Oliver Willis, Blogger criminal
: Oliver finally admits it: He's a criminal
. Knew it! ... Wait. He was just buying water at a 7-11 and got stopped by the police. Or so he says. ... He notes he's African American. ... Hmmmmm. But might it have something to do with the type
of water you were buying, Oliver? ... (Via Boston Online's Boston Common
‘Abandon All Cars, Ye Who Enter Here’
: The other day, Reader BK
suggested I take my ‘Hub-Bloggian Babes’ and test drive the new I-93 tunnel, north. Instead, another Hub Blog reader took up the challenge. His report from a Sunday drive:
“Just came back from a trip through the new 93 North tunnel.
“A radio news report mentioned a multi-car pileup in the tunnel on Sunday, and referred to comments from sources at the Turnpike Authority who said it will probably take drivers ‘a few’ drive-throughs to become acquainted with the tunnel. Once again reinforcing that Boston (a ‘world-class city’) welcomes out-of-towners with the transportation message: Abandon All Cars, Ye Who Enter Here.
“The entrance of the tunnel is bathed in brilliant and jarring yellow-gold lights that make one instinctively wince. I suspect this is a ‘Shock and Awe’ strategy to slow traffic upon entering the tunnel.
“I don't think speed will be the problem, however. On Sunday, instead of driving through Boston at a soul-deadening pace of 15 mph above the ground, I found myself driving through Boston at a soul-deadening pace of 15 mph below the ground.”
Next up -- The Silver Line’s ‘Little Dig’
: More evidence and opinions keep streaming in confirming Hub Blog’s profound bias against and loathing for the Silver Line, the overrated non-rail BUS boondoggle that T officials love and most of the public ridicules. Jane Holtz Kay
, author of ‘Lost Boston’ and 'Asphalt Nation: How the Automobile Took Over America and How We Can Get It Back,’ blasts away:
“This senseless project not only demonstrates a myopic T management but also one blind to the nature of the region it serves. Boston is a first-class rail city, a streetcar city shaped and sustained by rail. Urban rail is the cheapest, most efficient way to go.”
Kay describes the decision to move ahead with the Silver Line as “a sign of transportation and city planning run amok.” And concludes: “We have lived through a decade and a half in the heaps of an auto-age project. Let's not let this one bury us.”
‘Zoning at issue in affordable housing’
Not taking a dig at the reporter or copy editor who wrote the story and headline. Both are extremely accurate. It’s the 'duh' fact that it’s taken so long for some government officials to recognize the obvious:
“They are learning what many planners and academic observers have long known: Most of the problems associated with Chapter 40B, the affordable housing law, can be traced to Chapter 40A, the state's zoning law.”
The 'perception' about state government unions
: Adrian Walker
looks into the latest interest group to wage war against any and all attempts at reform. Adrian obviously leans on the side of unions, while not sinking to the level of demonizing and dismissing critics of unions. Taking a cue from Adrian about civil discourse, Hub Blog announces I’m going to lean on the side of reform, while not sinking to the level of demonizing and dismissing unions.
Question: Can anyone seriously defend ‘bumping rights’ and why such cushy union rules shouldn’t lead people to the logical ‘perception’ that unions are part (not all) of the problem on Beacon Hill? ... Good points raised by Adrian about the Quinn bill and Mitt. Hub Blog’s view: Kill or dramatically scale it back. The Quinn Bill is a union giveaway. Now, can we apply the same reform logic to the ‘bumbing rights’ issue?
The war: Killing the ‘Dragon’ -- and the next ‘Dragon’
: For those who sway back and forth about the progress/purpose of the war, read Cathy Young’s op-ed
this morning, based on a dark comedy written by Russian author Evgeny Schwartz about Stalin’s actions during the early days of Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union:
“Schwartz's acid satire was rather transparently directed at Stalin's propaganda machine and its spin of the devastating defeats Soviet forces initially suffered in the war against Hitler's invading armies. Today, it can be seen as applying not only to the Stalinesque Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein but, to some degree, to the reckless promises of a quick and easy victory many of our own leaders and pundits offered in the early days of the war.”
FYI: Schwartz’s drama doesn’t have a happy ending, as one Dragon is slain and replaced with another dragon.
The war - ‘The Benchmark of victory’:
Lots to worry about in Iraq: Saddam’s population-terrorizing thugs
, suicide bombers, reports of more ‘martyrs’
entering the fray, early signs of a Pentagon/ex-generals/media rift
etc. But then I read this editorial
in the Boston-based Christian Science Monitor, which details what has been accomplished so far by allied forces in Iraq and, well, I felt a little better and even a little embarrassed for going wobbly a bit over the weekend. From CSM:
“The biggest victory so far is the resolve of the American people to see this job through. Hussein calculated he could deflate support for the war by forcing delays and creating civilian causalities. It's become increasingly clear he miscalculated.”
The war: Boston’s intrepid ‘embeds’
: Two papers, two embeds, two good accounts of what it’s like being a journalist with the troops in Iraq.
From the Herald’s Jules Crittenden
“Media commentators have asked what is the hardest part about being embedded. Well, it isn't that rough. I like it. ... We all wonder how long this will go on. I am sharing the soldier's life now and I don't want to leave before they have to. ... The soldiers wonder about this, ask if I volunteered for this, and if I can leave when I want to. Yes to all of the above. They are all fathers, brothers, sons. They signed up a few years ago. I sign my name every day. On days like little Devon's birthday, it's a hard choice."
From the Globe’s Brian MacQuarrie
“I am counted among the official roster of this battalion, and every personnel check must account for me. I'm truly ‘embedded’ with the 1/10, and the way home for me matches the return ticket for the rest of these desert-weary troops -- through Baghdad.”
On Boston protesters, Eric Alterman and Marty Baron
: Reader No. 1 tackles a lot of issues mentioned in Hub Blog over the past weekend. Reader No. 1:
“To judge by what I read and saw on the antiwar march Saturday
, the protesters are apparently not well informed about what is happening in Iraq now -- combatants machine-gunning citizens of the country they claim to be defending; using said citizens as human shields because they know our military won't shoot first and ask questions later. Many of the protesters express concern about how the rest of the world thinks about issues, which is a fair point, but how many protesters expressed much concern about the reality of Iraq before the invasion? Do the allegedly-well-educated look at the activities since the start of the war and think that more negotiations would have made any difference?
“Maybe they are hearing this on the news, which suggests 3 possibilities:
“1. They know and they rationalize it. (What would you do if someone invaded your country; poverty and lack of opportunity is the problem, etc)
“2. They know and they don't want to hear it, so they don't think about it. They're in denial.
“All of which suggests that the Globe's superbly revamped ‘IDEAS’
section is not catching on as well as I might have hoped. I agree that the Robert Kagan piece
was very strong, although it would have been better without the obligatory trash-the-Americans closing which the rest of the article doesn't support. This is the kind of liberal bias which Eric Alterman doesn't acknowledge
in his accompanying piece. A couple more thoughts on Alterman:
“1. Alterman doesn't help his own case by muddying the definition of ‘liberal.’ He acknowledges, correctly, that most journalists are liberal in terms of their social views. But he then bemoans the absence of media support for what is more correctly described as a statist or socialist agenda.
“2. To judge by the number of words spent on excoriating enthusiastic coverage of once-triumphant CEOs, what seems to bother Alterman more than ‘conservative bias’ is the triumph of capitalism in the past 20 years. While we weep and moan about the ‘concentration of media power,’ let's also acknowledge that paradoxically, it has given viewers choices that didn't exist -- you can watch Peter Jennings, or you can watch Bill O'Reilly.
“Finally, a kudos to Marty Barron for making the Globe eminently readable. It's still a ‘liberal’ paper but it's much more open to divergent opinion and much more focused on real live issues. ... So, now that Marty has put the Globe on the mostly right track, when does he get a chance to restore the reputation of the parent newspaper in NYC?”
You mean, the state hasn’t passed a budget yet?:
So much war, so little attention to other issues. Such as the state budget debate. Almost forgot it was there. So let’s get back into the swing of things:
Mitt vs. the unions
: Yet another interest group is warning the sky is falling
-- on them, i.e. unions. The unions are saying Mitt is trying to ‘bust’ them by reclassifying many middle-level managers as non-union members. To a small extent, the charge is true. The move would indeed weaken unions -- and reduce their numbers. But, of course, they’re exaggerating the impact and hyping the numbers. Ultimately, the administration is going after ‘bumping rights’ -- the cushy union rule that allows senior state workers who are laid off “to take the job of virtually any colleague in their agency who has less seniority in state service. That can have a sometimes absurd 'domino effect’ where workers bump others down the line, resulting in employees who are only minimally qualified for their jobs, said John Jesensky, director of the state Office of Employee Relations.”
Says Jersensky: ''How do you put a price tag on all the inefficiency that results from not having the best qualified people filling jobs?''
Will unions compromise on the ‘bumping rights’ rule? Of course not. They want to frame the debate in the most stark union-vs.-antiunion terms possible.
That nutty gambling ‘shakedown’ idea
: When Mitt first floated the idea
of out-of-state casinos paying Massachusetts millions in exchange for our not approving casino gambling here, the idea was dismissed as nutty. Hub Blog also had a laugh at Mitt’s expense. But then it turned out there were indeed out-of-state casino owners willing to pay millions, though not as much as Mitt wanted. Suddenly, the idea was not so nutty. The idea had legs.
