Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Nomination of Petraeus Can Mean Only One Thing: A Bigger Face For a Bigger War

On April 23rd, Army General David H. Petraeus became the President's nominee for head of CENTCOM. This was in conjunction with the nomination of his second in command, Lieutenant General Raymond T. Odierno to pin on a fourth star and take his place. Petraeus was praised for his dedication and having spent four of the last five years in Iraq. (He is the blind leading the blind.) Senator Kennedy said, “In his new position, General Petraeus will have a much larger regional and strategic responsibility,” and McCain had the hot air that we have come to expect from him for these, “two remarkable fighting men.”

The “remarkable fighting man” who resigned to make room for these two bunglers to get promoted was of course, the courageous, but similarly bungling, Admiral William J. Fallon. According to the conservative Washington Times, he was pressured to resign for letting Iranian fighters into Iraq. This just having happened to come right after an interview that he did with Esquire magazine in which Thomas P.M. Barnett, a former professor at the Naval War College wrote, “it may well mean that the president and vice president intend to take military action against Iran before the end of this year and don't want a commander standing in their way.” He has also openly opposed “the” surge in Iraq. (It's really more like the fifth or sixth, but who's counting? It's just the first to be marketed as THE surge.)

There is so much wrong with this picture, I don't know where to start. An administration hell-bent on starting another unnecessary war. A CENTCOM Commander not preventing the surge from happening. A Commander In Chief replacing commanders for speaking out. A media that doesn't realize it is being set up. And that gets to the most important part. Petraeus has been groomed, and branded, and molded into the perfect political football to be tossed around by Democrats and Republicans. He has become the modern face of war, and his promotion to a role with more “strategic responsibility” can only mean one thing: he will soon be the face of an expanded war.
Petraeus: "The big green weenie that we are giving to the troopers after politely asking them to bend over with 'stop-loss' and 'involuntary extension' is about this big. And it's called the fifteenth month deployment."

Saturday, April 26, 2008

By Request, A Couple of Images From Winter Soldier You Won't Find Anywhere Else

This is the original Rules Of Engagement card that I was issued for my deployment to Iraq. I think these were issued to us at one of the briefings we had to sit through in Kuwait. If you read it closely, you'll see that warfare has really evolved. Now we're killing people indiscriminately by the rules! [If you can't read the card, click the image to enlarge it.] The back of the card:

This was one of the "green monster" notebooks that I carried in Iraq. It's a very unique symbol of authority in the military, and Marines go to great lengths to personalize them. This one is a play on "winning the hearts and minds," as a graphic representation of, "two in the heart and one in the mind."

Sunday, April 20, 2008

A New Desktop, Courtesy of My Housemate, Marc Train

You can make your own version of this at Let me know if you come up with anything good.

I Am Grateful That Casey J Porter is an IVAW Member

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Depressed Freeper at Petraeus Hearing Derides Adam Kokesh

New York Times Responds to Readers About WSIA Blackout

New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt:

Dear Reader,

Thank you for writing about the Winter Soldier event in Maryland last month and its lack of coverage by the Times.

My assistant checked with various editors at the Times to see if there was any discussion about covering the Winter Soldier meeting. The editor in the Washington bureau who oversees national security coverage said he had not been aware of the group or its meeting. The Times normally has three Pentagon reporters. The meeting fell within their area of coverage, and one of them probably would have been assigned had editors chosen to staff the event. But one is on book leave, one was traveling with the secretary of defense, and one was in Iraq covering the war. The Times also did not cover an announcement the following day by Vets for Freedom, a group supporting the war and claiming more than 13 times the membership of Iraq Veterans Against the War, the group which organized Winter Soldier.

One group was emphasizing what it charged were war crimes, war profiteering and war mismanagement. The other group was protesting what it charged was the failure of the media to report more fully on signs of progress in Iraq, such as rebuilt schools and infrastructure.

News organizations like the Times, with its own substantial investment in independent reporting from Iraq tend to prefer their own on-scene accounts of the war, rather than relying on charges and counter-charges at home by organizations with strongly held political viewpoints about the war.

Clark Hoyt

The Times' D.C. bureau editor's claim to have not heard of the hearings is remarkable, given that the AP newswire carried a story on the hearings, and IVAW has confirmed to FAIR that the D.C. bureau had been sent three separate rounds of different IVAW press releases. In addition, at least 150 Times staffers were sent press releases about Winter Soldier by the Institute for Public Accuracy, a group that encourages inclusion of overlooked facts and progressive perspectives in media coverage. Given that media organizations operating on a small fraction of the Times' budget were aware of and able to find the resources to cover these hearings, the Times' D.C. bureau's plea to ignorance about the hearings is all the more disappointing.

Meanwhile, Hoyt's justification of the Times failure to cover Winter Soldier on the grounds that they also did not cover "an announcement the following day by Vets for Freedom, a group supporting the war and claiming more than 13 times the membership of Iraq Veterans Against the War, the group which organized Winter Soldier," draws a far-fetched parallel between a group presenting eyewitness testimony about atrocities in Iraq and a group releasing a press release about media bias. (As a group that often puts out press releases about media bias that don't get covered by the Times, the comparison strikes us as rather absurd.) Further, the size of IVAW and Vets for Freedom are not directly comparable, as IVAW is a group of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, whereas anyone can sign up on the Vets for Freedom website, which stipulates that "non-veterans can also be members of Vets for Freedom."

