Art Pottery, Politics and Food
Saturday, April 12, 2003
Karl Rove, Professor Marvel to George Bush’s Oz, took his turn displaying some disinformational themes from the new spring collection on Friday before the exhausted and compliant editor-types at the busy American Society of Newspaper Editors convention. Perhaps unaware of the Bush Administration’s obsession, a report in Saturday’s New York Times states Mr. Rove “told a gathering of newspaper editors here today that the news media's exhaustive coverage of the war in Iraq had confused people by subjecting them to reporters' "mood swings" and the results of endless polling about the military's progress…Mr. Rove lamented what he described as news organizations' changing interpretations of how the war was proceeding…news coverage…of a statue of Saddam Hussein being pulled to the ground in Baghdad, did not match the earlier "flood of commentary that the military was bogged down and the strategy flawed."
The networks tone changed, or drifted from what the administration thought it would be, when, thru the live embed reports, we all witnessed real live battle stripped of the Hollywood soundtracks but with a heightened drama conveyed through the eyes of the soldiers observed by night vision, full color or mostly obscured by sand. Remember bonding and Secretary Rumsfeld not being able to understand why the embeds were getting off message? Mr. Rove started to understand, through some mysterious agency that couldn’t possibly be endless polling, that the American public was also getting off message by bonding with the pictures of American youth in very perilous circumstances. Sometimes, I’m guessing, having a ranking administration official who isn’t so much a loose cannon as he is a loose revolver can be a handy thing.
“Mr. Rove praised the Pentagon's policy of "embedding" reporters with the troops in Iraq. "The public has been helped to see the reality of things in a way they never have before," he said, adding that a longtime distrust between the news media and the military had been eased. But he was critical of the frequency with which newspapers and television networks alike had sought Americans' opinions on the progress of the war and the performance of the president. "It raises a question: How much polling is too much?" he said. "When does it all begin to take away from the story and overwhelm all of us with too many numbers in too short a period of time?"
I love how Mr. Rove indirectly implies administration responsibility for an action that blindsided them for a day or so. Then with heavy brass cojones the equal to any Iraqi Information Minister he further implies responsibility for easing the Vietnam era schism between press and military. You have to admit the guy is good.
The satellite videophone shut down, to me, seemed to be a brief PR regroup at a time when field commanders were unsuccessfully asking for a brief tactical regroup. Mr. Rove should realize that spin is defenseless against a live picture. Real or fake once it’s a picture perceived to be real and live, like the Vincennes "victims" I discussed in a previous post, nothing short of an act of God will change that majority perception. Mr. Rove should take his own advice: "So much information is coming so fast and from so many different directions that it can also make it difficult to maintain perspective…” Having firm opinions mirrored by polling data must be a great comfort. "I'm not here to provide answers, only making observations," he said. "Observations," he concluded, "shared by 68.5 percent of registered voters in a survey conducted by the Pew Charitable Trust.
I’m wondering, when a man's opinion is molded by polling data can he really claim allegiance with a people who, when polled, have answered without calculation?
Photo: BROOKS KRAFT/GAMMA FOR TIME
Friday, April 11, 2003
Wow. Posted yesterday on Josh Marshall's excellent Talking Points Memo this post from the BBC:
We've just learned from the US marines that the US flag that was put on the face of Saddam yesterday - it was replaced by an Iraqi flag when the people shouted for that - was the flag that was flying over the Pentagon on September 11.
I've been busy so I haven't read this before now. Wow. I can now understand the order given to the young Marine and his willingness to execute. But, the Iraqi people and Saddam haven't yet been connected to September 11. I'd like that flag kept safe for Bin Laden and whoever else was responsible.
From ABC News Online:
A Baghdad mob looted Iraq's largest archeological museum amid a breakdown in civil authority following the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime, an AFP reporter said.
A dozen looters helped themselves in ground floor rooms at the National Museum of Iraq, where pottery artefacts and statues were seen broken or overturned, while administrative offices were wrecked.