But Harvard law prof Laurence Tribe now says the idea still has no legs, for legal reasons having to do with restraining trade and anti-competition. Interesting.
Oh, what the heck. Let Eileen McNamara
go off on Mitt’s higher-ed reforms and his no-new-taxes tuition/fee increases. Don’t agree with Eileen’s relentless, offer-no-solutions attacks on Mitt. But her column does get the old debate blood flowing again.
: The Herald’s ‘The buzz’ column
throws what appears to be a cheap shot, though I’ll stand corrected if the ‘ties’ turn out to be different than what I suspect they are. The Herald:
“Ray Howell, a former campaign manager for ex-Gov. William F. Weld who used political ties to start a high-powered consulting business, now is peddling his ties to another powerful friend, new Boston Globe business editor Caleb Solomon.”
Turns out Howell’s web site has a pop-up ad bragging about how he organized a meeting with Solomon and ‘movers and shakers’ within the business and political community.
The item leaves a bad impression/doubt about Solomon, in my opinion.
Hub Blog’s reaction to the ‘meeting’: Big fucking deal. As a former business reporter/editor (at the Boston Business Journal), I was routinely paraded in front of corporate CEOs by PR types who wanted to brag to their clients about their contacts with business editors/reporters. Why did I do it? Because I wanted to meet with CEOs to build a relationship and to build up sources. CEOs are not like politicians: They’re based all across eastern Massachusetts, in non-public buildings you can’t just walk into while on a trolling mission for gossip and stories. Business leaders are just tough to meet and get hold of. As a business journalist, you take advantage of each and every opportunity you can to meet with private-sector ‘movers and shakers.’ That’s how the game is played in business journalism. ... Journalists also can't control the imbecilic rants/bragging of PR people. You should see their marketing brochures -- not just in their web pop-up ads -- about how they've 'placed' stories in papers like the Herald, Globe, BBJ, WSJ etc.
Eric Alterman gets his say on the media in the Globe
: Eric Alterman
-- the Nation media writer and author of the new book ‘What Liberal Media?’ -- opines on the same subject in a Globe ‘Ideas’ piece. Quickly: Eric says conservatives have more media power than liberals. A liberal himself, Eric argues grunt reporters and editors, who he acknowledges are mostly liberal and Democratic in their leanings, really don’t have as much power to sway public opinion as conservatives think because of their attempts to be fair/objective and because of corporate dominance of the media.
I’ve written about this subject before. Sort of agree with Eric. Sort of. Quickly: I’ve made the distinction that the ‘opinion media' is definitely dominated by conservatives. I’ve also said that the ‘mainstream’ media is largely liberal -- and it’s admirably gotten less liberal in recent years. But that’s not to say they’re not powerful in their ability to choose, shape and spin stories to match their political views, consciously or unconsciously.
Still, I believe conservatives, through the opinion media, are definitely, undeniably setting the political agenda on most issues. Not only do they outnumber liberals in the opinion media, the hard-core conservatives are also fanatical and relentless. On that, I agree with Eric, 100 percent. But I also think that conservative dominance has something to do with their winning the war of ideas, while the left wallows in its silly, moralistic ‘60s nostalgia that turns off so many people.
Speaking of ideologues ...:
A truly terrific, terrific op-ed this morning by NYU’s Jonathan Zimmerman
, who writes about the ''Liberal Antiwar Fallacy.'' Zimmerman is liberal. He even uses the word to describe both himself and, yes, the antiwar movement. He blasts both liberals and conservatives who demonize their opponents over the issue of the war.
... He raises a fascinating point, both about antiwar protesters and Bush: The open and/or near religious-like fanaticism on both sides, i.e. the ‘moral absolution.’ Zimmerman:
“Both sides, then, are operating in profoundly bad faith: they each presume that decent, knowledgeable people will agree with them.”
Robert Kagan -- the neoconservative mentor of the ‘Bush Doctrine’
: Gee, a lot of discussion today on ideological/war matters, left and right. Anyway, here’s a good piece on Robert Kagan
. I disagree with so many issues Kagan pushes, but the article is fair and insightful. Kagan managed to clear up a few matters for me on his neoconservative philosophy on American power, foreign policy and pre-emption in the modern age. I still don’t think the unilateralist neoconservatives understand/appreciate how they can better use the UN and our alliances in a more realistic, less dismissive fashion, but Kagan’s at least aware of the argument. Appreciated this graf from the story:
“The Bush administration could certainly have tried harder to avoid the break with European allies, Kagan concedes. As he told a crowd of politicians and notables in London in mid-March, ‘There has been undoubtedly a lapse of statesmanship on the American side. No one not in the direct employ of the Bush administration could deny that. The way the administration has handled things couldn't be better designed to create ill will.’ But Kagan comes down much harder on the Europeans.”
Ding, ding, ding! Hub Blog’s He’s-Botched-It Hawk position partially vindicated/acknowledged from someone on the neoconservative right! ... And the digs at Europe, well, who can not love that? ...
Speaking of the ‘Bush Doctrine,’ the Herald tackles the issue
in this piece, which looks at how the doctrine is being tested today in Iraq. ... One more: ‘Rumsfeld's tipping-point strategy’
and how it flopped in Iraq.
The non-political political peace rally in Boston
: From today's Globe story
about yesterday's antiwar rally on Boston Common and subsequent antiwar march (see two posts below for context):
Mention of the words ‘liberal’ or ‘liberals’ in the story: 0. As in ‘zero’ mention.
Mention of the words ‘left’ or ‘leftist’ or ‘left-wing’ or ‘radical’ etc.: 0. As in ‘zero.’
Mention of the words ‘politics’ or ‘political’: 1. As in ‘one.’
Mention of the words ‘ideology’ or ‘ideological’: 0. As in ‘zero.’
Mention of any other politically related word commonly used in all other ‘political’ stories that might indicate where antiwar and prowar citizens might be coming from in terms of their ‘political’ identity: 0. As in ‘zero.’
Nope. The rally/march was not about politics. Nor is the war, I guess.
P.S. -- The article makes a good point: It was indeed very peaceful, and I had interesting conversations with a lot of good-natured people. At one point, I told a protester I was a 'moderate conservative,' for lack of other words, and how there was a big debate within conservative circles about the war and the future of American foreign policy. She looked at me incredulously and said, 'Conservatives
are arguing among themselves?' I assured her it was true.
The Herald has two stories on the rally/march -- here
and then here
. Again, no serious political analysis of the rally/march, as if politics and the political views of organizers/speakers/attendees don't matter. The first story does have a political reference to a 'conservative.' The second article does mention the word 'politically.' ... I wonder if Eric Alterman, whose Globe article this morning will/should be posted above, has any explanation for this strange phenomenon?. ... I have my suspicions, which comes down to this: Are reporters afraid to call the vast, vast majority of protesters 'liberal' or of the 'left' -- descriptions that would bring down charges of 'McCarthyism' if they did so? Just wondering. ... I would love to have a reporter/editor explain to me why yesterday's rally/march wasn't 'political' in nature -- and thus why the debate over the war isn't 'political' in nature -- and therefore why such stories should not emphasize 'politics.'
Oh, no, the Boston Common antiwar rally wasn’t really ‘left wing’
: Boy, I can’t wait to read tomorrow morning’s newspaper accounts of today’s antiwar rally/march in Boston -- especially after reading this pre-rally article
and then this pre-rally sidebar
in today’s Globe. (More on the two pre-antiwar rally articles directly below.) I was at today’s rally on the Common. Here is what I saw and heard:
: ‘A.N.S.W.E.R’ ... ‘Vive la France’ ... ‘No blood for oil’ ... ‘CNN - Profiteering’ ... ‘911/WTC - Bush’s Reichstag Fire’ ... ‘Bomb Texas-It Has Oil.’ ... ‘Eat Another Pretzel, Asshole’ ... ‘Industrial Workers of the World’ ... ‘No War in Iraq - Free Palestine’ ... ‘Impeach the Dictator’ .... Lots and lots of Green Peace signs and colors ... Lots and lots of peace-symbol signs, in various sizes and shapes and styles ... ‘Bush and Kerry lie/Iraq and Children die’ ... ‘Dean for President’ ... ‘Welcome to fascist America’ (with photos of Hitler and Bush with a Hitler mustache) ... ‘Class war towards social revolution’ ... ‘The real ‘Shock and Awe’ is our country’s nuclear cock.’ ... ‘Victims of of Terrorism - NYC, Belgrade, Grozny, Baghdad’ ... ‘Radical Organizers for Peace’ ... ‘Bring our troops home/NOW!’ ... ‘War is illogical’ ... ‘Support our troops/Bring them home’ ... ‘It’s all about oil’ ... ‘No war for oil’ ... ‘Imperial Bush - the Dictator’ ... Lots of photos of Cheney and Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz in not-so-flattering
Signs that might be construed as ‘moderate’ if you willfully refused to believe there was no political motive behind them:
‘Veterans Against War’ ... ‘Airline employees against the war’ ... ‘Arlington Street Church Against ...’ ... ‘Support our troops’ ... ‘Boston Jews for Peace’ ... ‘Mother of All Blunders’ ... American flags, some waved, some worn around their shoulders ala Woodstock, one with a swatzstika where the stars should be. ...
My favorite sign
: ‘911/WTC - Bush’s Reichstag Fire.’
