Archive for the ‘War’ Category

By JC

I guess that nation-building/dictator-deposing democracy and freedom-exporting thing is rearing its ugly head once more. This really sickens me. The current administration really is no better than Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld. Democrat, Republican… it makes no difference.

Via the Washington Post:

Secretary of State John Kerry said at Wednesday’s hearing that Arab counties have offered to pay for the entirety of unseating President Bashar al-Assad if the United States took the lead militarily.

“With respect to Arab countries offering to bear costs and to assess, the answer is profoundly yes,” Kerry said. “They have. That offer is on the table.”

Asked by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) about how much those countries would contribute, Kerry said they have offered to pay for all of a full invasion.

“In fact, some of them have said that if the United States is prepared to go do the whole thing the way we’ve done it previously in other places, they’ll carry that cost,” Kerry said. “That’s how dedicated they are at this. That’s not in the cards, and nobody’s talking about it, but they’re talking in serious ways about getting this done.

“Not in the cards” — then why bring it up?

“nobody’s talking about it” — except the Secretary of State of the new Mercenary States of America.

“they’re talking in serious ways about getting this done” — yep, just like we did in Iraq.

I think that poli-speak on this would be something like: we’re just warming up the populace to our real intentions, and floating the real scenario, so when the invasion begins, we can say we told you so.

What was it that Wolfowitz said about oil in Iraq paying for the war? Oh yeah: “Well, the Iraqi oil revenues will pay for all of this, basically.”

Same story, new decade.

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“Services: Death of Wife/ Qty: 1/ Unit Price $2,500.”
— Iraq Body Count

By JC

23 March 2003:

“Donald Rumsfeld says the American attack on Baghdad is “as targeted an air campaign as has ever existed” but he should not try telling that to five-year-old Doha Suheil. She looked at me yesterday morning, drip feed attached to her nose, a deep frown over her small face as she tried vainly to move the left side of her body. The cruise missile that exploded close to her home in the Radwaniyeh suburb of Baghdad blasted shrapnel into her tiny legs ­ they were bound up with gauze ­ and, far more seriously, into her spine. Now she has lost all movement in her left leg.

Her mother bends over the bed and straightens her right leg which the little girl thrashes around outside the blanket. Somehow, Doha’s mother thinks that if her child’s two legs lie straight beside each other, her daughter will recover from her paralysis. She was the first of 101 patients brought to the Al-Mustansaniya College Hospital after America’s blitz on the city began on Friday night. Seven other members of her family were wounded in the same cruise missile bombardment; the youngest, a one-year-old baby, was being breastfed by her mother at the time.” — From “This is the reality of war. We bomb. They suffer.” 

Who will punish America’s government and military for the taking of civilian lives in Iraq, and the impending slaughter of innocent civilians, women and children in Syria by our weapons of shock and awe mass destruction?

One might think that if our Administration feels morally obligated to punish someone in Syria for the deaths of civilians in Syria (allegedly at the hands of Assad) that we might expect ourselves to observe the same judgment at some point in time (remember the Nuremburg trials?).

The PLOS Medicine journal estimates that 11,516 civilians were killed by American and Coalition forces in the first 5 years of Operation Iraqi Freedom:

In temporal analysis, numbers of civilian deaths from Coalition air attacks, and woman and child deaths from Coalition forces, peaked during the invasion. We applied a Woman and Child “Dirty War Index” (DWI), measuring the proportion of women and children among civilian deaths of known demographic status, to the 22,066 civilian victims identified as men, women, or children to indicate relatively indiscriminate perpetrator effects… Coalition forces had higher Woman and Child DWIs than Anti-Coalition forces, with no evidence of decrease over 2003–2008, for all weapons combined and for small arms gunfire, specifically.

Now is a good time to review the costs to Iraqi civilians — the 10’s of thousands of men, women and children — that we killed in the name of Operation Iraqi Freedom. One just needs to spend some time at IraqBodyCount.org to be reminded that our  attempt at nation building and exporting freedom & democracy — American style — dealt a heavy death toll to innocent civilians and children.

So when our present imperial president says he is going to engage in military action (with the acquiescence of Congress or not) to punish Syria for those 1500 deaths he’s feeling vindictive over, just how much civilian blood on our own hands are we willing to accept? 5? 50? 500? 5,000? 50,000? More? Throw enough hundred dollar bills at affected family members to assuage our guilt, then turn our backs?

Here is just one snippet from Iraq Body Count on how our military handles the cost of punishing and exacting revenge upon a dictator with no WMD’s:

“The Price of Loss: How the West values civilian lives in Iraq.” — by Lily Hamourtziadou, 12 November 2007

The American military has expressed regret “that civilians are hurt or killed while coalition forces search to rid Iraq of terrorism,” after the 11 October killing of 15 women (one pregnant) and children in an air raid near lake Thar Thar. The civilian death toll by US fire was 96 in October, with 23 children among them, while in September US forces and contractors killed 108 Iraqi civilians, including 7 children. In August US troops killed 103 civilians, 16 of them children, and in July they killed 196. In fact, during the last five months US forces in Iraq have killed over 600 Iraqi civilians. Regrettably, as always.

It is the ‘price to pay’, the ‘sacrifice’ that has to be made as we fight terrorism, the ‘cost’ of this war against evil forces. That is what we say to justify these killings. But those of us who speak of this price to be paid, this sacrifice to be made, do not pay this price, do not make this sacrifice. Our own country is not being destroyed, attacked, occupied. Our own children are not being blown up, our civilians are not becoming homeless by the millions. Those who speak of the necessity of this sacrifice, would they be prepared to pay such a price? In their own country? With the blood of their own families? 

How much easier it is to sacrifice others, to let others pay with their lives. The value of those lives is hardly high enough to trouble us. It is nothing our military cannot afford. Here is an example:

“A fisherman was fishing in the Tigris river in the early morning, when a Coalition Forces (CF) helicopter flew over and shone a spotlight on him. The fisherman began to shout in English, ‘Fish! Fish!’ while pointing to his catch. A patrol of Humvees arrived, and as the deceased bent down to turn off the boat’s motor, CF shot and killed him. CF did not secure the boat, which drifted off and was never retrieved.” Compensation for death denied due to combat exemption; compensation for boat granted: $3,500 US.

The US Army paid $7,500 to two children whose mother they killed inside a taxi that ran a checkpoint — both children were also in the taxi, and were shot and injured; they also paid $6,000 for killing a child looking out of the window, while a raid was on-going in the house across the street. They refused, as they do in the majority of cases, to compensate the child whose father they killed as he drove home, but agreed to make a ‘condolence payment’ of $1,500. More recently, the US military is reported to have paid $2,500 to each family of the three men they killed near Abu Lukah, as they guarded their village.

There are more: Continue Reading »

By JC

In the never-ending, and escalating drumbeat for war that has possessed our nation for generations, I thought this might be a good time for an anti-war lament. Charlotte E. Keyes is the poet who popularized the phrase “Suppose they gave a war and no one came?” in a 1966 McCall’s article.

While there is much debate and discussion about the origins of that phrase and its variations — and any who want to explore the googlizer can learn far more about the works of Sandburg, Bertold Brecht, and Ginsburg  — it is the sentiment that needs to be revisited.

I came of age in that era of senseless war, with brooding pacifism busting it’s head against a corrupt system, coming to the same conclusion as the boy in this poem: “Then governments I don’t like either.” And I’m still coming to grips with how it was to grow up in a cold warrior’s family.

