Balkinization  

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

On General Petraeus

Sandy Levinson

I have no particular desire to defend the Moveon "General Betray Us" ad, which was incredibly dumb politics. (One would like to believe that a Karl Rove mole had infiltrated the organization and persuaded them to publish the ad with that title.) That being said, I will note that I first heard that term from a graduate of West Point, a veteran of Iraq, who was taking a course from me at the University of Texas Law School. To put it mildly, I was a bit surprised at this person's candor, and I took it as a sign that at least some soldiers on the ground thought that Petraeus was something of a publicity hound who was viewed as indifferent to the fate of the soldiers under his command.

Much more serious, though, is the idiocy of Congress putting so much faith in Petraeus to offer a fully accurate assessment of what is, after all, his own policy. One need not engage in calumny simply to note that it is, as a rule, not a good idea to ask architects of policies (or bridges, or anything else) to offer unflinching assesssment of their own handiwork. This is why, after all, one has independent auditors and the like. Moveon's mistake was to suggest that Petraeus was like those at Enron who were self-consciously (and feloniously) cooking the books. I doubt that. But there were lots of other people at Enron who simply wanted to believe their own hype and would always "accentuate the positive" in any ambiguous evidence. One doesn't have to be dishonorable to do that, only human.

It was surely important to hear from General Petraeus. But let me suggest that it is more important to take heed of the more independent assessments being made by other generals, retired military officers, and, yes, journalists on the ground.

The tragedy of the Moveon ad is that a juvenile desire to shock (which was all too successful) has managed to obscure what should otherwise have been obvious, that he is, for all sorts of understandable reasons, likely to be an "unreliable narrator" with regard to the particular story of what is going on in Iraq right now. Democrats are in now in the worst of all positions, appearing at once to be "soft" on the ad and unable to point out why one might admire Petraeus as a patriot but nonetheless doubt that he is the best source of accurate information (and, therefore, advice about the future).

Comments:

Moveon.org calling General Petreus a liar and a traitor while the Dem members just implied that he was a liar is a politically motivated slander, not merely bad politics. I failed to notice that the Dem congressional majority gave any credence to the Petreus report.

In fact, rather than an exaggeration, Petreus' detailed statement of facts presented to Congress appears to be pretty conservative.

For example, rather than merely being reduced as Petreus told Congress, Reuters recently reported that the bombing attacks in Baghdad which caused mass casualties have collapsed since the Surge went into place and hospitals and morgues which used to be full are barely being used. Unsurprisingly, this story went largely unreported in our domestic press.

While the know nothing members on these House and Senate committees parroted the usual lines about our troops being in the middle of a civil war, there has been little sign of an actual civil war on the ground for months. The actual Iraqi sectarian leaders tell a much different story, if anyone is willing to listen.

In sum, when comparing reports concerning the situation in Iraq, forget the credentials of the reporters and instead ask whether they have been on the ground in Iraq outside of the Green Zone recently as Petreus is on a near daily basis. If the reporter is relying upon secondary sources, as most of these "independent" reports do, who are those sources and have they been on the ground in Iraq. If the secondary sources are anonymous, undisclosed or likely enemy, then take what the report says with an enormous grain of salt.
 

If the Moveon ad was incredibly dumb politics, then it was only because Moveon should have known that supporters of the war would use the ad to try to change the subject, and that the media would enable them to do so. The greater fault, therefore, lies with the supporters of the war for trying to change the subject, and with the media for paying attention to the supporters' attempt to change the subject. The media should stick to the subject and not focus on sideshows.
 

Moveon.org's self-indulgent use of the phrase "General Betray Us" was characteristic of the anti-military crowd that is a significant component of the opposition to the Iraq war. These folks never miss an opportunity to take a cheap shot at a general.

But when they took that cheap shot -- which, as Sandy Levinson notes was a political blunder -- they took their eye off the real target. The headline in that ad should have read "Why is President Bush hiding behind a four-star general?" General Petraeus didn't start this war: George W. Bush(aided and abetted by a lapdog Congress) did. And Moveon.org's ad should have aimed not at the general but at The Decider.
 

"Bart" DePalma:

The actual Iraqi sectarian leaders tell a much different story, if anyone is willing to listen.

Oh. An OpinionJournal article. Rrrrrright. Do you think that the "Iraqi sectarian leaders" asked might have some vested interest in a certain answer?

In sum, when comparing reports concerning the situation in Iraq, forget the credentials of the reporters and instead ask whether they have been on the ground in Iraq outside of the Green Zone recently as Petreus is on a near daily basis.

Here's maybe one reason why they might not have been traipsing about. Here's maybe another.

And does Washington, DC, count as "outside of the Green Zone"?

Yep, everything's coming up roses in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

Cheers,
 

In sum, when comparing reports concerning the situation in Iraq, forget the credentials of the reporters and instead ask whether they have been on the ground in Iraq outside of the Green Zone recently as Petreus is on a near daily basis.

If reporters had an army of bodyguards protecting them, they could probably get outside the Green Zone as often as Petreus. Of course, the fact that they'd need that army of bodyguards is all you really need to know about how the search for Hussein's WMD is coming along.
 

Assuming he wasn't before his return, hasn't Gen. Petraeus become a personality? Someone will gather up and analyze all of his commentary post his congressional testimony to demonstrate that perhaps his assurances in his testimony have been diluted. In fact, the General has had to defend some of his assurances from the more recent Pentagon report. Recall his pointing out that the GAO report did not include the month of August events. Perhaps the General should be required to update his testimony to reflect more recent events.

And who doesn't think that the General has his sights on a political future? Not that there's anything wrong with that.
 

Arne Langsetmo said...

"Bart" DePalma: The actual Iraqi sectarian leaders tell a much different story, if anyone is willing to listen.

Oh. An OpinionJournal article. Rrrrrright.


The author, Fouad Ajami, is a professor of Middle Eastern studies at Johns Hopkins and is widely published in publications like Foreign Affairs and US News which are hardly fans of the war or Mr. Bush'e prosecution of it.

Do you think that the "Iraqi sectarian leaders" asked might have some vested interest in a certain answer?

Everyone has a vested interest in what they say. You are free to offer evidence that these quoted sources or the author are lying.

BD: In sum, when comparing reports concerning the situation in Iraq, forget the credentials of the reporters and instead ask whether they have been on the ground in Iraq outside of the Green Zone recently as Petreus is on a near daily basis.

Here's maybe one reason why they might not have been traipsing about. Here's maybe another.


You are essentially conceding my point that most of these "independent" reports are not based on first hand accounts. I would note that the Reuters reporters managed to leave their Green Zone bars for a day and check out the largely emptied hospitals.

Bartbuster said...

If reporters had an army of bodyguards protecting them, they could probably get outside the Green Zone as often as Petreus.


Reporters have always been free to embed with the troops, go where they go and see what they see. The fact that the vast majority of reporters in Iraq do not accompany the troops as have reporters in previous wars says much more about them today's reporters than it does the war.
 

Reporters have always been free to embed with the troops, go where they go and see what they see. The fact that the vast majority of reporters in Iraq do not accompany the troops as have reporters in previous wars says much more about them today's reporters than it does the war.

# posted by Bart DePalma : 1:25 PM


Reporters regularly imbed with the troops. It is virtually the only way they can leave the Green Zone. Why would you blatantly lie about something like that?
 

Sigh.
 

The tragedy of the Moveon ad is that a juvenile desire to shock (which was all too successful) has managed to obscure what should otherwise have been obvious

Well, with all due respect, no. That is not the tragedy. The tragedy is the continuing propensity of the news media to swallow right-wing narratives whole, hanging on to this non-story for the better part of a week.

How is it conceivably newsworthy, for instance, that Hillary Clinton and other candidates have not "denounced" an advertisement they had nothing to do with? I heard Chris Wallace press this point repeatedly on Fox News Sunday; Richard Cohen had an entire column flogging it yesterday in the Post; and it has been repeated endlessly elsewhere. By way of contrast, to my knowledge, no Republican politician was ever held to account (much less repeatedly so) for the actions of hundreds of delegates at the GOP Convention in '04 who wore "Purple Heart" band-aids, openly deriding the combat wounds of a U.S. veteran, and by extension trivializing the sacrifice of all such veterans.

But of course -- it's OK if you're a Republican.
 

More from Glenn Greenwald on the MoveOn ad (and other things) here.

Cheers,
 

Arne Langsetmo said...

"Bart" DePalma: The actual Iraqi sectarian leaders tell a much different story, if anyone is willing to listen.

Oh. An OpinionJournal article. Rrrrrright.


The author, Fouad Ajami, is a professor of Middle Eastern studies at Johns Hopkins and is widely published in publications like Foreign Affairs and US News which are hardly fans of the war or Mr. Bush'e prosecution of it.

Do you think that the "Iraqi sectarian leaders" asked might have some vested interest in a certain answer?

Everyone has a vested interest in what they say. You are free to offer evidence that these quoted sources or the author are lying.

BD: In sum, when comparing reports concerning the situation in Iraq, forget the credentials of the reporters and instead ask whether they have been on the ground in Iraq outside of the Green Zone recently as Petreus is on a near daily basis.

Here's maybe one reason why they might not have been traipsing about. Here's maybe another.


You are essentially conceding my point that most of these "independent" reports are not based on first hand accounts. I would note that the Reuters reporters managed to leave their Green Zone bars for a day and check out the largely emptied hospitals.

Bartbuster said...

If reporters had an army of bodyguards protecting them, they could probably get outside the Green Zone as often as Petreus.