Most accurate ideological/religious sign (when you think about it):
‘The world is my country/My religion is to do good’ ... (Along the same lines, saw lots of kids at the rally being ‘baptized,’ for lack of other words, into the ‘religion.’)
Best political costumes/Mardi Gras ‘festive’ antics
: The M*A*S*H ‘Street Medics’ tent with a woman out front wearing a warlock/wizard/Merlin-like hat; no ‘patients’ seen inside ... Women dancing around in Vestal Virgin outfits ... Lots of cool, elaborate, time-consuming-to-make and gigantic plaster/whatever Bush masks and heads. ... Protesters on stilts. ... Protesters with skull masks. ... dolls covered with fake blood. ... Musicians Against the War ... Strange/Hard-to-categorize Anarchists with ominous black bandannas tied around their faces -- and rightly surrounded by cops ... Buddhas banging drums. ... Non-Asian Buddhas banging drums. ... Lots of earthy-looking people beating drums, tambourines etc. ... Someone wearing a cardboard dolphin outfit with the sign, ‘Bush - Mine your own business’ ... A Mardi Gras-like street band playing ragtime tunes ... Lots of aging and smiling ‘60s-era Boomers taking pictures of grandchildren posing with protesters wearing George Bush masks and giving the peace sign etc. ... and etc. etc.
Average dress of average protester
: Upper-middle-class/GAP/Banana Republic garb; a disappointing low number of ‘hippie’ clothes; definitely no shortage of the grungy Seattle look and what might be described by the Globe as the ‘more educated’ uniforms of every-day ‘longtime liberal activists’ from Newton/Cambridge. ... No sign of what might be described as ‘working-class New England Patriots fans,’ i.e. not ONE Drew Bledsoe, Tom Brady or Bruins jersey.
Booths and stands selling books, stickers, sweat shirts etc. for
: ANSWER. ... Revolution Books. ... Peace Products. ... Socialism. ... Peace Resource Project ... Noam Chomsky books etc. ... No NRA or ROTC stands spotted.
Among the non-partisan organizers of the rally/march:
A.N.S.W.E.R and United For Justice With Peace.
Among the partisan groups who didn’t claim credit for the rally/march
: YAF, the Moral Majority, the Rotary Club, VFW Halls, the Boy Scouts of Massachusetts, Our Lady of Fatima CYO Basketball League, the Boston Firefighters union etc. etc. etc.
Speakers, poets and random chants/rants
: A representative from ‘Military Families Speak Out’ ... An MC who kept shouting in between speakers, ‘You’re beautiful! Look at you! You’re beautiful!’ -- to cheers ... Lots of talk of patriotism and attacks on those who questioned their patriotism while constantly mocking patriotism. ... ‘The people united will not be defeated!’ ... ‘Sisters and brothers!’ ... ‘No war in Iraq! Free Palestine!’ ... ‘I am an Iraqi!/I don’t want war!’ She read from a poem that didn’t make it clear if she really had gone through gas attacks, war, Saddam etc., as she appeared/implied to be claiming. Could be wrong about that. Willing to stand corrected. ... ‘I say we look like America!’ ... City councilor Chuck Turner, who ranted about the ‘military industrial complex’ ... Kaffia-wearing ‘traditional Palestinian dancers’ ... Rappers talking about ‘Revolution!’ and ‘Diversity!’ and 'Racism!' ... ‘activist’ students from Emerson and MIT who belong to the Green Party and who ‘organize’ on campus against racism and for feminism and ‘queers’ (their word, not mine) etc. ... ‘What do we want?’ ‘Peace!’ ‘When do we want it?’ ‘Now!’ ... ‘Fight for Jobs, not War!’ ‘Bring home the troops!’ ... ‘Revolution!’ etc. ... A lot of union leaders; no rank-and-file union members. Biggest chant disappointment: No ‘Hey ho ...’ nor ‘One, two, three, four, we don’t want ...’ Couldn’t believe it! I felt cheated!
Estimate of crowd
: I’ll give it to them -- 50,000. Definitely tens of thousands. No doubt. But definitely less than the average attendance at a New England Patriots game -- and those fans pay up the ass to drive 45 miles to see a game in Foxborough. (Update
- Today's papers are reporting the rally attendance at about 25,000. I thought it looked larger, personally, but I'm not a crowd-estimate expert.)
Estimate of non-leftist/non-Democratic attendees at the rally
: In Massachusetts? C’mon. Use your friggin’ common sense.
: Oh, no, the rally wasn’t really ‘leftist’ in nature or preponderance. Lots of diversity. ...
The Globe’s strange Sociology Journalism -- as applied to antiwar stories
: In this pre-antiwar rally story
and in this sidebar pre-antiwar rally
story -- both in the Globe today; didn’t check the Herald -- Hub Blog counted the following in both stories, combined:
Mention of the words ‘liberal’ or ‘liberals’: 1. As in ‘one’ mention. That’s it.
Mention of the words ‘left’ or ‘leftist’ or ‘left-wing’ or ‘radical’ etc.: 0. As in ‘zero.’
Mention of the words ‘politics’ or ‘political’: 0. As in ‘zero.’
Mention of the words ‘ideology’ or ‘ideological’: 0. As in ‘zero.’
Mention of any other politically related word commonly used in all other ‘political’ stories that might indicate where antiwar and prowar citizens might be coming from in terms of their ‘political’ identity: 0. As in ‘zero.’
So what does the Globe talk about? ‘Class’ and ‘geography’ and ‘demographics,’ etc. In other words, the articles are classic examples of -- drum roll please -- pseudo-sophisticated Sociological Journalism, devoid of any political analysis about what is, ultimately, a political debate and movement. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh! These stories should be every grizzled city editor’s worst nightmare: Reporters pulling political punches by covering up the politically obvious with pseudo-sophisticated sociological mumbo jumbo. ...
... The second sidebar story -- with the headline 'Peace activists work to cross boundaries of class, geography' -- is utteraly fascinating because it actually tries to explain
the cultural/political divide between the antiwar and prowar sides. Without using political terminology to explain it. Can you imagine reading political coverage of the past gubernatorial election with this type of pseudo-sophisticated sociological language and analysis? No use of the words ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’ or ‘moderate’ or ‘radical’ or ‘far right-wing’ or ‘far left wing’ or ‘muddled middle’ or ‘Republican’ or ‘Democrat’ or ‘Libertarian’ or ‘Green’ or ‘Independent’? Can you imagine everything in the past gubernatorial election being boiled down to just where voters lived (‘geography’) and what income/education level they’re at (‘class’) or what racial group they belonged to (‘ethnicity’)? Granted, there’s a time and place for such analysis. But it breaks down at some point in POLITICAL reporting -- and usually quite quickly, especially in America. ...
Back to the war and antiwar rally: Can you imagine reading any other story about the raging domestic debate over the war -- unless it’s about the antiwar movement -- in which reporters don’t employ commonly used political words and phrases to describe events and people and their ideas? ... Or is the Globe suggesting, based on these two antiwar stories, that there are no 'politics' involved in the debate over the war? ...
Hub Blog LOVED this part of the Globe story in the second of the above-linked stories:
“Some antiwar activists said this week that they still sense a divide between the city's intellectual elite and its working-class population. ... ‘We're more upper-class,’ said Dan Kantoff of Brighton, an activist with the group Food Not Bombs. ‘The more educated you are, the more you're going to see, the more you're going to be aware of what's going on.’”
Wow. They ‘still sense’ a cultural/political divide (without referring to 'politics') after everything we saw and learned in the 20th Century? What planet are they on? ... Hello, Dan Kantoff! Can I ask a few questions, Dan? ... You see, Hub Blog is in a complex socio-political and economic quandary. I’m upper-class/upper-middle-class. I’m among those ‘more educated’ from elite, private universities. I’m from the ‘professional’ class. I think I’m a little ‘intellectual,’ or at least as ‘intellectual’ as the average ‘antiwar activist,’ Dan. My questions, Dan: Why don’t I see the world the same way as you do, given all our socio-political and economic similarities, Dan? Why am I not more ‘aware’ like you, Dan? Why am I a ‘moderate conservative’ with deep reservations about the war and how it started and still disagree with you, Dan? ... Why are MY views more in line with the working-class population you say you want to connect with, Dan? Hmmmmmm. ....
... Questions in general: Who benefits from this type of politically neutered reporting in the Globe? Who wants their ‘movement’ to come across as non-partisan and as ‘broad based’ as possible?
‘Hub-Bloggian Babes and driving thru the new tunnel':
A reader writes in with a question related to yet another local story that hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves in recent days, i.e. the new I-93 Tunnel
“Query: Will Hub Blog be getting into a car with several of his Hub-Bloggian Babes and driving thru the South-North side of the Big Dig when it is opened for him this coming Sunday? Hope so, and I expect to read Hub Blog's initial assessment of how well his (and his children's, and their children's) tax dollars were spent on this project no later than Monday."
Hub Blog’s response
: I’ll try, though I may be suffering from emotional exhaustion/compassion fatigue after attending the big rally tomorrow
on the Common.
Speaking of local construction projects
: Did Mitt and Doug Foy really announce this Longfellow Bridge project
without first running it by Beacon Hill’s official Sidewalk Superintendent? I just wish they could learn to follow standard political protocol.
