MADE FOR TELEVISION

The first time I read John Irving’s novel A Prayer for Owen Meany I was younger, Catholic, and not quite connecting with the narrator’s obsession with the Reagan administration. This time around my husband and I are listening to the audio book while on long car trips and like the narrator I am older, Episcopalian, and obsessed with the actions of a presidential administration, although in my case it’s the George W. Bush administration. I’ve written a few posts about the Afghanistan war and the 2 Iraq wars and yesterday another piece of that shameful mess came to the foreground … Continue reading MADE FOR TELEVISION

The Katrina-Kabul Connection

One reason I’m feeling so cantankerous of late is that it’s August. Everyone in New Orleans gets tetchy at this time of year as the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent Federal Flood approaches. It’s been 16 years since the most important moment of my life. You might not be reading this if not for that epic disaster. It’s why I became an internet writer or blogger as we used to call ourselves.

I’m struck by the similarity of the MSM’s coverage of Katrina’s aftermath and the collapse of the Afghan government. The words that come to mind are shrill, hyperbolic, and over the top. To watch CNN after the storm was to believe there was widespread looting, arson, and mayhem. The looped footage typically included people clinging to rooftops, stealing teevees, and images of the Beer Looter Dude. Over and over again.

In August and September of 2005, the MSM floated unsupported rumors of murders at evacuation sites such as the Super Dome and Convention Center. Over and over again.

I recall watching a reporter do a standup in front of some burning houses and proclaiming that the “Garden District is on fire.” It was not. The burning houses were on Napoleon Avenue, which is not in the Garden District. The looped footage and misattribution continued. Over and over again.

There *was* chaos in New Orleans after Katrina and the Federal Flood but it was not as widespread as the MSM coverage would have you believe. That coverage inspired my skepticism of all on-the-fly live reporting from a disaster area or war zone.

In 2021, the MSM is whipping up hysteria over events in Afghanistan by looping footage of children being lifted over razor wire and desperate people hanging onto airplanes. Over and over again.

There *is* some chaos after the fall of Kabul. Losing armies tend to collapse at the end of a losing war. Make no mistake about it: the side we backed lost this war. Much of the MSM, however, seems disinterested in reporting items such as this:

As always, Chris Wallace is willing to sail against the prevailing winds of his own network.

As for the lemmings of the MSM, they prefer headlines like the “Calamity Plane” headline in the feature image. It’s a good pun but an inaccurate headline.

Continue reading “The Katrina-Kabul Connection”

The Last Sane Person On Cable News

I’ve been harshly critical of the MSM’s coverage of the American withdrawal from Afghanistan here, here, and here. Cable news has been particularly shrill and sensational. They’re up to their old trick of looping footage. In this case of the woman handing a child over barbed wire at the Kabul airport. It’s given me Katrina coverage flashbacks. I’ll have more about that next week.

The coverage has largely ignored the three Americans most responsible for bogging us down in this 20-year quagmire: George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld. They started the war, then moved on to another disaster: Iraq.

Donald Trump and Mike Pompeo deserve their share of the blame. They strengthened the Taliban and pressured the Pakistanis to release the man who now is the leader of the Taliban, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar,

Joe Biden is taking all the blame. He agrees that the buck stops with him but, he issued the order, and the military was in charge of implementing the withdrawal. There’s lots of blame to go around.

In the end, we were on the losing side of a 40+ year civil war. There’s no tidy way to exit as those of us old enough to have lived through the fall of Saigon know first-hand.

That brings me to the last sane person on cable news: MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell.  As his colleagues have overdramatized events in Afghanistan by focusing on the trees, not the forest. Lawrence has kept his eye on the big picture.

(The post title is, of course, my version of the hyperbole being peddled by an overwrought MSM. Nothing wrong with a bit of hyperbole among friends.)

Last night, Lawrence opened The Last Word with a brilliant essay about the withdrawal.  I quote extensively from it after the break.

Continue reading “The Last Sane Person On Cable News”

The Ne(x)t War

Hacker at Computer

Everyone here at First Draft has been expounding on the events in Afghanistan this past week or so. If, dear reader, you are so inclined (and I highly recommend it) take a look at Cassandra’s post or Adrastos or my brother Michael, Michael F. All are excellent reads worthy of your time.

I am, like President Joey B. Shark, moving on.

I want to talk about the next war, mostly because it’s already underway.

In case you haven’t noticed, there are nearly constant attacks against Western citizens and companies via the internet. Just today T-Mobile had to admit they had been hacked to the tune of 40 million people having their personal info, including addresses and Social Security numbers, stolen. But they are not the only ones and are far from being the first. Hell, go back far enough and you might discover that this war has been going on longer than the one in Afghanistan.