Reporters have always been free to embed with the troops, go where they go and see what they see. The fact that the vast majority of reporters in Iraq do not accompany the troops as have reporters in previous wars says much more about today's reporters than it does the war.
 

FWIW, there's lots of data (and a fair bit conflicting) of more or less authority coming out of Iraq. "Bart", of course, cherry-picks the 'good', and extols anecdotal reports and reports from personal experience. The GAO report (same for the NIE) is less encouraging than "Bart" or Petraeus. Same for the NIE.

But one thing is clear: Plenty of people (including U.S. soldiers) are still getting killed there on a daily basis, and that situation has hardly disappeared with the "surge". If it had, then one might ask why the "surge" will end. But any honest person will say we're in essentially the same place we were a year ago, and worse than we were in 2004, and, bluntly, far worse and a half a $trillion poorer and thousands of soldiers deader than we were in 2002. When "Bart" stops shilling for the maladministration that awarded the Preznitential Medal of Freedom to the three people (outside of Cheney and Rumsfeld) most responsible for that SNAFU, and starts to look at where we're at and how we got there dispassionately, maybe we'll get somewhere.

Cheers,aa
 

Reporters have always been free to embed with the troops, go where they go and see what they see. The fact that the vast majority of reporters in Iraq do not accompany the troops as have reporters in previous wars says much more about today's reporters than it does the war.

Except that they ARE imbedding with the troops. I see it every night on the news. Why do you insist on lying about this?
 

Arne Langsetmo said...

FWIW, there's lots of data (and a fair bit conflicting) of more or less authority coming out of Iraq...The GAO report (same for the NIE) is less encouraging than "Bart" or Petraeus. Same for the NIE.

I agree about the dump of alleged information from Iraq. However, you can separate the grain from the chaff by simply comparing the sources. The Petreus report is derived from boots on the ground in Iraq. The NIE and especially the GAO reports are not.

And does Washington, DC, count as "outside of the Green Zone"?

This prior snark applies very well to the GAO and NIE reports. The closer the witnesses get to the ground, the more positive they are. If there was a raging bloody civil war in Iraq, one would assume that the opposite would be true.

But any honest person will say we're in essentially the same place we were a year ago, and worse than we were in 2004.

Are you kidding? The entire strategic dynamic has changed.

This time last year, the enemy was cranking up their version of the Tet Offensive to influence our elections. In this, they succeeded.

Now...

The Sunni insurgency has essentially surrendered and joined the government. Anbar is largely pacified.

al Qaeda has been largely routed out of its sanctuaries in Anbar, Diyala and Baghdad, hence the bombing campaign which claimed most Iraqi civilian lives has collapsed.

Our military and Iraqi civilian casualties have plunged by half or more.

As the Reuters story reported, the bombing attacks which numbered around 7 per day in Baghdad have dropped to only a couple per week. Casualties coming into the hospitals have fallen by 70%.

For crying out loud, take the damn politics out of this. Mr. Bush and the GOP did not invent or implement the counter insurgency strategy which is working so well. They get no credit

General Petreus came up with the strategy and our troops fought and bled to make that strategy a success. Can you at least acknowledge their effort sacrifice and success???
 

Baghdad, you are in desperate need of a reality check. US dead for this month project to be about 75. That is higher than all but 1 month in the first year of this war, and all but 4 months in the second year of this war. There is no end in sight.

You must have a very interesting definition of success.
 

Let's not forget that the Iraqi government is still almost completely disfunctional. As soon as our troops leave, and many will have to leave early next year, we will be right back where we were before the "surge".
 

Can you at least acknowledge their effort sacrifice and success???

Sorry, I looked here and couldn't find the "success". I looked here and couldn't find it there either. I looked here and couldn't find it either. And not here either. Or here. Or here. Guess maybe I ought to be using the FreeperGoogle.com search for "success" /w10 "Iraq".....

Cheers,
 

I would like to get this in before the Bay Area Rapid Transit train wreck causes this comment stream to get shut down.

I have read the MoveOn.org ad, and their supporting documentation. I have to disagree with Mr. Levinson, at least the first paragraph.

As an independent voter, I believe that MoveOn served the purpose that our free press is supposed to take in our democracy, to interrogate and critique our government, and to take them to task for their failures. The ad did that, while also serving as an offensive political maneuver to force war supporters into a reactionary position. The discourse moved from talking about the report to the trustworthiness of the report, and the delivery, which was not accomplished by the prior revelations of the GAO report, the White House statement that they were writing the report, etc.

With regard to General Petraeus' personal conviction; since he, by many reports, failed in his first two tasks in Iraq, despite his glowing statements on beginning those tasks, at some point you have to consider whether he is willfully blind to his failures or consciously manipulating his reporting.
 

Can't agree that Petreus is not a liar and has betrayed the United States.
Prior to the 2004 election he published a column in the Washington Post stating that the war was going good and giving Bush cover.
Rule one, the military does not interfer in the political arena.
He betrayed his position, uniform and the military by doing so.
That's not getting into his steady dose of lies before congress. That's not betrayal. If not what is?
hal lewis
 

Arne Langsetmo said...

BD: Can you at least acknowledge their effort sacrifice and success???

Sorry, I looked here and couldn't find the "success". I looked here and couldn't find it there either. I looked here and couldn't find it either. And not here either. Or here.


That was genuinely pathetic, arne. I do not think the American people are impressed with all the attacks on the military.

Is it any wonder that a Dem Congress fresh from trashing General Petreus has just fell to 11% approval in the latest polling?

How low can they go, morally and in public approval?
 

Remember: "There are lies, there are damned lies, and then there are statistics."

The numbers supporting Bush are within margin of error for polling of those who feel the country is going in the "right direction": 29% and 27%, respectively.

I have a theory on why Congress is so low, building on previous comments in other threads. 1)Congress is Democratically led, and so would be opposed by the Bush supporters and 2)the other 2/3 of the country who don't like the way the country is heading is not happy with the fact that Congress is not stopping the administration.

If the Congress, in eventually supporting every Bush policy, was acceptable to his base, there numbers would be closer to his (IIRC, this was the situation before the Dem takeover). Their numbers were higher after the election and before their assumption of power due to higher expectations. Now that they are not effective at stopping and reversing the depredations, they are being reviled. This is understandable to any student of autocratic history--while people may dislike the leadership (70+% now), they really dislike the collaborators who help that leadership achieve its goals (near 90%).

Bart, your link does not go to actual poll, so I will have to do your work and dig further, but the last several such polls generally showed the Republicans in Congress getting lower marks than the Democrats, which would help refute your statements.
 

Just found the poll:

http://www.zogby.com/wfrzi.pdf

And amazingly enough, the positive responses all are within the Margin of Error of support of Bush, including those who feel that their children will be better off than them, those who approve of our foreign and domestic policy, and those who feel safe despite the threats abroad (although this last one is moderately lower than the rest of Bush's support).

The major exception is: "How proud are you of the United States?", which has 67.2% of respondants as very proud. The closest answer to that percentage seems to be the response to the question "Is the U.S. headed in the right direction or are things off on the wrong track?", where 61.7% feel that the US is on the wrong track. So basically, if I were to misuse statistics, I could state that the people who are most proud of the US are those who feel it is on the wrong track (and who want it to get back on track), and when adding them to the Bush supporters, the remainder are those who approve of Congress' performance.

Remember: Lies, damned lies, and statistics, not necessarily in that order. But I believe that my interpretation has, despite its unseriousness, more truth in its analysis.
 

FG:

Reuters/Zogby poll

They don't differentiate between the different parties in Congress in their question.

The Gallup poll did some work on the particular issue of WHY people don't approve of Congress. Their results and discussion can be found here.

The top answers to "what are some of the reasons you don't approve of Congress?":

Not doing/passing anything (non-specific) 19%

Not making progress in ending the war in Iraq 16%

Need to pay more attention to the needs of the people 14%

Too partisan/Party politics 11%

Too beholden to special interests/lobbyists 11%

Need to stand up to the president more 10%


Nothing specifically about "trashing General Petraeus," although you could arguably put it under party politics.
 

"Bart" DePalma, in response to my links:

That was genuinely pathetic, arne....

And what was "pathetic" about it? Rather than anecdotal and fragmentary reports, there was country-wide stats there for all to behold. I failed to see the magic. Maybe "Bart" is just innumerate. Regardless, his response is hardly refutal.

... I do not think the American people are impressed with all the attacks on the military.

I posted another link on this above -- to Greenwald. While I can understand that "Bart" may take personal umbrage at the fact that the military has done a piss-poor job albeit given perhaps an even more hopeless task, and has also disgraced itself in part because of various atrocities and crimes by some few servicemen. But that's hardly an "attack[] on the military", and most people know that now. The time for the effective demagoguing of those criticising the war has passed, but the Republicans don't know it yet (or they ran out of plays in their playbook). I think that "Bart" knows that the criticism isn't an "attack[] on the military". I wish he'd address the criticisms rather than ad hominem. And that's the last I'll say on this thread. Those actually interested can follow the links.

Cheers,
 

How low can they go, morally and in public approval?

# posted by Bart DePalma : 5:42 PM


They are still in better shape than the idiots who got us into this mess.
 

Yes, as we all know, back in the days of the Framers, criticism -- from Common Sense on down -- was never blunt and a bit crude at times while hitting their points. This included criticism of the military.

The "tragedy" is that the focus here is on the MoveOn ad. THEY are the one targeted, even here. Sad. Yes, he did "betray" us.

I'm willing to accept that as a military man, he has to spin some, and support his civilian bosses. [Bush on down, who are the "deciders," though on military matters suddenly generals are fig leaves] This includes a certain blind optimism.

