Friday, November 18, 2011

How stupid is Pew? How stupid do they think America is?

Maybe Pew Research Center's really stupid or maybe they just think America is?

They have a new study and they introduce it with:

A majority of Americans (56%) say the United States has mostly succeeded in achieving its goals in Iraq. And the public is overwhelmingly supportive of winding down U.S. military involvement in the country: Fully 75% approve of Barack Obama’s decision to withdraw all U.S. combat troops from Iraq by the end of the year. Just 21% disapprove of Obama’s decision.

All US troops are not leaving Iraq -- see Tuesday's "Iraq snapshot," Wednesday's "Iraq snapshot," Thursday's "Iraq snapshot" and at Trina's site, Ava's "Scott Brown questions Panetta and Dempsey (Ava)," at Rebecca's site, Wally's "The costs (Wally)" and Kat's "Who wanted what?" for coverage of this week's Senate Armed Services Committee hearing -- and maybe Pew, grasping that, thought they'd go with "all U.S. combat troops."

Funny, I thought combat troops were like gallbladders, you could only remove them once.

For those who've forgotten, the night of August 31, 2010, Barack gave a speech announcing all US combat troops were leaving Iraq.

Oh, okay. So Pew didn't promote that announcement as the departure of combat troops then? So now they are calling this the removal of combat troops? Nope. They promoted that as the withdrawal of combat troops -- and not just once after Barack's speech, but repeatedly for months and months after. They're cited on this in repeat news articles, in scholarly publications and popular ones.

Now they want to say "all U.S. combat troops" again.

It does allow them to be a little more accurate than those claiming "all US troops" but it's dishonest. You can only have your gallbladder taken out once, you can only have combat troops withdraw once (unless, of course, you send them back in).

It's amazing the way outlets and organizations will bend themselves into pretzels to avoid telling the plain spoken truth about what is known to be taking place in Iraq in 2012.

The Moderate Voice makes an interesting catch noting a column "For Sotal Iraq/aka Voice of Iraq, Qasim Al-Kafaji starts out this way:

In 2008, Iraq signed a convention with the United States that includes a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq by the end of 2011. But what’s really eye catching about the agreement is that it is free of U.S. obligation to fill any of the voids that will open when the time comes to pull out. The important and obvious question is: Why didn’t the agreement include a clause initiating the training in 2008 of the Iraqi Air Force on aircraft designed to protect post-withdrawal Iraq so that Iraq’s forces could be ready to take back their air space by the end of 2011?

America has done this deliberately because its plan to withdraw is anything but permanent. In fact, America doesn’t want to leave at all, so it must dream up reasons to stay. The Iraqi government – or to be more specific – the party or person who signed this agreement, bears the brunt of responsibility for signing a convention that disadvantages Iraq. Whoever signed the deal should have involved informed professionals to examine the treaty and expose its deficiencies.

That is interesting. It is also true that by 2007, the US government was openly discussing how Iraq's Air Force would not be ready to patrol the skies of Iraq until at least 2014. As was noted repeatedly in the hearing Tuesday, the US government, while negotiating the SOFA in 2008, expected that a they would renegotiate the SOFA in 2011 to extend it. That's a topic full of twists and turns and you might think columnists would explore that; however, as Bob Somerby has explained, several newspaper columnists are bored and have little to do other than repeatedly go to the well on Mitt Romney's dog.

The following community sites -- plus On The Wilder Side and -- updated last night:

We'll close with this from Sherwood Ross:

Media Consultants


Attention: Editors

There’s been much talk about how to cut the military budget. Here are some suggestions from a retired U.S. Navy captain who is now Dean of the new American College of History and Legal Studies, in Salem, New Hampshire.

Interview: Historian Michael Chesson (603) 458-5145.


The U.S. Navy defeated the powerful Axis navies of World War Two with just 18 admirals but today it has 216 admirals even though it faces no comparable enemy on the high seas.

What’s more, today’s admirals have far fewer warships and sailors to supervise. There are a total of just 333,000 sailors today compared to 3.4 million in 1945, and the number of warships today is just 286 compared to 6,700 in 1945.

The reason for the explosion of admirals, says U.S. Navy Captain Michael Chesson, Retired, is “grade creep,” the tendency in the Pentagon to increase the rank for a particular job.

Chesson, now founding professor and dean of the new American College of History and Legal Studies, Salem, N.H., writes that the Navy could get by with only one four-star admiral as Chief of Naval Operations.

When the terms of other four-star admirals are up, replace them with with officers “who will have only the three stars of a vice admiral,” Chesson writes. Slots currently filled by (three-star) vice admirals will be filled instead by rear admirals, and the work of one-star admirals would be done by captains.

“Each job designated for a commissioned officer, and especially those in the gigantic shore establishment, whether in the Pentagon, at a base, academy, or whatever, will all be downgraded by one rank,” Chesson suggests.

He goes on to call for the elimination of all uniform boards to eliminate “the countless hours wasted in tinkering with and tweaking various modifications to the enormous variety of uniforms in each branch of the service for male and female personnel.”

“Eliminate service on a uniform board as a career enhancer. Ditch the contracts with civilian consultants, or shoot them. Put the officers who seek this kind of duty in the field chasing terrorists (and) if female personnel don’t like the way a current uniform makes them look, (let them) get a job as a fashion consultant.”

What’s more, he’d ditch “expensive and wasteful efforts to foist corporate group think on officers and the American military in general, so says goodbye to boondoggles like the late and unlamented Total Quality Management, which transmogrified into the Navy’s Total Quality Leadership program.” Chesson adds, “Countless officers spent tens of thousands of hours pushing red and white beads around a sand board...That might work on the playing fields of Walden University but it’s not likely to prove useful in a free fire zone. The military is not a democracy or a commune and it certainly isn’t a college campus filled with aging tenured radicals.”

Chesson says none of his proposals would save big bucks “but if projected over the next 10 years would add up to an amount of dollars that could be spent on our troops, or our wounded veterans in VA hospitals....”

Prior to assuming his position at the American College of History and Legal Studies, Chesson was Chair of the History Department at the University of Massachusetts-Boston. He earned his Ph.D. in history at Harvard. Chesson had 30 years of service, active and reserve, in the U.S. Navy, where he attained the rank of Captain.


(To arrange for interviews with dean Chesson, please contact him directly at (603) 458-5145 or Sherwood Ross, Ross

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