22 February 2007

Mr. Fantastic

Wolffe: It’s those damn, dirty bloggers’ fault!

Newsweek’s Richard Wolffe on the Washington Press:

"…the press here does a fantastic job of adhering to
journalistic standards and covering politics in general."

Glenn Greenwald responds:

Truly, the spectacle of watching our country's leading
White House journalists sitting there next to Tony Snow
-- all of them oozing pomposity and self-satisfaction --
while Snow engineers the entire discussion and treats
them like the friendly puppets that they are (Snow:
"What do you think, Richard?" Richard: "Yeah, uh, well .
. . I totally agree."), is quite difficult to endure, but is
nonetheless truly revealing. How can someone who
authored the above-excerpted articles, in which they
disseminated to the world patent falsehoods that helped
to unleash a grotesquely unnecessary and grotesquely
brutal war, all on false pretenses, now parade around in
public touting what a great job they have done and
attack bloggers for criticizing them?

With rare exception, could our national press corps be
any more self-regarding, empty, corrupt and worthless?
Given that our national media is composed of
"journalists" like Richard Wolffe (and Michael Gordon) –
- who look at their behavior and conclude that they are
doing a "fantastic job" and that the real problem lies
with the ignorant, dirty barbarians who dare to criticize
them -- is it really any wonder that our political
discourse and our political institutions are as
fundamentally degraded and as broken as they are?


18 February 2007

"Relative Peace"

NYT: Car Bombs Kill 60 at Market in Baghdad

... Abdul Hussein Ameer, 41, ran when he heard
the first blast shortly after 3 p.m. local time; he
is so familiar with the pattern of the bombers
that he knew another explosion was likely. But
before he could get out of his shop, where he
sells plastic containers and dishes, the second
bomb exploded.

“I hold the American forces responsible for
this,” he said, black soot on his face and clothes.
He said American troops were on the scene only
minutes before the blast and yet were unable to
stop it.

Fifteen minutes before the attack, a joint patrol
of American soldiers and Iraqi police had
stopped on the corner where the second bomb
exploded, posing for pictures, according to a
Reuters photographer who was embedded with
the American unit.

President Bush has acknowledged that such
attacks would be nearly impossible to eliminate.
He said during a news conference last week that
the immediate goal of the security plan was to
establish “relative peace.”

11 February 2007


Retired Lt. General William E. Odom was head of Army
intelligence and director of the National Security Agency
under President Reagan. In yesterday’s Washington Post, he
exposed the big myths that drive our current Iraq policy.

1) We must continue the war to prevent the
terrible aftermath that will occur if our forces
are withdrawn soon.
Reflect on the double-think
of this formulation. We are now fighting to
prevent what our invasion made inevitable!
Undoubtedly we will leave a mess -- the mess
we created, which has become worse each year
we have remained. Lawmakers gravely proclaim
their opposition to the war, but in the next
breath express fear that quitting it will leave a
blood bath, a civil war, a terrorist haven, a
"failed state," or some other horror. But this
"aftermath" is already upon us; a prolonged U.S.
occupation cannot prevent what already exists.

2) We must continue the war to prevent Iran's
influence from growing in Iraq.
This is another
absurd notion. One of the president's initial war
aims, the creation of a democracy in Iraq,
ensured increased Iranian influence, both in Iraq
and the region. Electoral democracy, predictably,
would put Shiite groups in power -- groups
supported by Iran since Saddam Hussein
repressed them in 1991. Why are so many
members of Congress swallowing the claim that
prolonging the war is now supposed to prevent
precisely what starting the war inexorably and
predictably caused? Fear that Congress will
confront this contradiction helps explain the
administration and neocon drumbeat we now
hear for expanding the war to Iran.