Needless to say, I was one who burned his draft card and planned an escape to Canada should the lottery have claimed my soul before the Vietnam war ended.

Food for thought in an era devoid of any meaningful anti-war movement in America. Find the poem after the jump.

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By CFS

A favorite theory of mine about the fall of the Roman Empire states that centrifugal force (outward) eventually became too much for the centripetal forces (inward) to counteract in the whirling machine that was Roman society.  The costs of holding the Empire together became too much for the benefits of Empire to overcome and slowly portions of the Empire were abandoned, forgotten, or fell away from a lack of resources or will to keep hold of certain possessions.

I bring this up because I wonder… I wonder how far along America is down this road once trodden by Rome.

For almost a thousand years, Rome was the shinning city atop seven hills in whose direction her neighbors cast their glare with envy. Rome – at the founding of the Republic – was a revolutionary idea, an idea that  Romans delivered to the world at the tip of the sword, the base of a road, through amazing organizational skills, and a promise.  The promise that no matter how low a station a person might occupy on their birth to this world the rewards of Roman citizenship could be within one’s grasp.  Citizenship was a symbol,  not even a Roman freedman bowed to a foreign king.  A foreign king might have immense power, but was not the equal of even the lowest Roman.

The idea of Rome, more so than her machinery, was the true glue to which divergent cultures, when coming into contact with Rome, could not escape its inward pull.  The benefits from such technological innovations as voting, legal representation,  logistics, and roads helped a great deal.  But still, the idea that with every conquest, ever glory, every extension of Roman roads another mile from the heart of Empire would result in the improvement of the human condition was the true essence of Rome’s might. For centuries these forces helped the Romans to build perhaps the greatest empire in our short-lived history.

However, centrifugal forces eventually ate into the benefits that Rome could provide, and once the cost/benefit swung away from favoring Rome, her hegemonic status wavered and slowly fell.  Pressure from maintaining a standing army responsible for 1,930,511 sq mi, limits of state bureaucracy, the end of conquest as economic policy, public works that were not maintained and allowed to fall into disrepair, and many other factors put pressure on the state’s ability to maintain a machinery of such immense scope.  The greatest centrifugal force was perhaps the eventual establishment of the principate, an institution by its very definition originally put in place as a stop-gap measure against forces pulling the Empire apart.

Circumstances arose within the last century of the Republic that threatened to tear Roman power and society apart.  The accumulation of so much power  and wealth in the hands of so few had led to a wild escalation in a fanciful game known as politics.  To control Rome was to control the world and bestowed upon the ruling faction the ability to completely wipe out one’s political opponents.  Of course this happened multiple times and it was only through the principate that a cap on deadly political ambitions could be placed.  The principate worked as directed for some time, but eventually became the object of concerted and prolonged power-struggles.  Resources were pulled from investing in Rome’s future and protecting her holdings to fighting civil wars for control of the state machinery.

To bring this back to more modern times, we, like Rome, have found ourselves with an accidental Empire, and we, like Rome, find ourselves with an increasingly hectic political theater more interested in fighting over power than with investing in the future of our country.  And as Congress and the Senate become ever more dysfunctional we are blessed with an increasingly insular Presidency in the process of gathering an ever greater amount of power within its institutional walls.  And our greatest strength, that American sheen that draws people around the world to American ideals is starting to tarnish.

Maybe the stench of decay is especially pungent at the moment and the cliff on which we look over a precipitously steep drop to the jagged rocks below, but whatever the situation, it sure feels as if the Chevy V-8 is only clunking along on 2 cylinders.

By JC

Chris Hedges weighed in today with some sobering commentary about bin Laden’s death:

“We responded exactly as these terrorist organizations wanted us to respond. They wanted us to speak the language of violence. What were the explosions that hit the World Trade Center, huge explosions and death above a city skyline? It was straight out of Hollywood. When Robert McNamara in 1965 began the massive bombing campaign of North Vietnam, he did it because he said he wanted to “send a message” to the North Vietnamese—a message that left hundreds of thousands of civilians dead.

These groups learned to speak the language we taught them. And our response was to speak in kind. The language of violence, the language of occupation—the occupation of the Middle East, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—has been the best recruiting tool al-Qaida has been handed. If it is correct that Osama bin Laden is dead, then it will spiral upwards with acts of suicidal vengeance. And I expect most probably on American soil. The tragedy of the Middle East is one where we proved incapable of communicating in any other language than the brute and brutal force of empire.

And empire finally, as Thucydides understood, is a disease. As Thucydides wrote, the tyranny that the Athenian empire imposed on others it finally imposed on itself. The disease of empire, according to Thucydides, would finally kill Athenian democracy. And the disease of empire, the disease of nationalism … these of course are mirrored in the anarchic violence of these groups, but one that locks us in a kind of frightening death spiral. So while I certainly fear al-Qaida, I know it’s intentions. I know how it works. I spent months of my life reconstructing every step Mohamed Atta took. While I don’t in any way minimize their danger, I despair. I despair that we as a country, as Nietzsche understood, have become a monster that we are attempting to fight.”

By CFS

Our war in Afghanistan isn’t in the news much anymore… there are better and more interesting things for the media to pay attention to now; the uplifting story of the wave sweeping away autocratic regimes in the Middle East, crazy shit Teapublicans do and say, our own economic plight/scandal, or Miley Cyrus taking a bong rip.  And besides, a slow moving wreck is much less interesting than a spectacular flame out.  What more is there for the media to cover and write about that hasn’t already been covered after a decade of occupation of a foreign land?

Armadillo, a Danish documentary following the nine month deployment of a Danish platoon to Helmand during 2009 featured last night at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival does what no reporting can; give an honest portrayal of the situation through the eyes of soldiers.  The documentary takes it’s name from the forward operating base in which the Danish platoon is stationed.  Despite the fact that the cameras are embedded with the Danish soldiers from the time they leave their homes to the time they return, the documentary isn’t a biased affair.  You are given a chance to see the challenges facing both the soldiers and the Afghani civilians.

You see the despair of a mother saying goodbye to her son leaving for Afghanistan; witness the heartbreak of a farmer that had his house blown-up by a mortar – killing his mother and daughter – while he was away at market; see the fear in the eyes of an Afghani father afraid to speak to the Danes for fear of the Taliban cutting the throats of his sons; feel the anxiety of the Danes as they prepare for a patrol and later receive fire from a hidden position; hear the anger in the voice of children who have had friends and family killed in the fighting as they taunt the soldiers; experience concern for a platoon leader seriously injured after his vehicle gets hit by an IED.

Continue Reading »

By Duganz

I remember sitting in my high school computer lab when we started shocking and awing Iraqi civilians, and soldiers into oblivion. Some of my classmates were cheering. I was 18 so I could only think of Johnson, Nixon, and the story my Dad’s plan to run to Canada when he got his draft number (just a few months before the end of the Vietnam draft).

We’ve been fighting in Afghanistan for over nine years, and in Iraq nearly eight years. The cost of the wars has exceeded $1 trillion. Nearly 100,000 American troops have been wounded, and thousands have died.As for civilians of those two nations, thousands are dead, homeless, or slowly descending into a mindset wherein bombs are a fashion statement.

All those years, all that money, and all of those wounded human beings and I still have yet to get a sound reason for this question I’ve had all along: “Why are we fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?”