Two men were seen hauling an ancient portal out of the building, and empty wooden crates were scattered over the floor.
Upstairs rooms seemed to have been spared for the time being.
Iraq, among the earliest cradles of civilisation and home to the remains of such ancient Mesopotamian cities as Babylon, Ur and Nineveh, has one of the richest archaeological heritages in the world.
The museum housed a major collection of antiquities, including a 4,000-year-old silver harp from Ur.
International cultural organisations had urged that the archeological heritage of Iraq, one of the cradles of civilisation, be spared ahead of the US-led war launched on March 20.
This past Wednesday Vice President Richard Bruce Cheney had his first out of bunker experience since the Meet the Press appearance, where he did not use the word “cakewalk”, three Sundays before the beginning of the war.
Speaking before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, Cheney called the war “one of the most extraordinary military campaigns ever conducted…with every day, with every advance of our coalition forces, the wisdom of that plan becomes more apparent.”
The Vice President, who avoided the military draft during the Vietnam era through student and marriage deferments, attempted to dismiss critics and mislead the media by mocking some television commentators as "retired military officers embedded in TV studios."
Mr. Cheney went on to discuss his plans for Iraq’s oil and nation building.
In many different newspaper stories about this speech, including an article in Editor & Publisher, quotes from the Vice President abound but nowhere did I see Mr. Cheney quoted as having said a public thank you to the brave men and women of the United States Armed Forces. Instead he heaps praise on“the wisdom of the plan.”
I partially agree with the Vice President’s characterization of the war (I would say the ground advance) as “one of the most extraordinary military campaigns ever conducted…” We differ with this sentence, “every day…the wisdom of that plan becomes more apparent.”
As I’ve posted here in reports from a variety of sources both military and journalistic, the ground advance to Baghdad was, indeed, extraordinary. Primarily for the speed of an operation conducted under dire circumstances. Air was very helpful but did not achieve its primary objectives to kill Iraqi leadership and prevent a northern flow of the more sophisticated Iraqi fighters and their allies. That Air was not primary contributes, in a modern sense, to the historical aspects of this campaign.
According to what we understand of Mr. Cheney’s initial plan, ground force requirements were lighter than tradition might dictate due to the massive pre ground operation bombardment of enemy positions and political interest in “lighter” force deployment. This plan did not work, in that, Air did not prevent “massive enemy resistance” to the advance of US and Allied forces. This resistance increased the demand for additional ground forces. Troops in the field, for several days, suffered from sporadic supply and limited air support. Commanders had to modify the rulers of engagement to counter what one local Commander called “the mindless Iraqi advance.” That Commanders had to adjust battle strategy and that limited ground forces contributed to tight undefended supply lines are further indications that other aspects of “the plan” referred to by the Vice President did not work as well as intended.
It is here, I imagine, where the Dowdy Incident occurred at the intersection of war and politics. Politics wanted a rapid advance and soldiers wanted a brief regroup. A translation of American field reports from Russian journalists available on Rense.com said, “At the outset of the war on March 20, the three units -- the 1st, 5th and 7th Marines, totaling about 20,000 troops -- drove from Kuwait to seize the Rumaila oil field…Then they pushed 75 miles north to Nasiriyah, where they skirmished with Iraqi irregular fighters and crossed the Euphrates River beginning around March 24. They moved into central Iraq and then paused as they grew low on some supplies and a huge sandstorm howled across the country. Earlier this week (the 2nd week of the war), the Marine units drove on two axes toward Kut, where Dowdy's 1st Marine Regiment was ordered to pin down the Baghdad Division of the Republican Guard.”