Here we see shades of the Nixon-Kissinger
strategy in Vietnam: widen the war into
Cambodia and Laos. Only this time, the adverse
consequences would be far greater. Iran's
ability to hurt U.S. forces in Iraq are not trivial.
And the anti-American backlash in the region
would be larger, and have more lasting

3) We must prevent the emergence of a new
haven for al-Qaeda in Iraq.
But it was the U.S.
invasion that opened Iraq's doors to al-Qaeda.
The longer U.S. forces have remained there, the
stronger al-Qaeda has become. Yet its strength
within the Kurdish and Shiite areas is trivial.
After a U.S. withdrawal, it will probably play a
continuing role in helping the Sunni groups
against the Shiites and the Kurds. Whether such
foreign elements could remain or thrive in Iraq
after the resolution of civil war is open to
question. Meanwhile, continuing the war will not
push al-Qaeda outside Iraq. On the contrary, the
American presence is the glue that holds al-
Qaeda there now.

4) We must continue to fight in order to
"support the troops."
This argument effectively
paralyzes almost all members of Congress.
Lawmakers proclaim in grave tones a litany of
problems in Iraq sufficient to justify a rapid
pullout. Then they reject that logical conclusion,
insisting we cannot do so because we must
support the troops. Has anybody asked the

During their first tours, most may well have
favored "staying the course" -- whatever that
meant to them -- but now in their second, third
and fourth tours, many are changing their minds.
We see evidence of that in the many news
stories about unhappy troops being sent back to
Iraq. Veterans groups are beginning to make
public the case for bringing them home. Soldiers
and officers in Iraq are speaking out critically to
reporters on the ground.

But the strangest aspect of this rationale for
continuing the war is the implication that the
troops are somehow responsible for deciding to
continue the president's course. That political
and moral responsibility belongs to the
president, not the troops. Did not President
Harry S. Truman make it clear that "the buck
stops" in the Oval Office? If the president keeps
dodging it, where does it stop? With Congress?

Embracing the four myths gives Congress
excuses not to exercise its power of the purse to
end the war and open the way for a strategy
that might actually bear fruit.

The entire piece is worth reading. Check it out, here.

03 February 2007

Missing Molly

I’ve been a fan of Molly Ivins ever since I started reading
her work shortly after the 2000 election. Her syndicated
column – always filled to the brim with the common-sense
wisdom lacking in so much of our contemporary
“journalism” – has been a source of comfort and inspiration
for many during this dark chapter in our political history.
Her death is a painful blow to all Americans who seek
justice and accountability from our leaders.

And unlike nearly every talking-head on cable news or
columnist in the Washington press, Molly’s analysis of
Shrub” and his Iraq Adventure was spot-on from day one.

Some highlights, courtesy of Paul Krugman and Atrios:

Nov. 19, 2002: “The greatest risk for us in
invading Iraq is probably not war itself, so
much as: What happens after we win? ... There
is a batty degree of triumphalism loose in this
country right now.”

Jan. 16, 2003: “I assume we can defeat Hussein
without great cost to our side (God forgive me if
that is hubris). The problem is what happens after
we win. The country is 20 percent Kurd, 20
percent Sunni and 60 percent Shiite. Can you
say, ‘Horrible three-way civil war?’ ”

July 14, 2003: “I opposed the war in Iraq
because I thought it would lead to the peace
from hell, but I’d rather not see my prediction
come true and I don’t think we have much time
left to avert it. That the occupation is not going
well is apparent to everyone but Donald
Rumsfeld. ... We don’t need people with
credentials as right-wing ideologues and
corporate privatizers — we need people who
know how to fix water and power plants.”

Oct. 7, 2003: “Good thing we won the war,
because the peace sure looks like a quagmire. ...

“I’ve got an even-money bet out that says more
Americans will be killed in the peace than in the
war, and more Iraqis will be killed by Americans
in the peace than in the war. Not the first time
I’ve had a bet out that I hoped I’d lose.”

It is nice to see so many people paying their respects to
this great writer from Texas. The best tributes I’ve read
can be found here, here and here.

Farewell Molly. You will be sorely missed.