It’s a childish question, I know. But it is nonetheless relevant. The Left has laid blame on reactionary tactics (Afghanistan), and corporatism (Iraq). The Right is quick to beat the purity drum with a ratta-tat-tat roll for FREEDOM! FOR! ALL! The Left arguments may be true, we may be in these conflicts for empty reactionary reasons and our ongoing desire to burn dead dinosaurs. I don’t know.

As for the Right’s reasoning, well, I don’t know how an occupation creates freedom. And I mean that literally. How are people free if armed soldiers are walking around telling them what to do?

I ultimately want to believe the best in all people, even former President George W. Bush. I want to believe that he got bad intel, and that he stretched facts for pure reasons (it ain’t likely, but I want it to be true). I want to believe that we are still losing lives and money for the cause of freedom, even if I feel that war is a misguided means to an end when it comes not from the people, but from an outside force.

But, hell, it’s probably just imperialism and greed.

I want answers to why this has happened, and why it’s still going on. I’m Cruise in A Few Good Men. I want the truth (and, sadly, my government seems to think more like Nicholson).

So I decided to email Sen. Jon Tester, Sen. Max Baucus, and Rep. Dennis “Denny” Rehberg that one simple question: “Why are we fighting wars Iraq and Afghanistan?”

I didn’t put anything else in the email. Just the question; no slant or bias. I could have asked how any of them sleep at night knowing they could save lives, or if each flag-draped coffin means something to them. I could have asked Baucus if his nephew dying changed his mind.

I only used those eight simple words.

For those of you who have never emailed our national representatives, the easiest way is through the email forms available at their websites (links above). You give some personal info (most likely for future mailers), select a topic from a pre-made list, and then you’re free to write a little message.

But here’s something interesting:

At Tester’s site you cannot select Afghanistan as a topic, but you can ask about Iraq; Baucus apparently wishes to avoid talking about either (regret those votes Max?) as neither war is an available topic so I chose “foreign policy”; Denny is the only one providing an option for both under the heading “WAR.” I’m not lying. His topic list has the word “WAR.” Just like that. In CAPS. Like it should be proceeded by a grunt and the words “Good god, y’all. What is it good for?”

My emails have been sent. I’m waiting for responses.

I’ve been waiting for nearly ten years. I’ll post the responses as they come in.

***

Update (5:20pm): I posted this on Twitter at approximately 5:10pm MST. Rep. Rehberg’s account is verified. Sen Tester’s is not. It’s possible that Mr. Smith can infact no longer go to Washington, but Mr. Duganz can go to the internet.

By @CarFreeStpdty

Listening to NPR’s Morning Edition – like I do on a routine basis while at work – has become just one more element in the background of white noise that fills my average day. But yesterday morning someone’s comments caught my attention in an unusual way. One quote stuck in my mind… playing itself over and over again. It wasn’t the shear stupidity of the statement.. but the brazen belief that we – Americans – operate on such a different plane of moral existence than all the rest of mankind. America = pure moral good… the rest of the earth = a world constantly on the search for a way to circumvent the rules of a civilized existence. We of course never cheat, never lie, never try to game the system while our foreign adversaries never do anything but exhibit such behavior. They – whoever we decide to define as that foreign element – that we are currently battling with never play by the rules. Of course the rules are those that we impose, err… unanimously decide upon.

The story Morning Edition featured detailed the tricky legality of Cyber Warfare… as if any warfare can be contained by the niceties of some wishful legal framework.

The quote, in reference to the emerging legal rules of cyber warfare was as follows:

“It is a near certainty that the United States will scrupulously obey whatever is written down, and it is almost as certain that no one else will,” says Stewart Baker, a former NSA general counsel and an assistant secretary of homeland security under President George W. Bush.

Because… you know… we would never violate the Geneva Convention

– or at least try to slyly circumnavigate it – we would never try to enact policies that violate our own Constitution, or basic rights as citizens, we would never put personal gain above moral righteousness and the public good, etc, etc, etc, etc. Because… well… we’re Americans dammit, and no matter how many time we fuck up we are still morally unimpeachable as a nation. So… cyber warfare… we are obviously the only ones that will stay within the bounds of the law on that one…

by jhwygirl

Via Helena’s CBS KXLH reporter Marnee Banks’ twitter feed, comes the sobering reminder that Montana National Guard Troops will be deploying Monday morning for (first) a six-week stop for training in Mississippi and then to their purposed assign in support of the Overseas Contingency Operation.

This is their second deploy, having already supported Operation Iraqi Freedom for 12 months in 2004-2005.

Montana’s soldiers leave from 5 major departure sites in the state – here are the times and locations:
Helena: Army Aviation Support Facility 2:40 pm
Great Falls: Great Falls International Airport 5:35 am
Belgrade: Gallatin Field Airport 6:00 am
Billings: Billings International Airport 3:40 pm
Missoula: Missoula International Airport 6:35 am

Today my thoughts are with them and their loved ones – their wives and husbands and children and fathers and mothers. Each of them take every drop of good will and wishes that I have in me.

by jhwygirl

For those of you who might of missed it, CBS News’ Face the Nation has posted the video of Bob Schieffer’s interview with Bozeman native Greg Mortenson.

Don’t miss it. There’s lots to learn there.

Nicholas Kristof, one of NYTimes best, had a column recently where he lamented the war as it juxtaposed upon the wisdom of Mortenson’s best-selling book, Three Cups of Tea. It’s a must-read.

One thing that’s been stuck in my head from watching Mortenson’s interview this past Sunday?

The U.S. spends $1 million per soldier, per day, for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan

Imagine if we’da built schools over these last nearly 10 years? Imagine if we’d bring 246 our soldiers home today and build a higher education system for all of Afghanistan?

by jhwygirl

Left in the West’s Yellowstone Kelly has a post up predicting tomorrow’s state Land Board decision regarding the leasing of the Otter Creek coal leases in eastern Montana.

I won’t be so bold as to make a prediction – and even if I were, it wouldn’t be the 4-1 supposition that Yellowstone Kelly put up, mainly due to my continued hope that Montana’s 5 highest elected officials will see the sense in their party’s platform that supports clean energy and the lunacy in bringing up a billion tons of coal from the ground. Someone’s gonna burn it, and it’s gonna be dirty and that is an unchanging fact.

Not only do we – do Democrats – have a responsibility to our school children, we have a responsibility to the environment. Leasing 1 billion tons of coal is not environmentally responsible.

Sec. of State Linda McCulloch can speak all she wants about funding the school children, but she makes that statement without any regards to the other income potentials to the Otter Creek tracts – income that can be cleaner and sustainable (as opposed to mining for coal).

In fact, the decision on Otter Creek has been framed as being “for the children” and “for the schools” – and anyone saying that is taking advantage of the public’s lack of knowledge concerning trust land revenue and how it effects school funding. It’s irresponsible, and it is dangerously close to being untruthful.

Let’s say this to be clear: Leasing the Otter Creek tracts will have NO direct effect on the funding levels for schools. That is a fact, pointed out aptly enough by MEA-MFT president Eric Feaver MEA-MFT is the union which represents teachers, and has been behind repeated calls for increased funding to the state’s K-12 schools.

Funding for schools is set by the legislature. Revenue from any income generated on school trust land is deposited in the trust (which is really what having a trust is all about) and the interest is what may be used to fund schools. It is the interest, and that amount it what helps fund schools. What is available and what the legislature uses are completely independent of each other.