But, on some pt, you can cross the line. And, as some said in the comments, he did in various cases. Or, so a very credible case can be put.

This was broadcast by an advocacy group -- whose message a majority agrees with (a majority didn't really trust him ... but this is the focus here, the ad is ... as one said "sigh") -- said this bluntly. How is this new?

Is the truths of the ad so shaky that a word going to fail to advance the message? Not only, as one noted, is it true the message was not spread, I find this a sad sentiment.

Happily, it doesn't quite seem true. If it was, that would be the tragedy, not the actions of an advocacy group being blunt.
 

Yeah, I know. Wasn't going to say anything more. So here's an invite to take the MoveOn discussion elsewhere (say, here and to the Greenwald link I posted earlier...)

Some other opinion on the MoveOn kerfluffle here.

And more good news (alng with helpful links) from Iraq (here too).

Cheers,
 

PMS_Chicago,

Thank you for the link. With the open-endedness and overlap, it is not easy to assign reasons to upsetness with one party or the other. Neither current poll ties by party, but I do recall previous polls that rated the Rs lower than Ds.

Most of the reasons are bi-partisan, but some of the larger reasons are definitely anti-Bush/Republican stands, and fewer are indicating issues with failures in pro-conservative stands. My initial take was definitely tongue-in-cheek, but even your poll looks like more people are upset with the lack of spine in Congress, as opposed to its insufficient support for the White House agenda.

Now they just have to show some spine.
 

arne langsetmo said...

"Bart" DePalma, in response to my links: That was genuinely pathetic, arne....

And what was "pathetic" about it? Rather than anecdotal and fragmentary reports, there was country-wide stats there for all to behold.


Nonsense.

You repeated the obvious Lancet polling lie about hundreds of thousands of dead no one has ever seen.

You cited to Iraq casualty figures during the beginning of the Surge and compared them to a previous year to falsely imply that the end result of the Surge was more casualties when just the opposite is true.

You pointed to a single bombing without providing the context that overall bombings have plunged as we take down al Qaeda's bomb factories.

You pointed to economic figures which have nothing to do with the military surge and have far more to do with Iraq's bad infrastructure than any enemy action.

Your present all of this misleading and out right false data to argue falsely that the enemy is defeating our military in Iraq.

Your false claims and others like its are providing obvious support and comfort for the enemy propagandists. Zawahiri just released another propaganda video to recruit terrorists to kill our troops and citizens. One of his recruiting tools is to use your and others' false arguments that the enemy has defeated our troops:

"The Crusaders themselves have testified to their defeat in Afghanistan at the hands of the lions of the Taliban," he said. "The Crusaders have testified to their own defeat in Iraq at the hands of the mujahideen, who have taken the battle of Islam to the heart of the Islam world."

Think long and hard about what you are saying before you post it. There are real lives in the balance.
 

Baghdad, there was nothing false about any of his claims. The US casualty figures are obvious for everyone to see, and they are not decreasing. Your claims about the infrastructure are absurd. The electricity and oil numbers are lower now than before you idiots invaded. Not to mention that the claims about WMD and Al Qaeda connections have proven to be completely false.

You have been declaring victory for over 4 years now. It's time for you to shut up and get out of the way while we try to clean up the mess you helped create.
 

arne:

BTW, to head off a predictable retort, I am not accusing you are anyone else who expresses the opinion that the enemy has defeated our military of treason.

Even though such opinions clearly give aid and comfort to the enemy, opinions are protected under the First Amendment and therefore cannot be treason.

(We could have a very interesting discussion whether false statements of fact amounting to slander and used for propaganda would be protected by the First Amendment and placed outside the treason statute, but that is a conversation for another time.)

However, just because you have the right to do something destructive does not mean that it is moral to do so.

Think hard and long about what you are saying and the results of that speech.
 

"Bart" DePalma, on a typical RWA "You're either with us or you are the enemy" rant:

Think long and hard about what you are saying before you post it. There are real lives in the balance.

I do. But I'm not an eedjit or wilfully blind. Yes, there are real lives in the balance. About 3791 (in one category) less than 2002, and inexorably counting. "Bart", the Defender of the Troops....

Cheers,
 

However, just because you have the right to do something destructive does not mean that it is moral to do so.

# posted by Bart DePalma : 10:48 AM


You morons should have considered that before you started this idiotic war. We are trying to stop you. Morality is on our side.
 

arne:

Surrendering to the enemy and hiding in a Fortress America is not going to save lives as the 90s proved.

The enemy is waging war on you whether you want to fight back or not. You will notice that Zawahiri used the term "crusaders" to describe the anti war movement which claims the war is lost. The enemy makes no distinction between hawks like myself who advocate waging war in return and those like you who do not. Your concessions to the enemy will not make you or anyone else safe. Instead, they make life much more dangerous for our troops.

When you cite our military casualties, think about how many of those men and women would still be alive today if you and others had not encouraged the enemy to believe that, even though our military is decimating them, that the Dems will surrender if the enemy simply holds on and kills more soldiers and civilians.

It must be very demoralizing for the average enemy terrorist to see his comrades die around him by the hundreds before he himself is killed or captured. If the media showed this reality to prospective recruits, how many more terrorists do you think that al Qaeda could recruit?

Instead, the media shows the Dem leader of the Senate tell the world that the "war is lost." Can there be any doubt in your mind that such nonsense only encourages more recruits to join the enemy and kill more of our soliders?

Have you even thought about this?

I am deadly serious. This is very personal for me. I come from a military family with friends and family in the line of fire. I cannot repeat in these distinguished precincts the language they use to describe Americans who tell the world that the enemy has defeated them.

Just for research, go listen to all the military members returned from Iraq who call into the Limbaugh, Hannity and other talk shows. I have a feeling the outright rage they express would be an eye opener for you and most who post here.
 

Baghdad, there was no Al Qaeda in Iraq before you idiots invaded. YOU created this disaster. If you think it's so important, you really need to get your cowardly ass into the fight.
 

"Bart" DePalma needs the Haldol titrated up:

Surrendering to the enemy and hiding in a Fortress America is not going to save lives as the 90s proved.

And bringing in a green cow over a bridge across water that flows uphill will get you a gold-egg-laying goose.

There's too damn many "straw men" and outright factual errors in just that one sentence to make further conversation (or vene semblance thereof) impossible. I'm through.

Cheers,
 

... go listen to all the military members returned from Iraq who call into the Limbaugh, Hannity and other talk shows...

Why? We have enough resident RW foamers right here....

"Bart. Just one word. Are you listening? 'Self-selection'...."

Cheers,
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

The MoveOn ad changed nothing about the ultimate outcome of the debate and accurately reflects the anger of a majority of this country over the spin and outright lies of this Administration and their enablers.

And it is interesting that the Betrayus knock on Petraeus is not unfamiliar to military officers as described by Professor Levinson because someone else has gone on record to the effect that Petraeus is an ass-kissing suck up willing to flatter superiors as a means of advancement; CENTCOM commander Admiral William Fallon.

Fallon told Petraeus that he considered him to be "an ass-kissing little chickenshit" and added, "I hate people like that", the sources say. That remark reportedly came after Petraeus began the meeting by making remarks that Fallon interpreted as trying to ingratiate himself with a superior.

Fallon's derision toward Petraeus reflected both the CENTCOM commander's personal distaste for Petraeus's style of operating and their fundamental policy differences over Iraq, according to the sources.

The policy context of Fallon's extraordinarily abrasive treatment of his subordinate was Petraeus's agreement in February to serve as front man for the George W. Bush administration's effort to sell its policy of increasing U.S. troop strength in Iraq to Congress.

Fallon also expressed great scepticism about the basic assumption underlying the surge strategy, which was that it could pave the way for political reconciliation in Iraq. In the lead story Sep. 9, The Washington Post quoted a "senior administration official" as saying that Fallon had been "saying from Day One, 'This isn't working.' "

Fallon had a "visceral distaste" for what he regarded as Petraeus's sycophantic behaviour in general, which had deeper institutional roots, according to a military source familiar with his thinking.

A crucial element of Petraeus's path of advancement in the Army, on the other hand, was through serving as an aide to senior generals. He was assistant executive officer to the Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Carl Vuono, and later executive assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Henry Shelton. His experience taught him that cultivating senior officers is the key to success.
 

I find it hard to credit the outrage over "Betrayus" when it comes from the same people who regularly use smarmy phrases like "defeatocrats" or "Democrat party", etc. Sauce for the goose.
 

Easily the worst comment today:

When you cite our military casualties, think about how many of those men and women would still be alive today if you and others had not encouraged the enemy to believe that, even though our military is decimating them, that the Dems will surrender if the enemy simply holds on and kills more soldiers and civilians.

Think instead about how many of those men and women would be alive today, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis (not to mention the millions displaced and ethnically cleansed), had not our administration encouraged our country to falsely believe that this war was required.

We cannot help that in your grief over the effects of this war that you are still in denial, while many of the rest of the posters here have made it to acceptance, and beyond. I think the next step is anger, which by the tone of your responses today, appears to be imminent. I am glad that you are working through your grief. You will catch up to the Democrats in Congress soon, who are in the bargaining stage (still). Good luck.
 

Talking Points Memo reports:

"The GOP-introduced resolution condemning MoveOn just passed by a huge margin, 72-25"

Since the ad, not its reason for being, is worthy of a post, this is far from surprising.
 

Fraud Guy said...

Easily the worst comment today:

BD: When you cite our military casualties, think about how many of those men and women would still be alive today if you and others had not encouraged the enemy to believe that, even though our military is decimating them, that the Dems will surrender if the enemy simply holds on and kills more soldiers and civilians.

