Thursday, January 03, 2008

I Hate The War

BBC reporter in Iraq, Jim Muir, is one of the leading enthusiasts of the apparent miracle. In his report, 'Is Iraq Getting Better?', he indulges in over-generalised estimations which just happen to be shared by the US military.
"Over the past three months, there has been a sharp and sustained drop in all forms of violence. The figures for dead and wounded, military and civilian, have also greatly improved...People walk in crowded streets in the evening, when just a few months, ago they would have been huddled behind locked doors in their homes. Everybody agrees that things are much better."
Elsewhere, Muir goes further in discussing the role played by Sunni militias in bringing peace to Baghdad. He quotes a militiaman as saying, "At the beginning, people saw it as an occupation which had to be resisted. But then they saw that the Americans were working in the interests of the people."
The BBC represents only a mild example in this charade, which is instilled mostly by the Bush administration and its allies in the military and in the mainstream media. It is mind-boggling how the latter could accept the so-called transformation from chaos to semi-order without any real questioning.
Meanwhile, there are a few sources of information regarding the violence resulting from the US invasion of Iraq.
One of these is the US military itself, which keeps track of and publishes information pertinent to the violence only when it’s relevant to attacks on US installations and personnel.
Confirming or denying these reports in their entirety is unattainable by any independent source. Considering the politicised nature of the US military public relation strategies, such reports should hardly attest to what is indeed unfolding in Iraq.
Another source of information is the Iraq government and army. It's no secret that those at the helm of both of these institutions are working under the command of the US military. Spokesmen for the Iraqi government coordinate their statements -- with a few exceptions -- to confirm those made by the latter.
It seems odd that the bulk -- if not the entirety -- of reports on the improvement in security are predicated principally on information released by the US military, Iraqi official sources or willing collaborates of both (conformist Shia sources, tribal Sunni leaders). The latter group reportedly receive a monthly-imbursement for helping guard their areas against Al Qaeda.

Moreover, an estimated 80,000 Sunni fighters -- many of whom were apparently insurgents fighting the US military -- get paid US $300 each to perform various guarding duties. What else do media 'investigative' reporters expect to hear from those who get paid to improve security in Iraq?

The above, noted by Kevin, is from Ramzy Baroud's "The Iraq Charade" (Information Clearing House). Jim Muir, the embed who got bed sores. And far from alone. Death squads invade homes, kidnap, mass graves turn up, but it's all hunky dory to hear Big Media tell it day after day.

As noted earlier this week, the New York Times quoted an Iraqi and didn't question him (of course it was a him). Rather amazing when any statement by an Iraqi not a member of Parliament generally requires that the Times play he-said/she-said via a US military statement. Of course the man was part of the "Awakening" Council. So he was at least a US military contractor and that made him 'trust worthy.'

It's interesting how 'trust worthy' works. It's not based on the Iraqi. It's based on the US military's opinion of the Iraqi. Thumbs up and the paper thinks they're a fount of truth. Which is how the paper got it wrong (for report after report) on how many were killed in Blackwater's Baghdad slaughter back in September. Even when other outlets had the correct number (domestic and international outlets), the paper dug in offering the 'official' number -- which wasn't correct.

But some things get weight and some things get silence. Remember that the paper, even during their reports on the Article 32 hearing in August 2006, even during the confessions in a military court, refused to print Abeer's name. Now protecting the identity of a sexual victim, especially an underage one, is fine -- when the victim is living. Abeer was gang-raped and murdered (by US soldiers) and throughout 2006 and 2007, if they chased down a story on an American child (dead or missing), they ran the name. But Abeer? No name. The same paper could print the defense of the War Criminals -- before their attorney had presented it in the court-martial -- a defense a media dubbed 'military expert' would say wasn't known to military justice. And Worth and Marshall (Robert and Carolyn) were just 'reporting.' They weren't schilling for the defense, they just had one of those syncronicity moments Jung wrote of, apparently, and happened upon that defense all on their own.

Or, to leave the Times, take ABC's Martha Raddatz who one moment is telling PBS viewers that, with Iraq, you have to realize that nothing is never final and then, the next minute, is hailing the escalation as a 'victory.' Beaming, nodding, looking like Jan Hooks spoofing Martha Stewart when the reality is Raddatz is only spoofing her profession.

The Great Myth only fell out of favor because the US military and the Iraqi government didn't coordinate their numbers well. When CBS News reported the nonsense, the numbers were already climbing -- Up! Up! and Away! It got play all during the month of November, The Great Myth. Until people caught on that not only were the numbers phony, the tiny trickle was bussed in and bought. Days later, the Times' Damien Cave would offer "Pressure for Results: The Politics of Tallying the Number of Iraqis Who Return Home" and the Myth of the Great Return would begin to fade. Others (in the mainstream) did their part in exposing the myth. Probably due to the fact that the Red Crescent and the United Nations were sounding alarms about what the slaughter the myth was going to create (as Iraqis outside of Iraq fell for the propaganda and began returning in large numbers). Cara Buckley (of the Times) offered some truth on the myth in her reports as well. But one of the details she reported that still stands out was in December 20th's "Refugees Risk Coming Home to an Unready Iraq," "The government's widely publicized plan to run free buses from Damascus, Syria to Baghdad was suspended after just two runs." The plan she's speaking of is after the bussed and bought began and myth got traction. But two caravans after the press began reporting the alleged huge return and look at all the mileage they got out of it.