And it’s not going to end any time soon.

One of the problems is that we first have to admit that it IS a war. You may think that these hacks are being done by some Incel in his parent’s basement as Donald Trump claimed about the DNC hack, but I’m here to tell you it’s pretty obvious that backdoor cyber attacks by individuals or even groups of non governmental individuals are unlikely. Contrary to the myth Hollywood has created, little Matthew Broderick can’t hack into NORAD from his Commodore 64. Nor can any of the individuals, fictional or not, who have tried to ransomware a hacked system. They may have started out as lone wolves, but as the targets became more complicated the individual pirate became a band of pirates and then, just like England in the age of Elizabeth, the pirates went to work for governments. These attacks are coming from well funded government led operations, the kind that, were they in the physical world, would be called guerilla warfare. So first we have to come to the realization that we are in a war and call it that, not cybercrime.

Power grids get hacked. Military computers get hacked. The systems controlling air traffic and even traffic lights get hacked. Elections get hacked. As Deep Throat would say (no not “follow the money”) who benefits? You are talking about a gradual even long term series of attacks on various but vital aspects of everyday life in the West. Tell me, what would cause more deaths, the bombing of one building or the sudden take down of the air traffic control system? 3000 people versus who knows how many of the average of 1.2 million people on flights at any given moment? Think about this, even the most Luddite, living off the grid, burying their money in cans out in the backyard, Survivalist nut case still has to drive a car. That becomes more difficult with no gas because the pipelines have been shut down and more dangerous because the traffic lights are completely turned off. Everyone would be affected. If you wanted to bring rioting and civil unrest to a country this would be the modern way of doing it. Especially if you have a coordinated fifth column of citizens living in the country who would be welcoming the arrival of your “peacekeepers” with rose petals and open arms, all covered live by their favorite faux news network.

Not to mention if you add in a natural disaster like an earthquake or an unchecked forest fire or a pandemic you could bring an entire nation to it’s knees without firing a single shot.

Continue reading “The Ne(x)t War”

 I Won’t Forget

Our fearless leader has written 2 thorough and excellent pieces about the Afghanistan War and how we got where we are. If you haven’t read them, please do:  here and here. I have some thoughts, too. There sure are a lot of familiar faces on the TeeVee over the last few days, blathering on about Afghanistan and tut-tutting over President Biden’s decision to get the hell out of, well, hell. They seem to think they have a blank slate for selling their snake oil. Well, I remember who they are and what they did. In 1990, Iraq annexed Kuwait and … Continue reading  I Won’t Forget

Another Bright Shining Lie

I’ve often written that Watergate was my formative political experience. I hereby amend that to primary formative political experience. Recent events have reminded me that the Vietnam War also shaped my worldview. It’s the ultimate cautionary tale: wars should only be fought in the national interest and should not be entered into lightly. That was the original sin of the Afghanistan War: we intervened in a hurry without thinking things through. The bill finally came due in 2021.

My family was divided during the Vietnam conflict. My father was a hawk. My mother was a dove. She wasn’t crazy about the hippie protestors as they offended her Scandinavian sense of order and decorum, but she still quietly supported the anti-warriors.

I recall a fierce argument between my parents over one of mom’s bridge playing buddies. Betty was a Quaker and a pacifist. She strenuously objected to all wars but once Richard Nixon, who was raised a Quaker, was president she became an anti-war activist because of his blatant hypocrisy.

My memory is hazy, but I recall that Betty and her fellow Friends staged a sit-in at a military installation somewhere in the Bay Area. They were arrested. Betty was the spokesperson for the group and appeared on the local news. My father thought this was a bridge too far and demanded that my mother bar Betty from their home. He argued that it would be bad for her real estate business to associate with a radical peacenik. Mom stood her ground and refused to go along. Her dovish hippie wannabe son was proud of her.

That brings me to the post title. Last night, Lawrence O’Donnell opened The Last Word with a segment comparing Vietnam and Afghanistan. He lamented that his dream guests, David Halberstam and Neil Sheehan were no longer alive. They wrote the best two books about the American misadventure in Vietnam. Sheehan’s book, A Bright Shining Lie inspired the title of this post. I only steal from the best.

A Bright Shining Lie told the story of American counter-insurgency guru John Paul Vann who was a true believer in the Vietnam mission. Vann loved the country and its people and became frustrated with the military brass who saw them as pieces to be moved around as if in a game of Risk. Hence the featured image.