Think instead about how many of those men and women would be alive today, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis (not to mention the millions displaced and ethnically cleansed), had not our administration encouraged our country to falsely believe that this war was required.


During his reign of terror, Saddam butchered nearly 2 million of his own people and those of his neighbors.

During their reign of terror, the Taliban and al Qaeda butchered thousands more.

Nothing was stopping them from continuing this mass murder.

After we liberated Afghanistan and Iraq, the enemy murdered about 40,000 or so more civilians with enemy combatants we had killed making up another 30,000 or so, but being counted as civilian deaths by those who ghoulishly keep these lists for propaganda purposes. (The hundreds of thousands of dead claim is nonsense).

Blaming our troops for the murders of Iraqis and Afghans by the enemy is an obscene slander. If we had not liberated these countries, the enemy would have continued to murder regardless. However, because we liberated these countries, we have stopped the Baathist terror entirely while substantially degrading the al Qaeda and Taliban terror.

KIA of our forces in the Middle East have just reached the losses sustained in attacks against our interests here and around the world prior to waging war. However, rather than just taking casualties as we did between 1993 and 9/11/01, we are inflicting far more massive casualties on the enemy and preventing them from launching any substantial attacks on our interests outside of the Middle East war zones.

This blame America first for the depredations of our enemies was wrong during the Cold War and has not gained any credibility during this current recycling.
 

I find it hard to credit the outrage over "Betrayus" when it comes from the same people who regularly use smarmy phrases like "defeatocrats" or "Democrat party", etc. Sauce for the goose.

True, but for every person that insists on saying "Democrat party" or "demoncrats," there's some jackass saying "rethuglican." I'm guessing it has to do more with a belief (that cross-cuts political stances) about what level of discourse has the most "impact" than a feature of one particular political tribe.
 

Joe said...

Talking Points Memo reports:
"The GOP-introduced resolution condemning MoveOn just passed by a huge margin, 72-25"


The wonder is that 25 or nearly half of the Dem Caucus declined to condemn the moveon.org slander of General Petreus.

Class acts, every one!
 

During his reign of terror, Saddam butchered nearly 2 million of his own people and those of his neighbors.

As Preznut Ronnie Raygun help fund him and provide weapons.

preventing them from launching any substantial attacks on our interests outside of the Middle East war zones

# posted by Bart DePalma : 1:27 PM


They don't have to leave the Middle East to strike us. You idiots are providing them with all they targets they could ever ask for. And if they do decide to send some people here, there is nothing our troops in Iraq could possibly do to stop them.
 

Bart wrote: I would note that the Reuters reporters managed to leave their Green Zone bars for a day and check out the largely emptied hospitals.

I missed the part in the article about empty hospital rooms where the Reuters reports left their green zone bars. Is that what happened? Where's that part of the story about empty hospital beds with reporters going unaccompanied by any security force? I mean, that would interesting.


Bart continues: The Petreus report is derived from boots on the ground in Iraq.

When the criteria for counting one kill as sectarian and another as criminal is the direction of the entry wound in the head, Petraeus is disengenuously distorting that information to the point it's just not credible. That kind of thing calls into question his statistics and conclusions, regardless of how many boots it came from because that kind of thing is clearly cherry-picking as opposed to honest reporting.

Obligatory passive-aggressive clinton rant: Surrendering to the enemy and hiding in a Fortress America is not going to save lives as the 90s proved.

We all know how much you hate Clinton, Bart Grasping at excuses for parading your dislike here waters down everything else you say because its becomes clear that you're saying it more because you hate clinton as opposed to whether or not it has genuine substance - even on those occasions when it does have substance.
 

Point of fact:

After we liberated Afghanistan and Iraq, the enemy murdered about 40,000 or so more civilians with enemy combatants we had killed making up another 30,000 or so, but being counted as civilian deaths by those who ghoulishly keep these lists for propaganda purposes. (The hundreds of thousands of dead claim is nonsense).

Ghoulishly? The majority of complaints with the IPC figures you seem to be quoting (iraqbodycount.org--high/low of civilian deaths by violence in the mid 70,000 range) are that they are far too low (for example, the Lancet study, comparing prior conflicts deaths reported at the time with later evidence, found that in modern conflicts (with one exception), only 20% of civilian deaths were reported during a conflict). IPC specifically excludes "paramilitary" deaths from their figures, which somewhat counters your criticism.

Blaming our troops for the murders of Iraqis and Afghans by the enemy is an obscene slander.

Bart, I have never blamed our troops. That obscene responsibility lies squarely at the feet of the Commander-in-Chief and his enablers.

Slander (n): 1 : the utterance of false charges or misrepresentations which defame and damage another's reputation (from m-w.com).

Hmm, looks like you have just slandered me.
 

"Bart": "This blame America first for the depredations of our enemies was wrong...."

Dubya the Doofus-In-Chief: President George W. Bush has warned a US withdrawal from Iraq could trigger the kind of upheaval seen in South East Asia after US forces quit Vietnam.

"The price of America's withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens," he told war veterans in Missouri.


So, "Bart", what'll it be? Or is this an "IOIYAR moment"?

Oh, yeah, forgot. Nevermind. The two situations are not comparable. We sided with the Khmer Rouge against the Vietnamese 'invasion' that stopped the killing (because we hated the Vietnamese)....

Can I go play in a fact-free field? I could be the next Michael Jordan of my own mind there.....

Cheers,
 

Bart,

To understand why so many of people regard pronouncements by supporters of the war that things are going great and the MSM is just not reporting it with skepticism, consider the record.

In 2003 war supporters were irate that the MSM kept reporting an insurgency and insisted that there was no such thing. There was in insurgency.

In 2004-2005, war supporters were irate the the MSM failed to report the insurgency was in its last throes and we were just about to defeat it. Well, it hasn't died out yet.

In 2006, was supporters were outraged that the MSM reported a sectarian was and insisted that there was no such thing. Well, there seems to be a backdoor acknowledgment that in 2006 yes, there was something like a sectarian civil war.

Now, in 2007, war supporters say that things haven't been going so well up till now, but at last, Gen. Patraeus and the surge are turning things around. Well, maybe, but to understand other people's doubts, read the story of the boy who cried wolf (or, in this case, pony).

Another constant refrain is that reporters are out of touch because they don't leave the Green Zone (because of the real danger of being shot blown up or kidnapped) and if only they left, they would see Iraq is all sweetness and light. So why is there such danger (and given the number of reporters actually shot, blown up, or kidnapped, the danger is real) in a country that is all sweetness and light?

Finally, you say that that, OK, the insurgency has caused considerable damage, but they insurgents and terrorists would have given up a long time ago if only the MSM had not encouraged them by its slanted coverage. You ignore the existence of Al-Jazeera and other Arabic new stations, much more watched in Arab countries, and all much more anti-US than anything you see here.
 

PMS_Chicago:

True, but for every person that insists on saying "Democrat party" or "demoncrats," there's some jackass saying "rethuglican."

They'll get respect and civility when they show they deserve even a modicum of it. I'll keep you posted.

--signed-- "Jackass"
 

bitswapper said...

Bart continues: The Petreus report is derived from boots on the ground in Iraq.

When the criteria for counting one kill as sectarian and another as criminal is the direction of the entry wound in the head, Petraeus is disengenuously distorting that information to the point it's just not credible.


Why is this non-credible? Most organizations have an MO. Who exactly is more qualified to have determined the MO of the various groups in Iraq than the military which has been fighting them up close and personal for years?

Obligatory passive-aggressive clinton rant: Surrendering to the enemy and hiding in a Fortress America is not going to save lives as the 90s proved.

We all know how much you hate Clinton, Bart...


Ummm, the period to which I referred covered both the Clinton and Bush Administrations. Prior to 9/11, both of these Administrations should have done far more.
 

fraud guy said...

Ghoulishly? The majority of complaints with the IPC figures you seem to be quoting (iraqbodycount.org--high/low of civilian deaths by violence in the mid 70,000 range) are that they are far too low...\

Actually, IPC is very likely overstated. The media regurgitates any report it receives from Iraqi stringers in the field without checking them. I have never seen footage of anyone counting actual bodies after one of these attacks. At best, these are guess-timates and at worse completely fabricated. However, IPC counts them all as accurate.

(for example, the Lancet study, comparing prior conflicts deaths reported at the time with later evidence, found that in modern conflicts (with one exception), only 20% of civilian deaths were reported during a conflict).

That is because we never used to systematically count civilian dead. Therefore, there is nothing reliable to compare. This is more junk science from the same people who claim that several hundred people per day have been killed, but no one has seen the bodies or even the Saddam style mass graves.

IPC specifically excludes "paramilitary" deaths from their figures, which somewhat counters your criticism.

No, IPC only excludes those deaths labeled by the media as military. In fact, the IPC numbers include a wildly disproportionate number of military age men. If these "civilian death" figures were truly a random cross section of the population, there would be far more women and children.

Blaming our troops for the murders of Iraqis and Afghans by the enemy is an obscene slander.

Bart, I have never blamed our troops. That obscene responsibility lies squarely at the feet of the Commander-in-Chief and his enablers.


Try as you might, you cannot separate the mission from the soldiers. However, taking your intent at face value, blaming our President for the murders of Iraqis and Afghans by the enemy is also an obscene slander.
 

Try as you might, you cannot separate the mission from the soldiers.
# posted by Bart DePalma : 3:07 PM


Why not? Soldiers do what they are told. And there are plenty who have served in Iraq who think this war is an idiotic waste.
 

True, but for every person that insists on saying "Democrat party" or "demoncrats," there's some jackass saying "rethuglican."