Blogger strafes Phoenix’s 'War and Peace,' attack met by ground fire
: One’s attacking it. One’s defending it. Take it away Cosmo
. ... P.S. One of the criticisms centers on the blog’s lack of hyperlinks, though I wasn’t very fond of the favorable hyperlink to a Robert Fisk article, obviously. ... FYI: Hub Blog’s aircraft-carrier propeller is still being repaired.
Martin Nolan on Daniel Patrick Moynihan
: With the war entering its second week, don’t forget the sad passing away of Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Marty Nolan hasn’t
. A wonderful piece that reminded me how deep Moynihan’s roots were in Massachusetts, particularly at my old alma mater, Tufts. From Nolan: “In academe, Moynihan kept his head on the Harvard faculty because, he proudly said, he had five degrees from Tufts University (the odd one is Bachelor of Naval Science).” ...
... Mickey Kaus
, who closely follows welfare reform issues, has a terrific tribute to Moynihan, as well as lots of Moynihan obituary/analysis links. FYI: Mickey makes an interesting point about Moynihan: He was one of the first people to identify the profound flaws in Great Society welfare programs, but Moynihan could never pinpoint and/or accept possible solutions to those flaws. ... Mickey also relates a fond story about Moynihan singing away at a Somerville bar.
One down, two to go
: John Bulger plans to ‘plead guilty
to charges that he lied to a federal grand jury and obstructed efforts by investigators to capture his notorious brother James.’ ... As they say, it’s a start. ...
The UMass chancellors (yes, plural) are urging Mitt to meet with Billy
concerning higher-ed reforms. Understand Mitt's reluctance, but, sooner or later, he's going to meet with/bump into the guy, who undoubtably will try to embarrass Mitt when it inevitably happens. Might as well orchestrate/manage the confrontation. ... Pull a Jo Moore and just get it over with and get the carping critics to stop their shameless we-love-you-Billy yelping.
Now to the war. ...
CSM correspondent unfairly gets the boot:
C’mon. Give me a break.
The Christian Science Monitor correspondent who was booted out of Iraq yesterday was only stating the obvious, though he might have been a tad bit too specific in real time, at worst. Everyone closely following this war knows where the Marines are generally located. ... Look at this story from the Globe
about the Marines making a ‘brief thrust north’ yesterday in an apparent feint to draw Iraqi forces away from the 3rd Army Division. It’s all there, practically down to the mile. Even Hub Blog knows this: The Marines are part of the right-wing flank of a two-headed spear headed for Baghdad, with the 3rd Army Division on its left flank. ...
Hats off to CSM editor Paul Van Slambrouck
for calmly:1.) sticking by the correspondent, Philip Smucker, and 2.) not jumping on a journalistic soapbox while doing so. ... Also in the CSM, it looks like Daniel Schorr
is tempted to jump on the journalistic soapbox, but he wisely doesn’t, concluding that there are many tough journalistic questions out there, i.e. ‘And there is no easy answer.”
Gratitude. That’s it
: We interrupt this war to bring you this nice op-ed piece
in the Globe on the subject of gratitude. That’s it. Gratitude. Why the Globe ran this now, I don’t know. And I don’t care. But I’m glad they did. Read it. It’s not about the war. ...
Now back to the war ...
The war -- the Boston front
: Clearly, the war isn’t going as planned. Iraqi resistance, for whatever reasons, was underestimated going into the conflict, a serious mistake/blunder to make in any war. ... But what’s great about this Herald story
is that many members of Massachusetts’ Congressional delegation, which was overwhelmingly against the war, aren’t hitting the military/moral panic button. Nor are they trying to use the setbacks for political advantage. A sampling:
U.S. Rep. Martin T. Meehan (D-Lowell) on Gen. Tommy Franks: “General Franks has an excellent plan, and it's a flexible plan. ... I think they're implementing it quite well. ... I think people should be patient.”
U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Somerville) on the military and critics: ``(Troops are) doing a very excellent job. ... They (critics) want it all solved in a half-an-hour sitcom, but this is real life, unfortunately.”
U.S. Rep. James McGovern (D-Worcester): “My own preference would have been not to go to war. ... (But) I don't think anyone in this Congress, whether for or against the war, was under the impression that this would be quick and easy.”
I sort of disagree with McGovern’s last sentence, for there were indeed people (and I assume many in Congress) who thought it would be a ‘cake walk.’ But McGovern shows class for not hopping on the They-Hyped-An Easy-Victory bandwagon. More on the ‘critics’ and ‘resistance’ issue below.
But, first, U.S. Rep. Barney Frank says we should be concentrating on post-war issues. Which leads to ...
It’s the post-war UN/American foreign policy, stupid
: A lot of attention is now heaped on the role of the UN in administering humanitarian aid, reintroducing UN weapons inspectors
into Iraq, and overseeing Iraq after the war
, whenever it ends, however it ends. ...
But the real issue is not so much the UN’s short-term involvement in those issues, but the US and UN’s long-term relationship with one another. As the Christian Science Monitor
nails it in this story: “ ...This time, as before, the debate really transcends Iraq and comes down to questions about the US, and whether the US alone or an international collective system will be the leading arbiter of security and power in the world.”
Hub Blog’s view? As MK would say: Don’t rush me! Still sifting through all the arguments. I’m tempted to beat the administration over the head for the fun of it, for they’re once again arguing, behind the scenes, about the UN and American unilateralism -- even though neocons will scream in public if you frame the debate in that ‘unilateralist’ way. I.e. It’s the same type of schizophrenic debate we saw before the war. But the UN, via France and Germany and Russia, has also really discredited itself. Secretary of State Colin Powell on the UN’s involvement in postwar Iraq: ''We didn't take on this huge burden with our coalition partners not to be able to have a significant dominating control over how it unfolds in the future.”
Bottom line: Don’t rush me! Which leads to ....
That ‘criticism’ of ‘resistance’ and ‘timetables’
: There’s absolutely no doubt: The administration, on the whole, underestimated Iraqi resistance. Vice President Dick Cheney
said as much, as the Globe notes. Of course, the administration -- and its critics -- will be singing a different tune, predictably, hypocritically, if the war were to suddenly stop in the next day or two. Then watch for the ‘I told you so’ arguments to be pulled off the shelves by the politicos. ...
... But don’t pay attention to the politicos, for now. Listen to what some military leaders, on the ground in Iraq, have to say. A reader sent in this great link to a web site run by Phil Carter
, a former military officer, journalist and UCLA law student. In a link to a WaPo story, Carter provides this gem of a quote from a military commander in northern Iraq: ‘I personally underestimated the willingness of the Fedayeen to fight, or maybe overestimated the willingness of the Shiites to rise up.’ ... Case closed. If the troops are saying it, it’s true. But if the troops are also saying they’re not overly concerned about it and still have faith in themselves and in their leaders, that’s the key.
Derrick Jackson, take a bow
: We interrupt this war to let Derrick Jackson
and Brian McGrory
beat the shit out of the NCAA for its lousy record on ‘student athlete’ graduation rates. McGrory notes that Jackson deserves the credit for harping on this issue -- and he does deserve the credit. ...
Now, back to the war. ...
Ah, some good news and other war tidbits
: Good news: John Ellis
is back blogging and has a great quote from Tiger on the war. ... Good news: The sleazy business deals of Richard Perle
have forced him to step down as chairman of the influential Defense Policy Board. ...
... Jules Crittenden
has another great battlefield story over at the Herald, answering the big question, among other things, about how GIs bathe in the middle of a war. He ends the story with this quote from a company commander about Iraqi fighters and about his troops who are little bummed they haven’t seen action yet:
``There is a war going on and there is an enemy out there, and he's feeling a little cocky because he has not yet felt the full might of our forces. But when he does, he won't know what hit him. ... Our day will come, and it will be intense. ... These guys will be shaken, and they will learn what it means to be a soldier.''
Yikes. Sounds like something out of ‘We Were Soldiers Once. ...’ And it’s happening today. History. Gotta love it.
‘These cats are fighting hard’
: A vivid, dramatic CSM battlefield report of the near constant fighting
around Najaf in recent days. The Americans were, at one point, running out of fuel and ammo because of the intensity of the fighting. Said one GI of the Iraqi resistance, ‘These cats are fighting hard.’ But my favorite quote came from another GI: “‘I'm mad,’ said Sergeant Ositis, who lost his tank. ‘Blowing up my tank was like blowing up my home. I've lived there for three months. The photos of my wife were in there.’”
has some thoughts on how and why we underestimated the resistance going into Iraq. Hint: It has something to do with totalitarianism. Good point. The first person, I’ve seen, to raise the issue. Of course there are other reasons: The thuggish threats by the Fedayeen against conscript soldiers and civilians; the fanaticism/desperation of the true Baath Party believers who know they have no future without Saddam; early indications that outsiders, like Saudis and Chechens, are getting involved in the fight; and, well, average soldiers patriotically defending their homeland. We can't/shouldn't underestimate that last reason. ... I’m definitely one of those who believes the muted reaction of many, if not most, Iraqis to being ‘liberated’ is caused by remaining fear of Saddam and doubts about the outcome of the war. But let's not fool ourselves completely: When Germany and Japan were 'liberated,' the reaction of civilians was often sullen resentment as GIs occupied their towns. We didn't win them over until we proved we knew how to win the peace.
Daily Update from Armchair Gen. Savin Hill:
Here it is --
“* The Iraqis Blew It: They could have taken advantage of the weather to slam into our 3rd Infantry Div. over the last 36 hours, and the most they could muster was an attack near Najaf that killed an estimated 750 Iraqis and a scattering of armor. That ‘1,000’ vehicle column turned out to be a minor move of supporting units. I smell a paper tiger beginning to burn.