An April 5th Washington Post article by Thomas Ricks said that, “At Kut, 100 miles southeast of Baghdad, the 1st Marine Regiment's mission included feinting a move toward Iraqi positions in such a way as to draw artillery fire, according to a Marine officer. That maneuver was intended to expose the locations of the Iraqi gun batteries, which could then be hit by air strikes. The Iraqi units didn't take the bait and never opened fire, the officer said. “ A report from the Los Angeles Times reprinted on NewsMax.com said, “The Marines had come under heavy fire at the town of Al Kut, where they had run into stiff resistance from the Republican Guard's Baghdad Division. Previously, fighting at several cities along the way, including Umm al Qasr and Nasiriyah, had slowed the Leathernecks.
After the fight at Al Kut, with Dowdy still in command, the Marines drove all night with their headlights on to make better time. The tactic, usually considered an unsafe move, came on the heels of Mattis’ (Dowdy's immediate superior, Maj. Gen. James N. Mattis, the commander of the 1st Marine Division, has the reputation of being an extremely aggressive commander) demand for greater speed at a meeting of officers.
Remarks posted in an online forum called Sgt. Grit’s Marine Forum were very informative in a military scuttlebutt fashion. One post contained a hint by describing the contents of a final letter received by the fiancé of a 1st Marine Regiment soldier, “(the soldier) was squared away, and it would be a damn shame if he died because of somebody's ambition…” The key to rapid advancement for an ambitious military officer (think Alexander Haig) lies with pleasing politicians.
Colonel Dowdy was confronted with “non war gamed situations” and adjusted accordingly to preserve the lives of soldiers under his command. Some one wanted to achieve Baghdad rapidly without concern for excessive expenditure of young Marine lives.
The encirclement of Baghdad came at a very politically opportune moment. The televised statue toppling came as the Vice President claimed that,” With every day, with every advance of our coalition forces, the wisdom of that plan becomes more apparent.”
History was made with the rapid ground advance to Baghdad. History was made with young troops previously untested by battle that executed their orders with a ferocity that more than matched their “mindless” foe. Army and Marine forces outshining the air assault forces made history. History was made by front line Commanders creatively and successfully adjusting to non intel’ed enemy guerilla tactics and the vicissitudes of sandstorm, limited rations and minimal air support. Relieving the Marine 1 Commander on the battlefield made history.
History was not made by the light ground force and heavy air force bombardment campaign of "the plan".
Mr. Cheney should say thank you to his battlefield commanders and their troops and journalists should be exploring what exactly happened in the drive up the road to Baghdad.
Sorry there have been no posts today...partner dental surgery demands full nurse service. I'm working on something which I'll post later today along with, perhaps, with my Drunk Pot Pie recipe...today feels like a Drunk Pot Pie day!
Thursday, April 10, 2003
Here is an image that we did not see yesterday:
I found this picture on a very interesting anti war site called Shock & Awe. Examine the center of the picture...the tank is still close to the pedestal...the statue has tumbled...note the size of the crowd at this moment shortly after "the moment". Interesting, huh? The NYC Indy Media Center site also has the photo.
The web is buzzing with ideas and discussion of this event. There is this on Democratic Underground which suggests that some members of the jubilant Iraqi crowd televised during yesterday's statue tumble were recent traveling companions of Ahmed Chalabi.
Additionally, there have been increasing search engine requests for "Colonel Joe Dowdy" in the last few days. The Colonel, no matter his invisibility in the mainstream media, has been a frequently requested search criteria since his removal became public.
Also according to ABC News, 3rd battalion, 4th Marines Regimental Marine Corporal Edward Chin, the soldier who draped the US flag on the statue head of Saddam says he was just following orders in the minutes before the statue was pulled to the ground in a joint effort by jubilant Iraqis and U.S. troops. "I was just trying my best to get the chain around his neck and put the flag on his head...pretty much at the moment I was just doing what I was told to do by my commanding officer," he said.
Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it.
Abraham Lincoln - April 6, 1859
As we enter the third week of war in a maelstrom of images, sound and emotion, I am again struck by the seeming graphics skills of impoverished, oppressed people and the overwhelming dominance of a combined United States Army and Marine armored assault.
