she's willing to admit this assessment comes from what the military wants her to see, the problem arises because those caveats are often never the focus of the story. The Bushies know this all too well. They are, if anything, very adept at playing the media like a Stradivarius. They know that certain narratives will be pushed more than others and that those whose expertise or experience far exceeds what is scrolled across a teleprompter will be ignored at best and at worst, maligned. Which makes Couric's comments all the more reprehensible because in lending her celebrity as a news spokesperson, she is giving credibility to claims which might otherwise prove to have very little basis in fact.

And with the media still willing to regurgitate whatever is fed to them, is it any wonder there are those who worry they haven't learned the lessons of the past and are doomed to repeat them?

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Shootin' Thru The 'Tubes

This installment might best be called the "Lingering Legacy Edition" of Shootin' Thru The 'Tubes:

First up: the GOP. With two Repub Senators calling it quits, the forecasts for '08 are looking cloudier by the day. Will the skies clear or will it be a rain out to wash away more of the grime? Stay tuned.

Next is President Bush, who is having a self-pity party about his legacy as commander-in-chief. Considering the pitilessness with which he has treated the highest office in the land, much less the country, you'll have to excuse those of us to choose to drown out the sound of the world's smallest violin.

But have no fear, Karl's on the case. Even has he gets all choked up as he exits the stage, Turdblossom can't help but plop another steaming load praising the decisive leadership of The Decider. He says that history will remember Bush as a 'far-sighted leader'. Near-sighted historians would probably beg to differ on that. If you are willing to risk sudden cranial expansion, check out more from Eli.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who some thought had gone the way of Bush's war czar, is also thinking about her legacy. And while she is trying to paint a much broader image for posterity, she is willing to except that Iraq will be a stain that no amount of revisionist detergent will ever be able to remove. Insert Monica and her little blue dress joke at leisure.

Of course, just as stale is the joke that proponents of continuing the war in Iraq refuse to remove their rose colored glasses. But there comes a time when we move beyond mere mis-corrective lens and into laser surgery, such as when you have a set of lawmakers who despite almost having their plane blow out of the air, still profess the surge is working. Gallows humor aside, one wonders at what point we should mandate that such individual have not only their vision but their heads examined.

Sticking with the perception theme, there has been an almost imperceptible shift in the Beltway conventional wisdom. This is in no small part do to the months in the making PR blitzkrieg by Gen. David Petraeus. For despite available evidence to the contrary, we now have members of Congress who were once against the surge now wavering on their stance. I guess they don't call them neo-cons for nothing.

And finally, a Bushie once famously said that you don't introduce new products in August. Keeping that advice in mind, Cernig peruses the foreign markets and finds that the Bushies might be planning another blitzkrieg of a decidedly different nature.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)