It appears to me much more one-sided than this. I don't remember any President ever using the term "rethuglican", but there is a President who has used "Democrat party".

Talking Points Memo reports:

"The GOP-introduced resolution condemning MoveOn just passed by a huge margin, 72-25"


From the Department of The More Things Change....:

After the suppression of the Whiskey Rebellion, the Federalists in Congress denounced "self-created" democratic clubs which (said the Federalists) were responsible for the Whiskey Rebellion. Madison described the "game" in a letter to Monroe of December 4, 1794:

“The game was to connect the democratic societies with the odium of the [Whiskey Rebellion] — to connect the Republicans in Congress with those Societies…”

On the floor of Congress, Madison pointed out the absurdity of this in a republican government. He “conceived it to be a sound principle that an action innocent in the eye of the law could not be the object of censure to a legislative body. When the people have formed a constitution, they retain those rights which they have not expressly delegated. … Opinions are not the objects of legislation.”

If we're trying to judge whether "both sides do it", I'll have to strain a little harder to recall the time the Senate denounced, say, the Willie Horton ad or Reagan's speech in Philadelphia, MS or the Swift Boat lies. Or even a single one of the odious right wing attacks on Democrats. Maybe they were busy enacting more important legislation like suspending habeas corpus.
 

enlightened layperson said...

Bart, To understand why so many of people regard pronouncements by supporters of the war that things are going great and the MSM is just not reporting it with skepticism, consider the record.

OK, let's go...

In 2003 war supporters were irate that the MSM kept reporting an insurgency and insisted that there was no such thing. There was in insurgency.

No there was not. An insurgency is a popular uprising in reaction to an event. The enemy was financed, supplied and trained by the Baathists and al Qaeda. This terror campaign was planned by Saddam long prior to the war with the intent of chasing us out so he could return to power.

In 2004-2005, war supporters were irate the the MSM failed to report the insurgency was in its last throes and we were just about to defeat it. Well, it hasn't died out yet.

Actually, in 2005, the military launched a systematic counter insurgency clearing operation in the Sunni Triangle which did in fact clear and pacify much of the area. Military and civilian casualties went down significantly. The media provided almost no coverage of this months long offensive.

Unfortunately, in order to keep US military casualties down in 2006 before the elections, our troops were largely withdrawn to well protected bases and the enemy went right back to business. Indeed, they launched a terrorist version of the Tet Offensive in the run up to the 2006 elections to influence our elections. Unlike our 2005 offensive, the media did cover the enemy terror campaign in gruesome detail and it worked in influencing our elections as intended.

In 2006, was supporters were outraged that the MSM reported a sectarian was and insisted that there was no such thing. Well, there seems to be a backdoor acknowledgment that in 2006 yes, there was something like a sectarian civil war.

No one denied that there was sectarian violence after the al Qaeda bombing of the Shia mosque. What was in dispute was the use of the misnomer "civil war."

Another constant refrain is that reporters are out of touch because they don't leave the Green Zone (because of the real danger of being shot blown up or kidnapped) and if only they left, they would see Iraq is all sweetness and light.

No one said everything was sweetness and light. If it was, we would be coming home. However, even in the worst times, if the reporters got their cowardly asses out of their hotel rooms and embedded with the troops, they would get a much better picture.

For example, in the days after the al Qaeda bombing of the Shia mosque, the media reported a raging civil war across Baghdad based on seeing smoke from their hotel rooms and based on BS accounts from Iraqi stringers. Lt. Col. Ralph Peters (ret) embedded himself with an infantry unit in Baghdad and looked for himself. In a scathing series of reports, Peters stated that he saw very little violence in the same neighborhoods where raging battles were being reported.

Finally, you say that that, OK, the insurgency has caused considerable damage, but they insurgents and terrorists would have given up a long time ago if only the MSM had not encouraged them by its slanted coverage. You ignore the existence of Al-Jazeera and other Arabic new stations, much more watched in Arab countries, and all much more anti-US than anything you see here.

I expect the enemy to spew propaganda and lie like rugs to support their cause. I expect American reporters to act like Americans and report the truth, not parrot garbage which the enemy later uses as additional propaganda.

Prior to the end of Vietnam, the media never would have pulled this nonsense with our men and women in harm's way.

Never.
 

Baghdad Bart has been declaring victory in Iraq for the last 4 years. Given the chance he would probably go on declaring victory for the next 20. You can't expect any honesty from this scumbag.
 

Bart writes: Why is this non-credible? Most organizations have an MO. Who exactly is more qualified to have determined the MO of the various groups in Iraq than the military which has been fighting them up close and personal for years?

Does that mean that angle of entry wounds is a reliable or absolute criteria for identifying whether or not the shooter was motivated by sectarian strife or criminal intent? Honestly, it may be true at times but to base such a sweeping statistic on that kind of criteria, as if angel of entry wound was an absolute indicator, supports the premise that the statistic was cherry-picked and spun. There are plenty of ways to determine if a killing was sectarian or criminal, but angle of entry wound alone just isn't consistent enough to be that reliable.
 

<*whistling*> ... (waiting for that peer-reviewed article in my copy of Science, "A Critical Review and Rebuttal of the Methodology and Conclusions of the Lancet Iraq Mortality Study", by H.A. "Bart" DePalma....)

Cheers,

P.S., re this exchange:

[fraud guy]: IPC specifically excludes "paramilitary" deaths from their figures, which somewhat counters your criticism.

["Bart"]: No, IPC only excludes those deaths labeled by the media as military. In fact, the IPC numbers include a wildly disproportionate number of military age men. If these "civilian death" figures were truly a random cross section of the population, there would be far more women and children.


Well, I'm waiting for the authoritative reports of gunfire only spraying in all directions, which is an implicit assumption of the claim that any victims should constitute "a random cross section of the population"....
 

My God, it's just bizarr-o world with some of these comments. Up is down, black is white.

One particular quote:

"For example, in the days after the al Qaeda bombing of the Shia mosque, the media reported a raging civil war across Baghdad based on seeing smoke from their hotel rooms and based on BS accounts from Iraqi stringers. Lt. Col. Ralph Peters (ret) embedded himself with an infantry unit in Baghdad and looked for himself. In a scathing series of reports, Peters stated that he saw very little violence in the same neighborhoods where raging battles were being reported."

So let me get this straight, a Lt. Colonel embedding himself with US troops cannot find evidence of a civil war, in which the US is not an active participant. And this is surprising how? If it's a CIVIL war, is it unsurprising that US TROOPS would not be involved? Is it unsurprising that untrained people engaged in a civil war would avoid a head on conflict with US troops?

I note Bart, that you cannot provide anything against the Lancet study other than "uh huh". While peer review isn't the be all and end all, it certainly casts more than a little doubt as to whether the study was indeed "junk science".

Finally, I find it interesting that you won't even take the word of individuals you nominally support when Iraq was referred to as being in a state of "low grade" civil war.

One more "finally", it's amusing that you think the "Tet offensive" (leaving aside the fact that there is very little centralized control of the insurgents), influenced our elections as opposed to a failed and failing foreign policy in Iraq...
 

Actually, IPC is very likely overstated. The media regurgitates any report it receives from Iraqi stringers in the field without checking them. I have never seen footage of anyone counting actual bodies after one of these attacks. At best, these are guess-timates and at worse completely fabricated. However, IPC counts them all as accurate.

Please cite reliable and reputable refutations of IPC's methodology. Also, it is apparently too dangerous for anyone to step outside the Green Zone without military escort, so the liklihood of you (or anyone) seeing such footage is remote, so this point is useless for comparison.

That is because we never used to systematically count civilian dead. Therefore, there is nothing reliable to compare. This is more junk science from the same people who claim that several hundred people per day have been killed, but no one has seen the bodies or even the Saddam style mass graves.


IIRC, there is an organization in Baghdad that is burying several hundred unclaimed bodies per week--I will have to dig the cite up.

And junk science? IIRC, the Lancet study used the same statistical methodology that epidemiologists use in determining incidences of deaths in more settled regions. If you wanted to argue poor data, you might have a leg to stand on, but then you would have to not trust the information from people with their boots on the ground, so to speak, which you have previously stated is the most accurate around.

And as to our not counting civilian casualties, I recall something in the Geneva Conventions about occupying powers being responsible for protection of the civilian population. How can we know how well we are doing that if we are not finding that information out? Of course, if we do not count, then we can claim we didn't know, but that sort of argument would seem to be willful disregard of our obligations under GC.

Try as you might, you cannot separate the mission from the soldiers. However, taking your intent at face value, blaming our President for the murders of Iraqis and Afghans by the enemy is also an obscene slander.

Try as you might, you cannot separate the mission from the commander who ordered it. However, taking your intent at face value, blaming Americans who speak out agains the war for the murders of Iraqis and Afghans by the enemy (who by your previous definitions are the Iraqis and Afghans) which is a direct result of our invasion and occupation is slander.

1 : disgusting to the senses : REPULSIVE
2 a : abhorrent to morality or virtue; specifically : designed to incite to lust or depravity b : containing or being language regarded as taboo in polite usage [obscene lyrics] c : repulsive by reason of crass disregard of moral or ethical principles [an obscene misuse of power] d : so excessive as to be offensive [obscene wealth][obscene waste]
(from m-w.com)

By definition, your statements have been obscene, mostly for 2(c).
 

Mike said...

BD:"For example, in the days after the al Qaeda bombing of the Shia mosque, the media reported a raging civil war across Baghdad based on seeing smoke from their hotel rooms and based on BS accounts from Iraqi stringers. Lt. Col. Ralph Peters (ret) embedded himself with an infantry unit in Baghdad and looked for himself. In a scathing series of reports, Peters stated that he saw very little violence in the same neighborhoods where raging battles were being reported."