As a pitiful collection of Iraqi, including a few suspiciously overweight fellows, unsuccessfully climbed and poked the bit of cultural detritus that was rapidly ascending into historic metaphor, I was thrilled that my hoped for “enterprising tank commander” was deservedly and appropriately entering the statuesque fray.
As a folded American flag was handed to the Marine atop the ladder and unfurled rather unceremoniously I started to think, “uh, oh.” As the US flag was draped upside down over the head of the Saddam statue, I could hear military chins dropping around the world and up the chain of command. Uh, oh, indeed or, maybe, not really. The flag incident certainly didn’t seem real…it seemed historic, but the action seemed forced, a beat behind, as did the rest of the morning. Even, oh so sure of itself, CNN seemed a touch off and unsure and I was pleased to note the Marines on the statue’s plaza never seemed to relax their guard as the morning wore on.
I certainly hope the excited and proud young Marines involved in this unfortunate incident are not disciplined in any fashion for, as I posted earlier, the attitudes that contributed to this display originated much higher in the command chain among men who should be diplomats. And, anyway, there are two separate and equally powerful metaphoric images for history to pick from: the flag over the face and the statue hanging by a toe…while neither is necessarily positive, call them conflicting data sets in files History has not yet stored.
Several times Wednesday I observed cheering Iraqi clutching beautifully made English text graphics on 8 X 10 ish photo quality scan paper. The one that sticks in my mind was a color montage in blues and reds showing a photographic scan of President Bush and what looked like the White House clutched in several scrawny waving televised hands. Sort of a 2003 “subsequently updated” version of Gulf I’s Baby Milk Factory sign but, like the smart bombs, much more sophisticated and, unlike them, on expensive photo paper. Again, what appears to be data in conflict.
What was going on here?
I recently had a little computer difficulty that reminded me of the importance of complete data sets. Anymore our poor little overloaded modern brains have much in common with a computer on a high-speed Internet connection. Always on and always receiving information, particularly in these ever so common larger historical moments, where we sit enraptured before a visually gushing tube of conflicting datasets and emotion. And, like the computer, we sit innocently (cynics included) open and trusting in a data bath that could have some very nasty brain cooties floating around in its warm infomotional soup. We Americans, like our soldiers in Baghdad, have to be on our guard against fedayeen real and electric, foreign and domestic and, at moments, obvious and subtle. Images, like people, ideas and information can be more and less than they appear to be. As we learned from Ari Fleischer on Wednesday, statements from important officials, like collapsing statue metaphors, can be “subsequently updated”.
Though fraught with difficulty, the more spontaneous and successful Army and Marine advance to Baghdad holds a better metaphoric lesson for America in the War on Terror than the fallen hollow images of a despot and his pitiful savaged people.
Photo: US News
Wednesday, April 09, 2003
In his afternoon press conference Ari Fleischer said that the Vice President was not in error when he told this morning's newspaper publisher gathering that Iraqi exiles would meet this Saturday. The Vice President, according to Ari, subsequently updated his remarks to show that the meeting will occur at a later date.
That Ari is so smooth, huh? Let's hope the publishers have their memories subsequently updated!
The Big Moment
Well, the hollow metal statue tipped, but then, still hangs on by a toe.
A moment that caused Pentagon officials to “audibly gasp,” according to CNN. I most certainly hope that the Marines who put the American flag over Saddam’s head are not disciplined for their youthful enthusiasm. Attitudes contributing to this misinterpretation were developed much further up the chain of command.
Look! Down there on the lower right dressed in black…its…its…(gasp!) A woman!
The Saddam statue we have watched endlessly in a Baghdad wide shot on CNN is, seemingly, ready for his close-up and fate.
Creepy Washington Post gossip columnist Lloyd Grove has an item this morning about 50,000 watt Clear Channel radio property WLW.