Montana’s citizens – and its press – would do well to better understand the school trust and the school funding system. It’s complex – I won’t pretend to be an expert – but I will say that hearing what I’ve heard from a number of elected officials has made me cringe over the years.

Leasing of the Otter Creek tracts has along list of ramifications – degradation to the environment, degradation to water quality…condemnations under governmental actions of eminent domain – all of which being with the destructive act of bringing the stuff up out of the ground.

Help out the many ranchers who live in and near the Otter Creek tracts that will be effected, and write a short email to the Land Board members tonight and let them know that leasing the tracts is a bad, bad idea. Monday’s meeting is 9, so time’s a wastin’ people – get ‘er done:

Gov. Brian Schweitzer — (406) 444-3111, governor@mt.gov

Superintendent of Public Instruction, Denise Juneau — In-State Toll-Free 1-888-231-9393, Local (406) 444-3095 OPISupt@mt.gov

Attorney General Steve Bullock – (406) 444-2026 contact doj@mt.gov

State Auditor Monica Lindeen – (406) 444-2040 mlindeen@mt.gov

Secretary of State Linda McCulloch – (406) 444-2034 sos.mt.gov

OR you could cut and past these into your email: governor@mt.gov; OPISupt@mt.gov; doj@mt.gov; mlindeen@mt.gov; sos@mt.gov Be sure to put “Otter Creek” in the subject line.

~~~~~
For more information on Otter Creek, you can put the words “otter” or “Tongue” into our search here (over there on the rigth) or, even better, head on over to The Button Valley Bugle and do the same. The Editor at The BV Bugle has done the finest of jobs in covering the issues on Otter Creek – and both of us have peppered our posts with plenty of links providing additional sources of information. In fact, I see The Editor has a “final push” post up too – titled “Otter Creek and Utter Rhetoric” that shouldn’t be missed.

by jhwygirl

Please consider this an open thread.

I’m looking for craft shows around the area – and by area I mean Kalispell, Helena, Bozeman, Butte, Deerlodge, Billings, Great Falls. Know any? Let me know below. (Thanks.)

Goddess knows there are plenty of people upset about the County’s plan proposal to consolidate precincts and close polling stations. If you are concerned about the closing of polling stations, and want the county to take time to get community input on putting together a plan that is workable, why not sign Forward Montana’s petition?

Via Missoula’s Heavy Metal Hippy, we learn that Big Foot has been sighted. In Minnesota.

Cool.

Montana’s lone congressman, Representative Denny Rehberg voted against reforming Wall Street in a vote on the floor of the House yesterday.

We’re making a list, checking it twice, gonna find out who’s naughty and who’s nice – congressional elections are coming, to town.

Missoula’s Poverello Center – like other homeless shelters across Montana – have been inundated this week due to sub-zero weather. The Pov has been overmaxed this week, sleeping over 100 on Thursday night. You can help by clicking that link above and dropping $5 or $15 or $50 bucks.

Sometimes you come across something on the intertubes that is unexpected and smart. This post did that for me, and it’s about the escalation of the war in Afghanistan. A superb arrangement of words which ignored all economy.

Couple of short interesting ones….

Out of Bozeman, a 140-year old Christmas cactus.

There’s a huge-ass iceburg floating off of Australia. Be sure to click through the pictures.

Global warming, schmobal warming, right?

In geekdome this week, I found a link on the state’s website for all the state’s online news sources.

I also found Google Scholar. This week it started offering federal and state opinions and patents….which is sure gonna hit up market sources like LexisNexis and Westlaw.

Still more – I am loving Google Scholar – here is a blog post which explains how to use the site. Which means I’ll be bookmarking that blog, too.

Out of Bozeman (again!), we’ve got gravel pits and zoning rising to the surface once again. Remember and the hullaboo about gravel pits about a year or so ago? Well, all that emergency zoning (in lots of places – we’ve the same emergency zoning that occurred here in Lolo) is coming due, placing pressure on local governments to get ‘er done.

Mainly because the legislature failed us, due to GOP amendment of what had been a darn good bill from Bozeman’s representative J.P. Pomnichowski.

I’m closing here with this one: I’ve not been over to Wulfgar!’s in a while, mainly because he’s been so sporadic and I end up getting out of pattern in my surfing. His beloved pooch Mara passed away more than a week ago, and I see he has a post up about her, which I am off to read. That kind of loss is so wrenching, so loyal or pets are. I still dream of my chessie Sadie, wonderful companion that she was.

by jhwygirl

The U.S. has 57,000 troops in Afghanistan, and we’re going to add 30,000 more – many of which will be deployed by Christmas – all for an estimated 100 al Qaeda?

I’m not saying we shouldn’t be working on al Qaeda – Lord knows I’ve long made the distinction between the war in Iraq (which I didn’t support) and the war in Afghanistan (which I saw with some purpose) – but they’re down to 100 guys holed up on the border? Considerably neutralized already, lacking buildings or bases?

Obviously, the good news that Americans should feel at least good about in Afghanistan is that the al-Qaeda presence is very diminished. The maximum estimate is less than 100 operating in the country. No bases. No buildings to launch attacks on either us or our allies.

Now the problem is, the next step in this is the sanctuaries across the border. But I don’t foresee the return of the Taliban and I want to be very clear that Afghanistan is not in imminent danger of falling.

That, from Obama’s national security adviser and NATO’s former supreme allied commander in Europe, General James Jones.

A thousand Army Rangers can’t take care of that? Or even 2,000? What about the Marines?

Oh, how government loves the war machine. One big ole’ stimulus package, wrapped up under the guise of patriotism and democracy.

And speaking of democracy – I can’t help but wonder how committed the newly re-elected President Karzai is to democracy. It’s one thing to finish the job, it’s a whole other thing to make pals with someone who doesn’t seem to have a lot of friends – or at least enough to get him elected fair-and-square.

Human rights? Women’s rights? Shouldn’t we expect those things from democracies?

This sure is starting to look like some other country’s war to me. Either that or, like I said, those 100 al Qaeda holed up there in those caves must be some real badasses.

Meh.

by JC

This upcoming week marks Barack Obama’s taking full ownership of the Afghan war, and escalating it to over a hundred thousand troops. To those of us who lived during the Vietnam war the similarities are eery. That war changed the history of this country–not because of the war or the purpose it was fought for, but because of the clash of cultures at home that ripped this country apart.

Even given that Obama will sell his war and its escalation with an exit strategy, we have to ask: is it worth this? Does this make sense for America to take on at this time? Can you really write an exit strategy while you are escalating a war with ill-defined goals, and botched strategies? A war in a part of the world where outsiders have never won?

Another similarity with WWII: it was the scope and scale of that war which eventually drug this country out of the Great Depression. Will our destabilization of the middle east–with Iran and Pakistan potentially entering the war theater with Afghanistan and Iraq, lead to WWIII? Is this the end play? Perpetual war? Return of the draft?

Too many questions, and no answers.

afghanistan

I’m reminded, as the title to this diary attests, of the scene in Apocalypse Now, where the helicopters rage across the countryside spewing napalm, and we feel the war taking a turn towards madness.

“This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end
My only friend, the end
Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
I’ll never look into your eyes…again
Can you picture what will be
So limitless and free
Desperately in need…of some…stranger’s hand
In a…desperate land
