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April 25, 2007

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This open thread looked lonely, cheer up open thread!

Laura Bush is a nitwit. Our press is an embarassment. Atrios rules my world.

... it may not be smart politics to mock him in a way that turns him from the glam J.F.K. into the mundane Gerald Ford, toasting his own English muffins. If all Senator Obama is peddling is the Camelot mystique, why debunk the mystique?

If all the press is going to cover is the mystique, then, of course, there can't be anything else there.

I used to really like Maureen Dowd. Has it only been the past couple of years that she has become this much of a treacherous shill? Or am I just waking up?


[In reference to the shady business practices of Tony Rezko, with whom Mr. Obama had become involved in a plan to expand his home]Mr. Obama riposted that “it wasn’t brought to my attention.” But isn’t that where a dazzling, tough, smart and connected wife could help a guy out?

How about an informed, dedicated, and competent press corps, you sniggling idiot?

Sadly, with Molly Ivins' passing, MoDo is now almost the only female high-profile left-of-center columnist. This makes it even worse that she wastes space on bushwah like Edwards' haircut and Michelle Obama's teasing. Fortunately, Dalia Lithwick is still around to remind people that women do have brains.

As is our own Hilzoy, of course, but the NYT hasn't been sensible enough to offer her a national platform (yet).

Botcott the whole friggin' MSM. That's what I do. And send them nasty emails (based on what I read ABOUT them, since I never read them!).

So, from the hearings yesterday it appears to me that the Pentagon, likely with cooperation/encouragement from the White House, completely made up the tale of Pat Tillman's death, despite the fact that soldiers on the ground knew the true story from the start, presented that tale to the American public and Tillman's family and covered up the truth in order to generate good news in a war gone bad. They delayed Jessica Lynch's rescue for a day so they could videotape it and made up a story about her too.

Can we call it f*cking propaganda now?

Cleek, Laura is just emulating the compassion of her husband. If Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton or Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid had made any vaguely similar statement it would have been trumpeted by Drudge and Limbaugh and Malkin and the RNC, and we'd still be hearing about it from the media, including folks like MoDo. But IOKIYAR.

Ugh: "Can we call it f*cking propaganda now?"

We always could and many of us did. Keep in mind that propaganda by itself is not necessarily a bad thing, nor does it have to be a dishonest thing.

This is the spreading of lies, not even untruths for a purpose that is dishonarable to begin with.

Even worse, in the case of Tillman, is the manipulation of family and friends to further a cause that is limited on its merits.

There were undoubtedly plenty of examples of heroism and sacrifice that could have been used that existed in reality.

This administration appears to be saying to the American public, "You can't handle the truth" when in fact it is this administration that isn't willing to see the truth.


I wonder how the MSM will handle Rahm Emmanuel's speach. Ignore it? Belittle it? Attack it? It's a significant speech because it means an insider is finally publically connecting thhe dots that insurgents like Atrios connected long ago.

Hopefully all Democratic politicians will be pushing Rahm's core message between now and election day.

"Botcott" = when you not only personally avoid the subject, you also instruct all of your mechanical minions to do the same.

Either that, or it's the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer of Transformers ("at a critical juncture in the battle against the Decepticon Swarmbots, Optimus Prime really needed a refreshing nap- but the surface of Seti Alpha Six was barren and uncomfortable and covered with nastily sharp rocks. Then, he noticed Botcott, carrying supplies up from the rear (since he had no weapons). 'Botcott with your bed so warm, I'll take a snooze then fight the Swarm'. Then all the robots loved him etc").

Emmanuel's speech is awesome - and he doesn't even get into all the Abramoff stuff.

i'm sure the MSM will ignore it. and i'm sure the righty blogs will kindle a great bonfire from the few sentences where he overstates a point, then slather themselves in paint and ash, and dance around the fire, chanting in unison.

and i'm sure the righty blogs will kindle a great bonfire from the few sentences where he overstates a point, then slather themselves in paint and ash, and dance around the fire, chanting in unison.

and then kill the monster

Cleek: and i'm sure the righty blogs will kindle a great bonfire from the few sentences where he overstates a point, then slather themselves in paint and ash, and dance around the fire, chanting in unison.