Clear Channel has been in the news recently for organizing pro war rallies in scattered markets across the United States and for its CEO’s relationship with the Bush family. This past Saturday, one day before the death of NBC News correspondent David Bloom, “Cincinnati radio host Darryl Parks thought it would be amusing to speculate on the question ‘Which embedded journalists should be put in front of a firing squad?’ Among the candidates were Fox News Channel's Geraldo Rivera, National Geographic Explorer's Peter Arnett and NBC News's Bloom. According to one listener, Parks and his co-host, nicknamed ‘Sensible Don,’ mocked Bloom, suggesting that he'd brought his personal makeup artist to Iraq. ‘They said he should be the next to die,’ our witness told us. ‘They got their wish, I guess.’
Yesterday Parks, 43, who doubles as program director of the 50,000-watt Clear Channel station WLW-AM, told us he was sorry. ‘I feel really bad about this,’ he said. ‘David Bloom was mentioned, but he wasn't the focus . . . The slant on it was embedded journalists making themselves the story and not covering the war. It was all done tongue-in-cheek. Looking back on the occurrences, I find the topic was ill-timed and certainly inappropriate.’ Clear Channel spokeswoman Michelle Clark gave us a ‘no comment.’”
Meanwhile, on the Canadian newspaper front, I found As battles rage, Cheney calls the Star-seriously interesting for showcasing Washington’s standard focus and Canada’s new attitude:
Seems that U.S. Vice-President Richard (Dick) Cheney did not say what The New York Times, the Reuters wire agency, Agence France-Presse, the Philadelphia Daily News, the Miami Herald, the Star and other news organizations said he said.
And yet, the other day, only the Times, Reuters, Agence France-Presse, the Philly News, the Miami Herald and, yes, the Star, all rated calls from no less a personage than Jennifer Millerwise, Cheney's press secretary, who was seeking corrections.
She got them.
We are being carefully watched, it seems…The point is Cheney, who some say — only half-jokingly — is the real power in the White House, did not offer up the "house of cards" metaphor when he suggested that the war on Iraq would be a cakewalk…What Cheney did say was, on the March 16 edition of NBC's Meet The Press, that, "The read we get on the people of Iraq is there is no question but that they want to get rid of Saddam Hussein and they will welcome as liberators the United States when we come to do that.
"My guess is even significant elements of the Republican Guard are likely, as well, to want to avoid conflict with the U.S. forces and are likely to step aside."
So, Cheney kind of said "house of cards" — but didn't…She explained that it was not a matter of "semantics" but something far more serious, adding that predicting the war would take "weeks not months" and that Iraqi forces would cry uncle was not the same as saying Saddam Hussein's regime would fall like "a house of cards."
A little later she (Jennifer Millerwise, VP press secretary) called me a second time to say that accuracy was extremely important "especially during times of war."
Amen to that. Lord knows, everything coming from Washington these days is the whole truth and nothing but.
And if you believe that, I've got a house of cards to sell you.
C-SPAN, this morning, reports that Mr. Cheney will leave the bunker sometime today to speak to a gathering of newspaper publishers…expect the Administration’s, radically altered by field commanders, battle plan to be spun as a triumph.
Tuesday, April 08, 2003
Grim reports continue from embeds accompanying United States Army and Marine forces within and surrounding Baghdad. Troops continue to encounter “sporadic but fierce resistance”. Major Frank McClary, operations officer of the 1st Brigade’s 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment said, "Tactically-wise, it's going to be going on for a long time," as blasts of cannon fire from Bradley fighting vehicles reverberated around him. The Iraqis that they are encountering, he said, still have rocket-propelled grenades. "Personally, I think it's going to be going on until we leave this country."
Meanwhile, the United States military reports no Baath party member defections thusfar into the war despite several Iraqi commanders leaving their posts.
And the CIA reports that many Iraqi would be against exiled opposition groups taking any kind of leadership positions within the post Saddam government.
The Associated Press is reporting that “senior House Democrats” are asking the GAO to examine government “contracts awarded to Halliburton Company over the past two years.