The bright shining lie told to the American people during Vietnam was that the war was winnable and worth the sacrifice. The same lies were repeated by the Bush-Cheney administration and their supporters in the media about Afghanistan and Iraq. In the aftermath of 9/11, the Washington Post and New York Times became cheerleaders and apologists for Team Bush’s mendacious war effort. The past is prologue as both news organizations dusted off their pom-poms and went into action over the Afghanistan mishigas without, of course, mentioning their complicity in the initiation of our endless wars. Why ruin a sensational story with the facts?

The collapse of the Afghan government and army confirms the truth of a phrase attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson: “”Events are in the saddle and ride mankind.”

That’s truer now than in Emerson’s day. They didn’t have to deal with hot takes on the Tweeter Tube.

Continue reading “Another Bright Shining Lie”

Save One

We are arguing about how much of the house is on fire, with the refugee/immigrant ban. We are arguing closet versus attic versus living room, instead of picking up a damn bucket and putting the fire out: President Trump and his aides love to cite a small number and a big number in order to minimize the impact of the president’s executive order suspending the visas of citizens of seven countries. But these figures are incredibly misleading, so let’s go through the math. Let’s not, because it doesn’t fucking matter. I don’t care if this executive order affected one person.  I don’t … Continue reading Save One

The Fog Of History: Last Days In Vietnam

Last night we watched the American Experience documentary Last Days In Vietnam. It’s quite simply an amazing film, and one doesn’t have to have supported that war to be moved by the tales of heroism by Americans and Vietnamese alike. It all happened 40 years ago, but director Rory Kennedy and some of the most interesting talking heads I’ve ever seen in a documentary make it come alive as if it happened the other day. There were vast swaths of the film that played like a thriller; the stories of individual bravery and moral courage. We all know the big … Continue reading The Fog Of History: Last Days In Vietnam

Remembering the War the Way We Have To

This is the one I think of:  Washington (CNN)One former employee of the private Blackwater Worldwide security company was sentenced Monday to life in prison and three others to 30 years each behind bars for their roles in a 2007 mass shooting in Baghdad that left 17 people dead. A federal jury convicted the four in October after a lengthy trial that saw some 30 witnesses travel from Iraq to testify against the security contractors. Prosecutors accused the men of illegally unleashed “powerful sniper fire, machine guns and grenade launchers on innocent men, women and children.” Senior U.S. District Court … Continue reading Remembering the War the Way We Have To

The Past Isn’t Even Past

Fuck Jeb and his entire family sideways with a rake:  Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) isn’t interested in talking about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, especially as it relates to his brother, former President George W. Bush. “I won’t talk about the past,” Bush said on Friday when a reporter asked him about an upcoming foreign policy speech in Chicago, according to Bloomberg Politics. “I’ll talk about the future. If I’m in the process of considering the possibility of running, it’s not about re-litigating anything in the past. It’s about trying to create a set of ideas and principles … Continue reading The Past Isn’t Even Past

lest you be taken in

By the right’s newfound concern for reporters’ lives: “Whatever” seems to be President No Strategy’s standard operating procedure. What now, Obama? As Twitchy reported, horrifying news is coming out Tuesday afternoon. It is being reported that another journalist, Steven Sotloff, has been beheaded by the barbaric savages known as ISIS. Let’s not forget this. Note that even after her release, Carroll maintained that she had been treated well by her captors—so it would appear that this journalist for the Christian Science Monitor made these anti-American comments voluntarily. Or this. One member of the Pulitzer-winning AP team was AP stringer Bilal Hussein. Hussein’s photos have raised serious, persistent questions about his … Continue reading lest you be taken in

Obama Enters week one of presidency

It’s about fucking time:  He said service members leaving the military who are being treated for mental health conditions would now be automatically enrolled in a program in which mental health professionals help them move to VA care. Currently, service members must be specifically referred to the program by their Defense Department providers or seek out the program on their own. “Additionally, VA will implement a new policy to ensure that recently discharged service members enrolling in the VA health care system maintain access to mental health medication prescribed by an authorized DoD provider regardless of whether the medication is … Continue reading Obama Enters week one of presidency

Rumsfeld Isn’t Sorry

Not that it would matter if he was: Rumsfeld and McNamara seem to be very different kinds of people. They couldn’t be more different. But they presided over disastrous wars. That’s not OK. You can be reflective, you can be remorseful, you can be really engaged by the tales of what you have done and haven’t done. And McNamara realized this. There’s no magic slate for any of us; we can’t just pull up the acetate and it all goes away. McNamara at least had some regrets that he was willing to share. Rumsfeld is also willing to share the … Continue reading Rumsfeld Isn’t Sorry