Hoyt's claim that "news organizations like the Times, with its own substantial investment in independent reporting from Iraq, tend to prefer their own on-scene accounts of the war" is akin to asserting that reporters on the police beat prefer to write about crimes they have seen themselves rather than talking to eyewitnesses. Given that Times reporters, like all Western journalists in Iraq, have great difficulty travelling freely outside the Green Zone, it is hard to imagine that they could provide a full and accurate picture of the war without interviewing people who have participated in it. And of course the paper does often interview U.S. military personnel about what they've seen, though when they are whistleblowers trying to call attention to what they describe as "the human consequences of failed policy," the Times suddenly has much less interest in what they have to say.

The New York Times' decision to assign one of its two available correspondents to tour with the Secretary of Defense instead of hearing the first-hand accounts of the Winter Soldiers demonstrates a very strange notion of "independent reporting."

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Happy Birthday Alfred Mosher Butts – An Ode to Scrabble

April 13th is the birthday of the inventor of the greatest board game ever. The inventor is Alfred Mosher Butts, who would be 109 years old today if he had made it past 93. The game of course, is Scrabble. Scrabble is not just the greatest board game ever because of its perfect design, conception, and playability, but also because of its name. “Scrabble” comes from the Dutch word schrabben, which means “to grope frantically,” which makes you wonder why it's not more popular in the pubescent boy demographic, but it does explain my enthusiasm.

My Mom taught me how to play Scrabble when I was very young and used it to humiliate me regularly. But then I joined the Marines, and beat a lot of Marines at Scrabble that were way tougher than my Mom, and that made me feel a lot better about myself. I actually brought my special “field-stripped” travel Scrabble to Iraq and played every Marine who was willing to play me, but I couldn't get anyone to play me more than once.

One of my favorite parts of Scrabble is when someone plays a word that is legitimate, but totally inappropriate, like rod, tool, shaft, knob, prick, dork, wick, cock, sausage, joystick, member, pecker, dick, jimmy, willy, wang, dong, shlong, baby-maker, yogurt gun, skin flute, custard launcher, love muscle, one-eyed trouser-snake, purple-headed yogurt flinger, ding dong mcdork, heat-seeking moisture missile, and of course, purple-helmeted warrior of love. Then we all laugh nervously, and point out how we are way to mature to make a joke about it, and then someone says, “You mean like . . . “ and we all laugh nervously again. What's even better is playing a word like “tubesteak,” which of course isn't a real word, and making people too nervous to challenge it.

My girlfriend, who will be moving in with me soon, has had the misfortune of having to play both my Mom and I at the same time. She tried to get out of it for a while, but much to her credit, decided instead to throw down, and has since committed herself to getting better than all of us. She won't really be welcome into the family until she beats everyone at least once. Now we play on Facebook with Scrabulous, and being able to play her kids on line is enough to convince my Mom to do something totally crazy for her, like sign up on Facebook. See, even a game invented by out-of-work architect Alfred Mosher Butts, from Poughkeepsie, New York, in 1938 can help propel my generation's parents into the future. Well, at least into the present.

This is the field-stripped travel Scrabble that I carried in Iraq. The tiles, rules, and letter racks are inside the bag, inside the ziploc.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Veterans For Freedom at the Petraeus Hearing

On Tuesday, April 8th, 2008, a member of Veterans For Freedom sits in on a few minutes of the General Petraeus / Ambassador Crocker hearing in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee as part of their "Vets On The Hill" day of lobbying.

With a few other members of the DC Chapter, I sat in on all four of the hearings with Petraeus and Crocker. We heard the same bullshit over and over again. It got to be like boot camp when you would sit cross-legged on the floor for extended periods of time. First you would get pins and needles in your foot, and then it would creep up your leg, then your whole butt cheek would go numb and when they yelled at you to get up and get moving you would be in a lot of pain and walking funny for at least a few steps.

There's a lot more to be said about these last two crazy days, but for now I will leave you with this video. I hope you enjoyed it.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

A Message From a Soldier

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Relevant Quotes

You can believe in stones as long as you don’t throw them at me.
- Wafa Sultan, an Arab-American psychologist from Los Angeles

If voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal.
- Emma Goldman

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
- Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

You cannot expect people to believe in the promise of a better future when they are jailed for peacefully petitioning their government. And you cannot stand up a modern, confident nation when you do not allow people to voice their legitimate criticisms.
- President Bush, 13 January 2008, United Arab Emirates

Yes, George Bush ‘stands behind the troops’- several thousand miles behind!
- Gib S (Saltwater)

Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress . . . But then I repeat myself.
- Mark Twain

I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is l like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.
- Winston Churchill

Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.
- James Bovard, Civil Libertarian (1994)

Foreign aid might be defined as a transfer of money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries.
- Douglas Casey, Classmate of Bill Clinton at Georgetown University

Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.
- P.J. O'Rourke, Civil Libertarian

Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.
- Frederic Bastiat, French Economist (1801-1850)

Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.
- Ronald Reagan (1986)

When a cause is just, you are fighting for your country. When it is unjust, you are fighting for your government.