Everybody Has an Opinion v 2.0

It seems like everybody has an opinion on world affairs and what this President should or should not do even today on the Sunday morning political shows . Arm chair diplomats seem to be everywhere. In fact, every Tom, Dick and Harry is now an expert on Syria, Iraq, Iran, or the terrorist group — ISIS aka ISIL. It’s truly an amazing phenomenon to witness so much commotion from our elected officials, media personalities or everyday citizens. Some want to declare war; others want to bomb, bomb, and bomb; yet while others don’t want any troops deployed, and scrutinize every plane and/or drone that is used.

California’s senior Senator Dianne Feinstein from San Francisco led the Democrats and took her best shot at the President for being too cautious on last week’s Sunday’s Meet the Press, but seems to be coming around to support the President after his statements today. But adding to the polemic is the ever growing pack of Democrats up for re-election, and the Republicans with their tom-tom drums stirring up fear and even more adversity. These GOP naysayers come in all shapes and sizes from the Boobsie Twins, aka Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who are both continuously stirring the proverbial pot on the world stage and at home; to Governor Chris Christie who is pounding his chest this week about Russia’s Putin while judiciously checking his poll numbers. Really, really wish there was a way to simmer them all down because it is just not helping. Words do matter and this type of rabble rousing makes people even more uneasy during this time of great upheaval. Frankly, nothing good can come from Geraldo Rivera’s evocative words on social media, except more unrest:

“Morning, the president finally declared our strategic goal to ‘degrade and destroy’ ISIS. We must hold him to it. Behead the ISIS butchers.” 5:35 AM — 3 Sep 2014 New York, NY, United States

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Anthrax And Iraq War Fever

Go read Vital unresolved anthrax questions and ABC News – Glenn Greenwald.
A week after 9/11 anthrax was mailed to several news outlets and two Democratic Senators, accompanied by notes designed to make people think it was sent by Muslim terrorists. Immediately ABC News starting running stories quoting multiple anonymous sources claiming the government had proof that the anthrax came from Iraq.
Then, in his January, 2002 State of the Union speech President Bush amplified the charge, saying,

The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax, and nerve gas, and nuclear weapons for over a decade.

Coming as it did right after the anthrax attacks and ABC News’ report that the anthrax came from Iraq, this was obviously meant to solidify in the public’s mind that Iraq had attacked us. Remember The Fear? Remember how the rest of that year was full of fear stories about how Iraq also had smallpox stockpiled, with lurid descriptions of what smallpox would do to us if Iraq used it. The fear increased and increased through tthe summer. And then the Republicans insisted that the Congress vote on war with Iraq before the elections! Do you remember that? Do you remember the ads against Senator Max Cleland, who gave three limbs to this country in VietNam, accusing him of being unpatriotic?
ABC News knows who fed them these stories, and they are protecting them. Why? Greenwald writes,

They know who concocted the false bentonite story and who passed it on to them with the specific intent of having them broadcast those false claims to the world, in order to link Saddam to the anthrax attacks and — as importantly — to conceal the real culprit(s) (apparently within the U.S. government) who were behind the attacks. And yet, unbelievably, they are keeping the story to themselves, refusing to disclose who did all of this. They’re allegedly a news organization, in possession of one of the most significant news stories of the last decade, and they are concealing it from the public, even years later.
They’re not protecting “sources.” The people who fed them the bentonite story aren’t “sources.” They’re fabricators and liars who purposely used ABC News to disseminate to the American public an extremely consequential and damaging falsehood. But by protecting the wrongdoers, ABC News has made itself complicit in this fraud perpetrated on the public, rather than a news organization uncovering such frauds. That is why this is one of the most extreme journalistic scandals that exists, and it deserves a lot more debate and attention than it has received thus far.

