How bad are things in Iraq? So bad that the military has to trot out Dexy. and luckily the New York Times is willing to front page him. It's entitled "Bagdad's Chaos Undercuts Tack Pursued By U.S." and Dexy has dropped the sob-sister pose (at least for now) and instead wants to come off like your big sis. Older sister Dexy, just had the first cigarette, first beer, went to the third over the weekend and now knows it all. Or wants to work really hard to make you think that.
In an essay posing as reporting (datelined stamped yesterday), Dexy tosses out a bunch of facts that are well known in the apparent hope that it will allow his opinions to be taken as fact too. Oh, Dexy, it's not that easy.
So what's our Older Sis wanting to impart today?
The American forces must stay in Iraq. That's made clear in something that reads like an editorial board wrote it:
The failure of the Iraqis to halt the slide into chaos in Baghdad undercuts the central permise of the American project here: that Iraqi forces can be trained and equipped to secure their own country, allowing the Americans to go home.
Dexy accepts the premise as though he's David Brooks on the op-ed pages and not a reporter.
Now there's a whole world of people who predicted exactly what's happening, predicted it before the invasion. They're not heard from in Dexy's attempt to sell you on a Days of Wine and War.
They're still not heard from. Jeff Cohen has a wonderful piece on how the same voices are still being trotted out as experts. From "Being a TV Expert Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry" (Common Dreams):
But TV "experts" like Gen. McCaffrey, who echoed White House claims of an Iraqi threat and cheered our country into the war, are still on the air. And they never have to say they're sorry.
On MSNBC two months before the war, McCaffrey warned that Iraq possessed "thousands of gallons of mustard agents, serin, nerve agent VX still in Iraq."
His prewar commentary left viewers ill-prepared for what would follow a U.S. invasion. Nowadays, he’s no Rumsfeld booster -- but McCaffrey was upbeat when it mattered, weeks before the war: "I just got an update briefing from Secretary Rumsfeld and his team on what’s the aftermath of the fighting. And I was astonished at the complexity and dedication with which they've gone about thinking through this: humanitarian aid, find the weapons of mass destruction, protect the population, jump-start an Iraqi free media. So a lot of energy has gone into this."
During the invasion, McCaffrey crowed, "Thank God for the Abrams tank and the Bradley fighting vehicle." Unknown to MSNBC viewers, the General sat on the boards of several military contracting corporations -- including IDT, which pocketed millions for doing God's work on the Abrams and Bradley.
Last year, McCaffrey was still standing tough on NBC Nightly News, opposing a timetable for withdrawal.
Dexy accepts as fact a premise that was refuted long before the violence increased in Baghdad. Why is their strife? Dexy says not enough boots on the ground. He might argue that he didn't. (Considering the Green Zone photos he should keep his head down and not make waves on anything -- Go Go Boys of the Green Zone should tone it down -- doesn't anyone report back to management? I'm speaking post Guild issue.) But he does. He does through quotes.
On the subject of quotes, another issue to note is that all this time later and Dexy still appears afraid of Iraqis. Or unable to connect with them. Which is why he offers quotes and opinions on the Iraqi police force. (Dexy's pro-Iraqi military, less so Iraqi police force, that meeting last month must have really shook him up.) Can he tell you about the Iraqi police force? Only through what others have reported. He can't even offer you a person on the street's opinion.
Aaron Glantz has been able to do that. Repeatedly.
One of the most laughable things about Dexy's "reporting" today is his attempt to show you how ineffectual the Iraqi police is by zeroing in on one incident. Where one person is kidnapped. I suppose addressing the mass kidnapping where Iraqi police did nothing would be awkward for Dexy because US forces, also in the area, did nothing. That was the day the military sent out the long press release explaining that the US forces did not intervene unless they were asked to. So what you had was a mass kidnapping going on with Iraqi police aware, US forces aware, and the only ones doing anything were the kidnappers.
Dexy wants to tell you that the Iraqi military is respected. He's basing that on his secure-zone reporting from Ramadi. He's extrapolating. He'd do far better to follow the wire reports.