Hey, if we promised OCSteve chocolate, do you think he'd sneak himself in to their jamboree and take pictures?

As bad as the Tillman story is, I do not think it began as some top level coverup. I would expect that it was started because the unit itself was embarrassed to have been involved in fratricide, and the Battalion commander thought that since Tillman was so high profile, it was going to be a bad story for him personally, and was not concerned a bit about ho it would make the White House look.

I don't know of any channels that could push down from the Pentagon to a Battalion CDR an order to immediately cover up a death like that, in time to tell soldiers on the ground not to discuss it with his brother. Things simply do not move that fast.

jrudkis, in one way you are correct, in that the initial decision was probably made at the moment by the top man on the ground. But that could have been changed within 1-2 days and wasn't. Then it went higher and higher up. From previous published reports it appears that people up to and including Bush were aware of what really happened while they were still presenting the myth.

We tend to live with the maxim that "the first situation report is always wrong," and when you recieve various different answers, you take the most likely. I would not have thought it likely that the BN would try and cover something up, and so faced with conflicting information would have accepted the "non-fratricide" story. Being selected to command a ranger battalion is extremely competitive, and you don't get that job by being a liar or afraid to tell the truth. Second, questioning a commander's integrity requires that you have your ducks in a row (and therefore results from an investigation) before you blow him out of the water. Trust is a huge issue, and your subordinates need to beleive that you trust them. In some other units, I would have been likely to question the reports, but had I been an investigating officer for that unit, it would require pretty clear and convincing evidence that they were full of **it.

But it is clear that once the truth was known, little was done to quickly and loudly inform the family and the world that the initial report was false.

I guess from my vantage point this is a story of omission from those higher in the food chain, vs active coverup from those at the bottom.

Ugh: This open thread looked lonely, cheer up open thread!

Well, if you gave it pie... :)

Well, if you gave it pie

heeeeeere brilly, brilly, brilly.

MoD doesn't care about the male dem contenders. She's working on bringing them down so Hillary has a better chance at the nomination.

Since Pat Tillman's family objects, nobody else has a right to say that the lie was unobjectionable. But I'll go this far: for all that I am devoted to the truth, I don't think I would hestitate to tell a grieving family the most positive version possible of their decedent's death, assuming nothing other than their peace of mind was at stake. Nobody needs to hear "his death was long and painful," or "he was shot in the back while he ran away," or "his troops fragged him for being a @#$head." Lying to family about the exact details of a death in combat is a long and honorable tradition. And a lot of families -- the Tillmans among them, apparently -- would find it a lot more painful to think that their son died because somebody on our side made a mistake, than because he heroically interposed his body between his loved ones and war's desolation.

Lying to family about the exact details of a death in combat is a long and honorable tradition.

And you'd think we would have learned from this long tradition that the truth has a way of coming out, and that lying makes matters doubly worse when it does.

Let's be clear here. This was not a case of the government privately giving a grieving family the sugar-coated version. This was a case where the government quite visibly spread the lie to the whole world, in the interests of furthering the war effort, not in the interests of comforting a grieving family. And it's that misuse of Pat Tillman's legacy which seems to have his family most upset, not the unfortunate circumstances of his death.

since we haven't had an environmental thread in a while, I'll kick one off:

a state court judge has ordered the California Department of Water Resources to turn off the pumps that put water in the California Aqueduct. The ninth largest economy in the world is about to go into an enormous water crisis.

The problem with the Tillman situation isn't that thhe family was told comforting lies. It's that an untrue story was concocted and uesd deliberately for propaganda purposes. Tillman was exploited.

The Jessica Lynch situation is even worse. She was left in the Iraqi hospital a day longer than necessary so that her "rescue" could be video taped for propaganda purposes. To make the "rescue" more dramatic the "rescuers" closed open doors so that they could kick the doors down, giving the watching reporters the false impression that the hospital staff was resisting their mission. .
And she wasn't rescued. The Iraqi hospital staff tried to return her to the army. They weren't holding her hostage. She got crappy medical care, but so does everyone in an Iraqi hospital.

Francis, is this the act that will finally set off the California civil wars of North vs. South?

"is this the act that will finally set off the California civil wars of North vs. South?"

Or possibly the one pitting (Southern) California against Arizona and Nevada?