Rumsfeld Isn’t Sorry

Not that it would matter if he was: Rumsfeld and McNamara seem to be very different kinds of people. They couldn’t be more different. But they presided over disastrous wars. That’s not OK. You can be reflective, you can be remorseful, you can be really engaged by the tales of what you have done and haven’t done. And McNamara realized this. There’s no magic slate for any of us; we can’t just pull up the acetate and it all goes away. McNamara at least had some regrets that he was willing to share. Rumsfeld is also willing to share the … Continue reading Rumsfeld Isn’t Sorry

Rumsfeld Isn’t Sorry

Not that it would matter if he was: Rumsfeld and McNamara seem to be very different kinds of people. They couldn’t be more different. But they presided over disastrous wars. That’s not OK. You can be reflective, you can be remorseful, you can be really engaged by the tales of what you have done and haven’t done. And McNamara realized this. There’s no magic slate for any of us; we can’t just pull up the acetate and it all goes away. McNamara at least had some regrets that he was willing to share. Rumsfeld is also willing to share the … Continue reading Rumsfeld Isn’t Sorry

Rumsfeld Isn’t Sorry

Not that it would matter if he was: Rumsfeld and McNamara seem to be very different kinds of people. They couldn’t be more different. But they presided over disastrous wars. That’s not OK. You can be reflective, you can be remorseful, you can be really engaged by the tales of what you have done and haven’t done. And McNamara realized this. There’s no magic slate for any of us; we can’t just pull up the acetate and it all goes away. McNamara at least had some regrets that he was willing to share. Rumsfeld is also willing to share the … Continue reading Rumsfeld Isn’t Sorry

Rumsfeld Isn’t Sorry

Not that it would matter if he was: Rumsfeld and McNamara seem to be very different kinds of people. They couldn’t be more different. But they presided over disastrous wars. That’s not OK. You can be reflective, you can be remorseful, you can be really engaged by the tales of what you have done and haven’t done. And McNamara realized this. There’s no magic slate for any of us; we can’t just pull up the acetate and it all goes away. McNamara at least had some regrets that he was willing to share. Rumsfeld is also willing to share the … Continue reading Rumsfeld Isn’t Sorry

Rumsfeld Isn’t Sorry

Not that it would matter if he was: Rumsfeld and McNamara seem to be very different kinds of people. They couldn’t be more different. But they presided over disastrous wars. That’s not OK. You can be reflective, you can be remorseful, you can be really engaged by the tales of what you have done and haven’t done. And McNamara realized this. There’s no magic slate for any of us; we can’t just pull up the acetate and it all goes away. McNamara at least had some regrets that he was willing to share. Rumsfeld is also willing to share the … Continue reading Rumsfeld Isn’t Sorry

Rumsfeld Isn’t Sorry

Not that it would matter if he was: Rumsfeld and McNamara seem to be very different kinds of people. They couldn’t be more different. But they presided over disastrous wars. That’s not OK. You can be reflective, you can be remorseful, you can be really engaged by the tales of what you have done and haven’t done. And McNamara realized this. There’s no magic slate for any of us; we can’t just pull up the acetate and it all goes away. McNamara at least had some regrets that he was willing to share. Rumsfeld is also willing to share the … Continue reading Rumsfeld Isn’t Sorry

Fear Itself

Athenae and I rarely post about the same thing on the same day. It's that time again. The whole Bowe Bergdahl incident seems to be the apogee of Obama Derangement Syndrome. The GOP reaction is OTT, incoherent, and sadly predictable. Once again, they're confused as to whether the President is a power mad dictator or a weakling. You really can't have it both ways but making sense has never been high on the neo-cons agenda. Fear mongering is and I wish the stupid mongerfuckers would monger something else… Here's the deal. It's apparently strong and resolute when Ronald Reagan and … Continue reading Fear Itself

Hagel Nagila

Nagila means rejoice in Hebrew but the neo-cons and Vulcans are not rejoicing over Chuck Hagel’s being nominated as Secretary of Defense. They dislike the former Nebraska Senator because he dislikes war and isn’t a slavish worshipper of Bibi Netanyahu and his war-mongering right wing Israeli government. As far as I’m concerned those are excellent reasons to support the Hagel nomination: if Kristol and Bolton hate it, I like it. On a more serious note, I like the nomination because the former enlisted man appears ready to go to the Pentagon and start cutting the budget, which is imperative after … Continue reading Hagel Nagila