ABC News needs to reveal who set us up with this story that Iraq attacked us with anthrax. Beyond this, this is a story about a country being manipulated into attacking another country, and a voting public manipulated into electing people who then looted our treasury. It will take time to come to grips with what has happened to us. We ultimately will need a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Update – Richard at All SPin Zone thinks the suicide is mighty conveeeeenient.

More War

Congress passes new Iraq war funds,

The U.S. Senate on Thursday approved $161.8 billion in new funds to continue fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for the next year, without timetables for withdrawing combat troops.
. . . The Senate’s 92-6 vote to pass the war-funding bill marked a victory for Bush, who has vigorously opposed any move by Congress to impose timetables for ending the Iraq war, now in its sixth year.
. . .The new money for combat in Iraq and Afghanistan puts the war tab since late 2001 at more than $800 billion, with most of that money going to Iraq.

It made me think of this:

Governor Howard Dean, M.D., Address to California State Democratic Convention, Sacramento, California, March 15, 2003
What I want to know, what I want to know, is what in the world so many Democrats are doing supporting the President’s unilateral intervention in Iraq? [cheers].
What I want to know, is what in the world so many Democrats are doing supporting tax cuts which have bankrupted this country and given us the largest deficit in the history of the United States? [cheers].
[. . .] What I want to know is why the Democrats in Congress aren’t standing up for us joining every other industrialized country on the face of the Earth in having health insurance for every man, woman and child in America? [cheers, chants “Dean”].
[. . .] As Paul Wellstone said . . . I’m Howard Dean, and I’m here to represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party. [cheers].

What I Expect In 2008

The election is a year away and the Republicans are working hard to set the stage and prime the public for their campaign themes. Here are my predictions for the 2008 election environment the Republicans will try to set up.
1) Iraq will not be in the news, and the Dems will be blamed for any failures. If there is failure the “stabbed in the back” narrative will be perfected. If things are calm, the Democrats will be blamed for trying to get us out prematurely.
And, above all, even if nothing changes, never forget that on Oct. 26, just before the 1972 election, all the headlines read “Peace is at hand!

NYT10.27.72PeaceIsAtHand.jpg

2) Immigration: Republicans assuredly have polling and testing that show this as a strong issue. This week’s elections saw them testing messages to find out what works. Don’t think this was beaten back, it was only field-tested. They’re going to use this to divide us and drive wedges between us and split groups apart — it’s what they do.
3) Accusations that we have a Do-Nothing Ineffective Congress — Republicans are filibustering everything, and Bush is vetoing the rest. Every single bill. The media is already running with a “Dems won’t compromise’ and “Dems can’t get anything done” narrative and Congress is at a record low approval. You bet we’ll be hearing this – they are hard at work developing it. Unless the Democrats start making a lot of noise about this and sustain it -and get the media to report the facts – the Republicans will get away with it.

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California Fires – Where is the National Guard?

Gov. Bill Richardson asks, Daily Kos: Where is the National Guard?,

Today, we all extend our sympathies and prayers to those devastated by the wildfires in California. Millions of Americans are impacted by this natural disaster.
… It is a sad irony that yesterday, the very day I sent fire crews to California, 300 more New Mexico National Guard members were sent to Iraq. Just when we need them most at home, more of our brave men and women, true public servants, are sent away to a war we cannot win.
[…] Today, as the fires rage, California has National Guard men, women, and critical equipment thousands of miles away in Iraq.
They need to come home. We need them here.
This has gone on long enough. When a national disaster hits, our states depend on the National Guard. Right now, President Bush is robbing Peter to pay Paul to continue his disastrous adventure in Iraq, and when tragedy hits us here at home, Americans are stuck with the bill. This cannot continue.
Bush won’t end this war. Congress must. And they must end it now.
… Join my call at www.getourtroopsout.com to push Congress to begin ending this war now. Not in January, not next spring, not next year – now.