The State of Jefferson has plenty of water.

This is both funny and deeply sad - a homophobe asking fellow homophobes to be nicely homophobic, not mean about it...

the California civil wars

two states.
we want two states.
north and south.
two, two states.
forty million daggers!

oh how i miss Pavement

From the link:
Not until Sneeringer joined a Baptist church’s softball team and met Christians who did not condemn or pass judgment on her did she realize the love of Jesus Christ.

Wow. Even Baptist Softball teams..

I'll take advantage of the open thread to say hello and note that, sadly, it would appear that I will not be blogging about my experiences in Iraq because my chain of command is uncomfortable with operational security issues. Other than that, all is well and I expect to be on the ground over there ~1 July.

Other than that, all is well and I expect to be on the ground over there ~1 July.

I'll be thinking of you and wishing you well.

sadly, it would appear that I will not be blogging about my experiences in Iraq because my chain of command is uncomfortable with operational security issues.

Our loss. Good to hear from you, however briefly.

Where are you going? I deploy in a few days to the IZ.

Best of luck, Andrew, and make sure they miss you as consistently as we do.

We're going into Diyala province, unless our mission changes.

Good fortune to you, Andrew.

Good luck. We will have some of our guys operating there as quasi MTT teams. I don't expect to get much further out of Baghdad than Taji.

To both Andrew and jrudkis. Thoughts and prayers go with you. Come home safe.

"I don't expect to get much further out of Baghdad than Taji."

BTW, my son was based at Taji and did not expect to have to leave during his entire tour. The pictures we received of him in a helicopter flying from one base to another disabused us of that notion. Just shows that expectations don't always meet with reality.

Again, take care.

John,

Thanks. I will probably be out everyday as we run convoys for a living, but we won't go too far. The guys we are replacing have kept it within about 50 miles...though everything changes. I would frankly prefer to see more of the country, having already seen Baghdad.

I'll take advantage of the open thread to say hello and note that, sadly, it would appear that I will not be blogging about my experiences in Iraq because my chain of command is uncomfortable with operational security issues.

Good luck and stay safe.

If anyone wants Iraq blogging, Bizarro World has two correspondents over there now.

I believe that Maureen Dowd's "Others" is an invisible gremlin, similar in principle to The Family Circus' "Not Me" and "Ida Know." But that's just my theory.

George Tenet:

But when asked by Pelley why the “enhanced interrogation” techniques were necessary, Tenet says, “Because these are people who will never, ever, ever tell you a thing. These are people who know who’s responsible for the next terrorist attack….[who] wouldn’t blink an eyelash about killing you, your family, me and my family and everybody in this town,” says Tenet. When Pelley presses, asking whether he lost sleep over the interrogations, Tenet says, “Of course you lose sleep over it. You’re on new territory.”

(FYI - link to Drudge).

You’re on new territory.

    After the dust cleared, I opened my eyes and saw a strange new land - a land of possibilities. I was throbbing with potential. Here, we could be different; we could do the things we were stopped from doing back home; we could ignore past Conventions; we could push boundaries; we could define our own reality; write our own history; things would mean what we knew they meant all along - before the Corruption. I knew this was the place for me. Freedom was mine, ours, at last - but not theirs: no, never theirs. But no matter, my heart was pure. I slammed my fist against the ship: Freedom!

re: water. yes, this decision could start a huge north vs. south and ag. v. urban and enviro v. all other uses water war. I don't think that the facts exist that will allow for the issuance of the necessary permits without massive amounts of more water being dedicated to fish.

re: Iraq. Andrew, come back safe. Thanks for your service.

Fish first! The humans need to stop being so wasteful.

Good luck, Andrew and you, too, jrudkis.

Good luck, Andrew and jrudkis!

Hey, if we promised OCSteve chocolate, do you think he'd sneak himself in to their jamboree and take pictures

Sorry – couldn’t find the jamboree… Seriously. Radio silence. Maybe tomorrow…

(On a humorous note [for me anyway] searching about what I most found were lefty blogs just pounding on him, in general, not about the speech. I had not realized that the netroots were so unhappy with him.)

jrudkis,

When will you be in Taji? I have to pass through there en route to Diyala. Perhaps we can meet face-to-face.

jrudkis: "Being selected to command a ranger battalion is extremely competitive, and you don't get that job by being a liar or afraid to tell the truth. Second, questioning a commander's integrity requires that you have your ducks in a row (and therefore results from an investigation) before you blow him out of the water."