Operation Happy Talks Rolls Into Shore and has a huge p.r. effect (as was the intent) and we're living with the aftermath still while phonies like Adam Nagourney (who invented the myth of the 'values voters' post-2004 elections) try to insist that the Iraq War is no longer an issue and offer, by way of contrast, that other topics being cited by 2% are the real issues -- the most cited issue (26%) isn't an issue. The 2% one, that's an issue. Where there are lies to tell a people, there will always be the likes of Ad Nags.

And when lies are told without being called out, they get accepted as truth which is why so many Americans are under some mistaken belief that the escalation worked when it didn't. It accomplished nothing. It started in February 2007 and is now winding down (as was public knowledge it would) and what's different? The violence dropped off dramatically, a Raddatz would tell you. As noted in the excerpt above, that's based on US figures (the puppet government gives US figures -- that's what an occupation does). The violence continued. Even if you're the most extreme Pollyanna and think it dropped, it still continued.

The escalation was the last option for Iraq. And it was sold as a one-time measure (with military commanders -- even in Iraq -- stressing it was short-term and had an end date). Now as it winds down, nothing changed. Already the press (Big Media) rumbles about the "Awakening" Council and how it might not be dependable (but that doesn't change it from being quote worthy -- and without question -- apparently). For those who forgot, long before it had a name, this 'plan' was being implemented in 2006. It didn't alter any violence (it actually enabled more violence). So as the level drops to just a little above the number of US service members in Iraq before the escalation, what long term strides were made? What strides at all?

Kirkuk? The date for that vote came and went. When it does arrive, look for even more tensions. One side will win and one will lose (Baghdad or the Kurdistan region) and one side will be embittered. You've got Turkey launching limited attacks in nothern Iraq and when the season changes, those will most likely increase.

The US has increased air 'power' to cut down on the number of US service members dying.

There have been a lot of tricks but there's been no lasting change. The Iraqi people still want the US out, they still don't have faith in the puppet government and the escalation is winding down. In terms of p.r. effects, in some polls, the latest wave of Operation Happy Talk did pump up the number's thinking the war was going 'well' by as much as 14%. Even so, the majority of Americans want US forces brought home. So it's a wash. The people don't favor the war but they do think it's 'better.'

It's over, I'm done writing songs about love
There's a war going on
So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
And I'm writing a song about war
And it goes
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Oh oh oh oh
-- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)

Last Thursday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 3900. Tonight? 3907. Just Foreign Policy's total for the number of Iraqis killed since the start of the illegal war stood at 1,139,602 over a week ago and still. It's not been updated.

Noting the number of space candidates had in the snapshot today, a visitor is happy to know we're going to be "covering it seriously." We're not. The student activism went in at the last minute and including it meant dropping 16K of what had already been dictated. Had that not been dropped, the candidate coverage (though too large) would not have appeared so large.

Allan Nairn went on Democracy Now! today and maybe he was saying Barack Obama lacked the guts to stand up or maybe he was taking the independent media oath to lie about Obama. Who knows? But I'm sick of it. I avoid The Nation because of their lying. I don't need that crap on Democracy Now! If it continues, I'll have to stop listening becasue I have no need to hear lies day after day. We've never rushed to say, "Don't call Hillary a War Hawk!" We've called her that here. But Bambi's gotten a pass on that. (In fact, his supporters of his -- who've made contributions to his campaign were on DN! -- after their contributions -- singing Bambi's praises and claiming they weren't endorsing him, that they hadn't made any decisions. Basic honesty -- forget journalistic principles -- requires you disclose your contribution. Repeating, I do not believe Goodman knew they had given to the campaign.) (I'm not contributing to any races, for anyone wondering. Nor am I giving to the DNC. If that changes, I'll note it. But I don't expect it to change. Normally by this time, I've already long given all you can in the primaries.) On Wednesday, we saw the tipped scales play out on DN! -- Hillary's vote for the Iran resolution proved she was DC establishment. She voted for Iran and for Iraq (2002 on the latter). Obama was change! He didn't vote for either!

He didn't vote in 2002 because he wasn't in the Senate (and has said repeatedly since then -- until running for the presidential nomination -- that he didn't know how he would vote). So the 2002 vote is a lousy rationale. The Iran resolution that was last summer?

He didn't vote for it.

But that's not the full story. He didn't vote against it. He didn't show up for the vote (despite knowing it was coming). So if you want to grab 'insight' there, the only thing to grab is a difficult vote came up last year and he skipped it. That doesn't show leadership.

It shows someone who is a coward. Maybe Nairn was trying to argue that today by saying Barack Obama only took big money from the corporations because he was afraid turning them down would mean they'd attack him?