While Progressives Talk To Each Other, Conservatives Talk To The Public

Progressive bloggers talk to each other. Conservatives talk to the public.
For example, Bush and the Republicans recently renewed their claim Iraq attacked us on 9/11 and that is why we invaded that country. Their politicians, pundits, talk-show hosts, bloggers, news anchors, op-ed writers, letter-to-the-editor writers and others all said it, using largely the same “tested” words and phrases, on the radio, in the newspapers, in their blogs and on their TV channels. Progressive bloggers responded with the truth, but who did they reach?
The right talks to the public, and it works. Support for Initial Invasion Has Risen, Poll Shows,

Americans’ support for the initial invasion of Iraq has risen somewhat as the White House has continued to ask the public to reserve judgment about the war until at least the fall.
[. . .] However, the number of people who say the war is going “very badly” has fallen from 45 percent earlier in July to a current reading of 35 percent…
[. . .] The poll’s findings are in line with those of one conducted last week by The New York Times and CBS News.

And other lies continue as well. Just today, for example, from the right-wing Heritage Foundation, The War in Iraq: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions,

While WMD were not found, some may have been moved to Syria in the convoys of hundreds of trucks that crossed the border just before the U.S.-led intervention and during the first few weeks of fighting.
[. . .] If the U.S. pulls out of Iraq before it has a stable government capable of defending itself, the likes of bin Laden will have a safe haven from which to attack the U.S. again.
[. . .] If we stand back and allow al-Qaeda’s terrorists to succeed, they will turn Iraq into a base for attacking us, just as they turned Afghanistan into a base for attacking us. The Clinton Administration decided that the U.S. had no stake in the civil war in Afghanistan in the 1990s. Only after the Taliban allowed al-Qaeda to operate from its territory did we discover—too late—that we did have a stake there.

Right, blame Clinton. But it was Clinton who did something about Iraq’s WMD, and tried to do something about al Qaeda before 9/11, not Bush. Remember the “aspirin factory?”
Progressives need to start reaching the general public with the truth as well as each other. We need to start working together to fund and build the organizational infrastructure to develop and test messaging, then coordinate the use of messaging, train speakers, employ pundits, develop media channels, etc.

The First Problem in Iraq is BUSH

People say we should not impeach Bush because it will divert us from getting out of Iraq. I think that approach has things backwards. I think we can’t deal with the problems of Iraq until we deal with getting Bush out. With Bush in charge we can’t have a rational debate about the best options for Iraq.
1) I believe that it’s wrong to just pull our forces out of Iraq. We invaded, we destabilized and we destroyed the existing institutions of order. We created the mess there. We created the civil war. We created the threat of regional conflict. So I think it is America’s legal and moral responsibility to provide security for the people of Iraq. And that’s also what international law says. Of course, providing security for the people of Iraq is not going to happen with Bush in office.
(Someone told me this idea is like being raped and then getting a ride to the hospital from the rapist. I can understand the sentiment, but the U.S. is not a person and Iraq is not a person. We and they are a bunch of people all with their own differing needs and interests. Countries have to deal with where things are on a given day, before they deal with where things were on a previous day. In other words, Bush did what he did — but where do we go from here that is best for us and best for them NOW?)
2) It is wrong to blame the Iraqis for what we have done and it would be wrong to abandon them to the mess we made. But the way our forces are being used by Bush just makes things worse. This must change but it will not change with Bush in charge of policy decisions.
3) Suppose we do vote to withdraw with Bush in office? How do you think a Bush administration will execute that withdrawal? Will they do it in a way that makes things better — or much worse? And will they just refuse, necessitating the impeachment I say has to happen first? In other words, we can’t deal with Iraq until we deal with Bush.
4) There is also a national security component. The current situation in Iraq really is making us less safe here. Leaving might only make that worse. This needs to be debated rationally – impossible with Bush in office spouting his focus-group-tested bullshit, designed to put up a smokescreen and distract us from reality.
5) Bush’s propaganda is causing us to doubt terror warnings that may be real. What if our intelligence agencies discovered that al Queda really is getting ready to use a nuke on an American city, for example? We simply can not trust our government right now to tell us the truth. The threat of a terrorist attack is too serious to allow this incompetent, lying gang of criminals to remain in office even one day longer than it takes to get them out.
6) Similarly, Bush’s lies about Iraq have forced us to doubt the claims about threats presented by Iran. But Iran is not Iraq, and their theocratic rulers are not our friends. We need to be able to trust what is being said to us and we can’t with ush in office.
So I think that the right path lies in a different direction from working to get the troops out. Options beyond the simplistic choice of doing what we are doing now or just leaving need to be discussed. But we are not going to be able to do what is right until we change the national leadership here. We are not even going to be able to properly debate the issues.
Finding the answers to the problems of Iraq begins with solving the problem of Bush.