I would have thought so too, but the Ranger battalion XO involved in the lies and fraudulent reports is now a battalion commander. This indicates that the higher commanders don't feel that such actions are bad. If they disapproved of what he had done, it'd have been easy to not give him a command, and stall his career until he got the message.

We've seen enormous high-level corruption permeat this administration; it's not surprising that lower-level corruption would flourish.

Best of luck to everyone who goes near Iraq.

Is everyone getting ready to tune in to Bill Moyers return to PBS with "Buying the War" tonight?

Flight from hell, tomorrow:

Take off from here, 6am, land in 'Vegas, 10am, do some decidedly non-fun stuff, get on another plane headed East, 10pm, land back home, 6am.

OTOH I'll finally catch a glimpse of the famed city, and get a quickie tour of Nellis to boot. So there is an upside.

I don't know if anyone here keeps track of such things, but I note with interest that there has just been a comment added to the Meatloaf Slam thread from July of 2004. There was also a comment in 2005 and another in 2006.

I guess meatloaf never dies.

Oh, Andrew, jrudkis, I'll be thinking of you. My very best wishes to you both.

"Since Pat Tillman's family objects, nobody else has a right to say that the lie was unobjectionable. But I'll go this far: for all that I am devoted to the truth, I don't think I would hestitate to tell a grieving family the most positive version possible of their decedent's death, assuming nothing other than their peace of mind was at stake."

Being lied to left the Tillman family feeling betrayed by an organization which they believed in.

Your inclination to twist the facts for a grieving family is understandable, but it's contrary to military regulations, which require that the family be informed when a death is caused by friendly fire. If there is reason to believe that a death is the result of friendly fire, but the military is still investigating and had not yet made a final determination, the family should be informed of that, too.

If you get a chance to watch the hearings (perhaps someone has put them up on the web), that may make it clear why the military regulations are wise. I would say that when a parent asks how his son or daughter died, it's important to respect the parent enough to give an honest answer. Answer with empathy, yes, but honestly.

If we don't count them, they don't count:

WASHINGTON - U.S. officials who say there has been a dramatic drop in sectarian violence in Iraq since President Bush began sending more American troops into Baghdad aren't counting one of the main killers of Iraqi civilians.


Car bombs and other explosive devices have killed thousands of Iraqis in the past three years, but the administration doesn't include them in the casualty counts it has been citing as evidence that the surge of additional U.S. forces is beginning to defuse tensions between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.

Thanks for the good wishes from everyone.

Andrew,

We will be at Taji more or less weekly, sometimes more often. We won't tend to hang out very long though: essentially we drop off people, and then go get more.

Ditto on all the best to Andrew and jrudkis. And, jrudkis, since I think you've figured out my true identity based on your comments on that guitar tab thread a couple of weeks ago, did you ever get that baby stuff we sent you guys a while ago?

Yes, we did. I thought I sent a thanks. We really appreciate it.

How is it going? My msn email is still good, but I think I lost yours on the last computer exchange.

Best wishes for your time in Iraq, Jrudkis. Hope all goes well.

Everything's fine. Another offspring coming this September.

Our gulag is getting gulagier:

Saying that visits by civilian lawyers and attorney-client mail have caused “intractable problems and threats to security at Guantánamo,” a Justice Department filing proposes new limits on the lawyers’ contact with their clients and access to evidence in their cases that would replace more expansive rules that have governed them since they began visiting Guantánamo detainees in large numbers in 2004.

I've read that this isn't news but first I've heard of it.

Hair,

Congatulations. We were trying for a while but it looks like it will be delayed by about a year...

Sometimes she pisses me off more than Coulter. Not who she is, but what she represents.

jrudkis,

I'll be at Taji for about ten days in late July for the Phoenix Academy. I'll post about it on an open thread here when I'm there if I can.

Is everyone getting ready to tune in to Bill Moyers return to PBS with "Buying the War" tonight?

It was excellent (and can be viewed online if you missed it). Nothing relevatory, but it's still very disconcerting to see it all in one place.