So let me get this straight, a Lt. Colonel embedding himself with US troops cannot find evidence of a civil war, in which the US is not an active participant. And this is surprising how? If it's a CIVIL war, is it unsurprising that US TROOPS would not be involved? Is it unsurprising that untrained people engaged in a civil war would avoid a head on conflict with US troops?


Dude, the press was reporting raging battles. I can assure you from personal experience, it is very difficult to miss a battle when you drive through the middle of it. The bullets crack when they fly by your head and the mortars heave up big geysers of dirt and hit you with shock waves accompanies with shrapnel which rattles your vehicle.

The enemy has never been shy about including us in his list of targets if we showed up to a fire fight among Iraqis.

I note Bart, that you cannot provide anything against the Lancet study other than "uh huh".

There are reams of critiques on the Lancet study. You can sum them up in two main criticisms:

1) No one has ever seen these bodies and it is rather difficult to hide 600,000 bodies. Saddam left dozens of mass graves around the country after murdering half as many Shia and Kurds after the Gulf War.

2) The methodology is based on polls of enemy neighborhoods. Enemy propaganda is based primarily on claims that the barbarian Americans are massacring innocent Muslims. Check out al Jezeera on any particular day. Consequently, do you think that a poll of the enemy is going to give you anything close to an accurate result. Get real.

One more "finally", it's amusing that you think the "Tet offensive" (leaving aside the fact that there is very little centralized control of the insurgents), influenced our elections as opposed to a failed and failing foreign policy in Iraq...

What makes you think that al Qeada and the now surrendered Baathists did not have a command and control system?

Furthermore, go read the statements of the Baathists and al Qaeda. Vietnam is their oft cited template for fighting the United States.

bin Laden has called the US a "weak horse" because we cannot stand even low level casualties before cutting and running. The Clinton cut and run after losing just 19 in the Battle of Mogadishu was cited by bin Laden in his declaration of war on the US.

al Qaeda learned from the Madrid bombings followed by the Socialist election then cut and run from Iraq that you can influence elections by launching terror attacks. Unfortunately, our 2006 elections confirmed this thesis. However, bin Laden has repeatedly chided the Dems for not carrying out the cut and run mandate for which he claims they were elected.
 

Fraud Guy said...

BD: Actually, IPC is very likely overstated. The media regurgitates any report it receives from Iraqi stringers in the field without checking them. I have never seen footage of anyone counting actual bodies after one of these attacks. At best, these are guess-timates and at worse completely fabricated. However, IPC counts them all as accurate.

Please cite reliable and reputable refutations of IPC's methodology.


I just gave you one. It is not my job to prove a negative. If you claim that the media reports are accurate, you show me the evidence than any reporter ever actually counted the bodies after an attack. If you have ever seen the wildly divergent counts of people in demonstrations, you get a good idea the sheer speculation which passes for actual counts in the media.

Also, it is apparently too dangerous for anyone to step outside the Green Zone without military escort, so the liklihood of you (or anyone) seeing such footage is remote, so this point is useless for comparison.

Assuming your point for the sake of argument, you have just demonstrated that the media counts are complete fabrications because they do not leave the Green Zone to perform a count.

BTW, if they never leave their bar stools, how would the reporters know how dangerous it was outside?
 

BTW, if they never leave their bar stools, how would the reporters know how dangerous it was outside?

# posted by Bart DePalma : 4:33 PM


That is an excellent question. How do you think they know how dangerous it is outside?
 

One last correction for the day:

I expect the enemy to spew propaganda and lie like rugs to support their cause. I expect American reporters to act like Americans and report the truth, not parrot garbage which the enemy later uses as additional propaganda.

Prior to the end of Vietnam, the media never would have pulled this nonsense with our men and women in harm's way.


Historically, most media would "spew propoganda and lie like rugs" to the benefit of "their" side in a war. Apparently, American media did this during WWI, WWII, and in many other conflicts and wars. Why would they stop now? Heck, even the NYT, that liberal rag of lies, sat on information, at the request of the White House, until after the 2004 election.

If that is the case now, then we should expect that the numbers being reported in our media to be lower than the actual numbers. Just because that number is higher than some would like it to be, does not mean that is not accurate, or even underreported. In fact, if numbers are being reported by a neutral, third party (like the Lancet), you would have to feel that they are more likely to be accurate than swayed by jingoistic concerns.
 

Furthermore, go read the statements of the Baathists and al Qaeda. Vietnam is their oft cited template for fighting the United States.

And strangely enough, the Vietnamese used the American Revolution as their template for fighting.

"We have met the enemy, and he is us."
 

Bart writes: Furthermore, go read the statements

Furthermore, please post links, as you are more familiar with that material and its your point to make.
 

Re: the Lancet study:

"2) The methodology is based on polls of enemy neighborhoods."

Care to cite where they stated that in their methods section? If not, then care to explain how you reached that conclusion?

Just in the interest of informed discourse, of course....

Cheers,
 

The Clinton cut and run after losing just 19 in the [Bush I initiated] Battle of Mogadishu was cited by bin Laden in his declaration of war on the US.

Good thing that Clinton didn't lose a single soldier to enemy fire in any of the other wars and military actions he successfully engaged in, then, eh?

Cheers,
 

If you claim that the media reports are accurate, you show me the evidence than any reporter ever actually counted the bodies after an attack....

...

Assuming your point for the sake of argument, you have just demonstrated that the media counts are complete fabrications because they do not leave the Green Zone to perform a count.


Ignoring the slander that all the reporters sit all day on bar stools in the Green Zone (covered in ne of my lnks above), we have the military counts. Just three words. "Vietnam". "body counts". And it's far easier to undercount and get by with it than to manufacture "bodies" and overcount ... particularly when you get to choose which real bodies shouldn't be counted.

Cheers,
 

"I expect the enemy to spew propaganda and lie like rugs to support their cause. I expect American reporters to act like Americans and report the truth, not parrot garbage which the enemy later uses as additional propaganda."

"The reporters are the enemy. Q.E.D."

Cheers,
 

If we're trying to judge whether "both sides do it", I'll have to strain a little harder to recall the time the Senate denounced, say, the Willie Horton ad or Reagan's speech in Philadelphia, MS or the Swift Boat lies. Or even a single one of the odious right wing attacks on Democrats. Maybe they were busy enacting more important legislation like suspending habeas corpus.

You're absolutely correct. It's a "fun" exercise to run a search on previous congresses on Thomas with the word "condemning." Normally, the Senate considers bills that condemn assassinations, human rights violations, and improper leadership with the occasional bruhaha over improper remarks by ex-government leaders (a la William Bennett). Other than the current issue, I didn't see any instances of a political advert being condemned.
 

pms_chicago said...

If we're trying to judge whether "both sides do it", I'll have to strain a little harder to recall the time the Senate denounced, say, the Willie Horton ad or Reagan's speech in Philadelphia, MS or the Swift Boat lies. Or even a single one of the odious right wing attacks on Democrats. Maybe they were busy enacting more important legislation like suspending habeas corpus.

What is there to denounce?

The Willie Horton add was correct that the Dukakis Administration policies released Horton to kill again. The criticism of the ad was that it was "racially insensitive" because Horton was black instead of white. I assure you that if Dukakis had released a white man with as an egregious a record, they would have tarred Dukakis with it.

Mr. Reagan was also accused of being "racially insensitive" for giving a speech on state power where three civil rights workers were murdered. What nonsense. The civil rights workers were not murdered because of the balance of federal and state power.

There were two versions of the Swiftboat ads. By far the most effective ad was simply a film of Kerry falsely accusing his bothers in arms with war crimes which he never observed in front of the Senate. The only thing that should have been condemned in that ad is Kerry's own slander. The GOP could have actually gained some ground with a vote on a resolution condemning Kerry's slander and dare the Dems to oppose it.

The other Swiftboat ad featured a few of the about 60 fellow naval officers and sailors who signed sworn affidavits that Kerry did not do the things he claimed. The Swiftboat leader dared Kerry to sue him for defamation and Kerry declined before and after the election. Why should the Congress condemn that which Kerry himself is unwilling to challenge under oath?
 

It would have been much easier on the bandwith Bart had you simply stated that those ads were ok because they had conservative backing.
 

"Wilfull blindness"....
 

Mike:

It would have been much easier on the bandwith Bart had you simply stated that those ads were ok because they had conservative backing.

Indeed. Because the MoveOn resolution didn't address the substance of the charges, but rather the indignity of impugning a serviceman. But it wasn't the Republican's equivalent of MoveOn that had the purple bandaids at the Republican National Convention....

Cheers,
 

A correction of a misstatement of established fact:

The other Swiftboat ad featured a few of the about 60 fellow naval officers and sailors who signed sworn affidavits that Kerry did not do the things he claimed.

About 60 fellow naval officers and sailors did not "sign sworn affidavits that Kerry did not do the things he claimed." More like five or six. One recanted one affidavit and another admitted his affidavit was untruthful. And of course, the signers of the letter were hardly disinterested persons, but rather Republican opertives, people who hated Kerry intensely, or both, and many had no personal knowledge whatsoever of the incidents at question.

See here, here, and here.

"Bart" just makes sh*te up....

Cheers,
 

arne:

You are linking to a blog which simply links to a handful of the affidavits. That is not proof that more affidavits do not exist. I believe that the Swifties released these affidavits to the press because these men appeared in the commercials against Kerry.

Citations to those and other affidavits can be found in John O'Neill's book Unfit for Command.
 