Lost in a Roman…wilderness of pain
And all the children are insane
All the children are insane…”
– The Doors

by Pete Talbot

4&20 offers its deepest condolences to the family and friends of Lt. Col. Garnet “Gary” Derby. He was from Whitehall but listed Missoula as his home. He was killed in Iraq on Monday, along with three other soldiers and an interpreter, in a roadside bombing.

Lt. Col. Derby is the 21st Montana serviceman to die in Iraq (ranking Montana fourth per capita in residents 18-54). Only Vermont, North Dakota and South Dakota lead Montana in number of deaths as a percentage of population.

He is the 4243rd American killed. There have been 31,035 injured. Estimates range from 90,670-98,992 in the number of Iraqis killed as a result of direct military or paramilitary action.

The war enters it’s sixth year next month. Sectarian violence continues. American deaths since George W. Bush proclaimed “mission accomplished”: 4105.

(Update — In the comments below, jhwygirl corrects the number of Montanans killed in Iraq: 29. My fault for working off an incomplete list.)

by jhwygirl

From Councilman Jon Wilkins:

Y’all know it’s Veteran’s Day tomorrow. And when I think back over my life and what Veterans mean to me, that generally brings tears to my eyes because I remember friends from the Class of ’68, Great Falls High, that don’t have the opportunity to honor Veteran’s Day today. ‘Cause they didn’t make it back.

A couple weeks ago, I left for lunch, on a Wednesday, and I was going over to City Hall…and I found a man, laying in the gutter…and the ambulance came. His buddies were all sitting on the bench, commenting about him. “He’s a combat Veteran with the Force Division.” Well, I happened to be with the Force Division in Vietnam, in the central highlands. And here this poor man is laying in the gutter.

How are we treating our Veterans? I want you to think about that tomorrow. Even our young ones that are coming home and the problems they’re facing…you know, to be in combat, it’s always with you. Some people can handle it – some people can’t. And there’s no disgrace in not being able to handle it. But our government and our city our state needs to do more to help these people out. And it’s appalling to me that a combat Veteran is laying in the gutter in the City of Missoula and has no home and no place to go…and…it just eats at my soul.

And I know myself I probably don’t do as much as I should but I try to do what can. So tomorrow when Veteran’s Day comes around and you see all the American flags in everybody’s yard, stop and think what it really means. Because we wouldn’t be sitting at this table making the decisions that we do on growth and all the other decisions that we make if it wasn’t for those Veterans during WWI, WWII, the Korean War, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and all the little skirmishes in between.

And you know? Per capita for people that we have in Montana, we have more Veterans than any other state that come out of here than any other state. We are truly a patriotic state. Our people do serve and it’s time that we start paying attention to that.

Thank you.

No, Thank YOU, Jon Wilkins. In more ways than one.

by jhwygirl

Gone but not forgotten, these Montanans gave their lives.

Killed in Iraq:

Cpl. Stewart S. Trejo, 25 – Whitefish (August 7, 2008)

Pvt. Timothy J. Hutton, 21 – Dillon (August 4, 2008)

Sgt. James A. McHale, 31 – Fairfield (July 30, 2008)

Cpt. Andrew R. Pearson, 32 – Billings (April 30, 2008 )

Pvt. Daren A. Smith, 19 – Helena (December 13, 2007)

Staff Sgt. Yance T. Gray, 26 – Ismay (September 10, 2007)

Spc. Donald M. Young, 19 – Helena (August 8, 2007)

Staff Sgt. Travis W. Atkins, 31 – Bozeman (June 1, 2007)

Pfc. Kyle G Bohrnsen, 22 – Philipsburg (April 10, 2007)

Staff Sgt. Shane Becker, 35 – Helena (April 3,2007)

Cpl. Chris Dana, 23 – Helena (March 4, 2007)

Pvt. Matthew T. Zeimer, 18 (February 2, 2007)

Marine Lance Cpl. Nick Palmer, 19 – Great Falls (December 16, 2006)

Army Pfc. Shawn Murphy, 24 – Butte (December 10, 2006)

Petty Officer 2nd Class Charles V. Komppa, 35 – Belgrade (October 25, 2006)

Lance Cpl. Jeremy S. Sandvick Monroe, 20 – Chinook (October 8, 2006)

Cpl. Phillip E. Baucus, 28 – Wolf Creek (July 29, 2006)

Capt. Michael J. MacKinnon, 30 – Helena (October 27, 2005)

Pfc. Andrew D. Bedard, 19 – Missoula (October 4, 2005)

Lance Cpl. Nicholas William B. Bloem, 20 – Belgrade (August 3, 2005)

Sgt. Travis M. Arndt, 23 – Bozeman (September 21, 2005)

Sgt. 1st Class Robbie D. McNary, 42 – Lewistown (March 31, 2005)

Cpl. Raleigh C. Smith, 21 – Troy (December 23, 2004)

Staff Sgt. Aaron N. Holleyman, 26 – Glasgow (August 20, 2004)

Cpl. Dean P. Pratt, 22 – Stevensville (August 2, 2004)

Pfc. Owen D. Witt, 20 – Sand Springs (May 24, 2004)

1st Lt. Edward M. Saltz, 27 – Bigfork (December 22, 2003)

Killed in Afghanistan:

Pfc. Kristofor T. Stonesifer, 28 – Missoula (October 19, 2001)

Joshua Michael Hyland, 31 – Missoula (August 21,2005)

by jhwygirl

I mentioned last week that I attended the dedication of the Western Montana Veteran’s Cemetery, and how Lt. Governor John Bohlinger spoke eloquently about war and its impact on soldiers and Americans.

I had a friend request a copy of the speech, and his staff was kind enough to send it. Bohlinger’s words are definitely worthy of remembrance:

Ladies and gentlemen, honorable veterans, and fellow Montanans, thank you for your invitation to share a few words with you today. I come to you today as Montana’s Lt. Governor, but I also come to you bearing another title. It is one that I hold with great pride, as it brings honor to my name, and the life that I have led. The title is that of United States Marine Corps veteran. There are many words that can describe a veteran, but the most prominent is honor. The men and women who wear the uniform of the US Armed Forces live by the words of John F. Kennedy, who said; ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.

The lessons I learned in the Marines were the lessons of discipline and commitment. When I learned to submit my will to a greater cause, I discovered that sacrificing the self for the good of the whole, was really no sacrifice at all.

While the tools and strategy of war have changed, the spirit of the American soldier has not. Their commitment to each other and to our country has remained strong as American oak. A deceptive adversary in the Middle East has uncovered a new ugliness in modern warfare. A disregard for innocent human life, and deception, make up the strategy of our opponent’s in Iraq and Afghanistan. The face of war is one not easily forgotten, and life after combat can be an unfamiliar reality for a soldier. We have witnessed increasing numbers in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder amongst the men and women who wear the uniform. It has been said that in war, there are no unwounded soldiers. (José Narosky)

If a soldier returning to the states does not find the network of support needed to reintegrate into society, then we face the possibility of losing that connection indefinitely. Governor Schweitzer testified before congress in Washington DC this year and told them of Chris Dana, a soldier in the Montana National Guard. He told them of the lack of resources available to Chris through the Veterans’ Administration after his tour of duty. He told them of the struggle that Chris endured after returning from deployment, and of the tragic end to Chris Dana’s life. In times of war, casualties and loss of life are inevitable, but the life of Chris Dana was not taken by a stray bullet, or a roadside bomb. It was taken by neglect. Neglect to bring light to an issue that has been repeatedly overlooked for far too long.

I believe that Governor Schweitzer said it best when he stated, “The federal government does a remarkable job of converting a citizen into a warrior; I think they have an equal responsibility converting a warrior back to a citizen.”

With this comes an understanding, that support for our service men and women does not cease at the end of a tour of duty, or even after an honorable discharge. Our soldiers need to be reassured that a post-military career, and life, will permit them to enjoy the American way of life that they so diligently fought to uphold.