I have no idea. Nairn didn't explain his position and, as expressed by him, there was no reality basis for it. Democracy Now! has regularly gone after Hillary. That's fine if the standard is applied fairly. But when Hillary's called out on everything and Bambi gets a pass on everything, Katrina vanden Heuvel may think it's 'journalism' but her idea of journalism is far from reality. So when a guest goes on DN! and offers pleasing tales on Bambi that aren't reality, we'll note it here. I'm sick of it. It's made me avoid a lot of independent media. If they want to run me off from DN! then fine, but if it happens, I'll be calling out until I stop listening.

Nairn mentioned Sarah Sewer, one e-mail to the public account pointed that out, and wasn't that good. It was but what about Sammy Power. Sammy Power went to work for Bambi when he got elected. She is all over that campaign and we didn't hear one word about her. I also thought the Sewer critique went by too quick and didn't dig in.

I'm sure they'll be hailing Obama as the winner. The winner?

According to NPR right now, he came in first in Iowa's non-stop voting rounds. Or at the end of them. And only via backdoor deals with other candidates (Kucinich admits to the backdoor deal -- Joe Biden, Bill Richardson and Chris Dodd were also asked to toss votes Obama's way -- their campaigns deny doing it currently).

So in multiple rounds, with backdoor deals, Obama managed to come out . . . You can't call it "first." First would mean he was the choice in the first round.

Before any counts were known, ABC's Charlie Gibson was on air stating that it was expected Hillary and Barack would be the top two. (He did offer a cautionary note about polling, to his credit.) Backdoor deals, multiple rounds and $9 million in advertising allowed Obama to end up with what the Democratic Party in Iowa says is 38% (they don't let the press verify those numbers -- the Republicans have in the past). Hillary came in with 29%, spent $7.2 million and knew she wasn't going to well (Bill Clinton didn't do well in Iowa in 1992 either). The winner? John Edwards who got 30% of the vote (according to the Democratic Party) and only spent $3 million. He's the one who is the winner.

The press -- Big and Small -- gave Bambi a pass. Little Media will probably continue to do so. Big Media has stated that if Obama came out first in Iowa, the real probing from Big Media would start. So let it begin. Let's have that conversation Little Media won't provide about Obama using homophobia to woo voters in South Carolina. Willie Horton is (rightly) considered appalling to this day. Suddenly homophobia is okay? Let's hear about his good friend and neighbor who is under indictment. (He stopped being a good friend when the federal indictment -- he allegedy attempted to influence politicians -- came down.) Let's hear about the treadbare 'plan' and let's hear about his voting record and how his position on Iraq has not been what he's told voters in his 'debates' and other performances.

No one's ever gotten easier press than Bambi. Little Media pretends that's not the case, but Big Media's been honest about it all over the networks and PBS.

Edwards was the winner tonight. He wasn't expected to come out in the top two. He spent less money (because he had less money) and he got some awful press (some of it deserved, some of it not) and was treated like an actual candidate. Bambi got stroked and prodded while he sat on his potty chair.

Backdoor deals and huge monies (while whining that 527s and 'special interests' -- labor unions -- were spending money to back Hillary and John) didn't allow him to deliver a knock-out punch. A friend with Hillary's campaign was saying on Sunday they expected 28%. Again, Iowa isn't Clinton terrain and never has been. A friend with Barack's campaign swore he would get 40% "and I bet you come around then." (I wouldn't have even if he got 80%.) Both got close to what the campaigns expected. Edwards was the unknown and written off by the media going into the caucus. He's the only winner in Iowa. (Note: Those numbers could change.)

Friday on PBS' Bill Moyers Journal:

Thousands of media outlets descended on Iowa, erecting a powerful wall of TV cameras and reporters between the voters and candidates. This week on Bill Moyers Journal in two interviews, Bill Moyers talks with Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich, candidates with an inside view of the process who know well the power of the press to set expectations and transform the agenda. Also on the program, leading expert on media and elections Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, examines the campaigns and coverage in Iowa and looks at the media's power to benefit some candidates and disadvantage others.

Kucinich's actions have harmed him. It should make for an interesting broadcast. Remember to check your local listings and remember that online, as we've noted before, you can listen, watch or read (as with Democracy Now!) and mean that the video can be listened to. (This is a big deal for anyone wanting to whine to the public e-mail account. You may be able to do any of the three but not everyone is as fortunate as you.) But Hilda got some e-mails stating that they have audio only as well. So for those who like to listen or who have streaming problems with video, you've got that option. We will continue to stress that about programs that offer all options because it does matter. It matters to people who do not have the latest computer and it matters to people who do not have the option of utilizing all three. There is already a large disabled population in the US and that's only grown larger due to the illegal war. A program that offers all options is worth noting because it's inclusive. At some point, Washington Week will be added to the permalinks on the side for that reason. (At some point? I'm busy and hate going into the permalinks.)

(And for those wondering why I'm not commenting "more" on Kucinich, Trina has made that her beat and she posts on Saturday. There will be a piece on Sunday at The Third Estate Sunday Review but I'd like to let her weigh in before I do anything here or with Third since it has been a focus at her site.)

The e-mail address for this site is

amy goodman
democracy now