Sydney Blumenthal makes the case for General Betrayus.

At what point do you call a spade a spade. While all of Petraeus's virtues can be readily admitted, they are all over-ridden by one fault that trumps all. Allowing himself to be used as a prop by Bush. Betray Us, indeed.

After Bush pretended to deliberate over whether he would agree to his own policy as presented by his general in well-rehearsed performances before Congress -- "President Bush Accepts Recommendations" read a headline on the White House Web site -- he established an ideal division of responsibility. Bush could claim credit for the "Return on Success," whenever that might be, while Petraeus would be charged with whatever might go wrong.

One week after Petraeus flashed his metrics, a whole new set of facts on the ground suddenly emerged: an admission (previously denied) by Petraeus that the United States was arming the Sunnis, who might use those weapons in the next phase of Iraq's civil war; the release of a Pentagon report that there is "an increase in intra-Shi'a violence throughout the South" (a report conveniently withheld as Petraeus was testifying); the Iraqi government's expulsion of Blackwater, a private security firm with close ties to the administration, after a band of its guards gunned down Iraqi civilians; the restriction of all nonmilitary U.S. personnel in Iraq to the Green Zone; a report by the Iraqi Red Crescent that about 1 million people are internal refugees as a result of ethnic cleansing (apart from the more than 2 million refugees who have fled the country); and the announcement by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform of an investigation into the State Department's inspector general for quashing scrutiny and embarrassing studies of fraud in the construction of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, among other projects.
 

While all of Petraeus's virtues can be readily admitted, they are all over-ridden by one fault that trumps all. Allowing himself to be used as a prop by Bush. Betray Us, indeed.

Let me see if I can get this spin job straight...

Blumenthal says moveon.org was justified in calling General Petreus a traitor and a liar because George Bush cited Petreus' report and agreed to follow its conclusions.

How exactly does the former follow from the latter?

It constantly amazes me how the left can go on and on about how smart they are and how dumb the right is when they put out this kind of illogical drivel to excuse kindergarten level name calling.

The "betrayal" to which Blumenthal really refers is General Pereus' gutting the rationale for the Dems various surrender plans set to be enacted this month and handing Mr. Bush another political victory.
 

handing Mr. Bush another political victory.

# posted by Bart DePalma : 4:02 PM


Too funny. Have you seen the poll numbers for this disaster? How many congressional seats do you think the Republicans will pick up in 2008 from this "victory" for Dumbya?
 

It appears that moveon.org's childish name calling gave General Petreus even more credibility:

A Gallup poll reports that 61 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of General Petraeus, up 9 percent in just one week.
Fifty-four percent of those surveyed said they believe Petraeus' plan for removing troops is the right pace or too quick. By contrast, only 33 percent view the withdrawal as moving too slowly.

Pew reports that nationally “57 percent of Americans who read or heard about Petraeus' testimony approved of his recommendations for Iraq, while only 28 percent of respondents said they disapprove.

US News & World Report’s “Political Bulletin” highlighted polling that found when “[a]sked, ‘If General Petraeus asks for the troop level to remain in place for another nine months, would you approve or disapprove this proposal,’ 54% approve it; 43% disapprove. Independents track the overall response, with 53% approving the proposal and 43% disapproving it. 80% of Republicans back the idea while 67% of Democrats oppose it.”


Once again, when the polling provides a context for withdrawing our troops, only a minority support the retreat in defeat options. The Dems internal polling almost certainly shows this and that is why they cave on this issue.
 

While the anti-war papers are fixated on Blackwater, here something that you will probably not read until A32, if at all:

Iraq violence down to lowest level since early 2006

BAGHDAD (AFP) — Violence across Iraq has fallen to its lowest level since before the bombing of a Shiite mosque in February 2006 that sparked savage sectarian bloodletting, a US military commander said on Thursday.

There has also been a 50 percent fall-off in violence in Baghdad since January, Lieutenant General Ray Odierno, the number two commander of US-led forces in Iraq, told a press conference in Baghdad.

"Attacks nationwide have fallen to the lowest level since before the Golden Mosque bombing," he said, referring to a bombing which destroyed the revered shrine in Samarra and unleashed a relentless wave of reprisals and counter-reprisals across Iraq that has already killed thousands of Iraqis.

"Car bombs and suicide attacks have dropped to their lowest level in a year," Odierno said. "Attacks in Baghdad have reached the lowest level this year and the trend continues to be down."

Civilian casualties had dropped from a high of about 32 per day to 12 per day, the US commander said.

"Al-Qaeda in Iraq is increasingly being pushed out of Baghdad and the surrounding areas," he said. "We are starting to see a normalisation of life across Iraq and also in Baghdad."...

Iraqi General Qanbar Abud, chief of Baghdad operations command, also addressing the press conference, said Iraqi and US forces were achieving "success on the ground."

"Life is returning to normal," Abud said. "We are now winning. We never thought it could be such a success."

The assessments were based on official statistics from Iraqi military commands, local police and government, including the ministry of health, Abud said.

"These statistics show there has been a huge decrease in criminal and terrorist activities.

"There are about 507 neighbourhoods in Baghdad and before operation Fardh al-Qanoon (Imposing Law) was launched (in February), two-thirds were controlled by terrorists and criminal gangs," the general said.

"Today, only five or six neighbourhoods can be considered hot zones," he said.

Fardh al-Qanoon, supported by a "surge" of 28,500 extra US troops, was launched on February 14 with the aim of quelling the raging violence pitting Shiites against Sunnis.

"Iraqi security forces are present in these places, there are troops there, and life is going normally, even though we sometimes have roadside bombs, shootings and assassinations," Abud said.

 

"Iraqi security forces are present in these places, there are troops there, and life is going normally, even though we sometimes have roadside bombs, shootings and assassinations," Abud said.

# posted by Bart DePalma : 4:22 PM


Classic. Roadside bombs, shootings, and assassinations are now seen as normal.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!
 

Baghdad, have you found any reports on how that search for Iraq's WMD is coming along? The anti-war papers don't seem to be covering that, either.
 

bb:

Why are you reacting to our troops and those of the Iraqis saving lives like a vampire reacts to holy water?

I would think that most Americans would be proud of such dramatic success...
 

Why are you reacting to our troops and those of the Iraqis saving lives like a vampire reacts to holy water?

I would think that most Americans would be proud of such dramatic success...

# posted by Bart DePalma : 4:44 PM


I'm not doing any such thing.

You morons have pissed away thousands of lives, hundreds of billions of tax dollars, and infuriated most of the world, for nothing, and you think that is success.

I'm laughing in your ignorant face.
 

Bart, to be civil, the reaction to your claims of reductions, and those of the administration / military (50% since the beginning of the year), is not joy that we are failing, and that Americans and Iraqis are dying, but anger that the presenters are using the usual seasonal decline in numbers to trumpet success, when the year over year numbers show that violence has increased since the same time last year (except in the neighborhoods which have been ethnically cleansed of competing groups--you know the millions of displaced Iraqis who have been forced to move elsewhere for safety). So we are not happy about the violence, but in the apparently willful misinterpretation of the statistics about it. (Remember--lies, damned lies, statistics, in descending order.)

The success you are claiming is not dramatic--it's non-existant. The data shows that, even while the interpretations you cite claim otherwise.
 

Let me see if I can get this spin job straight...

Blumenthal says moveon.org was justified in calling General Petreus a traitor and a liar because George Bush cited Petreus' report and agreed to follow its conclusions.

How exactly does the former follow from the latter?


Lemme see if I can restate your argument:

You say gibbons are de facto leaders of the Antarctic because fashionistas prefer Prada to Buster Browns.

How exactly does the former follow from the latter?

(The answer is that it doesn't, but thankfully, that's not what he said. He said the General delayed reporting the facts about conditions in Iraq until AFTER his report to Congress wherein he merely confirmed the party line.)
 

Iraqi alliances spread, U.S. says

Most of the major tribes in a strategic province northeast of Baghdad have signed agreements to support U.S. and Iraqi forces, a sign the alliance-building initiative that started in Anbar province is spreading.

In Diyala province, tribal leaders representing 20 of the province's 25 major tribes have signed agreements brokered by the local government, said Army Col. David Sutherland, a brigade commander there.

The shift has led to more tips from citizens and a reduction in violence, the U.S. military says. Weekly attacks in Diyala province have declined from an average of 125 three months ago to 70 last week.


Disclaimer: Col. "Diamond Dave" Sutherland was my company commander back during the Persian Gulf War.

Outstanding job Dave! I am sure that everyone here is bursting with pride at the your performance and send their best wishes for continuing success...
 

Fraud Guy said...

Bart, to be civil, the reaction to your claims of reductions, and those of the administration / military (50% since the beginning of the year), is not joy that we are failing, and that Americans and Iraqis are dying, but anger that the presenters are using the usual seasonal decline in numbers to trumpet success...

Staying civil with utter BS like this is getting difficult.

Seasonal decline? Last fall, the enemy was cranking up their murder campaign to influence our elections. US and Iraqi casualties were starting to spike last fall, not in free fall as they are now.
 

US and Iraqi casualties were starting to spike last fall, not in free fall as they are now.

# posted by Bart DePalma : 6:43 PM


Sparky, projected US dead for September are 79. Last month there were 84. In July there were 79. If that's your idea of a free fall, you are an imbecile.
 

Outstanding job Dave! I am sure that everyone here is bursting with pride at the your performance and send their best wishes for continuing success...

Too funny. You've been declaring victory in Iraq for 4 years now. How did that "victory" work out for you morons in the last election?
 