As with Friday and Saturday's paper, today's includes no reports on violence. (Friday's paper omitted the events in Mosul -- the bombings, the deaths.) I guess we're all supposed to believe that nothing is going on right now when it's much more obvious that the Times has pulled a number of reporters (Tavernise is just one) from Iraq. If it was important enough to report, the thinking must go, the Times would be there.
So let's briefly note some of the events on Saturday: nine corpses discovered, 10 wounded from bombs in Baquba, the military announced that two US soldiers died on Friday, 12 people dead (based solely on Reuters -- six Iraqi police officers, and five Iraqi soldiers -- Dexy must be right, by a 1/6 margin on Saturday's Iraqi soldiers were shown the love!).
The futility of Dexy. He accepts as a given that the answer is more troops. He conveys the paper's message that troops should not come home. Now adding more troops to Baghdad didn't help at all in the so-called crackdown that's lasted for about seven weeks now (I'm tired, it may be eight weeks) and most people, putting their hand on an oven burner and getting burned, would grasp reality. Not Dexy. Dexy wants to put both hands on the burner. (And writes like he's had his head in the oven with the gas on and the pilot light out.) Both hands on the burner, Dexy's convinced, won't lead to burning. The problem was that before he only put one hand on the burner.
That's what passes for reporting with Dexy. There's no questioning (remember the Lenny to his Squiggy, John F. Burns, called him "questing" -- not questioning), there's no healthy skepticism that a reporter's supposed to have. (That's most obvious when he seems on the verge of questioning the US military press releases proclaiming that the Iraqi military did this or did that -- something all the big wire services -- Reuters, AFP, AP -- were questioning a few Saturdays back when it was obvious that US troops were being minimized to promote the myth of the 'in charge' Iraqi troops.)
Quickly, some of the events reported today: 12 corpses discovered in Baghdad (one woman, the rest men, all shot in the head), four more corpses pulled from the Tigris river ("handcuffed . . . blindfolded), two kidnappings an Iraqi soldier in Taza and, in Hawija, a contractor and four truck drivers killed and their trucks set on fire.
That's going to be it. Where's Ruth's Report? I don't think there's going to be one this weekend. I called her Thursday with some questions and got the feeling she was interested in participating on the editorial (hold on for the link, Jess says it's posting right now). I called Tracey (her granddaughter) to confirm that. So we invited her Friday to participate on the editorial (she's welcome to participate on anything there anytime she wants, Dona just said that and it's true). The editorial going up ("right now!") is about a quarter of what the almost final draft was. We probably worked hours on this and I placed two conditions on Ruth's involvement. 1) She pick a time that was good for her (we usually write the editorial last thing, not wanting to keep Ruth up all night, we wrote it first thing this time) and 2) If she was giving X number of hours to that (Jim says it was probably four and a half before any attempts at editing took place -- we write long and then cut on most pieces) I didn't want her attempting a Saturday report as well. There's no reason she should lose out on her Saturday. (This editorial was important to all participating and we knew we were going to spend longer on this than on anyone we'd written before. Asking Ruth for four hours and and a report seemed too much for one day.)
Isaiah goes up after we write the "note to the readers" (there will also be a truest statement of the week). New content posted:
Editorial: Don't let Lynne Stewart be isolated
TV: Grey Enemy
Thoughts on liberalism and realism
Summer Tour Not To Miss
10 Tracks That Got Us Through Last Week
Bully on the Run
Under Reported: "Terrorist Cell That Attacked Medical Facilities Sentenced!"
Mixture of long and short pieces (long ones are the top three). The e-mail address for this site is email@example.com. In honor of Dexy's latest pose, we'll quote from Carly Simon's "Older Sister" (written by Simon, off the album Hot Cakes):
And in her black gymnastic tights
She runs into some elastic nights
Sophisticated sister sings for the
Soldiers of the soccer team
Their silver I.D.'s and sororities
The tinker with love in their model T's . . .
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