Veterans make up 11% of Montana’s population, the highest in the nation. We are known for our patriotism and willingness to serve our country. Governor Schweitzer, myself, and Montana’s Congressional Delegation, will continue work for our veteran community to ensure all resources and support necessary are available to men and women returning from duty.

Seven years ago today, nineteen men of a terrorist network attacked American soil and took innocent American lives. In the eyes of the leaders of al Qaeda the mission was a success. In the eyes of Americans, it was their biggest mistake.

We will never forget the day that American liberty and freedom was attacked. Our American values did not falter in 9/11’s aftermath, but were strengthened. 2,974 people died in the attacks. Another 24 are missing and presumed dead. The overwhelming majority of casualties were innocent civilians, including nationals of over 90 different countries. Let this day serve as a reminder, that there are those in the world that cannot grasp the beauty and merit of a truly free society, and have dedicated their lives to threatening our way of life. But we are Americans, united under the stars and stripes, and we will not allow those who attempt to strike fear into our hearts oppress our American way of life. Our freedoms and our liberties are not granted to us merely by the grace of God, but they are upheld by the great sacrifice of our men and women in uniform. Let this day forever remind us of that sacrifice, and to bring the highest honor to our veterans and their families.

To the veterans in attendance today, I say thank you for your service to our country and your people. It is hard to imagine what the United States of America would have endured, and continued to endure, without your service. Thank you. To my fellow Montanans, whether you have family or friends in the Armed Forces or not, I ask you this. Extend your hand of friendship to your veteran community. In one manner or another, volunteer and be a visible means of support, for these are the men and women who stand on guard to preserve the way of life we all enjoy. Do not forget that freedom comes at a price and that we all must share in the cost.

In closing, I will leave you with this thought from Elmer Davis.
~ This nation will remain the land of the free, only so long as it is the home of the brave. ~
Saepius Exertus – Often Tested
Semper Fidelis – Always Faithful
Fraters Infinitas – Brothers Forever

Thank you, God Bless America!

by jhwygirl

I attended the dedication this afternoon of the Western Montana Veteran’s Cemetery. A crowd somewhere between 400 to 500 people attended, of all ages – veterans of all service branches, of many wars, and of all ranks. It was a truly moving event, set with a background of a tragic day in American history.

I missed bringing my camera – and if anyone has pictures, I’d love to post them, so please email me if you have them.

I walked into the service with a friend of mine – a veteran of the Iraq War. We have spoke many times about that war and the war in Afghanistan…and just plain lots of politics in general. As we walked towards the ceremony – running a tad bit late – a cannon shot pierced the air. He was halted, obviously shaken. His reaction lasted longer than I would have expected. While I’ve always recognized his service and sacrifice as something that is an absolute selfless gift to me and all Americans, the affect of that cannon shot was a stark reminder for me of one of the things his service means for him. Every day.

That brief moment won’t be leaving me.

Lt. Governor Bohlinger was the first speaker. He spoke quite eloquently about his service in the Marines – but he did speak at length about Specialist Chris Dana, 23, of Helena. Dana committed suicide in March 2007. His death was a watershed moment for the Montana National Guard, and Montana now has one of the fines mental health support systems, throughout the state, for veterans of all wars. His family speaks openly of Dana’s tragic death.

Bohlinger spoke of the commitment that we – Americans – have to veterans – how it doesn’t stop once they get home, and how it is our responsibility to ensure that even unseen wounds need to have care. Bohlinger pointed out that even today’s dedication of the Veteran’s Cemetery is an example of the commitment that is deserved for those who have served.

There were many speakers – I apologize for not speaking to them all.

A 21-gun salute, taps, and bagpipes closed the ceremony.

by jhwygirl

Bernie Mac, comedian and actor, dead at 50? WTF?!

Russia is attacking Georgia. Georgia is pretty much a democratic nation – and has been warning off Russia for years. Russia, on the other hand, sees the possibility of having Georgia become a NATO stronghold unacceptable. Georgia’s counting on the west to save them, saying that if we don’t, we show everyone that this path (democracy) doesn’t work. Only if you have oil, my friend, only if you have oil.

Some guys from Minot AFB in North Dakota overturned a truck, spilling unarmed intercontinental ICBM rocket boosters into a ditch. The neighborhood was apparently unfazed – at the local coffee hole, neighbors talked about everything but that missile: “I guess that shows that people aren’t worried about it,” said Mrs. Zacher. “I know I’m certainly not.”

The Air Force, apparently, has other problems too. Not good, boys….I’m not sure, but I doubt this fits the criteria for National Security.

Despite our recent tit-for-tat, I do so enjoy The Indy. And just to show it, make sure you check out Patrick Klemz’s week-in-review of the Hell’s Angels visit. I especially liked the inside info on their hill-climbing activities.

Obama’s “Tire Gauge Solution” is apparently no joke. Put it this way: Bush has said that off-shore drilling will increase our production by 1% by 2030. Meanwhile, checking the tire pressure will increase mileage by 3% immediately and then getting a tune-up would add another 4%.

With an instant faux boost to oil production like that, Obama should paint those facts on red, white and blue tire gauges, along with “Vote Obama” on them – and hand ’em out….just like Republicans did when they were trying to make fun of him.

by jhwygirl

All who serve in the military do it.

Gone but not forgotten, these Montanans gave their lives.

Killed in Iraq:

Cpt. Andrew R. Pearson, 32 – Billings (April 30, 2008 )

Pvt. Daren A. Smith, 19 – Helena (December 13, 2007)

Staff Sgt. Yance T. Gray, 26- Ismay (September 10, 2007)

Spc. Donald M. Young, 19 – Helena (August 8, 2007)

Staff Sgt. Travis W. Atkins, 31 – Bozeman (June 1, 2007)

Cpl. Chris Dana, 23 – Helena (March 4, 2007)

Pfc. Kyle G Bohrnsen, 22 – Philipsburg (April 10, 2007)

Staff Sgt. Shane Becker, 35 – Helena (April 3,2007)

Pvt. Matthew T. Zeimer, 18 (February 2, 2007)

Army Pfc. Shawn Murphy, 24 – Butte (December 10, 2006)

Marine Lance Cpl. Nick Palmer, 19 – Great Falls (December 16, 2006)

Sgt. Travis M. Arndt, 23 – Bozeman (September 21, 2005)

Pfc. Andrew D. Bedard, 19 – Missoula (October 4,2005)

Staff Sgt. Aaron N. Holleyman, 26 – Glasgow (August 20,2004)

Capt. Michael J. MacKinnon, 30 – Helena (October 27, 2005)

Cpl. Dean P. Pratt, 22 – Stevensville (August 2, 2004)

Lance Cpl. Jeremy S. Sandvick Monroe, 20 – Chinook (October 8,2006)

Cpl. Phillip E. Baucus, 28 – Wolf Creek (July 29,2006)

Lance Cpl. Nicholas William B. Bloem, 20 – Belgrade (August 3, 2005)

Petty Officer 2nd Class Charles V. Komppa, 35 – Belgrade (October 25, 2006)

Sgt. 1st Class Robbie D. McNary, 42 – Lewistown (March 31, 2005)

1st Lt. Edward M. Saltz, 27 – Bigfork (December 22, 2003)

Cpl. Raleigh C. Smith, 21 – Troy (December 23, 2004)

Pfc. Owen D. Witt, 20 – Sand Springs (May 24, 2004)

Killed in Afghanistan:

Pfc. Kristofor T. Stonesifer, 28 – Missoula (October 19, 2001)

Joshua Michael Hyland, 31 – Missoula (August 21,2005)

by jhwygirl

A friend mentioned it, and I went looking. It’s real hard to prove that something doesn’t exist. After all – if it didn’t happen, how do you prove it didn’t happen?

And maybe that is the point of it all.