“* ‘Phantom Columns’ in the south: That ‘column’ heading out of Basra, the British tell us, were press-ganged units rounded up by Baathist militia (who held their families hostage). The columns (there were 2) of armored personnel carriers ambled out of Basra ...on main roads, in plain view -- and were promptly wiped out by British artillery and air striking Harriers and Tornadoes. Poor bastards.
“* I don't see any evidence of command and control here. Desultory attacks by press-ganged units, an unwillingness or inability to move in force in times of obvious advantage -- these guys are toast. The most they can do is a ‘fighting retreat’ to Baghdad.
“* This doesn't mean the war will be over soon. Next comes the phase where we fight through the RG divisions, then the encirclement, then the bringing up of reinforcements, then the taking of an urban ‘lodgement’ -- then taking Baghdad proper.”
Hub Blog’s response
: Dan Kennedy
, in an item appropriately entitled 'The face of evil,' has flagged a NYT article about Saddam’s henchmen forcing conscripts into the slaughter. It’s just outrageous. These are true Nazi/Stalinist-like tactics. Where is the world outrage? Next up: Chemical attacks? The Brits
have evidence it may be coming. ...
has another great battlefield story over at the Herald.
Update - 5: 10 p.m.
-- Here's a reference to the looming Karbala showdown
that Armchair Gen. Savin Hill mentioned a few days ago
House budget debate
: This isn’t a classic case of what Steve Bailey was warning about yesterday
(i.e. a 'Jo Moore' alert), but it’s close enough. From a reader:
“While no one was watching, the House Leadership pushed through a restriction on their own budget debate. The bill in the linked article
will require all members suggesting budget increases to link them with specific cuts. This should serve to limit debate and/or encourage brutal infighting between different interest groups. This should be really fun.”
Hub Blog’s response
: I can’t really say I hate the idea. Sounds, well, logical. The timing of it, though, is classic Finneran.
The war: The Boston Front -- And Howard Dean
: It’s corny, but Mitt is out there
-- and there are a lot of National Guard troops and family members who will remember it. ...
... But Mitt’s rallying of the troops is a mere sideshow. The real political game in town yesterday was swirling around the 2004 presidential race (though Mitt may be looking ahead to 2008), specifically: Howard Dean
, who was in town yesterday to greet supporters and to stick it to John Kerry. Dean may deny it, but he’s now the liberal antiwar candidate of choice, an early and mini Eugene McCarthy, if you will. Joan Vennochi
lets Dean ramble a bit before she pins him against the wall: He is the antiwar candidate of the day. How the war will play out politically in 2004, no one knows. The election is still a long time from now. But, like the National Guard troops and family members, liberal antiwar activists will remember, too. ...
But what I found fascinating in Dean’s appearance yesterday was how some antiwar liberals, though not all, are trying to impose a new litmus test on Dean, to wit: Does he support bringing the troops home NOW? Dean is wisely saying ‘no,’ though you can tell he’s hedging his bets in case the war drags into a dreaded ‘quagmire.’ Dean’s playing his own version of Having It Both Ways. Kerry’s people should be blasting holes in his logic, but they aren’t and can’t because, well, Kerry is playing his own version of Having It Both Ways. ...
... All of which leads to this about Dean, to a degree, and the hard-core antiwar types, definitely: They’re still protesting the war -- and some of them are calling for the troops to come home. What’s wrong with this? What’s wrong is that IT’S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. They are arguing a moot point. We’re in there, we can’t and won’t pull the troops out, Bush ain’t going to budge. And again, it’s a moot point -- unless the war bogs down into a long quagmire, which I wouldn’t bet on. ...
What is the point? Glad you asked. While left-wing antiwar activists play out their romantic protests and self-glorifying dramas in the streets, the real ideological debate is playing out, quietly, on a separate domestic front. It has to do with post-Iraq and the future of American foreign policy.
Which leads to my next item ...
Reader No Nickname replies:
“I really liked Howard Dean early on -- I thought a fiscally conservative, universal healthcare, pro-gun Democrat could really be a breakout general election candidate in some of the states where Democrats have not won in awhile. Unfortunately, the anti-war schtick, while a great Iowa (and possibly other primaries) strategy, is a guaranteed general election fiasco. Voters do not trust the Democratic party on national security issues, and Dean just contributes to that. His only hope (strategically, not implying that he wants this) is a miserable, prolonged, bloody war (to prove him right), and I don't think most Americans will vote for that. I defy anyone to come up with an electoral college map that has Dean beating Bush.”
The ideological debate over post-war Iraq
: As I said on Monday
(in an overly long item) and again yesterday
(in a much shorter item), the real ideological/geopolitical debate unfolding is about postwar Iraq and American foreign policy. And as I said in the Monday post, this is going to be a huge debate between conservatives, moderate conservatives, centrists and moderate liberals -- with the far liberal left being out of the loop, again, because of its silly, bankrupt and antiquated antics. ...
The Christian Science Monitor gets it -- and today it’s all over the post-Iraq/foreign policy issue. ... In this CSM article, it makes clear that Tony Blair
is now pushing the Bush administration to include the UN in overseeing a postwar Iraq. Needless to say, the hard-core Bushies, who tout unilateralism in private but defensively deny it in public, are resisting. ... Notice how, again, Blair needs Bush to bend in order to help Blair domestically. Hub Blog is very close to reviving my Anything-To-Keep-Tony-Blair-In-Office mantra, not to mention my He's-Botching-It stance. The UN debate is going to be big. And like the pre-war debate we saw in the UN, it may prove to be a moot point: France could stick it to us, veto any UN involvement in postwar Iraq and leave the ‘Anglos’ to clean up the mess. ...
... In another CSM piece
(this one an editorial), we’re introduced to John Garner. Who’s John Garner? Get to know him. He may end up being the guy who tries to ‘oversee’ Iraq. Good luck, John! ... Meanwhile, in this CSM op-ed
, the author takes a look at the good, the bad and the ugly of occupations.
I know this all sounds rather presumptuous (if that’s the right word) -- talk of post-war Iraq and the future of American foreign policy. The war is still raging. It may yet turn into a ‘quagmire,’ though I seriously doubt it. But there is another very dramatic debate unfolding about historic, long-term issues.
-- The NYT is also on the UN story
-- Jeff Jarvis
has an interesting take on the New World Order, comparing it to an Internet router. His tentative nickname for it: 'Network Diplomacy.'
The war: The real front:
I know I’m being a little silly by posting so much material from Armchair Gen. Savin Hill. It’s a schtick. I admit it. And maybe I’m overdoing it. But he HAS been right about a lot of things. Yesterday, he sent in this post
. Now look at the news from today’s newspapers:
The 173rd Airborne division
, out of Italy, has landed in northern Iraq. ... The Republican Guard columns
are stupidly leaving Baghdad and heading south and getting chewed up by allied air power ... This Herald story gives a pretty good overview
of the war.
Obviously, not everything Armchair Gen. Savin Hill has sent in has been accurate, but he’s been more accurate than not. Hub Blog is impressed with his general knowledge! ...
... In other news, the US and UN are starting to pour in lots of humanitarian aid
. America won’t get the credit it deserves in some quarters, of course, as Brendan O’Neill
made clear yesterday in his Have It Both Ways arguments. ... Good story in the Globe on the extensive use of Special Forces
Two clerks, two jerks
: The company that allegedly bought the information
should also have the book thrown at them, if you ask me.
Daniel Patrick Moynihan, RIP:
This is the type of ‘Jo Moore’ story
in reverse that you ache over. Daniel Patrick Moynihan deserves a State Funeral.
He was a true American.
Post-war Iraq summit planning?:
Recently saw Charles Krauthammer on Fox talking about the Bush-Blair summit today, and Krauthammer speculated that among the topics of discussion were post-war Iraq and whether the UN should help oversee the country. Then I thought of this Globe article
from this morning. An excerpt:
'' ‘We don't have a single academic expert in America who understands how Iraqi politics work in 2003, not a clue,' said Augustus Richard Norton, a Boston University professor who specializes in the Middle East.”
Hub Blog’s not going Wobbly, but a lot of unknowns are out there. Literally.
While you're at it, check out Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo
. Lot of good items over there about Turkey, the next phase of the war, and slightly squirming conservatives within the administration. As I said recently, the war-time ideological 'truce' is slowly breaking down and the debate over post-war actions/American foreign policy has quietly begun.
-- Tom Friedman
has a new scorecard to tell if we've really won the war -- and postwar peace.
Hub Blog puts together ‘coalition of the willing’
: In response to unprovoked threats from certain blogoshere quarters
, freedom fighters from around the blogosphere are rallying around Hub Blog and gaining collective strength and moral purpose by the day. From Armchair Gen. Savin Hill Reader:
“I salute your effort to take on the ‘weapons of mass-media destruction’ from the Phoenix's ‘war blog.’
“Keep in mind that the rarely-seen Phoenix (leader) Stephen Mindich will probably wage a propaganda war against you. ... As your (new) military advisor, I suggest you put some sand bags in your windows -- you never know when the Phoenix will attack. Don't accept any packages from Dan Kennedy.”