Iraqi blogger Riverbend and her family are leaving Iraq, which is probably the wise choice.

Andrew,

Okay. I am familiar with the Pheonix Academy. My own job does not require it, but others deploying with me are going there. It is supposed to be great trainng, but the living conditions are not as good as the rest of Taji. I will make a point of getting up there when you post. I'll send you an email address with a name when you post.

jrudkis,

The living conditions news is no surprise. We're only transients there, so there's no reason to give us particularly good places to stay. Of course, compared to where we'll be living after that, Taji will look like the Ritz. ;)

Yeah, most likely. I am a MOS 19A. What are you?

The same.

No wonder you are so smart...

You must have me confused with someone else.

Well, had you said 11B, I would have been concerned.

Iraqi blogger Riverbend and her family are leaving Iraq, which is probably the wise choice.

Maybe James Lileks can call her an ungrateful snot like he did Salam Pax. That'll show her.

Well, I was an 11H, a long time ago...

No kidding. I took you for a much younger soldier. I have a lot of stories about 11H guys (mostly involving drugs), but they are not appropriate here. I would guess that puts you at about 20 years of service.

I would think you are the chain of command by now.

Andrew & jrudkis:

Here’s a thought… I’m likely volunteering some front-pager for extra duty…

Obsidian Wings should be your official "Pogey Bait" sponsor. The two of you email someone what you want and need (snacks, bootlaces, DVDs, books, whatever) and once a month a front page post goes up with the list. We coordinate in comments; someone collects goods/money, buys stuff, and mails it off to you.

I think there are plenty of folks here who would be honored to participate, just as a token of our appreciation.

I would think you are the chain of command by now.

The Army isn't quite that stupid. ;)

OCSteve,

That's a nice thought, but speaking strictly for myself, if anyone is interested in contributing to the mission rather than for pogey bait I'd be quite grateful. I know the team I'm replacing gives away a lot of soccer balls to the local children, and I suspect there are other items they give out to the locals to try and improve relations. Conversely, most people reading this are already paying a sizable fraction of their salary to the war effort in taxes already, so I'm not particularly comfortable asking them to pony up still more.

Best of luck, guys.

Andrew, if you want something for the mission, ask.

Andrew: ditto. You or anyone you know.

Andrew: I understand. The mission then. Let us know what you need or want and I’ll be happy to organize.

Thanks, guys. After reading hilzoy's last substantive post, though, it's hard for me to justify asking for money for minor things. There's lots of more deserving causes out there.

"I know the team I'm replacing gives away a lot of soccer balls to the local children"

My single suggestion about this is in response to the news stories about units that have acquired deflated soccer balls to give out, but have no way to inflate them, and the balls are made so that inflators are highly uncommon and difficult to find in Iraq.

The result was that the units ended up giving out a lot of deflated "soccer balls" that couldn't be used, resulting in an increase in contempt for the Americans by Iraqi kids and adults alike.

So my suggestion is attention be paid to making sure that both inflated, not deflated, soccer balls are given out, and pumps that can inflate them also be given out, along with the correct needles for the balls, else the balls will gradually deflate, and with no likely way to reflate them, they'll again prove useless.

Quick google: here is one soldier's account of how badly this went in Baquabah in 2004. Here is another piece from Salon in February.

One naturally would want to avoid this:

[...] Today, Reppenhagen still cringes when he recalls the soccer ball operation, which to him says so much about the entire U.S. occupation in Iraq.

Ummm...thanks. The team I'm replacing inflates the balls before they hand them out.

Although I suppose if we hand out pumps that might mean we could hand out fewer balls. ;)

"The team I'm replacing inflates the balls before they hand them out."

Yes, I sort of meant to say something to indicate that I didn't mean to imply this wouldn't occur to anyone, or that you'd not been briefed or memoed or whatever about past problems, and weren't familiar with what to avoid, but I'm afraid that sort of fell out of my previous comment.

"Although I suppose if we hand out pumps that might mean we could hand out fewer balls. ;)"

I'd guess that it's a matter of confirming whether the recipients have access to the right pumps & needles, or not (and if not, then pumps and needles would need to be handed out for the gift to last more than a few days), but I'm sure you'll know best when you're in a position to evaluate.

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