Halliburton's KBR subsidiary has a record of gouging the government in contracts awarded without competition, Reps. Henry Waxman of California and John Dingell of Michigan contended in a letter to the General Accounting Office…The lawmakers said federal procurement data showed that the government awarded KBR work worth more than $624 million from October 2000 through March 2002.
The lawmakers cited these previous problems with KBR, formerly Kellogg, Brown & Root:
-A GAO finding in 1997 that the company billed the Army for questionable expenses for work in the Balkans, including charges of $85.98 per sheet of plywood that cost $14.06.
-A year 2000 follow-up report on the Balkans work that found inflated costs, including charges for cleaning some offices up to four times a day.
-$2 million in fines paid in February 2002, to resolve fraud claims involving work at Fort Ord, Calif. The Defense Department inspector general and a federal grand jury had investigated allegations by a former employee that KBR defrauded the government of millions of dollars by inflating prices for repairs and maintenance.
The Securities and Exchange Commission already is investigating Halliburton's accounting practices, looking into an accounting change made in 1998, during Cheney's tenure as CEO.
Halliburton spokeswoman Wendy Hall said the lawmakers have ignored the exemplary record of the Houston-based firm that employed Cheney as chief executive officer from 1995 to 2000 and still pays him deferred compensation for his services during that period."
I was pleased to finally see some relief in the faces of PFC Jessica Lynch’s family as they met with the world press outside her hospital in Landstuhl, Germany this morning.
From the moment the national spotlight fell upon them, the Lynch family, like their daughter, displayed great dignity and uncommon valor.
I first met PFC Lynch’s father, Gregory, through an excellent Jane Clayson piece broadcast on The CBS Evening News during the soldier’s captivity. In an interview punctuated by crowing rooster’s, Gregory Lynch concisely expressed his hopes and fears and his fellowship with the ranks of other American parents of active duty soldiers. As a Kentuckian and as a fellow more rural Southerner I recall feeling a deep pride for this wise but worried man.
I have also been very impressed with young Gregory Jr. as he juggles Larry King and international press conferences and Deadra Lynch, Jessica’s Mom, for insight into the wounded soldier’s strength of will. I also appreciate what appears to be the Lynch family’s shared good sense of humor.
Elizabeth, on an “uncharacteristically straight and flat portion of Route 14” is the neighboring community to Palestine in West Virginia’s Wirt County.
While doing a Google search on PFC Lynch I discovered a highly informative and entertaining blog entitled The Hillbilly Sophisticate that also expressed pride in the Lynch family:
“It never ceases to make me proud and to amaze me when I see the Lynches on TV. They're doing so very well with the interviews. They didn't ask for all this intention. In fact, a month ago, I'm sure it was the farthest thing from their minds. What person living in Wirt County could ever imagine having Jane Clayson, Rita Cosby, et al, camped out on the front yard? No one, I'm sure. But they're handling it incredibly well, and I have to be proud of them for that.” If you are looking for Jessica Lynch information this seems to be the place to go for info about the soldier, her hometown and media commentary. I particularly enjoyed:
"To demonstrate how unfamiliar with the Mountain State some of the reporters were, a Los Angeles-based stringer for a news service that provides copy for several English tabloids remarked in her distinct British accent, 'Oh, you mean this is an entirely separate state from Virginia?'"
I'm also curious how much longer she is going to be PFC Lynch? I would imagine a promotion is in order?
Photos: Wolfgang Truckenbrodt, Getty Images and The Hillbilly Sophisticate
Just saw BaghdadCam video on Forrest Sawyer's CNBC show (and I'm guessing this is a replay of a 10PM broadcast) with this Saddam still standing.
Monday, April 07, 2003
The March/April issue of the American Art Pottery Association Journal anticipates their upcoming Cincinnati Convention, Pottery Show and Auction with an emphasis on Rookwood pottery.