Armchair Gen. Savin Hill’s Daily Update
: Armchair Gen. Savin Hill writes in response to questions from moi and a couple other readers. Here’s his overview, followed by comments on the coming air campaign:
“1. I've refigured the numbers, and the 3rd Infantry started with about 250 tanks -- but what I didn't take into account earlier was that the Marines (the right flank) started with about 180. I didn't really count these at first because I didn't think the Marines would be an entire mainland-warfare spearhead. I thought for sure they wouldn't go past Basra -- sticking relatively near their amphib, offshore base ships.
“2. Given the dual spearhead, tipped with about 200 tanks each, and as many or more Bradley fighting vehicles, that seems like enough. I was worried about less than 200 taking on at least two entire Republican Guard divisions outside of Baghdad. ...
“3. Plenty of ground-pounders still in ‘reserve.’ The 101st still isn't deployed in strength (I heard a single battalion of the 101st headed north yesterday). I don't know where the hell that brigade of the 82nd is. We know the 173rd (a light ground unit) in Italy is earmarked for deployment, if not on the way. I know another large Army unit (I can't remember now) that's based in Germany is probably in transit. The 101st can be deployed immediately in theater. The 173rd and other light units (not heavy mech.) in probably less than five days.
“4. Rest assured, our Abrams will slaughter Iraqi divisions in the open.
“5. MY BIGGEST WORRY RIGHT NOW: Iraqi columns are heading south to take advantage of the bad weather. If these columns get caught in clear weather, it will be another ‘highway of death’ -- if our air is grounded for the next 48 hours and that force slams into the Marines, boy, will it get nasty. I just don't know how strung out that Marine force is and what's in the vanguard and how much is diverted to holding bridges in Naseriah. It seems like they've been fighting hard to secure those bridges -- which no doubt weakens the spearhead of the advance. I'm not sure (and no one is) how far up the Tigris approach the Marines are. With the 3rd Mech (Army) within 50-60 miles yesterday, I assumed the Marines were comparably close. I don't think that may be the case.
“6. You haven't asked me about what we do once we surround Baghdad.”
To a reader who asked about launching an air campaign while ground forces get into position, Savin Hill writes
“Nobody in Centcom wanted to give the Iraqis an extra hour to prepare, I assure you. But also, pounding large numbers of ground units from the air is best done up-close and personal with A-10s and Apache Longbows. These are not long-distance hitters, especially the Apaches. You need support bases nearby, the closer the better. ... Dropping guided munitions from high-flying jets makes good video, but it’s inefficient. It just takes too long. In Gulf War I we bombed units geographically clustered in and around Kuwait and its border areas for, what, a month or more? ... We need to hit em up close and personal. Also, the weenies can hide their tanks and armor in urban areas unless we force them to ‘come out and play.’ ”
Hub Blog’s response
: I haven’t the foggiest idea if he knows what he’s talking about, but he’s been right in the past. And, OK, Armchair Gen. Savin Hill: what we do once we surround Baghdad? ... I'm sure I'm going to get an answer. Keep it shorter, Armchair Gen. Savin Hill! ... And, as usual, thank you.
-- Armchair Gen. Savin Hill writes back with the answer to the question he prodded me to ask: what do we do once we surround Baghdad?
"I have no idea. I can't believe we're still hoping for 'regime collapse' from within while we break for tea and biscuits in our foxholes around Baghdad. Clearly we have the option of going in -- but I doubt we'd go in with the existing force. I'd want another armor division and the whole 101st -- and still I'd want more before going in to Baghdad."
Hub Blog's response
: Oh, that's great. That's really
encouraging. This 'Invasion Light,' I don't know.
The hunt for Saddam's hidden treasure:
Cosmo has excerpts of his Herald column this morning over at his blog site.
The subject: Those missing billions Saddam was supposed to use for food and medicine.
‘Waging politically correct war?’:
George Bush can’t win. If he waged a ‘shock and awe’ war, he would have been accused of waging a ‘shock and awe’ war. If he waged a pure ‘Invasion light’ war, he’d be accused of waging an ‘Invasion light’ war. ... Here’s a perfect case in point: Brendan O’Neill, who before the war
wrote of his fears of a ‘shock and awe’ and ‘cowardly’ war, is now writing in the Boston-based Christian Science Monitor that the current strategy is actually a ‘politically correct’ war
in reverse, i.e. we’re trying to fight a more humanitarian war in order to really cover up our doubts about why we’re fighting. Go figure. Brendan has just taken Hub Blog’s Have It Both Ways Award from John Kerry, who looks positively Churchillian in comparison. ...
... But what about legitimate
criticism of the current combo Shock and Awe/Invasion Light strategy? There’s definitely criticism, as shown in this Herald story
. ... Andrew Sullivan
is admirably expressing his doubts, while also linking to this UPI piece
about why the Pentagon is quite confident about its strategy, even though there’s still tough fighting as we approach Baghdad, as this vivid Globe story by Brian MacQuarrie
Hub Blog’s view? I wish they had put a few more troops and Abram tank formations into the fight at the start. But I’m now less of a military Nervous Nelly Hawk; I’ve accepted that the war is going to be longer and more bloody than anticipated -- and that we’ll win in the end. Instead, I’ve become more of a political Nervous Nelly Hawk. The possibility of this war dragging on too long will lead to nothing but trouble. (Already getting a little tired of the TV reporters' Tet-like coverage of recent sharp battles, as if they're shocked
there's actual fighting going on.)
'This is a PR guy's dream’: Steve Baily
is starting his own local version of Mickey Kaus’
‘Jo Moore’ Alert, named after the British Labor PR meister
who famously noted on Sept. 11 that it was probably a good day to dump really bad information on the public. ... Steve quotes George Regan as saying, ''This is a PR guy's dream.'' Don’t hold it against George for being honest. He’s right. Previously big local stories will get buried in times like these, both good and bad stories. ... Hub Blog’s personal favorite local Jo Moore was the proposed electric rate increase
announced last week. Other positive stories, meanwhile, haven’t gotten the attention they deserved, such as the NCAA tournament games held in Boston over the past weekend. ... Bailey joked that he’s on guard for state lawmakers passing a pay increase in coming days. I’m taking the long-shot bet that they go for expansion of the Quinn bill to firefighters.
The MBTA and the Big Dig
: Hub Blog interrupts this warblog to bring you this special non-war item -- a good editorial
in the Globe about the MBTA’s future in a post-Big Dig Boston. ... One major quibble: Ah, c’mon, don’t friggin’ abandon the Blue Line connection to the Red Line. It’s only a couple hundred yards from the Bowdoin stop to the Charles Street site, for heaven’s sake. ... I hate the Silver Line already. It’s an overestimated, overglamorized BUS service, not a rail service. ... Now back to the war. ...
The war: The Boston front:
Oh, God. Paul Cellucci
, our former Mass. gov and current ambassador to Canada, is criticizing Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien's lack of support for the US cause in Iraq. Not that Chretien doesn’t deserve criticism. But Paul Cellucci? They say opinion polls show a majority of Canadians support their government's stance against the war. What the opinion polls don’t show is that a majority of Massachusetts residents would rather forget Cellucci was our governor and that local residents would prefer he isn’t linked to us in any way on the world stage. ...
... John Hughes
over at CSM also likes what he’s seen from the embedded journalists, a topic I covered (perhaps a bit too much) yesterday
. ... John Kerry and Howard Dean
are embedded in New Hampshire and fighting it out. ...
The Great House War Resolution Flap is over. The Herald
says, fine, move on. But I can’t. It was a good yuck for 24 hours. I just loved the description of the “frenzied meetings, phone calls, and e-mails,”
as if they were writing a new constitution or a Gettysburg Address.
'America, the destroyer'
: Some readers have written in, asking why I didn't post this James Carroll column
from yesterday. Answer: Because an entire local blog could be dedicated to fisking Carroll columns. I just don't have the time.
... But I shall let one reader comment on it: "I must confess that I've never liked Carroll, generally viewing him as a self-loathing, self-righteous fraud (maybe he's a great guy in person, but I've long despised his 'philosophy'). So I'm not at all surprised by this (latest column)."
Blogosphere tensions mount ... Phoenix launches warblog!:
First, Dan Kennedy unilaterally escalates the blogosphere arms race -- and so Hub Blog vowed a response
, with an unspoken threat of ‘serious consequences.’ ... Now the Phoenix starts a warblog
, actually using the word ‘war’ in its pronouncement by Information Minister Dan Kennedy
. ... Hub Blog has yet to respond. Hub Blog realizes he’s, he’s, he’s coming across as ... a medium-power France with no counter measures and alternatives? Ugh. Hub Blog will not waver! ...
... Suggestion to Phoenix (take this as psyops if you want -- heh, heh): Tighten up the prose! The items are too long! Abolish that angst about being pro-American! Where is General Gitell? Where are the archives? Where are the permalinks? Are we to assume the future messages of Peter Kadzis were recorded before the warblog began? Why is the word 'peace' in the title of a 'warblog'?... Hah! And you call yourself a ‘warblog’? ... Hub Blog will retaliate -- after I fix the propeller on my aircraft carrier.
Mickey Kaus senses a pattern!:
Lots of good stuff over at Mickey's site
, as usual. And more beating the crap out of John Kerry, as usual. Today's beating is just, well ... See it for yourself. I burst out laughing when he started listing Kerry's non-position positions. ... (No permalinks for each item at Kaus Files, so scroll down to find today's Kerry blast.)