Iraq Bridge Bombings — Serious Trouble?

A number of bridges in Iraq have been blown up recently.

Suspected Sunni insurgents bombed and badly damaged a span over the main north-south highway leading from Baghdad on Tuesday — the third bridge attack in as many days in an apparent campaign against key transportation arteries.

There are signs this could be the beginning of a larger assault against US forces and the Iraqi government. It crimps the supply lines, makes it harder to bring in reinforcements and concentrates traffic on remaining routes.
In Bridge Bombing Campaign Escalates Further, the blog Gorilla’s Guides has details on the bridge attacks.

The bombings outside of Baghdad are aimed at rendering the country ungovernorable by denying huge swathes of territory to the American forces. Good example of attacks aimed to achieve this are the Sahra bridge bombing and today’s Al Sabtiya bridge bombing.

Larry Johnson at No Quarter has a post, The Bombed Bridges of Baghdad writes,

The systematic destruction of bridges in and around Baghdad are the early warning signs that the mission for our soldiers in Iraq is going to get tougher and more deadly.

BREAKING – Has Turkey Invaded Northern Iraq?

Turkish Officials: Troops Enter Iraq,

Several thousand Turkish troops crossed into northern Iraq early Wednesday to chase Kurdish guerrillas who operate from bases there, Turkish security officials told The Associated Press.
Two senior security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media, said the raid was limited in scope and that it did not constitute the kind of large incursion that Turkish leaders have been discussing in recent weeks.

Turkey denies major incursion into N.Iraq,

Turkey denied a report on Wednesday it had launched a major incursion into northern Iraq to crush Kurdish rebels there, but a military source said troops had conducted a limited raid across the mountainous border.
Rumours of an invasion have rattled financial markets amid growing Turkish anger over the activity of Turkish Kurdish rebels using the mountains of northern Iraq as a refuge. Washington has urged caution on Ankara, fearing conflict in what has been one of the most stable areas of Iraq.

More here as more is known.
Update - This follows Monday’s report: US urges Turkey not to attack northern Iraq.
Ignore assurances – those are words, trees. See the forest: if Turkish troops have crossed the border this is very serious.
Al Jazeera,

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If Iran And Islamofascists Are A Threat: What Bush Must Do

News story: Bush: ‘Preposterous’ to suggest intelligence on Iran is wrong.
President Bush says that the United States faces a threat from Iran, and has repeatedly said that we are in a war for our very existence against what he calls “Islamofascists.”
Perhaps he is right. But there is a problem. President Bush previously said that Iraq was threatening us with weapons of mass destruction. He even said it was an “imminent” threat and therefore we had to invade that country.
That hasn’t turned out so well. So now President Bush has a credibility problem. He “cried wolf.” He used up his ability to come to us and say we need to believe him.
So if President Bush REALLY believes that the country faces this terrible threat that he says we face, he needs to recognize that his credibility problem is in the way of the country’s ability to believe him. If he means it there is only one way the country will respond.
He must step aside to allow a leader who the public can trust to tell us about this threat. Not him.
If there is a threat I need to hear it from someone I trust. I don’t trust Bush and neither does the country.