Baghdad, once Diamond Dave finds that WMD, maybe then you will have something to cheer about. Until then, you are just pissing into the wind.
 

bb:

The Moveon.org owners of the Dem Party forced their bought and paid for leadership to hold a vote on a bill to force as surrender in 9 months. The option you claim the American People supports crashed and burned, losing by 70 to 28 as nearly half of the Dems bailed.

Harry Reid, in his inimitable 1984 manner, called this a victory, just like he called the war lost.

I wonder if the Congress can actually get down to 5% approval?
 

"Bart":

You are linking to a blog which simply links to a handful of the affidavits. That is not proof that more affidavits do not exist. I believe that the Swifties released these affidavits to the press because these men appeared in the commercials against Kerry.

Citations to those and other affidavits can be found in John O'Neill's book Unfit for Command.


So where's the "sixty" affidavits?

You know it's a pile of crock by a bunch of partisans/haters, "Bart". But then again, you don't think it's particularly hypocritical to impugn a decorated (and wounded) veteran.....

Cheers,
 

no exit:

Sydney Blumenthal makes the case for General Betrayus.

At what point do you call a spade a spade. While all of Petraeus's virtues can be readily admitted, they are all over-ridden by one fault that trumps all. Allowing himself to be used as a prop by Bush. Betray Us, indeed.

After Bush pretended to deliberate over whether he would agree to his own policy as presented by his general in well-rehearsed performances before Congress -- "President Bush Accepts Recommendations" read a headline on the White House Web site -- he established an ideal division of responsibility....


I dealt with that here.

Cheers,
 

"Bart" DePalma says:

There has also been a 50 percent fall-off in violence in Baghdad since January, Lieutenant General Ray Odierno, the number two commander of US-led forces in Iraq, told a press conference in Baghdad.....

Just read Thomas Rick's "Fiasco" for more on Odierno. He ought to be next in line for a Preznitential Medal of Freedom after the colossal f*ckups Bremer, Tenet, and Franks...

Cheers,
 

"Bart" DePalma:

Seasonal decline? Last fall, the enemy was cranking up their murder campaign to influence our elections. US and Iraqi casualties were starting to spike last fall, not in free fall as they are now.

Elections are over. How do you explain this and this?

Cheers,
 

"Bart" DePalma:

I wonder if the Congress can actually get down to 5% approval?

If they can't rein in the Chimperor-In-Chief and brign the troops home, quite possibly....

Cheers,
 

bartbuster said...

BD: US and Iraqi casualties were starting to spike last fall, not in free fall as they are now.

Sparky, projected US dead for September are 79. Last month there were 84. In July there were 79. If that's your idea of a free fall, you are an imbecile.


Try to keep up.

The contention was that the drop in US and Iraqi casualties was a seasonal event which also occurred last year. If you compare this fall with last fall, you will find that casualties were going up as the enemy launched an election eve offensive ala Tet.

You changed the subject to the trend over the past few months.

To assist you, I have provided a direct link to one of the pages of the icasualties cite which allows you to break down the cause of the month to month casualties.

In June 07, we suffered 97 KIA and 8 accidental deaths.

In July 07, we suffered 67 KIA and 12 accidental deaths.

In August 07, we suffered 56 KIA and 28 accidental deaths.

So far in September 07, we suffered 33 KIA and 20 accidental deaths. At this rate, KIA could end up around 49. However, with the trend lines falling, it will probably be less.

Accidental deaths are purely random and usually result from non enemy related vehicular accidents which can happen anywhere the Army is moving personnel. The only use of comparing KIA with accidental deaths is to show how low KIAs are in this war.

To track the loss of effectiveness of the enemy, you need to look at KIA actually caused by the enemy. Since June 2007, monthly KIA has dropped by 50%.
 

Bart:

To paraphrase "Princess Bride": You keep using icasualties statistics. I do not think it means what you think it means.

You do of course note that the rate of KIA's isn't changing much, if at all, (2.5 deaths per day in Sept '07 versus 2.57 per day in Sept. '06) and that, contrary to your assertion, the number of KIA's is dramatically higher through the summer/fall of '07 versus the same time period last year (the lone exception being September, thus far, and that isn't significantly lower).

The only reason that there might appear to be a reduction is becuase the rate of KIA's was so high during the winter/spring of '07. Comparing alleged reductions to spikes in violence is disingenuous at best.
 

You changed the subject to the trend over the past few months.

Right, I changed the subjet. OK, let's get back to the original subject.

How's that search for WMD coming along, asshole?
 

This has been blown out of proportion -- "Gen. Betray Us" was just a parody of the general's name. How about "Gen. Be Traitorous"? LOL
 

Though I suppose I should be gratified by generating a discussion with over 100 posts, I hope it is not too churlish to point out that the subject of my posting was not in fact whether General Petraeus was correct in his analysis, but, rather, whether it makes sense to place as much reliance on what inevitably, because of human frailty, will be self-serving testimony from the person who devised the plan that is now being assessed. I invoked our use of independent auditors; I could other mention other obvious conflict of interest rules in putting together overview agencies. Why does this principle not apply to Petraeus? (Note again: This is not an agument for refusing to listen to him. It only challenges the preposterous authority that is being given this obviously self-interested witness. It's like asking Alan Greenspan for a definitive account of his actions as head of the Fed. Recall Ronald Reagan: "Trust, but verify."
 

Mike:

There is no relationship between the casualties of a single month in 2007 with a single month in 2006 unless you have the same circumstances. The circumstances in September of both years are diametrically opposite.

In September 2006, the enemy was ramping up a terror offensive to influence our elections as they did the Spanish elections. The attack and casualty trendlines were all going up.

In September 2007, US and Iraqi forces were in the sixth month of an offensive against the enemy and, as I have shown from multiple sources, the trend lines of attacks and casualties started collapsing in July 2007 and continue to go down dramatically.

For what very little it is worth, the KIA in September 2006 (61) is not the same as the projected KIA for this September (49).
 

Baghdad, your claim that casualties are in free fall is the most idiotic thing I have ever heard. All it takes is a quick glance at the graph at icasualties.org to see that you're a lying scumbag.
 

Speaking of lying scumbags, the projected deaths for this month is 77, not 49.
 

SL in comments suggests the ad did not understand the general's motivations (and failings).

I think he is mistaken, at least in part. The professor himself noted that a solidier might have been the first person to use the "betray" us label. Did the vet not realize the general's motivations? Did Admiral Fallon when he spoke negatively ... in a way that in effect the Senate censured recently?

Fallon thought him too compliant (he used a less nice term). Given the leadership, did is ... to be blunt ... betraying the troops. SL suggests there is self-deception here. Fine. Betrayal comes in many forms. I feel betrayed by Congress in various ways, including in 10/02. It was partially a matter of self-deception. So?

The President used P. as a fig leaf. P. had a responsibility even greater than those with more credible commanders in chief. I'm not going to give him a pass just because his failures is a matter of lying to himself.

Either way, the policy that leads to more death and a bigger black eye to America continues.

The MoveOn ad suggests the facts suggest betrayal. SL suggests self-deception. I think the facts matter, whatever it is. But, I think "betrayal" is right too.

After all, we are led by a bunch of true believers ... the face they self-deceive doesn't erase the betrayal. Self-deception at times is a luxury that we simply cannot accept or fall into.
 

Professor Levinson:

I hope it is not too churlish to point out that the subject of my posting was not in fact whether General Petraeus was correct in his analysis, but, rather, whether it makes sense to place as much reliance on what inevitably, because of human frailty, will be self-serving testimony from the person who devised the plan that is now being assessed.

If General Petreus is correct in his analysis, then it does make sense to place reliance in his testimony, even if he has an interest in the outcome of the war.

It is perfectly fair to verify Petreus' facts to determine whether he is correct in the first instance.

Over at my blog, I have summarized the latest reporting, indicating that the Petreus testimony is rather conservative and did not include the most recent favorable trends in Iraq. Hell, the anti war BBC is reporting that the UN just announced that it is safe enough for their bureaucrats to return to Baghdad.

I appreciate your patience with the rather heated discussion here. If anyone wants to continue the conversation, come over to my place to chat.
 

bart depalma raises an interesting point. Surely he is correct that "if General Petreus is correct in his analysis, then it does make sense to place reliance in his testimony, even if he has an interest in the outcome of the war." The problem is in ascertaining whether he is in fact correct. Ironically, Mr. Depalma himself cites evidence other than General Petraeus's own testimony, so in fact we agree, in a way, that it is a mistake to rely on his testimony alone. This might be true even if he were a truly independent figure--i.e., we'd still want multiple sources of evidence--but it's especially true given the built-in conflicts of interest that General Petraeus faces. The central question, whether with regard to the war in Iraq, or global warming, or even whether OJ is guilty of armed robbery, is finding witnesses we trust, and trust for most of us involves some assurance that the person giving the testimony doesn't have a vested interest in one particular perspective.

The MoveOn ad in fact raised legitimate points. Where I disagree with Joe is the wisdom of the title. Anyone with an ounce of common sense (or political experience) would know that it was the equivalent of putting a red flag in front of a raging bull. We can say all we want that people should concentrate on the substance of the ad instead of the incendiary title, but if MoveOn really wanted people to take the substance seriously, they should have used a more boring title. (In some ways, this is equivalent of those who marched against the Vietnam War while carrying Vietcong flags. They had a perfect First Amendment right to do so, and no doubt many people in fact wished for a Vietcong victory, some as a positive good, others as a lesser evil. But no serious person could have thought that carrying the flag (or burning the US flag) was an effective way to convey an anti-war message to Americans whose loved ones who risking their lives in Vietnam.)
 

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