Friday, September 22, 2006

NYT: "Strained, Army Looks for Relief From the Ground" (Thom Shanker & Michael R. Gordon)

This morning's New York Times features only one article on Iraq. 38 corpses discovered in Baghdad and other violence apparently not being judged newsworthy or the fact the announcements of multiple deaths of US soldiers either apparently. (The count include a Thursday death in Baghdad, roadside bomb, announced this morning by the US military.) Which is strange, on the latter, since the one story is about US troops.

Thom Shanker and Michael R. Gordon team up for "Strained, Army Looks for Relief From the Ground" and it would be easy to credit the readability factor solely to co-writer Thom Shanker but, as noted several times before, war pornographers love and know their numbers. Working from John Abizaid's remarks to Congress and a report "provided to The New York Times," Shanker and Gordon address the issue of deployment for a military already heavily taxed. (Actually, it's the American people that are heavily taxed to pay for the military. But I'm referring to troops on the ground, not the pork that is Congressional funding of the military. And the pork never rolls down to the enlisted.)

Shanker and Gordon write: "The Army had to offer generous new enlistment bonuses of up to $40,000 to attract recruits into such dangerous jobs as operating convoys in Iraq" which begs the question of how low was Gordo's signing bonus for the book (which really didn't meet sales expectations) if we're to assume $40,000 is "generous" for risking life and limb?

The Army obviously leaked the "internal document" and the paper won't ask the obvious question of whether or not the leak came to address a serious issue or just to provide more pork for the already bloated (and inefficient) military structure. (As Norman Solomon has pointed out many times, the Times can call for an end to pork on all things non-military only.)

Possibly the announcement (see Robert Burns' AP report) that the army had its best recruiting year since 1997 prompted the leak of the internal document? (That's an announcement. It's not fact. Numbers come out after, long after, the announcement. And in 1997, troops weren't engaged in war in the numbers that they are today.)

The Times reports that the National Guard is about to be even more taxed. (Would anyone in Congress even notice? Have they really noted thus far?)

In the end the question about the article remains: "Is it news or is it fundraising?"

While the troops are over extended, the Bully Boy (and anyone else occupying the Oval Office prior or in the future) can and will have any war wanted/desired. The talk that Iran won't be next (or any other nation) seems to exist around some notion that the US has all troops on the ground save for one or two still posted to Diego Garcia. It's not reality. The wars wanted (by the White House) will be fought and the notion that the same Bully Boy who has refused to face reality will look at the over-extended nature of the military and take pause belies the non-reality based actions and statements coming out of the White House for the last five-plus years.

Peter Grier addresses the same subject as Shanker and Gordon in "Not coming soon: US troop cuts in Iraq" (Christian Science Monitor):

In recent days, US military commanders have delivered a bleak message about Iraq: The number of American troops there is not likely to be substantially reduced anytime soon.
Yet the current force may have been strained near the breaking point by frequent deployments to the region, say experts. That means in the months to come, the Pentagon could face increased pressure to expand the size of the active-duty Army, or rely even more heavily on call-ups of National Guard and Reserve units.

[. . .]
Late last year, US military officials said they hoped the number of US troops on the ground could be cut to the 100,000 level by the end of 2006. But like so many other US expectations about progress in the region, that turned out to be overly optimistic.

Martha notes Lori Aratani's "Md. Medical Corps Officer Killed by Explosive in Iraq" (Washington Post):

A 23-year-old Medical Service Corps officer from Fort Washington with a passion for books, fishing and music was killed in Iraq this month when an improvised explosive device detonated near her Humvee.
Second Lt. Emily J.T. Perez, a 2001 graduate of Oxon Hill High School, was killed Sept. 12 during combat operations in Al Kifl, Iraq, said Dalena Kanouse, an Army spokeswoman at Fort Hood, Tex., where Perez was based.

Lastly, back to the Times. A member (who also subscribes to the paper -- really if you want a reply you should include that -- I'm not aware if he did) got a reply from an editor about the Amanda Peet issue. (The editor's not named, but I'll assume it was Gregg Brock unless I hear differently.) The Times did run a correction to the error in Bill Carter's September 11th article (see "No, Bill Carter, Amanda Peet is not about to do 'her first television role'" ) and they ran it on September 13th. The member writes he may or may not have gotten that edition (the Times never cares about addressing quality service, though they're forever happy to credit your account -- the editor responding to the member is not the person who should be addressing it but it bears noting that the paper itself seems unconcerned and we've noted that before) but it's supposed to have run on the 13th. I actually packed the last two weeks of the main section of the paper (we're hoping to pull from a number of things for The Third Estate Sunday Review) and the correction is there. It's the eighth of twelth corrections. The member advises, however, that the paper has still not corrected it in the story. We'll deal with why that is the larger problem at The Third Estate Sunday Review and update "The New York Times Doesn't Really Do Corrections" on Sunday (no one's in the mood, with all of yesterday's computer issues/problems, Explorer issues/problems, Blogger/Blogspot issues/problems to do so today).
Hopefully, the paper will have fixed the current problem by then but the fact that it hasn't been fixed means that the feature will be cross-posted here because the problem created addresses an issue that Cedric and I discussed in a roundtable that was posted here. (We discussed a service with regards to the paper and the action or non-action addresses the quality of the service. For those curious, think back to Cedric's comments regarding his nephew.)

Lynda wonders if the e-coli is gone? Tuesday was the first day I felt better. The week prior was non-stop vomiting and the occassional runs -- I didn't see anything on vomiting in the press coverage but it was e-coli (diagnosed) and unless I had e-coli on top of the flu, I find that very strange. On e-coli, please read Kat's "Spinach and how the FDA failed you" from earlier this week and stay away from fresh spinach (and probably refrain from buying canned until the government can assure you that the canning destroys the virus which isn't on the spinach, it's in it).

Oh, the person I'm dictating this to just reminded me there is one more thing. Don't forget Watchdog will be broadcasting today. It'll be interesting to see if, yet again, the biggest story in the media is Katie Couric and her ratings. (That should actually be 'ratings' since Watchdog barked at the wrong thing.) My friend's wondering whether they'll note the large number of TV viewers that elected not to watch the news on September 11th (based on the overnights, see "Yapping Watchdogs Miss The Point")? No, they won't note it. That's my guess.

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