Shown on the cover is a detail from a 1929 pot by Wilhelmine Rehm. Articles include the expansion of the Moore Gallery of Decorative Arts at the Krannert Museum on the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana campus with, among other ceramic pieces, 9 Rookwood vases.
Vellum, 1905, Sara Sax
Another article informs us of a major exhibit of Rookwood in October at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The exhibit celebrates “the gift of one hundred pieces of Rookwood pottery” to the Museum from the collection of Gerald and Virginia Gordon of Washington, DC. “The gift…includes several prints and vellum tiles, as well as a wide array of painted, carved, molded and slip-decorated vases characteristic of the finest Rookwood production.”A terrific issue of the bi-monthly! Information on the Journal, back issues and the upcoming convention (though it is too late to register) can be found on the website of the AAPA.
I've watched CNN for hours and have watched several Saddam's tumble. The shot that was everywhere yesterday is nowhere today. The Saddam in question is the black speck in the center, right and up a bit. Of course, I guess, there is the very slim chance that the statue is not of Saddam but of a highly respected equally mustached wannabe henchmen...maybe.
Business Week has the cause of David Bloom's death:
...it may have been the long hours he spent cramped in the Army vehicle that caused his death. Three days ago, Bloom had complained of cramps behind his knee. He consulted military doctors and described his symptoms over the phone to overseas physicians. They suspected DVT, or deep veinous thrombosis, and advised him to seek proper medical attention. He ignored their advice, swallowed some aspirins, and kept on working. On Sunday he died of a pulmonary embolism.
With a crass headline, the sometimes tasteless details, written by a BW reporter also embedded with the 3rd ID, show that the media, even in the midst of war, still hungers for celebrity sensation.
The Bush April 3rd trip to Camp Lejeune is mentioned on the second page of a New York Times Saturday puff about Presidential advisor Karl Rove:
"...the president spoke to cheering men and women in uniform, and then met privately with families of marines who have died in the war. Mr. Rove recounted that meeting to a hushed crowd tonight."
Mr Rove who "...two weeks after the war began...is busily working to shape perceptions of Mr. Bush as a wartime leader and to prepare for the re-election campaign that will start as soon as the war ends," spoke at a "...Texas Night fund-raising celebration of the Kent County Republican Committee" in Grand Rapids, Michigan Friday evening.
This is the first media confirmed meeting between the President and family representatives of soldiers killed, wounded, missing or taken prisoner while executing the Iraq war plan that I have noticed. Regardless of "taste" the White House seems intent upon extracting maximum political advantage from the staged Lejeune meeting.
Photo: Dave Raczkowski/The Grand Rapids Press
Perhaps I spoke too soon regarding a certain statue's eventual tipping?
Color-corrected Video Still Frame: CNN
Having descended from the creamy white tower loft where I observe all my TV news viewing, I’m left wondering when some enterprising tank commander is going to tip the Saddam statue evident in CNN’s wallpapered lock-down weather/traffic cam showing downtown Baghdad? It not as though I have any fear that anyone at world headquarters in Atlanta will ever notice anything in, much less happening in, that shot but many of us here at home will know Baghdad is ours when that particular statue tumbles.
Here’s a link to a sometime serious mostly funny glossary for TV at war from Minnesota’s CityPages.com. I particularly enjoyed:
Crawl Boy, does it ever. The ticker at the bottom of the screen changes about as often as the coffee creamer at Perkins. One can wake up in the morning to read a battle statistic from An Nasiriyah, see it again when one comes home from work, encounter the identical bulletin upon shuffling off to bed, and discover the same tag scrolling along the screen the next morning.
Enlisted Soldiers From the battalions of colonels and generals and admirals pontificating for the camera…you'd think the battlefields were made up solely of commissioned officers. Fox slips a captain in front of the camera in the deep hours of the a.m. But among the regular squadron, the lowest rank you'll see bloviating in the expert's chair is a major. Surely a misery-tempered marine sergeant would have some insight into the exhaustion, dread, anger, and killing-guilt of the forward troops. The near-total absence of enlisted soldiers on the TV stages is the equivalent of a sportscast staffed entirely by graying general managers.