Two weeks ago I wrote that the Symbiotic Relationship of the Bush Administration and the Mainstream Media has No Boundary. That piece detailed the relationship between the mainstream medias so-called military analysts (retired Army General James Marks, retired Army Colonel John C. Garret, retired Air Force General Joseph W. Ralston, retired General Paul E. Vallely, retired Major General Bob Scales – hell, the list goes on…) and the Pentagon, which provided them with perks and inside scripted talking points. The Times article went on to expose the corporate connections these so-called analysts have, and the conflict of interest resulting from the inherent financial benefits they stood to gain from keeping the war machine moving along, irregardless of the dangers it posed for our troops. Irregardless of the truth it masked.

Has there been a mention of that extensive article by the New York Times on any of the television news outlets? No.

How many times has the New York Times article been mentioned since its publication two weeks ago? Twice. Two pieces, both being on the April 24th PBS NewsHour.News coverage in the week following the New York Times article

This illustrates, for me, why blogs are all the more important in today’s media. News sources – local and national – are failing us, folks. While blogs won’t replace traditional media, they can serve to keep important issues in the public’s eye, and they can serve to give attention to the issues that affect our everyday lives.

by jhwygirl

A little over a week ago I wrote about the NY Times story which exposed the who’s-up-whose-ass relationship between the Bush Administration and the media’s so-called military analysts – those retired generals that you see on every major news station telling us that the surge is working, that the troops have enough armor, that we are winning the war in Iraq.

In other words, one more shame on the Bush Administration.

At least I didn’t see the honorable General Wesley Clark on that list. At least some of the retired military still look out for the men that they previously commanded.

And boy, you should have heard the reaction from the two Army veterans of the Iraq war when I forwarded that story to them.

On Thursday, Representative Ike Skeleton (D-MO), chair of the House Armed Services Committee, had a whole hell of a lot to say about the article.

Why is it that only Democrats have come out on record as being appalled of the behavior of not only the Pentagon but the retired generals also? Not one of Montana’s conservative bloggers have expressed outrage over this either. When you think of how many Montanans are in the reserves, and serving in Iraq, or have served in Iraq, don’t you think that maybe even one of them would express some disappointment? Aren’t these guys supposed to support the troops? How is remaining silent about retired generals who were more concerned about their consulting fees than the troops they served with supporting the troops?

Principal deputy assistant secretary of Defense Robert Hastings halted the feeding of information to those military analysts after seeing the NY Times article, saying that he is concerned about allegations that the Defense Department’s relationship with the retired military analysts was improper.

Stars and Stripes has the story.

by jhwygirl

See it for yourself. Notice the title.

VA email – February 13, 2008

Senator Tom Harkin’s (D-Iowa) office said statistics provided earlier this year by the VA showed that 790 veterans under VA care attempted suicide in 2007.

790? Talk about fuzzy math.

790 does not equal 12,000. Unless your a tool of the Bush Administration.

That’s nearly 33 attempted suicides by military veterans per day.

Sen. Harkin, Sen. Patty Murray (D- WA) and Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) introduced legislation Tuesday calling on the VA to track how many veterans commit suicide each year. Currently, VA facilities record the number of suicides and attempted suicides in VA facilities – but do not record how many veterans overall take their own lives.

On Monday, a class action suit brought by veterans groups opened in San Francisco charging a “systemwide breakdown,” citing long delays in receiving disability benefits and flaws in the way discharged soldiers at risk for suicide had been treated.

Kerri J. Childress, a department spokeswoman, said Monday that there were an average of 18 suicides a day among America’s 25 million veterans and that more than a fifth were committed by men and women being treated by Veterans Affairs.

Fuzzy math continues.

So if it’s not mistreatment of living veterans, and it’s not disrespect after they’ve given their lives in service – it’s lies about the reality this illegal war is bring to our sons and daughters, our families – our nation.

Mayor of Mahem, commenting on a previous post, Americans Don’t Know How Many U.S. Soldiers Have Been Killed in Iraq, explained to us the reality he already knows:

…I have a family member that has returned from Iraq in apparent good health, only to find out later that they will never be the same. This is especially disturbing to the son of a Vietnam conflict veteran who has watched a father fight that war over and over again for the last 40 years. The cost to our country for this war will be paid for the next fifty years. Not by those who who gave all, their sacrifice and that of their families is immeasurable. The long term cost of caring for physically injured and mentally effected US servicemen will be a heavy load for US families to carry. Say a prayer tonight for the 19 year old North Dakota farm boy walking through an alley in Bagdad or the twenty six year old sergeant and father of two from Los Angeles on duty in Fallujah.

There is a fire burning in the middle east and the fuel for that fire is our children.

I cry for my nation. I cry for its soldiers.

God Bless.

by jhwygirl

A Pew Institute survey, results released March 12th, shows that American’s awareness in the number of American military casualties in Iraq is slipping.

The number of American military deaths, as of Sunday evening, is 4039. The total number of coalition deaths is 4348.

The number of American military deaths on August 7th, 8 1/2 months ago, was 3684.

How can we be so far removed from the reality of the war in Iraq that we are unaware – to the tune of only 28% being able to cite “4000” – of the number of American sons and daughters that have been killed in a war built on lies?

Could it be that the media coverage of the war is dropping? That biased media coverage?

Well, maybe so. That same survey tells us that press attention to the war has dropped to an all-time low of just 3% in February. The overall coverage, from January 1st through March 20th, is 4%.

Coinciding with the drop in war coverage is an increase in the number of Americans who think that military progress is being made in Iraq.

What does this mean?

It means McCain is walking on a free pass with the media’s lack of focus on the war. It means that journalists get away with asking questions about Drudge Report allegations and flag pins. It means that the beverage of choice (Crown Royal or green tea anyone?) is more important than the national debt.

The national debt? Nearing $6,000,000,000,000.

How about some war costs?
The cost of the Iraq war? Nearing $515,000,000,000.
The daily cost of the Iraq war? $314,400,000.
The cost of the Iraq war, per household? $4,681.

The cost to the entire state of Montana? $790,000,000.

Meanwhile, in other news, McCain has vowed a war on wasteful spending.

Given the evidence of the media’s output on that topic, and McCain’s expert grasp on economic issues, one has to wonder if he even knows what in the hell he’s actually talking about.

(Hat tip to hummingbirdminds.)

by jhwygirl

Wulfgar!, under his Deeply Stupid category, takes local attorney and candidate for HD 96 Steve Eschenbacher to task for his poor attorney-speak (“absolutely positively probably”) and other conspiracy theories.

Eshenbacher is the blogger behind Rabid Insanity, something he has not hidden.

Makes me wonder what Eschenbacher thinks of my post below, on our mainstream media’s military analysts.

Oops. Wait. I already know. Can’t question a retired officer and military analyst– that would be unpatriotic.

Must…Drink…Kool-Aid…Make…Mine…Red…Please…

Eishenbacher is running against Teresa Henry, incumbent for HD 96. There will not be a primary for HD 96.

by jhwygirl

A New York Times article released yesterday but dated today – much of which was the result of having to sue the Defense Department to gain access to 8,000 pages of email messages, transcripts and records – goes into gory, disgusting detail of the relationship between the Pentagon, the Bush Administration and most (yep, most) military analysts on mainstream media outlets like Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, and NBC.