Get to know the term ‘Karbala Gap’:
Hub Blog put out the call for Armchair Gen. Savin Hill to check in
-- and he has. Here’s his update on the war (and, yes, he knows his stuff):
“A few observations:
“* The military campaign in the south, over all, is going extremely well and everyone would do well to remember that. Losses are still ‘light’ -- by any measure.
“* Get to know the term ‘Karbala Gap’ - that's where the next 1 of 2 key armor battles will be.
“* The current sandstorm coinciding with our approach to Republican Guard ‘outter rim’ defense of Baghdad looks to me like it was planned that way. Note Gen. Frank's references to the advance being ‘on our own timetable.’ When the dust clears, we'll be within ‘killing zone’ (Abrams tank main gun range) of dug-in Iraqi forces while air assets pound them and block rear.
“*The sandstorm (in which it was pitch dark by 4 p.m. in Iraq) is PERFECT weather for our deployment of special ops units behind Iraqi lines and into Baghdad.
“* Look for the 101st and other airborne assets to be used as blocking forces in an encirclement of Baghdad.
“*FYI: Found out why Iraqi TV is still on the air. Col. Hunt, a talking head on Fox News, said the Iraqis put a day-care center or kindergarten in the Iraqi TV building. Typical.”
Hub Blog’s response
: Interesting, though I have a question: How do you plan a sandstorm? But I think I know what he means in terms of timing. Remember: Armchair Gen. Savin Hill knows his military and military history. This will be another test of his analysis. More later. And thanks to Savin Hill.
Armchair Gen. Savin Hill checks back in
"Q: How do you plan a sandstorm?
"A: This time of year, they sweep across Iraq about every 10 days. Given good meteorological forecasting, time it right, and you can use em as cover while you maneuver -- which is what I think our forces may have done in front of the Karbala Gap and up the Tigris approaches to Baghdad."
More on ‘embedded’ journalists -- and CSM is kicking ass
: Now here’s a smart analysis of ‘embedded’ journalism and media coverage of the war, by Dante Chinni
over at the Christian Science Monitor. He likes it, but cleverly compares embedded reports to watching a football game by focusing on only one player -- or watching a football game through a videocam attached to one linebacker’s helmet. What’s vital: Context and constant perspective. ... Compare Chinni’s commentary with the op-ed written by Jerry Lanson
, also in this morning’s CSM. I wrote about Lanson’s whiny/push-a-cause analysis of war coverage earlier this morning
. ... Note: Thanks to Quebec Reader for alerting me to the Chinni commentary.
.... Speaking of the Christian Science Monitor, its coverage of the war is just great today. Scan the site’s front page
. Which story/item do you choose? It’s like a candy store for war junkies. Oh, here’s a funny war cartoon by Pulitzer Prize-winner Clay Bennett
. ... And, oh, there’s a fascinating story about ‘Classroom Neutrality’
in times of war (a big issue in Maine, by the way -- with a very ugly incident of school personnel allegedy harrassing students of National Guard troops). Lots of great stuff over at CSM today.
A new blogger on the Boston front
: A relatively new blogger is blogging away in Boston, 'Thoughts, rants and observations.'
Check it out. He's got some real local zingers over there. ... He also has some comments about my post below on 'Bain and higher ed.'
Call it ‘Tip,’ Mitt
: Governor, name the damn tunnel after Tip O’Neill
. Besides rightly honoring one of the great men who made the Big Dig possible, naming it after O’Neill means we’ll get to nickname it ‘Tip’s Tunnel.’ ... I thought Brian McGrory was too hard on Mitt at the end, but he did make great points about the banality of the proposed new name: “And it's not just that the Liberty Tunnel connecting to the Freedom Bridge could be in Cincinnati or Charlotte, if there's anything in those cities worth driving under or over. ... The name Liberty Tunnel isn't dumb, but it fails to enchant or provoke. It's amorphous in a white-bread kind of way, has little local flavor, and with the bell and the statue the Liberty theme is pretty well covered.” ...
... This is another opportunity for the gov to ‘admit a wrong’ and move on. ... While we’re at it, Hub Blog thinks one of the new surface parks should be called ‘Salvucci Park,’ after another great man who made the Big Dig possible. Perhaps the park nearest to the North End? Just throwing out an idea. ... Hope the banality of the name ‘Liberty Tunnel’ doesn’t indicate the future quality of the parks we’re going to get.
If it’s good enough for Ted ...:
Idiocy over naming a tunnel, and now idiocy over in the Massachusetts House
about a resolution proclaiming support for our troops and president in the middle of a war. Ted Kennedy
voted for virtually the same resolution in the U.S. Senate, and Kennedy added these personal words the same day:
“Our thoughts and our heartfelt prayers are also with our president. ... We join our president in pledging our commitment to victory, to disarm Saddam and to bring freedom and opportunity to all the people of Iraq.”
That type of class is why Kennedy will be remembered as one of the great liberal titans of the U.S. Senate -- and why the liberal Statehouse peons blocking the House resolution will be remembered as liberal Statehouse peons. ... P.S. Note how the Globe story came right out and told us who these people are, i.e. ‘liberal’ lawmakers. Simple. Accurate. Fair. Gives perspective up high as to who they are. Now, can we have the same simple, accurate and fair approach in describing ‘antiwar protesters’ in future antiwar stories?
‘Michael Moore’s fictions’
: Daniel Lyons
, a student at Harvard Law School, goes after Michael Moore, a true lout, in this Globe op-ed. Excerpt: “One reporter asked whether Moore was afraid of being blacklisted in Hollywood as a result of his behavior. He responded: ‘I don't work in Hollywood. I'm funded by Canadians and others who don't live here.’” And keep in mind Moore was earlier asserting as a defense, “I am an American.” ...You know he's made a fool of himself when even Hollywood squirms in embarrassment.
also goes after Moore. Alas, the Herald piece is for subscribers or pay-to-read.
The Turkey problem, guerrilla tactics and other war notes
: Tom Oliphant
smacks another one out of the park today, focusing on northern Iraq and concluding the Kurds aren't going away: “That is why the unfolding situation near Iraq's border with Turkey is so crucial -- less to the outcome of the war than to its aftermath.”
... Excellent overview story in the Christian Science Monitor
on the changing nature of the war in Iraq, i.e. the Fedayeen’s brutal, guerrilla-like tactics; talk of Saddam flooding potential battlefields as allied troops approach Baghdad, etc. The article also deals once again with the wisdom of the ‘Invasion light’ strategy. ... Hub Blog is not worried about the outcome of the war, but I am becoming more than a little worried about the political ramifications of a possibly lengthy and bloody war. I’m not too impressed with this ‘Invasion light’ strategy, but what do I know? Armchair Gen. Savin Hill
, check in. We need your assessment. ...
... A simple, succinct
story from the Herald about the burdens families face at home while troops are overseas. In this case, both parents are serving in the military -- and grandma and grandpa are drafted into duty.
Using phony objectivity to promote a cause: Jerry Lanson
, chair of the Department of Journalism at Emerson College in Boston, writes in CSM about journalism ethics and duties in times of war, blah, blah, blah. He says the media should show gruesome war scenes on TV. Not necessarily for truth and objectivity, as he makes clear in between the lines. Then why? “War is hell, and unless we see that with some regularity when it's being fought, we may well make the mistake of pursuing it over and over again.” ...Ah, now I see. So it will turn public opinion toward his opinion. He also notes:
“Who can forget the picture of a girl, screaming, as she ran naked down a Vietnam road, her body doused in napalm? What image better defined divisions at home during Vietnam than the picture of a young woman kneeling in despair over the body of a Kent State protester slain by America's own National Guard?”
Some generals, as the saying goes, are always fighting the last war. The same could be said about some journalists.
The one-year anniversary of Alex Beam’s April Fool’s-column is near
: Hub Blog can’t figure out the intent and purpose of this column by Alex
. He’s clearly making fun of the Internet as a tool for covering the war, through his ‘do-it-yourself coverage’ schtick. Then he starts talking about how some of the mainstream journalists’ battlefield coverage has been simply great. No doubt about it. It’s been great. Awesome at times, in fact. ... But why doesn’t he come right out and say bloggers/Internet coverage is totally inadequate for the same task? Or maybe that wasn’t his point. I don’t know. He doesn’t quite say why he set up the contrast between ‘do-it-yourself coverage’ and mainstream coverage. Maybe he pulled a punch, remembering what a silly fool he made of himself a year ago when he fell for an April Fool's joke in a column he wrote about blogging. ...
Actually, a serious column about blogging during the war would have been quite interesting. Recent blogging, I think, has shown the medium definitely has its inherent shortcomings. Perhaps more on this later. The argument over/assessment of blogging during a war was first raised last week by Mickey Kaus
Bain and higher ed
: Don’t know much about academia and how public higher-ed is structured in Massachusetts. Sounds like Bain’s controversial review
of the higher-ed system raises some intriguing points that need to be debated. But coursing through this report, I think, is a fundamental misunderstanding about the purpose of public higher education. For instance: The fact that UMass-Boston’s graduation rate is very low -- a point raised in the Bain study -- doesn’t surprise me at all. Nor does it bother me at all. ... UMass-Boston is largely a commuter
school, meaning students take a few classes here, a few classes there, and students often have to juggle their school schedules with work in order to pay for courses here and there, etc. Bottom line: There’s a lot to like about some of the higher-ed reform proposals, but there’s also a lot that leaves you scratching your head about the administration's motives and plans for a higher-ed overhaul.