Hardcore Band Name Which phrase makes a better name for a hardcore band: "Shock and Awe" or "Coalition of the Willing"?
Vaseline Described on one admiring web site as a hotter version of Ann Coulter, Fox's night-and-weekend anchor Laurie Dhue sinks deeper each night into some kind of lipstick dysmorphia--she's the customer who is such an easy mark for the ladies at the makeup counter that they actually start feeling guilty. A week into the war, it appears that Dhue is slathering fistfuls of Vaseline over her mouth, perhaps as a prophylactic against chemical weapons.
Video Still Frame: FOX
Sunday, April 06, 2003
If there is a good and bad aspect to David Bloom's death on the Iraqi sand it is that his loss will personalize war’s dreadful harvest to many Americans who do not share a direct personal connection to our troops.
The cynic I am must admit first that I was not a fan of Mr. Bloom’s pre-war career with The National Biscuit Company. He seemed to personify the smug insulated media yuppie of the modern era I so detest. From the unfilled shoe of the promotionally disabled Weekend Today to his pack running at the White House, I found nothing redeeming in Mr. Bloom’s career until this war. In this first coldly brutal conflict of the modern era David Bloom bloomed. As I wrote here in this blog after the first day of the Iraq II ground battle, these fine young American troops (and by their historic and media redeeming bravery I include the embeds within the meaning of the word “troops”), no matter the depth of their training, were not raised to even begin to understand the level of brutal force that was demanded of ground commanders to repel mindless Iraqi advances. It was evident from battlefield reports that the commanders themselves were shocked.
It is a measure of Washington’s folly that they moved rapidly to blur these initial reports and evidence of criminal negligence if the Marine Combat 1 Commander was removed for “political” considerations.
From that first day of battle this cynic was sincerely impressed with the historic immediacy of the embed reportage and the human concern these reporters dramatically displayed (and display still) for the soldiery.
I was impressed that old guys, like Walter Rodgers (we many years ago when he was a young AP reporter shared a bus ride and a conversation) and Ted Koppel, were embedded with the troop and not back at the Saigon Hilton in Kuwait. I mordantly chortled (to quote a hero) that Rummy wasn’t pleased the embeds were drifting off plan. The presence of cocky youth, like CNN's Ryan Chillcothe, didn’t initially impress but their reporting, to use an old broadcasting expression, “blew my socks off!” What was not to be impressed? The great beauty and innocence of American youth wrapped in all our technical and patriotic glory was the real shock and awe to the beetling jealousy of the craven world. It was Gulf I with the Moon landing blended into Psy Op sledgehammer and barring a disastrous chem/bio attack this Psy victory continues no matter what one thinks, good or ill, of the Bush Administration.
In a previous post I drew a comparison between this war and a pagan sacrifice. The expiation of sin by ritual bloodletting; I still feel this comparison is apt if a bit cold and over intellectual in a Wolfowitzian sort of way.
I am sorry for David Bloom the person and his young family and the price, like so many young soldiers and their families, that has been their loss and the suffering that will ripple from it. The people of America cannot afford to allow this blood price to be dressed in sugary glory and these deaths, Iraqi and American, to be in vain. War is never pretty or clean. War never goes according to pre-set political plan…plans gel from War’s chaos.
AETCo Intaglio Portrait, US Grant
I reflect on US Grant who shied from bloody meat at dinner but whose battle rage is legend. The bravery I’ve observed within the American ranks hasn’t been entirely restricted to active duty front line troops. Generals know History and History’s lessons.
As David Bloom’s wartime humanity brought him to journalism’s truth so too the concept of soldier has returned to the American hearth from its Vietnam estrangement. I hope the Generals remember that they are America’s sons as well and that they continue their sworn duty to our shared children and fight this battle as soldiers and not politicians.
Video Still Frame: NBC