Some of these analysts were on the mission to Cuba on June 24, 2005 — the first of six such Guantánamo trips — which was designed to mobilize analysts against the growing perception of Guantánamo as an international symbol of inhumane treatment. On the flight to Cuba, for much of the day at Guantánamo and on the flight home that night, Pentagon officials briefed the 10 or so analysts on their key messages — how much had been spent improving the facility, the abuse endured by guards, the extensive rights afforded detainees.The results came quickly. The analysts went on TV and radio, decrying Amnesty International, criticizing calls to close the facility and asserting that all detainees were treated humanely.

“The impressions that you’re getting from the media and from the various pronouncements being made by people who have not been here in my opinion are totally false,” Donald W. Shepperd, a retired Air Force general, reported live on CNN by phone from Guantánamo that same afternoon.

The next morning, Montgomery Meigs, a retired Army general and NBC analyst, appeared on “Today.” “There’s been over $100 million of new construction,” he reported. “The place is very professionally run.”

Within days, transcripts of the analysts’ appearances were circulated to senior White House and Pentagon officials, cited as evidence of progress in the battle for hearts and minds at home.

Are you kidding me?!

Assistant secretary of defense for public affairs Torie Clark, a former public relations executive, cooked up the plan. Before 9/11, she had begun to build a system within the Pentagon to recruit key movers and shakers that could be counted on to generate support for Secretary of State Don Rumsfield’s priorities. She found them in military analysts who she saw as not only getting more airtime than network reporters, but were also viewed by the public as independent of the media – which we all know can be biased, right?

What the public got, instead, was a neoconservative brain trust which spoonfed Pentagon and Bush administration talking points to the public while raking in increasingly larger salaries from military contractors that supplemented their retirement incomes.

Neocons such as retired Army general Paul E. Vallely, a Fox News military analyst from 2001 to 2007. Vallely had specialized in psychological warfare and co-authored a paper in 1980 that blamed American’s loss in Vietnam on American news organizations failure to defend the nations from “enemy propaganda” during the war – a belief shared by many on Bush’s national security team.

Then there were defense profiteers such as retired Army general James Marks, a military analyst for CNN from 2004 to 2007, who worked as a senior executive for McNeil Technologies which pursued both military and intelligence contracts. Marks was also national security adviser for former presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

There was also retired Army colonel John C. Garret, a military analyst for Fox News TV and radio & a lobbyist at Patton Boggs, which assists firms wishing to win Pentagon contracts. Or retired Air Force general Joseph W. Ralston, CBS military analyst and vice-chair of the Cohen Group, a consulting firm headed up by former defense secretary William Cohen, which represents agencies and firms wishing for entry into the aerospace and defense market.

The Times admits to having had at least nine of the Pentagon’s recruited minions writing op-ed articles for them.

Vallely is apparently having some crisis of conscience. In an interview with the Times, commenting on a September 2003 tour of Iraq with fellow military analysts, Vallely expresses remorse: “I saw immediately in 2003 that things were going south.”

Vallely had told Alan Colmes of Fox News, upon his return from that very same propaganda-filled tour, “You can’t believe the progress”

Fox news military analyst and retired Army lieutenant colonel Timur J. Eads had a crisis-of-conscience too – he told the times that he, too, had at times held his tongue on television for fear that “some four-star would call up and say, ‘Kill that contract.’ Eads believe Pentagon officials misled the analysts aboutthe progress of Iraq’s security forces. “I know a snow job when I see one,” he said.

Eads never mentioned that on Fox News.

You don’t say!

The Times story goes on to shine the light, in full disgusting brightness, on the self-serving criminal arrogance of the Bush Administration and Don Rumsfield and the Pentagon. In April 2006 the Bush Administration faced what is now known as the General’s Revolt – open criticism by Rumsfields’ former generals that his wartime performance was crap. His resignation was being called for and his days were beginning their downward spiral.

The day after that NY Times article, the Pentagon helped Fox analysts General McInerney and General Vallely write an opinion article for The Wall Street Journal defending Rumsfield. News of that meeting leaked, and was printed on the front page of the Times. By Tuesday, the Pentagon was in full defense mode, and had a larger group of analysts in its offices willing to propogate the spin necessary to help defend Rumsfield from his own Iraqi war generals:

“I’m an old intel guy,” said one analyst. (The transcript omits speakers’ names.) “And I can sum all of this up, unfortunately, with one word. That is Psyops. Now most people may hear that and they think, ‘Oh my God, they’re trying to brainwash.’ ”

“What are you, some kind of a nut?” Mr. Rumsfeld cut in, drawing laughter. “You don’t believe in the Constitution?”

There was little discussion about the actual criticism pouring forth from Mr. Rumsfeld’s former generals. Analysts argued that opposition to the war was rooted in perceptions fed by the news media, not reality. The administration’s overall war strategy, they counseled, was “brilliant” and “very successful.”

“Frankly,” one participant said, “from a military point of view, the penalty, 2,400 brave Americans whom we lost, 3,000 in an hour and 15 minutes, is relative.”

An analyst said at another point: “This is a wider war. And whether we have democracy in Iraq or not, it doesn’t mean a tinker’s damn if we end up with the result we want, which is a regime over there that’s not a threat to us.”

“Yeah,” Mr. Rumsfeld said, taking notes.

But winning or not, they bluntly warned, the administration was in grave political danger so long as most Americans viewed Iraq as a lost cause. “America hates a loser,” one analyst said.

Much of the session was devoted to ways that Mr. Rumsfeld could reverse the “political tide.” One analyst urged Mr. Rumsfeld to “just crush these people,” and assured him that “most of the gentlemen at the table” would enthusiastically support him if he did.

“You are the leader,” the analyst told Mr. Rumsfeld. “You are our guy.”

At another point, an analyst made a suggestion: “In one of your speeches you ought to say, ‘Everybody stop for a minute and imagine an Iraq ruled by Zarqawi.’ And then you just go down the list and say, ‘All right, we’ve got oil, money, sovereignty, access to the geographic center of gravity of the Middle East, blah, blah, blah.’ If you can just paint a mental picture for Joe America to say, ‘Oh my God, I can’t imagine a world like that.’ ”

Even as they assured Mr. Rumsfeld that they stood ready to help in this public relations offensive, the analysts sought guidance on what they should cite as the next “milestone” that would, as one analyst put it, “keep the American people focused on the idea that we’re moving forward to a positive end.” They placed particular emphasis on the growing confrontation with Iran.

“When you said ‘long war,’ you changed the psyche of the American people to expect this to be a generational event,” an analyst said. “And again, I’m not trying to tell you how to do your job…”

“Get in line,” Mr. Rumsfeld interjected.

The meeting ended and Mr. Rumsfeld, appearing pleased and relaxed, took the entire group into a small study and showed off treasured keepsakes from his life, several analysts recalled.

Read it if you dare. I’ll just leave you with the image above: Rumsfield, appearing pleased and relaxed, showing off his little trinkets.




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