A reader responds
: Reader Mark of Westborough (aka blogger Thoughts, rants and observations
) writes in:
"Thanks for the link to the story about UMass-Boston. I'm a product of that school. I tell you, the thing that gets to me about Romney and his ilk is their utter contempt for public education.
"More UMass grads stay in the state (and pay more taxes) than the private schools -- a pretty good investment. At UMB, there may be a lot of people who take years, even decades, to graduate. But there are also many adults, like me, who get through there in 3 years.
"It is tough being a puny public university in the shadow of the private schools in this state."
'More 'protester' idiocy'
: A reader sends in a link for this photo
, with a message: 'Note the coin slot has been jammed with glue.' ... Minor, yes. Typical, definitely. Hopefully they won't grow more desperate as their cause runs out of steam.
Update - 9:30 p.m. --
Heh. Away for a few hours and what happens? Get emails on the above item. God, do people despise ‘antiwar protesters,’ i.e not the legitimate protesters, but the professional protesters who might be right One of These Wars. Again, as I said the other day, they remind me of the Hare Krishnas who Robert Stack smacked out of the way as he marched through the airport terminal in the movie “Airplane.” ... Anyway, one reader, Steve of Arlington, notes ‘a.) see how much time they took printing up the stickers - premeditated b.) they went after the (wrong) people.’ What he meant was: Parking meters pay for city services, not the “war machine.” ... Oh, well. Another couple hundred dollars down the drain, per glue-filled meter, in order for some college BRATS to win their PC Protest Merit Badge. ... And, yes, this apparently happened in Boston. Reminder: Minor, yes. Typical, definitely.
Tom Friedman and Andrew Sullivan
: Friedman and Sullivan are exchanging more emails over at andrewsullivan.com
. It's a civil discussion about unilateralism. The ideological 'truce'
I mentioned earlier today has definitely broken down, but it's encouraging they're not throwing mud at each other. ... Wonder how Howell Raines feels about Tom conversing with Andrew. Not that three-time Pulitizer Prize winning Tom gives a shit.
'Cheering along like a bloodthirsty Dallas cowboy'
: Leave it to a Brit journalist to write one of the funnier, more informative 'war diaries'
I've seen yet. Or at least the ending is funny. The rest is just sharp and informative writing.
‘And let’s not go wobbly ...’:
Armchair Gen. Savin Hill Reader writes in with some quickie observations. Keep in mind Armchair Gen. Savin Hill has been right about a lot of issues lately, based on his original post
on Hub Blog and subsquent articles
that confirmed his original observations. From Savin Hill:
“People seem confused by reports of US troops ‘securing’ southern urban areas, followed by reports of ambushes and skirmishes in those areas. This makes some think we went in, occupied a city, and then somehow Iraqis went on the offensive and attacked. Not so.
“The southern strategy is primarily a dash to Baghdad while securing key transport points (bridges and intersections) along the way. We are not clearing southern cities house-by-house. Where key transport routes intersect with urban areas we are encountering some resistance. However, we are ‘cleaning out’ thoroughly umm Qasr because we need to get that port going.
“And let's not go wobbly over not seeing crowds of cheering Iraqis. Long before the first US tank crossed into Iraq, Saddam sent large numbers of the Fedayeen (paramilitary death squads) into southern cities for the exact purpose of making sure there weren't cheering crowds -- and to set up ambushes. So where are the civilians? Doing what they always do in wars – staying low.”
The post-war ideological war has quietly begun
: After the war in Iraq (and I hope it ends with a quick and decisive American victory), there’s going to be a HUGE debate about the future of the war on terrorism -- and the future of American foreign policy in the 21st Century. The debate has already begun, quietly, if you detect it, despite the professions of a ‘truce’ as American GIs slug it out in Iraq.
... This is going to be a debate between conservatives, moderate conservatives, centrists, and moderate liberals -- and the political/ideological battle lines are going to be very, very blurry indeed. Forget about the far political left in America -- they’re bankrupt, irrelevant, silly, a curious mix between pre-WWII appeasement and Vietnam nostalgia.
To me, the postwar political/ideological skirmishing became apparent over the weekend -- and the ideological sparring spilled into today’s newspapers and blogs as well. On Sunday, Tom Friedman
wrote a column, daring to use the word ‘unilateral’ in his piece, which was immediately met with a counter-blast from Andrew Sullivan, who basically argued that there’s no ‘unilateralism’ under way in Iraq, citing the ‘coalition of the willing.’ Friedman countered back
today, sending an email to Sullivan explaining what he meant. Friedman then threw in this zinger at unilateralist conservatives, who are almost schizophrenic about touting unilateralism while angrily attacking people who accuse them of unilateralism. From Tom to Andrew:
“Quite seriously, I don't understand the sensitivity of conservatives on this issue. It seems to me that conservatives want it both ways. They want to praise Bush for deciding not to be shackled by the U.N. and France in the end, and, at the same time, want to insist that this is still a multilateral war.”
In Boston, the post-war debate over long-term American foreign policy was evident in the Globe’s Sunday ‘Ideas’ section, which ran two articles on the subject -- ‘Operation Anglosphere’
and ‘The World Pushes Back’
... Now, Hub Blog, a self-described ‘moderate conservative,’ doesn’t agree with everything in both articles, which appear to have been written by what I would call ‘moderate liberals,’ if I’m reading between the ideological lines correctly. But the two articles DO raise important points that I agree with. A quick overview of the two Globe stories:
‘Anglosphere’ is not a phrase made up and pushed by non-unilateralist left-wingers. It is a phrase used, regularly, continually, by some conservative pundits and bloggers, such as Andrew Sullivan, who believe the United States, Britain, Australia etc. can and should form some sort of, well, a new geopolitical bloc, i.e. a loose Churchillian-like alliance of English speaking people. ... The article’s credibility is hurt, badly, by its initial focus on how many backers of an American-dominated ‘Anglosphere’ are ironically non-native Americans. It’s a curious fact, for sure, but not vital since there are many other American-born pundits proudly using the same phrase and pushing roughly the same concept. ...
... But ‘Anglosphere’ is really not the point: The point is there ARE people within conservative circles pushing for an imperial-like American foreign policy, motivated by a desire to advance American-style democracy, ideas and interests across the world. They don’t like the UN, don’t really like/trust alliances, and, yes, they regularly use the dreaded ‘unilateralist’ word amongst themselves, even though they wince and whine when their critics accuse them of being unilateralists. It should be stressed: Not all conservatives believe in an ‘American Empire.’ There is a big debate under way between classic conservatives and neo-conservatives and a lot of other conservatives in between. ... Also notice how there’s even a debate within imperial/unilateralist conservative circles about whether they should openly use the word ‘Empire.’ ... Now think of Tom Friedman’s zinger to Sullivan this morning. Makes more sense now, right? ... By the way, Max Boot, who’s a proponent of a vague American-style form of imperialism and who is mentioned in the Globe story, is performing somersaults in this Washington Post column
, defending and denying unilateralism at the same time etc. He ends the column with a quote from Rudyard Kipling. Fascinating.
‘The World Pushes Back’
Again, Hub Blog doesn’t agree with everything in this article. I’m a long-time proponent of using unilateralism and multilateralism together, in conjunction with one another. This article tilts a little too much in the ‘mulilateralist’ direction for my taste. But the article, also again, does raise great points. I really don’t think the gung-ho unilateralists/Paul Wolfowitz types have really thought through the ramifications of their ideas. ... The article makes clear that the world, generally, has tolerated the existence of a lone American Superpower, largely because America has been -- and
rightly so -- seen as a benign, non-aggressive power. But the pre-emptive strategy/pronouncements of the Bush administration is changing things. The rest of the world is becoming alarmed -- and not just France and Russia and China. Future competition between the United States and others probably/likely won’t result in a ‘hard’ confrontation in the near future. But there are ‘soft’ ways the rest of the non-American world can truly make life miserable for us, including switching the trading of oil (now conducted in dollars) to euros and how the EU economically could draw much closer to Russia. The issue of oil really concerns non-Americans -- and it doesn’t help that some Americans are now openly talking about punishing the French and Russians for not helping us in Iraq. Their punishment weapon of choice? Oil. Think the French and Russians -- who certainly don’t have clean hands when it comes to propping up Saddam and cutting oil deals with him -- are going to just sit back and let America use oil as a weapon against them? I don’t think so.
Ah, there’s other evidence of the post-Iraq debate starting up, such as this Joseph Nye op-ed
in the Globe this morning. ... Mickey Kaus
is jumping into the neoconservative debate today over at Kaus Files. ... One could argue that Tom Oliphant
was jumping into the issue, quietly and indirectly, in his excellent column over the weekend about the debate over ‘shock and awe’ vs. ‘Invasion light.’ (The military strategy is not exactly tied into the debate over ‘unilateralism vs. multilateralism,’ but Richard Perle, a huge backer/mentor of Wolfowitz’s now famous policy paper on a more pre-emptive/unilateralist America, has pushed hard for the ‘Invasion light’ option, a ‘nimble’ military strategy backed by people who think America will be throwing its weight around a lot in future years.)
: Shhhhhhhhh. Don’t say it too loud. We’re all supposed to be honoring a ‘truce’ while the boys are fighting in Iraq. But, clearly, undeniably, the ideological war is heating up again. The ‘truce’ is falling apart.